Sep 13

Two kinds of dumb

It’s funny that climate change deniers are some of the dumbest people on the planet despite often having rather difficult-to-attain engineering degrees or similar.

But there are two kinds of dumb, I’ve found.

There’s the “lol you’re mom is fat” Youtube commenter kind of dumb, and the other kind of dumb – the “gifted kid” engineeritis kind of dumb

All told, I mostly hate the latter kind of dumb more as it wastes far more of my time. The Youtube commenter species of dumb I can ignore from the moment my eyes see “lol.”

The engineeritis sort of dumb, which is really an ego inflammation, tends to make arguments that appear cogent and are often pseudo-erudite and sesquipedalian so much so that I might get three sentences in before I realize all the claptrap being spewed.

So this sort of dumb wastes far more of my time, and is thus more annoying.

Sep 12

11,000 volts OMG

I just saw a little blurb that said some major hydroelectric dam produced 11,000 volts of electricity.

Ok then. I produce 11,000 volts of electricity when I shock someone after dragging my feet across the carpet.

That’s like saying, “My car produces a foot of speed.” It’s somehow related but completely unhinged.

Anyway, if you convert volt amperes into megawatts, that’s about 0.011 megawatts. Assuming no loss along the way (and assuming they are talking AC), that could power…a grand total of 11 houses. The average house uses about 1kw at any given time.

I assume the person meant 11 megawatts, which is ok for a hydro plant. The really big ones, though, are much larger. The Grand Coulee Dam for instance produces ~7gw (gigawatts) of power.

This is why humanities people need some science classes, ya’ll.

Sep 11


This is so true, and is true of photography, too.

Too many people think graphic design is not a specialty, but something anyone can do, because the tools to make decent-looking Web pages, newsletters, books, and the like are readily available.

There’s an incalculable number of people who have said things to me like this: “Photography is easy. You just point the camera and take a picture.”

And that might be true for a crappy smartphone photo, but for real, professional-level photography this is like saying, “Building a car is easy. Just get some axles and wheels and Play-Doh and call it good.”

Those infected with engineeritis assume that because the initial steps are easy – that anyone can pick up a camera or open Adobe Illustrator – that all the rest is easy, too.

This is as silly and as stupid as saying that because nearly anyone can do basic arithmetic, anyone can easily solve the engineering equations for bending moment and deflection of simply supported beams.

Why do only engineer types tend to do this so often and so consistently, I wonder?

Sep 10


I will no longer attempt to make the acquaintance of or discuss anything with those who dispute the reality of climate change.

Not because I am not open to having my mind changed. I am – by science. Not by idiots.

Disbelieving all climate science is like a litmus test. It proves you are completely stupid and I have nothing at all to learn from you, and never will – well, perhaps only that I should not allow my mind to operate so poorly as yours.

Even if all the very sound and solid science about climate change were wrong, simply from a risk model standpoint the risk is high enough that great actions should be taken to forestall and ameliorate its effects. After all, no one would get on an airplane that has a 1% risk of crashing each time, even though it is a small risk.

And yet people will argue that until we’re 100% sure that climate change is real that we should just do nothing and wait for this potentially society-devastating calamity to occur. (And don’t argue with me that it won’t be society-devastating. Most of the conflict in Syria is directly related to climate change, and I’d say that’s pretty devastating.)

It is natural that conservatives would deny the reality of climate change as conservatives seem (naturally) far more change-averse. Climate change means big changes ahead, like it or not.

Sep 09


Strange how activities that are coded “female” are automatically assigned less value than activities and pursuits coded “male.”

There is nothing innately any sillier about makeup and fashion than football and driving around in absurdly large trucks. That is all a human value judgment based on nothing at all that has precisely zero to do with any actual value, utilitarian or otherwise. (Yes, philosophers and “value” and the millennia-long debate. I’m aware of it and all that and frankly it’s mostly pretty boring.)

This assignment of relative value is such an odd thing as when thinking about it outside of humanity, what is it, exactly? Nothing. What is gender? Meaningless.

Amazing all the invisible castles we build, turn them into prisons and say, “It was inevitable, it was always this way; this is how it was meant to be.”

Sep 08

Road rage

I’d imagine it’s not long as we (and by “we,” I mean the already-rich) privative everything that public roads are sponsored by private corporations and then re-named à la sports stadiums.

If they aren’t just given the roads outright, of course, as is already happening in some places.

“Google Interstate” and “iPhone 6 Road” could be in our future. More likely than not, in my opinion.

Sep 08

Stories and the people who inhabit them

I am tired of women’s stories.

Let me clarify: I am not tired of stories about women’s lives, stories that tell me something real about how a particular woman thinks or works or loves. But I am tired of “women’s stories,” stories that are supposed to be about a problem that afflicts “women.”

I go out of my way to find movies and TV shows that feature women as fully-realized characters, even if they are not main characters. Not because I feel that I “should,” but because I’ve found I just can’t watch anything else these days.

This weekend, we watched “The East.” Brit Marling portrays the main character in the film. She just happens to be a woman. Many of the other characters happen to be women as well. This is life. Especially in a world where women now occupy such a wide range of societal roles and occupations, it’s particularly odd is that so few major movies deign to show women on screen, and even odder are the increasingly bizarre excuses that directors and Hollywood execs use to justify this.

So I don’t want “women’s stories,” either. I want stories that have humans who just happen to be women in them – even if the cast is all female. Treating half of the human race as if it is some unknowable, mysterious creature just does not cut it for me, and Hollywood has long ago run out of excuses for why this is acceptable.

Sep 07


This is a really good sentence from here.

Watching a great actor, or star—sometimes they are not the same thing—is like watching the best fiction writers creating in real time, and the only metaphor they have available to them is their actual body.

I don’t care much for Jemima Kirke – she seems pretty one-note to me – but all I could think of is Tatiana Maslany when I read this.

If Kirke is Pollock (who I never cared much for either), Maslany is Renoir, Van Gogh and Remedios Varo all rolled into one.

Sep 06

If free

If college education were free, I think anyone who wishes to get any STEM or STEM-related degree should first be required to complete a degree in the humanities. Perhaps this could be shortened to three years to make it take less time, but still cover most of the same ground.

I think the world would be a much better place if all those who are now infected with engineeritis and who believe knowledge in their tiny field encompassed all human experience or possibility were exposed to more than just circuit diagrams, misogyny and a few programming languages.

Don’t worry, humanities people, I have something for you as well that you’ll just love.

I also think any humanities degree-holders as a condition of their graduation should minor in a truly rigorous science course of study (not Rocks for Jocks courses or similar) and be required to do at least some programming, modeling, high-level network design and configuration, or something along those lines.

Painful for all? Yes. Would it probably make society better? I think so.

Sep 05


In a way, it’s sort of good that Google and Microsoft seem intent on sabotaging their own products.

It allows competition some hope of penetrating the market, and retaining market share. I’ve been using Bing Maps today, and while it’s not perfect it does allow very easy and much quicker fetching of GPS coordinates than even Classic Google Maps.

So with the removal of a single feature that a lot of GPS users depend on,  a great number of people will switch from Google Maps right away.

Bing Maps doesn’t have street view, and it’s a lot clunkier – but unlike the new Google Maps, all works as expected.

Who is in charge at Google these days? Though someone who can’t find their start menu should be able to use a computer, we should definitely not allow them to design products as apparently Google and Microsoft are now doing.