Wednesday, August 10, 2022

The Long Answer

Amsterdam, Weighing House.

Can you be there?

The short answer: maybe.

The long answer: In the year 1693 a guild of Dutch bankers and wealthy landowners, led by Johan Venthaagen, had determined a large investment in seaworthy vessels would ensure the supply of spices such as pepper and cinnamon from what we now call Indonesia. It became clear that such an investment would require a multi-component authentication system consisting of a wax seal and a porcelain copy of an account holder's tooth of their choosing, to be stored in separate locations obviously for integrity and security reasons…

Am I losing your attention? Of course I am. See? No one wants an intelligent, nuanced answer with historical context anymore!

For the fully nuanced long answer just subscribe to the six-part podcast coming this summer, brought to you by Square. Square - when you want to pay for something without having to touch money or make eye contact with anybody. Come close without touching with Square.
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It seems everyone is in a rush for a stupidly simple and short answer to our most confounding problems. Some time ago I may have mentioned that an hour today, is the same hour that we had in the past but it turns out that may not be so. Two days after I wrote that, it turns out the Earth had a day 1.59 milliseconds shorter than 24 hours; the shortest in recorded history. Generally speaking, the Earth is actually slowing down, which should mean our days are getting longer. It certainly feels that way if you've ever been on a "project refinement" call with 60 other people from work. Yet, due to our planet's wobbly spin, its rotation can sometimes change. Measuring a difference of less than two milliseconds over a 24-hour period seems a bit anal to me to begin with. Not to mention pointless. It's not like someone "stealing" 11 days off your year (read about the daft gits who must've been like the early version of Alex Jones, too stupid to even know how stupid they were). If you've ever wished you could get more done in a day, maybe a longer day is just the thing for you. On the other hand, if you're the kind of person who enjoys shortcuts, maybe a shorter day suits you. With yearly stories of a worsening climate crisis resulting in damnable cold, drought, floods, forest fires, land slides and exhausting heat waves, it feels like humanity is in a rush to get to the end and have this whole "existence" thing over with as soon as possible. I'm starting to think it is time to slow down. I've never really been a Luddite or someone who embraced any kind of Slow Food Movement (well, maybe some kinds of slow food movements), but I am starting to think you can't live in the moment and appreciate the "now" if you are trying to cram as much as humanly possible in your day, or week, or summer. Especially summer. I've been fighting the guilt of feeling I've let my summer slip by without getting out there and enjoying it. Though I have to admit, I couldn't get out there and enjoy anything in the heat we've had in the last few weeks.

Rather than doing more, let's do less, do it better and enjoy it more. Instead of worrying about only living once, make the most of that one life. With every time-saving innovation we come up with, we never really end up saving any time but wind up trying to do more in the time we supposedly saved. Even before Nike compelled us to "Do it." like some kind of production target, we've been striving to do more. I say do less, and more of it. Do more of less. I suppose that doesn't make sense. By less, I really mean the slowing down of life. I'm so tired of running to keep up or rushing to meet people on time. Can't I just do less work, less cleaning up, less rushing somewhere and just more lazing around, getting somewhere when I get there. So much of my life is scheduled into 30 or 60-minute chunks that it simply chips away at the days you'd rather being doing something else. We don't live in some kind of quantum superposition where we can be in multiple states at once. Let's just focus on one thing and enjoy it, whether it's a meal, a movie, a book or a bike ride. I know we love measuring things (I count myself as someone slightly obsessed with the what is sometimes called the Connected Self, wherein one compiles data on the minutia of everyday life), but for once let's put down the measuring tape, the watch, the camera and be in the life you're living rather than worrying about the life that might pass you by.


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