Replacing this Blog

I have decided to replace this blog with another blog. Change is the one constant in life so I’m embracing it 😀. This will be the last post to First World Problems.

The new blog is called Cat World, as I want to focus on cartoons rather than text, and cats will be my theme.

At some point in the future I will delete this First World Problems blog.

So if you are signed up to receive posts to this blog, be sure to sign up for posts on Cat World.

Liberation

TimeSpiralI stopped wearing a watch about two weeks ago. At first I found myself glancing at my wrist several times an hour, which I noticed as there was nothing to see on my wrist. I’d never realized how much I looked at my watch – or even that I did look at my watch – because I always saw the time when I looked.

But there was rarely any value in looking at my watch. It’s not as if I was late for an appointment. Instead, when I looked at the time I would get an immediate thought that I should be doing something else. Or that there wasn’t enough time left to finish something. Or that I didn’t have enough time to make progress on something, so why bother starting?

The early morning hours were always wonderful as I felt I had the whole day ahead, but as the morning wore on and I glanced at my watch, it felt that the day was closing in on me, running out of time.

Not wearing a watch is liberating. It allows me to focus on what I’m doing. Now that I don’t know what time it is, I just go with the flow. Things will get done when they are done. Instead of doing nothing because I think there is not enough time to do something, I now do something.

American women distrust men

Well, duh. Harvey Weinstein. What do you expect? But I claim that the Harvey Whinestein thing is more about power than maleness. You know, power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely?

I was at a gas station in Fruita, Colorado, desperate to pee. The men’s bathroom was closed for cleaning but I went in anyway. The woman who was cleaning told me to leave, but as I said, I was desperate to pee. So I went into a stall, locked the door, and peed.

When I got out the cleaning woman had called her manager who berated me for using the bathroom while the cleaner was in it. I asked what the big deal was because I was using the stall so there was no chance the cleaning woman could see me. She reiterated that I shouldn’t have used the bathroom while the cleaner was there. So I asked if she would have preferred me to use the women’s bathroom. She simply reiterated that I should not have gone in.

Contrast this to the lounge at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. When I went to pee, there were two women diligently cleaning the mens’ bathroom, keeping the mirrors clean and the stalls spotless. Men were using the urinals and no one batted an eyelid. It was just business as usual.

Or at Barcelona airport where one of the men’s bathrooms was closed so men simply lined up with the women to use the women’s bathroom. No one cared.

But I don’t really know if it’s about women distrusting men, or just about America’s rather puritanical attitude towards sex in general.

 

Cycling Summer 2017

Tanya and I are back in the US now after a wonderful summer of cycling. It was a sandwich trip: two trips to Europe with a visit back to the US in the middle. We had some very mixed weather on the second part of the European trip but fortunately we ended the trip with some beautiful weather in Gran Canaria (part of the Canary Islands, just off the west coast of Africa.)

I wrote about the rides we did on my cycling web pages. Here are a few photos from the trip.

Jito looking down

Jito de Escarandi – Spain


GC-65

Riding in Gran Canaria


TauroPass

Beautiful switchbacks on Tauropass on Gran Canaria


IMG_1557

Switzerland – Grimsel and Furka passes

No Sense of Obligation

I like to spend time away from home. I’ve always liked to be away from home, even when I’ve loved my home. Even going downtown or to a store or to the local pool works.

When I’m away from home, I feel free. There’s no responsibility, no sense of obligation. There’s nothing that needs doing, no chores to be done, no phone calls to make, nothing to be fixed. When I’m away from home I exist lightly in the world, just letting time pass and things unfold around me.

I think that’s one reason I like to travel. Even though traveling has its own stresses and difficulties and fears and discomforts, it doesn’t have the same responsibilities, the things that need to be done. You trade a set of responsibilities for a set of difficulties.

John Lanchester: my current favorite article writer

I love reading articles by John Lanchester. He has a very broad range of interests, is obviously extremely smart and thoughtful, and is an excellent writer. Here are three articles that I particularly enjoyed.

The Case Against Civilization. A fascinating article about how the Neolithic Revolution (agriculture and the domestication of animals) was probably one of the worst things that happened to humans. Jared Diamond calls it “the worst mistake in human history.” Sample paragraph from the article: “In one column of the ledger, we would have the development of a complex material culture permitting the glories of modern science and medicine and the accumulated wonders of art. In the other column, we would have the less good stuff, such as plague, war, slavery, social stratification, rule by mercilessly appropriating élites, and Simon Cowell.”

You are the Product. A wonderful but scary article which is ostensibly a review of three books but ends up being a deep look into Facebook, advertising, fake news and the manipulation of society . Sample paragraph: “It’s crucial to this that Facebook has no financial interest in telling the truth. No company better exemplifies the internet-age dictum that if the product is free, you are the product. Facebook’s customers aren’t the people who are on the site: its customers are the advertisers who use its network and who relish its ability to direct ads to receptive audiences. Why would Facebook care if the news streaming over the site is fake? Its interest is in the targeting, not in the content. This is probably one reason for the change in the company’s mission statement. If your only interest is in connecting people, why would you care about falsehoods? They might even be better than the truth, since they are quicker to identify the like-minded.”

Brexit Blues. A deep and thoughtful analysis of the background to Brexit and likely outcome. Sample paragraph: “These [high-skill, high value industrial] jobs are dependent on the UK being a liberal, open, internationalised economy with high skill levels in particular areas. That has been the direction of travel in UK politics and economics since 1979, and both parties have pursued policies with that goal in mind. The Labour government offered more social protection but did so largely by stealth and without explaining and arguing for its actions. There was no strategy to replace the lost industry; that was left to the free market. With these policies, parts of the country have simply been left behind. The white working class is correct to feel abandoned: it has been. No political party has anything to offer it except varying levels of benefits. The people in the rich parts of the country pay the taxes which support the poor parts. If I had to pick a single fact which has played no role in political discourse but which sums up the current position of the UK, it would be that most people in the UK receive more from the state, in direct cash transfers and in benefits such as health and education, than they contribute to it. The numbers are eerily similar to the referendum outcome: 48 per cent net contributors, 52 per cent net recipients. It’s a system bitterly resented both by the beneficiaries and by the suppliers of the largesse.”

Links and Other Clicks

The Case Against Civilization at the New Yorker

You are the Product at the London Review of Books

Brexit Blues at the London Review of Books