travel advice, fake wine & emissions per capita
CC#50 - Passive Pasta Cooking, Surviving without a Parachute & Layoffs in the Tech World
Hey there and welcome to ✨ CuratedCuriosity - a bi-weekly newsletter delivering inspiration from all over the internet to the notoriously curious.
Things I Enjoyed Reading.
There is different approaches to traveling - which one you should choose depends on what you want to get out of it. If you aim to get a thorough understanding of ‘how people live’ in a specific region, this guide might provide some helpful ideas for planning your next adventures.
I travel to get an idea of how other people live. To inhabit, in a small way, their tiny slice of the world. To meet people on their terms, the best that I can. On a level that allows me to better understand how they see the universe and their place in it. Like reading fiction, travel is a gateway into another life. But it’s better than fiction, because the plot is written in real time, by the characters themselves, and it never ends.
And like good fiction, travel changes you. For the better. Mostly.
It’s like taking a hallucinogenic drug, without all the bad stuff, like it being illegal and maybe killing you. You come back from the “trip” with a different perspective. A different sense of who you are, and why we’re all here.
This is my attempt to answer the questions I’ve gotten about the mechanics of how I travel. From the larger things, like where to go, to the smaller things, like how to pack.
How good can non-experts distinguish between different types of wine? Is it really worth spending that extra XX$ to buy the better wine brand?
Your classiest friend invites you to dinner. They take out a bottle of Chardonnay that costs more than your last vacation and pour each of you a drink. They sip from their glass. “Ah,” they say. “1973. An excellent vintage. Notes of avocado, gingko and strontium.” You’re not sure what to do. You mumble something about how you can really taste the strontium. But internally, you wonder: Is wine fake? (…) But I recently watched the documentary Somm, about expert wine-tasters trying to pass the Master Sommelier examination. As part of their test, they have to blind-taste six wines and, for each, identify the grape variety, the year it was produced, and tasting notes (e.g., “aged orange peel” or “hints of berry”). Then they need to identify where the wine was grown: certainly in broad categories like country or region, but ideally down to the particular vineyard. Most candidates — 92% — fail the examination. But some pass. And the criteria are so strict that random guessing alone can’t explain the few successes.
🏭 Why "per capita emissions" is a bad frame for the climate debate
We all know that we need to reduce CO2 emissions (fast). What role (if any at all) does/should individual lifestyle changes play in this?
You can see the idea of climate-change-as-individual-sin in the way that some activists focus relentlessly on lifestyles. The charity Oxfam created a viral chart purporting to show that most climate change is caused by the “lifestyle consumption emissions” of the world’s richest people. Like many Oxfam statistics, this was bunk, but its popularity shows that there’s an appetite for the idea that we could solve climate change if only rich gluttonous Americans would stop driving their giant SUVs and whatnot. There was a time a few years ago when some climate activists on Twitter would mob and shame random people who admitted to using air travel.
Needless to say, this did not work. But more fundamentally, personal voluntary lifestyle consumption changes are simply not going to be a big part of the solution to climate change. One reason is the free rider problem — people who piously avoid air travel and cars and eat locally grown vegan diets etc. etc. will curb their own consumption, but this will make airfares and gasoline and beef cheaper for those who don’t care about climate change, and they will consume more, which will cancel out some substantial portion of the benefit. Another reason is that even the most climate-conscious people are, in general, willing to forego only a modest fraction of their consumption, whereas solving climate change requires rapid deep decarbonization of the entire global economy. A third reason is that countries that emit most of the world’s carbon — from China to the super-high per capita emitters of the Middle East — are also unlikely to adopt the kind of lifestyle changes pushed by Western liberals.
Food for Thought.
🍝 Considering all the research on what is known as moral licensing as well as what is discussed in the above mentioned article on per capita emissions - I think that this initiative by Barilla to push for passive, climate-friendly cooking might actually be having a net negative effect on climate. If you are interested in more discussions on this, go here.
🖥 Hard times for the tech industry. Curious to see which companies will come out of this phase without a significant reduction in their staff - my bet is that those will be high performing in the upcoming years.
🎙 Considering how much (subjectively perceived) attention Dalle, Midjourney and Stable Diffusion got, I heard relatively little about the release of OpenAI’s Whisper - an open source speech recognition model. However, it seems to me that it offers a lot of opportunities to do cool stuff - like creating a fully automated personal dashboard based on always-on microphones.
🪂 Maybe James Bond movies are not that unrealistic after all? Definitely, would not have guessed that this number is so high.
🚶This means if you walk while eating crisps, you can eat about half a crisp every minute if you want to stay in steady state. Just in case anyone wondered about this.
I will be speaking at the Data Beers Copenhagen Event this Wednesday, 30th of November. There will be some way cooler people than me presenting interesting things about data and there will be free beer - so grab one of the free tickets if you are around CPH 🍻
Also I trained Stable Diffusion on 20 pictures of myself. It worked surprisingly well. I have to admit, some outcomes where really awful but most of them were pretty decent. What do you think? If you want to do the same - take a look at this notebook and youtube tutorial (estimated active time needed: 20min, passive time (i.e. training time): ~1h)