Welcome to the Petting Zoo

Broom Games

Much to my surprise, I wrote a variation of this essay a little while back:

“Cleanup on Aisle Collaboration, please.”

There’s a party trick I remember.

You set a little cup on the ground.

You get a broomstick.

You get four people.

Three of the people hold onto the broomstick at various p...

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We should all be supremely suspicious of things that are sacrosanct.

It has been said many times that power corrupts. At the risk of accusations of hubris, I’d offer that power isn’t the problem at all. It’s power combined with sacrosanctity to make a unique environment. That environment is the...

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Thought is theft


All my great ideas are stolen by assholes with time machines!

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Atheist joke #1

Here’s a joke:

An atheist walks into a bar…


No, actually, it’s not a joke. That’s just what happens. Some people are so darn fragile when it com...

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Hunt the Wumpus!

This is an astonishingly easy thing to consider, especially when thinking in terms of politics or power:

If you want to know where all the money went, look where all the money is. Don’t bother with stories if they don’t end in “…and there’s the money, riiiiight there,” because it is almost 100%...

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Unintended Consequences

92% of Americans think President Obama needs to do more to stop the spread of the T-virus, but only 12% think the Umbrella Corporation should be regulated.

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The Power of Belief

Let’s look at some numbers…

The approximate population of the United States at the time of this writing is about 320 million.

A little data-sniffing suggests that there are approximately 25 million children ages 0-5 and about 25 million children ages 6-11 in the US.

Let’s split that across...

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If someone had decided that it was too scary or terrifying or odious to help other people, but that they weren’t brave, honest, or proud enough to simply say so, then it stands to reason that they would find a tricky indirect way of making it an “obvious choice.”

I think of tha...

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The Better World

There are always acts of kindness that need your help in doing. There are always acts of cruelty that don’t.

You don’t need an ideology to guide you into performing an act of kindness and compassion — it’s inside you already to do that. You always have that power.

Likewise you don’t need an ide...

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Is it love or hate or what?

I think if “Love the sinner, but hate the sin” is supposed to be treated with anything other than hilarious contempt, then it stands to reason that the same structure can apply back:

It’s okay to hate the religion, but love the people.

That’s okay.

It must be, if it’s okay to “hate the sin...

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Let’s revoke that free pass.

In just the past week, I’ve seen many different people all describe how their spouses and partners spy on them (and by spying, I mean, doing so against their will by reading cell phones, by reading emails, by snooping through personal stuff, etc.)

In each case – every single one – the spouse viola...

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Something the chicken said…

In case you’re using a screen reader, here’s the caption:
We live in an era where on one hand, we are exploring the Universe and the space around us more deeply than we ever thought possible, where the science of the understanding of the history of our planet and the life on it is greater than it’s ...

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And let’s face it — RoboChrist would be fascinating!

As long as human beings remain capable of randomly killing each other for stupid shit, then we are not ready to create autonomous devices that have the ability to kill humans beings — unless those devices are significantly smarter than human beings and we let them do whatever they want.

Then aga...

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Electrons are not out to “get you”

Objections to electric cars because they are not perfect drop-in replacements for gasoline-powered automobiles and that to use them requires doing things a little differently…

…seem a little specious when one considers how much cell phones are not perfect drop-in replacements for telephones and th...

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“And so it was commanded…”

I tried once, for funsies, to rewrite all holy books into The Ultimate Holy Book that would be more accurate, more germane, more timeless, and better understood than any other holy book that ever existed.

It also had to be short, because — let’s face it — it’s not as if everybody reads every singl...

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10% of my Brain!

Let me tell you something about the human brain that may just astound you.

Well, my brain anyway.

There are times in my life when I am only using 10% of my brain.

I am only using 10% of my brain...

...when I am only including 10% of what my brain does.

The other 90% of my brain is doin...

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Perhaps this is why there’s an Internet?

Why can’t we officially learn about sex the same way we officially learn about everything else? Through research and experience and being taught?

I know what repair manuals are, and I know what cookbooks are, so I can fix things and cook things. I don’t pretend I was born with that knowledge....

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Pressure Direction

I think the phrase “hair-trigger” is funny. Not because hair-triggers are funny, but because of what it suggests about the person (when it is applied to a person, that is — when it is applied to a machine, my thinking is “crappy calibration” [which might still be appropriate to people, now that I th...

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The thickness of the lines on the ruler

I think it’s always worth remembering that precision is not the same as accuracy.

For example, if I tell you it’s 413.793 degrees here in Portland, I am being very precise — but not accurate. If I tell you it’s dang hot here, I may be very accurate — though not precise.

We can be accurate withou...

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The Uncanny Valley

I’ve been thinking about the Uncanny Valley. In case you’re not familiar with it, see: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncanny_valley

I think the graph should be more complex than it is. I think there are more things at work. I think the idea actually represents several different variables, such as Emotion...

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