I've got some momentum at the moment, so let's take advantage of it!
This one is maybe a little drier - we're getting clear on some vocabulary and notation, and doing a few short computations.
I'm giving a final exam right now, and I'm bored, so I thought it might be fun to try my hand at this.
That would be maybe the first week of a semester long Calculus class? I'm not sure how long I'll keep this up, but it's almost summer vacation and why not.
I read this article about the backwards mobility of this family, where the grandfather dies in debt and the parents are struggling in poverty.
There was Dave Sr.'s Army enlistment form, where he'd lied about his birth date to make himself a year older, so he could serve in Vietnam. There was his associate's degree in criminology, his police badge and a picture of him posing with his wife in front of a little red Mustang at their three-bedroom house, just before things began to unravel. That marriage had ended in divorce. Dave Sr. sank his half of their money into Detroit-area real estate, only to see values drop 82 percent from 2006 to 2008 in the Great Recession. He lost his house to foreclosure. His next wife became addicted to opioids and stole what little money he had left. He had his first heart surgery in 2010 and went thousands of dollars into medical debt. He moved in with his son and tried to redeem himself by opening a string of businesses, each more desperate and more leveraged than the last, until they seemed to Dave Jr. more like delusions. He was starting a photography business in the backyard. He was buying and reselling Tasers on the Internet. He was trying to make TikTok videos for a profit. He was hoarding the family's household items and hiding them in his room -- cellphone chargers, magnets, pencils and razors that Dave Jr. found now at the bottom of the cardboard boxes.
The article is good but depressing. But anyway, I was struck by the string of desperate ventures in the last few years of his life. How hustling requires desperation - "I need quick money and I don't see any path to get it" - but also an instinct of what will work. I'm remembering Trevor Noah's book, when he hasn't yet gone to college and is hustling on the streets, burning CDs and DVDs and selling them. It's not exactly a positive stage in his life, but he's full of energy and youth and it's okay for a while.
The point that jumps out at me is the difference between young hustling and old hustling. Young hustlers are still absorbing all the ways of the world and reading the situation, and figuring out how to play the game. Old people who try to start hustling are not absorbing much info about the world anymore and are just getting swindled left and right.
Have cons and swindling exploded in the past ten years? twenty years? Was there a period when it was more under control?
I've never had to hustle in the financial sense. The concept of it seems so stressful to me. If at all possible, I'd prefer to pare back expenses and stay at a lazy, routine job. I know the Millenials are all encouraged to turn their hobbies into a brand and sell it on Etsy and then supplement with TaskRabbit and dogwalking gigs, which is maybe cousin to hustling? The gig economy seems slightly more honest and consistent than trying to hustle, and maybe more steadily insecure? I don't know.
Also: even in the "get out of bed and get dressed and get out the door sense", I've always hated hustling. Can't I just dawdle?
Nick S. writes: A fascinating and often amusing description of life in the city:
At the end of March, policy differences were settled and the 'wrong thought' corrected. The Shanghai government announced its lockdown plan: east of Huangpu river for four days, then west of the river for four days, and PCR tests for the whole population (more than 25 million). Smart people realised that four days would only allow the government to estimate the real number of cases, so they stocked up for a much longer period. All the supermarkets were emptied overnight and the e-commerce system was overwhelmed. Because nearly all the couriers are in lockdown too, placing an order is no guarantee of receiving it. In just a few days, cases ballooned (at least 26,000 a day), leading to an inspection by vice-premier Sun Chunlan. Lockdown was extended and panic kicked in. Shanghai is ill-prepared to return to the planned economy without much of a plan. It has a population almost five times the size of Wuhan's, including many older people who live alone and don't know how to use a smart phone. Without public transportation and mobility, the city was paralysed. It's not hard to imagine how stressful this has all been for proud Shanghainese: the straight-A student has flopped the College Entrance Exam. Shanghai governance capability is considered one of the biggest black swan events of 2022, alongside Russia's invasion of Ukraine....
Some residents in high-rise compounds have been singing and protesting from their balconies, which leads to a visit from a drone, broadcasting with a hypnotic female voice: 'Please curb your enthusiasm for freedom. Singing could spread the virus so please don't sing.' The troublemakers who organised this civil disobedience campaign received a police reprimand. One man was told: 'You are so fat. Why don't you use this opportunity to lose some weight?' The man replied: 'You are fat-shaming me. It's not right.' Police: 'Fat-shaming my ass. This is an objective description of your physical characteristic. Since you are so full of energy, instead of inciting the community, why don't you volunteer to help and do some lifting?' Later the man was seen carrying water bottles to residents.
In Chinese, positive and negative test results are translated as yang and yin. Yang shares the same sound as the word for sheep, meaning that sheep have become the most disliked animals of all. All sheep sculptures in public spaces have been covered with black plastic bags. Small talk has changed from 'have you eaten?' to 'how many sheep are in your building today?' The strangest thing about this phase of Covid control has been the discrepancy between the results given by staff at Disease Control and the app that gives you your PCR results. Many people have received calls from Disease Control saying they are positive even though the app results are negative. This has led to verbal and even physical fights as police ask the 'sheep' to join the 'quarantine herd' and the 'sheep' bleats back, citing the app. Finally, the government decided to use another app for mass testing, but it crashed on the first day and had scanning problems on the second.
Heebie's take: I loved this. It's such a light touch without diminishing the serious parts of it.
Does your toddler need an NFT? Zigazoo says yes. The app's mission is to "empower kids to shape the very landscape and infrastructure of NFTs and Web3," to help them "express themselves through art and practice essential financial literacy skills" and to allow them to grow into "tomorrow's digital citizens." As Rebecca Jennings recently reported in Vox, efforts to usher children into the worlds of cryptocurrency, NFTs and blockchain technology are being pitched as "preparing future workers for lucrative jobs in tech." Traditional children's entertainment has long angled at extracting maximum cash from its little consumers (soon Pixar will release a gritty origin film featuring the "Toy Story" character Buzz Lightyear), but the slick language suggesting that kids should spend money to make money feels new. Platforms like Zigazoo are building a hype bubble for children and pitching it as a creative outlet, an educational opportunity, even a civic duty to join in.
I try not to be a fuddy-duddy Luddite, but this is definitely a sign of the End Times. Or at least it should be.
Heebie's take: Why do articles like this make me feel so exhausted?
Also this appears to be real:
(soon Pixar will release a gritty origin film featuring the "Toy Story" character Buzz Lightyear)
I just learned that Jude Law has six kids by four women. Amazing. 90s-era NBA player levels of scampery and procreation.
And reading a bit more, it's possible he's the most famous actor whose movies I haven't seen (probably forgetting one or two...). This seems like a category.
Moby Hick writes: I'm probably just marking myself as disconnected from the common people, but:
1. The instrumental section of "Blues Skies and High Tides Forever" isn't remotely good enough to justify how long it lasts.
2. I'm wondering if most of the fear of "inflation" isn't people making $40/hour worried about relative loss of status if people making $10/hour start making $20/hour. The complaints seem all out of proportion to the price increases (unless you rent, but that's not common with a middle class income here).
Heebie's take: I've actually become less cynical and more sympathetic to inflation-anxiety lately, given how much of the US is financially precarious. If gas and groceries are the majority of your spending after rent or mortgage, you're getting significantly less than you did a year ago.
Green Grass and High Tides? I recognized the chorus, and I bet I found it beautiful and haunting in an Emerson, Lake & Palmer kind of way when I was a teenager, but it sure is unmemorable to me now.
Nick S. writes: I have a theory that I'm mulling over. The first part fairly unobjectionable, the second more speculative*. First, I think the "emotional intelligence" people are correct that the world is changing and that the ability to work well with others and be part of a flexible adaptable team is becoming more valuable, and the ability to accomplish tasks alone is becoming less valuable, and a more difficult way to achieve success.
The more speculative part is that I wonder if this is part of what adds fuel to the disputes about, for lack of a better term, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Not only does this add to the feeling of a loss of privilege for a certain segment of the population -- people who are not good at working with a broad spectrum of people and who haven't been required to -- it increases the importance of social belonging.
If society and the job market reward individual initiative and problem solving then it is often helpful for personal advancement to ignore or minimize discrimination. But the ability to do one's job requires communicating with many people (inside and outside of an organization) and being able to trust that they will pay attention, get back to you, and respond truthfully, then it's much harder (and less useful) to ignore the effects of discrimination.
* I should note that I'm not speaking based on my own experience. I'm a white man who is a deeply introverted person who works for a company with a single-digit number of employees who is very happy if I can spend all day in my office working alone.
Heebie's take: I'm trying to think about which jobs are disappearing that were low-collaboration and which jobs are showing up that are high-collaboration. Or the ways in which an occupation might be migrating from less to more collaborative over time.
My first thought is that it has always required a higher emotional intelligence to be at the bottom of the chain of power than at the top. Reading your boss, anticipating their mood, and smoothing their path is a whole lot of anticipatory frame of mind planning, especially if your boss is a bit of a shithead.
So I do think this is cousin to DEI conversations. Anxiety around DEI is about who loses power when everyone sits at the table. The people who have been previously excluded are gently saying, "Can we work on your ability not to treat us like shit anymore?" and the people with the cultural heritage of power are spazzing out over it.
Here's where I slightly disagree: I don't think it's about collaboration exactly. It's about power and loss of relative power, and having to replace that with collaboration. So while collaboration may be the new framework, it's much more of an ego crisis than just being required to do groupwork for the first time since high school.
This is intended to be our system for checking in on imaginary friends, so that we know whether or not to be concerned if you go offline for a while. There is no way it could function as that sentence implies, but it's still nice to have a thread.
Episode Kobe twenty three