Ep 4: The McRib and desire; Why do we love crap?

In this episode Ryver reveals his secret superpower “the McRib tingle”. Sean declares the McRib an avatar of desire. The philosophers discuss the platonic twinky at some length and its connections to badge value. The guys talk about high vs low brough foods and how our expectations impact our experiences. Sean retells the story of Frederick the Great of Prussia introducing potatoes to the common man. The discussion turns to scarcity and value, imposed scarcity, artificial scarcity, and scarcity as the effect of value not just its cost. Sean calls out “Big Thanksgiving” and presses the idea of psychological factors impacting actual enjoyment. The guys get deeper into the notion of social status represented in food, enjoyment, and setting. Bruce brings in Epicurus and the variety of pleasures from the hedonistic to the transcendent. Ryver tries to find an objective measure for the crappiness of the McRib. Bruce suggest that “Salt, Fat, and Sugar” explained the objective standard but not the crappiness. Sean expresses a strong feeling about gizzards and defines a class of foods that turn the tables on the convention of which foods are high brough. Ryver wonders if there isnt a taboo of the mundane that titillates us to break with our food choices. The guys define the McRib as the platonic guilty food pleasure.

Moral Kombat

Sean – Deontology

Ryver – Utilitarianism

Bruce – Virtue Ethics

“All three of you (you, your wife and your son) are at the aerodrome getting ready to board your airship, when an armed officer comes around with a sniffer dog. You have all your bags on a trolley, and the dog sniffs at both your wife and your bag, and passes over it, however when he gets to your sons bag, he begins to get a bit more active.

You look over at your son and he’s looking a little nervous. You know he’s smoked a little marijuana in his time, but generally, he’s a good kid, and you certainly didn’t think he’d actually be stupid enough to bring it back on the plane with him. At first you’re quite cross that he would do such a thing and start planning your responsibility lecture, but then you realize Bali was recently taken over by Professor Metal, and they have a zero tolerance policy on drugs, meaning your son could be jailed for life, or more likely, executed, if he does have some illicit materials in his bag.

The armed officer accompanying the dog is beginning to look more stern with every sniff the dog takes and looks directly at you and asks you to open to the bag.

You do, and as the officer begins to take things out of the bag, you see to your horror that there is a small quantity of marijuana stashed in with your son’s belongings.

The officer levels his gun at you and asks “Whose bag is this?”

You realize you have to answer or be shot , but the answer won’t be easy. You see your wife in the corner of your eye, and she is about to step forward and claim it as her own; what do you say?”

Sean vs Ryver

Sean suggests that society is owed a duty that can not be ignored because it would be a personal tragedy. Ryver argues that the sacrificing himself rather than his son damages less potential because he is older than his son. Sean questions the utility of sacrificing a person who has already been trained for a blank slate. Ryver points out that we can’t know who will be more valuable in the future. Sean comes back saying that this is the underlying weakness of utilitarianism and that deontology avoids this because duty is fixed. Ryver asks by whom the duty is fixed, And sean suggests that its Professor Metal and his Death Corps TM are the arbiters of duty in this scenario. Ryver suggests that maybe Professor Metal is wrong and gets…in some hot water…

Bruce gets the “Last Word” and suggests that the scale of pleasures is a way to judge the utility of one over another. He proposes that those pleasures closer to the transcendent are more valuable because of their scarcity and cost to obtain but that even still the most refined and invested among us can still enjoy a McRib from time to time.

This TED talk has so many connections to this conversation (and its where Sean heard the story about Frederick the Great)

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