Going to try a monthly summary post, in the vein of Tom MacWright’s excellent blog.
My brother got married! A small, outdoor, distanced wedding in which people sat in tables corresponding to their lockdown pods, and no dancing. I still think it would have been better to postpone, but it wasn’t my decision and no one got covid, so I guess it worked out.
I spent some time living in Salt Lake City with a few friends. Utah is beautiful – I might love the land of this country more right now than ever before. I then drove onward to California, back for the first time to San Francisco where I lived for 6 years.
I’ve been couch-surfing with friends for about 2 weeks now, with more planned.
The Recoolit front has some sense of progress but remains a struggle.
The global lockdown makes us think time stands still. And when I left SF in November, I had a hopeful sense that things would…pause…without me there. In other words, that there was no opportunity cost to my actions. Of course that’s not how things are. My friends in SF are scattering to the winds as their life continues without me. One set of friends bought a house in Seattle, and moved last weekend. Another set bought a house in the suburbs. Another friend is couch-surfing, but in Arizona.
Time goes on, we will all die, and you can’t put things on pause.
This month I started making predictions. I just enter a prediction, with an associated probability. It’s been extremely fun, possibly-beneficial, and I intend to keep doing it. Give it a try! I also wrote some tips on generating predictions.
I only watched four movies this month, all old classics, and on four consecutive days.
Taxi Driver was upsetting but so critical for understanding America…maybe. Travis is an incel before there was a name for it, a messed-up kid seeking meaning but unable to find it. He thinks women might save him, but they don’t so he comes to hate them. Drugs seem like the answer – violence seems like the answer. The ending is a little odd, is it a dream sequence or is it real? But the most interesting, American thing about this movie is that it inspired a delusional teenager to try and recreate it.
Dirty Harry is an odd movie to watch in the middle of a decade-long struggle against police brutality. Its core claim seems to be that we’d be better off if the police were less restrained. That aside, its a fun movie in some ways but the pacing is completely off and the villain is a total cipher.
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner was enjoyable – much better than expected, and funny! And Hunt for Red October seemed promising, but only got half through it.
Two by Edward Abbey: Desert Solitaire and The Monkey Wrench Gang. The former is a beautiful meditation on his time as a park ranger in Arches National Park, an ode to the desert and to man’s relationship with it. The latter is a rollicking novel about a bunch of eco-terrorists. These were good books to read after a month in Utah visiting some of the same places described. Like Taxi Driver, TMWG grapples with Vietnam and the men who returned from it changed.
The Vital Question, which Bill Gates recommends. I loved this book, and intend a full write-up, but my notes are trapped on my Kindle, which is in airplane mode because I have a few overdue library books on there that I’m still reading.
Free Will by Sam Harris is a nice short snack. It came strongly recommended but I didn’t find it as compelling. It attempts to prove that free will doesn’t exist, which on some level I probably agree with, but I thought his arguments had a few holes: “no possible definition of consciousness could do X” is a very strong claim to ground.
Halfway through Walk Through Walls by Marina Abramovic, and loving it so far. What a force of nature.
It’s helpful to live in a place with a pull-up bar, a bathroom scale, healthy food, and good influences.