7 Dubious Takes About Science and Technology

7 Dubious Takes About Science and Technology May 14, 2021

It’s Friday, so let’s see, are there any takes?


This is a wonderful and important thing that I think everyone should read. It’s called The Efficiency Destroying Magic of Tidying Up. It’s full of clever observations like this:

Again, this insight applies to any complex system. For example, a city can look as messy as an anthill. But really, it’s a beautiful equilibrium that evolved to satisfy a thousand competing constraints: topology, weather, people’s traditions, skills, wealth, preferences… Planners may make their maps look better when they use zoning to separate the city into business, residential, and commercial neighborhoods, but they also destroy a subtle, efficient balance. They forget that the only activity that goes on in any city is that of people living their lives, which requires all the activities above — preferably in close proximity. Splitting a city into residential, commercial and business zones is like throwing dough, cheese and pepperoni into the different compartments of a bento box and calling it a pizza.

And this:

“Please clean up your room,” asks the mother. “Fool,” retorts the three-year-old with an eerily deep voice. “Can’t you see the beauty in my glorious chaos?” I’m not suggesting all chaos is good. But when you hear someone suggest we put some order into a system, there should at least be a red light flashing in your head. Before you touch anything, you should make sure that mess is not concealing a deep order, by answering the following questions:

The questions are so good–How much information is contained in the system’s current state? How old is the system? And who wants to change it?


Naturally, I spent the rest of the day thinking about the church (not to mention my own cluttered mind) and all the systems I’m a part of and why it, on the one hand, is so hard to change anything, and on the other, why it’s such a tetchy business to stop something that’s already going. Oh! And what a terrible tragedy it is when a member of the Altar Guild dies. It’s like oceans of information go with her. It’s so terrible. But also, it may be that I just want emotional permission not to clean my desk.


I tried not to, but I did spend some part of the week reading that long thing about the origins of covid, and watching Rand Paul take down Mr. Fauci. I’m technically, of course, not into conspiracies–especially not ones that span continents, centuries, and groups like all Christians before, during, and after the Victorian era. Still, the whole covid thing is so shocking and yet another reason why I believe in original sin. It’s just too easy to imagine that what I am doing is clever and important, and for good and moral reasons, and never to question myself about any of it at all. There’s a great long passage in Phineas Redux that I can’t quote because I’m listening to it, wherein Trollope illumines the thoughts and feelings of Mr. Slide of the Jupiter in regard to Phineas–how, in all of his lying, he is sure he is doing the right thing, and that he is, strangely enough, actually telling the truth. It’s like Trollope knew all things about the current age. [I don’t know how to spell anyone’s names because I’m listening to it.]


And then there’s this:

Car traffic will be drastically reduced in the heart of Paris next year under a plan by the city’s mayor, the latest step in her goal of greening one of the densest urban landscapes in Europe. Anne Hidalgo, a Socialist politician who is eyeing a bid for the presidency next year, announced a public consultation on the project Wednesday that will last until October. It would ban most vehicles from the Paris Centre district, formerly the first four arrondissements of the capital that includes the two islands on the Seine river and the winding narrow streets of the Marais. The zone would also extend across a large swath of the historic Left Bank and its Saint-Germain-des-Pres neighbourhood, the chic haunt of Paris’ intellectual elite.

Not everyone is happy:

Aurelien Veron, a rightwing opponent on the city council, denounced the public consultation as a “foregone conclusion,” saying Hidalgo “is basically asking drivers if they want to be eaten roasted or boiled.”


I mean, as I’ve said, I do think the invention of the automobile was the first step in the dissolution of society. From there to here was but a mere step. So much more evil is possible when a person is able to travel a long distance in a car. Maybe the gas shortage is actually God agreeing with me for once.


It couldn’t possibly be a judgment on all humanity because of foolishness like this:

  • I am capable.
  • I know who I am and I am enough.
  • I choose to be present in all that I do.
  • I choose to think thoughts that serve me well.
  • I choose to reach for a better feeling.
  • I share my happiness with those around me.
  • My body is my vehicle in life; I choose to fill it with goodness.
  • I feel energetic and alive.
  • My life is unfolding beautifully.
  • I am confident.
  • I always observe before reacting.
  • I know with time and effort I can achieve.
  • I love challenges and what I learn from overcoming them.
  • Each step is taking me to where I want to be.

Goodness, I love these so much. “My life is unfolding beautifully…”HAHAHAHAHA, and “I choose to think thoughts that serve me well.” Who is this person? I hope it’s not anyone even remotely associated with covid research. “Science” doesn’t need this kind of wretched positivity about itself.


And now, you should go check out more takes if there are any, and I will clean and clean and clean because…I have a kitchen ceiling! And a working bathroom! So that’s totally amazing! Have a lovely day if you’re into that sort of thing!

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