Tag Archives: interesting

The American Room

More than 100 million Americans live in the suburbs. Suburban homes are built many at a time to achieve efficiencies. A set of tract homes is the horizontal equivalent of a skyscraper. The plans themselves are defined along familiar principles, designed to meet market demand. Programs like AutoCAD make it possible to quickly and efficently produce blueprints for homes using a pre-defined, standardized library of components. Viewed very broadly, the construction industry functions like a massive, decentralized, and human-powered 3D printer controlled by AutoCAD
. . .
You could judge those rooms and say that America has a paucity of visual imagination, that we live in a kind of wasteland. Or you could draw another conclusion, and note that America might be a little more broke than it wants to show. The painfully expensive 2,000-square foot home is furnished with cheap big sofas and junk from Target. Maybe these video stars don’t hang pictures because they are renters. Maybe they know they are going to move soon, to another part of the state or country; suburbs are the temporary worker housing for America. Maybe they moved in and just haven’t unpacked yet, and the big picture of grandma is still in the garage.

But try to see it from their perspective. Our protagonists are looking into the computer. They like what they see, find it stimulating and exciting. They are eager to participate. They see what we see when we go online. Other people’s rooms.
Medium.com: The American Room
Behind the nation’s closed doors, with YouTube.

Love people, use things

Love people, use things.

Easier said than done, I realize. It requires the courage to repudiate pride and the strength to love others — family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, God and even strangers and enemies. Only deny love to things that actually are objects. The practice that achieves this is charity. Few things are as liberating as giving away to others that which we hold dear.

This also requires a condemnation of materialism. This is manifestly not an argument for any specific economic system. Anyone who has spent time in a socialist country must concede that materialism and selfishness are as bad under collectivism, or worse, as when markets are free. No political ideology is immune to materialism.

Finally, it requires a deep skepticism of our own basic desires. Of course you are driven to seek admiration, splendor and physical license. But giving in to these impulses will bring unhappiness. You have a responsibility to yourself to stay in the battle. The day you declare a truce is the day you become unhappier. Declaring war on these destructive impulses is not about asceticism or Puritanism. It is about being a prudent person who seeks to avoid unnecessary suffering.
“Love People, Not Pleasure” Arthur C. Brooks, NY Times

BBC: The new sign on French menus

Now any restaurant that serves a home-made dish can indicate it on the menu with it new logo – in the shape of a saucepan with a roof-like lid. From next January it will be compulsory for all menus to carry the logo – so if you don’t see it, the food is not fait maison.

I find it interesting that it’s the restaurants that make a particular dish entirely on-site are the ones who have to follow the law regarding a new logo. I think that if something similar were passed in the United States (yeah, right), then it would be the other way around: those restaurants that use non-homemade foods would have to place a logo on their menu, and the one’s making homemade dishes wouldn’t have to change a thing. Then we would see that logo everywhere.

But, this makes sense to me because everyone wins. Even if they don’t see the logo, people will still go to those restaurants that prepare non-homemade foods, but those restaurants that show their food is homemade would, ostensibly, get more business. If the law were reversed, then those restaurants having to advertise the use of non-homemade foods could lose business.

Sleep as a Competitive Advantage

Too many of us continue to live by the durable myth that one less hour of sleep gives us one more hour of productivity. In reality, each hour less of sleep not only leaves us feeling more fatigued, but also takes a pernicious toll on our cognitive capacity. The more consecutive hours we are awake and the fewer we sleep at night, the less alert, focused and efficient we become, and the lower the quality of our work.

The research is overwhelming that the vast majority of us require seven to eight hours of sleep to feel fully rested, and only a small percentage require less than seven. The problem is that we kid ourselves. “Like a drunk,” the Harvard sleep expert Charles A. Czeisler wrote, “a person who is sleep deprived has no idea how functionally impaired he or she truly is. Most of us have forgotten what it really feels like to be awake.”
NY Times: Sleep as a Competitive Advantage

For me, nothing beats a twenty minute nap in the afternoon, maybe thirty minutes. Anything more than that is of little to no benefit. But that twenty minutes can make all the difference in the world for the rest of my day.

I think sleep is really only part of the solution to good productivity, and that exercise and a reasonable diet are needed as well for sleep to be its most effective. I say, “reasonable diet” in that there only a relative few out there that eat truly good all the time; some foods aren’t good for the waistline, but they are good for soul and are therefore irresistible.

I have been working on my health for the past several weeks by working through an exercise regimen from Nerd Fitness. I work out five days a week on average, for an average thirty minutes a day. It’s a well packed thirty minutes prioritizing intensity over time, and within only a couple weeks I found benefits in regards to how I feel overall. Even those nights where I only could get five to six hours of sleep I felt better than before I started working out.

Cash is king.

“We confronted them, and working with the U.S. Secret Service got them back up and running,” LaMears said of the local compromised car wash. “The Secret Service told us they were running an old version of Micrologic that had the same, one login for everything, and were using an old version of Windows XP.”Card Wash: Card Breaches at Car Washes

Bloombergview.com: Missing E-Mail Is the Least of the IRS’s Problems

Such policies indicate either an agency that is not concerned with preserving good audit chains or one that has an extremely penny-wise, pound-foolish approach to IT policy. At prevailing wages—and hard drive prices—it is a waste of money to force even your lowest-level employee to spend time painstakingly deleting or archiving e-mails. If IRS staffers don’t have anything better to do with their time, then the IRS needs fewer staffers, not stricter mailbox policies.

In the case of a government agency, however, it’s especially troubling. Records pertaining to agency decisions are supposed to be systematically archived forever. I’m not saying that the IRS’s e-mail retention policy is uniquely bad in the federal government, only that whatever the current practice is, the IRS did not preserve nearly as much as one would like in a representative, transparent democracy.
Bloombergview.com: Missing E-Mail Is the Least of the IRS’s Problems