Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Good is so good.

And by Good I mean Good Magazine. I am actually thinking about subscribing to an honest-to-god paper magazine for the first time since approximately forever, because every article they write is exactly a thing I want to read.

A couple things on my mind:
Don't travel, because you're just an obnoxious tourist
. Plus a link to a story about a guy who was an obnoxious tourist. Now, my party line has always been "I don't agree with anyone who says this." But do I really believe that some people are obnoxious, but oh no, not me? (and regardless of whether I believe it, is it true?) I mean, there's something messed up about tourism. I've been over this a few times (in real life if not on my blog) but the point is, it just feels wrong. The tourist industry is a way to get money from foreigners. There's nothing about it to encourage, you know, friend-making between people of different cultures.

How do I know I'm not just a nuisance? Look, if someone came to Seattle, hardly spoke English, and wanted to chat, and I was at a restaurant or something with him, it'd be fun. But we wouldn't become good friends- there's nothing to talk about, especially with a language barrier as thick as it always is. You end up with a lot of shallow connections. (granted, the few deeper ones I've made have been awesome...)

But in between that, you're gawking at the Eiffel Tower or stomping around Angkor Wat or climbing up to Machu Picchu or whatever, and you're probably not having fun, and you're eroding a world heritage site, and you're making it worse for everyone else there. Think about it: when's the last time you were at a tourist site and didn't wish for fewer people? Or hell, when's the last time you saw tourists anywhere and didn't just want them to disappear?

And maybe sometimes you say screw it, I just want a little comfort, and then you make everything even worse by patronizing the tourist industry, be it a hotel or a restaurant or whatever, and rewarding people who get rich by selling up a fake version of this country. You bring your whiteness to the world, offering nothing but your tourist dollars and (hopefully) a friendly conversation, bringing the world one step closer to all-English-all-the-time, and carboning up the atmosphere horrendously with your airplane while you're at it.


Okay, another thing that's on my mind: I would love to see more facts about this guy who predicts stuff. Granted, it's the real world, so the truth is probably more in-the-middle, he's pretty smart but he's not actually so crazily accurate about everything, etc., and the Good folks only think he's so great at predicting because they've seen a limited sample of his picks. And you know, game theory blah blah, sounds really neat because "it's theories about games" or some nonsense and John Nash loves it but it's actually kind of boring, doesn't actually solve the world like you think it will.

BUT: he sounds cool anyway, and I'd like to learn more before making up my mind.

And people are saying "ooh he predicts stuff, then do we really have free will?" answer: yes. But my (sort of related) question is: how much free will do we really have? And how much of it is chemicals?

Sidetrack: cereal again. I've recently started eating cereal with more or less reckless abandon. I haven't been eating it until I felt terrible, but I have been feeling kinda ehh. And poor Jared- I think I ate about 3/4 of the last box of Quaker Oat Squares he bought. Why do I do this? I know my life would be better if I never ate cereal. Somehow, every time I think about eating cereal, I come up with a way to rationalize it. It doesn't help that every cereal box screams how healthy it is (even if you don't believe something, hearing it a million times makes you start to believe it) and I keep hearing about the benefits of whole grains blah blah.

So why do I eat cereal? Maybe I (and all of us) have less free will than we thought. Or we have free will in the sense that you could do a lot of things but you probably won't. Maybe I should be less judgmental towards {fat, nerdy, financially-careless, addicted, etc} people.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

<3 weekends

Hey, hey, last weekend I totally did the coolest thing. My friend Nick, his friend Kevin who is a cool guy, and I went on an all-night bike scavenger hunt around Seattle. We did about 40 miles of biking up and down Seattle hills. Down a big twisty dark hill into Carkeek Park, maneuvering through downtown streets to find Dank Bags stickers, searching searching searching in vain for Olympia Beer (hey Nick, I saw a can on the ground today. Where did they get it?!), totally loving free donuts and coffee at 3AM, and above all, seeing a city in a way different light (or lack thereof). This thing seriously kicked face. Coming home (at 5 AM, after watching it get light really early) and falling asleep felt so good.

No, wait, I mean this weekend we did the coolest thing. It involved Miracle Fruit. Citrus was great, vinegar was great, plain yogurt was great, I mean, everything that people say is pretty much true. Plus, I really like hosting parties! Note to self: do this more.

Also, in between all this I've gotten to start doing some web programming a bit! I'll send you a link when I have something presentable.

And cooking Japanese. To the extent that I can learn from a book.

BUT, more importantly, Greg and Missy are now here for good; I just found out that their friends who are cool*, Liz and Laser, are here too; Ram was here for a while but now is not but will be again soon. Rob will be here this weekend, as will Henry and Killian. I am really happy that these people I like have found this city a pretty ideal place to live in or visit, as I have, because it means I get to see them now.

*I've used this phrase twice in this email. What I want to say is, I'd call them friends, but we haven't ever like actually hung out much, but I wish we did. People that I respect, although I do not know them very well.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Crafts, screams, music

More stuff about that essay about fixing motorcycles instead of investment banking. And more. My new take on this? It's not about whether you're fixing motorcycles or proving theorems or buying stocks; it's about ownership. If you were fixing motorcycles, but you could only fix the lug nuts on the front wheel, you would probably feel just as dissatisfied. People aren't robots, etc, etc.

Unrelatedly, I found myself wanting to scream at the top of my lungs today, and realized I couldn't. Even if I wanted to. There is no place I could go that would be far enough away from other people that I'd be sure that I wasn't frightening other people or making them think I was hurt or something. Isn't that weird?

Finally, maybe I'll start twittering my albums. The iTunes-sort-by-date-added is not necessarily going to be a good long term solution, but if I twit a little bit about each one, I'll remember when I first heard them and how I liked them. Plus, instant recommendations for you. It's one good use of Twitter, I guess, and then I could finally justify having an account.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Hyland Software Poem

or, using Google Analytics to help other people.

A useful Google Analytics feature: you can find out what people are searching for and then landing on your site. My #1 query, for a while, has been "sedate snail." That makes sense. #2 is "Hyland software poem."

I can only imagine that Hyland Software (where I worked for a summer ... 4 years ago?) has not changed their employment application in the last 4 years. It's a standard application, all the normal questions, but then there's one question that says "write a poem." I have to imagine a bunch of potential interviewees are filling out the application and then they get to that question and they're all like "what do I do?" so they look up "did anyone else write a poem? what did they write?"

Pro tip: nobody cares. Sort of like how there's a slide at Hyland, but nobody ever rides it. You can't transplant "fun" into a company just by cosmetic tweaks here and there. I wish them all the best, but I think they're a pretty conventional company that saw the fun of the dot com boom (or was part of it? I dunno, when did Hyland start?) and tried to inject it into their own place. Maybe I'm a little spoiled. (you know, just a little.)

BUT, for your own fun's sake, you ought to write a poem. The more epic, the better.

(post script: I used to be a lot less politically correct on this blog. huh. balance of "I don't want to be a jerk" and "hasn't bitten me yet." I also used to be a lot more hyper. well, your sense of humor changes.)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Way to go, this guy.

Guy wins Sufjan song, holds listening parties of strangers to listen to it. It's just one song! And yet, now it has some real value. I found myself thinking, I would like to go to this guy's house and listen to this song. It's so true- offer it as a free download and it could get lost among the internet. In fact, upload it to anywhere, once, and it'll instantly be everywhere.

He's created something unique out of just one song. It reminds me of Atlas Obscura (down for maintenance now I guess): cataloguing those really singular places/times/things in the world of everything being everywhere. Or Josza Corner, a Pittsburgh Hungarian "restaurant" that doesn't even have a website and is kinda just a guy's house. Or this site. Why is it that, even though we have so much these days, none of it seems to mean anything? The only way you can make something that does mean something is by going smaller. I mean, I doubt that "The Lonely Man of Winter" is any better than, say, "Chicago", (or "John Wayne Gacy, Jr." Oh my goddddd!) but having heard the latter 23870784 times, it doesn't mean much to me now.

As someone in the article said, at least approximately, "I can't believe that I'm hearing a song that I will never hear again."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Real values of things

A dozen eggs costs $6-$8. If you're paying less, it's because the chickens were stuffed in battery cages. Note: it's pretty hard to get cruelty-free (/disgustingness-free) eggs at a grocery store.

A pint (not a pound) of strawberries costs $4. The big red pretty-but-tasteless ones are cheaper because they come from fields where the guys who spray them wear haz-mat suits.

Milk costs maybe $5 for a half gallon? (don't have farmer's market prices on hand, but the point is, it's more expensive than $3 per gallon) There's of course antibiotics and grain feeding and so on to blame, but also industrial agriculture shadiness?

Finally, and perhaps most frustratingly, food from small producers costs more because the law is skewed towards big producers. (scroll down to the "workman's compensation" if you're in a hurry)

Ooh, I'm going to get an argument on this one...

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Internets roundup

First of all, three people can convince you to do something. I had thought it was two. Like "Hey, you all want to do ______?" "Yeah, let's do ______!" and then it's a done deal. Either way, depending on who you are and what you're proposing, I will probably enjoy being your second or third, even if I'm not totally into it, because there's nothing that helps an idea more than a good second or third.

Fish chart fish chart fish chart. This is harder to carry, but easier to use, than the Monterey Bay guide. A few things to note:
- salmon is either The Best or The Worst. (farmed is bad. like fish in general. most farmed fish is worse than most wild fish. Also, Atlantic wild caught is bad. If you're on the East Coast, don't eat salmon unless it's specifically Alaskan wild salmon. They'll probably love to tell you, if it is.)
- all the tastiest tunas: pretty bad.
- most shellfish are okay. except those big fancy sea scallops.
- unagi is no good! sorry, sushi fans, I'm probably killing your buzz. Try the lesser-known fish, you're probably better off in terms of the environment and your brain. and smaller fish, in general, are better than bigger fish. don't know which is which? learn! fish do not grow in small blocky meaty pieces!

Names make things, and the name "foodie" makes a bunch of us sound ridiculous. Come up with the next name and a bunch of people who care about what they put in their bodies will beat a path to your door.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Ooh ooh hey I got a great idea for a new country

Or I guess I mean a new form of government. It's a republic, kinda like we have now, except votes are different. I guess I really mean a new form of voting. See, our current system is pretty good, except that it doesn't take into account how much people care. If I thoroughly research the issue and vote for candidate A, and some shmoe votes for candidate B because he likes his name better, great, we've just canceled each other out. Furthermore, it can be manipulated by richmen, because they just send out a huge advertising push or smear campaign or whatever in favor of their candidate.

Here's the fix: When there's an issue up for a vote, or a race between candidates for a position, it's not decided by "whoever has the most votes wins". Instead, it's "whoever logs the most hours wins."

Instead of polling places, we set up government-controlled voting rooms. There's nothing in the rooms. You can't do anything. You go in, you sit there for an hour, you come out, and your candidate gets one vote. You can do this as much as you want.

There are so many benefits to this! Who wins the election now? It's the one who has the highest product of (number of supporters) * (how much they care). Only the people who care would vote, and everyone has the power to make a huge change if they really want to. Instead of going door-to-door for a candidate soliciting money to indirectly make a change, you can sit in a room and directly make a change.

- so many people would try to pay you to sit in a room for them. And so many people would accept those payments. We'd have to solve that.
- we'd still be disenfranchising the poor, a little bit. If you're working three jobs to pay the bills, you can't sit in a room. But then, if you're working three jobs to pay the bills, you can't donate to a campaign or hire lobbyists, so it's not any worse than it is now.

Still, I think it's a good idea. Maybe when I found Dantasseland, that'll be the system of government. Who's with me?

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Is it just because I want everything to be just so?

My dad really doesn't like Dennis Kucinich. I know he's recently made an effort to be a respectable politician, but back in the 70's he was apparently a pretty bad mayor of Cleveland. Though, given that my dad and I disagree on everything in politics, if he says Kucinich was a bad mayor, maybe I'd think he was a good mayor. But then, Cleveland has been pretty crummy in the past couple of decades, so we sure didn't have Abraham Lincoln at the helm in the 70's.

God! Who cares? Politics is not the point of this post. The point is that my dad purposefully calls the guy "Dennis Kuspinich". The joke here is that "spinach" is a bad thing (something I just straight up believed for like 16 years until I actually TRIED it... but that's a *sigh* for another post) and so morphing a guy's name to make it like "spinach" is mocking him. It's not a very good joke. But my dad will never call him Dennis Kucinich.

This quite bothers me. I have no idea why. I'm trying to construct alternate scenarios in my mind to see what would and wouldn't bother me. (what if he called Obama "dum-bama"? what if he called the green movement the "green bean" movement? what if he called toothpaste "moosepaste"?) but I can't quite place it. It's not that I like Kucinich. It's not that it's a terrible insult. Maybe it's because it's kind of cutesy and has gotten old, but he still gets some satisfaction out of that and I'm annoyed at the bad joke? I don't know. It bothers me, I don't know why, and it bothers me that I don't know why.

Maybe I should start calling him "dard" instead of "dad" as retaliation. But then always deny having called him "dard". Mu-hahaha.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

I'm getting to the point where I'm posting for it's own sake, which is a bad sign

Your houses are more important than your cars

Your community is more important still

I stretched that to make it into a connection. The second is not really so much about community as about booze, although maybe you'd say the reverse. And it'll either read as a tour de force about wine, the universe, and everything, or a boring screed that duh we already know thanks.

The first one is pretty true though! Instead of whining about 35 mpg or 37 mpg, let's talk about making our buildings more efficient! (or better, let's do both. Cars do need to be fixed.)