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Funeral clothes (2) Thu, Feb 25, 2010
Of the very few funerals I've attended, I've always felt improperly dressed.  As everyone knows, the dead would like us to wear nice black clothes, of which I own none.  I always show up in something like khakis and a green shirt, and I never fit in.  My clothes are too happy.  I own no sad clothes.  The closest I have is gray, and you'd be surprised how happy and exciting gray clothes look when compared to black.  I have every intention of eventually buying proper funeral clothes, but every time I'm at a store and see something that the dead would enjoy, I can't think of anyone I know who has recently died or might soon bite the big one, and so I put it off.  That's the problem with death.  So unreliable. #lifestyle

People are stupid Thu, Feb 25, 2010
In the past few years, the internet has grown tremendously as a result of the extremely low barrier to entry for content production.  Blogs, YouTube, and social networking sites are all pretty easy to use, so people are able to produce tons and tons of content on a regular basis.  This is generally a good thing, because in the past the internet was run by geeks, and geeks are boring.  Regular people want to hear about and connect with regular people, not geeks.  So the internet is good. 

The problem, however, is that people are stupid and they do stupid things.  And they record those stupid things in text and video format and publish them on the internet for all to see.  This is generally an entertaining thing, like the TV show America's Funniest Videos, but without that stupid host's voice doing a running commentary (seriously Tom Bergeron, just shut up).  Sites like Fail Blog and Failbooking have popped up to record these great moments in internet history, and again, this is a good thing.  People are stupid, and that's funny.  We should all laugh at stupid people. 

Maybe I've watched a few too many teenagers faceplant after attempting a bike jump, or maybe I've read too many personal details about people that really shouldn't have been broadcast to the entire universe, but I'm starting to change my mind about this whole thing.  Don't get me wrong, I still believe people are stupid.  But stupid used to be funny.  Now it's getting ridiculous.  Sad.  Unbelievable.  Pathetic.  Disgusting.  Horrific.  Un-undo-able.  I'm starting to doubt the earth will still be around in a few years, let alone a few generations.  We could very well die of stupidity. 

But seriously, this is pretty funny.  And this.  And this too.  And those were just from two days of content!  Thank God for stupid people. #technology

Stimulus result Wed, Feb 24, 2010
The Onion reports on the results of the $787 billion federal stimulus package from a year ago.  One of the line items:  "$2.2 million: Widened the National Debt Clock."  Har har. #money

Olympics observations (2) Wed, Feb 24, 2010
Here are some of my observations from watching the Winter Olympics: 
  1. It's weird when non-native citizens or at least non-resident citizens represent a certain country.  There was an American figure skater who represented the nation of Georgia, and there was at least one skier who lived in America but was skiing for Canada.  I'm assuming the Olympic committee has some sort of application process where you need to show them a utility bill or something like that to verify your citizenship.  But otherwise, it just seems like a good way for an Olympic hopeful to get to the games, when perhaps it might be difficult to do so, i.e. America had like 60 figure skaters, but Georgia had one.
  2. It's cool how all the athletes in a given sport make the exact same motions.  The cross-country skiing stuff particularly stuck out to me.  Since I don't typically spend my evenings watching cross-country skiing, it was fairly new to me.  And what would seem to me to be unusual or awkward physical motions like skate-skiing or using both poles at the same time, were simply the tried and true methods of excelling at that sport.  It's not like anybody had an even slightly different technique that enabled them to get ahead.  This just shows that that's how that sport works, period.  It was the same with speedskaters, which as Wendy pointed out, often looked like a school of fish as they swung their arms and glided along in unison.
  3. It's amazing that the difference between first and second place can be in the hundredths of seconds.  That pretty much proves that these people are the best in the world at what they do.  All their silly tight clothes and their aerodynamic helmets and their gold-tipped gloves have become standard components of their respective sport, which in addition to their innate physical abilities and mental focus, make them all pretty much on the same level.  And that level is high.
  4. That double-vision camera thing is awesome.  On some of the skiing events, they'll superimpose the footage of the leader on top of the current skier's footage, so it looks like one skier is chasing the other.  It's sort of a visual representation of the timer in the bottom left corner that says how close the current skier is to the leader.  I'm a sucker for stuff like that.

Gift obligation Tue, Feb 23, 2010
From an episode of The Big Bang Theory
Sheldon:  Wait! You bought me a present?
Penny:  Uh-huh.
Sheldon:  Why would you do such a thing?
Penny:  I don't know. 'Cause its Christmas?
Sheldon:  Oh, Penny. I know you think you are being generous, but the foundation of gift giving is reciprocity. You haven't given me a gift. You've given me an obligation.
Heh.  I identify, but thankfully don't feel entirely obligated to reciprocate. #psychology

Killington 2010 Fri, Feb 19, 2010
I went snowboarding in Killington, VT a few weeks ago (that's when it was really cold).  Here are some pictures: 


Unnecessary loyalty programs Thu, Feb 18, 2010
I like being rewarded for things I already do.  I've been getting my car's oil changed at the same place for several years now, and a few months ago they introduced a loyalty program that makes every seventh oil change free.  I don't have to do anything different aside from remembering to have them punch a hole in my loyalty card.  I save money by doing pretty much nothing. 

The same thing happened at our local pet food store.  We've been buying a certain type of cat food for a little while, and one day a message showed up on our receipt that said we only needed to buy this cat food a few more times before we got a free bag of it.  We were going to continue buying it anyway, but it's nice to be rewarded for doing nothing. #business

Vaccines and autism Wed, Feb 17, 2010
A few weeks ago, the British medical journal The Lancet, which originally published the paper linking autism to vaccinations, retracted that paper after a reassessment showed some questionable research and conflicts of interest.  In other words, it would appear that vaccines don't cause autism. 

Update:  The paper in question is now believed to be fraudulent. #health

Tax-funded news Wed, Feb 17, 2010
Most news coverage is entertainment.  That's how stories are chosen over other stories, and that's why everybody covers the same stories.  If it wasn't entertaining, people wouldn't watch, and then nobody would make any money.  It's the same with the weather:  Unless there's a winter storm warning, people won't pay attention.  I think that's why weather predictions are usually wrong.  If they predict a catastrophic storm that will kill all of humanity but it doesn't end up happening, hey at least you watched.  Made you look. 

With this in mind, I think there should be a taxpayer-funded news outlet that simply reports information.  NPR sort of does this already, but they're only partially taxpayer-supported.  They also require listener donations, which I don't do, and which I feel bad about.  A fully taxpayer-funded news outlet could tell you what the president did today, who won American Idol, one major death or natural disaster per day, and the weather, but only the weather that can be predicted to a reasonable accuracy, i.e. if you say it's snowing right now and I look out my window and it's not snowing, you're fired.  The problem of course would be who gets to decide what's newsworthy and what's not.  I don't have a solution for that problem.  The other problem would be who would do the reporting.  Reporters and journalists tend to get big heads based on how many people watch their pseudo news programs.  We don't need another Katie Couric.  I'm thinking we could either go with someone who already has a big head (e.g. Oprah, or Trump, or maybe Bill Gates), or it could just be an asexual colorless robot.  That way no one would get offended. #entertainment

Curved shower rod Wed, Feb 17, 2010
When booking a hotel room online, the description of each room usually includes a phrase or two that describe its use and appeal, such as "king bed with pull-out couch" or "hi-speed internet" or "grab bars in shower."  I keep coming across the inclusion of "curved shower rod," and I can't figure out what I'm supposed to think.  Is a curved showed rod a luxury item?  Am I supposed to be impressed and willing to pay more?  Or is it a safety device for the morbidly obese, i.e. "you'll have no problem fitting in the shower with our magical shower-expanding curtain rod"?  One of life's many mysteries. #travel

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