“Bean freaks: On the hunt for an elusive legume”

Bean freaks: On the hunt for an elusive legume” is among the more charming and hilarious stories I’ve read recently and it’s highly recommended. There are many interesting moments in it, but this tangent caught my attention:

In his late teens, Sando lost weight and found his crowd, learned to improvise on the piano, and discovered, to his great surprise, that he’d become rather good-looking. “What we call a twink now,” he says. Although he never found a true, long-term partner, he married a friend of a friend in his late thirties and had two boys with her, now nineteen and sixteen. “I’d had every lesbian on the planet ask me for sperm,” he says. “But there was a side of me that said, ‘I can’t do this as a passive bystander.’ ” They raised the boys in adjacent houses for a few years, then divorced. “Theres a sitcom waiting to happen,” he says. But he tells the story flatly, without grievance or irony, as if giving a deposition. “The truth is that your sexual identity is just about the least interesting thing about you,” he says. “Do you play an instrument? That would be interesting.”

I think he’s right about the sitcom, and, while I said something like this in a previous post, I’ll say here that I think we’re going to see a lot more gay, bisexual, non-monogamous, etc. characters in movies, TV, and novels not because of a desire to represent those people, or whatever, though that desire may exist, but because of all the new and interesting plotlines and situations those orientations / interests / proclivities open up. Many writers are at their base pragmatists. They (or we) will use whatever material is available and, ideally, hasn’t been done before. As far as I know, a gay man marrying a lesbian and having two kids together, then raising them side-by-side, hasn’t been done and offers lots of material.

Speaking of laughter, this last sentence got me:

Still, admitting that you’re obsessed with beans is a little like saying you collect decorative plates. It marks your taste as untrustworthy. I’ve seen the reaction often enough in my family: the eye roll and stifled cough, the muttered aside as I show yet another guest the wonders of my well-lit and cleverly organized bean closet. As my daughter Evangeline put it one night, a bit melodramatically, when I served beans for the third time in a week, “Lord, why couldn’t it have been bacon or chocolate?”

If the bean club were still open, I’d subscribe. (This will make sense in the context of the article.)

Links: Sci-fi and the future, the future of clothing, the scientific paper, the disappearing doctor, and more!

* How science fiction feeds the fuel solutions of the future.

* The Future of Clothing Isn’t in Tatters. See also the book Junkyard Planet, which is amazingly good.

* “Belief in College Has Become Religious,” though not by me, unless exposure has made me the equivalent of an atheist.

* How the humble bicycle can save our cities. Oddly, it never mentions ebikes. Also, Electric bike purchases pulling people from private cars, finds NITC study. This should be obvious to anyone who’s ever ridden an electric bike. Propella makes a $1,000 ebike that looks pretty good.

* “The scientific paper is obsolete,” a much more thorough and interesting treatment than is implied by the title.

* Politics vs aesthetics: on James Wood. Wood is awesome and not everything has to be political everywhere, all the time. Aesthetics endure much better than politics.

* The Disappearing Doctor: How Mega-Mergers Are Changing the Business of Medical Care

* A New Study Shows How American Polarization Is Driven by a Team Sport Mentality, Not by Disagreement on Issues. Seems pretty obvious to me; just try asking people who are superficially political how the federal budget is divided up. Their answers are likely to be revealing. And, to use a Jonathan Haidt point, why should opinions on, say, abortion, be correlated with opinions on taxes? The two issues seem totally separate.

* “Why ‘The China Hustle’ is a finance documentary all U.S. investors need to see.” I can’t attest to the veracity of this one, but it at least seems plausible.

* Why bother observing inconsistencies?

Links: GMO research, the outrage machine, common fallacies, scientists and movies, and more!

* Why one scientist is quitting GMO research, since he’s exhausted by the relentlessly negative response. Yet it appears that GMOs are a net improvement by many metrics. We are trending towards ten billion people and need to feed them.

* “Why the Outrage?: Cambridge Analytica,” one of the very few intelligent pieces I’ve seen. In response to Internet outrage, I say: Facebook will change when people stop using it. The measurable response to outrage about Facebook since its inception has been near zero: more people use Facebook and use it longer, quarter after quarter. Look for revealed preferences. See also “Facebook is America’s scapegoat du jour.”

* Speaking of scapegoats and falsehoods, “Preventive care doesn’t save money and bankruptcies aren’t widely caused by lack of insurance. Which is not what many of us, including me, intuitively expect, but there you have it. So what is really going on?

* “‘Christianity as default is gone’: the rise of a non-Christian Europe.”

* The Last Conversation You’ll Ever Need to Have About Eating Right.

* “Why do so many scientists want to be filmmakers?” Is the inverse true too?

* “Ways To Live A Full Life (And Leave Nothing On The Table) By Age 30;” I’m not convinced by numbers 5, 10, 14, 26, 28, or 29, but that’s not too surprising in any list of 40 life-knowledge things.

* “Universities balk at the tyranny of anonymous feedback: Lecturers feel pilloried by student comments that show bias and can blight careers.” Old news, new wrapper. Still, many university types seem to like anonymous feedback (also known as gossip) in other domains.

* Things Russ Roberts learned from Jordan B. Peterson.

* “Scientists say we’re on the cusp of a carbon dioxide–recycling revolution.” Great news if true.

* “Is This the Hardest Course in the Humanities?” I’m not surprised that most humanities courses are suffering for enrollments.

* “On Harold Bloom’s new book on Shakespeare’s King Lear,” a much more interesting piece than the title may make you think.

Links: Book reviews, is learning unpleasant?, the decline of religion, the “Asian squat,” and more!

* “What’s the point of book reviews? The problem with literary criticism in the digital age.” I read reviews but write fewer than I once did.

* Contra to the link in this post, maybe there is a campus free speech crisis.

* And Then There Were Nones: How Millennials’ Flight From Religion is Transforming American Politics.

* “Why Can’t Everyone Do the ‘Asian Squat’?” I’ve been engaged in a multi-year odyssey in an attempt to be able to reliably, regularly perform weightlifting squats, and the attempt has been revealing. Being able to perform standard weightlifting squats seemed like it would be easy, but in actuality it’s been one of these activities that first appears to be as simple as walking across the street yet turns out to be a trek across the country.

* “Why Earth’s History Appears So Miraculous.” Scary, but also important. See also The Three-Body Problem.

* People are using old laptop batteries to build their own versions of Tesla’s Powerwall, which is very cool but also very dangerous. “Don’t do this at home” is actually great advice here.

* “American Adults Just Keep Getting Fatter.”

* “India Is Moving Towards Minoritarian Dystopia, One Community At A Time,” which may be most interesting for its implications outside of India.

* The World of Crime and Punishment,” which makes me want to read it. When I tried reading it when I was younger, Raskolnikov seemed too ridiculous, illogical, and just nuts. Now I have a lot more context for how common those conditions are.

* Is it the case that “The Democrats have become the party of sexual morality?” And other interesting observations about political parties and political history.

* “The Bitter Truth of Learning: it’s Tough, Unpleasant, and Often Pointless.” An underrated point. See also The Case Against Education.

Links: Political correctness, Twitter trolls, Wodehouse, Updike, and more!

* “Everything we think about the political correctness debate is wrong: Support for free speech is rising, and is higher among liberals and college graduates.” Good news overall, but it does still seem like there’s some tyranny of the minority going on.

* “How the baby boomers — not millennials — screwed America.”

* Who else will like marijuana legalization? Economists.

* “For Stormy Daniels, swatting away Twitter trolls is a work of art.” From the WaPo and thus likely SFW.

* “The Decline of ‘Big Soda:’ The drop in soda consumption represents the single largest change in the American diet in the last decade.” Great news!

* P.G. Wodehouse: Frivolous, Empty, and Perfectly Delightful.

* A long explanation by an Evangelical of why Evangelicals swing for Trump, despite the obvious ways he doesn’t fit their professed narrative(s). The intellectual and psychological contortions are… impressive. See also this interview with the author.

* Why bikes are booming in DC. If you build it they will ride.

* “A defense of big business.” Size is actually underrated, at least politically and in signaling terms.

* Person on Reddit offers theory about why men go to strip clubs; it’s all text and thus likely SFW. There is a poorly written book, G-Strings and Sympathy, also on this topic (books that cite Jean Baudrillard are likely to be bad). Nonetheless, it observes that attention in an almost therapeutic way is often on the menu as much or more than what one typically imagines is on the menu. If this topic interests you that is likely to be the right book.

* John Updike, remote and noble mentor.

* “The ‘Butter-Chicken Lady’ Who Made Indian Cooks Love the Instant Pot.” Making Indian food at home is underrated.

Links: James Wood stopped slaying?, bisexuals on TV?, status changes, no more hugging, and more!

* James Wood is not slaying writers anymore? Tragic.

* “Why Are There So Many Bisexuals on TV All of a Sudden?” My guess is that the sheer quantity of TV and stories on TV have forced or at least encouraged the change (if it is a real change; is the proportion the same?). The romantic travails of straight people have been discussed by TV and other narrative art for decades (or, in the case of novels, centuries), so where do you go for fresh stories with new and possibly different implications?

* “Further Understanding Incivility in the Workplace: The Effects of Gender, Agency, and Communion,” with some rather un-PC but possibly accurate conclusions.

* “The Rich Have Abandoned Rich-People Rugs,” although it’s hard for me to understand why these might have been popular in the first place.

* “Secret NYPD Files: Officers Can Lie And Brutally Beat People — And Still Keep Their Jobs: Internal NYPD files show that hundreds of officers who committed the most serious offenses — from lying to grand juries to physically attacking innocent people — got to keep their jobs, their pensions, and their tremendous power over New Yorkers’ lives.” It’s worse than you think.

* On Henry Green, who figures prominently in How Fiction Works and Reading Like a Writer.

* “You Can’t Have Denmark Without Danes,” amusing throughout.

* “Two sex memoirs remind us that one woman’s degrading encounter can be another’s delirium of abandon,” an essay in part about Slutever, but it misses the tone of the book and doesn’t impart the flavor of the text.

* “Literature Shrugged;” despite all the noise it endures, every time a person picks up the right book.

* “No hugging: are we living through a crisis of touch?” Likely.

* “The First Porn President,” from Maureen Dowd and thus likely SFW. This may also be a kind of “Only Nixon can go to China” thing: the right would skewer anyone on the left with similar practices, but the left is less willing to use the same kind of demonization tactics in this particular domain.

Links: Barnes & Noble’s mismanagement, movies, bikes, reading, Jordan Peterson, and more!

* The entirely unnecessary demise of Barnes & Noble.

* “Brown Stares Down the Censors: When speech is protected, debate replaces mayhem.” Good. The University of Chicago has made similar moves.

* “Fifty Shades Freed Is Memento With Butt Plugs,” a hilarious review.

* Why can’t riding bikes in America just be normal?

* China’s great leap forward in science. Good news if true.

* Writer, reader: “I have forgotten how to read.” And many will likely never know what reading is.

* “The Importance of Taleb’s System: The Fourth Quadrant to the Skin in the Game.”

* “What’s happening to authors’ earnings? Surveying the surveys.” Basically, don’t try to make an adult income from writing books because you likely won’t. The final subhead is titled “Falling off a cliff,” and that qualifies as burying the lead.

* Amusing ways people found this blog: searching for “sex with coase” (as in Ronald Coase? The economist?) and “ticker max biok mate, reviews,” which may signal something about the quality of the person searching. Or they could just be typos.

* Are book reviews now too positive?

* Jordan Peterson’s gospel of masculinity.

* Why Do We Sleep Under Blankets, Even on the Hottest Nights?

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