What I learned this week, November 29, 2013

This internet thing is amazing. I woke up this morning and decided I wanted to watch a video where Björk opens up an old CRT-based television and explains how it work. And here it is:

It is obvious that Björk lives in her own world – and I wish I was in there with her.

This is what it looks like. Look at this. This looks like a city. Like a little model of a city. The houses, which are here, and streets. This is maybe an elevator to go up there. And here are all the wires. These wires, they really take care of all the electrons when they come through there. They take care that they are powerful enough to get all the way through to here. I read that in a Danish book. This morning.

This beautiful television has put me, like I said before, in all sorts of situations. I remember being very scared because an Icelandic poet told me that not like in cinemas, where the thing that throws the picture from it just sends light on the screen, but this is different. This is millions and millions of little screens that send light, some sort of electric light, I’m not really sure. But because there are so many of them, and in fact you are watching very many things when you are watching TV. Your head is very busy all the time to calculate and put it all together into one picture. And then because you’re so busy doing that, you don’t watch very carefully what the program you are watching is really about. So you become hypnotized. So all that’s on TV, it just goes directly into your brain and you stop judging it’s right or not.

You just swallow and swallow. This is what an Icelandic poet told me. And I became so scared to television that I always got headaches when I watched it. Then, later on, when I got my Danish book on television, I stopped being afraid because I read the truth, the scientifical truth and it was much better.

You shouldn’t let poets lie to you.

—-Björk

You shouldn’t let poets lie to you — words to live by.

Unfortunately, because of what I do for a living, I happen to know that when she reached in and touched the back of that tube – she came amazingly close to killing herself.


What determines your success is “What pain do you want to sustain?”


Money Quote:

“Yeah, if you’re a normal person why would you want to engage in the mud battles that are going on with, basically psychopathic people who are… people who are involved in politics are, by definition – going back to Reich, Wilhelm Reich, are emotional cripples of some sort that are working out their psychosis on the public at large.”

Another one:

“In its death throes, the mega-state is going to make a lot of mess  and it’s going to be hard to navigate… it’s gonna just… the externalities of that are going to be difficult to navigate through.”


Your Brain on Poverty: Why Poor People Seem to Make Bad Decisions
And why their “bad” decisions might be more rational than you’d think.

From “Why I Make Terrible Decisions,” a comment on Gawker by a person in poverty.

I make a lot of poor financial decisions. None of them matter, in the long term. I will never not be poor, so what does it matter if I don’t pay a thing and a half this week instead of just one thing? It’s not like the sacrifice will result in improved circumstances; the thing holding me back isn’t that I blow five bucks at Wendy’s. It’s that now that I have proven that I am a Poor Person that is all that I am or ever will be. It is not worth it to me to live a bleak life devoid of small pleasures so that one day I can make a single large purchase. I will never have large pleasures to hold on to. There’s a certain pull to live what bits of life you can while there’s money in your pocket, because no matter how responsible you are you will be broke in three days anyway. When you never have enough money it ceases to have meaning. I imagine having a lot of it is the same thing.

Poverty is bleak and cuts off your long-term brain. It’s why you see people with four different babydaddies instead of one. You grab a bit of connection wherever you can to survive. You have no idea how strong the pull to feel worthwhile is. It’s more basic than food. You go to these people who make you feel lovely for an hour that one time, and that’s all you get. You’re probably not compatible with them for anything long-term, but right this minute they can make you feel powerful and valuable. It does not matter what will happen in a month. Whatever happens in a month is probably going to be just about as indifferent as whatever happened today or last week. None of it matters. We don’t plan long-term because if we do we’ll just get our hearts broken. It’s best not to hope. You just take what you can get as you spot it.


How To Make Your Own Hot Pockets


Healthcare.gov and the Gulf Between Planning and Reality

Money Quote:

Back in the mid-1990s, I did a lot of web work for traditional media. That often meant figuring out what the client was already doing on the web, and how it was going, so I’d find the techies in the company, and ask them what they were doing, and how it was going. Then I’d tell management what I’d learned. This always struck me as a waste of my time and their money; I was like an overpaid bike messenger, moving information from one part of the firm to another. I didn’t understand the job I was doing until one meeting at a magazine company.

The thing that made this meeting unusual was that one of their programmers had been invited to attend, so management could outline their web strategy to him. After the executives thanked me for explaining what I’d learned from log files given me by their own employees just days before, the programmer leaned forward and said “You know, we have all that information downstairs, but nobody’s ever asked us for it.”

I remember thinking “Oh, finally!” I figured the executives would be relieved this information was in-house, delighted that their own people were on it, maybe even mad at me for charging an exorbitant markup on local knowledge. Then I saw the look on their faces as they considered the programmer’s offer. The look wasn’t delight, or even relief, but contempt. The situation suddenly came clear: I was getting paid to save management from the distasteful act of listening to their own employees.


Step-By-Step Ceviche Recipe Shows Anyone Can Do It

I didn’t try ceviche for a very long time because it was before I learned to love sushi and I didn’t like the idea of eating raw fish. Until one day on a whim, I decided to try making some. You guys — it’s not raw fish.

Through the magical powers of the acid in lime juice, the fish is “cooked” through. Ok, it’s not cook-cooked, but the texture is firm and not at all raw. So don’t be afraid of ceviche! Gather up some simple ingredients and make some with me.

Bonus: It’s incredibly healthy and in my humble opinion, a perfect diet food.


The Lost Excitement, Pathos, and Beauty of the Railroad Timetable
An elegy for the paper symbol of the mechanical age, an Object Lesson

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)

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