This Title is 524% Better Without Context

I’m going to advocate a new, completely voluntary guideline for articles related to economics, budgets, any topic which requires numbers: They should include a reference to an unrelated statistic which is of comparable dimensions to the numbers within the article.

So I was reading about immigration, and statistics related to the upcoming election and its rhetoric, and was zoning out – as I believe many of us do. Not ignoring the numbers willfully, nor subconsciously; simply allowing the numbers to slosh around inside this little information bubble, not connected to the outside world at all.

Then I remembered a little factoid I had come across earlier in the week, one which I hope anyone who reads this will keep in mind: Americans spent $653 million on hot sauce last year (emphasized for memory aid, not for actual emphasis).

Freakonomics” had an introduction with a great demonstration of this idea in action. After spending a few paragraphs discussing the various amounts of money spent during elections (at the time, at least), the section was rounded off with the (paraphrased) statement, “the total $1 billion spent on elections is equal to the amount spent on bubble gum last year”.

Doesn’t that add a little perspective?

Imagine being able to, at least somewhat, make the connection between isolated numbers and reality. It may sound silly – but picture being able to use trivia to get a handle on budget numbers, or to realize exactly how much/how little is being spent nationally on a very important issue. Imagine the average reader realizing, really internalizing, the average CEO salary – and doing so because they have an idea to connect to.

I’m going to leave the idea unfinished, and open for discussion; initial enthusiasm is being undermined by a need to stare at a wall and think about things. Talk amongst yourselves.

Feel free to suggest a hashtag. My best off-the-cuff idea was “#relativestats”, which doesn’t really pop.

Life is Fire

Is there fire?

There are reactions: matter oxidizing, so rapidly that the released energy becomes new light and heat, changing the universe.

Where in this is “fire” that we know? That we can capture, isolate, analyze and measure? Children know fire, but science is ill equipped to describe this simple knowledge.

Fire is change, change so powerful that it takes on a presence. Fire is chemistry so bright that it demands a name.

We – the part that knows “we” – are not the chemistry set which ambles; we are the space between atoms, the change in the pattern, which cannot exist without context – but, in that context, must exist.

We are not the piles of matter which contain us – we are the Athena which springs up when physics has its way with that matter. Inseparable, but a thing apart.

We are the name for the change our existence demands of the universe.

Angry Logic

I think I’ve just figured something out.

People get mad at me for bringing too much logic into arguments… 

They don’t realize that they are making that mistake themselves, and importantly, not recognizing it.

See, we all try to rationalize our anger – the emotion that comes with frustration, with being thwarted, or lied to, or otherwise riled up.

What we fail to accept is that, sometimes, if not always, our emotions are completely disconnected from logic. 

Instead of separating the rational from the irrational, we screw ourselves over by trying to force that illogical monkey brain into a rational box.

Sometimes we are lying to ourselves; other times, there is simply no connection with reality, but our hormones insist that this must be so. And so we tried to describe our feelings with logic.

I am not exempt from this – and freely admit when my feelings and my logic clash. I isolate the parts that make sense… And then that allows me to flip out the right way.

I’ve been apologizing for years for this tendency, when really, I should have been embracing it.

It’s a lot easier to clearly understand what has you upset, once you’ve admitted you’re a brilliant bag of meat, with talents and flaws in equal amounts.

It helps to fix what you can, and vent about the stupid stuff.


I have a new word for the language…
scylliocterplex (skil – lee – OK – ter – plecks): A variable quantity of items (particularly small fruits or vegetable), defined as the number of said items required to completely fill a container past the brim with all evidence of stability, but which will awkwardly overflow and drop should any effort to move the container be made.