Preface: (a.k.a.: TL;DR)

As netizens might say, “OMFG! Do you ever stop thinking!” Nope. Robin Williams notoriously doesn’t have a stage persona. He’s like that ALL THE TIME. This is me. I never stop thinking, analyzing, making connections. That’s why being forced to do nothing is damn-near torture for me. My wife (bless her patience) has said more than once, when I’ve shared just a fraction of what’s going on in my head, that it must be exhausting being me.

Story idea

  • Tentative title: “War Games”. Future tech — sparked by an article I read years ago about about the stress responses of military personnel going through SERE training. What if there was a “switch” to turn the brain’s response to real violence from a hugely negative stimulus into interpreting it as play? What would the repercussions be for the soldiers when you turned it off again?

Stuff I want to know about, and maybe write about sometime

  • What are the physical properties of chip-board vs. whole wood vs. particle board? How much does chip/fiber size/length matter?
  • What percentage-weight of grades do tests carry at other Japanese schools? In the three I have detailed knowledge of, tests were worth between 60–80% of the total grade. Is it the same in other private schools? What about public schools?
  • Why are good suit buttons traditionally supposed to be made from horn? I know that tailored suits have working cuff buttons. How many buttons should be on the cuff? Has that changed much with fashions?
  • Is myopia actually correlated with higher intelligence, as the popular meme holds? Inuit studies and reports scholorly and non indicate that poor eyesight might be diet/lifestyle related. What’s the prevalence of myopia in various countries? Have there been any reliable studies done in developing countries? Glasses might not be readily available there, but do people need them and not have them, or do they just not need them?
  • Which is stronger for making a loop in a leather strap: stitches or rivets?
  • What makes “fluorescent” colors so bright? Do colorblind people have a similar perception of relative brightness, noticeability?
  • What are the advantages/disadvantages of facing buildings with tiles?
  • How are fire exits and rescue entry points implemented in various concrete buildings? Some windows and points on walls are marked with a red triangular symbol on the outside in Japan. I assume it’s related to this, but what does that symbol actually mean?
  • When were the first sports stadium lights built? Who designed them? How powerful are modern lights?
  • What’s the potential electrical generating capacity if we put solar panels on every roof? Inverse correlation with population density? How much does potential change with latitude?
  • What’s optimal house/building orientation in relation to latitude? How big are shadow problems with high-rise buildings? How much do high-rises affect wind direction and intensity? Studies in Chicago?
  • What was the experience of people in the top floors of buildings during Tôhoku earthquake?
  • What are some techniques for carving letters/kanji in wood and stone?
  • Pubic lice are said to be in sharp decline due to current prevalence of genital shaving/waxing. Shaving all body hair was common for a long time in ancient Egypt. Prevalence of lice then?
  • Genital shaving said to have links to porn boom starting in VHS era. Have there been past fashion/grooming trends migrating from prostitution, other sex-trade into mainstream?
  • How do engineers and architects approach sound engineering in large buildings? How does engineering for sound affect thermal insulation?
  • Was there ever a fashion for longer hair on men than women?
  • What are the rates for female on male violence? Estimates on underreporting? (I assume it’s pretty high.)
  • Why are American suits split in back, while European styles have a flap vent? When did they diverge?
  • How reliable was that article on fossil footprints, from which they calculated the running speed of a prehistoric man at better than Olympic calibre?

Potential article topics, some research needed

  • What are all the pockets in a suit supposed to be used for? (I can’t buy off-the-rack in Japan, so I had a semi-custom suit made. Semi-custom = detailed initial measurements, but no second fitting to confirm before the final suit is delivered). I’ve got one pocket that’s big enough for about 3 fingers in the left breast of my suit, running diagonally behind the lapel and the outside breast pocket. What the heck is it for? What other specialized pockets are common in suits?
  • How do tailors design good pockets? I’ve got a couple of pairs of pants that let things drop out of the pockets if I cross my leg. What is it about those pockets that doesn’t work as well as other pockets?
  • The best New Year’s resolution is to not make a New Year’s resolution. The principle of 改善, kaizen, “continuous improvement” is to make incremental changes and continually refine processes. It’s not necessarily a Japanese idea since it is solidly rooted in the practical. Progression in physical training (you don’t make huge jumps in capabilities overnight unless you’re a neophyte, or using — ahem — enhancements), iteration in software, customization of tools, clothes, etc. Better results are obtained through steady refinement than by sudden changes in course.
  • Practicing taking tests might improve test scores by making you good at taking tests, but how much practical value does that kind of focused learning have?
  • Death from violence is high, percentage-wise, in traditional societies. How do hunting-gathering societies experience extra-group warfare and intra-group violence? Like schoolyard roughhousing except that someone dies instead of just getting the shit kicked out of them? How does this compare with prehistoric, ancient societies?
  • Body odor, apocrine glands, and age. In Japan, they have a word for “old-guy stink”, (おやじ臭い; oyaji-kusai). Who was the first recorded doctor to diagnose by smell? Galen? “Sniffer” machines.
  • Earthquake engineering. There’s a video from the Tôhoku earthquake in 2011 showing 20–30 story buildings swaying like trees in the wind. I don’t recall hearing about any failures of large modern buildings, but what kind of systems fared best?
  • When should you use particular tie knots? (Windsor, half-Windsor, four-in-hand, Pratt, etc.)
  • What’s the evolution of the modern suit?
  • Occupational bone markers, paleolithic skeletons, indications of relative strength, stresses. Neanderthal bones were bowed by the weights they carried.
  • You’re never “ready” for anything, you just need to do it. Getting married, having kids, etc. Nothing prepares you for it except actually doing it. This applies to work as well. How do you become a writer, inventor, designer, programmer? Do it. Take classes, sure. Talk to experts, yeah. Read books, fine. But there’s no substitute for doing the work.
  • Fostering genius. What’s the track record for magnet schools, GATE, etc.? Have there been any successful creative educational programs?

Research ideas

  • It might be interesting to run experiments on students applying for schools correlating various factors with scores: glasses (20 of 37 in this group); left-handedness (3 of 37); cold/allergies (17 of 37 [wearing facemasks]); grooming; punctuality.
  • If you could get consent, cameras recording facial expression simultaneous with test paper to track perceived difficulty vs. outcome could be really interesting.

Random thoughts

  • Wearing a dark colored sweater + white dress shirt = need garment/lint brush.
  • “Power tools let you fuck up faster” Origin?
  • “People say they want to be writers. In my experience, what they really want is to have written.” Who said that?
  • I would quit my job tomorrow if I could make anywhere near as much from writing. I even like doing research.