I was on AIM for a while a couple of days ago, talking with my brother about cell phone plans. At some point someone who wasn’t on my buddy list tried to send me an IM (I guess) and since AIM doesn’t have the greatest UI, the window that popped up asking whether I’d like to accept the message grabbed focus while I was typing a message to my brother. Of course, since I was typing so fast, I happened to hit ‘n’ and reject the request even before I could see who it was!
So first, if you’re that person — sorry! Send me an email or IM sometime and I promise I’ll accept :).
More interestingly, I thought a bit about why I felt so bad about it. You know the kind of person who hardly checks email, and when the phone rings waits for someone else to get it? Well, I’m definitely not that kind of person. I check email 5123145 times a day, answer the phone as soon as I can, and want to check snail mail every day just in case something is for me. Somehow I’m eager for contact. Maybe this makes me more accessible but less interesting. Or not. Who knows. Email me about it! (Just kidding.)
You know how everyone kind of figures that the elevator “close door” button doesn’t really do anything, but hits it anyway, just in case? Well I want some concrete evidence about this. In the past week I’ve been observing the time-to-close figure as I ride the elevator in a variety of circumstances, and I’m quite confident that yes, the “close door” button does nothing at all. Now I can safely avoid pushing it and getting irritated because it doesn’t seem to work. Score.
Anyway, if you live or work in a building with an elevator and get the chance, try to figure out whether the button does anything for you. Maybe it’s a nationwide scam! The most widespread placebo out there! This is the kind of scandal that could make headlines, at least in the imaginary tabloid in my mind. Seriously, I’d be interested to hear about any findings!
If you think about all the people you’ve known, it’s kind of crazy to recall the last time you’ve seen them, and try to guess at whether it’s the last time you’ll ever see them. (Hopefully most of them are still alive, and you probably are too, so there’s still a chance…)
I’ve been amazed at the people I was sure I’d never see again who keep turning up, and at others about whom I’ve experience the opposite. This latter category is the most distressing, of course: people whom you’re sure you’re going to see again, but who just disappear like that, leaving you mentally unprepared.
I wonder how our lives and interactions would change if we knew upon the last meeting that it was in fact the end. No more optimistic “see you later” or “keep in touch” — but also a chance to say things that you were unable to say before, for fear of embarrassment or some other unpleasant feeling in future interactions. It might be a very cathartic experience.
I’ve always been annoyed at the the “small-state-bias” of the Senate — since each state has two senators, people living in less populous states have a disproportionate amount of power. The 500,000 people from Wyoming can negate the 34 million people from California. Manu’s friend Keunwoo quantified this very nicely in his blog [the entry]:
Second, defenders of disproportionate representation might say that giving a modest boost to the rights of states does little harm and much good. Let’s see how the Senate looks in practice. Did you know that the 26 less populated states have roughly 20% of the population? That’s right: on the floor of the Senate, 20% of Americans can dictate law to the other 80% of Americans.
20%! That’s insane. I did some further counting, and it turns out that the Red states outnumber the Blue 19-7 in that 26 state bloc. Terrific.
Of course, this bias also weighs in on presidential elections, as we saw in 2000…. just some food for thought here.
Last item… the other day I was talking with some friends about art, and how I found it interesting that we take for granted that the process by which a piece of art (of any form) is created should be intrinsically factored into the valuation of the artwork as a whole. That is, the harder it is to do something, the more respect we give it.
You might argue that art should be valued of itself only, and that the process should be appreciated strictly independently. For instance, if you hear a saxophone solo, you should appreciate it only on the basis of how good it sounds, and totally ignore (for the sake of the quality of the solo) how hard it is to play. Or if you see a sculpture, even if it’s been painstakingly assembled by hand from a million toothpicks, you should judge it based on the finished product only, not on how it was made. Why should difficulty have anything to do with it? If it’s beautiful, it’s beautiful. Why should we fault the guy who finds an easier way of creating something of equal beauty? For instance, if someone uses a machine to assemble a million toothpicks into an identical sculpture, why should we value that sculpture, indistinguishable at face value, any less?
In fact, for a while I thought that the reason that I and many other people factor it in is that we take an intellectual approach to the art in the context of its chosen form (as we do with most things, given our analytical minds), and then just accidentally conflate the art with the process at the end.
But the more I think about it, I’m not so sure. Last year, I saw a Gerhard Richter exhibit at the SF MOMA (and wrote about it in one of my earliest entries). Richter paints amazingly realistic pictures, so perfect that from more than a few feet away they look like photographs. Now, by the above theory, if that’s the way they look, then they really should be evaluated no differently from, say, actual photographs that look the same. However, even though I was intellectually aware of this fact, I found this kind of evaluation impossible to do. The beauty of the painting was absolutely tied to the process.
So I don’t know what to think. Is art valid as a reflection of process? You’d think that it would be cool to strive for a kind of timelessness in your artwork, creating pieces that could be appreciated out of context, literally as they exist alone. A part of me feels that it is cheap to do it any other way. But what do I know?
(I’m sure art theorists have written hundreds of books about this subject, but I’m not about to start wading through them. I’d rather form my own bogus opinions than steal someone else’s, thankyouverymuch ;).