Friday, November 11th, 2022

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Starting the day with newsletter coding. Not sure what is going on, but the newsletter isn't sending. As far as I can see, it is working on my side and an issue with tinyletter. We'll see if this resolves tomorrow or what.

I have already been thinking of moving the newsletter to another sender, and just haven't made the move yet.

11/11/2022 6:42 am | | Tags: programming, glowbug, newsletter

Roger Penrose on Consciousness and Neuroscience

Lex Fridman talking with Roger Penrose, this is a superb conversation where one of the world's preeminent scientists confesses the level of not-knowing which is going on in their field.

11/11/2022 8:56 am | | Tags: science, consciousness, biology, physics

"The Quiet Invasion of 'Big Information'"

I recently removed Twitter and TikTok from my phone. Primarily because of productivity and not feeling I was getting the value I wanted from them. But also, partly, out of a concern of privacy.

I don't think removing those apps will make a substantial change in my digital footprint, and the reality is, I hardly make an effort to be anonymous online. I willingly answer questions from Google about my behaviors, both online and offline, for pennies ("When were you at Fred Meyer last?" or "Do you remember this YouTube video?")

This article, which is an excerpt from "Data Cartels" Sarah Lamdan is a grim reminder of what I largely already knew. These massive businesses which do, what to people just 30 years ago, would consider obscene observation and stalking, make huge profits because of it.

Despite being a billion-dollar data and information business—just one of RELX's brands, alone, has profit margins that rival Apple, Google, and Amazon's—RELX doesn't get the same level of public scrutiny that those other companies do.

We regularly hear, and most recently in conjunction to Musk's Twitter moves, that if you're not paying for it - you, yourself, are the product. But the truth is you are already the product. No matter what we do, where we go, we are being tracked.

My mother-in-law was frustrated about getting texts for political candidates in Washington state even though she lives in Florida. She has a very small online footprint, but I suspect it's big enough. I didn't want to make her worried, so I glided over some of the details, but I noted that I suspect her phone was registered on a tower or network here in Washington and that that was recorded and then sold to the political marketers for this campaign.

I truly think we are approaching an epoch change in regards to online privacy and data, though it will be messy and, honestly, likely Sisyphean with too much already being out there and too many freedoms already lost.

I'm adding the book to my steadily growing pile of "things I need to read eventually."

Data Cartels by Sarah Lamdan
Data Cartels by Sarah Lamdan
11/11/2022 9:43 am | | Tags: privacy, security, digital security, digital life

Demystifying the concept of financial leverage in business

Every business has a balance sheet, which contrasts its assets (valuable things it owns) against liabilities (valuable things it owes to other people). The difference between assets and liabilities is equity.

Financial businesses will frequently have non-financial assets and liabilities. Ignore those for the sake of simplicity. Ignore the nice building, the computers, the payroll due on Friday for work which has already been completed. Focus just on the financial assets and liabilities, things like "mortgages our bank owns" (asset) and "deposits from customers" (liability).

Leverage is the ratio of your liabilities to your equity. Simple division. Fourth grade math. If you have $110 million in assets and $100 million in liabilities you, by subtraction, have $10 million in equity against your $100 million in liabilities. You are said to be levered 10:1.

The entry also used a word I had to look up, "impecunious." - From context and also looking at the word I thought it was about "having no money," which as it turns out, I was right.

This post was clearly inspired by the current events around FTX and what happened to cause its apparently sudden filing for Chapter 11. The author, who works for Stripe, goes on to discuss his own bit of interactions with Crypto currencies at the time, turning a small profit because of the chaos and opportunism and an understanding of the financial mechanisms at play.

11/11/2022 10:11 am | | Tags: business, accounting, economics

"A child star at 7, in prison at 22. Then she vanished. What happened to Lora Lee Michel?"

I read this last week and forgot to blog it. An interesting look into the story of a forgotten childhood actress of the 40s, and the mystery of what became of her life.

11/11/2022 10:55 am | | Tags: lora lee, acting, child actor

Fediverse Block & Spam Reporting

I am now, fairly regularly, keeping an eye on my Fediverse's local timeline. I've taken it as a mission to report spammers I see in that timeline. I am primarily doing this on the desktop while working or relaxing. However, my frustration with their system is that in the neverending spam wars, the anti-spam tools need to be as optimized as possible. And the current process requires far too many clicks.

So, yesterday, I coded a bookmarklet. I tried embedding it, but the JS code doesn't play well with Markdown, so it just rendered the ugly text.

To use this, you just need to copy the below text and then create a bookmark in your browser, give it a name (I used 'Fed Spam') and then paste this code. I haven't done extensive testing, but it works in Firefox flawlessly.


The above bookmarklet fills out the "Block & Spam" report form on the Tweetdeck-esque interface for Mastodon. It writes 'Spam' in the message box, and then toggles next to every post. Because I'm reporting bot accounts which are just posting spam every time, I don't need to apply any mental effort of reviewing posts. I'm still clicking the submit button, I didn't add that to the automation (yet?) but it's definitely made it a farcry easier to fight spam on the server.

11/11/2022 12:20 pm | | Tags: fediverse, social media, spam

Hank gets a lot right here, despite the clickbait-y title

11/11/2022 12:29 pm | | Tags: free speech, moderation, twitter, elon musk

Desert Bus for Hope!

On the off chance that the winner of the Powerball this week reads my blog... I feel I should mention tomorrow my favorite annual charity event of the year kicks off. A group of friends, largely in the Victoria BC area, run a gaming stream for roughly a week as they raise money for the Child's Play charity.

The tentpole of the stream is ostensibly "Desert Bus" an anti videogame by Penn Jillette created during the height of video game mania in politics. It is a video game where you drive a bus, which pulls constantly to the right, from Reno to Vegas, and back. That's it. Just keep the bus moving on the road.

But the stream is about much more. The group play improv games and do all sorts of absurd things to earn donations and raise money. As of writing this, over the past 15 runs (this will be their 16th) they have raised $8.3 Million dollars, with last year's total run ending at over $1.2 Million dollars.

I am friends with a number of participants of the stream and have worked with them as part of what I do for Wizards of the Coast. Wizards donates products to the charity for auction and fundraising, but we're just a footnote in what they do.

If you find yourself looking for something to do, plan to watch the stream! It starts at 1pm Pacific tomorrow and will run for, likely, at least a week!

11/11/2022 12:40 pm | | Tags: charity, fundraising, philanthropy

Comedian Gallagher dies at 76

Admittedly the peak of his comedy presence was when I was on the young side. The most notable thing I can contribute here is that I went to middle school with his daughter. I didn't know her, but she was at school the same time as me.

11/11/2022 1:08 pm | | Tags: obituary

Moonfall (2022) - 2 of 5 moons

I had an itch for a disaster movie, so I turned to Roland Emmerich. It did its job. And now, I'll treat it like a shameful secret and never mention the movie again.

11/11/2022 5:01 pm | | Tags: movie, review
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