Digital tidying: the links

One of my goals for the new year is tidying up my digital systems. Roughly, I’d break them down into something like this:

I’m a power user of read-it-later services. I get interesting links all the time, but usually not when I’m in the position to sit and read a well thought out, long-form piece. Hence, I want a place to store it and a pleasant way to read it—minus the announces of the 2022 web.

I also want a place to store the text from my links. I often reference things I read long ago, want to revisit ideas or want to share something when it becomes relevant again.

After much tinkering and having too many of these apps, I’ve cut it down to just Reeder. I like that the visual design is nice, it’s all local or iCloud storage and has just enough power features like tagging and search to do what I want.

While consolidating all my links, I came across some that I’d been meaning to share. Note: finding a read interesting and worth sharing isn’t the same as agreeing with it. In fact, I intentionally try to read plenty that I don’t entirely agree with, but that’s a story for another time.

What is the value of browser diversity from Dave Rupert. It’s easy to argue that we should all use Chrome since it’s The Best™, but keeping browser diversity going is important:

  1. Browser diversity keeps the Web deliberately slow
  2. Browser diversity fosters consensus and cooperation over corporate rule

Consensus and cooperation rather than rule by edict is something nearly every sector of society could benefit from. Inefficiency wins in the long run.

A/A Testing: How I increased conversions 300% by doing absolutely nothing by David Kadavy is a cheeky look at how spurious A/B testing can be in practice. I’m increasingly convinced that most of the data and analytics from the tech world is bogus. Real data science is hard. Making up just so stories from Google Analytics isn’t.

The end is always nigh from the Spectator looks at how humans have a long tradition of doomsdayism. When I was in high school, I couldn’t get why my Protestant friends were so obsessed with the Rapture and the Left Behind series; as an adult I don’t get why my secular friends are so obsessed with global warming and The Pandemic™. As pointed out in the piece, not getting into the doomsday hype doesn’t mean ignoring concern for the environment or public health; rather it’s a matter of approaching them from a more sober perspective.

How to recover from pandemic-induced mind fog by David Cain. I picked up a lot of bad habits over the past couple of yours: drinking too much, eating tons of take out, not exercising, not socializing, doomscrolling at night and the list goes on. They’ve all added up to turning me into something of a nervous vegetable. There’s a way out though.

Meditation, dissociation and spiritual bypassing is a must read for meditators, and I would wager is the most common mistake in Western meditation practices. If meditation becomes a way to check out and zone out from reality, it’s going to become a major problem. The easiest way for me to avoid that is staying grounded in body: walking meditation, body scans and getting comfortable with unpleasant feelings. In short: Goenka style body scanning over spacing out with breath meditation.

Ten million a year by David Wallace-Wells looks at the staggering number of deaths and health consequences from air pollution.

The one where I quit reading the New York Times by Elle Griffin brings up something I struggle with. I really like the news and knowing what’s going on, but the quality of mainstream publications is rapidly declining:

I used to adore The New York Times. It was my favorite paper. I would get the print edition and read every page with a pot of green tea and a box of almond croissants. I adored articles about long-lost princes living in the jungles of India, Indigenous Peruvian musicians that rap in their native language, and long, overshared interviews with Elon Musk and Grimes.

I still admire their journalism, but their news has skewed increasingly dramatic over the years—and that has been done intentionally. According to the Columbia Journalism Review, The New York Times saw a 66 percent increase in profits by spiraling into every word (either spoken or tweeted) of our president, and as a result of their so-called “Trump bump” they kept doing it—and nearly every media outlet followed.

With the liberal media so consumed by their fury, the conservative media could do nothing but oppose it. The dueling forces of chaos clashing against one another like a war between winter and summer—and we were the collateral damage, watching every blow from down below, on the edge of our seats as to whether we should put on a dress or a snowsuit before stepping foot outside.

De-classified: What really happened to newspapers by Nic Hopkins challenges the commonly held assumption that online advertising is what did in most print journalism. Instead, it was sites like Craigslist taking over the classifieds that did in revenue for most smaller papers.

The other Sara Morrisons are ruining my inbox by, not surprisingly, Sara Morrison. I also get a slew of email that’s not for me; I can’t imagine though how bad it would be if I had a common first and last name combination—there are benefits to having a rather uncommon Polish last name.

Why scientific studies are so often wrong: the streetlight effect by David Freedman. When The Science™ is being used a billy club, this is a startling read. It’s worth reading it all, but to catch it in a paragraph:

The fundamental error here is summed up in an old joke scientists love to tell. Late at night, a police officer finds a drunk man crawling around on his hands and knees under a streetlight. The drunk man tells the officer he’s looking for his wallet. When the officer asks if he’s sure this is where he dropped the wallet, the man replies that he thinks he more likely dropped it across the street. Then why are you looking over here? the befuddled officer asks. Because the light’s better here, explains the drunk man.

Paul Feyerbend’s defense of astrology by Massimo Pigliucci bring up an older topic that’s also relevant today:

So, both Sagan and Feyerabend were attacking Kurtz… not because they were wrong in criticizing astrology, but rather because they didn’t actually criticize it, resorting instead to a medley of ad hominem and irrelevant arguments because they knew they were right. That’s the definition of dogmatism, which, in theory at the least, is not a scientific virtue.

Pigliucci wrote this in 2016. Given his more recent writings that tend more in the direction of scientism, I wonder if he’d agree with his former self.

Covid-19: Democratic voters support harsh measures against unvaccinated from Rasmussen is the single best example of the rise of left-wing authoritarianism.

Fifty-nine percent (59%) of Democratic voters would favor a government policy requiring that citizens remain confined to their homes at all times, except for emergencies, if they refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Such a proposal is opposed by 61% of all likely voters, including 79% of Republicans and 71% of unaffiliated voters.

Nearly half (48%) of Democratic voters think federal and state governments should be able to fine or imprison individuals who publicly question the efficacy of the existing COVID-19 vaccines on social media, television, radio, or in online or digital publications. Only 27% of all voters – including just 14% of Republicans and 18% of unaffiliated voters – favor criminal punishment of vaccine critics.

Forty-five percent (45%) of Democrats would favor governments requiring citizens to temporarily live in designated facilities or locations if they refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Such a policy would be opposed by a strong majority (71%) of all voters, with 78% of Republicans and 64% of unaffiliated voters saying they would Strongly Oppose putting the unvaccinated in “designated facilities.”

In the backdrop of this, studies commissioned by the Dutch government show our vaccine passes have little to no effect on the spread of corona. There’s no end in site to the vaccine passes and QR codes in the Netherlands though as that science apparently contradicts The Science™.

It’s become clear that the othering of the unvaccinated is about attacking and disenfranchising political opponents and no longer has anything to do with public health. Not that it should matter, but I write this as someone who is up to date on my covid vaccinations.

Heaven is hazy by DHH lays the blames for political movements spiraling out of control at the lack of a clear objectives and not having a vision of “what success looks like”. Pragmatic and gradual improvements over sweeping utopian visions.