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Teachers and curriculum Thu, Aug 29, 2013
I wonder if part of the reason why kids hate school so much is because the curriculum is designed by people who like learning.  Literature curricula include "classics" that seem to be either loved or hated.  Nobody feels moderately about Shakespeare.  The same goes for science and math.  Do you really need to know how to prove a geometry theorem or what the atomic weight of Unobtainium is?  Of course not, unless you're going into a career field that might value that knowledge.  These topics are covered because a bunch of academics got together and decided that's what everyone should know. #education

Hulu on Roku Wed, Aug 28, 2013
I've been using the Hulu app on Roku for the past few months, and it's one of the best and worst things ever.  It's great because it streams tons of content and even has some good original programming.  It's bad because it's terribly designed.  For one, it's god-awful slow.  It feels like it might be trying to do too much at once.  All I really want is quick and easy access to the shows I want to watch.  I don't need the constant reminders about documentaries and cartoons.  It's also very unresponsive to clicks with the remote.  It takes a while to play or pause or do anything.  Finally, why are there commercials when I'm paying for Plus?  I realize my paid subscription gets me access to more content, but why show me commercials?  That's stupid.  Also, one major missing piece:  CBS.

Panda hate Wed, Aug 28, 2013
The gist of Why I Hate Pandas and You Should Too is similar to my post a few years ago on the topic:  Pandas don't like reproducing, and they only eat wood.

Dog blood Mon, Aug 26, 2013
Interesting quote from NPR:  "America is facing a blood shortage -- a shortage of dog blood."  My thoughts exactly.

The end of dentistry Mon, Aug 19, 2013
I hereby predict that we will one day live in a world without dentists. 

That's partly a selfish prediction, on account of my rabid anti-dentitism.  But it's also a practical one.  I'm consistently amazed that we as a modern civilization still pay strange doctors to stick sharp metal tools into our head holes to patch up or remove the offending pieces of calcified enamel we call teeth.  The technology of dentistry essentially hasn't changed in several hundred years, aside from using metal fillings instead of wood.  "But what about tooth paste, floss, and fluoride treatments?"  The fact is that these things don't always work, which is why people still have cavities and get root canals.  Despite all these advances in tooth science, it's still basically a crap shoot.  You might have perfect healthy teeth your whole life.  Or you'll have to get them all removed.  One or the other. 

We've figured out how to replace a person's hip bone with a piece of metal.  Can't see right?  Shoot a laser in your eye and you'll be back to normal.  Lose a leg?  Install a fiberglass one that gives you almost superhuman abilities.  But have a tooth ache?  Either we can install this crappy replacement that needs to be re-glued every five years, or surprise!  One less tooth to brush. 

My prediction is that we'll one day figure out a better way.  Perhaps a better fluoride treatment, like a deck stain.  Or maybe a better capping system.  Or maybe even a full-out teeth replacement system.  If we can remove an organ from the body and install things that are better than bones, surely we can remove teeth and replace them with a titanium insert that screws into your jaw.  Either way, I look forward to never seeing a dentist again.

Concussion reporting in football Mon, Aug 19, 2013
Last NFL football season, 49ers quarterback Alex Smith got a concussion and reported the symptoms to team trainers.  New rules made him sit out for a certain amount of time, during which his backup played well enough to eventually take his job, ultimately leading to an appearance in the Super Bowl.  Even after Smith was healthy enough to play, his backup still had the job.  Commissioner Roger Goodell said he did the right thing by self-reporting his concussion, but I see it as a dangerous precedent:  If you want to live a long life and hopefully not have brain issues when you're older, self-report.  If you want to play in the Super Bowl, fake being healthy.

Northern California trip Tue, Aug 06, 2013
I just spent a week in Northern California with the wife and some friends, visiting San Francisco, Yosemite National Park, and Sonoma wine country.  Here are my thoughts: 
  • California is big and the landscape is varied.  We went from the ocean to mountains to farms to rolling golden hills all within a couple hours.
  • Traveling with another couple wasn't bad.  We didn't hate each other by the end of the trip.  Any more than four people, however, would have probably made everything much more difficult -- seating at restaurants, rental cars, simple decisions.
  • San Francisco is a cold, gray town.  There is literally a cloud hanging over it at all times (that I've experienced).  You can see it as you approach from any of the neighboring cities -- crystal clear skies, 85 degrees; then overcast and dull, 60 degrees.  When the first people settled there, why didn't they choose Oakland or San Jose instead?
  • It was probably just a coincidence, but pretty much everything I tried to do ended in failure.  We stayed near the financial district on a weekend, which meant almost all restaurants were closed, and nothing opened at a reasonable hour.  Trying to get breakfast before 9am was a serious issue for some reason.
  • Yosemite was breathtaking.  But it's not doable in a day when that day includes a drive from San Francisco.  Getting to the entrance of the park is about 4 hours; getting to the actual stuff in the park is 6 hours.  But wow that place is big.  Big rocks, big trees.  Pretty amazing.
  • Sonoma was fun.  We happened to arrive the day of a city-wide party, where everyone was drunk on wine and dancing in the town square.  The wineries were beautiful and fun, but the tasting fees  were a little ridiculous at times.
  • I don't understand why California wine is so expensive.  If they grow the grapes, make the wine, bottle it, and sell it to customers all in one location, how is it $30 a bottle?  I can get a bottle from halfway around the world for $10, and I can't tell the difference in quality or enjoyability.
All in all, it was a fun trip.  But I doubt I'll go back to San Francisco.  We overheard a tourist say San Francisco was the best city he visited.  Clearly he's never been anywhere else on planet earth.