In 1787, after the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin was asked by a woman on the street outside Independence Hall, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Franklin answered, “A republic, if you can keep it.” That response has been on my mind a lot lately. The contingency of it. How fragile our experiment in self-government is. And, when viewed against the sweep of human history, how fleeting. Democracy may be our birthright as Americans, but it’s not something we can ever take for granted. Every generation has to fight for it, has to push us closer to that more perfect union. That time has come again.Hillary Clinton
Frankly, I’m surprised it has taken this long.
Six years ago some creative friends held a home art show. I was invited to participate, but lacked any works of artistic merit to present. So instead I whipped up some — let’s call it meta art? — in the form of an absurdly pretentious photo exhibit. The photos came from a then-recent trip to Scandinavia I had taken with my friend Kevin (and I’m sure he is going to be thrilled that I’m posting this…). The text was generated with the help of a site called the Arty Bollocks Generator. The outfit was assembled at Goodwill for a few bucks.
In honor of the sixth anniversary of the debut, here is my “art” reformatted to fit your screen…Continue reading “Faux Art”
I keep reading more and more grim climate-related stories and wanting to post them here, but what’s the point? Curious, I searched this blog and discovered my first mention of climate change was in 2004, and my next was a yer later when the previous Republican administration of George W. Bush was reducing emission standards and claiming the the science was not settled.
Fourteen years on, history keeps repeating itself. Meanwhile, California suffers the largest wildfires in history. The world is experiencing an unprecedented global heatwave. And now discussion focuses on the idea that we may be entering a dreaded climate “feedback loop” with possible unchecked warming of 8 degrees and future sea level rise of 300 feet or more.
It’s a recipe for immense global suffering, massive loss of life, possibly the extinction of humanity. The only hope, if there is any chance left of fending off complete disaster, is a coming together of world governments to enact sweeping reforms. We seem further away from this today than ever before. But hey, San Francisco is banning plastic straws.
What is heartbreaking is how close we came 40 years ago to warding off the oncoming disaster. We will have plenty of time to reckon with our failures as a civilization while we become part of the waves of mass migration. But hey, at least Elon has his rockets, so maybe a few of us will end up on Mars!
The Maintex sales incentive trip for 2018 took place in May in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica. I was previously in this region with my family back in 2007. That previous trip involved long car rides across the countryside and lots of sightseeing – this one was based at an all-inclusive resort and was focused primarily on relaxation. The area was beautiful, the resort sprawling, and the experience decidedly different.Continue reading “Costa Rica (2018)”
You can fact check and fact check and fact check these claims and it won’t matter that they are false. And the fact that nobody in this administration even bothers to coordinate their cover stories at this point reflects just how pointless it is to fact check them anyhow. It’s an interactive game of choose your own logic, law, facts, and victims, but every single version of this story ends with screaming children in cages, sleeping under foil blankets as strangers change their diapers.Dahlia Lithwick, “How the Trump administration is defending its indefensible child separation policy“
I am in debt, but I am not alone. Debt is a millstone that weighs down more than three-quarters of Americans. It can determine whether we are able to run for office, to launch a business, to quit a job we hate. But it should not—and cannot—be a disqualification for ambition.Stacy Abrams
Stacy Abrams is the Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia. She is facing controversy following the release of financial disclosures that show she holds $200,000 in unpaid taxes, student loans, and credit card debt.
“Come to think of it, a world with 10 babies on the Senate floor doesn’t sound so bad at all.”
This is not the first time that Tesla has been overbearing, defensive, and quick to blame the (dead) victim in incidents involving their Autopilot system. But they are being called on it, and this is not a good look for a company that claims to be developing the safest cars in the industry.
In January 2008, I adopted the best cat in the world. He was named Miso at the time, but his real name was Oscar. He had lived a few years with another family, but his forever home was with me.
I knew this girl, Meghan, who fell in love with Oscar. Eventually, she decided she liked me too. In April 2009, we went on our first date, but no one told me. I was going rock climbing in New Hampshire with some friends, and she came along, even though she was scared of heights.
Meghan introduced me to her large extended family, and taught me a different way of vacationing that involves staying in one place rather than being constantly on the move. I showed her the Western US and later took her out of the country for the first time.
In no time at all, Meghan moved in with me, displacing my long-suffering roommate Igor.Continue reading “The Last Ten Years”
In August I started driving a Volvo XC60 with the latest generation of vehicle autonomy features. Since that time I have driven nearly 10,000 miles in the car, and the experience has been mostly positive. Early on there was one aberrant behavior where the vehicle, while running in its “Pilot Assist” mode, suddenly and inexplicably changed lanes and nearly caused a collision. I don’t know if the car lost its lane lock or it was attempting to swerve around a perceived but non-existent obstacle.
There was a second incident, also in Pilot Assist mode, when the vehicle (presumably) lost its lock on the car ahead and started accelerating. And on a few other occasions, the automatic collision braking system has kicked in when not needed.Continue reading “Brushes with disaster”
There is nothing more quintessentially “American capitalism” in flavor than The Cheesecake Factory. Wealth run wild. Chaotic visual fantasies realized with no aesthetic discipline. An obsession with appearance of luxury. Gross excess that excels at feigning its quality. It feels like a relic of another era, one where such a vision was sold to the American public as a utopian concept. It, like the brief period of neoliberalistic prosperity that made it possible, is a fever dream made manifest. Enjoy it while you can.Max Krieger
In 2009 I posted part 1 and part 2 of my log of a family vacation in Italy. While looking for something else (Ben Folds concert location — long story), I discovered that I had composed but never published some additional entries. Part 3 (Florence) is barebones, part 4 (Cinque Terra) needs some revisions, but this final entry is basically complete. So here it is, better late than never. In keeping with my posting style of that time, it includes some Deep Thoughts at the end about Life, the Universe, and our place in it all.Continue reading “Triplog: Italy (Part 5: Lake Como)”
I saw the original production of Sleep No More in Boston twice, as well as the New York production. The show is immersive and charged and incredible, one of the most amazing theater experiences I have ever witnessed. I was pulled aside into private spaces by actors, given objects, told by actors to go places and to do things. In one scene, an actor handed me his clothing as he undressed. I never once, not for a second, would have considered touching the actors. There is immersive theater, and then there is assault. The line, actually, is pretty clear.
I guess it is not shocking how some audience members behave, because so many human beings are terrible. But it is absolutely shocking and abhorrent the way the show management treated these incidents, and the ways in which they allowed their actors and technical staff to be abused by patrons night after night. Even worse are their feeble but repeated denials of responsibility.
[T]his week, my advice regarding time would be (in this order):
1. Try to restrict your caloric intake;Tim Carmody, summarizing the latest in longevity research
2. Consider shifting some of your qubits into spin 1/2;
3. Accept that we’re thrown into our circumstances, regardless of how shitty they may be, and greet whatever fate rises to meet you with resolute defiance.
Apologies in advance to the chemists in the room, because I’m going to butcher the science on this. But the lay explanation is fascinating.
Weight loss discussions typically focus on two pathways, or both in combination: caloric restriction (i.e. eating less) and exercise. In both cases, the goal is to “burn” more calories than we take in and, thus, remove excess fat. But what does this mean in practice? Calories are a measure of heat energy, so the term “burn” seems to make intuitive sense. But the theory of conservation of mass tells us that mass cannot be created or destroyed. We are not losing weight through heat.
If the common wisdom is a lie, the next idea is that we lose weight through digestive excretions, i.e. feces. But this, also, is incorrect, for somewhat obvious reasons. The digestive system is concerned with taking in fuel, breaking it down, using it, and getting rid of all the useless bits out the other side. Nowhere in that system is there any “burning” or converting of stored energy. In short, we don’t lose weight through our poop.
Losing weight actually comes down to metabolizing triglycerides, the primary component of fat. Triglycerides are essentially a bunch of carbon and hydrogen with a bit of oxygen thrown in. This is basic chemistry, and I have forgotten most of my chemistry. But wait, carbon? Hydrogen?
So, it turns out that the vast majority of “burned” calories are expelled through breathing. Eighty-six percent, to be precise. How? Well, just how we were taught in elementary school — O2 in, CO2 out! Most of the remainder, i.e. those hydrogen atoms, leaves as water, H2O coming out of all the various places that we get rid of water, such as sweat, spit, tears, and urine.
Hearing this for the first time, it seems utterly crazy. But actually it makes a lot more sense than the idea that all that fat is being magically “burned” away.