Tuesday, January 6, 2015
Sunday, November 24, 2013
All of the women in Stardust are either evil witches or easy fantasy girlfriends. None of them have any character at all; they are just cardboard villains for the hero to fight or they fall in love with men for no reason at all while being completely useless. At least Marion managed to machine-gun some Nazis while Indy was getting beaten up by the mechanic, and almost tricked her way out of captivity, but the star girl in Stardust does absolutely nothing interesting or heroic.
There is a media analysis tool known as the Bechdel Test. To pass the test:
- It has to have at least two women in it,
- who talk to each other,
- about something besides a man.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Last week, Tyler Cowen posted a link to the following article, and gave the link the title "Markets in Everything: educate your nanny". It describes people hiring professional chefs to teach their nannies how to cook better food for their children:
> Founded by two veterans of the private-chef world ..., marc&mark teaches nannies of affluent parents how to prepare healthful, organic meals that don't come frozen or under plastic wrap. "Some of these nannies already do the cooking in the family, but they're throwing chicken fingers in the oven, or worse, the microwave — they're doing the bare minimum," Mr. Leandro said.
The article did not really surprise me or cause much reaction in me. My thoughts were a mix of "This is interesting.", "I am glad that more people are learning how to cook good food.", and "It is kind of sad that the average person in our culture is so bad at cooking that this is necessary."
But apparently a lot of people got offended by the article:
"Pundits across the spectrum were enraged this week by a consulting firm that teaches nannies to cook quinoa"
I would never have predicted that people would be upset about this, and I still do not really understand the reaction. A rich couple spends a good chunk of money to teach useful skills to their nanny, and people are reacting as if they had done something morally wrong.
This does not appear to be a case of envy. People do not seem to react as badly to other forms of conspicuous consumption, like living in big fancy houses in the best neighborhoods. I suppose that people are upset about the rich people ordering the nanny around and making her change. They seem to resent the 'abuse of power'.
But this makes no sense to me. The nanny was putting their child's health at risk by feeding the kid junk food. If people clearly do not know what they are doing, then you should teach them how to do things better. The only other alternative is to fire the unskilled person and try to hire someone better, which would be a lot worse for the people who do not know what they are doing.
The articles discussing the reaction to this news seem to assume that it is natural to be upset, and then go on to explain why people should not be upset. I need someone to explain to me exactly why people would get upset about this in the first place.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Longer New Yorker article
The amazing advancement of the standard of living in their countries has also become more real to me. A childhood once only available to the richest of the rich will now be the birthright of a substantial fraction of the world.
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
There were a lot of young teenagers and preteens there. Most of them were not carving actual pumpkins. They were carving styrofoam replicas of pumpkins. They were not using anything like a real tool; they were using cheap plastic things sold specifically for the purpose of carving these styrofoam pumpkins. And they were not using these to be creative or inventive; they were copying patterns from pre-printed pieces of paper that they had bought.
This difference in assumptions reflects the differences in what we consider to be impressive. As they saw me carve, they commented that I was like an artist. I have never gotten such a compliment before.
Monday, September 30, 2013
In general, medical care is both more dangerous and less effective than most people think. This new study is evidence that going to a hospital is more dangerous than we thought it was.
However, it does not mean that they 'kill' over 200,000 people. It does not even mean that all of those people would be alive today if they had done everything perfectly. It means that those people died, and somewhere in their medical records was a mistake that could have been bad. The number of people actually killed by these mistakes is likely to be a small percentage of the 210,000 to 440,000 guess. Even then, many of the mistakes were ones of omission, where the doctors missed something they should have caught. In such cases, staying away from medical care would clearly not have saved the life of the victim.
But still, if you do not really need advanced medical care, it is usually wise to stay away from hospitals.