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Cormorant design by committee Tue, Sep 27, 2016
Cormorants look like they were designed by a committee of non-experts, probably at an old government office full of mid-level managers and underpaid engineers.  Here's how I imagine the process went: 
Person 1:  We want a bird. 
Engineers:  No problem. 
Person 2:  But the bird can swim. 
Engineers:  Uh ... yeah we can do that.  Webbed feet and whatnot. 
Person 3:  But it needs to swim underwater to catch fish. 
Engineers:  Oh ... hmm ... ok.  Just remove some buoyancy so it can sink better.  It'll need to have gills so it can--
Person 1:  No, it needs to breathe air! 
Engineers:  Ok ... I guess we can have it resurface every so often.  But it's just gonna stick it's head and neck out of the water because it's midsection is too dense to float, so it'll look like a snake. 
Person 3:  That's fine.  And then it can fly away and do other bird things. 
Engineers:  Not exactly.  Because of its extra density, it'll have a hard time taking off out of the water. 
Person 2:  But it can fly, right? 
Engineers:  Yes, but it'll need to dry its wings before any amount of extended flight.  The decreased buoyancy and underwater swimming mean its entire body gets soaked to the bone, so it'll need to stand around with its wing outstretched, which is a perfect time for predators to attack it. 
Person 3:  Can you put a gun on its head? 
Engineers:  We'll try that in version 2.
Thankfully version 2 never made it to market. #nature

Kaepernick's pledge Mon, Sep 19, 2016
I find it immensely ironic that people are offended by Colin Kaepernick's peaceful protest which consists entirely of kneeling or sitting during the playing of the national anthem.  It's like saying, "This is America, where we blindly assert our allegiance to our national identity, and if you don't participate, you're a traitor."  Read the fucking Bill of Rights. #politics

Trump on Fallon Mon, Sep 19, 2016
People are mad that presidential candidate Donald Trump wasn't asked difficult questions when he appeared on Jimmy Fallon's late night talk showLike really mad.  I really don't think it was that big of a deal.  I mean, sure, Donald Trump is a buffoon, and deserves to be ridiculed for his stupidity and lack of capacity to hold political office.  But this was a talk show.  A late night comedy show.  It's really not the time for serious matters, like comparing your foreign policy plans to your opponent's.  It just doesn't fit the format.  Plus Trump is already constantly in the limelight getting grilled, not to mention the upcoming debates where he'll surely prove his ... merit.  Get over it. #politics

Dinner specials Mon, Sep 12, 2016
"Do you want to hear our dinner specials?"  Oh you mean, do I want to hear you ramble through a ridiculously long list of food choices which would be infinitely better communicated on paper, which there is zero chance of me remembering, just so you can check an item off your "Waitressing 101" checklist and sell more food that didn't sell well yesterday?  How about no. #food

Avian reincarnation Thu, Sep 08, 2016
If I could reincarnate as anything, I'd obviously want to be a bird, because ... flying.  But not just any bird.  I'd want to be a water bird.  Not a water bird like a stupid penguin, which can't fly.  But an actual flying, swimming bird.  Birds like ducks, geese, and seagulls can walk, they can fly, and they can swim.  Fucking badass. 

Ducks are cute, but lack a certain fearsomeness.  Geese have those long necks and they just look at you like they want to cause you physical harm.  But only a seagull can survive just as well near the ocean as in a random suburban parking lot.  I think it's due to their ability to eat anything and everything, including garbage.  As hated as they are, they have possibly the best chance of surviving the near-certain apocalypse that awaits our dumb bipedal species. 

Seagulls:  Land, sea, and air.  And garbage dumps. #nature

Borders Wed, Sep 07, 2016
When I was a teenager, I assumed command of the family's lawn-mowing responsibilities.  That was fine and all, but what I really liked was using a weed whacker to make nice clean edges along the sidewalk.  There's just something appealing to me about a well-defined border between two separate spaces.  This is the grass, and this is the sidewalk; here is where one ends and one begins. 

This idea has carried over into my adult life in a different way.  I currently have a beard, and it's a little ridiculous and unkempt, but I always make sure I clean up the edges.  Clean lines and borders give the illusion of order, despite the fact that I haven't fully shaved in several months. 

I was reminded of my affinity for borders on my recent trip to the jungles of Peru.  I didn't necessarily mind walking around in mosquito-ridden forests or trying to avoid the glowing eyes of spiders hanging from overhead palm leaves.  But spending two nights in an open-air cabana with mosquito nets over the beds was more than unpleasant.  It wasn't simply bad in and of itself; it was bad because there was no difference between outside and inside.  The border was weak, as evidenced by the bats flying around in the bathroom. 

Taking this a step further, I think this is why I tend to form strong opinions fairly easily.  I like when things are black or white, right or wrong, winner or loser.  It makes it easier for me to group ideas and to see a difference between sides.  Unfortunately, most of life consists of borderless, edgeless gray areas.  I need to learn to live with messiness. #psychology

Teachers not teaching Tue, Aug 09, 2016
I'll never forget the time I failed to learn an important school/job skill:  Interpolation, which is a fairly simple mathematical operation to get a specific value from a table of numbers.  I was in class in college, and the professor said something about using interpolation to find a number.  One of the students raised their hand and asked him to explain.  He responded, "You know what interpolation is.  I'm not going over it."  And that was that.  Several students complained, but the professor just moved on without teaching it.  The concept itself isn't all that complicated, and it can be taught pretty easily, especially to engineering students who are already well-versed in math.  I ended up learning it on my own and still use it today on a very regular basis.  I still can't believe I had the privilege of paying to not learn something. 

It happened again another time in college, when I first encountered the concept of a hyperbolic trigonometric function.  It happened the same way, with the professor casually breezing through a part of a problem that had to do with hyperbolic functions.  I'd heard of them before, but had no real idea how to use them or what they were for, and several people in class agreed with my ignorance.  The professor said something along the lines of, "You should already know that," and simply moved on.  To this day, I still have no idea what a hyperbolic function is or what it can possibly be used for, and not only do I not care, I firmly blame that educator for my lack of knowledge. #education

Large groups and cliques Mon, Aug 08, 2016
I was hanging out with a big group of people this weekend (around 50), and several of them lamented the fact that there were cliques.  I've heard this complaint before, and it's never made any sense to me.  How are large groups of people supposed to spend time?  Sitting in a giant circle, with everyone splitting the airtime evenly between everyone's individual interests?  It makes no sense mathematically.  Large groups split into smaller groups very naturally, as people find shared interests and relatable personalities.  It's not a negative thing, as in, "You can't join our clique because you were in that other clique."  It's simple logistics:  Not everyone is identical, and time can't be split between more than say 6 or 8 people.  Any more, and one or two people will dominate the group while the rest sit around and listen.  Trust me as a quiet person, I can only listen to you for so long.  Not to mention the fact that a person like me will almost never say or do anything in front of a group of people that large.  Cliques make large groups of people operate in a realistic setting. #sociology

Extroverts are selfish Thu, Aug 04, 2016
Last week at work, a bunch of people were out of the office either on vacation or taking training.  More than one remaining person came to my desk to talk, lamenting the fact that so few people were around.  These remainders were extroverts, seeking to "recharge" by interacting with other people.  The other people they were interacting with (me) were introverts, who like to "recharge" by not interacting with other people.  I said to my extrovert wife later that extroverts are kind of selfish to force interactions with people who don't want to interact.  The extrovert in her said that introverts are selfish for wanting to keep to themselves instead of giving extroverts someone to interact with.  I guess we're all a little selfish. #sociology

Word quantity vs. quality Wed, Aug 03, 2016
I know a guy who talks a lot.  He has no internal monologue, so every idea that comes to his mind comes straight out his mouth, and every action he takes has its own play-by-play commentary. 

I, on the other hand, don't typically have much to say.  And because of my lack of abundance of words, I tend to try to make my words count.  It's almost like my friend is rich, so he doesn't mind wasting money on stupid stuff, while I'd rather spend my money wisely.  I'm not saying I'm better; it's just my observation. 

But a corollary to this is that I think word quality decreases as quantity increases.  As in, the ratio of useful to worthless words coming out of my friend's mouth is probably around 1:10, while my ratio is something more like 1:4. 

I'm reminded of the title of a book I didn't read (so I have no comment on):  Talk Less, Say More. #sociology

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