Why I Did Not Get a PhD

I'm a smart guy. Maybe too smart for my own good. And by too smart, I mean too much of a smart ass.

Let me preamble this by telling you that my goal is to someday have a PhD, not just for the academic street cred that goes along with that. In fact, not at all for that. For me, a PhD is just a consequence of busting ass at something one is passionate about. For some, it is about the street cred and commensurate income stream. For those people, busting their ass at something tolerable is sufficient, provided they can keep the goal in mind and suffer a whole lot of douchebaggery from some not very nice people.

Getting a PhD is a pyramid scheme in brutality. Everyone who gets a PhD is more or less shit on while they are getting it. Ironically, but not surprisingly, once these people get their PhD, they go on to shit on up and coming PhDs. This is not because all PhDs are douchebags, but because the douchebags in what passes for management at universities create a political culture of douchebaggery, the well known "sink or swim" mindset. Those who are unwilling to be douches don't last long in that culture.

Of course there are exceptions. My former boss had a PhD, was the ultimate douchebag, and also did not make it in academia (because he sucked and was a douche to his students). Also, my parents are not douchebags, but they have PhDs and high standards. Douchebaggery results from low standards.

Anyway, all that is the lead in to my reasons for not getting a PhD. I simply have a huge anti-authority streak, and at the first sign of douchebaggery, I become a real asshole towards those wielding the douche. I have made a couple of attempts at getting a PhD and it was not for lack of intelligence or hard work that I did not succeed. It was my inability to suffer douchebaggery, even knowing the positive outcome of doing so.


Atmospheric Change

I find it amusing when climate change deniers reject the notion that humans, the dominant organism on the earth (in effect, if not sheer numbers), can affect the climate.

Life on earth has been influencing climate and the makeup of the atmosphere since it began. There was no oxygen on the hot early earth, and carbon dioxide accounted for the difference. But that earth was remarkably hot. It was hot spring hot. Deep oceanic vent hot. And we can presume much of the life observed in those ecosystems may resemble the earliest life on earth, in form and function, if not direct evolutionary lineage.

The evolution of aerobic organisms came about as the levels of toxic oxygen (a waste product of photosynthesis) rose in the early atmosphere. Oh how the early anaerobes must have objected to the wonton oxygen production of their peers, all the while doing it themselves (it is OK if I do it, but not if others do...sound familiar?).

So the notion that organisms can influence the environment, including the atmosphere, is quite sound. But the question to be asked is if there is anything we can or should do about it.

Poor Mittens

A friend of mine on Facebook noted how Mitt Romney's mouth is his own worst enemy. The guy just seems totally out of touch with most of humanity.

But you just go ahead and vote for Mittens.

Working Too Much Can Kill You

Science doesn't lie.

A meta-analysis of research on heart disease and hours at work shows that too much overtime can increase your risk of heart disease by up to 80%.

No thanks.

A meta-analysis is a study that pools the data from lots of other studies to get a stronger statistical analysis. See for yourself.

According to the study, working too many hours also makes you dumber:

Middle-aged workers putting in 55 hours or more a week had poorer brain function than those clocking up no more than 40 hours, with lower scores on tests to measure intelligence, short-term memory and word recall. The effect was so pronounced, they found, that it was similar in magnitude to that of smoking, a major risk factor for dementia.


Working too much is as bad for you as smoking?

No thanks.

Your boss is putting your life at risk if he asks you to work too much. You have a right to protect your life and health. So tell him or her to go pound sand up his/her ass.

10 Minutes - Words With Friends

Hi. It's Joe.

I am definitely improving at Words With Friends, which is essentially Scrabble on app form. I still suck though. I tend to kick everyone's arse in actual Scrabble, probably because of the time constraint of a board game. The WWF app has no such time restriction because you can play when you like. This gives you a lot more time to scheme up high scoring words. I mean, if you don't make a move for a long time, like a fortnight, I think the app assumes you have forfeited and awards your opponent a win. This happened to me once.

I played GUMBOOT in WWF today for like 36 points. I did not even know it was one word, not two. I gambled that my opponent did not have an S, but she did and made an S word that gave her a score for that and for GUMBOOTS. Shit!

Anyway, this game is a lot closer than the last one we played. It's probably a combination of minor improvement on my part and cockiness on her part (since she whooped me handily on the prior game we played, she probably just assumed I suck in general). I think I can win this one if I do some clever wordsmithing. But I don't want to get too cocky just yet. My friend is a good WWF player.

I am up at the cabin this weekend, helping my parents tidy it up so they can close it down for winter. In a few minutes I am going to go bring the boats up from the beach. There is a kayak down there, as well as a rowboat.

Rowboat would be a sweet WWF word. I wonder if I can play that one soon.


Rush Hour Is a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

I rarely experience rush hour and so for all practical purposes, it does not exist for me. I can make it manifest itself. It is quite simple to do. All it takes is for me to drive my car between 7 and 8 AM or 4:30 and 5:30 PM in Madison, WI, the city in which I work.

But I hardly ever do this, because I do not believe in creating my own personal hell on earth, as so many of my fellow human beings seem, collectively, to do.

Indeed, it is only by working together that my urban brothers and sisters can generate the hell cooperative known as rush hour. They appear to engage in it willingly and repeatedly do so. Unless they are also collectively insane, they must at some level enjoy this twice daily torment parade, during which each attempts to out do the others' displays of conformity and learned hopelessness. Because to repeat the same behavior day after day, expecting a different result can only signal one of two things: madness or relish for self-loathing (i.e., a self-induced living hell).

I seek no accolades from my fellow humans for defying convention and avoiding rush hour when I commute. In any case, when I commute there are, by definition, far fewer drivers on the road for whom to flaunt my individualistic taunting of the societal status quo.

Sometimes I don't even lower myself to driving a car but rather join that elite fleet of transportation royalty, bicyclists. Not only does this save me money on gasoline, but I can get a workout while sailing past all the pathetic and miserable, self-loathers stuck in traffic.

This has a small downside, especially during the evening commute. Some car drivers are not satisfied directing their pathos of hate inward. Perhaps their once vivacious souls have been so withered by repeated self-emolation that they feel a need to share some of their contagion with those they perceive to have an excess of positive energy and freedom. So they direct their derision outward on others, especially bicyclists.

Luckily, it is very easy to repel negativity with positivity, once you realize the nature of the negativity beast. I hope this post has provided you with helpful insight on this, assuming you are one of those rare few who prefers a free, positive, heaven-on-earth kind of existence.

I'd love to hear your comments.