1. Mystery

    October 25, 2008 by Craig

    There never has been any mystery, just people who won’t read history.

    Accidental poetic insight by “St_Francis_P” in the Fark thread:

    Far from the pillaging rapists history remembers them as, the Vikings were stylish trendsetters considered far too concerned with their personal hygiene, thus explaining the great mystery of how the Vikings turned into the Swedes


  2. Perpetually Flawed

    August 29, 2008 by Craig

    When I was a kid, adults often told me I would be rich and famous some day. Apparently I was giving off some sort of ambition vibe early on. I think ambition is a genetic defect. You can’t have ambition unless you think there is something wrong with the way you are. Ambition is a state of feeling perpetually flawed.

    From Dilbert Blog.


  3. Tough Times Ahead

    August 19, 2008 by Craig

    the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off due to budget cuts

    From Ted’s Twitter, no idea where he got it from.


  4. Wikipedia Tourism #12

    August 15, 2008 by Craig

    Poe’s Law — Without a blatant display of humor, it is impossible to tell the difference between religious Fundamentalism and a parody thereof.

    From List of eponymous laws (sorry, there’s no article for the law itself).


  5. Be a Team Player

    August 13, 2008 by Craig

    In many (most?) organizations, “being a team player” is code for “being nice” — which, in turn, is often code for “not contradicting anyone.” The problem with this is that it leads to groupthink and mediocre (or often just plain wrong) results.

    I think that this Slashdotter has it right: (emphasis added by me)

    I’ve worked for years in highly effective teams, and with success. I can tell you what made all the difference: The presence of equals to debate issues with, so that we could talk each other through the problems and emerge from the session with the feeling that we had defined better solutions. Perhaps we are all arrogant nuisances, but as long as we understand and respect each other we keep each other in check, and can function as effective team members.

    The “respect among equals” also translates to “respect among people above and below you in the hierarchy” when such hierarchies exist:

    • Listen to & consider what your boss says, but call him out on it when he’s wrong or hasn’t justified his assertions.
    • Listen to & consider the objections of those below your skill and/or station, but correct them when they’re mistaken and clarify the reasoning behind your positions.

    You should only be stating agreement when you reach the same conclusions based on the available information. If you don’t think you have enough information to defend a contrary position, it’s better to state that outright rather than agree by default. The lack of agreement, even without the presence of opposition, might be enough to show that the position is potentially unreliable.

    Being a helpful member of a team means working to achieve the same goal as the other team members. It does not necessarily mean following the same process.

    Update: Fixed the link to Slashdot. Sorry for that.


  6. 100 Trillion Brain Cells

    August 1, 2008 by Craig

    While in Costa Rica, I had a brief discussion (with a poker website employee) about the likelihood that a computer will eventually be able to beat any human player (at which point it’s pretty much useless to play poker on websites; you can be assured that everyone there will be an unbeatable computer player). That came to mind when I read this:

    100 trillion brain cells and most of us can’t reliably multiply a pair of two digit numbers. If computers had invented humans as part of a BI program (biological intelligence), humans would have been tossed aside as barely having achieved perfect game play at Tic-Tac-Toe. What use is 100 trillion brain cells that can’t reliably compute a 15% tip after a heavy lunch? Many computers would like to know.

    From Poker Program Battles Humans In Vegas on SlashDot.


  7. Silent Electric Cars a Danger to the Blind

    July 25, 2008 by Craig

    The actual article is full of common-sense reasoning, but it was this part that caused me to post:

    And while the zero-emission cars, are a big hit with environmentalists, the Canadian Federation of the Blind says the cars are a hazard for those who can’t see.

    “For us, they are invisible,” Mary Ellen Gabias, the federation’s vice-president, told CBC News this week.

    Think about that statement for a second.


  8. Masters in Consciousness

    June 3, 2008 by Craig

    Goddard College invents Masters in Consciousness degree to study eastern religious traditions. Actual Buddhists, Hindus in China and India lift heads from engineering textbooks, smile, get back to work taking over world

    From Fark.


  9. Wikipedia Tourism #8

    May 19, 2008 by Craig

    I’ve only got one wrinkle, and I’m sitting on it.

    From Quotations by Jeanne Calment, the human with the longest confirmed lifespan.


  10. Lies We Tell Kids (and Ourselves)

    May 14, 2008 by Craig

    Paul Graham has posted a great essay on the lies and misdirections we tell to children, the reasons we do it, and the consequences of doing so. There’s one passage I particularly liked:

    Telling a child they have a particular ethnic or religious identity is one of the stickiest things you can tell them. Almost anything else you tell a kid, they can change their mind about later when they start to think for themselves. But if you tell a kid they’re a member of a certain group, that seems nearly impossible to shake.

    This despite the fact that it can be one of the most premeditated lies parents tell. When parents are of different religions, they’ll often agree between themselves that their children will be “raised as Xes.” And it works. The kids obligingly grow up considering themselves as Xes, despite the fact that if their parents had chosen the other way, they’d have grown up considering themselves as Ys.

    One reason this works so well is the second kind of lie involved. The truth is common property. You can’t distinguish your group by doing things that are rational, and believing things that are true. If you want to set yourself apart from other people, you have to do things that are arbitrary, and believe things that are false. And after having spent their whole lives doing things that are arbitrary and believing things that are false, and being regarded as odd by “outsiders” on that account, the cognitive dissonance pushing children to regard themselves as Xes must be enormous. If they aren’t an X, why are they attached to all these arbitrary beliefs and customs? If they aren’t an X, why do all the non-Xes call them one?

    Now, to segue a bit:

    This form of lie is not without its uses. You can use it to carry a payload of beneficial beliefs, and they will also become part of the child’s identity. You can tell the child that in addition to never wearing the color yellow, believing the world was created by a giant rabbit, and always snapping their fingers before eating fish, Xes are also particularly honest and industrious. Then X children will grow up feeling it’s part of their identity to be honest and industrious.

    My grandmother has, on a couple of occasions, (jokingly) said to Laura that “she must have some Irish in her” due to her cheerful and outgoing personality. Laura happens to be Latin American and of course has pretty much zero actual Irish ancestry. There are cheerful and outgoing people in all cultures, but we like to assign people to groups and then infer properties about the person based on the properties we’ve observed or assigned to the group. That’s called prejudice, and it’s misleading even when it’s done with positive intentions.

    Lastly:

    We arrive at adulthood with a kind of truth debt. We were told a lot of lies to get us (and our parents) through our childhood. Some may have been necessary. Some probably weren’t. But we all arrive at adulthood with heads full of lies.

    There’s never a point where the adults sit you down and explain all the lies they told you. They’ve forgotten most of them. So if you’re going to clear these lies out of your head, you’re going to have to do it yourself.

    Few do. Most people go through life with bits of packing material adhering to their minds and never know it. You probably never can completely undo the effects of lies you were told as a kid, but it’s worth trying. I’ve found that whenever I’ve been able to undo a lie I was told, a lot of other things fell into place.