Well, I did eventually wrap up The Queen's Gambit, and now I'm slowly chipping away at The Good Place. Recommendations are welcome. (One of my favorite bloggers wrote recently that she does not like movies that feel like stress-dreams, and it really stuck with me as a characterization that I identify with.)
Also we watched the movie Soul with the kids, and I thought it was great. It is from the same people, and feels a lot like Inside Out, so if you enjoy the abstract adventure through the mind note they strike, then you'll enjoy it. This one is probably trickier because they are in fact pushing a worldview, but it aligned with my worldview sufficiently well to leave me feeling good. Whereas Inside Out is more of a primer on emotions and how they intersect with but aren't identical to our sense of self, which probably has less to argue with.
Spoilers after the jump. How about in this thread, just give a one line warning for what you want to spoil, and a paragraph break? Except for The Good Place - I'm only in season 3, so don't even.
In The Good Place, I'm sad that they're down on earth in this season. I liked the heaven and hell settings for the characters. Although I'm still enjoying it quite a lot.
For the Queen's Gambit, I liked Benny better than Townes.
So many frontline workers in Riverside County have refused the vaccine -- an estimated 50% -- that hospital and public officials met to strategize how best to distribute the unused doses, Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari said.
The vaccine doubts swirling among healthcare workers across the country come as a surprise to researchers, who assumed hospital staff would be among those most in tune with the scientific data backing the vaccines.
What am I missing? These are urban healthcare workers! Why are they rejecting the vaccine at these rates?
Here is last year's prediction thread. I think we've all learned a valuable lesson about our ability to forecast the future. The president-elect isn't Sanders or Warren!
Nevertheless. Pony up for 2021.
Lurid keyaki sends in this post about a fascinating self-parody of a YouTube grifter. This article is amazing:
Ages ago, TechLead was a normal YouTube channel. You can find the residue of its former demeanor if you scroll deep enough into the archive. Shyu presented himself as an ordinary Successful Tech Guy, advertising all of his implied laurels and bona fides whenever he had a chance... The typical TechLead video offered actionable wisdom for Stanford undergrads who meld Python literacy and Vaynerchukian psycho-hustle into that homicidal class of nouveau Bay Area capital spiritualism. He would recommend textbooks to read, and tell you what programming languages to learn. He pulled back the curtain on the watercooler drama of the Google campus, which is pornographic contraband to those who masturbate to the Social Network nightclub scene. "How to learn to code (quickly and easily!)" reads the title of a video uploaded in the summer of 2018.
(I found the author hilarious.)
Then his wife leaves him, and he accidentally discovers that a soul-bearing confessional is wildly popular and earns him far more viewers:
"Money makes small acts of kindness garbage. When I messed up, I tried to apologize by taking my wife to a seafood restaurant, getting her some chocolates, buying her a diamond Tiffany necklace," he says, towards the beginning of that video. "But she did not appreciate any of this stuff, because when you have tons of money, all of that doesn't really matter anymore."
Shyu continues, adopting a deliciously gluttonous, Drake-like myopia. The manifold libertine opportunities of being rich could be goddamn wearying, he says, especially when the other tech guys edged him out for a reservation at Dorsia. "How come everyone else is going to this $100 restaurant and we're not going there? Are we valuing each other? Do we still love each other if we're not going out to the best experiences that people, at our level of success, are attaining?"
Then the scam begins in earnest. A big part of the hustle is to keep curious skeptics binge-watching all the videos, so the linked article is of the "I gave this guy 50 clicks so you all wouldn't have to additionally pad his bank account" genre.
Within this period, Shyu uploaded videos with some of the funniest titles in the history of YouTube. "How to make hard choices, (as a millionaire.)" "What I wish I knew about side hustles, (as a millionaire.)" Yes, all of them end with that same parenthetical punctuation--"as a millionaire." I'm not sure if that's some sort of craven SEO bid or a weirdo personal tic, but the format certainly begets some incredible palindromic tongue-twisters. "The Millionaire mindset and the rules of money (as a millionaire.)" "5 Millionaire habits that will change your life (as a millionaire.)" My personal favorite: "Why I'm a Millionaire (as a millionaire.)" Shyu clearly recognized the tactics of other YouTube success-porn staples like Tai Lopez and Jay Shetty, but saliently, he merged those instincts into his newfound penchant for dangerous oversharing, frigid irony, and performative self-flagellation into a bizarre monopoly all his own. "Why I have no friends (as a millionaire.)" "How I became Confident (as a millionaire.)" "Why I only wear North Face (as a millionaire.)" And then, out of nowhere: "I haven't seen my kid in 8 months."
I couldn't bring myself to sit there and embed every one of those links, so you'll just have to click through the linked post if you want to actually find out how a millionaire manages to put on pants every morning.
Anyway, the whole thing is hilarious and I cannot stop picking out bon mots, but I'll end with this one:
The market that Shyu is angling towards is clear; the past few years on the internet has given way to a number of quacks who believe that the red-ass male spirit, at its most id-driven, unlocks the universe's many sacred truths.
Heather Cox Richardson is doing a great service, and many people that I respect regularly read and share her daily report. But what the hell does this mean?
She thinks of her politics as Lincoln-era Republican
Strongly opposed to slavery? The NYT finishes the sentence as "but she is in today's terms a fairly conventional liberal, disturbed by President Trump and his attacks on America's institutions." Anyway, clinging to the label of Republican in any sense in 2020 is deeply irritating, and either speaks poorly of the NYT for misrepresenting HCR in order to jab its readers, or of HCR herself.
I don't have anything to post, so I'm just going to share some of my interior life.
I have a new thing I've been trying for the past month or so, to deal with household clutter. Specifically things that I accumulate in the corners and surfaces and just keep piling up, precariously. Jammies is very neat and tidy, but he leaves my precarious stacks alone to teeter, Mostly I can go months without noticing my precarious stacks, but now and then they all pop into focus and give me anxiety.
The new thing I'm trying is to map weight maintenance onto this issue, mostly because there is so much written about weight loss out there and not much written about precarious stacks in one's homes. (Or rather, organizational books are written by naturally tidy, organized people, which is about as helpful as when naturally thin people discuss weight loss. I understand those are great ideas - "clean 15 minutes every day!" "have a place for everything!" - but I also know I will never implement them. I can't even explain why I wouldn't know how to implement them.)
The idea is that this will give me a new angle to analyze and think about an intractable issue, and maybe even figure out for myself how to incorporate some baby steps and make modest progress.
There are a lot of easy parallels: Food comes in, clutter comes in. Energy is spent, clutter goes out. You can control how much comes in, to an extent. You can control how much goes out, to an extent. If the amount-in and amount-out are equal, then you'll have a stable weight or degree of clutter. If more comes in than goes out, you'll slowly gain. If more goes out than comes in, you'll slowly lose.
From where I sit, here are the sound ideas that would be recommended seriously to someone who has a lot of unhealthy habits and was interested in implementing a change:
1. Start by just getting honest with yourself/taking inventory/becoming aware of your habits.
2. Don't implement anything so onerous that you won't be able to maintain it for years. No white-knuckling anything.
3. Let it be a long process of gradually changing habits, not a quick starvation diet. Keep trying and experimenting and trying to find healthy things that work for you, not that seem like a burden.
4. Drop any expectations of outcomes and just nudge yourself towards being a healthier version of yourself.
So if I map this onto being tidy:
1. Stop avoiding thinking about the precarious stacks.
2. A task that is not too onerous for me is that once per day, I can consider a precarious stack, and make a note in my phone about why I don't know what to do about that stack.
3. Don't feel any pressure to Clean Everything because I loathe that sensation so much and will avoid it forever.
4. (I have no expectations of outcomes to drop.)
It has been three weeks so far. There have been a couple natural consequences: I'm noticing patterns and categories of things I don't know how to deal with. A couple times it's been so easy to just actually sort a stack that I went ahead and did it.
(Why now? Definitely a combination of ADHD meds and spending so much time at home this year, I think. It could have happened over the summer, but I was truly an anxious wreck about the fall. I didn't really start to feel sane again until November.)
This is intended to be our system for checking in on imaginary friends, so that we know whether or not to be concerned if you go offline for a while. There is no way it could function as that sentence implies, but it's still nice to have a thread.
I feel like the data graphics for Covid were largely locked in place by the end of April on most major news organizations, and since then they've been tweaked but not overhauled. They've sometimes adjusted the color spectrum to make it better fit the new totals, for example. Some of the graphics - like the maps with different sized bubbles showing the cumulative number of cases in a location - have become totally meaningless at this point.
It's also a missed opportunity. Back in April, we were measuring time in days. So you had basically a few ways to think about time: daily cases over time for a fixed location or accumulating total cases over time for a fixed location. To compare regions within a country, you're given a map which is a snapshot of the day - a seven day retrospective, or the cumulative map referenced above which has become dumber over time.
There should be innovative ways of graphically representing how the past nine months have unfolded, both geographically and temporally. The one that occurs to me off the top of my head is monthly or quarterly maps, arranged to show the rise and fall of outbreaks in different regions over time. It should be common and easy to compare the topography of the pandemic in May/April with the topography in October/November. I've seen this kind of thing in one-off news stories, but not as a running feature in the regular coverage at a major news outlet.
I'm basically saying that major media outlets are coasting on a lot of choices they made back in April, and we're nine months into the pandemic, and I'm ready for new, insightful ways of presenting the past nine months worth of information. Surprise me.