Weekend Reading LV
This week, I have chosen to give the following articles some ‘LV’ and attention:
The White Ghetto
I’ve recently been watching Benefits Street, which paints a picture of the UK, urban version.
I get it: Advising friends to go down to the county building to sign up for imaginary welfare programs is Jimmy’s personal entertainment. He’s too old for World of Warcraft and too drunk for the Shoutin’ Happy Mission Ministry.
How the World gets its Caffeine Fix
I wonder will future generations fight caffeine the way we fight tobacco? I also notice that Irish people seem to drink a lot of caffeine when you combine our rankings in tea, coffee and soft drinks.
The Dutch consume the most, at 414 mg per day. As a reference point, a cup of McDonald’s brewed coffee has 100 mg of caffeine. The next three top caffeine junkies are the Swedes, Norwegians, and Danes. Americans consume 168 mg of coffee daily, which puts them outside the top 15.
You Have to Play This 1,600-Year-Old Viking War Game
I think his premise is flawed, or at least misses the point in a classic cold-war way. It’s not about identifying what sport might be the common metaphor, because it might not be sport. Soccer doesn’t lead itself to translating strategic terms nearly as well as American football.
“Hnefatafl seems to teach a number of lessons to young Viking warriors,” Wheaton explains. “For example, it takes two soldiers to ‘kill’ an enemy (elementary battle tactics?), the king is the most important piece on the board (reinforcing the social order?), and, surrounded and cut off, it is easier (in novice games) for the smaller force to win (morale booster?). Someone analyzing the Vikings might learn a good bit about how they fight and what they value (and what they fear) by playing this game.”
With 3d food printing, the idea of highly customised food on-demand from boxes could be cool. ‘make me a burrito, but healthy, and shaped like the Guggenheim’.
Several of the fast-food bot-makers also emphasize that their devices can serve more consumers per hour than mere humans could. So these boxy bots could find a place at outdoor festivals. With the number of foods on offer, food-prep robots are also well positioned to wipe out the entire food court at the local mall.
I can totally get behind this. Bread is a food stuff that can be elevated with craft beyond all recognition. Adding the right butter could make a really different taste experience. I think the simplicity in the ingredients can make it especially hard to get right.
All the guy was doing was slicing inch-thick pieces of bread, putting them in a toaster, and spreading stuff on them. But what made me stare—blinking to attention in the middle of a workday morning as I waited in line at an unfamiliar cafe?—was the way he did it. He had the solemn intensity of a Ping-Pong player who keeps his game very close to the table: knees slightly bent, wrist flicking the butter knife back and forth, eyes suggesting a kind of flow state.
Young, Rich, Free and Homeless
I have no idea how true this is, but it seems quite an amazing life. I can’t imagine doing it myself, I am just not wired that way.
“It carries everything I own,” he said.
I found that very interesting: here’s someone who could afford anything—a home, fancy furniture, all kinds of stuff—and he travels around with a metal trunk and a few personal items. I remember catching, for the first time in my life, the intoxicating whiff of a life not tied down by stuff, of not owning anything, and of how incredibly liberating that could be. I thought about how, much like Mary Meeker’s observation that we are becoming a collaborative consumption environment, the future might not be about owning more things, but owning fewer things. Think about how we live today: