Nov 30

A bicycle

“I think that one of the things that separates us from the high primates is that we’re tool-builders. I read a study that measured the efficiency of locomotion for various species on the planet. The condor used the least energy to move a kilometer. Humans came in with a rather unimpressive showing of about a third of the way down the list – it was not too proud of a showing for the crown of creation. So that didn’t look so good. But then someone at Scientific American had the insight to test the efficiency of locomotion for a man on a bicycle. And a human on a bicycle blew the condor away, completely off the top of the charts. And that’s what a computer is to me. It’s the most remarkable tool that we’ve ever come up with. It’s a bicycle for our minds.”

-Steve Jobs

Too bad GP computers will be defunct soon.

Nov 30


This is probably the most insightful thing I have ever read about Black Friday.

I really like it when smart people make me think of something I never would’ve thought of on my own, that also explains human behavior I previously could not have made sense of.

Of course the feeling of defeating capitalism at its own game is an illusion, but illusions are reality to the people experiencing them.

Nov 30

First world

I’m really tired of the phrase “first world problems.” Originally, it highlighted something that was relevant and worth paying attention to.

Now it’s just used to dismiss people. For instance if my (nice, fast) car breaks down, yes that might indeed be a first world problem but it’s a real damn problem and I have to deal with with it.

“First world problems” has metamorphosed into a phrase mostly used to avoid paying attention to anyone who cares about anything besides your particular problem, and to guilt-trip people into silence.

This never works and is completely counterproductive, though it is a common liberal failure mode.

Nov 29

Heavy boots

Myth: The astronauts didn’t float away because they had heavy boots.

I don’t know why people seem to feel the need to apologize or excuse people who are freakin’ idiots. I would’ve gotten this question correct when I was four years old.

I annoyed a teacher one time when I was seven or eight years old who asked the classic trick question, “Which is heavier, a pound of feathers or a pound of rocks?”

Of course I said, “They’re the same.”

Nothing like ruining lesson plans routinely.

Nov 28


Kappa Paul Band featuring Halie and Emma covering the Allman Brother’s “Midnight Rider.”

Not sure why they instagrammed the video, but so be it – they are better live and recording all at once than most bands in the studio with multiple separate takes and all sorts of digital enhancement.

Nov 28

Essay say say

This is one of the best essays I’ve ever read. It might be the best. Whatever its ranking, it’s fucking fantastic. I linked it at my other blog but it really needs wider exposure.

Usually when I read something, I think, Meh, I could’ve written that. Writing is an area (to paraphrase a movie from the ‘90) where I can just play.

Even the longer posts on here for instance I typically spend less than 15 minutes composing. Sometimes less than five.

But that – I could never have written that. What an amazing piece of work. It’s one of the few essays I’ve ever read – and perhaps the only one – that I’ve finished, then immediately started from the beginning again.

Nov 28

One of the few

One of the very few ways I was similar to regular kids is that I perceived adults as being much older than they actually were. (While often perceiving them accurately as mendacious incompetents at the same time.)

For instance, in a movie I liked at the time and have since re-watched, a major character at the time seemed about 50-60 to me and in my view as a child was on the very doorstep of death.

Watching the movie now, I realize he is 28 or perhaps 30.

I remember very well what it was to be a child. How it felt, at least, and that I was really no different than I am now. Why do so many adults forget this, and then treat children and young people as if they are not people?

Perhaps it is because I was a very precocious child and grew up quickly that I have not forgotten the disdain and dismissal that I received from adults.

Perhaps also that people just like passing on the negative experiences they themselves experienced. Seems a common human thing to do.

Nov 27

Slated for disposal

It’s getting harder and harder to read Slate these days – nearly everything on there is some Matthew Yglesias-infected contrarian claptrap bullshit even if it’s not actually written by Matthew Yglesias.

That piece I linked – like most of his – is filled with false dichotomies, statements backed by no evidence (because there isn’t any) and a firm disregard for how anyone not Ivy League-educated and not already set for life experiences the world.

Liberals like Matt Yglesias is why I don’t call myself a liberal that often. In no way do I want to be associated with a such a wretched, deluded fucker.

Nov 27


I’ve deliberately made an effort lately to read more fiction by women. I already read something like 40% fiction by women naturally – now it’s more like 75%. Call it making up for lost time.

I didn’t expect the quality of my reading material to go down, and it did not. However, there is a lot more breadth in material written by women than in general than that written by men and that has improved my reading experience considerably.

As if there were any doubt, women and men are equally good writers, but female writers in general don’t seem as prone to be locked into certain binary ideas about gender or even society at large. That is to say, you are far less likely to read some unexamined translation of 1950s gender roles into a society of 2896 if it’s written by a woman.

The latest one I’ve read is Zoo City by Lauren Beukes, which was quite good.