Open Letter

to the whole %*&# world:


I'm busy, God damn it.

How DARE you presume that what you want me to do right now is more important than what I want me to do right now.


Epistemic conscience

What if all this creationist nonsense is a good thing?

What if it's keeping science honest?


The scientific method's great, but if there were no competing worldview, wouldn't scientists get lazy? Wouldn't they get sloppy about adhering to their own rules? Think of Church-dominated Europe, and the Borgias.


The Drunkard's Walk

Suppose you're expected to be in a particular place, but you keep wandering off. Well, if you keep wandering, and you wander randomly enough, you'll pass through the place you're supposed to be occasionally. Someone whose job it is to evaluate whether you're where you're supposed to be, and who always goes to look for you at that spot, will conclude that you're there, but not often enough.

Now suppose you could take a pill that makes you walk faster. Makes you run, even. You'll still wander, but you'll pass through that spot more frequently. Someone checking that spot will conclude that the pill makes you better able to stay where you're supposed to be.

So, how about you?

Are you feeding your kids amphetamines?

Bumper Sticker

It's not magic. It's memetics.


Making Tea

My dad thinks like me, at least a little bit.

This occurs to me because I just made a cup of tea. (Not properly, according to Douglas Adams, by the way. In Salmon of Doubt, which I recently finished, he stresses that one should use boilING water, not boilED water, and discusses warming the teapot and such. I poured water from the hot spigot on the water dispenser into a paper cup from my desk drawer. So the tea I'm discussing here is not British Kitchen Tea, but American Cubicle Tea.) I have this way I dunk the tea bag into the water. A long time ago I noticed that if you pour hot water over a tea bag, it wets the bag itself first, filling in all the little pores with surface tension, forming an airtight membrane. Depending on how the water splashes and such, you can get more or less water into the tea before the bag gets completely wet, preventing any more air from getting out and consequently any more water from getting in, especially since the air, now trapped by the hot water, is also heated, and so expands. If you do it just right you get a little inflated balloon full of hot air and dry tea.

So I have this habit where I fill the cup with hot water first, then lower the bag in, so that water flows in through the bottom of the bag while air can still flow out at the top.

I guess I assume that everybody would make the same observation, and that everybody would make tea this way (when they're not doing it in the kitchen and using a pre-warmed pot). But invariably I see people heading for the water dispenser with the little tea tag already dangling from the lip of the cup, and I have many times noticed little balloons floating on top of cups full of weak tea. Why doesn't everyone make tea the same way I do? I could assume that I'm just smarter than everyone else and be smug about it, but I think it's more realistic to conclude that I'm anal-retentive and that over-analyzing the way one dunks a tea bag is asinine.

A couple of weeks ago while I was visiting my dad, he made a cup of tea. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed him lowering the bag into the cup, letting water flow in the bottom while the air flowed out the top.

The way I think may be asinine, but I'm not the only one, and I know where I got it from.