|No easy home projects
|I'm a homeowner, and I occasionally have to attempt to fix things. I'll look up a tutorial or watch a video about how to do what I'm trying to do, and it's always some guy wearing gloves (always), using his pristine and extensive tool collection to calmly work in a well-lit, comfortable environment where he has exactly the right tool for every single task, and everything works on the first try. Everything takes 5-10 minutes, there's no blood involved, and no one cries.
This has never once been my experience.
The standard instructional video starts with "Step 1 - remove the old stuff by simply unscrewing it", and that takes me an entire weekend and seven trips to the hardware store before I finally give up and just Dremel it to death. #lifestyle
- I own close to a million tools, and I'm always missing the exact right one. I just had to buy extra-long Torx bits from the hardware store last weekend, because of course I did.
- I'm always hunched over a project, or wedged beneath it. There's literally no other way to replace a bathroom faucet unless you remove the floor.
- My lights are never bright enough, or they never shine far enough, or my big dumb head produces too big of a shadow.
- My gloves rip the second they come in contact with anything metal, plastic, or wood.
- My hands and/or body are always covered in blood. I just received a puncture wound IN THE TOP OF MY HEAD from a fucking nail in the fucking roof of the fucking attic.
- Every screw is stuck with rust, every removable thing is jammed or broken, and everything eventually requires me to destroy it to proceed.
- Every piece, part, and product I deal with is non-standard, e.g. extra-long supply lines, extra-wide drain attachments, extra-high voltage wires, etc.
|Penn State chant
|Penn State University has this chant they do, notably at football games, where half the crowd shouts "we are" and the other half shouts "Penn State". It's cute; it's wholesome; ESPN did a special on it.
Here's the thing: It's dumb. Fans do it during the game, at mostly inappropriate times. The offense is on the field, or the defense is on the field, and the fans are doing this dumb chant that has literally nothing to do with what's happening in the game they're supposedly cheering on. Oh, and the chant ends with "thank you" and "you're welcome" which makes my skin crawl.
Plenty of colleges have dumb chants. Auburn has "War Eagle". Oklahoma has "Boomer Sooner". These are meaningless dumb things fans say during games to sort of cheer on their team. But at least most cheers are quick and simple and happen at the right time: Before kickoff, or after a touchdown, or coming back from commercial break. At Penn State, it's 2nd down and 17 after their quarterback got sacked, down by 21 points in the third quarter against a conference rival, and the fans do this dumb chant to perfectly signal how much they're not paying attention. #sports
|Economics vs. knowledge
|America has a student loan problem. The blame is some sort of combination of the following:
But I think an even bigger issue is that higher education has become an issue of economics instead of knowledge. We value degrees that can lead to high-paying jobs, and by association we de-value degrees that have no obvious or prosperous career path. We tend to look down on things like art history or women's studies because there are few to no jobs in those fields. And I think that's an issue.
- students borrowing too much
- colleges offering worthless majors
- lenders preying on naive borrowers
- loans backed by the government
- colleges charging too much
I think there's value in knowledge. It's not always obvious right away, and it might not be worth a lot of money. But I think it's good for a society to know things, and to build up a collective base of knowledge, either because it might benefit someone someday, or just for the sake of being knowledgeable. And it's not just to win at bar trivia night, or because you might be on Jeopardy. Knowledge can be something that's important in ways that you can't predict. It doesn't necessarily create insight, or new ideas, or make lots of money. But it can, and it's important in its own right.
|A study found that rocket scientists and brain surgeons aren't smarter than the general public. I was actually just thinking about this recently. Those disciplines aren't some sort of obscure, hidden knowledge obtained through a secretive quest. It's just people who had some sort of baseline ability and interest in a topic, then studied and worked hard for a while. Not to understate their accomplishments or overstate my abilities, but I could do that. Most people could. There's a huge caveat that it depends where you live and how your local schools are and all sorts of things. But in general, most people can do most things.
I think it's weird that rocket science and brain surgery are put on a pedestal, when really any specialized discipline is essentially equally difficult and impressive. Electricians regularly work with an invisible death force, yet the average person has no idea how it works much less how to wire an electrical outlet. Modern life would essentially stop if electricians stopped showing up to work. Similarly, I hired a guy to redo some drywall in my house, not because I'm unable, but because I'm not good at it. The work he produced nearly brought tears to my eyes because it was so good. In other words, trust experts.
I think rocket science and brain surgery get singled out at least partly because those subjects are inherently more risky. Or more specifically, the likelihood of an incident is higher, and the consequences are quite bad. Getting a rocket to lift off and fly straight is difficult, and if it fails it causes a big boom with lots of fire (high likelihood, high consequence). This happens frequently enough that it's a legitimate concern for engineers and safety people. A similar discipline like structural engineering is just as difficult, and the consequences of a bridge or building falling down are just as bad, but the likelihood is much lower (low likelihood, high consequence). It's the same for brain surgery, but in the reverse order. If a dentist screws up a tooth surgery, they can just try again next time (low likelihood, low consequence). If a surgeon screws up a brain surgery, that patient is permanently altered (low likelihood, high consequence).
[This has been your introduction to Risk Assessment.]
Finally, rocket science doesn't really exist. Science is the application of the scientific method to further knowledge about a subject. Not to put too fine of a point on it, but we pretty much know everything we're gonna know about rockets (dangerous claim to make, but I did it). The science is essentially settled (combine some chemicals or ignite them to produce an energetic reaction). What we're really talking about when we say "rocket science" is "rocket engineering", i.e. how do I apply this scientific knowledge to shoot a person at another planet? But "rocket engineering" just doesn't have the same ring. #science
|Former Vice President Mike Pence said of abortion rights, "Americans are ready for an end to the judicial tyranny of Roe v Wade." I'm not sure he understands what the word tyranny means. Merriam-Webster says tyranny is "cruel and unfair treatment by people with power over others." Roe v Wade doesn't force people to get abortions. You can easily and rightfully go your entire life without getting an abortion. Being able to get a safe, legal abortion is not tyranny; forcing a person against their will to carry a pregnancy to term ... literally is. #politics