What I learned last week (#103)

Learned last week: Appreciating the winter sunsets, what my Dad gave his shop, and why technology has a will.

What I’m grateful for this week:

The sunsets in the winter have been pretty spectacular.


Another thing I’m grateful for:

The kids panting projects we did together last week.


Book excerpt I was happy to come across again:

“When I had new material to try, I would break it down into its smallest elements, literally a gesture or a few words, then sneak it into the act in its shortest form, being careful not to disrupt the flow of the show. If it worked, the next night I would add the next discreet packet until the bit either filled out or died. I can remember bailing out of a bit because I didn’t want to be trapped in it for the next five minutes.” (Steve Martin, Born Standing Up)


Quote I was thinking about:

People think you need to be inspired to write. No, you write in order to get inspired.

Paul Jarvis

What my Dad gave his shop:

A great personal story and some history on the on-going struggle of small businesses in America to survive. As a child of a Dad with his own shop while I was growing up, this read struck expecially close to home.

For 45 years, that store, Harmony Audio Video, has been my dad’s life: the reason he left home early every day, the reason he was chronically late to pick me up from school, the reason he didn’t take a single vacation for 25 years. Growing up, the store was my life too: From the time my mom’s breast cancer metastasized when I was in second grade (she died when I was 10), I hung out in the back after school until 7 or 8, before we drove 40 minutes home on coastal Highway 1 to slightly more affordable El Granada. Keeping me with him at work meant he didn’t have to pay for child care. In exchange, he basically ceded the store’s second phone line to me for conversations with classmates and friends. If he was with a client and I had a question, I had to write it on a note card—one of the hundreds of blank neon mailers on which he listed monthly specials.

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/12/harmony-audio-pandemic-small-business/616926


Kevin Kelly on Why Technology Has a Will:

Scary summary at the beginning. I think I can say that I am complicit in this “new social contract” to some extent.

Whether via politics (QAnon) or nostalgic cultural recreations (‘80s Downtown Art Scene), many choose to roleplay a world or previous historical era while increasingly intangible forms of technology become more powerful. It’s world-building that’s become almost a new social contract: let others do what they want politically and economically, so long as we can continue to roleplay without too much interference.

Great summary of a different concept of growth, one that doesn’t imply something unsustainable.

And one of the things that people object to in capitalism, in addition to the free market solution to things, is the fact that it seems to want or demand unlimited growth. There’s a little bit of a language issue there, because in English, at least, we have different ideas wrapped up in the word growth. We have growth as in gaining weight, as in getting bigger, as in growing the size of the company, the number of dollars flowing through GDP. But we also can use growth in terms of evolutionary growth, maturing. ‘I’m growing up’ doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m getting heavier. It can mean that I’m getting wiser, I’m getting better. We have evolutionary growth, which doesn’t mean there’s more things. It just means that they have evolved and become more complicated. We want an economy that’s growing in the second sense: unlimited betterment, unlimited increase in wisdom, and complexity, and choices. I don’t see any limit there. We don’t want an economy that’s just getting fatter and fatter, and bigger and bigger, in terms of its size. Can we imagine such a system? That’s hard, but I don’t think it’s impossible.


Wolfwalkers is my favorite movie of 2020:

We watched this on Friday and it easily vaulted to the top of the list. It’s animated (amazingly well) and family-friendly but, that doesn’t mean it’s not deep nor does diminish the fact that watching it can feel like sipping a psyolcibyn tea.


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