Justin Bieber, deep frying, and solitude

Welcome to another installment of Bennett’s Bulletin!  Let’s get right down to it.  Here’s your weekly dose of stuff I like:


  1. Awesome thing to watch: The guys at ChefSteps deep fry all the things.  I ate fried ice cream at Eden’s birthday dinner, so when I saw a video of these guys deep frying ice cream, smores, pb&j, ramen, etc I was intrigued.  Their whole youtube channel is legit if you’re into beautiful imagery of food and culinary experiments.

  2. Quote I like: “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.” -Thoreau, from Walden

    This is a follow-up from my question on transcendentalism from newsletter #1.  I’ve been reading bits of Walden to figure out what transcendentalism is, and it’s hard to define. Basically, transcendentalists believe that the universe is knowable only through personal experience and introspection, not through religion or objective reality. Thoreau found solitude to be most helpful, and he lived in the woods and wrote about his experience and insights on life.  It has me thinking about a debate that has been in my head for a while about renunciation and asceticism.  Maybe it’s a mischaracterization, but I’m not convinced running away from society is a desirable or possible alternative to society.  (Thoreau was only able to do it because of his buddy Emerson who owned the land near Walden pond after all. He made numerous trips to Concord and had guests to his cabin.)  I guess it’s hard to draw a distinction between asceticism and minimalism, too, and I like minimalism.

    In regards to transcendentalist philosophy, introspection is important and I agree that religion, politics, and ideologies shouldn’t be blindly accepted or followed.  I also agree that solitude and the woods can foster introspection (warning: that article is long, but interesting) in a way that’s not possible during the day-to-day.  I’m not so sure that solitude is a solution or cure-all.  Nor do I believe that spiritual, internal interpretations of the world always trump rational, empirical ones.  Perhaps my reluctance about solitude just comes from Thoreau and I need to read other transcendentalists.

    Too long; didn’t read – I like the introspection of transcendentalism, but I’m not so convinced about renunciation and solitude.

  3. Let’s talk about fashion: If you’re a man, you know fashion options are uninteresting.  If you have a job that requires business casual or higher, you’re pretty much limited to pants, a button-up, and shoes.  Adventurous fashionistos can experiment with jackets, pocket squares, ties, and sweaters.  Maybe your pants are cuorduroy instead of slacks.  You could get a pair of wild wingtips or loafers.  For the most part, though, men’s fashion is standardized.  It feels like the choice is between weird or boring.

    From that article:

    “Men can have style – Jarvis Cocker and Charlie Watts have style – but it seems they can’t have fashion. What I mean is that men don’t have the fun of reading about changing trends, as women do, and playing dress-up, being a severe monochrome one day and then a fun 50s flirt the next. Changeability, I think, is seen as girlish, or something, which is ridiculous. And while it means men do save a lot of money by not trying out trends, it also means they miss out on a lot of fun.”

    The distinction between style and fashion is one I had never considered, but it helps explain why I’m bored by men’s clothing.  Men’s fashion has its defenders, too, of course.  And women’s business dress has its own limitations.

    Anyway, I’d love to get y’all’s thoughts.  Men, what are your problems with male fashion? Or am I making this into too big of a thing?  Women, what are your problems with male fashion?  With female fashion?

  4. Let’s talk about pop culture: Someone wrote me this week with an idea for the newsletter:

    First, I love JT, too.

    Second, this is great. I love the observation that pop culture is seen as dumb and petty.  Maybe it is, but don’t pretend you don’t like something just because it’s popular or catchy.

    Third, Justin Beiber’s new song, “What Do You Mean,”  is not awful.  I said it.  It sounds ok in my ears. Thanks for the suggestion, and I’ll talk more often about pop culture.

  5. A question for you: Now that I’m thinking about tv, music, pop culture, I’m curious.  What are your “guilty pleasures?”

    I’m intrigued by the psychology of pleasure, luxury, and things we secretly like.  I’d love to hear what things you indulge.  Trashy tv you watch, celebrities you stalk, pop music you love, gossip blogs you read.

    For me, I love The Bachelorette, and I love George Clooney. What are your “guilty pleasures?”


One other thing, Stephen Hawking weighed in on our robots/AI debate.  Fascinating take from a smart dude.  Let me know what y’all think.

If something in here made you think of something cool (link, photo, idea, memory) or if you have questions send them to me!  

Also, let me know your suggestions!  Do you want more or less of something?  You can just reply directly to this email.

Have a great week!