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I found a single origin espresso that I really like.

One time I bought a bag of beans it occurred to me that requiring coffee beans from a specific farm in Rhuanda sounds like something a king might do.

Even my bog standard middle class luxury feels wildly excessive sometimes.






Our homes are not just like a king's palace, when it comes to comforts, entertainment, and petty luxuries, but like a king's palace in the middle of a once-in-a-generation, no-expense-spared festival. But multiplied by 100. And they're like that 24/7, year-round.

No wonder we have trouble falling asleep.


If I were somehow transported back in time to The Field Of The Cloth Of Gold[0], I’d probably be bored because my phone wouldn’t work, and the wine would probably suck. It’s hard to make good wine without knowing what yeast is.

[0] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Field_of_the_Cloth_of_Gold


No joke. We burn a bunch of lightbulbs with candle powers measured in the hundreds, have several kinds of entertainment of the highest quality that's ever existed anywhere available at the literal press of a button or with the right spoken command, have a librarian-scribe who can fetch us most any info we like nearly instantly even if it's just a passing whim, our food is abundant, cheap, outstanding, and for all but the poorest can be cooked and delivered by others on a fairly regular basis.

If anything it's surprising we're not even fatter and even less well-rested. We live in a friggin' world-class carnival. Describe some medieval monarch living in some kind of environment like that and we'd simply assume they'd be a wrecked, fat drunkard with perpetual bags under their eyes in short order, even if they had the best of intentions and pretty decent character. But we wonder why we're fat and tired and write and read books about it and try not to see the obvious cause, and the cost of fixing the problem.


> for all but the poorest can be cooked and delivered by others on a fairly regular basis.

kitchens are expensive. the historical urban poor often lived in a corner of a room and bought their food from someone who had a kitchen. it makes eating home cooked meals feel absolutely decadent!

(one thing i haven't yet understood: food was cheaper than a penny, but there were no farthings or ha'pnies till much later. indeed, a penny bought about $20 worth. so did they buy meals a week at a time, and get a pastie a day or something?)


I imagine that you could run a tab with your local grocer and settle up for full pennies later.

They used to cut coins in halfs, fourths, and maybe smaller to get lower denominations.

Comparisons between modern mundane luxury and the lives of ancient royalty rarely take into account the different stressors present in either case. Maybe the life of a medieval sovereign would still be preferable to that of a modern serf, if nonmaterial considerarions were included.

My assays at Crusader Kings II—squaring remarkably well with fictional and historical accounts of similar figures in roughy the same time period, see e.g. King Lear and Hamlet for good examples of the former—do not make being a medieval lord seem low-stress. Full of creature comforts and experiences unknown to most of the population at the time, yes. Though I think the environment of medieval Europe was a particularly rough one for the ruling class and at other times and places before and after, yes, it indeed would have been unreservedly "good to be the king".

Something I've noticed in my kids; because they do have this access to "entertainment of the highest quality", real-world experiences struggle to measure up.

For instance, going to the circus was fun, but quickly forgotten. A local stunt pilot flying overhead only gets a quick glance.

A few minutes of a YouTube compilation gives more amazing entertainment moments than my entire childhood.


You might like the book: At Home: A Short History of Private Life, it talks about just this idea.

I feel like telling the trade caravan that you want to buy from a specific place they visit is something your average merchant could do.

Agreed, perhaps it is more king-like to _not_ need to know where everything on your plate has come from. In that way, perhaps these coffee ‘blends’ that are so plebeian to the modern taste would be considered the most elevated to aristocratic.

I'm with ya. I'm pretty solidly middle - maybe upper middle class, but even the fact that I have opinions about Malbec over Pinot Noir makes me feel gross with opulence, not sure why.

I've a different take, more symmetric in time.

How prodigious is it that so many of us know so many intricacies and details about so much stuff, from the aesthetic to the mechanic. We don't know if our point in the universe is to spread life or morality or simply to make it pretty, it's probably pointless to wonder beyond our very own life, but there's no denying that we are growing. We are becoming. Only by getting there can we know what it is. But it sure is one-of-a-kind.

All the cynicism and pessimism in the world falls short in the face of our past achievements, let alone the future potential of this Earth (I like to consider all life here to be part of the journey, we didn't exactly "win" in isolation, and "we" is more like the system to me, however large that is).


> We are becoming. Only by getting there can we know what it is. But it sure is one-of-a-kind.

I have been having a bit of a rough month, one of those obdectively good on the outside view but subjectively on the inside full of self-doubt and existential angst.

This just yanked me out of that headspace, for a few moments at least.

Thank you :)


Much obliged :)



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