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Perpetual failure Tue, Apr 15, 2014
Lately at work I've been working on solving a complicated problem that's really just a series of smaller complicated problems.  I work at it all day, every day.  But when I go home at the end of the day, if I still haven't solved the main problem, it means I've effectively accomplished nothing.  Sure, I might've solved some small problems throughout the day, so my end-of-day status is slightly different from my start-of-day status.  But overall, if the main task isn't complete, my job isn't complete.  It's a cycle of perpetual failure. #business

We were girls Fri, Apr 11, 2014
Today I learned everyone starts life as a female:  "Whatever your sex, everyone starts off as a woman in the womb."  Sort of via Inquiring Minds. #science

Vet variety Tue, Apr 08, 2014
It's astounding to me that you can bring an animal -- pretty much any animal -- to a vet and expect a reasonable degree of veterinary knowledge.  Human doctors specialize in one species.  Vets specialize in entire classes of organisms.  If a vet can deal with a parrot, a rabbit, and a turtle on the same day, that covers pretty much half the animal kingdom. #nature

Acknowledgement Mon, Apr 07, 2014
I've been having an issue recently with people not acknowledging what I say before they respond, often with either a solution, a criticism, or a one-up.  I was telling some co-workers about a problem I've been having at work, and their responses were "Ha ha, you'll figure it out" and "That's how those things go."  While these statements may be true and perhaps even the "correct" response, I felt like the one thing that was missing was an acknowledgement that what I've been doing is difficult work and that the lack of success sucks.  I guess what I'm looking for is empathy, not a pep talk. 

A similar thing happened a while ago when I was trying to express my outrage about the government furlough.  I realize complaining isn't the pinnacle of human conversation.  But at the same time, I feel that a well-formed rational argument is at least worth an acknowledgement.  Instead, I got a lot of "It's not as bad as [x]" and "Obama is a cactus." 

The funny thing is, I'm not a "feely" person.  I've been told I don't express my feelings, and I don't express them well, and I don't express them enough.  So here I am, expressing my feelings, and all I get is non-validation.  I was under the impression that a fundamental component of human communication is acknowledging what other people say, as are listening to what other people say and responding appropriately.  Acknowledgement is validation, and without it, conversation is mostly one-sided. #sociology

Good at school, bad at work Fri, Apr 04, 2014
I was a good student in school by all objective measures.  At some point I figured out how to beat the system:  You succeed by getting good grades; you get good grades by doing well on tests and homework.  It helps if you can do this in an efficient amount of time so you can devote your waking hours to the things you enjoy.  At no point in this equation did "learning" come into play.  Or I guess you could say learning was kept to a minimum.  I learned just enough to do well on tests and homework so I could get good grades. 

Fast forward to life as an employee, and I'm finding that the way I succeeded in school puts me at a disadvantage at work.  At a job which requires a lot of the knowledge I supposedly learned in school, the fact that I didn't retain much is a little troubling.  I can try to relearn things, but I'm already behind a lot of my co-workers.  It's difficult working with people who did well in school and who also learned and retained the subject material. #education

Snow bacteria Tue, Apr 01, 2014
Snowflakes form around particles called nucleators, which can be anything from dust and soot to bacteria.  Some research showed that as much as 85% of nucleators in some regions are bacteria.  Maybe that's another reason why people say you shouldn't eat snow.  (via Radiolab) #nature

DNS security Tue, Apr 01, 2014
On the Media did a story about the inner workings of the internet's Domain Name System and the various security protocols involved in keeping the system running: 
So they have a key to a safety deposit box, which is inside the safe that they can't open, which is inside an insanely high secure facility, which they, hopefully, can't get into. So the person who knows the combination for the safe can't get in the room and can't get in the facility. The people who have the actual keys can't get anywhere, but the people who can get in the room don't know the combination or have the key. So, I mean, it does sound like something out of Oceans 11.
It's easily the most interesting thing I've heard about a really important thing that has almost no bearing on my day-to-day life. #technology

Nationalism vs. capitalism Mon, Mar 31, 2014
It seems that nationalism inherently conflicts with capitalism.  Capitalism is sort of about making and selling things for maximum profit, independent of location and people groups.  Nationalism says, "Buy American."  But it's fairly obvious either through rational thought or personal experience that any one country can't possibly make all the best products.  America might've been the best at making cars at one time, but their status has been pretty much replaced by other countries.  By being a nationalist, you're not being a capitalist.  And when the crowning achievement of your country is its economic system which it tries to export to the world, it's kind of ironic to be nationalistic. #business

Uncomfortable products Thu, Mar 27, 2014
A Greek designer redesigned a bunch of useful everyday objects to be more uncomfortable and annoying to use.  Examples include a concrete umbrella and open-toed rain boots.  (via kottke.org) #products

Naturalism and chemophobia Thu, Mar 27, 2014
Naturalism, or an appeal to nature, is the fallacy that things that are natural or found in nature are better than things that are artificial or created in a lab.  This sounds good on the outside but is of course false.  Hemlock and poison mushrooms come from nature.  Boom, argument over.  But when used in the justification of diet and medicine, naturalism always sounds reasonable to me.  I need to get over that. 

Chemophobia is the related idea that things that have complicated chemical names are inherently bad.  This is essentially an argument from ignorance.  Everything is made of chemicals, and certainly not all chemicals are bad.  Eggs contain hexadecenoic acid, and blueberries have methylbutyrate.  And these foods come from nature, so they can't be bad.  We've come full circle. #psychology

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