Chesterton’s Fence

“In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.”

—”Taking a Fence Down.” The American Chesterton Society. Retrieved November 30, 2017.

Seed & Spark

Seed & Spark is a Kickstarter for film projects. You can support an individual campaign, such as The Long Goodbye, and it works like Kickstarter, offering different incentives based on contribution level.

The advantage for film makers is that 75% of projects get funded, which is twice the rate of Kickstarter. Seed & Spark also charges lower fees, partly because they also serve as the distribution channel. Further, they distribute funds when it hits 80%, rather than requiring full funding.

As a distribution channel, it has an interesting model. You can sign-up for a subscription for $6.99/month. For this fee, you both get to watch the content created using the platform, and some of your subscription money is used to fund new projects. Every month, you get to pick one project you’d like to support for that month.

I think it’s an interesting model for distributed decision making for financing  independent film and has the potential to open up the medium to new voices and perspectives and supporting emerging talent when it matters most, at the beginning of their careers.

Eugenics 2.0: We’re at the Dawn of Choosing Embryos by Health, Height, and More

“‘I fully predict it will be possible,’ says Hsu of selecting embryos with higher IQ scores. ‘But we’ve said that we as a company are not going to do it. It’s a difficult issue, like nuclear weapons or gene editing. There will be some future debate over whether this should be legal, or made illegal. Countries will have referendums on it.'”

—Antonio Regalado,”Eugenics 2.0: We’re at the Dawn of Choosing Embryos by Health, Height, and More.” The MIT Technology Review. November 1, 2017.

The one feature of technology that you can count on is that as soon as something becomes possible, shortly thereafter, it will be done. Countries that allow genetic selection and modification will spawn a tourism trade until it becomes the norm. What happens when human beings become a manufactured product?

Clingy Political Ideologies 

“Interestingly, one of the initial impediments to open-mindedness is not ignorance but ideology. This is especially true in America, where (particularly in “progressive” circles) we have politicized open-mindedness to the point that it isn’t so open-minded anymore. Indeed, regardless of whether your sympathies lean to the left or the right, you aren’t going to learn anything new if you continually use politics as a lens through which to view the world. At home, political convictions are a tool for getting things done within your community; on the road, political convictions are a clumsy set of experiential blinders, compelling you to seek evidence for conclusions you have already drawn.

This is not to say that holding political beliefs is wrong—it’s just that politics are naturally reductive, and the world is infinitely complex. Cling too fiercely to your ideologies and you’ll miss the subtle realities that politics can’t address…”

—Rolf Potts, Vagabonding. (New York: Villard, 2003), 161-162.

The Case Against Sugar

“In America today, nearly 10% of the population has diabetes; more than two-thirds of us are overweight or obese; and one out of 10 kids are thought to have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. The journalist Gary Taubes blames all of these afflictions on one culprit: sugar.”

—Gary Taubes. Interview with Doug Fabrizio. The Case Against Sugar.” RadioWest. November 24, 2017.

Fuller treatment is available in his book, The Case Against Sugar. Add this to other classic discussions on the topic like “Sugar: The Bitter Truth.”

Also, it might be that refined sugar is the most obvious culprit and that building a diet around carbohydrates, which is a new feature that developed along with farming, might be the problem, which makes this a much bigger problem than just the “Western Diet”. See The Ketogenic Bible for a full discussion.

The Theory of Visitors

“She leaned in. ‘Do you believe in the theory of visitors?’ She said this conspiratorially, as if she was sharing with me a secret.

‘What’s that?’ I asked.

‘All relationships are transient,’ she said. ‘Friends who stab you in the back. People you network with at a fancy party. Relatives who die. The love of your life. Everything is temporary. People come into your life for a limited amount of time, and then they go away. So you welcome their arrival, and you surrender to their departure. Because they are all visitors. And when the visitors go home, they might take something from you. Something that you can’t ever get back. And that part sucks. But visitors always leave souvenirs. And you get to keep those forever.'”

—Sam Lansky, “The Theory of Visitors.” Medium.com. November 10, 2017.

Enjoyed the whole essay. It invites us to consider that the theory of visitors and the looking for the next swipe right encounter might be preventing us from interacting more deeply with people. Engaging with the projected personas that are reflected in the digital medium that can only be maintained at short intervals or at a distance, we make quick judgments about complicated, multi-faceted human beings. Perhaps everyone is a visitor, but the key point may be that relationships (at least some of them) are worth investing time in, irrespective of their duration.

Fewer Opinions

“We have a staggering arrogance in our own belief. That can be tempered by not being 100% certain; by being provisional. No matter what the debate is, very few people have the modesty to suspend judgement on a whole range of things; most intelligent people have an opinion and are expected to have an opinion by other people – but it always requires making a personal judgement that goes way-beyond your expertise. We do it all the time.

It would be good if we were encouraged to have fewer opinions. To be more willing to say ‘I just don’t know’. Sure, sometimes you have to come down one way or another for practical matters – but being aware that that’s the case is enough.

For example, let’s say I want to take a view about whether I need to lose weight or not. There’s conflicting advice on this. I can suspend judgement – but that would be burying my head in the sand. I come to a judgement based on my very imperfect knowledge of the science. I have to do that – but it doesn’t mean that, in doing so, I have the right answer. I just think: ‘it’s the way it seems; it’s the best judgement I can make; it could be wrong. Fingers crossed!’”

—Julian Baggini, “Baggini’s Consolations For A Post-Truth World.” 3:AM Magazine. November 11, 2017.

Markovian Parallax Denigrate

“jitterbugging McKinley Abe break Newtonian inferring caw update Cohen air collaborate rue sportswriting rococo invocate tousle shadflower Debby Stirling pathogenesis escritoire adventitious novo ITT most chairperson Dwight Hertzog different pinpoint dunk McKinley pendant firelight Uranus episodic medicine ditty craggy flogging variac brotherhood Webb impromptu file countenance inheritance cohesion refrigerate morphine napkin inland Janeiro nameable yearbook hark”

Break the name into an adjectival form of Markov chains, parallax is defined as a change in an object that results from a change in position of the observer, and denigrate, to attack the character of. 

It feels like an idea of the moment, where communication is somehow being shifted. Is it the Russians? Is it the Millennials? Is it trolls, from another, possibly Reptilian, planet? Is it a natural process of time or of space? Who is doing it? Might it even be the observer doesn’t like the changed view? Perhaps they changed it themselves. Who is active and who is passive? Is there even a Who, Horton?

h/t Atlas Obscura

Modern Dying

“I have heard it said that modern dying means dying more, dying over longer periods, enduring more uncertainty, subjecting ourselves and our families to more disappointments and despair. As we are enabled to live longer, we are also condemned to die longer. In that case, it should come as no surprise that some of us seek out the means to bring a dignified end to the ordeal, while we are still capable of deciding matters for ourselves. Where is the crime in that? A sorrowful goodbye, a chance to kiss each beloved face for the last time before sleep descends, pain retreats, dread dissolves, and death is defeated by death itself.”

—Cory Taylor, Dying: A Memoir. (Portland, OR: Tin House Books, 2017), 140-141.