The Apple Watch and Chores

There are two kinds of apocalypse. One is the question of survival in which one inevitably loses. Night of the Living Dead and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road are in this category. Here one attempts to survive, but fails. We see protagonists struggle against impossible odds that ultimately overwhelm them.

Another great discussion with Ryan Reeves. Topics include academic fads, hotels and traveling, doing voices and channeling Karl Barth, and the oddity of the "van Gogh effect."

The PBS special, Hamilton’s America (beyond what I guess should be called a donation-wall), is really remarkable in and of itself. You get glimpses of the show, interviews, and locations. Bbrief interviews range from President George W. Bush to Senator Elizabeth Warren, and there’s a great shot of Lin-Manuel Miranda looking up at Hamilton’s statue in Grand Central Park. Miranda, working with Ron Chernow’s magisterial biography, has revitalized Hamilton’s place in American history. He is no longer an outsider, but an insider.

Season 1 ended with a cliffhanger episode with our first guest, Jason Fout. How did things end? Find out with season 2, as we chat about the oddity that is the American Academy of Religion.

Marie Kondo’s approach to organization is, in many ways, very ancient, as it sees material things as a burden. She is deeply opposed to keeping things just for the sake of keeping them. To hang onto things, simply because we “might” want them someday, creates a burden in the psyche.

The New York Times has an article about the polarizing effect of new media. It's an argument that's been around for several years: we have lost a shared cultural television experience with the proliferation of cable and internet entertainment. Shows such as "All in the Family" and "Mash" were watched by nearly everyone in their time, but today people pick and choose and time-shift their entertainment. As thin as television can be (so the argument goes), at least in the old media days it was a shared experience and common cultural language.

Apple prides itself on making beautiful things. Few devices are as arresting as a MacBook, iPad, or iPhone on an empty table, caseless and cordless. The visual is striking and inviting. Apple wants us to love its products, and love using them, and their careful design makes them light and beautiful, encouraging us to carry and use them. Their trackpads and displays are top notch, and interacting with them is fluid and smooth. Apple products have all day battery life, wake instantaneously, and perform basic tasks with fluid panache. The new MacBook Pros are in this vein, striking in their appearance with nothing plugged in our hooked up to them. The Thunderbolt ports along the sides are very handsome.

There is something to physically writing things on paper. There's research regarding this, that the human brain better remembers and processes things when they are written on paper versus typing.

I'm finding that myself writing out notes and outlines more these days, despite a long practice of being digital. I might have an outline of a class in digital form, but I still enjoy jotting down a few notes or quotes. There's something more pleasurable about the writing, something more free form and empowering about a blank sheet of a paper and a good writing instrument. Digital notes are so powerful for their storage and search capability, but the irony is I rarely use these things.

It's like the Olympics is still on, as we chat about them, and talk a bit more about how to read a book.

Hamilton the Musical is about a book. Who relentlessly reads a thick biography on his honeymoon, dog-earing pages for a potential musical? Lin-Manuel Miranda. He read a book about restoring someone's legacy through a story, and Miranda saw that that story could be a hip-hop Broadway musical and so he wrote it. The result was an oddity, a musical that is historically accurate but stylistically and performatively wrong (the usual method is to change the history while making it look accurate). He hired the book's author, Ron Chernow, to check his musical for its historical accuracy so that the story could be true. At Miranda's last performance he read from Chernow's book, because the musical is, in many ways, a love story for a great book.

There's a lot of fun here, as we ask what religion Captain America is (probably Methodist), Kevin loves on Alexander Hamilton The Musical, we talk about banjos, make fun of supposedly historical Jesus movies, and brag on the first Avengers movie.

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