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On dragons Tue, May 14, 2019
A few points about the dragons in Game of Thrones: 
  1. I have a hard time believing they could possibly fly.  Airplanes fly because they have gigantic wings and are propelled by powerful engines.  Birds and bugs fly by flapping their wings to lift their lightweight bodies.  Birds have hollow bones, and feathers weigh almost nothing.  Dragons on the other hand are big, bulky creatures with scales and completely aerodynamically useless tails.  The wing size required to lift a body that big would most likely make them too big to flap.
  2. Fire doesn't automatically make things explode.  When the dragons are flying around and fireblasting the ground and buildings, wooden and brick structures are shown exploding into bits.  In reality, it would be like spraying something with a hose.  Maybe a firehose, but still not a method of destroying solid things.
  3. Ok, dragons fly.  Ok, dragons breathe fire.  But where is this fire coming from, and how is it produced?  Is it like a propane tank, or is the fire created as needed by mixing chemicals like an epoxy gun?  Either way, surely there's a limit to how much fire can be created in a specific amount of time.  Destroying an entire city is a bit out of the question, because the dragon would need to refill or recharge.
Or, you know, it's magic. #entertainment

Party City helium shortage Mon, May 13, 2019
This is the one of the weirdest articles I've ever read:  Party City closing 45 stores as helium shortage hurts sales.  It starts off with "the retail chain will close 45 of its 870 stores this year".  Standard economic ups and downs.  But no, this is happening because of a global helium shortage.  The company is "missing its revenue 'in large part due to helium supply pressures'".  That's an unintentional joke if I ever saw one. 
Helium may be the second most plentiful element in the universe, but it's also one of the lightest and doesn't form molecules easily with heavier atoms," Bylund wrote. "Hence, the helium we use ends up floating into space, never to be seen again. There is no economically efficient way to manufacture the gas, so the bulk of the worldwide helium supply is a byproduct of natural gas extraction.
There's a little science lesson for you, and it seems pretty legit.  And the kicker came at the end, which is why "the response really requires someone in another industry to do something first".  Later in the article we learn about "the government-run U.S. Federal Helium Reserve in Amarillo, Texas".  The h-what?  That's a real thing? 

I've never learned so many useless facts about something I care so little about. #business

Good at math Wed, May 01, 2019
I've been pretty good at math my whole life.  As an adult I found all my old school records, and even the standardized tests from first grade said I was in the 99th percentile for math (and in the 70s for reading comprehension; still an issue to this day). 

The thing is though, math never felt easy for me.  I put just as much work and struggle and frustration into it as all my classmates, but it seemed to work out for me better than for them.  I don't know why that is. 

I do think a certain amount of it is innate, and I did nothing to deserve or earn that.  But by saying an ability is simply a product of birth, it negates the time and effort and confusion and failure I've invested in it. 

But at the same time, claiming an achievement came from time and effort also negates the lack of success experienced by people who did the same things as me. 

A recent TED Radio Hour episode was about math, and I particularly related to the part by mathematician Dan Finkel who said that math is all about being ok with being stuck.  That essentially describes my entire job and all the education that led up to it.  I don't particularly like the feeling of being stuck; I don't seek it out and relish it when I find it.  I tolerate it.  And then I make some progress.  And that's apparently why I'm good at math.  #math

In praise of ignorance Tue, Apr 23, 2019
I think ignorance is unfairly maligned.  We use "ignorant" as an insult; it's something we look down on.  But really, ignorance just means lack of knowledge.  You didn't know; that's it.  Ignorance can be fixed ... with knowledge.  Ignorance is really just an opportunity to learn something.  It doesn't mean you're stupid, or that your brain is broken, or that you're less than.  You can learn that piece of information, or that set of facts, or that concept, and you'll no longer be ignorant.  Ignorance can be a positive thing, if we just approach it that way. #psychology

Too many fail videos Mon, Mar 11, 2019
Things I'll never try because I've seen too many fail videos:  flaming shots of alcohol, hoverboards, exercise ball wars. #sociology

Criminalizing goodwill Tue, Mar 05, 2019
Some people got convicted and fined for leaving jugs of water out in the Arizona desert to help migrants likely entering the country illegally.  I get that we are a nation of laws and borders and by not respecting them our society will collapse.  But at some point it'd be nice to just admit that we're talking about human beings here.  Walking, breathing, thinking human beings with families, hobbies, ideas.  Oh, and they're not just on a walking tour of the southwest desert.  They're fleeing for their lives, from gun and gang violence and political instability.  Maybe we don't owe them anything, but could we at least not make it a crime to give them water? #politics

Everyday phrases Wed, Feb 13, 2019
Here's a brief list of phrases I say every single day of my life: 
  • It's [current year].
  • How are you literally this bad at [your task]?
  • We've launched rockets to the moon, but we can't accomplish [some simple task].
  • Can you just be better?
  • Are you fucking kidding?
El fin. #psychology

Don't talk about politics Thu, Jan 31, 2019
I've been thinking about this topic for a long time now, and I finally found someone to say exactly what I was thinking.  Bill Maher put it so eloquently on Real Time a few weeks/months ago: 
"Everyone these days says that the way to bridge our frightful partisan divide is to talk to the other side so we can hear each other's point of view.  No!  That's exactly what you shouldn't do.  It never works.  No one ever flips to your side.  Talk to them, yes.  But not about politics."
Holy christ I couldn't agree more.  I don't know what it is about me personally, but I find myself constantly surrounded by people who want to talk politics, and by politics I mean Republican party talking points like how all immigrants are ISIS and how NASA invented climate change so it could sell more telescopes.  One way to make America great again would be to retreat back to a time when politics wasn't talked about openly.  I'd like that. #politics

Trump umbrella Thu, Jan 17, 2019
So there's this video of Donald Trump getting on a plane and leaving his umbrella behind. 

This is troubling for two reasons.  One is that I honestly don't think he knows how to close an umbrella.  But hey, not everyone knows everything.  Knowledge can be taught; not a big deal. 

But the bigger issue is that this small act is emblematic of an immensely larger issue:  Trump is used to having people do things for him, like carrying his umbrella, or paying off his opponents.  But more importantly, he's used to having other people take care of problems he creates.  Instead of simply bringing the umbrella inside the plane, or finding some minion to hand it to, he simply leaves it there for someone else to take care of.  The epitome of "Not my problem." 

I know this is a small issue, and everybody freaks out about small issues, and everybody is tired of people freaking out about small issues.  But as the president of the country, a democratically-elected representative of the people should at least be capable of showing a small semblance of connection to the people he represents.  This small event shows that Trump is ridiculously out of touch with reality. #politics

Political duopoly Wed, Jan 16, 2019
I can't stop thinking about this podcast episode I listened to by Freakonomics called America's Hidden Duopoly, which is all about how America's political system is specifically rigged to have two competing parties which work together to stamp out competition and impede overall progress in order to maintain their duopoly.  It keeps coming to mind every time there's a politicized issue in the news (which is literally constantly), and it's plain to see that it's just another example of a dividing line to keep both sides strong and opposed to each other.  The idea is sort of a conspiracy theory, but the fact that politics is literally an industry that generates money sort of lends some credibility. #politics

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