Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It would be cool if our planet was at the outermost edge of the galaxy, and that galaxy was at the edge of the universe, so all we'd see is blackness on one side of the sky but stars on the other.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fox News and Comedy Central should make a deal to give Jon Stewart a half hour slot right after Glenn Beck's show and give Glenn the half hour slot after The Daily Show.  Jon could use the time to rebut what Glenn just said and vice versa.  It sucks that an entire channel can be a homogenous block of one ideology.

Friday, November 5, 2010


Mountaineers that pose like badasses in their pictures are more likely to die. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I sometimes think about this homeless man I've seen watching cars on the freeway in the evening.  When he was young and in school was he excited about the future?  Did he have a crush on anyone?  Did some girl have a crush on him?  Where did he lose the friends he had and wasn't able to pick up new ones anymore? 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

At the end of a long day of hiking some months back, when I walked by I somehow startled a cow grazing by the side of the road and it took a bad step and then crashed down on its side.  The last thing I wanted to do was touch its filthy body, but I manned up and put my hands under it and pushed.  It started to move its legs wildly but the thing that stuck with me was the look in its eye, you could see the panic.  Its fear felt way too human to me and it disturbed me.

I wasn't even close to being able to lift it and it snowed that night.  I left a note on a rancher's trailer with the cow's serial number on it, but I don't know what happened.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A rule of thumb

Every website that purports to tell you the "truth" about some health supplement or a political candidate makes me expect the opposite, that their analysis will be biased towards what they want to believe and incomplete.  When they use truth with a capital T it's doubly worse.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Evolution is a Sherlock Holmes mystery where clues are lying around in large piles and crunch under your feet in every direction and the murderer periodically jumps out of the bushes and waves his arms at you frantically.

Monday, October 4, 2010

It's weird that your body produces beneficial molecules like BDNF in sufficient quantities only when you perform a certain action (like exercise).  All the molecular machinery is there already with enough raw materials, so why wouldn't the body just do the right thing automatically?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Better UI for math

It's much too easy to miss the difference between the numbers 1000000 and 10000000000, so it's hard for me to blame people too much when adding 3 easy-to-miss numbers creates a number 1000 times larger (or perhaps 10000. :)

Scientific notation is also shitty at making the most important number prominent;  for example, in the number 6 x 10^32, the 32 is by far the most important part of the number but is typically written in very small type, and the 10 should be written in small type or even just implied.

Poem with unknown name, for an unknown man

Goodbye stranger
I say goodbye

On the road to nowhere
To the final country where everyone is welcomed in
Where nothing needn't know your origin

Farewell sir
Without papers, without identity
What were you looking for?
How much did you lose along the way?
Who stares through the empty window
Nameless men wait
While I speak and entrust my empty words to this empty room
I am too late
You, I never knew
Who heard the voice calling out for you
To come on home'n
To your final haven

--from a funeral for an unknown man in Amsterdam
Audio from the BBC documentary The Lonely Funeral, poem begins at 11:39

Monday, September 20, 2010

Utopia incoming

In 20 years, we should see the average IQ go up a fat chunk.  I think it will be harder to be ignorant about a given subject because there will be many chances to be exposed to high quality ideas due to the sheer number of links a person will have clicked on by the time they're an adult.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I inherited body parts I did not ask for, like a tooth that aches enough to wake me from sleep.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Yesterday I was walking outside really late, around midnight, and I see a homeless man coming down a bridge over the freeway towards me.  When he saw me I could tell I scared him a little (me with a shaved head, walking fast and maybe aggressively toward him).  He tried not to show it, but his pace hesitated several times, but he kept walking forward.  At that moment, he reminded me of me about 20 years ago, when I was just a small kid that hadn't hit puberty yet and had glasses, and there were kids at my new school that were going to hit me, only because I was small and scared of them (seriously, how fucked is that?)  

When I got closer to him I gave him a little nod and a look that tried let him know I wasn't going to do anything to him. (He looks like Zach Galifianakis with an even crazier beard.) I've seen him sitting on that bridge looking over the 405 once before at sunset, I'm gonna try and talk to him next time (well, next time it's not midnight).

The Problem of Evil

Yesterday when I paid for gas on the credit card terminal outside, it asked me if I wanted a carwash; the icky part was that it only displayed a Yes option.  Only after several seconds did it add a No option. 

What do ya say, can we all make an effort to not be subhuman?  Are you with me?

Friday, September 10, 2010

To Apple

The only thing you need to add to the iPod is wireless sync, it doesn't need to get any tinier.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The problem with entrepreneurs is that they see themselves as this weird noble endangered species.  It's ok to try starting a business, just try not to see yourself as a brave solitary soul struggling against the entire world and shitty employees.  If you're in the US, you have access to credit markets, you have infrastructure like roads that aren't complete shit, you have access to an educated (and uneducated) workforce.  You didn't do it alone, and remember that other people don't exist just to play a role in the movie of your life.

/end rant

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Facebook just put those "Leave a message for your deceased loved one, then pay to see the comments" websites out of business didn't it?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Who was the first individual (and of what species) that realized that they were going to die someday?

Monday, June 28, 2010

a random anti-Hollywood moment

I liked when the shy glasses-wearing kid in Tropic Thunder became more confident as the movie progressed, but I hated that they showed his transformation by removing his glasses.  When they removed them, he wasn't likely to need the independence from opinion he had developed, because people were likely to treat him differently in the future simply because he no longer had those pieces of clear plastic on his face.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The climate change debate is in a difficult place where the people arguing don't understand the details of what's happening (e.g. fluid dynamics, the reflectivity of clouds, etc.) so all of us uninformed folks have somehow made a decision on joining a side. I understand very little of the physics of climate change, but if lots of people are willing to spend their lives looking at a problem involving lots of painful math, that's a good indicator that climate change is a real effect.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Terrible phrase that should never be used

To "wrap your head around" something as in, "It took me a while to wrap my head around that idea". I've used the phrase 3 or 4 times in my life, but it caused an increase in my Douchebag Factor, so I stopped. Please also consider stopping. It just sounds weird and pretentious.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Since researchers have had such a hard time figuring out the causes of diseases from genetics so far, is there reason to believe that epigenetics will have more luck?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

"Some German guy is running around naked. Maybe someone should do something."

--note I saw on a trail register in the Henry Mountains in March

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Debbie Downer thought of the day

Evolution needed to reward us immensely for eating and fucking, but perhaps it also punishes those who think too much about evolution by making them feel depressed when they realize they can view the raison d'ĂȘtre of all lifeforms as just wanting to exist as long as possible and also make copies of themselves. So if we're bummed by that thought, we'll stop thinking about it because it sucks and go back to sex and chocolate.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Once in a while I'll see someone smiling big at me on a commercial and then I'll remember that this person is lying to me for money and that's just one of the things people do with each other.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Cognitive enhancement

I recently tried two supplements reported to enhance cognitive ability - piracetam and sulbutiamine. They didn't work for me, but even if they had there's an issue. If they had worked well and I could focus better and I wanted to take them every day - would that be an addiction?

Stopping piracetam and sulbutiamine was a no brainer since they didn't work for me, but in general if it's not found in nature, and there are no large placebo controlled trials for effectiveness and safety I think it's best to stay away. (Here's a cool balloon race of supplements and their trial results. All in-vitro and small trials thankfully excluded.)

atm, I'm currently testing out creatine -- for my brain, not my body. There is a mechanism for creatine in generating ATP quickly in the brain when the brain is fuel limited. (My working assumption is that more ATP equals better mental performance, but is that right?)

Monday, March 15, 2010

It disturbs me when people don't realize how limited their knowledge is.

By the time your hair is that gray you should have a sense of the great mass of how little you know. More commentary at the NYT.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I drove around camping and hiking in Utah last week and went a good distance down some fairly remote dirt roads and it was a pleasant surprise to see how many people would stop and ask if I was alright. (At what point do people start to get concerned? 10 miles on a poopy road and snow on the ground?) John Krakauer said in Eiger Dreams that once you got out far enough in the Icelandic countryside, if you happened to stumble across a home, it wouldn't be surprising to see the woman who lived there running down the driveway towards you with a pitcher of milk.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A while back I transferred nearly all of my savings from Bank of America to another bank when they started charging me fees to transfer out. I left $13 in the account but I didn't close it down. Somehow they decided to move that money to a money market savings account (without my consent) and charge me $10.00 monthly for the privilege of making 1 cent per month. Yeah.