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Expecting a baby Mon, May 21, 2018
I'm expecting a baby in a few months, and it's an odd sensation.  I know it will completely and permanently alter my life in countless ways, but I'm just not sure of the details.  I mean I know I'll never sleep again, and I'll never have free time or energy again.  But how will I feel about that? 

Having a due date is sort of like planning for a major event like a wedding, where you're saving up money, buying various necessities, and generally counting down the days.  Except it's less like a wedding and more like a natural disaster.  You know something big is gonna happen, and it'll affect every aspect of your entire life, and so all you can do is sit there and wait for it to happen.  Also it won't happen gradually like a slow-moving volcano in Hawaii; it'll be all at once like a fucking meteorite.  In short, I'm panicking, but only a little bit at a time. 

I haven't spent much mental energy worrying about things -- will the child be a human, will it have a sufficient number of limbs, will it inherit my baldness?  And the simple reason is that it's too late now.  You can back out of a wedding; you can cancel travel plans; you can get a tattoo removed.  You can't undo a pregnancy (I mean obviously you can, but we're past that point).  It's happening, and as much as we can paint and prep and read books, we're still just sitting around waiting for that meteorite to land on our heads. #lifestyle

Learned disgust Thu, May 03, 2018
A recent episode of NPR's Hidden Brain called Crickets and Cannibals talked about the idea of disgust and how it's a learned instinct.  Most, if not all, traits we consider instincts are ingrained from birth.  Survival, how and what to eat, and rearing young are all generally things that will happen without learning them.  Disgust is sort of different in that young children aren't disgusted by things like poop and snot, but they learn those reactions and then internalize them as a sort of instinct. 

This is especially obvious when considering the diets of different people groups from around the world.  What we eat is essentially prescribed to us by our culture, and that's not entirely a bad thing.  But you really don't have to look that far to see cultures that eat horses or bugs -- animals that are considered immoral or repulsive to most Americans' palates.  But there's nothing inherently immoral or repulsive about eating those things.  Horses are essentially just skinny cows, and bugs are called shellfish when they live in water.  We obviously have no problem eating either of them. 

The main problem is that disgust is a particularly difficult instinct to break.  It's clear that certain "disgusting" things really aren't disgusting and are merely the instincts learned from our respective culture.  But knowing that fact doesn't change how we feel.  I ate a cricket protein bar once, and aside from it not tasting very good, it was hard to get over the idea that I was eating crushed bugs.  It really shouldn't bother me; plenty of people and animals eat bugs, and crickets are an efficient source of protein.  But it still wasn't a pleasant experience.  I wonder how long it would take, or how many repetitions would be required to break a person's learned disgust? #psychology