Your Biggest Control Over Comfort: Changing What ‘Comfort’ Means to You

In “The Collapse Will Not be Like the Thunderdome,” Sharon Astyk says that in collapse, “You aren’t going to be able to live in relative comfort, or if you are, it will because you changed your definition of comfort.”

That last line stuck with me: change your definition of comfort.

There are hard limits to what we can accept as ‘comfort.’ When we die, we can’t feel anything, let alone comfortable. Wet-bulb temperatures beyond above 35 C cannot be comfortable. It’s not clear that mammals can survive wet-bulb temperatures above 35 C long-term.

And yet, it’s possible to change one’s definition of ‘comfort’ within the range of wet-bulb temperatures which allow humans to stay healthy.

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I’d Love to Read a Good Duryodhana Novel

Recently, I quit reading Ajaya: Epic of the Kaurava Clan by Anand Neelakantan. I felt bad about it because I want to read a version of the Mahabharata told from Duryodhana’s point of view (I know, there’s that Bhasa play, I plan to read that). The introduction got me pumped up because Neelakantan shared his inspiration for writing about Duryodhana. Alas, the writing style for the novel itself just ain’t for me.

In the Mahabharata, Duryodhana is my favorite character. He’s the one who acts the most like a real person. That includes some shitty decisions. And for all that, he is the main villain, he just… doesn’t come across as evil. I found it easier to relate to him than to the ‘heroes.’

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People Outside San Francisco Care More About the Boudin Recall Than Residents

A bunch of media outlets are blabbering about the Chesa Boudin recall and what it means for San Francisco. I run into references in online interactions with people from outside the city… sigh.

San Francisco residents care so much about Boudin that we had a lower-than-normal voter turnout. Despite a governor race AND a US Senator race on the ballot (to be fair, everyone knew who was going to win those elections). The election we had earlier this year, which was basically just the recall for three school board members, had a higher turnout, lol.

For what it’s worth, I voted no on the recall, not because I support Boudin (I didn’t vote for him in the first place, and I’m not sorry to see him go) but because I dislike the recall campaign. The claims that this will drastically lower crime rates in San Francisco are bogus. Property crime was common in San Francisco before Boudin came into office, and the causes for our high property crime rate aren’t going away when he leaves office. He’s a scapegoat.

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Mass Literacy Can Be Lost in a Generation

I can’t remember a time I didn’t know how to read English. That makes it easy for me to take reading for granted. Learning to read Chinese as an adult helps me appreciate the process of becoming literacy… but it’s not the same. I already had the ‘neurological wiring’ for literacy before I learned Chinese.

I tutor a child in reading. Getting someone from ‘illiterate’ to ‘literate’ requires a ton of steps. English requires more steps to literacy than most European languages with our irregular spelling system.

Recently, I skimmed Reading in the Brain by Stanislas Deheane. Much of it made sense given my experiences. It details the neuroscience (as of 2009, I’m sure it’s dated) of reading. It gets complicated. Humans didn’t evolve to read text, so the brain has to repurpose visual processing ability to read. We have ‘shortcuts’ for recognizing certain shapes, such as a curve which marks something as a hill, or a line which marks a horizon. By recognizing specific types of lines, we can identify certain things in our natural environment faster. The lines we can use for rapid identification are the same types of lines used in every writing system. Without that specific visual-processing ability, reading would be impossible.

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