Archive - 2015

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"The Nightmare Before Christmas," and some kind of Star Wars movie

The new Star Wars (Episode VII: The Force Awakens) needs no review from me, but I might as well get a few things on the record: it's the best Star Wars movie in 30 years, and it's about nothing, and it's probably good enough.

I read a claim in the last few days that at least The Phantom Menace had a coherent argument, however bad it was, but I'll suggest that when a poleconomic theory is as bad as the one expressed in TPM, it's better to have no argument at all. TFA is the best fanfic ever put on a big screen, which is its blessing and curse. It won't have its long-term reputation made until we see if it sets up interesting subsequent movies.

To be sure, I don't regret seeing it in the theatre one bit, and I'll watch it again on my TV at some point, but "Mad Max: Fury Road" was in almost all ways a better action movie.

Tour de France jersey protocol, a small but interesting minor detail

So, you all know about the Four jersey competitions in the Tour de France right?

There's also a protocol for which jersey you wear if you're entitled to more than one of them, laid out on page 29 and 30 in Article 10 of the Tour de France rules (document is fun throughout for a certain kind of nerd). The rules are simple: the order of precedence is Yellow, Green (points race), Polka Dots (mountains competition), White (best young rider). If a rider is entitled to two jerseys, he wears the most senior jersey, and the second-place rider in that competition wears the jersey.

On the last day of the 2015, the jersey assignments got weird.

An interesting thing about getting old

Sad cookie! "You don't like Indian food, do you?"

"No, I like it, it's just that you like it enough that I never feel the need to pick it."

That was the substance of a conversation between TLO and myself, not so long ago.

I'm in my early forties. And just in the last year or so, I've gone from craving novelty in many areas to being satisfied with old favourites.

This isn't a small thing, and it's most obvious with food.

And oh, why not, a review of "Debt" that's four years old

[This came up because a certain professor invited me to read Graeber's article "Debt: The first 5000 years". I had done so in 2011; the article was published in 2009. I think my critique from 2011 holds up, so I'm publishing it here, lightly edited. I hope you will all look forward to my upcoming article, "Decorative Gardening: The First 5000 Years"]:

It's an interesting take, but I think the author suffers from Moore-Klein Syndrome: find coincidences, name them correlations, assume causation. And while an anthropologist's analysis of debt could be fascinating, I think this one is burdened by being written by an anthropologist.

More particularly, he seems to ignore that the Slavery Question is whether anyone can be regarded as someone else's personal property, and that slavery doesn't generate shocking property institutions, but rather that those institutions are shocking when used on a person.

Recent events in Greece, explained by an ignoramus

Let's lay out my credentials up front: I have few. I'm not an economist, or good at monetary theory, international finance, or Greece. I married into a Greek family, and I've spent numerous vacations there in the last 15 years. I don't really speak the language. Therefore, you can ignore me, if that saves time.

So what just happened?

Let's talk about some reference materials, in particular this interview of Piketty, (published in German, so we're trusting this translation and the second-hand analysis to some degree) regarding Greece.

Thinking hard about action movies: "Mad Max: Fury Road"

The Fritter Diaries: Mennonite Fritters

The Fritter Diaries, Day 1

We're in search of the perfect apple fritter. This is the first try.

With the permission of my Mennonite friend Johnny Sunshine, I have culturally appropriated honoured the recipe of his people, so let's examine the result.

This is an apple-heavy, pan-fried recipe. The dough rising is powered by baking powder.

Should you buy an electric car? Wired Cola investigates

Someone was wrong on the Internet the other day, and I was determined to fix that. The question at hand was "why don't cargo ships run on electricity?" And short answer is: because they can't.

But that led to some questions about the economics of electric cars, right here, right now. Because in the midst of trying to prove that EVs were still a non-economic choice, I ran the numbers, and it turns out I'm right! But only barely.