Cargo cult

Are we all, in the end, cargo-cultists? Incapable of distinguishing the cause from the consequence, correlations from motivating forces, we mimic the attributes of what we aspire to in a blind way, embracing the dysfunctions and side-effects, ignorant of the progressive ecosystem that gave rise to them.

Empty tracks

Ever felt the desire to stop what you’re doing and wander down the tracks as far as your legs will carry? Ever imagine hopping on a freight train and riding wherever it may lead? Twenty years ago I walked all night along the tracks. No train came.

The central problem isn’t choosing a path, it’s that there is no path, not in any real sense. There are options and opportunities and decisions spinning off risks and opportunity costs, confusing us with sunk costs and pot odds. It’s a continuous process, in effect every moment of our days and nights. What might look like a fork in the road with two paths is really a manifestation of our lack of imagination, or our need to discard information in order to prevent paralysis. There’s just too much to consider, and if we fail to narrow our focus we end up like Esther in The Bell Jar, starving to death under a fig tree, unable to decide on the juiciest fruit.

Cloud Gardens

There are just three things that Toronto lacks which would make it a truly world-class city. The first couple are relatively easy to fix, the last one is harder but far from impossible.

1. Stores, restaurants and museums need to stay open later.

2. Street food is slim pickins, because it’s regulated to death.

3. Public transportation is slow, expensive, and unreliable. Building more subway lines or overhauling the TTC would be hard, longterm solutions to this third problem. But there is another fix: allow competition. Believe it or not, public transport doesn’t have to be run by the state. Throughout the world there are lots of places with open, competitive, reasonable priced markets for taxis, ride sharing, and small buses.

Server angst

I think we need a word for that low level of anxiety/stress that comes when you’re placing an order, and maybe there’s some customization you’ve done that makes it different from the most common orders, and you get this feeling that unless you babysit your server, and keep your eye on them, and remind them a couple times that you wanted it without the sauce, you just know they’re going to get it wrong.

Dunham and Plath

Saw the movie Tiny Furniture a couple days ago. Am I the only one to notice that it’s a nearly perfect remake of Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar”? Set in modern, not mid-century, New York, the aimless, entitled protagonist is slightly more aggressive than passive, but barely so, and every bit as indifferent to the other women who inhabit her world. I wonder if Lena Dunham intended to make such a strongly overlapped work of fiction.