Helsinki Bus Station Theory

“…the secret to a creatively fulfilling career lies in understanding the operations of Helsinki’s main bus station…There are two dozen platforms, Minkkinen explains, from each of which several different bus lines depart. Thereafter, for a kilometre or more, all the lines leaving from any one platform take the same route out of the city, making identical stops. “Each bus stop represents one year in the life of a photographer,” Minkkinen says. You pick a career direction…Three stops later, you’ve got a nascent body of work…[but because it is nascent it will be similar to someone else’s body of work, and you’ll be tempted to go back to the main station and set out in a new direction. Three years later, it happens again.]…’This goes on all your creative life: always showing new work, always being compared to others.’ What’s the answer? ‘It’s simple. Stay on the bus. Stay on the fucking bus.'”

—Oliver Burkeman, “This column will change your life: Helsinki Bus Station Theory.” The Guardian. September 23, 2013.

The Inbox: A Scattered, Ad-Ridden Archive of Our Lives

“To examine our inboxes is to examine our lives: our desires and dreams, our families and careers, our status, our networks and our social groupings, our projects, our commerce, our politics, our secrets/lies/fetishes. Inboxes are anthropological goldmines, textual archives, psychological case studies, waiting to be plumbed and probed for the expansive cultural, ethical, epistemological, and ontological insights lurking therein.
On second thought: they are probably not waiting to be probed, but actually being probed, scanned and algorithmatized, by Google, Amazon, the National Security Agency, the Russians, Julian Assange, employers, ex-lovers who remember your password, current lovers who install surveillance software on your laptop to monitor emails to your ex-lover/next lover, hackers who create fake networks on any public wifi you log onto, and/or anyone else who cares to discover whatever “secrets” you are secreting into the tubes.

It makes more sense to assume your email is a public document than to cling to improbable expectations of privacy. The Post Office made a point of delivering our letters sealed, intact. But the email overseers can read through our inboxes at will without us being any the wiser, and they let others look too…”

—Randy Malamud, “The Inbox: A Scattered, Ad-Ridden Archive of Our Lives.” Literary Hub. October 9, 2019.

Every time I see something like this I can’t help wondering: does this person not realize that you can pay for email and by doing so, you can eliminate advertising and have a reasonably secure email archive? Off the top of my head, Protonmail, Posteo, Tutanota, and Lavabit are all reasonable choices for an email provider.

Joe Biden and the Problem of Corruption in U.S. Politics

“While Democrats pursue the impeachment of President Donald Trump for pressuring foreign countries to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden, they are left making an argument that is at once true and electorally and ethically compromising: What Trump did — and continues to do — was an impeachable abuse of power, and it should be considered separately from the question of what Hunter Biden did.

The problem for Democrats is that a review of Hunter Biden’s career shows clearly that he, along with Joe Biden’s brother James, has been trading on their family name for decades, cashing in on the implication — and sometimes the explicit argument — that giving money to a member of Joe Biden’s family wins the favor of Joe Biden.”

—Ryan Grim, “Joe Biden’s Family Has Been Cashing in on His Career for Decades. Democrats Need to Acknowledge That.” The Intercept. October 9, 2019.

Trump is corrupt and terrible. But, let’s also acknowledge that this is a problem in U.S. politics that crosses parties and exists at every level of government.

Stephen Jay Gould

“But, as we consider the totality of similarly broad and fundamental aspects of life, we cannot defend division by two as a natural principle of objective order. Indeed, the ‘stuff’ of the universe often strikes our senses as complex and shaded continua, admittedly with faster and slower moments, and bigger and smaller steps, along the way. Nature does not dictate dualities, trinities, quarterings, or any ‘objective’ basis for human taxonomies; most of our chosen schemes, and our designated numbers of categories, record human choices from a cornucopia of possibilities offered by natural variation from place to place, and permitted by the flexibility of our mental capacities. How many seasons (if we wish to divide by seasons at all) does a year contain? How many stages shall we recognize in a human life?”

—Stephen Jay Gould, “The Hedgehog, the Fox, and the Magister’s Pox: Mending the Gap between Science and the Humanities.” New York: Harmony, 2003, p. 82, quoted in s.v. Stephen Jay Gould, Wikiquote.

Problems of Post Hoc Analysis

“Misuse of statistical testing often involves post hoc analyses of data already collected, making it seem as though statistically significant results provide evidence against the null hypothesis, when in fact they may have a high probability of being false positives…. A study from the late-1980s gives a striking example of how such post hoc analysis can be misleading. The International Study of Infarct Survival was a large-scale, international, randomized trial that examined the potential benefit of aspirin for patients who had had a heart attack. After data collection and analysis were complete, the publishing journal asked the researchers to do additional analysis to see if certain subgroups of patients benefited more or less from aspirin. Richard Peto, one of the researchers, refused to do so because of the risk of finding invalid but seemingly significant associations. In the end, Peto relented and performed the analysis, but with a twist: he also included a post hoc analysis that divided the patients into the twelve astrological signs, and found that Geminis and Libras did not benefit from aspirin, while Capricorns benefited the most (Peto, 2011). This obviously spurious relationship illustrates the dangers of analyzing data with hypotheses and subgroups that were not prespecified (p.97).”

—Mayo, quoting
National Academies of Science “Consensus Study” Reproducibility and Replicability in Science 2019 in “National Academies of Science: Please Correct Your Definitions of P-values.” Statsblogs. September 30, 2019.

6 Rules for a Perfect Grilled Cheese, Every Time

“So make your late-night, five-minute grilled cheese as many times as you’d like. We’re not stopping you. But in the light of day, when you’ve got ten minutes, a jar of mayo, and the desire to treat yourself to a little something extra, this recipe’s here for you.”

-Emma Wartzman, “6 Rules for a Perfect Grilled Cheese, Every Time.” Bon Appetit. September 24, 2019

tl;dr:

  1. Be patient
  2. Use mayo
  3. Spread the mayo to the edges
  4. Use a melting cheese: American, Mozzarella, Cheddar, Gruyère, Fontina, Provolone, Taleggio, or Raclette
  5. Use bread with a tight crumb, i.e., lots and lots of tiny holes like in sandwich bread
  6. Carefully consider your fillings, i.e., nothing watery or that you wouldn’t eat raw

If you like this kind of thing, you might also consider the perfect omelette.

Scratch: Hip Hop Turntablism Documentary

The important thing to remember is that this basement isn’t packed with treasure. It’s packed with junk. You have to spend the time to sort through the junk to find the treasure. There is no shortcut. There is no algorithm. There is only time, attention, noticing — digging…I like to try to apply this spirit of crate-digging to everyday life. The only way to find the good stuff, the special stuff, the genuine moments and the true inspiration, is to first engage with the everyday, the mundane, the seemingly useless, the things nobody else seems to care about. So engage. There is no shortcut; there is no algorithm. If all you do is track what’s trending, then all you’ll ever know is exactly what everyone else already knew. To discover, you have to dig.”

—Rob Walker, “Crate-Dig Reality.” The Art of Noticing. No. 29. September 29, 2019.

This could serve as a mission statement for cafebedouin.org.

Make Space

“Appropriate for designers charged with creating new spaces or anyone interested in revamping an existing space, this guide offers novel and non-obvious strategies for changing surroundings specifically to enhance the ways in which teams and individuals communicate, work, play—and innovate. This work is based on years of classes and programs at the d.school including countless prototypes and iterations with d.school students and spaces.”

—Scott Doorley & Scott Witthoft, “Make Space: How to Set the Stage for Creative Collaboration.” Hobeken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2012. (Extras Website)