Friday, August 31, 2018

Three cool links and (edit: two) gripe(s)

Andreas Wannerstedt is the instagram 3d Bees and bombs.

I love this diagram of land use in the US.

This, pretty much. Quit doin' dumb stuff to posture "anti-techie."

The gripe: Talking with a friend who is very logical and pretty well off, and open-minded across the political spectrum, and he's like "Paul Ryan, you have to hook me. If you don't, I've gotta think conservatism and the Republican party are dead." He's annoyed by silly lefty posturing out on the west coast, open to free-ish market ideas, thinks the Jane Kims and Kshama Sawants of the world (far-lefty SF/Seattle politicians) are kind of a mess. Like, who can the Republicans get if they can't get him?

Paul Ryan and his party, of course, are dead to me forever for their immeasurable cowardice over the past two years, and their single-minded focus on tax cuts for rich people. However, I want to be open-minded. So here's my similar gauntlet. Modern conservatives: you've got three inroads by which you can hook me, and they are Russ Roberts, Tyler Cowen, and the Economist. I read/listen to all three, and they are as "economically conservative" as you please. They're also actually smart! For the most part!

So here's the rant: Russ and Tyler, every time you (and your guests) go off about "political correctness" ruining the ability of students to express thoughts on college campuses, you get 1% closer to losing me forever too. I... like, ok, my college experience isn't necessarily the same as everyone's, but... look, "political correctness" wasn't a problem! Similarly, shrugging off Women's Studies and half the Humanities is ignorant. Assuming that post-structuralism and deconstructionism and whatever will lead people to just view the world in terms of simplistic narratives... like, can't you offer them the same courtesy that you should afford any debate opponent? You're probably taking a simplistic view of them if you think they just take a simplistic view of you!

More generally: quit playing this "conservatism is under attack" game. It really makes me lose respect for you.

Gripe 2:
Youtubers/podcasters Brady Haran and CGP Grey totally nail the "attention, distraction, something or another" problem in this week's Hello Internet podcast. I mean, not that they have a great answer to this, but just that I really feel Grey a lot here.
- the ipads blasting ads in you at airports are *super gross*, and yes they're a logical continuation of TVs in bars, but they're still bad. (also TVs in bars are bad, unless you're explicitly a TV bar, like a sports bar. The default should be no TVs in bars.)
- reading a book has felt harder over the years, and that scares me.
- inexact quote: "it's not that I'm a better person if I'm walking a dog and not listening to anything, it's that I'm a worse person if I can only walk a dog if I'm listening to something."
- I share Grey's sense that this is vaguely harmful, as well as Brady's questions of "hmm, so wait, where exactly is the problem?"
- inexact quote: "I've changed my mind on many things like this over the years, like 'am I wrong or is it the kids?', so... I don't know, is this actually a problem?" "Yeah, no, I agree, it is a problem!"

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Cooking is kind of a low-ceiling art.

How is cooking like other arts?

- people have taste, which differs
- people can enjoy making it
- you can pay someone to do it, or get paid to do it (of course, doing this with food is much more common than other arts)
- for better or worse, there's a celebrity culture around it (for worse, IMO, but w/e)
- it's all around us (music and visual arts are all around us in some form. architecture, at least.)

How is cooking unlike other arts?

- it's very easy to understand, at least at a low level. (most people can get some enjoyment out of a fancy steak or a nice salad, even if they don't love it, while there are lots of paintings and music that people just don't care about.)
- we have to at least consume it ~3x/day, while you might go your whole life without going to an art museum. Similarly, most of us make it at least sometimes, while most people don't paint/draw/play music/act/etc.
- unlike most arts, there's a commodity aspect to it. If someone said "I'm going to make a boring painting for you every day for a year", that would provide very little value, but if they said "I'm going to make a boring food for you every day for a year", I mean, free food! (Soylent sells, right?)
- consumption scales badly to many people. You and friends can all listen to music together, but you can't eat the exact same bite of food. Ok, you can all eat the same dish, but if you want 5 or 500 people to eat it you have to do drastically different things - and there is absolutely no way 5 million people can eat it. Sure, 5 million people can all eat the same recipe, but that's a parallel with all making and admiring a Sol Lewitt instructions-drawing.
- consumption is destructive. It's kind of buddhist in that way - feels like a sand mandala, in that destroying it is part of making it. In this way it is like live music and theater, and unlike paintings or recorded music.
- supplies are very available. Compare the number of grocery stores to the number of art/music stores!
- supplies are very perishable.
- you can't really share it online (or on TV or in a book) at all. (At least not yet.) All you can do is share instructions and photos, which are an exceptionally pale shadow of the real thing, compared to other arts.
- it is so often made for someone. In food and other arts, if you say "I made this art for you", it would probably convey deep emotion. The difference is, you rarely do that with other arts.

These qualities make me kinda like it. Feels like the art I should practice more, because it's so ephemeral and embodied. In my normal life, I get too wrapped up in making things cerebral and permanent. Also, there's side benefits: food.