Azure Dragons

This is the only thing that has ever tempted me to install tiktok:

This Russian comedy channel is almost too funny and the subtitle for the channel is perfect: “Highly motivated poorly qualified specialist“. And oh boy he is. The first video I saw, on a meme portal, was this one:

Unfortunately I have been unable to track down who they are and whether or not the channel is their official channel or if the compilation channel on Youtube is (I doubt that). Give their sketches a shot and see if you like them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Plastic straws

Banning plastic straws achieves nothing. Or at least, nothing good. It does achieve a couple bad things though: it gives people a false sense that something is being done to address ocean plastics, and misleads people about the true sources of them.
Paul Graham

[…] it is the management of plastic waste that determines the risk of plastic entering the ocean. High-income countries have very effect waste management systems; mismanaged waste – and plastic that ends up in the oceans – is therefore very rare. Poor waste management across many middle- and low-income countries means that these are the main sources of global ocean plastic pollution
— Our World in Data, “Plastic Pollution

This map shows basically the potential for improvement. Countries where the plastic waste is almost entirely inadequately managed could do better, while western countries basically can’t do any better. Banning plastic straws in Europe does not lower the amount of plastic waste that is inadequately managed.

But this is the even more important map; the share of the global mismanaged waste and not that the color grading is almost logarithmic:

Not to pick on a single country, but there’s this example:

But also:

It is important to keep in mind that plastic is a unique material with many benefits: it’s cheap, versatile, lightweight, and resistant. This makes it a valuable material for many functions. It can also provide environmental benefits: it plays a critical role in maintaining food quality, safety and reducing food waste. The trade-offs between plastics and substitutes (or complete bans) are therefore complex and could create negative knock-on impacts on the environment.
— Our World in Data, “Plastic Pollution

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Just like Obama

The modern surveillance regime in USA, which most likely and routinely intercepts most European digital communication, was started with George W. Bush as President, but heavily expanded during Barack Obama’s presidency. For 4 years it has been running along basically unchanged but now there’s a competent person in charge of USA again.

So, it was be expanded yet more:

[…] the White House is discussing a new plan to expand domestic, warrantless surveillance of Americans—by paying private companies to infiltrate and report on the private social media groups of those it categorizes as “suspected extremists.”
Edward Snowden on “Biden team may partner with private firms to monitor extremist chatter online

It’s still strange that with Joe Biden as President, USA suddenly started enacting misogynistic and racist laws and now plan to expand the surveillance of its citizens – and most likely everyone else, including you – to a degree never before seen. Unlike what happened during the 4 years of horror with Donald Trump as President.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Do you want more pirating? That’s how you get more pirating

A very long time ago I wrote about how I think media companies can limit the extent of piracy:

  1. Offer the product at least as soon as the pirates offer it
  2. Offer the product in at least the same quality as the pirates

I should have added a third requirement:

  1. Make the product as easily available as the pirates do

For instance, back in the day of DVD’s, forcing your paying customers to sit through your self-congratulatory ads and a condescending warning about not pirating the DVD, was just another thing pirated movies did better.

Now, having your media diet spread over 6 or 7 streaming services provides the same problem. Who is willing to pay for that many? We have one streaming service and used to have another.

But getting back to the second item on my first list, you can try to spot the differences here – one is subtle, the other is not:

This is what UK based Mirriad is selling to broadcasters and ad agencies, a tool to add or replace advertising from existing media. Of course the example is with Coca-Cola.

So, now there is a new way for broadcasters / streamers / distributors to mess with media.

Maybe I should buy some more Blu-Rays before the content is updated?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tell the truth – or at least, don’t lie

It’s not that I enjoy being wrong, quite the contrary. I just think that it’s important to realize when you are wrong so you can find out why you were wrong. And then possibly be less wrong the next time around.

This is related to this: I generally trust professionals that speak in their professional capacity, unless I think I know more about the specific topic they are talking about. And, I also tended to believe people who opposed serial liar and narcissist Donald Trump, especially during his presidency.

And I trusted the advice from the American physician Anthony Fauci during the pandemic. The more sound advice Fauci gave and the more Trump railed against him, the more I trusted Fauci and his advice.

Except, Fauci was playing politics.

Now, politics is fine, there are many perfectly, possibly opposing, acceptable political views, many that I agree with and many more I disagree with. But “playing politics” is different; it’s when you say something for its effect even though it’s untrue.

“Playing politics” is lying.

(from InStyle’s “Dr. Fauci Says, “With All Due Modesty, I Think I’m Pretty Effective.”“)

I understand the desire, or need, to save suitable facemasks and other personal protection equipment for healthcare workers.

But you should not lie. This lie has cost many lives and have damaged the trust people had in the institutions that are in place to protect them. And why should anyone listen to Fauci, still the chief medical adviser to the American President, again?

And it reminds me again of what happens when ideology captures an organisation, like it has happened in so many American at the moment. Read Yascha Mounk’s “Why I’m Losing Trust in the Institutions“, telling the story of how the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out in USA ended up with a policy they knew would cost more lives all in the name of an ideology. And the policy they ended up with was not nearly as bad as the one they had intended.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Border control

I don’t really understand why countries, airlines and labs aren’t partnering up to offer some sort of universal Covid travel system that includes proof of vaccination or recovery, PCR testing on departure and arrival, and mutual recognition of standards.
Arieh Kovler

I have been thinking that we, either in Denmark or in the EU, should have closed our borders a year ago, with the possibility of entering through quarantine centers.

Kovler’s idea is possibly better and could easily be implemented today. Even with increased vaccination rates it would still save lives and with new COVID-19 variants, it might prove essential.

Also, there’s this very good animation that shows how the virus spreads and that closed borders might have helped us:

BTW, if we are talking about 2 British variants, an Indian, a Brazilian, 1 or 2 American, a South African etc, why was it again we were not supposed to talk about the original one being of Chinese origin?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Getting the signal out

There’s a pun hidden in the title but it’s as obscure as most of my puns.

So, the situation at Basecamp exploded with apparently almost a third of the employees choosing to resign, or rather, accept buy-outs from the company. And the head of strategy was suspended and resigned. So, what happened?

Trusting the media reporting is difficult; these stories are so politically based that you can easily see what the reporter wants to frame them as. But today I read something else that might explain what happened:

You cannot argue with a punch in the face. If you are intent on having a reasonable discussion with someone, and the other person is intent on punching you in the face, no matter how much energy and effort you put into building your arguments and gathering your evidence, it will not matter. You still need to deal with the punch to the face. Once the punch is being thrown, you can’t debate the punch, or invalidate the punch with logic, or provide evidence that the punch is unwarranted; you need to dodge, block or punch back.

[…]

To put the strategy into simple terms: CSJ advocates are not trying to defeat you intellectually with evidence and arguments, they are trying to defeat you socially using power moves and social maneuvering.
— Mike Young, “How To Play Games with Words Part 1: The tactics of the “woke” Critical Social Justice activist

Why could this be relevant? Well, the report in Verge tells the story with what we must assume are true elements, though possibly framed politically. And those elements show that Fried and Hansson almost has lost control of their company, where perhaps half of the employees felt very strongly that it should move in a direction the executives do not.

This was not viable and while it seems clear Fried and Hansson were surprised by what was happening, I still hold that their decision was right. Look at this, very long reply that Hansson sent before everything blew up:

[Employee 2], I can appreciate how those examples raise the sensitivity of anything related to names, minorities, and power dynamics.

Still, I don’t think we serve the cause of opposing colonial regimes or racist ideology by connecting their abusive acts around names to this incident. And I don’t think we serve an evaluation of you and others making fun of names in a Campfire session by drawing that connection either.

We can recognize that forceful renaming by a colonial regime is racist and wrong while also recognizing that having a laugh at customer names behind their back is inappropriate and wrong without equating or linking the two.

To take an example from the Campfire incident. The name [customer name] is an English surname that you can trace back to the 1500s. It’s funny because it sounds like [phonetic connection to customer name]. Having a laugh at that does not connect you to any colonial or racist origins. It’s inappropriate and wrong because it’s disrespectful of the customer, a violation of basic expectations of privacy, and sets a bad cultural tone at Basecamp.

Same too with the other name that was primarily made fun of in that Campfire session: [another customer name]. It’s a surname that follows the Nordic style of “Son of [that customer name]”. And it’s again funny for phonetic reasons, because it starts with [word fragment from customer name]. [That word fragment] is just a funny word! It’s still inappropriate for us to be laughing at individually named customers in our company Campfires, but not because there are any racist or colonial overtones to it.

In fact, reviewing the original list in question, the vast majority of names on it fall into the category of the two specific examples above. It’s not a list of, say, primarily Asian names. Out of the 78 names listed on the last version we were able to recover, just 6 names appear to be Asian.

So connecting this to the shootings in Atlanta, because the Asian victims of that atrocity had their names misspelled in news reports, is exactly the kind of linkage I’d like us to avoid when we analyze our mistakes together at work. It needlessly creates this extremely high-stakes environment where inappropriately making fun of a name like [customer name of nordic heritage] can be rendered as part of some larger narrative of colonialism and racism that it just does not merit.

Anyway, again, I completely appreciate that this is an incredible sensitive time when it comes to questions of identity, racism, and colonialism. Much more so than even just a few years ago when nobody called out that Campfire session analyzed above as being inappropriate or wrong, or sought to investigate the origins of the Best Names Ever list.

We need to at once respect that sensitivity, not let it draw connections in overreach, and respond proportionally. We should in my opinion also be humble enough to recognize that if we participated in acts just a few years ago that we now consider deplorable, it’s possible for others now to be where we were then without being irredeemable people.

Doing all of that is not easy! But we can try, do our best, improve, and forgive ✌️❤️
— David Heinemeier Hansson, “Let it all out

There’s a reason I quote it in full because I want you to read it and see if you can spot the discrimination and harassment there. If you can’t, well, that makes a lot of us. Nevertheless the company HR received complaints, charging that the

reply constituted discrimination against [employee 2] on the basis of race, gender, sexuality, or other protected-class attributes (though did not specify which exact attributes they felt this was targeted discrimination against) as well as a charge that it constituted harassment.

Unsurprisingly, external labor lawyers found no discrimination or harassment had occurred but imagine being in a company where employees would think so. Fried and Hansson will have to do some soul-searching, for as the executives they are very much to blame for the culture.

As I said, I think their decision was the right one and I hope they stick to it. But it will take some nerves of steel, now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Persecution

Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Time flies, especially on Youtube

Remembering an old song by Mike Oldfield and Phil Beer, I looked for it online and found it on Youtube. There, someone uploaded it in 2017, and someone else posted his appreciation .. in 2014?

Yeah, it’s probably because the video was updated 4 years ago and that’s why it says 2017, but still…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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All but one

Michael Collins, the astronaut on the Apollo 11 mission that didn’t land on the moon, died 3 days ago at age 90. He is the first person to take a picture that included every living human being, except himself:

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in the Lunar Landing Module, the rest of humanity on that blue ball in the background.

Collins also designed the mission patch of Apollo 11 with the eagle, but maybe we shouldn’t remember Collins as an astronaut, photographer, or designer, but as an IT guy?

Just before he reached the far side on the third orbit, Mission Control informed Collins there was a problem with the temperature of the coolant. If it became too cold, parts of Columbia might freeze. Mission Control advised him to assume manual control and implement Environmental Control System Malfunction Procedure 17. Instead, Collins flicked the switch on the offending system from automatic to manual and back to automatic again, and carried on with normal housekeeping chores, while keeping an eye on the temperature. When Columbia came back around to the near side of the Moon again, he was able to report that the problem had been resolved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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