On understanding

From another Dave:

If you asked my father what Dave’s favorite music is, he would have told you what his favorite music is, and (importantly) he’d think he’s answering the question. If you ask someone why Dave works so hard, he’ll tell you what he aspires to. He might say Dave does it to get rich. That wouldn’t tell you anything about Dave, but it likely tells you something about him. This is important to understanding disputes, and is why listening is so important. For example, the US thought North Vietnam was fighting because they were part of a global communist alliance to defeat the west. The Domino Theory. Because we were at war against that. The Vietnamese were actually fighting a war of independence, and were puzzled why the US, a former colony that fought for its independence, was fighting them. Moral of the story: Unless you ask, you probably don’t know why someone is doing what they do. 

Dave Winer (Oct 11, 2018)

how to be generous in a debate

He has some differences of opinion with himself…

What could easily have been an accidental (and funny) dig on someone else’s argument turned into an honest reflection on the difficulty of being intellectually consistent with complex issues.

Jordan Peterson was speaking on a panel at OCON, and brought up an argument he’s had with Sam Harris (who was not in the room) about where values come from.

If he was in a mindset of winning an argument or one-upping Harris, he could have let it stand as a great soundbite.

Instead, he followed up with:

Well, it’s very difficult to be entirely coherent when you think through something that’s complicated. There’s likely to be inconsistencies in your argument because it’s so complicated.

LIVE from OCON: Jordan Peterson, Dave Rubin, Yaron Brook, Greg Salmieri
From The Rubin Report, 2018-07-02
Full episode: Omny.fm

check out my sick elephant!

I’m loving the sick elephant series on right now over at Wondermark.

I started reposting them all here for myself, but the best thing you can do is go to the first in the series and click through them on his site, so he gets good feels from knowing people are reading them. And so you’ll never know if you’re reading an elephant comic until you know you’re reading an elephant comic. 

Don’t deprive yourself — go read them

The second best thing you can do is read them all here if you’re too lazy to click through.

Putting the No in Nose

Truly, perhaps all animals are elephants with leprosies of various severity

In which an Elephant is sick

Still undetermined: the type of pachyderm the leprous beast actually is. This is a new frontier for animal science

In which the Sickness descends

And honestly, I feel great!

A Memory Set in Stone

Whenever you buy a tombstone they give you a little wagon to pull it around in. That’s standard

In which a Case is cracked

Tusks are made of chitin, obviously.

In which a Professional is found

An easy enough mistake to make — the practice noodlenosers back in veteronorfian school are all wooden models from the 30s.

Bones of Stone, Heart of Gold


Bones of Stone, For the Bold

fortunately there are lots of handy how-to techniques for this process on SkelShare.com

In which the Staff is short

It is definitely a literal bone thing. That doesn’t rule out it ALSO being a sex thing, but it is definitely, foremost, a bone thing.

The Cossack Gone Astray

Turns out you can weave a LOT of Chekhov short story titles into 17 short lines of dialogue

In which the Stacks hold Facts

‘The Scarlet Herring’ seemed like it was gonna be pretty good, but then it never really went anywhere.

In which a Tract is hacked

That tract was originally about a kid who valued his special trousers over the love of his family. You know, real relatable content

Thick Skin, White Soap

I think I saw an article in ELLE just recently about the phenomenon

some views on tech/screens and kids

Some recent views on kids and tech. Putting them here to refer back to as I work through the ideas.

  • “Screen and Teens” (Analysis, BBC Radio, 30 mins)
  • “Dr. Michael Rich, MD” (Triangulation, TWiT.tv, 1 hour)
  • “Have We Always Been This Tired?” (The Inquiry, BBC World Service, 23 mins)

“Screen and Teens”, Analysis, BBC Radio 4 (28 min)

Aired: 2018 March 19


Do we need to “do something” about the effects of smartphones on teenage children? The backlash against the omnipresent devices has begun. Parents on both sides of the Atlantic are increasingly worried that smartphones pose a threat to the current generation of teenagers, who have grown up with a phone almost constantly in their hand. Smartphones make our teenagers anxious, tired narcissists who lack empathy and the ability to communicate properly in person. Or so the story goes.

David Baker examines the evidence behind the case against smartphones. He hears from the academics calling for action to curb the addictive pull of the screen and from a former Silicon Valley developer who won’t let his children have a smartphone. But he also speaks to experts convinced this is just another moral panic about technology’s effect on the young.

Could there be a danger in blaming smartphones for the rise in teenage anxiety, especially among girls, at the expense of finding the real cause?What, if anything, should we be doing to protect our kids? And who can we look to for guidance in fashioning a healthy relationship with this incredibly powerful piece of kit?

Producer: Lucy Proctor.


  • Loren Brichter — app developer resisting the use of cell phones by kids
    • Economic model for companies could be part of the problem — time spent in the app is what advertising-based models make money on, so they’re incentivized to make apps that will keep people using them as long as possible.
  • Jean Twenge, author of iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids are Growing up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy–and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood, and Professor of Psychology at San Diego State University.
    • Essentially argues the precautionary principle — there’s no negative effect in limiting use but there *could* be a chance that screen time negatively impacts kids, so why not limit it?
  • Amy Orben, Researcher at Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford.
    • Argues that phones haven’t been proven as the causal factor in depression, etc., that people like Twenge argue they are.
  • Andy Przybylski, Senior Researcher at Oxford Internet Institute.
    • In his research, he sees minimal negative well-being impact from even 7-8 hours of screen use per day (much less than from missing breakfast).
  • Sonia Livingstone, Professor of Social Psychology, Department of Media and Communications at London School of Economics; blogger at LSE’s Parenting for a Digital Future.
    • Are we ignoring the majority of social issues (changes in the education system, in family and community life, etc.) that are impacting kids by putting all the negative outcomes we see on technology?
    • Banning devices for kids is a bad idea – damages relationships with kids and parents/teachers. Age and maturity should dictate when kids get devices.
    • Social norms will change to dictate how phones should be used in society. Regulation will only follow changes in social norms.
  • Stella, 15-yr old student, and heavy phone user.
    • Very aware of how phone use impacts her well-being, particularly around sleep.
    • Family now works with her to make sure her phone gets put away out of the room in the evenings before bed.
  • Natalie, Stella’s mum.
    • Compartmentalizing life is harder now than it was in the past — the public and private are always joined.
  • Laverne Antrobus, child psychologist at Tavistock Clinic.
    • Not sure what level of alarm is required re: devices — she doesn’t see the evidence to support the level of alarm she naturally feels.

Show link: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09w05zk

Local copy, for posterity (right-click to download if the BBC site no longer has the episode.)

Or listen here:

“Dr. Michael Rich, MD”, Triangulation, TWiT.tv (1 hr 04 min)

Aired: 2018 March 09


Megan Morrone talks to Dr. Michael Rich, Founder and Director of the Center on Media and Child Health (CMCH) working on longitudinal studies of how kids you media. Dr. Rich is also Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, Associate Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard School of Public Health, and practices Adolescent Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital. Dr. Rich talks about the benefits of having a television, the right age to start watching YouTube, and how to talk to your kids about online pornography. Plus, how kids (and adults) can master technology before it masters us.

Show link: https://twit.tv/tri/337

Local copy, for posterity (right-click to download if TWiT.tv no longer has the episode).

Or listen here: 

“Have We Always Felt This Tired?”, The Inquiry, BBC World Service (23 min)

Show link (and higher quality download): https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3csvsyw

Local copy, for posterity (right-click to download if BBC website no longer has the episode).

Or listen here: 

A theory about Google Opinion Rewards

I used to assume the Google Opinion Rewards question “which of the following places have you visited recently” was largely about refining their mapping data, since they regularly assume I’m in a place that I’m just walking past.

But what if it’s about testing how good your memory is? They know the last time I was at Canadian Tire, so what if this is not just about refining location mapping, but about how long it takes me to forget about a place I’ve spent money at visit to a potential advertiser.

Feed that back into the advertising profile they have of me, and Google could start suggesting to advertisers how soon after a visit to their store I should be targeted with an ad to reinforce their brand.

Bald speculation is not analysys

From Fortune.com’s “Jeff Bezos Sold $1.1 Billion Worth of His Amazon Stock”:

From one angle, Bezos’ steady selloff of Amazon stock could simply be seen as part of the same sort of diversification strategy a typical investor might pursue, since the company is performing well. But the sales could also reflect caution about the future of the broader stock market

The analysis is sorely lacking in this piece, as it doesn’t even consider the fact that Bezos announced just a few months ago that he would sell $1 Billion worth of his Amazon shares per year, to fund Blue Origin.