The Elliot Smith joke in this song is unfortunate.

9 Words

“And for the record, Individual Number 1 is President Donald J. Trump.”
11 Words

The Religion of Workism Is Making Americans Miserable – The Atlantic:

The second external trauma of the Millennial generation has been the disturbance of social media, which has amplified the pressure to craft an image of success—for oneself, for one’s friends and colleagues, and even for one’s parents. But literally visualizing career success can be difficult in a services and information economy. Blue-collar jobs produce tangible products, like coal, steel rods, and houses. The output of white-collar work—algorithms, consulting projects, programmatic advertising campaigns—is more shapeless and often quite invisible. It’s not glib to say that the whiter the collar, the more invisible the product.

Since the physical world leaves few traces of achievement, today’s workers turn to social media to make manifest their accomplishments. Many of them spend hours crafting a separate reality of stress-free smiles, postcard vistas, and Edison-lightbulbed working spaces. “The social media feed [is] evidence of the fruits of hard, rewarding labor and the labor itself,” Petersen writes.

I don’t want to get too hung up on the degree to which social media is or is not responsible for Millenials’ stress levels, but I think the point about the intangibility of knowledge workers’ output is an important one.

I am not a Millennial, but for me, I think the intangibility of digital tools and platforms is the main factor driving me toward analog, real-world tools—pens, paper, typewriters, physical books. You do work on these kinds of tools, and the output is there in your hands when you are done. You can touch it, feel it, mark it up.

This connection isn’t some kind of mystical mumbo-jumbo like the “analog warmth” audiophiles go on about when talking about their vinyl and their $15,000 mono amplifiers. It’s a real thing. My paper journal may not be instantly searchable across multiple devices, but short of my basement flooding or my house burning down, it will probably outlast all of the text files shared via Dropbox and iCloud. Moreover, that paper journal is a storage format that does not required support from a third-party vendor for me to access it.

Mostly, though, it is represents the real-world physical output of my work.

368 Words

After about a week with one of Pebble Stationery’s pocket notebooks, I’m coming around to the conclusion that while Tomoe River paper is really nice, pocket notebooks are not a good use-case for it.
34 Words

Mr. Beans is ready for his close-up.

7 Words

The Stupidity Concentrator – Balloon Juice:

For all the talk of AI and “algorithms”, the algorithm that Facebook and YouTube use is pretty simple: find out what people who care about topic X search for and watch, and give them more of it. This is a recipe for the aggregation of stupidity when there’s a lot of idiocy surrounding topic X. In the case of vaccines, only people who are looking for excuses to shore up their stupid intuitions about vaccines are searching on social media, so the social media “AI” clumps them all together and gives them a playground where their dumb shit can fester and grow. The non-stupid parents either just take their pediatrician’s word, or they use Google to find recommendations from trusted authorities like the CDC.

Zuckerberg and other tech bros say they want to do something about this, but it costs money to tune their algorithms, and it also costs money to curtail advertising. So they make noises about changing, but when I searched Google today for “facebook vaccine” the first two results that aren’t news stories are Facebook pages for anti-vax grifters (the “Vaccine Resistance Movement” and “Vactruth.com”).

These assholes need regulation.

201 Words

Here’s My Super-Abridged Green New Deal – Mother Jones:

A climate plan that requires significant sacrifice might work on planet Vulcan, but not on planet Earth. Assuming otherwise is nonserious. We need a plan that will work with only homo sapiens to carry it out, and that means a plan that takes into account human selfishness and shortsightedness. It means a plan that will appeal to China and India and Brazil and the rest of the world. It means a plan that will somehow reduce atmospheric carbon a lot even while most of us sit around fat, dumb, and happy.

The only such plan I can think of is one that increases global R&D spending on climate mitigation by, oh, 10x or so. Maybe 20x if it’s feasible. This money would be spent on developing new sources of clean energy and energy storage; reducing the price of current sources of clean energy; figuring out ways to remove carbon from the atmosphere; and pretty much anything else that seems remotely useful. The fruits of this research would be turned over to the private sector for free, and they would then compete to sell it all over the globe. This would harness human selfishness instead of fighting it. It’s not guaranteed to work, but unlike the GND and similar manifestos, at least it’s not guaranteed to fail.

230 Words

One of the better decisions I have made in the last few years was to re-learn cursive handwriting.
18 Words