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Football facemasks Tue, Dec 11, 2018
I don't think I've ever seen an intentional facemask penalty in football, at any age, for any reason whatsoever.  Refs call the penalty and everyone acts like it's this big deal -- "Oh how could he do that?  He really cost his team."  Nobody grabs a facemask on purpose.  It's not a good way to make a tackle, and it's likely to break your fingers.  It's just completely nonsensical. 

I think we should simply move to either a solid plexiglass-type of facemask in place of the metal grill, or an entirely new helmet that covers the entire face with some sort of clear plastic.  For anyone who argues that the grill needs to be metal to withstand helmet-to-helmet contact -- what about the entire rest of the helmet that's already plastic?  Modern materials can take incredible punishment; the metal parts are essentially an anachronism at this point.  Plus with a full face covering, you could avoid eye pokes, and also players getting bits of turf in their eyes.  There's definitely an issue of fogging and whatnot, but I feel like that's a solvable problem. #sports

On Jordan Peterson Mon, Dec 10, 2018
I started reading Jordan Peterson's book about 12 rules.  No, this isn't a review of that book.  I read about a chapter and a half, then gave up.  I just couldn't do it.  Parts of it were interesting.  He's similar to Malcolm Gladwell in that he'll tell a completely unrelated story and then suddenly and convincingly explain why it's related to the real point he was trying to make.  I actually like that. 

I've been having a hard time trying to figure out why I didn't like his book, and I think it's as simple as:  the dude talks too much.  Too many words, not enough content.  And that's how I've felt every time I've seen one of his videos or read one of his posts.  What are you saying, and why is it taking so long for you to say it?  But I think that's sort of his appeal.  He tends to almost say things that are somewhat controversial, and then when questioned about them, says, "That's not what I said; you said that."  I feel like he could stand to be a bit more efficient with his language. 

Also he seemed to make a few unsubstantiated claims in the book that were stated almost in passing.  I've read a lot of nonfiction, and much of it is written in a sort of persuasive/explanatory manner, i.e. "This was observed; after it was tested and analyzed, it led to this next thing."  Peterson seems to use a bit of argument from authority, and honestly I'm not sure what he's an authority on (also argument from authority isn't a good way to state your case). 

But then there's the whole other issue of the kinds of people who tend to be attracted to what he says.  He's not alt-right, but he appeals to people who are.  And it's hard to pinpoint exactly how, because of all his evasive language.  But there's just something about it that I find disagreeable and frankly annoying.  This reddit comment sums it up:  "Peterson's got a great gig: pleasing conservatives without ever admitting to supporting them by twisting like an eel rhetorically."  That's exactly it. #entertainment

Gronk and Watt Mon, Dec 10, 2018
People like Rob Gronkowski and JJ Watt shouldn't exist, and I think that's why they're always injured and wear so many arm and leg braces.  Human beings shouldn't have that combination of size, strength, speed, and talent.  It's just not right. #sports

Commercial exemption Mon, Dec 10, 2018
I feel that I should be exempt from hearing and seeing commercials for things that (a) aren't available in my area, and (b) I already own.  I routinely see TV commercials for cable companies, internet service providers, and natural gas companies that I literally cannot be a customer of because they don't operate in my area.  Also, I'm already a customer of several companies that offer cell phone service, satellite TV, and make cars.  I'd like to opt out of these ads please, thanks. #business

Separating politics from the person Mon, Nov 26, 2018
Regarding the recent midterm elections, a friend posted on Facebook something to the effect of "Whether you vote red or blue, I'll still be your friend because I'm an adult" accompanied by a bunch of comments in agreement.  I guess it's sort of refreshing to hear a somewhat positive thing about politics since there's usually so much negativity. 

But here's the problem: It's really hard to separate politics from the person, because political affiliation says a lot about a person's beliefs and motivations.  I guess it might be different if there were more political parties, or at least if political parties held fewer official platforms.  But when you cast a vote for a candidate, you get everything that candidate's political party stands for, whether you want it or not.  And that's important because whether you intended to or not, you're signaling your values with your vote.  You might vote for a candidate because of their foreign policy goals, but you end up getting all their party's anti-gay marriage stuff thrown in too.  And maybe you don't mind because it doesn't affect you.  But rest assured it affects someone, perhaps a friend of a friend on Facebook.  So you might continue to go about your day on election day, being an adult and being friendly, while your gay friends have to worry about whether they'll still be allowed to have a family plan for health insurance or whether they'll have visitation rights in the hospital. 

So while some people might feel like they can be friends with people regardless of who they vote for, I have a problem separating politics from the person. #politics

The problem with social media Wed, Nov 07, 2018
Crazy people have always existed.  Lots of people have crackpot theories and racist views.  Some of them would even form a club (Flat Earth Society, the KKK) to join together with other people who shared their terrible opinions. 

The success of social media is that it connects people.  Friends from childhood, relatives of relatives, and even people who live on opposite sides of the world but share the same interests. 

The problem with social media is that it connects people.  Connection is good, but certain ideas that used to be relegated to hushed conversations in dark basements are now championed and amplified by social media's ability to bring people together and give them a voice.  It's not really social media's fault.  It's the users, i.e. us.  Social media just made it easier. #technology

Political salesman Mon, Nov 05, 2018
A few days after the birth of my child, when our house was still dim and quiet as we figured out how to address the needs of a newborn, a stranger knocked on our front door to talk about the upcoming election.  He was a young guy, probably in his 20s, handing out information about the candidate he supported.  No big deal; he was nice about it, and voting is important.  He mentioned the current politician in office and how he's had some corruption allegations waged against him.  I vaguely remembered hearing about it but didn't know much other than that.  I thanked the guy for the information and was about to close the door. 

Then he said, "As you know, the Communist Chinese are trying to hack our elections, and any vote for a democratic candidate will ruin our country."  He continued to say some words, but I literally put my hand in his face and said, "Let me stop you right there." 

It's hard to stress the difference between the calmness of my home and the invasiveness of this stranger.  But it was abrupt and unwelcome enough for me to interrupt a person (which I don't normally do) and tell him to leave my property.  I wouldn't say this interaction informed my voting decision, but it definitely didn't help. #politics

Paternity leave fiasco Thu, Nov 01, 2018
So I had a child recently.  In the months leading up to the due date, I informed my boss and coworkers that I'd be taking several weeks off for paternity leave.  Obviously I didn't know the exact date it would start, but most people are reasonable and can accommodate uncertainty like that.  When the date rolled around, I emailed my boss and a few coworkers to let them know. 

A few days later, I took a brief trip to my office to pick up my laptop in the hopes I could keep up with a few minor things while I was out.  As I entered the door to my building, one of my coworkers spotted me and said, "Ah, just the person I wanted to see."  I happily informed him the baby had arrived, so my paternity leave started and I was just stopping in the office real quick.  He said a brief congratulations, and followed it up in the same breath with "the project manager was hoping for a status update on that thing you were working on."  My smile turned into a half-smile as I reminded him of the words I had just spoken, i.e. I'm on paternity leave.  His face started to show a little distress as he reiterated that a person had requested information regarding a task I had been working on. 

A little background on my job without going into too much detail:  I work in research and development.  Schedules routinely slip.  The atmosphere is largely relaxed, and work gets accomplished when it gets accomplished.  Most people aren't in a rush.  It's probably less than ideal in terms of productivity, but it is what it is.  That said, the work I do in general is fairly unimportant, and this task in particular was a side project I agreed to do as a favor.  Actually it was a favor to this coworker who hasn't kept up with modern technology and is unable to do things as quickly or efficiently as me.  I'm not mad about it; it's really not a problem for me to write some code to automate some tasks.  That's why I agreed to do it.  But as a favor, it held fairly low priority for me.  That, coupled with the fact that the originator of the task wasn't very forthcoming with instructions or specifics, signaled to me that it was of somewhat low importance. 

Anyway, I got to my computer at my desk and sent out the birth announcement to some coworkers.  I got several sincere congratulations, which I appreciated.  But my boss sent a reply that basically said, "Congrats, also what's the status on that task?  The guy was asking about it." 

The vindictive, passive aggressive part of me thought, "If you expected the task to be delayed a few weeks, you can tack a few more weeks onto the end of that."  But instead I sent an email to all involved that detailed the status of the task before I left, and an expected resumption of the task upon my return from paternity leave.  About a week later, I got another email from my coworker who said they wanted me to finish the task while I was out and that my boss "was traveling for one of YOUR programs" (actual email) and so he was unable to do it himself. 

This pissed me off for a few reasons, not the least of which because my 50-year-old coworker sends emails like a teenage girl.  One reason is that I think birth and maternity leave and paternity leave and sick leave and vacation time and really any personal thing should be respected by employers and coworkers, especially for employees who are solidly reliable workers, and especially for first-time parents.  And especially when the work is unimportant. 

But the other, bigger, reason this pissed me off was because these two people, grown adults with children of their own, should've known better than to intrude on my time like that, and they should've had the balls to stand up for me and tell the project manager that I was on paternity leave and would complete the task when I returned.  If that answer was insufficient, they should've found somebody else to do the work.  End of story.  There's really no need to pester a person about a meaningless task during a vulnerable time in their lives, and grown adults should really be able to stand up for their peers.  I really don't think it's asking too much to request that a coworker literally just tell the truth to a manager.  It doesn't look bad on them, and if somebody thinks it looks bad on me, I don't give a flying fuck.  I'm too good of a worker to get fired (see the aforementioned about automation and efficiency). 

In the end, I ignored that last email and just didn't do anything about it, completely out of spite.  And when I finally got back to the office, it turned out they found somebody else to do the work. #business

Athletic talent and loss Mon, Oct 29, 2018
Athletic talent tends to filter up.  The best athletes in middle school get invited to play for the best traveling teams.  The best athletes from those teams get selected to play at the best private high schools.  The best athletes from those schools get signed to play at the best colleges.  But then the system breaks down.  The best athletes in college get drafted by the worst professional teams because of the lottery system. 

Something I've been noticing for a while now is that good athletes don't know how to lose.  You'll have an athlete who's won state championships in high school and national championships in college, but then lose their first several or dozen games with their professional team.  They literally haven't lost since they were children.  As much as it's a good thing to select for talent and success, I feel like it sometimes hurts the process when a person never experiences losing. #sports

Millennial ghosting Thu, Oct 25, 2018
Millennials get blamed for everything, and it's unfair.  But there's this thing called "ghosting" which is when you cut off all contact with a person without telling them a reason.  This is apparently a thing millennials do. 

So at my job, we go through booms and busts, and we've recently been under a hiring freeze.  That freeze was lifted, and we looked for some people to fill some positions.  I work in a pretty specific industry that requires some pretty specific skills, so there aren't a lot of qualified applicants.  But we finally managed to find a few and gave job offers to two of them.  One of them accepted and started a few months ago.  The other accepted, but then we lost contact with him.  Emails and phone calls went unanswered.  The dude ghosted us. 

Ghosting isn't even a thing.  It's a lack of a thing.  It's a temporary method of avoiding an uncomfortable situation.  Instead of calling or emailing to tell an employer, "Oh hey actually I got a better offer from someone else, so thanks but sorry" you just ignore the problem and go on your way like nothing happened.  Guess what?  That employer selected you over other applicants.  They spent time and energy and money trying to employ you, and you can bet your ass you'll never get that courtesy from them again.  Grow the fuck up.  An entire population is criticizing your generation for being lazy and entitled, and you interact with them by being lazy and entitled.  Be an adult.  Stop ghosting. #sociology

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