Machine Learning And
The Human Animal


One would not typically associate sewing machines with gnarly industrial injuries.

I recently saw a very sweet lady in the clinic who had gotten her finger stuck in a sewing machine. I encounter folks at work who run afoul of sundry wild beasts and malevolent mechanical contrivances with some regularity. Ghoulish though it may sound, fixing such things is invariably the highlight of my day. If your professional world orbited around such sultry stuff as snot, STDs and hemorrhoids, you’d feel the same way. Don’t judge.

Anyway, this poor lady had simply suffered an accident. Work around machines long enough, and eventually, you will get yourself nipped. I have myself had unpleasant encounters with both my drill press and my table saw. It is simply by the grace of almighty God that I still enjoy my full complement of digits. However, as I was visiting with this lady, it did provide impetus to wax nostalgic about my own painful learning experiences.

I once had a bad experience with a sewing machine myself. My mom is, among a great many other superlatives, a simply outstanding seamstress. Once, when I was but a wee tot, I plopped down before her briefly unattended sewing machine to take stock. Curiosity not confined to the realm of suicidal felines, I promptly stuck my little miniature hand into the device and tapped the pedal, dropping a stitch right through my thumbnail.

I don’t remember the rest of the event clearly, but I’m sure it involved a fair amount of unmanly shrieking. Mom made it better, as she always did, and I learned a valuable lesson. Not once since that time have I ever been tempted to stick my hand into a live sewing machine. And that is where I differ from, it seems, every other human being on the planet.

Lawyer Density

My brother is a lawyer, and I love him dearly. I have a number of great buddies who practice law for a living. They are all normal people who do normal stuff. However, apparently, someplace out there is this cabal of maniacal, disconnected nutjobs who somehow finished law school and passed the bar exam. These are the guys who get up every day and strive mightily to keep us from hurting themselves.

Have you purchased an extension cord lately? Your typical four-footer sports about three feet worth of annoying stickers listing all the dangerous things you shouldn’t do with extension cords. One might be forgiven for thinking that if you had sense enough to drive to Walmart and purchase an extension cord, you might know not to plug in an electrical appliance in the shallow end of your swimming pool.

And then there are gasoline cans. I recently threw away a brand-new plastic gas can because it took three hands and an engineering degree to actually get gas out of it. More technology is built into the sundry safety mechanisms incorporated into the pour snout of a modern gas can than put robots on Mars. The cumulative effect is that what should simply be a container to hold gasoline now becomes this diabolical Gordian monster that seems destined to make me violate my personal convictions regarding profligate profanity.

Really!?! We needed instructions to do this?

Ballistic Blathering

Have you ever actually read the manual that came with a commercial firearm? Of course you haven’t. Even if you had, you would lie and claim you hadn’t. There is a commonly held male narrative that reading the instructions on most anything makes your serum testosterone fall precipitously. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I’m not willing to risk it.

Regardless, I did hazard a quick peek. I have been a regular testosterone donor since I was in third grade, so I figured I could spare a little. Suffice it to say, if you were seriously considering doing illicit drugs and then hitting the range, a paragraph in the front of your gun’s instruction manual is likely not going to dissuade that behavior.

The sad part is, if there’s a warning, you can pretty
much guarantee it means someone has done it.

The Vagaries of Human Evolution

I used to think all this superfluous, inane stuff was just because we had too many lawyers. Once all the wills and probates were done, all these hungry little attorneys obviously needed something else to do, so they started writing safety manuals. Now, however, I am beginning to suspect people are just getting dumber over time.

My wife recently purchased a wooden easel. To deploy the thing, you really just pull out the back leg and set it on the table. However, it came with a tri-fold instruction manual sealed in a plastic bag showing you how to pull out the back leg and set it on the table.

A great deal of hay has been made regarding the existence of extraterrestrials in the recent past. I have an opinion. If there were spacefaring species out there looking to expand their horizons, I see no reason why they would ever think of stopping here. Apparently, there is little, if any, intelligent life left on planet Earth these days.

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