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Resident pessimist Fri, Jul 28, 2017
I received one of the highest compliments the other day from a coworker.  She called me the "resident pessimist" of our organization.  This sounds like a negative thing, and it sort of is.  But to me it's incredibly positive. 

I've kind of always been a negative person.  I like to think of myself as a realist or a pragmatist, but this often comes across as negativity.  This bothered me for a while, most notably during my conservative Christian years, because negativity seemed sort of out-of-character for a modern Christian.  Plus, negativity is generally viewed as unfavorable in relationships and social settings. 

But after my emergence from religion, I settled on the personal philosophy of just being myself, which included embracing my negativity.  I'm not negative about everything; I enjoy some things, and I like some people.  But if someone is being overly enthusiastic about something they have no experience with (which happens at my job all the time) or making ridiculous claims that have no basis in physical reality, I have no problem raining on their parade with cold hard facts.  In fact, I enjoy it.  Being ruthlessly pragmatic to the point of negativity is sort of how I was born to be.  I'm finally ok with that, and it feels good to be recognized for it. #psychology

Justice isn't blind Tue, Jul 18, 2017
I find it odd and kind of embarrassing that our country doesn't practice blind justice.  We think we do, and many historical representations of Lady Justice have some sort of blindfold to suggest that laws and punishments are enforced and meted out without regard for the personal qualities of the accused.  But that's plainly not true.  Legal cases are decided in a courtroom, where the defendant is clearly visible to the judge and more importantly the jury.  If justice was blind, no one would know the identity of the accused, or their race or gender.  Seeing a person in a courtroom in baggy jeans, an offensively-themed t-shirt, and facial tattoos suggests guilt.  Facts and legal arguments are unnecessary.  Whether or not that person is guilty, I see that as a problem. #law

Normalized numbers Mon, Jul 03, 2017
I was reading something the other day that mentioned a person's IQ score being 120, and I couldn't remember if that was good or bad.  That's the problem with IQ scores and quarterback passer rating and any other numbers that aren't on a common scale:  You need two pieces of information (your score and the maximum score) to communicate anything meaningful to another person.  That's why I think we should use normalized numbers more often.  A normalized number is typically your score divided by the maximum score, which gives a value between zero and one.  Multiply that by 100 and you've calculated a percentage, which comes with its very own symbol (%) and is recognizable by pretty much every human being on earth.  We already do this for test scores in school, batting averages in baseball (normalized, not percentaged), and tons of other things.  Keeping a number non-normalized doesn't retain any additional information or add any benefit.  Just normalize it. #math