Friday, January 12, 2018

Pick rollers

A list of small, useful things (links):
Again, an open invitation to all interested in writing a blog, a hobby that will bring you millions thousands hundreds tens of dollars joy and happiness. Send me a link to your post, and I'd be happy to put it up.

Have a good weekend!


  1. I find you need to reach a happy medium with safety. Not enough controls and people get paralyzed by fear or have accidents due to lack of knowledge/resources. Too much control and everything gets red taped.

    My previous institution would to go bananas sometimes and evacuate a building over a shattered 4L of dichloromethane. My new institution doesn't have an incident reporting system, unless someone is seriously injured or equipment is badly damaged (at least I hope). Neither is really satisfactory. Keeping a record of times things went bad, and ensuring the whole department learns from the event makes complete sense to me, but I understand how unpleasant report-writing can be.

  2. Safety is not a problem, being frozen by risk aversion is. I'll assert that there isn't any experiment that can't be done safely - there are always ways to conduct experiments in ways that are safe.

  3. 1) Nothing is safe if the operator isn't fully present while doing it. Policies can't make people think, and management is highly risk-averse, so policy evolves from a checklist of "You might want to think about this before you do it." to "Play only in this sandbox, because I can't make you think and wouldn't know what to do if you did." After the thirty-thousandth incident involving a rainbow flame demo (only slightly overstated), I can almost see the point.

    2) Another possibility is that the perceived benefits of lots of activities are so low that any level of risk is too much. For most people, thermite would be cool but the ability to see it on the intertubes means that unless performing it has some significant benefit, people should probably look it up instead of trying to do it.

    3) This seems to have one of the core problems of The Diamond Age at its heart: people made our society by taking lots of risks and surviving, but once people have the society, they want to survive within it, which means fitting in and not taking risks. For society to survive and thrive, people have to take risks and be independent and in doing so come to a better understanding of why their society exists and how to fit in.