Link Dump 003
July 6, 2019
Articles, Posts, & Essays
- In “Successful habits through smoothly ratcheting targets”, Andy Matuschak (who wrote the “Why books don’t work” article I shared in a previous link dump) describes how he developed a strategy for adopting new habits using “smoothly ratcheted targets, in moving weekly windows, with teeth.”
- “Agnotology and Epistemological Fragmentation” is a transcript of a speech given by Danah Boyd at the Digital Public Library of America conference in April, 2019. The core ideas: “Many people who are steeped in history and committed to evidence-based decision-making are experiencing a collective sense of being gaslit — the concept that emerges from a film on domestic violence to explain how someone’s sense of reality can be intentionally destabilized by an abuser.” And: “What’s at stake right now is not simply about hate speech vs. free speech or the role of state-sponsored bots in political activity. It’s much more basic. It’s about purposefully and intentionally seeding doubt to fragment society. To fragment epistemologies.” And: “Journalists often get caught up in telling ‘both sides,’ but the creation of sides is a political project.” On the one hand, this is a very good articulation of the problem. On the other hand, I wish that she had hinted towards some solutions.
- “The Petrie Multiplier: Why an Attack on Sexism in Tech is NOT an Attack on Men” was written in 2013. I don’t know how I’ve managed to not read it for six years, but here we are. Anyway, in this post, Ian Gent shows how differences in gender representation in tech can suffice to create climates of extreme sexism, even if men and women are equally sexist. He doesn’t argue for or against that last conditional; he merely points out that even if it’s true, it’s still possible to end up with extreme misogyny if women are outnumbered in the workplace. The core concept is the Petrie Multiplier, which is the idea that the ratio of attacks between majority and minority are the square of the ratio of the majority to the minority. In other words, if the ratio of men to women in a workplace is 4:1, then the ratio of the number of sexist incidents caused by men to the number of sexist incidents caused by women will be 16:1. It’s a fascinating read!
- “The Most Radical and Rebellious Choice You Can Make Is to Be Optimistic” is a short, sweet, quotable article by Guillermo del Toro.
- “Socks” is Gwern’s analysis of why we occasionally run out of socks. From the abstract: “Anecdotally and in 3 online surveys, people report often not having enough socks, a problem which correlates with rarity of sock purchases and demographic variables, consistent with a neglect/procrastination interpretation: because there is no specific time or triggering factor to replenish a shrinking sock stockpile, it is easy to run out.”
- “Money and School Performance: Lessons from the Kansas City Desegregation Experiment” is a paper by Paul Ciotti. At least in the case of Kansas City, throwing money at the segregation problem accomplished virtually nothing. It’s interesting if true.
- “Monkey Island”: “I’m sure I’m a monkey, but I can’t figure out how. Which is the problem with being on Monkey Island.”
Books & Short Stories
- IndieBound helps you find books to buy at local bookstores (in the US only?).
- These stationery notebooks from A Good Company seem cool. The “paper” is made from stone, not wood, and the company claims to have eco-friendly production processes, about which you can read more here. The notebooks are expensive (~$30 for a single 144-page notebook) and the website is frustratingly immune to trackpad scrolling, but it might be worth the cost if you’re interested in saving trees.
- “A Solar Labyrinth” is a mysterious short story by Gene Wolfe.
- “Book Review: The Secret of Our Success” is Scott Alexander’s analysis of a book by anthropologist Joseph Henrich. Henrich’s claim is that mere intelligence alone doesn’t account for humanity’s evolutionary success; culture does. One way to see why mere intelligence isn’t enough is to think about how many European colonists arrived in the Americas and died in the midst of relative plenty while the neighboring native peoples thrived. If intelligence was sufficient for survival, then these new transplants probably would’ve figured out how to survive by developing the necessary tools and food production processes. But those things aren’t usually figured out by a single individual; they’re honed over many, many generations through trial and error, and the successful methods are passed down from parents to children — and that’s what culture is! Anyway, I haven’t read the book yet, but this review was super fascinating and made me want to read it!
- I heard the hip-hop music of Doomtree Records on a podcast a few weeks ago, and I really liked it.
- Delta Chat allows users to send end-to-end encrypted messages using their existing email accounts (I think)! I haven’t tried it yet, but it seems like a pretty cool idea.
- Endlessh: an SSH Tarpit is a tool to help protect your server. It acts like a real SSH server and “ties up SSH clients with false promises indefinitely — or at least until the client eventually gives up.”
- “An Exercise Program for the Fat Web” is Jeff Atwood’s guide to setting up a Pi-hole.
- “1,500 Slot Machines Walk into a Bar” is a very funny talk given by Alex Schwartz and Ziba Scott at GDC in March, 2019, about their adventures in automated game production. They completely automated the process of generating low-quality slot machine games and uploading them to the Google Play store. In this talk, they shared the goals of the project, the ethics they employed, the amounts of money they made, and the lessons they learned.
- Powered by gravity and GravityLight are tools that use the force of gravity to generate power. Basically, you lift some weights that are attached to a chain, and as the weights fall, they pull the chain, which turns some gears and powers a fan or a light bulb. You’re not getting power for free, of course; you have to do the work of lifting the weight in the first place. But they’re such cool solutions for places where electricity is inconsistent or nonexistent!
- Why shouldn’t we all have moss lawns?
- I don’t know why I liked Mazes so much, but I did.
- Moving Target