Status update on eating animals

June 26, 2024

Since roughly 2009, I’ve wrestled daily with how to be a moral eater. My thoughts and uncertainties have evolved over time, so as both a time capsule for myself and an exercise in writing-clarifies-thinking, I thought I’d jot down my current status.

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Cambridge has 31,000 [nearly free] street parking spots

August 22, 2023

Cambridge has a lot of parking

Depressingly many political arguments in Cambridge are about parking.1 Despite this, it’s not at all obvious how much parking we already have. I’ve been interested in Cambridge’s land use and how much is eaten by cars for a long time, at least since 2021, but doing the full census I crave seems hard and expensive. After reading Henry Grabar’s new book on parking I was motivated to at least pick the low hanging fruit: I estimated the prevalence of street parking, which probably constitutes the plurality of Cambridge’s parking supply. Cambridge’s GIS department (and thus presumably the City itself) does not have any data on street parking spaces; but using their data on road centerlines and some manual data labeling, I have estimated that the city contains 31,474 non-metered street parking spaces.

  1. Sometimes parking is a fig leaf for other concerns not expressable in polite company. 

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Ear surgery gratitude

May 11, 2023

I’ve just arrived home from an ear surgery wherein a hole in my eardrum was patched. While the eventual outcome and success of the surgery remains to be seen, the experience is already overwhelmingly gratitude inducing. Some things for which I am grateful, in no particular order:

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Some things I recommend in Boston

September 27, 2022

I recently had a conversation with coworkers about what they look for in a restaurant: vibes or food. Most people answered, roughly, “mostly vibes as long as the food is at least decent.” This is wild to me; I’m very much optimizing for food quality. Even more recently, my wife and I tried a much recommended pizza place which turned out to be aggressively Not Good. From these and similar meditations I come to two conclusions:

  1. Most of the time, most people are optimizing for holistic experience rather than focusing on the direct quality of the thing they’re consuming, at least for food and drink. (This is okay! People should satisfy their preferences!)
  2. Even when focusing on quality, perceptions are heavily shaped by idiosyncratic preferences. We inhabit less shared reality than we’d like to think.
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Blender tutorial reflections

April 20, 2020

For my entire adult life (and most of my teenage life), I’ve had a casual interest in computer graphics, especially 3D graphics. Accordingly, I’ve been idly tinkering with Blender1 off and on since about 2005, though don’t let the long history fool you: I have yet to achieve any meaningful proficiency, let alone skill. For normal mortals, getting good at 3D art requires dedicated practice, and I’ve treated Blender as merely a toy to be played with now and again. (To be clear, in capable hands it is much more than just a toy–though let the record show I firmly believe toys are important, even for adults.)

  1. Blender is the leading open source 3D art program, and a shining example of how great open source can be. 

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Impulse donations

July 14, 2018

Update: the system described in this post no longer works, as PandaPay appears to be defunct. If you know of a replacement for PandaPay or the system described in this post, please let me know!

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Modernist Bread recipe notes

December 19, 2017

Initial baking results

Results from the recipes I’ve tried thus far have been decidedly mixed. In any particular case, error on my part could easily explain dissatisfying results. But repeat mediocrity makes me suspicious: I’m not an expert or professional baker, but I am an experienced amateur baker who has taken pains to follow these recipes faithfully (e.g. measuring yeast and salt with a scale that has a .01g resolution). The several partial-failures have moved my priors in the directions of “I am not that smart or good at reading,” “I am not as good a baker as I thought,” and “these recipes are not well communicated.” I’m confident the recipes are fantastic when perfectly executed, but the results I’ve had thus far make me suspect Modernist Bread would be a better book if effort and ink had been reallocated from beautiful full-page photos to more detailed recipes.

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Thoughts on Modernist Bread

November 22, 2017

Modernist Bread is the latest book (or series of 5 or 6 books, depending how you count) from the Modernist Cuisine team. It’s two and a half thousand pages of bread history, science, techniques, recipes, and so forth. I am most fortunate to have received it as a gift, and since both bread and modern cooking are topics near and dear to my heart, I’m super excited to read it. I’m just a few pages in, but this post lists some thoughts thus far and presumably will be updated as I continue to read.

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Environmental impact of fried foods

November 3, 2017

Note: this post was put together on a whim on a Friday afternoon; the analysis is woefully incomplete. I hope to update it, though my historical track record on updating blog posts and personal projects is remarkably terrible. That said, if you have any relevant information or insights, please reach out!

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Allocating Electoral College Seats

May 31, 2017

I was thinking about the 2016 U.S. Presidential election - unfortunately, that happens a lot these days. The number of electors allocated to each state depends on that state’s population, but the allocation is only updated after a census. I was curious how the allocation of electoral seats would change if the census were performed just before the 2016 election and whether that would have made the Electoral College result closer (spoilers: yes, but not by much).

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