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Baby communication Thu, Sep 20, 2018
I used to think babies just cried all the time for no reason.  But in my very limited experience, crying seems to be their only way of communicating.  It's sort of like the beginning part of a video game where you only have one skill or one emote unlocked.  Since it's all you have, you use it for everything, even when it's not particularly appropriate or effective.  You melee an enemy, then try to melee a door because you haven't figured out the "open door" command.  Or you dance to say hi to a fellow gamer, then dance to warn them about the enemy behind them.  It's actually kind of amazing how a single action can communicate hunger, discomfort, gas, dirty diaper, etc. #lifestyle

Volunteers needed Tue, Aug 14, 2018
I find it ironic when I see a sign or something announcing Some Big Event™ but also "Volunteers Needed".  Shouldn't you get your volunteers first, then have an event?  "We're doing a thing, but you have to help" isn't a very enticing offer for me. #lifestyle

Swamp replacement Tue, Jun 12, 2018
One of Donald Trump's campaign slogans in 2016 was, "We're gonna drain the swamp."  But since he mostly just got rid of the existing people and replaced them with incompetent, washed-up future felons, I feel like he missed the point.  For his future campaign, I think he should add a second part to that slogan, preferably one of the following options:  "We're gonna drain the swamp and replace it with: 
  1. another swamp
  2. a tall building with a gold "TRUMP" sticker
  3. a bigger, better swamp
  4. a ball pit
  5. a murkier, smellier swamp
  6. rats

Feckless cunt Mon, Jun 04, 2018
Recently Rosanne Bar said a racist thing on Twitter and got her show cancelled.  It was heartwarming to see pretty much everyone agree that (a) she said a racist thing and (b) racism is bad. 

Samantha Bee, the host of a TV show that makes fun of current events, called the daughter of the president of the United States a "feckless cunt" for posting mommy-and-me pictures on social media while failing to utilize her familial connections to do something positive about immigration policies that are literally separating mothers and children. 

Some of those same people who applauded the cancellation of Rosanne called for the cancellation of Sam Bee's show.  Rosanne said a bad thing and got cancelled.  Sam Bee said a bad thing and should get cancelled. 

But here's the thing:  There's a difference between racism and mean things.  Our society has collectively agreed (somewhat recently) that racism is unacceptable in a lot of circumstances, and racist people should be punished, perhaps not by legal action, but definitely by negative attention.  This is a remarkably progressive viewpoint from our largely regressive populace.  Good on us. 

But Sam Bee said a mean thing.  Maybe someone was offended.  Our society hasn't yet taken a negative stance on being offensive.  We're generally ok with it.  Also, being offended by something doesn't actually mean anything other than the fact that you can't deal with your own feelings in a healthy way.  That's a personal problem. 

To be clear, both things were mean.  But one of them was also racist, and racism is a specific kind of mean that we don't put with.  This whole episode was yet another false equivalency. #entertainment

Pacifism Tue, May 29, 2018
The philosophy of pacifism makes a certain amount of sense.  We're taught as we're growing up to not hit other people, to find a solution to our problems without resulting to violence.  This is well and good and true.  Violence isn't the solution to all problems.  Avoiding violence works in many circumstances, like in de-escalating a drunken fight at a bar, or in trade sanctions against a hostile country. 

But one name always trumps pacifism:  Hitler.  There was really only one way to fight back against a crazy authoritarian who tried to take over the world and kill all the Jews, and it wasn't non-violence.  It's never made sense to me how there were conscientious objectors during World War II.  Like I get that your religion prevents you from fighting in a war, but it doesn't seem quite fair that you'll benefit from the post-war peace that other people fought to achieve.  If people didn't fight in your place, you'd be dead and the world would be German.  Pacifism only makes sense until it doesn't. #psychology

Chrome to Firefox to Chrome Tue, May 22, 2018
I've been using Google Chrome as my main web browser for a few years now.  It just feels cleaner, neater, and faster than the competition.  Plus the syncing is top-notch -- bookmarks, history, extensions, etc.  It's a no-brainer. 

But my employer recently changed some security policy which disabled all syncing, which was bad enough.  But it also disable extensions, and by extensions I really only mean THE extension:  an adblocker.  I've been using an adblocker for so long, I don't even know what the actual internet is like.  When I'm forced to look at somebody's phone for a YouTube video and see a commercial, or when I have to momentarily use Internet Explorer to check something and am bombarded with 90s-era pop-ups and pop-unders and pop-overs and blinking text and autoplaying video, it's like walking in someone else's shoes which are a little small but manageable.  Like, I can do it, but it's really unenjoyable, and I'll probably just stop after a while because I have better things to do. 

Anyway, I switched over to Firefox, which for whatever reason still had extensions (add-ons) and syncing enabled.  What I very quickly realized is why I stopped using Firefox in the first place:  It's fucking slow.  Like literally Amazon.com is unusable.  It's clunky.  Why I have to keep clicking through security exception notifications or whatever is completely beyond me.  And the overall kicker is the memory usage.  I remember experiencing memory issues with Firefox in two-thousand-fucking-six.  I guess they still haven't fixed that problem. 

In looking for workarounds, I eventually found a way to sort of bypass the security policy by using a slightly different version of Chrome.  When I started that first Chrome window and got all my bookmarks synced and my extensions working, I was beyond happy.  Good-bye Firefox, and good riddance. #technology

Expecting a baby Mon, May 21, 2018
I'm expecting a baby in a few months, and it's an odd sensation.  I know it will completely and permanently alter my life in countless ways, but I'm just not sure of the details.  I mean I know I'll never sleep again, and I'll never have free time or energy again.  But how will I feel about that? 

Having a due date is sort of like planning for a major event like a wedding, where you're saving up money, buying various necessities, and generally counting down the days.  Except it's less like a wedding and more like a natural disaster.  You know something big is gonna happen, and it'll affect every aspect of your entire life, and so all you can do is sit there and wait for it to happen.  Also it won't happen gradually like a slow-moving volcano in Hawaii; it'll be all at once like a fucking meteorite.  In short, I'm panicking, but only a little bit at a time. 

I haven't spent much mental energy worrying about things -- will the child be a human, will it have a sufficient number of limbs, will it inherit my baldness?  And the simple reason is that it's too late now.  You can back out of a wedding; you can cancel travel plans; you can get a tattoo removed.  You can't undo a pregnancy (I mean obviously you can, but we're past that point).  It's happening, and as much as we can paint and prep and read books, we're still just sitting around waiting for that meteorite to land on our heads. #lifestyle

Learned disgust Thu, May 03, 2018
A recent episode of NPR's Hidden Brain called Crickets and Cannibals talked about the idea of disgust and how it's a learned instinct.  Most, if not all, traits we consider instincts are ingrained from birth.  Survival, how and what to eat, and rearing young are all generally things that will happen without learning them.  Disgust is sort of different in that young children aren't disgusted by things like poop and snot, but they learn those reactions and then internalize them as a sort of instinct. 

This is especially obvious when considering the diets of different people groups from around the world.  What we eat is essentially prescribed to us by our culture, and that's not entirely a bad thing.  But you really don't have to look that far to see cultures that eat horses or bugs -- animals that are considered immoral or repulsive to most Americans' palates.  But there's nothing inherently immoral or repulsive about eating those things.  Horses are essentially just skinny cows, and bugs are called shellfish when they live in water.  We obviously have no problem eating either of them. 

The main problem is that disgust is a particularly difficult instinct to break.  It's clear that certain "disgusting" things really aren't disgusting and are merely the instincts learned from our respective culture.  But knowing that fact doesn't change how we feel.  I ate a cricket protein bar once, and aside from it not tasting very good, it was hard to get over the idea that I was eating crushed bugs.  It really shouldn't bother me; plenty of people and animals eat bugs, and crickets are an efficient source of protein.  But it still wasn't a pleasant experience.  I wonder how long it would take, or how many repetitions would be required to break a person's learned disgust? #psychology

Bees vs. wasps Mon, Apr 30, 2018
As I stood next to my blooming cherry tree the other day, bees were happily buzzing around the flowers, doing their pollinating thing and generally disregarding me.  Bees serve a very obvious, beneficial purpose.  Humans and bees can happily coexist. 

Wasps (and yellow jackets and hornets), as far as I can tell (though I haven't done the research), serve literally no purpose other than to get mad and sting you when you disturb their conspicuously-placed nests.  They're like the little man of the bug world, always looking for a fight and using their tried and true sucker punch to win on a technicality. 

Bees and wasps are both flying, stinging insects.  But bees are fuzzy and good.  Wasps are angry and evil.  This is how I justify using Raid to gleefully massacre an entire wasp nest. #nature

Baby holders Tue, Mar 27, 2018
I'm expecting a child ("congrats" thanks), and for the first time in my life I checked out the children's sections of Walmart and Target, and immediately noticed that there are a plethora of products designed solely to hold babies: 
  • strollers, for holding babies while you stroll
  • papooses, for holding babies while you walk
  • car seats, for holding babies while you drive
  • cribs, for holding babies while they sleep
  • boppies, for holding babies while they lounge
  • bumbos, for holding babies while they sit
  • high chairs, for holding babies while they eat
  • baby tubs, for holding babies while they bathe
I'm new to this, but can babies do anything? #lifestyle

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