Political hobbyists
I'm starting to view politics as just another hobby people have.  Some people are into cars, some people are into sports, some people are into movies.  And some people are into politics.  They read about politics, they watch TV shows and videos that discuss different political topics in depth, then they bring up those topics in conversations with people.  Have you ever had a conversation with a car guy where you're already way out of your league, and then he brings up some obscure factoid about fuel injection pumps?  Yeah that's how I feel about anything involving "the speaker of the house" or "the debt ceiling" or whatever the flavor of the week happens to be.  That's your hobby, not mine. 

There are two sort of major sticking points with this way of thinking, which I'll briefly admit and then promptly dismiss.  One is that the subject of politics often goes hand in hand with the subject of current events.  Or perhaps more accurately, politics sort of has its slimy tentacles in every conceivable space in our lives, which makes it a continuous, unending current event.  In general, it's probably good to be aware of current events so you understand what's happening in the world and maybe appreciate your part in it.  Alternatively, you can willfully remain hopelessly ignorant and be no worse for wear.  In the grand scheme of things, it literally doesn't matter. 

The other sticking point is that knowledge of politics, and maybe current events more broadly, carries an air of intelligence.  Or at least that's how it seems.  Other hobby topics don't carry that weight.  I've met smart car people and smart sports people, but I've never felt inferior because I didn't know what an overhead camshaft is or what the infield fly rule is.  But I've definitely felt inferior for not knowing tax policies or healthcare reform bills.  Maybe that's just me though. #politics

Refund cards
I moved recently, and I had the distinct pleasure of interacting with my local cable/internet company.  They pre-bill, and I moved about halfway through the month.  So they said, "Oh hey, no big deal, we'll send you a refund."  This was a little difficult because, like I said, I moved, but they eventually found my new address and sent me a thing.  Why in the name of holy fuck they couldn't just refund my credit card directly, since that's the payment method I used dutifully for years, I'll never understand. 

Or maybe I will.  So instead of sending me a refund check, they sent me a refund debit card, which is apparently a common thing these days.  A refund debit card works like a regular credit card, or at least that's the idea.  I activated it and tried to use it at a store but it wouldn't work.  I'm 99% sure that's part of the grift -- these debit cards charge ridiculous fees and have a bunch of small print, very likely in an attempt to make it too frustrating to use.  And that's the whole business model of companies that issue refund debit cards.  It's apparently "too expensive" or "too difficult" for cable and other companies to directly issue refunds to customers, so they contract that process out to a third party company which makes things difficult and unpleasant enough to make customers just give up and abandon their money.  Thankfully there was an option to transfer the balance to my bank account, which I'm still not entirely sure isn't a scam.  But either way, I got my money, and I haven't gotten an influx of spam (yet). #money

Moving risk
I recently moved, and the moving company refused to take things like cleaning chemicals, petroleum products, and compressed gases like propane tanks.  I get it:  it's dangerous and moving companies can't handle the liability or whatever.  But I ended up just transporting in my car, so the risk was absolutely still there, but it was all on me.  The moving company didn't mitigate the risk in any way, they just transferred it to me.  And yes I realize I could've just snuck some of that stuff into boxes (and I did) since I was paying multiple thousands of dollars for this service, but it's the principle.

Ownership responsibility
Sometimes owning things is a responsibility.  I recently moved, and I took a bunch of plastic stuff to the dump to recycle it but was told it couldn't be recycled.  So I brought it all back home and put it out on the curb on garbage day.  I felt a little guilty throwing out plastic stuff, but I didn't realize when I bought it that I'd be responsible for its lifetime and eventual demise.  There wasn't any info from the store or on the receipt saying something like, "Oh hey you're responsible for disposing of this properly."  Ideally this should be handled by the manufacturer, but hey that's not the kind of world we live in.

Six-on-six basketball
This 99% Invisible podcast episode about girls six-on-six basketball in Iowa is fascinating.  I'd never heard of the sport, but it's basically full-court three-on-three, but with separate offenses and defenses.  The Title IX legislation of the 1970s unintentionally favored classic five-on-five basketball like the boys played.  I was particularly floored by this statement: 
Title IX is a federal civil rights law passed in 1972. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any educational program or activity that receives federal financial assistance.

It was motivated by explicit discrimination in colleges -- such as women being barred from certain programs and courses, as well as the mistreatment of female faculty members. People weren't even thinking of sports when Title IX was passed because the disparity was so taken for granted.

Thomas Brackett Reed, referring to two of his colleagues in the House of Representatives in the late 1800s
They never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge.

Discrete vs. continuous sports
There was a little interesting tidbit mentioned in this Freakonomics podcast episode with Michael Lewis regarding statistics in different types of sports: 
It's just so much harder to generate good statistics out of a flow sport like basketball or a really complicated sport like football. Baseball, it's very easy to isolate and assign credit and blame on a field and capture it with a statistic.

I've never heard the idea of grouping different sports into "flow" and "non-flow" categories, but it makes a ton of sense.  Sports like basketball and soccer have all players in continuous motion doing all kinds of things at once, while sports like baseball are centered around discrete events involving only a few players at a time.  Football is more of a mixture of continuous and discrete where there are continuous events (a single play) happening at discrete times (between when the center snaps the ball and when the referee blows the whistle). #sports

Static vs. dynamic markets
I'm not an economist, but I've noticed there's a fundamental difference between markets where you buy a widely available item, like cookies or clothes or a car, versus markets where the supply is irregular, like buying a house or finding a job (maybe not technically a market, but it follows the same trend).  For the former, you can pretty much go to any market at pretty much any time, and you can buy pretty much the same thing.  Sure things change a little over time, but it's a fairly static market in that it doesn't really matter when or where you make the purchase.  For houses and jobs, the market is more dynamic, where the offerings could be completely different from one day to the next.  Plus a buyer can't typically own more than one at a time, so it comes down largely to timing and chance. #money

College state
That "state" in college sports really makes a difference.  Michigan State vs. Ohio is very different from Michigan vs. Ohio State. #sports

Competent redundancy
At my old job, I wasn't usually the smartest person in the room, but I was often the only person in the room who knew how to do certain things.  This wasn't necessarily a bad thing, because it's good to be competent, and it's also good to be valuable.  But it often felt like if I wasn't there, my tasks wouldn't get done.  It was a single point of failure. 

At my new job, it feels the exact opposite.  Not only am I not the smartest person in the room, but the room is also filled with a lot more competent people, and there's beneficial redundancy.  If one person is incapable or unable to do something, another person can fill in the gap. #business

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