Feasting on the tears of our enemies

Another one bites the dust

In a high school math class one of the rules of taking tests was that you don't leave your seat (and you definitely don't leave the room) during the taking of a test. This is all well and good most days, but there was one time when I found myself in the middle of a math test and I really had to go to the bathroom, and it was unclear on how I should proceed.

I asked the teacher if I could go to the bathroom (in retrospect, this is a weird dynamic that exists in schools and not very many other places), and he indicated that I could not, and that I should stay and finish my test. I was probably visibly squirming in my seat, and after I finished my test, I turned my paper over, looked at him, and got the head nod to go to the bathroom, which I did.

After class he approached me and said something like "I'm not allowed to let people go to the bathroom during tests, but you should just get up and go next time".

What a powerful condemnation of the systems we've surrounded ourselves with. Think of all the lessons learned here. The first lesson is simply that the rules are important and we can't violate the rules. He's in a position to enforce the rules (which make sense for most people most of the time), and I'm in a position to follow those rules, and it's as simple as that. The next lesson is that even if he sympathized with my appropriate desire to bend or break the rules, he cannot be on the record as having explicitly made an exception to the rules, so even if he agreed with my request to leave the room, he felt hamstrung by the system to deny the request.

The third lesson is that he wanted me to know that I should definitely not listen to his instructions or the rules, if, in my best judgement, there was probably more harm and discomfort coming from following the rules than there would be from breaking them.

The next lesson is that he felt an obligation to deliver those instructions around when I'm supposed to not listen to him in the privacy of an after-class aside comment, and not as a public instruction in front of the class. Presumably there are some other students who were not allowed to be told that they should sometimes not listen to him.

How about all that?

Boots with the fur

If I was producing hit pop songs with crazy dance beats, I think I'd make a point of inserting some "iOS sounds" as background noises every now and again. This would lead to a scenario where some millenials were out bouncing in a club and they'd periodically have to check their phones even though no one was calling or messaging them, all because of my maniacal studio production techniques.

Following through on your swing

In high-discipline circles like the military, trainees are often taught to make their beds in a very specific way with a collection of specific folds and tightnesses that can be employed to achieve a make of bed sufficient to protect our national security. This is great for them, and I sleep better at night knowing I'm being defended by people who are good at making beds.

One standard that is used by instructors of bed makers is that they must be able to "bounce a quarter" off of a portion of the folded bed. A bed which is not made properly will simply deflect the quarter off to the side, indicating that our nation's enemies would be able to easily overtake this bed and it's occupant, should they advance into the barracks. A bed which is made properly would send the quarter away, bouncing it back up into the hand of whoever threw it, and is a strong indication that a would-be attacker might think twice about doing any harm to that bed's occupant.

Anyway, I think "can I bounce a quarter off this?" would be a cool standard to introduce into other walks of life. Like say your boss comes barreling into your office asking you where the hell those Q3 reports are -- you could point to a stack of doodles on your desk, and be like "How about these reports, jackass?!". He'd get a crazy look in his eyes like he was about to fire you, but then you'd take a quarter out of your pocket, bounce it off your reports, and he'd be like "Ah, very well then, as you were, I'll see you at the retreat".

Dumbo vs Bambi in a game of golf

I'd like to see an industry conference for building and construction tools used by craftsman and makers run a conference called the "Digital Tools Expo" and I'd want them to market it in places where software engineers would be likely to see it. When the attendees got there and saw the halls full of hand saws and the speaker panels talking about wearing gloves while you work, they'd be like "Yeah, that was good, you really got us".