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Circular fields (2) Thu, Jul 31, 2008
It has just come to my attention that circular fields used for farming are circular because of irrigation systems that rotate around a fixed point (the center of the field).  I thought it had something to do with harvesting being easier when done in one smooth motion, more like a spiral. #psychology

Overdraft protection (1) Thu, Jul 31, 2008
One time when I was in college, I tried to use my debit card to buy something and was told by the cashier that my card was being denied by the payment system for some reason.  I figured out shortly thereafter that I was broke, and the debit card machine correctly denied me from making a purchase.  In plain English, my bank said, "You're trying to get money from where there's no money.  You can't do that." 

Fast forward several years.  I have a job, tons of money (compared to when I was in college), and am sharing a bank account with my wife.  One day I make the simple mistake of transferring some money to savings, and the next day we get hit with five separate overdraft protection fees.  There would've been more, but apparently we (or automatic bill pay) only tried to access our money five times in that 24-hour span.  In plain English, my bank said, "You're trying to get money from where there's no money.  We'll charge you for that, so now you'll have less than no money." 

Overdraft "protection" is broken.  What exactly am I being protected from?  Accessing my lack of money?  The correct course of action when there are insufficient funds should be denial.  But since we live in America, people spend money they don't have, and banks offering free checking need to have some form of income.  I personally wouldn't mind if overdraft protection was abolished.  But since I know it won't be, I've changed my life around to never use a debit card to buy anything.  Credit cards to the rescue.  At least they have credit limits. #money

Polymath (2) Tue, Jul 29, 2008
A polymath is "a person with encyclopedic, broad, or varied knowledge or skills."  It's ironic that I didn't know that. #psychology

Totally Looks Like Fri, Jul 25, 2008
Best new website of the week:  Totally Looks Like, where people upload pictures of famous people or things that totally look like someone or something else.  There's the infamous Wilford Brimley and the lookalike cat, but other notables include John Kerry / Herman Munster, Bill Gates / Janet Reno, Pope Benedict / Darth Sidious, and Ron Paul / Magneto.  Ok, heck, they're all good.  Just look at all of them. #technology

Dog shoes (4) Fri, Jul 25, 2008
A good indication of the state of decay of our nation is something like this: 


Dogs with sweaters:  -1 star.  Dogs in carriers:  -3 stars.  Dogs with four little purple shoes:  -17 stars. #nature

Paid parking (4) Fri, Jul 25, 2008
Charging a person for space in which to park a vehicle is the easiest way to make money by doing nothing.  It's one of those things that would get me really angry if I thought about it long enough, so I usually just don't think about it.  The thing that's great about paying for parking is when there's absolutely no choice in the matter.  It's not like you have a choice between paying $10 for a good spot, $5 for an ok spot, or $0 for a far away spot.  It's all one flat rate.  This happens with things like baseball games in the middle of nowhere.  There's no possible way to walk there, so every person will inevitably come in a vehicle.  There's no other place to park, so every vehicle will inevitably park at the field.  And instead of including an extra $5 or $10 in the price of the ticket, every carload of people is unpleasantly surprised by the fact that they're forced to pay for parking.  There's no way out of it.  You either pay or you leave.  God bless America. 

Maybe it's similar to why airlines charge for food and headphones.  Giving things out for free means everyone will take it and not think twice about it.  Charging money for it forces people to decide if they really want it, and in many cases they choose a different option, like buying their food from somewhere else or bringing their own headphones.  That makes sense in terms of parking because there's always limited parking.  Charging people for parking forces them to carpool, which frees up spots for more people. 

But in reality, they should just make bigger parking lots or taller parking garages.  Or they should build their stadium right next to a train station.  Either way, being charged for parking is just another reason why many people don't feel bad about urinating and dumping garbage all over the parking lot.  If you're charging money to park there, you surely have people to clean everything up.  What goes around comes around. #money

Crepuscular rays Thu, Jul 24, 2008
Crepuscular rays are beams of sunlight that shine through gaps in clouds or between other objects. #nature

Cat vomit Thu, Jul 24, 2008
Similar to my infamous anti-dog-poop sign, here's another one: 

[Image: catvomit.jpg]

Conveniently available in English and Spanish, and quite graphic as well.  Seen on Stuff On My Cat. #nature

No-credit class Thu, Jul 24, 2008
This morning, in addition to the past four Thursday mornings, was spent in a classroom.  "But Dave, I thought you finished your graduate degree and are done with learning forever."  You're right.  Or at least I thought I was done.  If it were up to me, I'd be done.  Heck, if it were up to me, I'd be spending all my time and energy trying to unlearn everything.  Drinking, fist-fighting, staring at the sun for hours.  But no.  My boss wanted me to take this class because it happens to have the same name as the department I work for.  Convenient.  But this class has a catch, or rather, a few catches: 
  1. It's absolutely not interesting (though that's not exactly surprising).  Now I'll admit that I'm not interested in all aspects of my job.  But there are certain parts of it that interest me.  This class is not one of them.
  2. It's too theoretical.  The teacher is a college professor, and like every college professor, he has no concept of real life.  Apparently he's spent some time in the real world and gotten paid to do some real work, but it appears he's forgotten all that and gone back to his roots.  Equations, proofs, examples involving ideal conditions and perfect spheres.  Just give me one example where actual work was done on an actual product that had an actual outcome!  Just one!
  3. It's for no credit.  That's right.  A college-level class, complete with homework and tests, of which none are graded, and at the end of which no credit is earned.
Sometimes it feels good to write these things down to lend legitimacy to what gets to me. #education

Overwarned Mon, Jul 21, 2008
The Consumerist has a post on those California cancer chemicals warning labels.  Generally speaking, the warning labels encourage a certain level of public safety, but in actuality, their purpose is mostly litigious.  One negative side effect of the abundance of these warning labels is a general disregard for them. 
Warning labels that warn against any infinitesimal risk are essentially useless. The outbreak of warning labels spawned by Proposition 65 is so widespread that consumers are being conditioned to ignore them. Even if some of these labels are trying to warn us against a legitimate risk, we are likely to ignore them since these labels "cry wolf" more than they protect us.
It seems that there's a danger in overwarning.  Too many warnings with too few observable effects (i.e. getting cancer from one of these products) is a bad thing. #products

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