Gists IX

Misc

  • “Streamed content, as forceful and ephemeral as wind, demands about as much mental space as it does shelf space.” From the Age of Browsing to the Age of Scrolling.
  • If climate change impact of a single country (e.g. Australia) is “too small to matter,” then I’ll adopt the same principles and stop paying my taxes — since, they too, are too small to matter in the scheme of things.
  • Republicans appear to have no real agenda besides getting and holding power.
  • “Dribble penetration to suck in the D.” — NBA announcer
  • L.A. Land of thin women and homeless tents.
  • Pro sport is like chess — except some teams just have better pieces.
  • Meeting the requirements of a 24/7 news cycle means publishing every offhand remark
  • TED talks are “probably best understood as the propaganda arm of an ascendant technocracy” rather than delivering real change; a stream of self-help gurus and life coaches. link.
  • “The ubiquity of English can give the deceptive impression of a lingua franca. But an English-only intellectual space is inevitably provincial.”
  • “War is not a reason to forget about normal life; you’ll return home soon and begin worrying about petty things. That is the real freedom.” — Ukraine solder
  • Social media makes all opinions equally valid. This should not be the case.
  • “To laugh at the people in power is how you overcome fear.” — Fahmi Reza
  • “Oppression tends to operate in one of two ways: either you’re put on a pedestal or you’re put in the gutter. As soon as you achieve any kind of success, you’re celebrated for that. You always have to go above and beyond to justify your worth.” — Nakkiah Lui
  • “I guess the biggest failed utopia right now would be America.” — Simone Leigh
  • №1 bestseller list for both fiction and non-fiction: Styron, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Dr. Seuss, Irving Wallace, Mitch Albrom, and Jimmy Buffet!
  • San Francisco’s 2022 biennial homelessness survey states 4,400 people are sleeping on the street (‘unsheltered’) on a typical night, down from 5,200 in 2019. In London, with almost exactly 10 times SF’s population, the equivalent number (‘sleeping rough’) was 640 last year. Los Angeles Country, with roughly the same population as London, has 48,000.
  • demokratia = democracy, dermokratia = shit-ocracy
  • Just after WWI, in the height of the British Empire they controlled roughly a quarter of the world’s population and landmass; the largest empire in history.
  • Humpback whales do not have vocal cords; they make sound by pushing air though their nasal cavaties!
  • “To be alive and explore nature now is to read by the light of a library as it burns.” — Tom Mustill
  • At a 1915 auction, Cecil Chubb bought Stonehenge as a gift for his wife, but she hated it because she had sent him to buy a set of chairs. Three years later, he gave it to his country on the conditions that the entrance fee would never cost more than a shilling and the locals could have free access.
  • “Capitalism divided the rich and poor, democracy required them to live together as equals. Public education was meant to bridge the gap.”
  • A Rosocoff onion is not a Rosocoff onion if you cut its roots after August 25th
  • In 1896, an American preacher coined “What would Jesus do?”
  • The oldest English epic, Beowulf, was written in alliteration. The root of English poetry. English doesn’t lend itself to rhymes.
  • “As I floated up over the hospital roof, I was overwhelmed by a sense of lightness and peace. I looked down on the goings on of this world, all the struggle and mayhem, and I no longer felt like I was a part of it. Intense surges of unconditional love and acceptance coursed through my body, as if I were being bathed in a warm, healing light. For the first time, I loved myself and all living beings. And then, suddenly, I was back in that grubby little E.R. cubicle, feeling like shit.” — Disappointing Near-Death Experiences
  • MindGeek — which employs 1600 people and operates Pornhub, RedTube, YouPorn and Brazzers — receives 4.5 trillion visits each month. Almost double Google and Facebook combined!! In the US you need ID to get into a bar, but only need to click “I am 18” to watch porn.
  • Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which states that website owners are not liable for the content posted, allowed the internet to grow without being buried in lawsuits.

Cardboard Casino

  • Current collectable card craze in a form of legal gambling — and possibly being used for money laundering.
  • How many players are paying big money to buy (and inflating) their own cards?
  • So much speculation, untethered from performance. Panini NFTs to rival Top Shot.
  • Why is BGS so undervalued? Paying premiums for plastic. Penalized for granularity (of grades). SGC looks cheap (to me).
  • Fully expect current companies (e.g. Panini) to get every last penny by flooding the market before handing over to Fanatics.

The Rum Diary (book)

  • Tropic rot = constant sexless drinking (The Rum Diary)
  • “We have the feeling that Kemp/Thompson saw much of life through the bottom of a dirty glass and did not experience it with any precision.” — Roger Ebert (review)

NBA Player Empowerment Era

  • No long-term team chemistry with all the trades, devalues classic rivalries (e.g. Pistons v Chicago), many teams don’t have identities (e.g. Magic’s Lakers, Bird’s Celtics, Jordan’s Bulls)
  • Pendulum swung too far in player’s favor (e.g. Harden forcing his way out of Houston and Nets, Ben Simmons refusing to play on a 4-year contract, Kyrie anti-vax)
  • Reflection of the larger employment mentality, constantly switching jobs, instant gratification.
  • From Bird/Magic to Jordan to Kobe to LeBron. Who will be the new face of the NBA once LeBron (18 seasons) retries in 2-3 years? By then Chris Paul will be gone; Harden will have 16 seasons; Curry and Durant 15.
  • Future of the NBA: Zion (overweight, injured), Giannis (too nice), Luca (overweight), Trae (the villain), Jokić (un-athletic), Ja? Probably Ja because of his intensity and athleticism. In any case, feels like a lull is coming.
  • Ben Simmonds not playing then forcing a trade. Kyrie Irving refusing vaccination. James Harden forcing two trades in two years. Kevin Durant pressuring for a trade (4 years left under contract). Contracts mean nothing.

Love Is Biological Bribery

Link.

“That’s what separates us from the animals. Animals don’t use love to manipulate others. We do.”

  • Love evolved as a motivator and reward for taking parts in relationships (partners, children, friends) — cooperation critical to our survival — passing our genes down.
  • Four neurochemicals (oxytocin, dopamine, beta endorphin, cortisol), each with a different role. A hit of joy, of euphoria, of reward when we interact with the people important to our survival. Those with higher levels of oxytocin are more open/committed to relationships.
  • When you fall in love, activation of various areas of the limbic system and the neocortex. Also deactivations in the brain linked inhibitions such as “mentalizing” — the ability to tell someone’s intentions. Removes some barriers to starting relationships, but can also be a weakness that can be exploited. Love is blind.
  • Attraction takes placed in the limbic area of the brain. Within nanoseconds of seeing someone you use all your senses to unconsciously evaluate a person for reproductive success (e.g. health, strength of genes / attractiveness, ability to provide, protection). If your brain likes what it sees, oxytocin and dopamine are released. All species make mating choices based on fitness.
  • You always get cooperation within a sex before you get cooperation between the sexes. You’re only driven to cooperate with the opposite sex when you’ve exhausted your own. The reason is we’re trading similar currencies in our own sex, which is cognitively easier (e.g. I look after your child, you look after mine). Trading sex for childcare.
  • A mother’s attachment is based purely on nurture; a father’s is nurture and preparing a child’s entry into the broader word (e.g. challenge, resilience) that comes from the cortical area. Varies by environmental context, but generally the norm.
  • A good upbringing produces a brain with the biological and psychological underpinnings to be able to build good attachments, to build healthy relationships, and know when a relationship is not healthy for you. Bad upbringings can produce neuronal death (through neglect) and issues with reciprocity, the trust, the empathy.
  • Research shows that you are much more similar to your friends than you are to your lover. If you’re a woman, you are more emotionally intimate with your friends than you are with your lover. If you’re a man, your friends bring this ease of being able to really be you. Often our friendships outlast our romantic relationships, and they are the ones that are really your stable foundation. You need them in your life for your mental health, your physical health, for your longevity, and your well-being.
  • Romanticism works for society because it’s a controlled narrative driven by religion and commerce (weddings, rings) — a zero-sum idea of love — but is unhelpful because it doesn’t reflect many people’s reality (e.g. singledom, divorce). There’s more than one person in the world for you. Romantic love is powerful, but all types of love are important.

Wheat

  • There are three important parts of a wheat grain: the bran, the endosperm, and the germ. Bran is the outermost layer, full of fiber and vitamin B, while the endosperm represents the carbohydrates and starchy parts of the grain; the germ contains the highest percentage of nutrients in the form of minerals, vitamins, protein, and fats. Whole grains, with all their components intact, give us energy and keep us full.
  • Grains provided two benefits that meat and plants couldn’t: Not only were they packed with nutrients and energy, they came with a natural packaging that made them largely shelf-stable.
  • The grains by themselves were too hard on our ancestors’ digestive systems (not to mention teeth) to break down, so humans developed rudimentary stone systems to crush and grind grains in order to get to the much more valuable nutrients on the inside. Flour was just a pulverized version of seed, which we mixed with water and baked.
  • The earliest “mills” are over 75,000 years old. The invention of the quernstone around 9000 BCE, where one stationary stone sits beneath a rotating stone above it, with complementary grooves between them to encourage better grinding, was one of the bigger steps toward progress for our species. By the 18th century, mills occupied whole buildings, were labor intensive, and hazardous.
  • In 1785, the automatic flour mill was invented in the US and over the next century America entered the golden age of bread and flour production. Van Cortlandt Manor in Westchester County had 21 mills!
  • In the early 1800s, the roller mill was invented in Hungary/Switzerland and both standardized and revolutionized flour production. It split the endosperm from the bran and the germ, making two separate products — one of which was a flour that is consistent to bake with, less prone to spoilage (less oil, stored and shipped internationally), a lighter color (more attractive to the wealthy).
  • From 1860 to 1912, the industrialization and centralization of flour production in the US halved the number of mills (to around 7,800).
  • Pure white flour frequently isn’t nourishing. The whiteness is a result of removing the nutrient-rich bran and germ entirely, plus bleaching and bromating (a process of treating flour to improve elasticity and produce a higher rise in baked goods). Because commodity white flour is so “purified” by the industrial milling process, the FDA requires big flour companies to fortify certain white flours after the fact with additional nutrients and vitamins, even though grain when it’s milled whole is itself naturally nutrient-dense! Whole wheat is the entire grain, but spoilage through processing and shelf-time can reduce the nutritional value.
Roche Biochemical Pathways

Cells

“People ought to be walking around all day, all through their waking hours, calling to each other in endless wonderment, talking of nothing except that cell.” — Lewis Thomas (physician)

  • In 1665, Englishman Robert Hooke examined cork through a lens and discovered structures he called “cells”
  • Accidentally discovered (he named them “animalcules”) by Dutch cloth merchant Antoni van Leeuwenhoek who built a 200x magnifying lens to inspect cloth quality.
  • We are made of cells — liquidity sacs containing the Golgi apparatus, the endoplasmic reticulum, the nucleus. We accept that each of us was once a single cells, with the means to build a whole body.
  • It is believed that every cell in existence is a direct descendent of a single, original cell.
  • If a cell were to size of a high-school gym, you wouldn’t be able to see across it — it would be filled with tens of thousands of proteins the size of basketballs; biomolecules the size of a hand, and water molecules the size of a thumb, would fill the spaces between. The entire space would have the consistency of hair gel rendering gravity meaningless. Everything would be suspended and buzzing constantly.
  • Cryogenic electron microscopy (cryo-EM) is a cryomicroscopy technique applied on samples cooled to cryogenic temperatures and embedded in an environment of vitreous water. Development of the technique began in the 1970s, recent advances have allowed for the determination of biomolecular structures at near-atomic resolution. In 2017, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to the inventors.

George & Martha Washington

  • No children
  • George owned 123 slaves, who he instructed be freed upon his death. Martha owned about 150 slaves from her first marriage. At least 12 early Presidents were slaveholders. Jefferson had a 38 year relationship with one of his slaves.
  • By 1850s, Washington family fortune dwindled and Mount Vernon was in disrepair. One of the only items remaining was the key to the Bastille prison that Marquis de Lafayette have bestowed.
  • A cotton plantation heiress organised the purchase of Mount Vernon by a Ladies’ Association. Current annual budget of $55 million.
  • West Ford managed the enslaved workforce of Mount Vernon and advised the restoration, which included locating and reclaiming possessions such as the bed George died in. Controversy about Ford being the enslaved son of George.
  • When Civil War broke out, Mount Vernon was neutral ground. Visiting soldiers had to leave their weapons outside and cover their uniforms.
  • For over a century the slave cemetery at Mount Vernon was left unintended

Middle Class

Working-class Americans cast out of the garden; the pinched middle.

  • “By scrambling onto the middle-class raft, you thought you had reserved a place there for your kids as well. But you’ve done the math.”
  • “If no middle-class stability waits at the top of the ladder, then your climb has been for naught. The access has become a trap.”

Wendell Berry

  • “Rats and roaches live by competition under the law of supply and demand; it is the privilege of human beings to live under the laws of justice and mercy.”
  • Launched the farm-to-table movement
  • Essay Why I Am Not Going to Buy a Computer
  • “Nearly every one of us, nearly every day of his life, is contributing directly to the ruin of this planet”
  • “Our hollow lives, our degenerate bodies, our feelings of dislocation and spiritual bankruptcy.” — The Unsettling of America
  • Technological fundamentalism: “If we have built towering cities, we have raised even higher the cloud of megadeath. If people are grass before God, they are as nothing before their machines.”
  • Human economy: Antithesis of America’s “total economy.” Corporations are “a pile of money to which a number of persons have sold their moral allegiance.” “The limitless destructiveness of this economy comes about precisely because a corporation is not a person. It can experience no personal hope or remorse, no change of heart. It cannot humble itself. It goes about its business as if it were immortal, with the single purpose of becoming a bigger pile of money.”
  • “Take a simpleton and give him power and confront him with intelligence — and you have a tyrant.”
  • Marriage as a “state of mutual help” rather than “two successful careerists in the same bed, a sort of private political system in which rights and interests must be constantly asserted and defended.”
  • Racism as “emotional dynamics which have disordered both the heart of the society as a whole and of every person in the society.”
  • “I am suggesting that most people now are living on the far side of a broken connection, and that this is potentially catastrophic.”

Paolo Pellegrin

“I’m searching for the sublime.”

“Photography strives to be the opposite — to evoke the archetype through a specific instance.”

“You have to pay for the oxygen you breathe.”

“A rage to see, to see more, to see beyond — to see at the maximum.”

“If one’s objective is the maximum, one has to give the maximum.”

“Form is beautiful because it helps us meet our worst fear — the suspicion that life may be chaos and therefore suffering is without meaning.”

  • Photographer who has taken pictures flying over Antarctica, at the Ferrari factory, a submersible at the deepest point of each ocean
  • Most photographs are taken with the shutter open for less than a hundredth of a second, and n that way a single, cummulative second of light against a photographer’s film (or sensor) might make up their hundred greatest works. A measure of a lifetime; all in one second.

William Beveridge

  • British economist responsible for the ideas behind universal national-insurance schemes for health, disability, unemployment and retirement.
  • During WWII, wrote a 300-page document with ambition to vanquish disease, idleness, ignorance, squalor, and want — by creating a cradle-to-the-grave welfare state. Sold 600,000 copies.
  • Nicholas Kaldor, one of the most gifted British economists, proved the schemes were viable

US Un-Intelligence

  • In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg leaked the “Pentagon Papers” by photocopying 7,000 pages by hand!
  • In 2017, the “Vault 7” WikiLeaks post was the largest (34Tb) single CIA leak in history. Subsequent “Vault 8.”
  • Classification has grown wildly out of control. There are too many state secrets. A bureaucratic reflex to avoid embarrassment that, paradoxically, instead of keeping the country safer actually jeopardises security by inhibiting the sharing of information between agencies!
  • In 2010, China uncovered and executed a dozen people working for the CIA. Only made public in 2017.

Bed Mattresses

  • Earliest known bed (over 2,000 years old) discovered in South Africa’s Border Cave in 2020. In 1871, innerspring. In 1966, memory foam by a NASA engineer designing rocket cushions for lift-off.
  • first water bed around 1600 BC when Persians filled goatskins with water. In 1968, San Fransisco “Pleasure Pit” art installation called “The Happy Happening.” Hugh Hefner had a Tasmanian-possum pelt water bed. Used by dairy cows to aid in milk production!
  • Memory foam doesn’t biodegrade, named polyurethane Temper for its temperature-regulating properties. Natural latex does and is recyclable; no trees are harmed.
  • Hästens Grande Vividus costs $539k! Handcrafted in Sweden, waiting list, Drake purchased. A pair of sleep doctors come to your house twice a year for 25 years to flip, rotate, and massage your mattress.
  • 70% of manufacturing done by five companies, with retailers making minor modifications and giving them a new name. Makes it hard to compare or best-price-guarantee.
  • Consumer Reports nonprofit to compare.

Privacy

  • Thomas Jefferson has a child with his teenage slave, Sally Hemings! Also gave money to an editor to report on Alexander Hamilton’s affair with the married Maria Reynolds.
  • “Too much deference to privacy serves male entitlement, on the one hand, and insufficient deference to privacy serves white supremacy, on the other side. An oscillation between the two sets of concerns captures not only our unstable moral and social-justice institutions, which often depend on who’s the violator and who’s violated.”
  • FBI notoriously wiretapped MLK, listening on dozens of extramarital affairs — at one point anonymously mailing him tapes of his sexual activities urging suicide to avoid exposure. Tapes are sealed until 2027.

Casanova

“I love myself better than I love anyone else.”

  • Neuhaus, di San Gallo, the Chevalier de Seingalt, and Court Farussi — was born in Venice in 1725. His mother was a beautiful actress.
  • Translated Iliad into Italian, published utopian novel, grappled with classical geometry, charmed his way into the French court, sold Louis XV the concept of the national lottery, was received by Frederick II of Prussia and Catherine the Great in St. Petersburg
  • Wrote a 20-volume memoir titles Histoire de Ma Vie (“an indictment on every page”) that he said was “fit to be burned”. Most of it unverified. He was a “great storyteller.” An abridged version was published in 1821. The original remained locked away and nearly destroyed in the bombing of Leipzig in 1943 (was recovered from the rubble two years later!), with the complete text first published in 1960. Handwritten drafts were made available in 2010.
  • Accused of rape multiple times. Patronized a famous brothel. Cavorted with a nun. Attempted suicide. Bought a Russian sex slave (later resold). Join in gang rape. Deflowered pubescent virgins — some of which were sold to him by their mothers. “Little girls, above all, fill his head.”
  • Placed in the infamous prison, Ducal Palace, that nobody had ever escaped from. Escaped by boring holes in the ceiling and exited the palace via the grand staircase in new clothes. Hired a gondola to ride them to freedom.
  • In 1764, fled to England to avoid a death sentence for forgery. Expelled from Florence on suspicion of cheating on cards. Run out of Vienna and Madrid.
  • One one woman he never got over. Henriette dumped him. Her abandonment grieved him forever.
  • Had a daughter, Leonilda, but wasn’t aware of her existence for 18 years — after which he fucked her mother while sharing the same bed! A decade late he impregnated his own daughter and wrote of incest “I have never been able to conceive how a father can tenderly love his charming daughter without a least having slept with her”!!
  • Likely died of venereal infections

Peter Handke

  • Illegitimate son with an abusive stepfather. His mother was depressed and committed suicide at 51.
  • Nobel winner
  • Early play named “Offending the Audience.” Novel “Repetition” considered his masterpiece.
  • Delivered a eulogy for Slobodan Milosevic, perpetrated false claims about the Bosnian massacre by the Serbs

Exercise

  • In the 1690s, Bernardino Ramazzini, an Italian doctor compared lifestyles and declared sedentary life harmful. The British epidemiologist Jeremy Morris invented the field of exercise science and published a study in 1953, which was not immediately embraced.
  • In 1967, Katherine Switzer, a 20-year-old ran the all-male Boston marathon under a male name. The race director tried to physically eject her from the race. In 1984, the Olympics held the first female marathon (today more than half are women).
  • For much of the 20th century, vigorous exercise for women was considered unfeminine and damaging to reproductive organs
  • Modern fitness shaped by neoliberal ideas of the optimizable self; by consumer capitalism, by race and class privilege, and by gender norms. A fit body has transformed into a powerful signifier of ambition, affluence, and self-respect. Empowerment becomes a commercial slogan, with particular body types getting exalted and fetishized.
  • Lotte Berk launched barre method in 1959 (“If you can’t tuck, you can’t fuck”). Judi Sheppard Missett launched Jazzercise in the 1970s.

Thermal Therapy

  • In 1947, French government introduced “social thermalism” — currently 113 accredited and subsidized thermal spas. The full cure lasts 21 days!
  • Thalassotherapy uses water from the ocean (“Thalasso” derived from Greek word for “spa”)
  • In 1906, Gabrielle Chanel (later Coco) worked at Vichy Celestins Thermal Spa, which has been offering treatment since 1935.
  • “Bagotage” is the vigorous knee-deep walking in open seawater.

Bikes

  • Can travel 4 times faster than walking, using only 1/5 the exertion. Humans on foot about as efficient as sheep (condors are first), but humans on a bike beat even birds!
  • There are 2 bikes for every car on Earth; one for every four people.
  • In 1817, Baron Karl von Drais, the Master of the Woods and Forrests to the Duke of Baden, invented the Laufmaschine — the precursor to the bike. In 1855, a French carriage-maker added pedals and a crank creating the “velocipede.” In the 1870s, penny farthing was invented. In the 1880s, “safety” bike invented that we know today.
  • Wright brothers were bike manufacturers
  • People who ride bikes: environmentalists, suffragists, socialists, animal-welfare advocates
  • Jaywalking was a crime invented by the automobile industry to criminalise being a pedestrian
  • In 1899, 1.2 million bikes sold in the US. The Model T only sold 160,000 after launching. In 1972–74, bikes outsold cars.

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