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Don't talk about politics Thu, Jan 31, 2019
I've been thinking about this topic for a long time now, and I finally found someone to say exactly what I was thinking.  Bill Maher put it so eloquently on Real Time a few weeks/months ago: 
"Everyone these days says that the way to bridge our frightful partisan divide is to talk to the other side so we can hear each other's point of view.  No!  That's exactly what you shouldn't do.  It never works.  No one ever flips to your side.  Talk to them, yes.  But not about politics."
Holy christ I couldn't agree more.  I don't know what it is about me personally, but I find myself constantly surrounded by people who want to talk politics, and by politics I mean Republican party talking points like how all immigrants are ISIS and how NASA invented climate change so it could sell more telescopes.  One way to make America great again would be to retreat back to a time when politics wasn't talked about openly.  I'd like that. #politics

Trump umbrella Thu, Jan 17, 2019
So there's this video of Donald Trump getting on a plane and leaving his umbrella behind. 

This is troubling for two reasons.  One is that I honestly don't think he knows how to close an umbrella.  But hey, not everyone knows everything.  Knowledge can be taught; not a big deal. 

But the bigger issue is that this small act is emblematic of an immensely larger issue:  Trump is used to having people do things for him, like carrying his umbrella, or paying off his opponents.  But more importantly, he's used to having other people take care of problems he creates.  Instead of simply bringing the umbrella inside the plane, or finding some minion to hand it to, he simply leaves it there for someone else to take care of.  The epitome of "Not my problem." 

I know this is a small issue, and everybody freaks out about small issues, and everybody is tired of people freaking out about small issues.  But as the president of the country, a democratically-elected representative of the people should at least be capable of showing a small semblance of connection to the people he represents.  This small event shows that Trump is ridiculously out of touch with reality. #politics

Political duopoly Wed, Jan 16, 2019
I can't stop thinking about this podcast episode I listened to by Freakonomics called America's Hidden Duopoly, which is all about how America's political system is specifically rigged to have two competing parties which work together to stamp out competition and impede overall progress in order to maintain their duopoly.  It keeps coming to mind every time there's a politicized issue in the news (which is literally constantly), and it's plain to see that it's just another example of a dividing line to keep both sides strong and opposed to each other.  The idea is sort of a conspiracy theory, but the fact that politics is literally an industry that generates money sort of lends some credibility. #politics

Baby hands Wed, Jan 16, 2019
One piece of advice I would give to every person on the planet is this:  Don't touch a baby's hands.  There's this weird thing that happens when people meet a baby for the first time, and I don't know if it's an American thing or if it's universal.  But people have this innate desire to shake the baby's hand like they would greet a fellow adult.  Or sometimes they just want to grab the hand and give it a little squeeze because baby hands are cute. 

Please for the love of Bob don't do this.  Babies put their hands in their mouths.  Like a lot.  And by touching their hands, you're introducing germs, which will inevitably get into their mouths and into their bodies.  Instead, touch their feet, or their elbows, or the top of their heads.  I don't know much about babies, but when I was introduced to one of my friends' newborns several years ago, I didn't know what to do so I palmed its head like a basketball.  This felt stupid at the time, but in hindsight it was one of the smartest things I could've done. #health

Drug legality counterpoint Fri, Jan 11, 2019
I've felt for a while now that all drugs should be legal, not because I want to use them all, but for other reasons.  Most rebuttals to this involve the standard "they're addictive" or "they're dangerous", which I really don't find compelling in a country with cigarettes and more guns than people. 

However, a friend presented a compelling counter-argument, largely summarized as "people are stupid":  If people were able to get all kinds of drugs legally, they would accidentally leave them out on their kitchen counter because they're stupid.  And kids would find them and ingest them, whether intentionally or not.  This already happens when kids eat their parents' pot brownies.  But imagine how much worse of a situation it would be if it was an actually harmful drug, like heroin or meth.  Alcohol doesn't quite suffer from this problem because the human body sort of has an alcohol overdose prevention technique built-in, i.e. vomiting.  But from my limited understanding, something like meth immediately and irreparably changes your life in a very negative way.  Legally available drugs might put children's lives at risk because of how stupid people are. #health

Default abilities Wed, Jan 09, 2019
A lot of video game characters come with default abilities, like sprinting, jumping, etc.  Some sci-fi and fantasy game characters also have semi-magical abilities like invisibility and teleportation. 

I was pleased to learn about the default abilities that my human child came pre-installed with.  Of course she had the standard abilities like a rooting reflex and the ability to grip.  But she also had the ability to hiccup, and also a light-induced sneeze reflex.  I would say my favorite of her abilities is her stretch which involves arching her back while lifting her arms and making a kissy face, and her standard vocalization which sounds like a hiccup but isn't.  What's most amazing about these abilities is that they were all present in her first few hours of life, no unlocking or leveling-up required. #lifestyle

Social security empathy Tue, Jan 08, 2019
A Facebook friend posted a thing about how bad of a rate of return we get for social security taxes.  Something like, "If I put in X amount of money during my lifetime, why do I only get 0.1X back?"  I responded with, "Because social security isn't just for you."  He wrote a rebuttal and I was gonna reply, but it reminded me of that thing from a while back called, "I Don't Know How To Explain To You That You Should Care About Other People".  Social security exists as a safety net largely for poor people, not as a retirement plan for the middle class.  Is it perfect?  No.  But the fact that you're asking the question implies that (a) social security isn't meant for you, and (b) you probably have a hard time empathizing with people who haven't achieved the ideal level of Ayn-Randian objectivism.  Getting into an argument about it, or about a lot of things for that matter, rarely serves any purpose. #politics

Everyone against me (1) Tue, Jan 08, 2019
I just realized I've felt for a long time that everyone is against me.  Or mostly everyone.  I've consistently felt like I've held a minority opinion on a lot of issues, and it's felt sort of alienating.  I'm starting to think this is a manufactured feeling, largely because of my experiences of changing my mind.  When I was religious, I felt like everyone was anti-religion.  Now that I'm non-religious, it feels like everyone is hyper-religious.  When I leaned conservative, it felt like everyone else leaned liberal.  Now that I'm liberal, it feels like everyone is ridiculously conservative. 

Since I've been on both sides of two polarizing issues, it occurred to me (like yesterday) that maybe this is just how it feels to hold a particular viewpoint.  I would say it might have something to do with the people I interact with or where I get my information, but honestly those things have remained largely unchanged.  The only change was within me, so maybe everyone isn't really against me. #psychology

Activation energy Mon, Jan 07, 2019
I like snowboarding.  It's a good hobby to have during the cold winter months, and it provides a use for all that otherwise worthless snow.  Even on the coldest and wettest days, I have a great time.  And it counts as exercise. 

But at the same time, I consistently have trouble summoning the motivation to go snowboarding.  It takes a significant amount of activation energy.  The day typically starts by getting up early, packing all the gear into the car, driving an hour (or five for a nice mountain), pulling into an often crowded parking lot, getting suited up in 20- or 30-degree weather (if you're lucky), hobbling up to the chair lift where you wait in a line, then ascending the chair lift while the wind whistles through your goggles and you can feel the frozen seat on your butt cheeks.  This is all for a leisure-time activity. 

So when people invite me to go snowboarding, I think, "Ooh I like snowboarding, but oh yeah there's all that other stuff too." #psychology

College football playoffs Mon, Jan 07, 2019
I'm surprised by the current system of playoffs in Division 1 (FBS) college football.  FCS, or Division 1AA or whatever you feel like calling it, has a playoff system similar to the NFL, but with the addition of numeric rankings.  At the end of the season, the top 8 or 16 (can't remember) teams compete against each other in a bracket playoff system with the winner moving on to compete against the winner from the other side of the bracket.  The NFL essentially does the same thing, but they don't specifically rank teams by number.  Also, the NFL could never have an NFC vs. NFC or AFC vs. AFC Super Bowl by definition, unlike college football which kind of routinely has an SEC vs. SEC national championship. 

Anyway, the FBS playoff system, which was really just adopted a few years ago, sets up a bracket of the top four teams, which is really just an impromptu semifinal followed by a national championship game.  It's definitely more abbreviated than it needs to be, and there's discussion every year that they should expand the playoff to the top six or eight teams at least.  But I would say the more glaring issue is the fact that the final ranking of the season, i.e. the criteria that determines playoff eligibility, is still decided by a group of dudes (and famously, Condoleezza Rice for whatever reason).  It's a weird and completely unnecessary oligarchy that I'm assuming only still exists because of money or power or something.  All other major sports organizations have figured out a way to let teams determine their own future.  I appreciate when sports announcers tell the audience the exact series of events that will determine a team's playoff chances.  All the cards are on the table.  But FBS still comes down to some dude's opinion. #sports

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