Matt Yglesias Is Right: Outdoors Sucks

Timber Cove Inn

Sometimes, Matt Yglesias makes me proud to be a nerd. That was the case last week when he wrote, The Case Against Eating Lunch Outside. (Note: I believe his original title was, “Eating Lunch Outside Sucks; Stay Inside.”) He’s completely right, of course. I am definitely an inside person.

There are rare occasions when eating outside is not bad. It has to be a warm day; you have to be under a tree or otherwise shielded from direct sunlight (clouds work); there can’t be any wind; and you need a table and chair. This confluence of necessities happens less often than I get married. And the case that Yglesias is talking about—a group lunch—makes it rarer still because you add greatly to the table and chair arrangements.

I would take the whole thing further than Yglesias, although that is probably only because he is better adjusted than I am. If I made more money so that I could have all of my groceries delivered, I’m not sure I would ever leave the house. I like inside a lot, but I like my inside even more. Still, he certainly does show signs of some of my neuroses. For example, he spends a whole paragraph explaining that grass really is just dirt. Hey: I agree! In fact, plain dirt is better because there are no hidden surprises like water or scorpions. It strikes me as an unnatural obsession. (Note: it is also true that he just doesn’t like lawns.)

What’s more, this article is 8 paragraphs long. This is from a writer who normally provides only two when discussing SNAP benefit cuts. However, this all goes along with Yglesias’ interest in urban planning. And he’s right that humans have spent the last few thousand years trying to find ways to spend more time indoors. It’s all about controlling one’s environment and the best way to do that is to be inside.

One of my favorite places on earth is the Timber Cove Inn. I don’t get to go there much because the rooms start at about $200 per night. But it is beautiful. And you can enjoy all of that beauty from your room with the fireplace and jacuzzi without ever going outside. And that really is key, because the weather is always terrible there. It is right on the edge of a cliff on the Pacific Ocean. In fact, if you will forgive me, I wrote this poem when I was there:

I still have
that picture

of you

in your safari shoes
(the ones that say
you know

sitting on the

Pacific Ocean.

That day
its name
seemed not quite so


The Pacific Ocean really is badly named. In fact, it’s name is an offense to naming. It reminds me of this:

The truth is that ever since I was a child, lying on my back looking up into the blue sky brings on a panic attack. Strangely, I have no such problem at night. Regardless, the great outdoors is no friend of mine. So even if it is the case that Matt Yglesias likes inside because he’s studied urban planning and he thinks indoor spaces are the best places to be, we are still allies. Because outside sucks. Except when viewed from behind glass while sitting in a nice climate controlled room—preferably with a jacuzzi.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “Matt Yglesias Is Right: Outdoors Sucks

  1. Mitchell and Webb are such wonderful performers. I did finally see "Magicians"; I wished there was more magic in it, but the two of them are just delightful in anything. I keep trying to watch more of "Peep Show," which is brilliant, but it keeps reminding me of how utterly I failed at relationships when I was younger, and it’s so painfully funny that it’s actually painfully funny. (Not that I don’t screw up relationships now, but older people screw them up in different ways.)

    Some of Yglesias’s rant is not appropriate to places where winter weather just sucks ass. When being outside is really only tolerable for four months in a year, you tend to value it. Alas, many tend to overvalue it, and make yearly rituals out of outdoor experiences that remove any joy from the weather being simply OK. (AKA, the Minnesota State Fair, which I loathe with every fiber of my being.)

    I’m more of an indoor guy than an outdoor one, myself (mosquitos just suck, literally) but I have an affinity for the desert (possibly because there are usually no mosquitos there.) Woods and grasslands are filled with myriads of replicating organisms, fecund with the thrill of perpetuating life. The desert is more about making the best of a bad situation; it seems to fit my mentality better.

    Generally, though, I agree with Gore Vidal that the city is the supreme achievement of our civilization — it’s probably also less destructive to the environment than rural ranchers, as survival needs are more concentrated and less disruptively scattered.

    Once one gets accustomed to sleeping through sirens and the screeching of faulty brakes, those relatively quieter sounds of bugs and beasts are really far more disturbing . . .

  2. @JMF – Yglesias is focused on urban spaces and our need for ultra high density communities. I quite agree. As one who would rather walk than drive, I don’t like the American ideal of sprawl. And really, why can’t I rent a 5′ by 8′ space to live in? Communities don’t put any limit on high end living, but there are all kinds of limits on the low end.

    Yes, I thought that [i]Magicians[/i] was very sweet. "Girl! I want to take you to a gay bar!" See how easy it is for us all to get along?

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