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July 25, 2013

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3780 days ago
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Nearly 3/4 of all crime in New York committed by and against African Americans in 2012. (PDF w/ graphs)

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rickycodie
3793 days ago
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Slippery Slope

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Bowling Ball

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Bowling Ball

I've been told that if the Earth were shrunk down to the size of a bowling ball, it would be smoother than said bowling ball. My question is, what would a bowling ball look like if it were blown up to the size of the Earth?

—Seth C.

A good, professional-quality bowling ball is smoother than the Earth.

Phil Plait, of Bad Astronomy, took a look at the claim that the Earth was smoother than a billiard ball. He concluded that the Earth was smoother but less round, based on published billiard ball roundness tolerances. However, he couldn’t find any information on the size and shape of a billiard ball’s pits and bumps.

Fortunately for us, there are people who digitally scan bowling ball surfaces.

These scans (along with various measurements of ball roughness[1]) tell us that a high-end bowling ball is quite smooth. If blown up to the scale of the Earth, the ridges and bumps[2] would be between 10 and 200 meters high, and the peaks would be between one and three kilometers apart:

By Earth standards, this is quite smooth; our highest mountains are 40 times higher.

What would this bowling ball world (we’ll call it “Lebowski”) be like?

For starters, bowling balls are a lot less dense than rock, so Lebowski’s surface gravity would be a quarter the strength of Earth’s:

It would also (at first) have no atmosphere.

The finger holes would be about a thousand kilometers across and a few thousand kilometers deep.

On Earth, holes this big would expose the molten interior. But Lebowski doesn’t have a molten interior.

The Earth’s core is hot for two reasons: It’s still glowing from the heat of all the dust collapsing together when it formed, and it’s full of radioactive metals. Lebowski wouldn’t have either of these, so its core would start out cold.

The holes would be far too big to hold themselves open against gravity; On that scale, the polymers in the bowling ball would behave more like a liquid. In the space of about half an hour, the holes would undergo a slow-motion collapse.

As they collapsed, the material around the holes would heat to a glow. At the center of the hole, a white-hot jet of charred hydrocarbons would fountain outward into space.

When it was over, Lebowski would be left with massive scars, each marking the location where an abyss collapsed to form a molten sea.

And now, thanks to this question, whenever I look at the Moon, I’ll notice the Sea of Tranquility, the Sea of Serenity, and the Sea of Crisis, and I’ll think: Finger holes.

But that’s just, like, my opinion, man.

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popular
3845 days ago
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rickycodie
3845 days ago
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dc3
3845 days ago
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Nice
Carlsbad, CA
Michdevilish
3845 days ago
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Holy Finger prints! :0
Canada
rclatterbuck
3845 days ago
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This is not 'Nam. This is bowling. There are rules.

Like gravity, material plasticity, and oh-my-god those gutterballs are huge!
MotherHydra
3845 days ago
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Another solid 'What If?' Complete with a Lebowski reference? Today was a good day.
Space City, USA
mikesena
3845 days ago
haha

Depression Part Two

34 Comments and 72 Shares
I remember being endlessly entertained by the adventures of my toys. Some days they died repeated, violent deaths, other days they traveled to space or discussed my swim lessons and how I absolutely should be allowed in the deep end of the pool, especially since I was such a talented doggy-paddler.


I didn't understand why it was fun for me, it just was.


But as I grew older, it became harder and harder to access that expansive imaginary space that made my toys fun. I remember looking at them and feeling sort of frustrated and confused that things weren't the same.


I played out all the same story lines that had been fun before, but the meaning had disappeared. Horse's Big Space Adventure transformed into holding a plastic horse in the air, hoping it would somehow be enjoyable for me. Prehistoric Crazy-Bus Death Ride was just smashing a toy bus full of dinosaurs into the wall while feeling sort of bored and unfulfilled.  I could no longer connect to my toys in a way that allowed me to participate in the experience.


Depression feels almost exactly like that, except about everything.

At first, though, the invulnerability that accompanied the detachment was exhilarating. At least as exhilarating as something can be without involving real emotions.


The beginning of my depression had been nothing but feelings, so the emotional deadening that followed was a welcome relief.  I had always wanted to not give a fuck about anything. I viewed feelings as a weakness — annoying obstacles on my quest for total power over myself. And I finally didn't have to feel them anymore.

But my experiences slowly flattened and blended together until it became obvious that there's a huge difference between not giving a fuck and not being able to give a fuck. Cognitively, you might know that different things are happening to you, but they don't feel very different.


Which leads to horrible, soul-decaying boredom.


I tried to get out more, but most fun activities just left me existentially confused or frustrated with my inability to enjoy them.


Months oozed by, and I gradually came to accept that maybe enjoyment was not a thing I got to feel anymore. I didn't want anyone to know, though. I was still sort of uncomfortable about how bored and detached I felt around other people, and I was still holding out hope that the whole thing would spontaneously work itself out. As long as I could manage to not alienate anyone, everything might be okay!

However, I could no longer rely on genuine emotion to generate facial expressions, and when you have to spend every social interaction consciously manipulating your face into shapes that are only approximately the right ones, alienating people is inevitable.


Everyone noticed.


It's weird for people who still have feelings to be around depressed people. They try to help you have feelings again so things can go back to normal, and it's frustrating for them when that doesn't happen. From their perspective, it seems like there has got to be some untapped source of happiness within you that you've simply lost track of, and if you could just see how beautiful things are...


At first, I'd try to explain that it's not really negativity or sadness anymore, it's more just this detached, meaningless fog where you can't feel anything about anything — even the things you love, even fun things — and you're horribly bored and lonely, but since you've lost your ability to connect with any of the things that would normally make you feel less bored and lonely, you're stuck in the boring, lonely, meaningless void without anything to distract you from how boring, lonely, and meaningless it is.


But people want to help. So they try harder to make you feel hopeful and positive about the situation. You explain it again, hoping they'll try a less hope-centric approach, but re-explaining your total inability to experience joy inevitably sounds kind of negative; like maybe you WANT to be depressed. The positivity starts coming out in a spray — a giant, desperate happiness sprinkler pointed directly at your face. And it keeps going like that until you're having this weird argument where you're trying to convince the person that you are far too hopeless for hope just so they'll give up on their optimism crusade and let you go back to feeling bored and lonely by yourself.


And that's the most frustrating thing about depression. It isn't always something you can fight back against with hope. It isn't even something — it's nothing. And you can't combat nothing. You can't fill it up. You can't cover it. It's just there, pulling the meaning out of everything. That being the case, all the hopeful, proactive solutions start to sound completely insane in contrast to the scope of the problem.

It would be like having a bunch of dead fish, but no one around you will acknowledge that the fish are dead. Instead, they offer to help you look for the fish or try to help you figure out why they disappeared.


The problem might not even have a solution. But you aren't necessarily looking for solutions. You're maybe just looking for someone to say "sorry about how dead your fish are" or "wow, those are super dead. I still like you, though."


I started spending more time alone.


Perhaps it was because I lacked the emotional depth necessary to panic, or maybe my predicament didn't feel dramatic enough to make me suspicious, but I somehow managed to convince myself that everything was still under my control right up until I noticed myself wishing that nothing loved me so I wouldn't feel obligated to keep existing.


It's a strange moment when you realize that you don't want to be alive anymore. If I had feelings, I'm sure I would have felt surprised. I have spent the vast majority of my life actively attempting to survive. Ever since my most distant single-celled ancestor squiggled into existence, there has been an unbroken chain of things that wanted to stick around.


Yet there I was, casually wishing that I could stop existing in the same way you'd want to leave an empty room or mute an unbearably repetitive noise.


That wasn't the worst part, though. The worst part was deciding to keep going.


When I say that deciding to not kill myself was the worst part, I should clarify that I don't mean it in a retrospective sense. From where I am now, it seems like a solid enough decision. But at the time, it felt like I had been dragging myself through the most miserable, endless wasteland, and — far in the distance — I had seen the promising glimmer of a slightly less miserable wasteland. And for just a moment, I thought maybe I'd be able to stop and rest. But as soon as I arrived at the border of the less miserable wasteland, I found out that I'd have to turn around and walk back the other way.


Soon afterward, I discovered that there's no tactful or comfortable way to inform other people that you might be suicidal. And there's definitely no way to ask for help casually.


I didn't want it to be a big deal. However, it's an alarming subject. Trying to be nonchalant about it just makes it weird for everyone.


I was also extremely ill-prepared for the position of comforting people. The things that seemed reassuring at the time weren't necessarily comforting for others.


I had so very few feelings, and everyone else had so many, and it felt like they were having all of them in front of me at once. I didn't really know what to do, so I agreed to see a doctor so that everyone would stop having all of their feelings at me.


The next few weeks were a haze of talking to relentlessly hopeful people about my feelings that didn't exist so I could be prescribed medication that might help me have them again.


And every direction was bullshit for a really long time, especially up. The absurdity of working so hard to continue doing something you don't like can be overwhelming. And the longer it takes to feel different, the more it starts to seem like everything might actually be hopeless bullshit.


My feelings did start to return eventually. But not all of them came back, and they didn't arrive symmetrically.

I had not been able to care for a very long time, and when I finally started being able to care about things again, I HATED them. But hatred is technically a feeling, and my brain latched onto it like a child learning a new word.


Hating everything made all the positivity and hope feel even more unpalatable. The syrupy, over-simplified optimism started to feel almost offensive.


Thankfully, I rediscovered crying just before I got sick of hating things.  I call this emotion "crying" and not "sadness" because that's all it really was. Just crying for the sake of crying. My brain had partially learned how to be sad again, but it took the feeling out for a joy ride before it had learned how to use the brakes or steer.


At some point during this phase, I was crying on the kitchen floor for no reason. As was common practice during bouts of floor-crying, I was staring straight ahead at nothing in particular and feeling sort of weird about myself. Then, through the film of tears and nothingness, I spotted a tiny, shriveled piece of corn under the refrigerator.


I don't claim to know why this happened, but when I saw the piece of corn, something snapped. And then that thing twisted through a few permutations of logic that I don't understand, and produced the most confusing bout of uncontrollable, debilitating laughter that I have ever experienced.


I had absolutely no idea what was going on.


My brain had apparently been storing every unfelt scrap of happiness from the last nineteen months, and it had impulsively decided to unleash all of it at once in what would appear to be an act of vengeance.


That piece of corn is the funniest thing I have ever seen, and I cannot explain to anyone why it's funny. I don't even know why. If someone ever asks me "what was the exact moment where things started to feel slightly less shitty?" instead of telling a nice, heartwarming story about the support of the people who loved and believed in me, I'm going to have to tell them about the piece of corn. And then I'm going to have to try to explain that no, really, it was funny. Because, see, the way the corn was sitting on the floor... it was so alone... and it was just sitting there! And no matter how I explain it, I'll get the same, confused look. So maybe I'll try to show them the piece of corn - to see if they get it. They won't. Things will get even weirder.


Anyway, I wanted to end this on a hopeful, positive note, but, seeing as how my sense of hope and positivity is still shrouded in a thick layer of feeling like hope and positivity are bullshit, I'll just say this: Nobody can guarantee that it's going to be okay, but — and I don't know if this will be comforting to anyone else — the possibility exists that there's a piece of corn on a floor somewhere that will make you just as confused about why you are laughing as you have ever been about why you are depressed. And even if everything still seems like hopeless bullshit, maybe it's just pointless bullshit or weird bullshit or possibly not even bullshit.


I don't know. 

But when you're concerned that the miserable, boring wasteland in front of you might stretch all the way into forever, not knowing feels strangely hope-like. 






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rickycodie
3857 days ago
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i'm so happy you shared this. you have increased my understanding of others with this afflilction. thank you.
popular
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eugenesucks
3851 days ago
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I could do without the toy metaphor but yeah...
Essex, UK
jprodgers
3853 days ago
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This is an amazing post about depression, and it has put so many aspects of it into words. I've written a bit about depression as well: http://jimmieprodgers.com/depression/

If anyone ever wants to talk, feel free to contact me.
Somerville, MA
brico
3854 days ago
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!!!
Brooklyn, NY
gazuga
3854 days ago
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Blank stare in a dirty hoodie is my new pat response to sunny extroverts' advice on depression. The dirty hoodie will just materialize on my body if it's not already there.
Edmonton
warrenfparker67
3854 days ago
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Allie is Back!
Washington, District of Columbia
emdot
3855 days ago
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Real.
San Luis Obispo, CA
vanbcguy
3856 days ago
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Welcome back!
Vancouver
NKOlson
3856 days ago
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Take the time. Read this. Awesome.
West Chandler, Arizona
drspam
3856 days ago
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sigh. i love, love, love this brave-ass woman.
San Francisco, California
stephstear
3857 days ago
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Someone finally said it. I have never wanted to use the word "depression" to describe my experience because I have no reason to be depressed and I really don't even feel sad about anything. This girl (Allie) has put words to my feelings. This makes so much sense now.
Chester, Virginia
adamgurri
3857 days ago
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wow.
New York, NY
timlikescake
3857 days ago
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='(
Michdevilish
3857 days ago
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Legs
Canada
FoleyIsGood
3857 days ago
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This really is brilliant.
Wickford
fivemetalshrike
3857 days ago
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This.
Philadelphia, PA, USA
effingunicorns
3857 days ago
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This actually helps a lot, at least for me.
karmakaze
3857 days ago
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"I call this emotion "crying" and not "sadness" because that's all it really was. Just crying for the sake of crying. My brain had partially learned how to be sad again, but it took the feeling out for a joy ride before it had learned how to use the brakes or steer."
07974
DrGaellon
3857 days ago
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Wow... What an amazing description of an awful affliction. I will have to share this with my psychiatric colleagues.
Yonkers, NY
skorgu
3857 days ago
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Oh god this a billion times this.
Courtney
3857 days ago
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"it's more just this detached, meaningless fog where you can't feel anything about anything — even the things you love, even fun things — and you're horribly bored and lonely, but since you've lost your ability to connect with any of the things that would normally make you feel less bored and lonely, you're stuck in the boring, lonely, meaningless void without anything to distract you from how boring, lonely, and meaningless it is."
Portland, OR
ksw
3857 days ago
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:-\
Manhattan
alisonwehr
3857 days ago
I'm sorry about how dead your fish are. :(
somethingawesome
3857 days ago
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Back!!
glenniebun
3857 days ago
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Autoshare.
CT USA
ksteimle
3857 days ago
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Yay! She's back! This only partly hits close to home.. so... that means I'm doing ok, right?!?
Atlanta
smadin
3857 days ago
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//
Boston
gms8994
3857 days ago
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Definitely an interesting take on depression.
40291
grammargirl
3857 days ago
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Love this, and Allie, so much.
Brooklyn, NY
brooklynerica
3857 days ago
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She's back!
Brooklyn, NY
RedSonja
3857 days ago
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All the feels, but mostly blubbing.

Pre-Post Transition Post

9 Comments and 14 Shares
This isn't a real post. I'm going to post the real post tomorrow. But it feels like there should be some sort of intermediate thing to prepare everyone for the abrupt change of speed ahead.

Here's a picture of an airplane.


I realize that airplanes don't look like that, but this has been a hard year for me and learning how to draw planes accurately wasn't exactly a priority. I maybe could have chosen to draw something else, but I started drawing the plane, and there was already too much momentum.

Anyway, I feel like this is becoming way more about planes than I had anticipated. Let's move on.

If, at any point over the last eighteen months, you've wondered what was happening to me and why it might be happening, my post tomorrow should explain everything.

I've been working on it for the better part of a year (partly because I wanted to get it exactly right, and partly because I was still experiencing it while attempting to explain it, which made things weird), and I'm relieved and excited and scared to finally be able to post it.

At this point, you're all probably wondering what is it? What's in the post?? Is it airplanes? And no, it unfortunately has very little to do with airplanes.* It's a sort of sequel to my post about depression. It is also about depression. In parts, it might get a little flinch-y and uncomfortable, and if I succeed in making you laugh during those parts, you're going to feel real weird about yourselves. But it's okay. Just let it happen. I WANT it to happen. Because it makes me feel powerful, and also because there are flinch-y, uncomfortable things everywhere. Seeing them is inevitable. If we can laugh about some of them, maybe they'll be less scary to look at.

Okay, so that's what's going to happen tomorrow. Hopefully this transition post makes the experience less jarring for everyone.

*As it turns out, there is a plane. I had forgotten about it (it's small and not the main focus of the post) and the coincidence was entirely unintentional. I'd never tell you there aren't going to be planes while being fully aware that there's a plane.
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popular
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rickycodie
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grammargirl
3857 days ago
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So excited Allie's back.
Brooklyn, NY
gms8994
3857 days ago
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Good for her.
40291
mareino
3857 days ago
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Wow. Allie's back.
Washington, District of Columbia
mburch42
3858 days ago
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Yay, drawings girl is back!
pberry
3858 days ago
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I don't need a happy story, just one that isn't tragic. That's all I ask.
Chico, CA
adamgurri
3858 days ago
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What could she have been working on for 18 months? An animation perhaps?
New York, NY
Door
3857 days ago
I think she was working on not being depressed.
lillie
3858 days ago
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I am just so excited. I can't wait.
La Lengua, San Francisco
monserati
3858 days ago
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OMG SHE'S BACK! Oh joyous day!!!!
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