All I Want For Christmas

My poor family, I rarely help them, despite repeated requests, with gift suggestions. But sometimes, old dogs can learn new tricks.

So here’s a suggestion for this Christmas. I just hope none of them read the George Monbiot essay from yesterday. A couple of bottle cages and some pedals would be greatly appreciated too.

Thank you in advance.

Wednesday Required Reading

1. All human landscapes are embedded with cultural meaning. As poignant as photography gets. Critically important contribution to the historical record.

2. Why ‘Gilmore Girls’ Endures. My daughters should watch it sometime. 

3. Let’s not sugarcoat who Diego Maradona really was

4. How not to write a ‘Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion’ personal statement. In case you too wanna be an egghead professor someday. 

5. Pathological consumption has become so normalised that we scarcely notice it.*

*thanks AV 


Youyang Gu Is Back

COVID-19 Projections Using Machine Learning. Go to your state for an even deeper, more interesting dive.

One of YG’s endearing quirks is that, despite flying solo, he uses the “we” pronoun when explaining his methodology. Makes sense though since his brain power is at least 10x most peoples.

When asked what prompted his return he said, “I saw too many bad takes on what’s happening.”

Follow him on Twitter at @youyanggu.

The Most Stupid Thing You’ll Read Today

From The New York Times. “Pushed by Pandemic, Amazon Goes on a Hiring Spree Without Equal”.

“To grow so much, Amazon also needs to think long term, Ms. Williams said. As a result, she said, the company was already working with preschools to establish the foundation of tech education, so that ‘as our hiring demand unfolds over the next 10 years, that pipeline is there and ready.'”

STEM hysteria never ceases to amaze.

I May Not Have Been Completely Truthful

I didn’t spend any money yesterday, but I did shop. And I got very close to spending a lot. So I probably don’t deserve that “counter-cultural-minimalist icon” statue the art world commissioned on my behalf.

Truth be told, I went so far as to put an expensive carbon frame bike in my Colorado Cyclist shopping cart. But I couldn’t pull the trigger. Sometimes when I put something in an online cart and don’t complete the purchase, the next day the vendor sends me a message that includes a deeper discount to help me decide. Alas, nothing from Colorado Cyclist yet.

Shifting gears, pun-intended, despite being cynical about most fads, I find myself on the precipice of embracing one of the biggest trends in cycling—gravel riding. I concede, sometimes the crowd is right. What’s not to like about riding in nature free of heavy metal objects hurtling by at high speeds? Not to mention all the adventures the cool bikepacking kids are having. I wanna be a cool kid.

But I can’t decide if I should get a Santa Cruz Stigmata or a Santa Cruz Highball. What say you gravel riding reader? I deserve at least partial credit for narrowing it down to one California city, don’t cha’ think? Juliet has me leaning Highball.

Back to my mea culpa. This morning, before I got out of bed at 6am, I spent $47 on this. Yes indeedy, I am taking it on myself to brighten your winter.

Weekend Required Reading

1. Canadian officials warn drivers not to let moose lick their cars. Damn I love Canada.

2. When Sharks Turned Up at Their Beach, They Called in Drones. 

“The pilot monitors a video feed in real time, noting any sharks, and then sends a text to the 36 people who have signed up to get alerts — a group that includes lifeguards, surf camp instructors and beachside homeowners.”

3. Sports Technology Buyers Guide: Winter 2020-2021

4. John Gruber really doesn’t like Mark Zuckerberg

5A. Trump Had Less of an Impact on the World Than You Might Think. Well that’s good news.

5B. GM quits Trump lawsuit against California auto emissions rules. If you listen closely, you can hear Mother Earth breathe a sigh of relief.

6. Your Brain Is Not For Thinking. “Everything that it conjures, from thoughts to emotions to dreams, is in the service of body budgeting.”  

“If you feel weary from the pandemic and you’re battling a lack of motivation, consider your situation from a body-budgeting perspective. Your burden may feel lighter if you understand your discomfort as something physical. When an unpleasant thought pops into your head, like ‘I can’t take this craziness anymore,’ ask yourself body-budgeting questions. ‘Did I get enough sleep last night? Am I dehydrated? Should I take a walk? Call a friend? Because I could use a deposit or two in my body budget.'”

How Much I Spent Today

How much of our consumption is the result of social contagion? More than we care to admit.

My day was wonderfully counter-cultural. $0 spent out-of-pocket. 

Lest I not kid myself about my minimalist street cred, the digital cash register was continuously updating in the background. The YMCA membership, property taxes, utilities, groceries, coffee beans, auto/house/health insurance, gasoline, internet and streaming services, digital and print subscriptions, the family’s cell-phones. And I’m sure I’m not accounting for some other recurring expenses.

Still, don’t I deserve some credit for saying “no thank you” to the legions of marketers and their super sales?   


Coronavirus Math

What’s wrong with the third of my state that constantly criticizes the Governor’s handling of the seasonal flu global pandemic? Is it, in part, a lack of numeracy? Is math education to blame?

There are 7,615,000 people living in Washington State. There are 331,000,000 people in the (dis)United States. So we represent 2.3% of the country. As of 11/25/20, 261,636 people have died from Covid-19. If Washington State residents were dying in proportion to the country’s overall death rate, (2.3% x 261,636) 6,018 people would’ve died so far. In actuality, 2,655 people have died, 1% of the total. If twice as many people had died in Washington State, we’d still be below average.

Of course you and I know the Governor doesn’t deserve the majority of the credit for that, it’s the whole citizenry that’s rising above the Grand Canyon-like void in federal leadership, coupled with hardworking nurses, doctors, and a legion of other essential workers. Still though, the next time you feel like ripping the Guv for “taking away your freedom”, just put a mask on.

Bonus ‘rona prediction. All those ludicrous fights between the Mask Vigilantes and the Anti-Mask Nutters will continue after we return to mostly normal next summer. This is because some subset of the most cautious Covid-19ers will continue to socially distance even after the threat subsides. They’ll do it partially out of habit and partially because their anxiety will not turn off all of a sudden. Their continued “abundance of caution” will incense the “Live Free or Die” crowd which isn’t known for its empathy. Just don’t be surprised if next August you see an epic shouting match on your local bike path or at your local Costco. In the meantime, meaning the next few years prob, extend some grace to the most Covid-anxious among us.