- Banksy, AdBusters interview backintheday
The issue is not that these choices are available, the issue is that these choices crowd out the sensible ones. There's a lot of fallacious product design in toothbrushes. At the same time, it makes sense to apply what we know about dental hygiene to what we know about human habit to what we know about materials science to what we know about merchandising because even an expensive toothbrush is what? $4? $5? That's before you get into the land of Sonicare and its ilk and there are justifications to that, too. I have a $140 toothbrush. It was recommended to me by my dentist over my $100 toothbrush because apparently I was brushing hard enough to require some repair at the gumline to the tune of $900 billed to my insurance. The difference? The new one tweedles at me when I brush too hard. First world problems? You betcha. Asymptotic improvement? Mos def. BUT it is innovation in pursuit of improvement.
Dollar shave club, on the other hand, doesn't help you shave better. What it does is provide you access to bottom-of-the-barrel no-name Chinese blades at substantial markup to you. Yeah - a bag of Bic safety razors is like $3 for 24 or whatever so obviously you don't have to purchase that, either, but Unilever spent a billion dollars buying Dollar Shave Club instead of, I dunno, making better razors.
Lather, rinse, repeat. You rightly state that you are not directly impacted by any of these deeply silly Silicon Valley choices but you are indirectly affected. As you state, you're a fan of Blue Apron - what if Silicon Valley spent $120m on improving the efficiency of produce delivery to wherever you are instead of $120m on ways to sell chopped fruits and vegetables for $10/lb?
Henry Petroski has argued many times that necessity isn't the mother of invention, luxury is - we do not invent a fork because we cannot eat without one, we invent a fork because it's easier to eat with one. The inventor/manufacturer profits off of the increase of ease he provides us, and we pay him gladly. The argument put forth in the article (not as clearly as it could be, no doubt) is that the Silicon Valley business cycle is not focused on efficiency, it's focused on inefficiency and predation. And while this is not universally true, the argument for "disruption" is not "make the world a better place" it's "break laws and make money until they legislate you out of existence."
I have thousands of hours of music on hard drives. I used to have hundreds of CDs. My access to music went up an order of magnitude with the advent of Napster... but I can't really say that MP3s improved the state of music. It used to be that technological innovation was largely in pursuit of quality-of-life improvement and that argument could easily be made about Napster et.al. However, the inefficiencies of the music market also provided a living for most of the people involved in its generation.
And that's another issue - companies like RentBerry and Fiverr are, at base, eliminating inefficiencies. However, in a marketplace that's even a little unfair or uncompetitive, "inefficiencies" are often the profit of the disadvantaged. On a perfectly level playing field, assembly line workers in Detroit should have no problems competing with assembly line workers in Guadalajara.
Hi. Freelancer. Years of experience. Union member, skilled laborer. And where I work, the middle has dropped out. I'm one of the youngest people in my industry that I know of and my 20-year reunion was a while ago. See, used to be you started out as a gopher PA and then you became a set PA and then you picked up a skill and then you started making a little money and your network grew and you started making more money and eventually you had a wife and two kids and a house in the Valley. But now there's a sea of film school grads who can work for free because mommy and daddy understand that you have to do that for a while in order to get experience so they'll pay Janie's $1900/mo rent for a studio in Panorama City while she struggles for free until eventually it becomes clear that as soon as she starts to ask for money there's ten more Janies eager to take her place so eventually she's going to go back to live with her parents in Dayton and take orders at Applebee's while meanwhile, the guys that are actually hiring new kids who don't know what they're doing are generally doing it with their parents' money, too, and they're going to fail out within however long it takes for their folx to get sick of paying for their hobbies and in the meantime, we're all getting older and we're all hanging on to the gigs we have and the kids? The kids are not coming up because the opportunities that are available to them are a mirage.
Make no mistake. I'm the other side of that divide. Comfortably. But the gig economy, in my industry at least, is a fucking meat grinder for those without protections. Multiply times everything.
It struck me as wanting to be salty, and wanting to yell at someone else about the problems.
both the Democrats and the Republicans have been lying to the poor for decades, but the Democrats kinda sorta feel bad about it. it's that ambivalence that has left them crushed and despondent.
IT'S FUCKING STUPID. There are so many more poor people in the United States than rich people, so if they want power fuckin' rally behind the fuckn' poor people. I'm almost willing to give them a bye over the fact that it used to be hard to scare up individual donors and if you're looking for whales you're looking for the rich by definition but fuckin' Bernie Sanders.
The Democrats should have been just as gobsmacked by Bernie Sanders as the Republicans were by Trump but instead of going "oh shit we have lost our base" they went "it's Hillary's turn damn the torpedoes full speed ahead" and here we were, living in fear of Twitter.
This is insightful. I've experienced it. I have not put my finger on it before but you have the most of it.
I work with a couple die hard conservatives. They are lonely people in Hollywood; there's a contingent to be sure and they're insular as fuck but the overwhelming majority of Hollywood liberals are in fact liberals.
One of the things I've noticed in discussions with them (careful, respectful, well-bounded discussions) is that the conversation is not built around ideas. It's built around factoids. It's built around totems. It's built around memes.
These ideas are not, in and of themselves, coherent components of a greater philosophy. They are not arguments. They are touchstones. They are bookmarks in an internet search of alienation, secret handshakes of cultural identity.
A funny thing happened when Trump won: they got cranky. Keep in mind: I know people who worked with Trump. a lot. Had I gotten here a few years earlier I totally would have been crew on The Apprentice. He's a known quantity around here and yeah - it's a right-wing conservative orgazmotron. But at the same time, with Republicans owning the house, the senate, the executive and the judicial, the world should be perfect, right? But they knew - they knew - it'd be a long way from perfect. Theirs is a philosophy of opposition, particularly here in liberal Hollywood, and it wasn't so much that they were right, it's that everyone else was wrong.
HERE's MY THINKING
We don't drag him along, we live our lives and do the right thing. We don't assail his ideas hoping that eventually something sticks. It's an oppositional mentality and so long as he wants to oppose, it really doesn't matter what he's opposing. They're a tribe that want everyone else to lose. They don't really know what that looks like, but they want it really badly.
This is the way cognitive dissonance works: it starts by feeling uncomfortable so you ignore the sources that assail your worldview. Then it pushes you into an insular place because you're retreating from information. Then you lose sight of reality because you're working so hard to keep up your microcosm. Then one day it snaps - and it snaps hard. And now you're a disillusioned searcher.
Trump and the modern conservative universe is about the purest form of cognitive dissonance challenge you could ask for. He's not a conservative by any stretch. He's leading the party towards the reductio ad absurdum place the liberals always joked about - Trump literally defended Nazis. And they have nothing to build on, and their efforts to tear down are failing.
There's going to be a reckoning. There's going to be soul-searching. And we'll need to welcome them back.
but not yet, goddamn it
I've taken to referring to my time in Los Angeles for work as the time when I'm within the event horizon for the black hole. Communication in or out is tricky and time stretches to the point where your frame of reference is no longer valid.
This time last week I was in Los Angeles which appears to have boosted the Schwartzchild Radius.
My daughter is in an immunotherapy study. It's going to take years but there is a high likelihood that she'll be less allergic to peanuts on the other side. I phrased it to her as "how would you like to help other kids be less allergic to peanuts?" and she went all in, despite the fact that they had to make her back itch and draw her blood. Then her bloodwork came back with low immune response levels (probably because she had the sniffles) so she had to go in again. She likes the "magic cream that makes her arm tingle" but still, she's four and has had her blood drawn twice in two weeks with no complaints. The administrator told us that they really hope they can get her in because while they can't tell me her peanut IGGs, her regular IGGs are the highest in the entire study. Go kid. Glad you're more allergic than anyone else they've ever seen. not.
Had lunch with my buddy. Told him I'd done reasonably well in cryptocurrency, told him that if I couldn't use it for shit like chemotherapy copays what the fuck can I use it for, told him that the point you stop being able to be proud and refuse charity is well before the point where your relatives put out a GoFundMe for you and cut him a check for a thousand dollars. He cried and said it was really valuable to him to have long-term friends around (we've known each other since we were 4) so I punched him in the face and told him to stop being such a pussy. We now have a regular lunch date for as long as I'm in town.
Saw Front 242 and Severed Heads in Los Angeles. mk did not because he is lame. We got wasted - 60ccs of bone marrow aspiration be damned, I drank like four doubles of well bourbon and blasted my fucking mind out with EBM. The last time I saw Front 242 I ran lights for them and everyone was 20 years younger. The local alt-rag made fun of Front 242 back then for being totally into their music and dancing around like "a bunch of boojie boys" well past their primes because alt-rags are always bullshit. And here it is 20 years later and there's Jean-luc DeMeyer, 60 fuckin' years old, black leather jacket, sunglasses at night, rockin' it like it was '85. And the audience was not nearly as gothy as it would have been in Seattle - i mean, there was a guy in a hawaiian shirt and a fanny pack. And fuckin'A I was wearing goddamn cargo shorts so who the fuck am I to say anything.
one of my buddies is insecure. I told him to be more like Jean-Luc De Meyer - rock the sunglasses at night. That mutherfucker has known exactly who he is for 40 flippin' years and nobody remembers that bullshit alt-rag review but me while he's still sitting there headlining sold-out houses ten thousand miles from home. And then I got home and dropped my kid off at school wearing fuckin' house slippers and the same goddamn cargo shorts and realized that everyone else was all dressed for work'n'shit and I realized I have no fucks to give.
A friend turned me onto a Boeing gig doing tedious webcast shit. Sure, why not. So you talk to the recruiter. She wants a "resume." Oh, right. Out here in the world they still care about that shit. Fine, here's a thing I did in Pages like three years ago which I refuse to install on my computer to fix the address and email so here's a PDF with some wrong info because I can't be sussed. Then they want an "interview." Oh, right. Out here in the world they still care about that shit. Fine, okay, I'll pick up the phone, yeah, your rate is half what I make but so long as you give me enough work to not fuck up my unemployment checks until I get to my real job I'll take your money. What's that? You want me to fill out a profile on your website so that other recruiters can reach me? I mean, Okay...
At some point in the not-too-distant past I gave OftenBen a ration of shit about millennials because everybody harshes on the next crew but Millennials are the first posse that thinks it's okay to show up to an interview in flip-flops or some shit. It's a trope that's been in Forbes, Huffington Post, Time, whatever. Ben, I owe you and the rest of your generation an apology. Flip flops are what you wear to interviews you don't give a fuck about. The fact that you don't give a fuck about the interview doesn't say anything about you, it says a lot about the job being interviewed for. It says a lot about your regard for the culture that wants you to jump for their bullshit hoops.
I'm about to be 43 fuckin' years old and I have successfully opted out of that culture. My contempt is cushioned by disinterest and success; I can easily see it coming from a position of despair and resignation. Hipsters? Hipsters are the kids that aren't putting up with your bullshit and still feel kind of okay about themselves. A fully enlightened millennial generation will be a sea of vinyl-listening, avocado-toast-eating, flip-flop-wearing hipsters.
I've been to four watch-making classes. I'm learning not a lot and having the time of my goddamned life. The watchmaker at Vacheron Constantin recommended a book that is hard to find and very expensive. Turns out one of the instructors at the class scanned that fucker to PDF but never read it. It's DOPE. Did you know that there are really only five gears in a watch necessary to tell time? Did you know they're really fuckin' fun to take apart? Did you know that ten years building scale models, 20 years working with surface-mount electronics and 30 years tuning carburetors and otherwise performing fine work on motor vehicles gives you orders of magnitude more manual dexterity and fine motorwork than your peers? I didn't. I do now. I'm fuckin' good at this shit.
That's a pallet fork. It's about 4mm wide. Turns out that 10x macro lens that clips onto your phone that you got in your stocking can be really goddamn useful. So yeah. Took apart a pocketwatch and got it back together again in the amount of time it took everyone else to take it apart. LOVING IT. With a semi-decent CNC machine I could build these things from scratch all goddamn day long and be a pig in shit. I would be utterly and completely divorced from this bullshit "show the recruiter where on your resume the bad career touched you" society and walk around in my goddamn cargo shorts and house slippers all day because I don't have a boss to care.
Finally, my car is dying. It needed $1500 worth of work six months ago and still does. Then I gave a buddy a thousand dollars so he wouldn't fucking die and figured maybe, as a 43-year-old man, I deserve to drive something that doesn't smoke when it warms up and doesn't have gorilla tape keeping the headliner out of my hair.
So I'm negotiating on a Porsche 911 carrera cabriolet because my inner douchebag clearly wants out. Even better, it's the shitty 996 water-cooled one that Porsche nerds love to hate because apparently every time you turn the key Ferry Porsche spins in his grave because it's water-cooled and made with Boxster parts and has headlights like fried eggs and and and. Here's what I know - if I can get a car? That sold for $80k? With 21k miles on it, new tires and $15k worth of service just done on it for less than the price of a Prius C? I'ma do it.
State farm wants $7 less per month to insure an '02 Carrera than they do to insure a '95 Dodge. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
mk, thenewgreen, I might be rippin' through San Fran at some point soon because taking a ragtop Porsche up the PCH in fall sounds like a pretty nice birthday present to myself.
What you're explaining loud and clear is that you feel the people responsible for the truth on the ground are not giving it the proper consideration. When I called you out for arguing (as a grad student) that you knew better than the law, you doubled down:
I took one (1) acoustics class. It was taught by the two acoustics Ph.Ds at UW. And we started the class with one of the profs explaining the measurement rig he had pointed out the window: see, the buses outside were loud, but it was spring and soon the trees would be covered in leaves and it would be much quieter. et voila. Acoustics.
We believed him - I mean, I was 22 and the actual math of the attenuation of a shit-ton of leaves is intensive. Nonetheless we never did end up comparing beginning and end. Once I started working in the field I relayed this story to my boss and she laughed uproariously and showed me the B&K chart listing attenuation on the x and "meters of forest in hundreds" on the y.
These are acoustical professors with Ph. Ds prestigious enough in their department to fund a boat that flips on its tail for sonar studies. And we learned all sorts of great stuff about nodal analysis, resonance, deep channels and the like which provided a fundamental basis for the practical knowledge that I then picked up in the field. Because "practical knowledge" wasn't their thing - they were busy rewriting the theory. And for environmental acoustics, the theory was laid out by a dude a hundred years dead.
We'll disregard my profs' erroneous assumptions about the way environmental acoustics work. We'll even disregard the fact that when they were busted, they shined it on as if it never happened. We'll focus instead on their attempts to broaden the body of knowledge that we all benefit from and thank them for it. We'll even spot them the assumption that if my boss were to walk into that room and give them a lesson on the acoustical isolation of leaves, they'd listen interestedly, ask intelligent questions and have a rigorous debate about the mathematics at play.
Because nobody comes out ahead when we assume everyone else is a fucking idiot.
FIIC. Field Impact Isolation Class. A two-digit number that takes two trained professionals two days and ten thousand dollars worth of equipment to arrive at. Lucrative, no? I mean, we couldn't roll one for less than $3k. Which means we didn't get to roll them nearly often enough. And we spent a day burning through the math in custom bullshit Excel spreadsheets that sucked and that wasn't any fun either. So when we were presented with an opportunity to test some composite floors so we could build up some better mass law models, my boss paid me to schlep concrete and sand up to the 4th floor of a condo for six weeks so we could do our own testing. Contribute our own models. Put in our own research.
I billed out at $150 an hour, dude, and she sank 240 hours into it.
So I'm glad you're "all worked up." You should be. You "want the underlying assumptions, biases and structural issues unearthed and discussed" which can only mean you think they aren't. You "want to know in which context they work and in which context they don't" as if you think people don't fight over this shit every goddamn day. And I've been trying to say this a dozen different ways and you aren't hearing it, probably because it's offensive, and because it assails your worldview:
The experts in the field know more than the people they measure.
That's it. That's my beef. That's my fundamental observation, that in any esoteric body of knowledge, the practitioners of that knowledge know more about that knowledge than the people who encounter that knowledge glancingly. No matter how broad your evaluation of mapping and GIS, it will never be as focused as the mid-level bureaucrat in some forgotten town who has jurisdiction over where roads go in his township.
The argument put forth in your essay is that the experts are fucking idiots. When I tried to find something about objective vs. relational you came back with "no, it's that the experts are fucking idiots." When I came back with "you know, the experts I've worked with seem to know their shit" you came back with "they don't know it nearly enough because research." So yeah. I'm fucking offended. Your argument hinges on the idea that the practitioners of a science are incurious about the theory of the science, which is the argument people always make, so often that you actually whipped out
The "arrogant" engineers are the ones that know they know more than you and are sick of having to explain it. They're the ones whose knowledge is called into question because somebody just did a study somewhere. They're the ones being forced to (temporarily) rewrite their entire code of behavior because some expert somewhere in another unrelated field has better PR.
These are Assistive Listening Devices. They cost about $300 each, plus about $1000 for the transmitter. And thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act, if you have an auditorium that holds more than a hundred people you have to have enough of them for five percent of the audience. That means if you have a school somewhere with a gym that seats 300 people, $5500 is going to be spent on shitty FM radios that nobody ever listens to... rather than band instruments, rather than gym equipment, rather than art supplies.
This happened because a well-meaning audiologist argued back in the mid-80s that deaf people were being left out of public events because they couldn't hear, and a lot of them couldn't afford hearing aids, so clearly any public building should be forced to pay to bring them in so that they would be "handicapped-accessible." And none of them ever get used - you wanna stick someone else's grody earthing in your ear? - but they're mandated by law and building inspectors across the US have to count the fuckers every time there's a permit issue. Millions of these things, mouldering away in closets.
Repeat for in-class reinforcement, smartboards, etc. What usually happens next is some journalist gets a bug up their ass to investigate waste and comes after whatever the it-thing is and administrators are pilloried for wasting money on that thing that only has one study to back it but ALS has hung on for three decades because the ADA was written by the Pope, effectively, so here we are. But fundamentally? People who don't know telling people who do know bones it for everybody.
My argument, simply put, is it's dangerous and offensive to assume that the people doing the majority of the work are in the knowledge minority. And the fundamental argument put forth by this argument - and by you - is that if we have a number, and everybody agrees on it, it reflects calcified thinking and oppression of the populace.
The only way you could want this is if you hold deeply the idea that "people" aren't already doing it.
And fuck right off with that shit.