OM121 - The Kilogram

John being invited to a music festival in Iceland (OM121)

John has never been to Iceland. One time he was invited to play a music festival and everything was great except they were micro-managing him. It is not racism, but it is cultural hate, they just have a national trade that John dislikes. They insisted that he would book his hotel 10 months in advance which flies in the face of his own personal culture. First of all, if you are bringing him to Iceland to play a festival, book his hotel room if you want it booked 10 months in advance! They wouldn’t do that and they had a whole system that John had to conform to. It was a time in his Rock career when he was a bit fuzzy and imperious and he was not going to book his hotel 10 months in advance which got them off on the wrong foot.

It got even worse when they sent him the festival poster. They had assured him that he was highly billed, but it turned out that he was opening for a puppet show. This was literally a Spinal Tap reference and he was not going to open for a puppet show, but of course they said that puppet shows are a major form of entertainment in Iceland and these were the biggest stars in that country. John took great umbrage at that idea! Sure, it could have been that he was asked to open for the Bolshoi of Iceland, but it was still not a good bill and they got into an argument.

The person setting this up was not just some guy in a festival T-shirt, but he was the cultural attache for Iceland and eventually they agreed that this was not a good fit. What had been an ongoing conversation with the government of Iceland about John’s participation in their culture all of a sudden just cooled to Icelandic coolness and John was no longer a little gnome that they left cookies out for, but he was now an iceberg that they huddled inside against.

A piece of ice arrived in a box with some mysterious runes carved in it, wrapped in some newspaper, meaning ”John sleeps with the iceberg”. John has not been to Iceland and it bums him out, because back then he should have just made that hotel reservation, but he did that stuff all the time. Why did he have to stand on some dumb principle that nobody else cared about? Iceland is a small country formed by 60 Vikings and they had centuries of isolation to build up their own way of doing things, which is true of John as well. He was formed by 60 Vikings and for centuries he has only been reserving rooms in hotels a week in advance.

The metric system (OM121)

John has spent months walking between Slovakia and Slovenia, sleeping in hay stacks and flirting with apple-cheeked peasant women, how does he do with the metric system? He has a fair estimation about temperature and he does not try to translate, but he accepts their measurement system without constantly referring to his own. John travelled by foot through the rural areas of almost anywhere and people in those areas do not have a good estimation of distance because they don’t travel very much.

They are in their town and they know the towns around it. When John would ask somebody how far it was to the next town, people would say 100 km, and John would say ”I know it is not 100 km, but between 15-20 km, I just wanted to get a clarification” - ”If you know how far it is, why are you asking me?” To them everything past 10 km might as well have been 100 km. They are like an African tribe who has numbers for 1, 2, and ”many”. Because John walked a lot of kilometers, he got pretty good at knowing it and he could look up the road and eyeball a kilometer.

Ken’s wife was raised in Germany and she is very good at Celsius, Kilograms and Kilometers. She does not have to think when she hears 25°C, but she knows immediately that it is a quite warm day. It is similar to when you learn a second language: At first you have to translate the sentence into English in your hand before you can understand it, but then you can just skip English entirely. Ken saw that very starkly with Spanish. There is just no time for that when you are in a place in conversation. John never learned a second language and never had that experience, but he imagines it is a wonderful feeling.

John rejoiced when he walked 60 km in a day for the first time, but he never translated it into miles, in part because he had never walked the equivalent in miles in a day (37 miles). John only walked long distances in kilometers and it would be a lot less in miles. In Canada all the speed limits are in km/h, like 120 km/h (75 mph), but you are afraid you are going back in time when you go above 88 (reference to Back to the Future).

John never went to Australia, radio in the UK (OM121)

John has never been to Australia, although there is every reason he should have gone. The Australians are fans of The Long Winters and they are huge podcast listeners. Ken just got an email from a woman in Sidney and thought it was bizarre because how did she even know they had this project going on 5000 miles away? They are major consumers of podcasts, probably because they are geographically isolated from other English-speaking countries and they seek out that community. They like America, maybe even more than England or Britain, which might not be to their credit, but they are rough and tumble people, and they also have that cultural connection to the UK.

The United Kingdom has smarter radio than anywhere else. They have panel comedy shows with 15 people, talking about Henry V, and they all have it memorized. What kind of country is this where this is popular entertainment? There is no pressure to be interesting either, because government subsidies mean that you can just talk about Welsh gardening for six hours. The Australians are used to listen to uninteresting Americans rambling on. John feels like there are lots and lots of reason why he should have been invited to Australia, but he did not want to go to Australia or Japan unless he was invited and everything was paid for.

Japan was not a fan of The Long Winters (OM121)

The Japanese did not embrace The Long Winters because they are very particular what American Indie Rock they like. They would chose bands around him, like some of his friend-bands. Whatever the Indie Rock fan community in Japan is, there are taste-makers, just like there are in America and whoever it is, they are into the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and make them popular there. Their fingers going down the list, like The Apples in Stereo, Long Winters, no, and they move on down to The Hold Steady.

How John named The Long Winters (OM121)

John named his band The Long Winters after a T-shirt that someone saw in Japan. Chris Walla of Death Cab for Cutie was in Japan and saw a girl walking by, wearing a T-shirt saying "The Long Winters", one of those Englishisms, and thought that would be a great name for John Roderick’s band and he sent John a picture of the T-shirt. John does not have a copy of the original shirt. He can’t believe they didn’t embrace his music that shared a name with a shirt than one girl wore in Harajuku one time. They should have invited them to play at Budokan, but it never happened and they invited Cheap Trick instead.

The ouroboros of voting (OM121)

The Condorcet Paradox is a Rock Paper Scissors scenario whereby option A beats option B and option B beats option C, but options C beat option A in a weird M.C. Escher look. People would rather have Trump than Hilary, and they rather have Hilary than Bernie, but they would rather have Bernie than Trump, so who should win? It is the end of Reservoir Dogs, it is the ouroboros of voting! The same happens when you poll Brexit in the UK. People would rather remain in the EU in aggregate than have a hard Brexit, which is a sex thing, but Hard Brexit beats negotiated deal, and negotiated deal beats remain, and this is why they can’t get a parliamentary majority or even get a single political party to coalesce behind one of the options.

The 472 laws of Roderickism (OM121)

Condorcet was a methodical man of science, a man of the enlightenment, who was a revolutionary because he wanted things to be prettier and theoretically nicer. He was a streamliner! John tries to be a streamliner in his theoretical musings, which is a similar thing. He is going to daydream about applying efficiencies to modern problems and he writes it all down in his manifesto which he hasn’t published yet called ”The 472 laws of Roderickism”, because 472 is the number of cats it takes to scale to the top of Mount Baldy, which is the metric that our units used to come from.

Some of the laws of Roderickism, not mentioned in the podcast:

1. Keep moving and get out of the way!
2. It’s “Colonel Roderick” for you!
3. Shower Down to get an A!
4. Always be ready to climb a fence!
5. Always keep a small bag packed!
6. Make all the bacon!
7. We can all agree on cheese!
8. Leave it!
9. No potatoes!
10. No wearing sweat pants or taking your shoes off on airplanes!
11. Cars need to be able to survive an EMP!
12. We won’t stop the van just because you need to pee!
13. A little girl screaming is a thing that we disincentivize in our family
14. Do not put your hand down your underwear in a restaurant,
15. Do not stand on a bench and hit daddy in the face,
16. Do not have a breakdown screaming crying fit because there is rice on your plate!
17. The expediency of protecting your ass robs the historical record!
18. Never touch somebody else’s knobs!
19. You don’t need a car for the sole purpose of going to the mechanic!
20. Computers haven’t improved productivity one iota!

Facebook comments from the Futurelings group:

  • Cutting trail solves most social problems
  • Always order pancakes for the table at brektist
  • …and pizza for the table at all other times
  • Three syllables! Rod-er-rick!
  • Always live surrounded by women.

21. Time is a flat circle.
22. Silver ingots make good doorstops.
23. Go to Iceland when they ask you the first time.
24. Walking down alleys in the middle of the night can lead to interesting discoveries.
25. Computer science should be taught in trade school.
26. UFO is pronounced ew-fo.

  • No touching the feet!
  • Let somebody else be the Sunday

33. Gravy goes on anything.
34. Houston knows the score.
35. Monrovia, Moravia, Moldova, Moldavia.
36. Never date a skater.
37. Thursdays have better Omnibus topics.
38. Hachiko is the only famous 3 syllable dog name.

  • Teens need to be put to work building trail
  • Cut your own hair
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