Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Random Thoughts In August

I've got nothing in particular to say, so I'm just going to write whatever pops into my head at the moment.

I saw an article yesterday which discussed the dangers of twitting and facebooking about the workplace. Why isn't this common sense? How stupid are people? Here's a simple rule of thumb anytime the asinine urge to publish anything about your place of current employment: If it's something you wouldn't say to your boss to his or her face (or gossipy coworker who might tell the whole front office), then don't stick it on the internet.

It's like the certified moron who I worked with in my last co-op/internship/however-my-school-wants-to-call-it-today. This piece of work decided to fudge the numbers on his timesheet. First off, doing so is intensely wrong as it is akin to outright stealing. You're taking

Second, I'm an inquisitive soul and asked just how much he worked 'overtime'. My dear friend must have slept at work in order to achieve seventy hours a week. You read that right. Seventy hours (70!) a week. C'mon! If you're going to lie, at least be smart about it. Throw something realistic in there.

Third, the entire workplace was wired. You couldn't sneeze without your boss, your boss' boss, and his boss knowing about it. I went just a minute over on my lunch break, and I got a rather cold email about it. Don't worry so much, because for a few days, I accidentally went in ten minutes early and worked too much for the time I was reporting (I had a long commute and always overestimated the amount of time I needed. Also, SEPTA is horrible). But they saw I spent those minutes pissing away on the internet, so it all turned out well.

In short, don't mess with your time sheet. It's a dumb thing to do.


Why do people write 'your' instead of 'you're'? I've seen it more and more and, as a certified Grammar Nazi, it's starting to grind on me. I'm not above the occasional error myself (my talking grammar is downright atrocious), but I do try to make sure my audience can tell when I'm talking possessive and when I'm describing something of yours.

Simply put, saying, "your an idiot" will not sway me towards your point of view. "You're an idiot". Get it right.

Also, has 'lol' replaced the period? "your an idiot lol why cant u c that your an idiot lol?" is fairly typical of the internet these days, a fairly sad revelation. I used to defend the denizens of the internet against my snobby friends. I used to say, "Sure, a few folks talk like a drunken seal slapping a keyboard but most people write intelligently." Now, I feel silly and foolish.

But the absolute worst error trophy is held by the number substitutions. "got 2 go 2 8 sum dinner, bbl 4 u" Numbers have only one place, and that's to quantify something in simple digits (after all, writing VII or 'seven' to do multiplication is not easy and is quite painful and counter intuitive).

The only internet jargon I believe has any use is emoticons. They are quite handy in determining the attitude with which a given statement is being delivered. "You're such a fool :D" indicates friendly ribbing, while "You're such a fool" is an offensive impersonal accusation. Although, for some reason, I still have this mental image that emote use carries sarcastic connotations. Maybe it's because I have the arrogant assumption I can parse the 'air' of a conversation without being outright told, and maybe because I feel condescended to, as if I am a child who needs direction in the mannerisms of adults. Maybe I'm just stupid.


One of my real life friends was lambasted the other day by some elderly vet because she ran an American flag but not that black POW/MIA one. What a troop-hating unAmerican bitch. She was too flustered to offer much of a rebuttal and personally I'm too much of a coward to have said anything in her place.

But now I'm on the internet anonymous (more or less), so I'm saying I'd have told the twat to piss off. What, if I don't wear everything on my damn sleeve, then I must not support or agree with it? It's stupid, anyway. Why fly a flag for it? I assume no one is cackling with glee at the soldiers stuffed away in POW camps or Missing in Action (most of whom probably, sadly, deceased). I assume most Americans do carry sympathy for such soldiers and their families.

I don't need silly ribbons or flags to display how I feel. If you're so goddamn curious, then go ahead and ask. My house is not a battleship, I shouldn't have to rig a complex network of flags to tell the world everything about me.

And really, I think if you waste the time erecting a flagpole and flying the Stars and Stripes on it, you're probably as patriotic as they come. Especially since everyone I've spotted with flags always seem to keep them clean, do all the right flag protocol, etc. If they were heartless enemies of the state, I doubt they'd bother.

Also, I've never been quite sure, but does it cover all POWs/MIAs, or just American ones? Are the Iraqi and Afghanistan POWs allowed to rot just because they're our enemies and terrorists? Sure, if you accept the idea that our POW camps are ten times better than the homes we caught them in, with good food, water, and ninety channels of digital cable it might seem like a pretty good deal. But would you want to be locked up thousands of miles away from your family? Even if they lived in a shithole? I doubt it. For example, the Army barracks might be better in quality of life than the North Philadelphia slum you came from, but you still come home, don't you?

And that's assuming, of course, that the camps are as we're told they are. Chances are, they're probably pretty shitty. I suppose that's the cold reality of life, after all, they are trying to kill us. But the point remains: aren't they still POWs? I'm willing to bet most of them don't even give two figs about Al Qaeda or anything, they're just defending themselves against an invasion (both cultural and martial) in their homes. Extreme in their methods, perhaps, but so were the Bosnians when fighting against the Serbians, or the North against the South, or the British against the colonists (and vice versa for each of those cases).

Maybe I'm too naive.


I know it's just practice for the real world, but it always irks me when I have to write a paper on whatever lab for school. Why? Because inevitably it's just regurgitation of old news. I wrote a lab report on gel electrophoresis and using it to determine the specific sequence of a bacterial genome. Old news. When 'researching' it, I dredged up a billion papers from a million years ago on the thousands of ways to approach this method and so on. If I was inclined, I could have ripped them completely and handed them in as my paper.

My professors wouldn't notice, but they would still mark me down on their seemingly arbitrary standards. On one occasion, I had ten points off because my abstract (the quick run-down you see at the beginning of scientific papers) wasn't detailed enough. It was almost a thousand words. Any more, and it wouldn't be an abstract anymore, it might as well have been the paper itself.

Methods/Materials is another one they like to peg you on. The rule of thumb is that if it's taught on an undergrad level, you can safely generalize about it. For instance, I don't need to go into the details of how I prepared a sample for mass spectrometry (unless I had some brand new revolutionary method on it). I can just say I performed a mass spec. analysis and you can reasonably fill in the blank. But then, they tell me to put in such details so they know I know what I'm doing. When I do so, they mark off points because I didn't write with a scientific audience in mind.

My introductions and results/conclusions are flawless. Yet the stupid abstract and methods murder me.

Oh, and 'future' studies is also laughable. Yeah, what could I POSSIBLY do with this basic technique? How could I possibly expand upon it? I know! A ten second Google search could give me twenty answers because the technique or concept itself is so basic! Imagine learning the basics of a language, and then being asked 'What could you do in the future to expand your knowledge?' Er, Der, maybe try to hold conversations with those fluent in said language? Maybe visit that particular country? Maybe have your teacher move into the finer nuances of it? Or asking a builder in Second Life: "Now that you know how to resize a prim, what are some possible future investigations of this technique?" You'd laugh it off, that's what you'd do.

I figure if you have no clue, not even a semblance of how to take such a middle school level concept to the next level, you probably have no business taking that line of study. At least, not without some serious backbreaking and extremely painful work on your part.


As you might have guessed, my field is heavy into science. That's not saying much. I'm told it's a hard field, but personally I think anything can be hard if you don't have the right mind. For example, I cannot speak another language to save my life. Eight years of Spanish in High school and the best I can manage is asking how you are today and that the dog is very fat. Oh, and that the train is blue and grey. Linguistics is definitely not for me.

But, on my mother's side of the family, I'm going to be the first one in that family to get a college degree. And on my father's side, only the third (my father was a pharmacist, and his sister is a nurse). Pretty weighty! The result of this is that I am frequently poked into answering every single question about the universe.

Now, I do know a good deal of things. After all, you can't do what I do without knowing some basics. But asking me the details of astrophysics, I do not know. Or specifics in metallurgy. One person can only know so much. Ask me for the specific pathways for limb development, sure, but forget about the specific types of concrete.

Why? Because it isn't relevant, I guess. Concrete just don't factor much when you're investigating ACL tears. In fact, concrete is bad in such a scenario. Also, I haven't had much study into the specifics of concrete. It's an area outside my expertise. That's pretty important. You wouldn't ask your doctor to check out what's wrong with your sedan.

Which is why they always seem so disappointed when I tell them I don't know, and that I'd have to look it up. And then I feel bad because they feel let down. And then they feel bad that I feel bad because I feel I've let them down. A vicious cycle!

And then there's things no one knows. Why we age is something the world is constantly investigating over and over. And the reasons for it are very complex. No one quite understands. Which, by the way, is why it is heavy in research right now.

One final nail in the coffin is my reluctance to give an answer without checking my data three times over. I won't even give you an answer on the color of my hair without checking it in at least two mirrors and under different light conditions. Too cautious, perhaps, but it's helped immensely in the 'getting things right' category and helped me avoid the dreaded 'everything is totally wrong and I am so screwed'.


This blog was founded for two things. The first was to record the random acts of nonsense and writing that Jurin loves. It is certainly much handier to direct people to a simple website to read my crazy rather than getting me to log in and teleport over (at 4 AM Eastern time, I am more nasty and crabby than fun).

The other was to comment on just how crazy Linden Lab can be. Ok, well, more about Second Life in general, but Linden Lab is a big part of it. And I realize that I haven't been discussing them at all in the past few months. Maybe even half the year. I feel an explanation is owed.

I do not know what more to write about them. That is the simple truth. They are crazy and insane. Everyone hates their policies. Often, they bumble about and wreck things like a toddler who found his dad's gun and is now in a pottery shop with an angry bull. Sometimes they're right in whatever move they make. Sometimes they're wrong. And all too often, it is a rat race. After awhile, the feeling creeps into you that you have discussed this policy again, and again, and again, and the time is ripe to just let it die.

Take, for example, age verification. The whole deal with the 'Adult' rated parcels was beaten to death with the advent of age verification, which in turn was beaten to death with the banning of fake porn in that European country and its investigation into Second Life, which in turn was beaten to death with the first age players to settle on the grid. Since at least 2005 (2006 at the latest), we have been talking ourselves into circles!

And the reality is that some verification is required. Just like the sketchy videos on Youtube which ask if you're over 18 before it lets you view it. It's required in the sense of Linden Lab covering its ass. That's all there is, folks. The end.

The taking over of Xstreet is just but one episode of Linden Lab absorbing an existing institution in order to establish their own presence in that niche. This isn't news. And the endless discussions and debates about it have gone nowhere because everything to be said about it has been said more or less for the past four years.

That is why I stopped writing about Second Life, save for the occasional comment on blogs. I just don't feel there's a need to devote reams of useless nonsense, especially when what I say will likely be unoriginal and pointless.

Plus, the entire exercise is not dissimilar to shouting at the wind. Ari has often said that the Lab does listen, but frankly, I don't think so. They do what they want.


Why oh why is anyone surprised that SAT scores are still skewed? It's up there with the puzzlement people express towards Linden Labs. This is shown every year. Not like it matters anyway, because scores overall are trending down. At least, according to the article I read.


That's about all at the moment.


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