A compendium of everyday research

(roughly stolen from #6 on this list of things that would all be great)

Tati and I disagreed about whether we should get plastic or glass food containers, for long-term health-and-safety reasons. Like… BPA was a thing, but we’re fine now, right? But what about, I don’t know, if you put hot food into plastic? Is it still safe then? We had different instincts and that makes it difficult to make a shared decision.

Another question someone challenged me on is: how bad is cannabis for you? I have it in my head as “roughly as bad as alcohol” but that answer isn’t very thorough. How bad is vaping vs. edibles? Raw flower vs extracts and processed things? How many mg of THC should I be thinking about as equivalent to one beer? Is that even a fair comparison?

I’m sure one of my friends has researched both of these thoroughly, but I don’t know who. As it is, I’ll probably spend an annoying couple hours looking up articles and trying to fit them into my brain. It’d be nice if I could just look into the Google Drive folder where a friend has written a thing about it and decide.

(I assume this will be a major thing in the future, assuming we have kids! so many questions about what’s good for kids! eesh.)

This is not just reinventing wikipedia, because I think this has to be local-ish. Answers are somewhat context specific. If I were in the Yukon, maybe I’d have to worry more about freezer storage. If I already knew I was allergic to plastic (? I dunno), I’d just buy glass. If I couldn’t afford glass containers, I’d just buy plastic. If I were 14 years old, I think the answer on weed is “don’t do it; it will mess with your developing brain.” So I don’t think there’s One True Guide for everyone. But my friends are likely to be in roughly similar life situations, and they’re likely to roughly share my values, so I could probably just use their research.

(yes, Wirecutter does this for some “which X do I buy” questions. indeed, they have a pretty good answer here. but most questions are not “which X do I buy” and maybe I wouldn’t trust a NYT/Amazon hybrid to answer many questions anyway.)

edit a couple hours later: geez, researching plastic food container safety is awful - I think the answer is something like “who knows?” and so I’m landing on “try not to mix heat and plastic; maybe don’t reuse plastic containers a ton, and buy glass reusable containers instead of plastic when given the choice; otherwise don’t worry about it”

Happiness won’t save you (contains talk about suicide) (read with bypass paywalls)

1. Those studies about how lottery winners and car-accident paraplegics all went back to the same baseline they started from, after some time? Not, uh, super true. (“not true” is glib shorthand; science is hard) This is both scary (oh man if I got in an accident my life probably would get worse) and empowering (if I feel like I’m on a new better baseline, that’s not just an illusion.)

2. Man this poor guy! Academia is bad, sure, but uff I’m always so sympathetic to people who are in this situation. I think about logarithmic scales of pleasure and pain a lot. While there’s more to suffering than just a number, the “logarithmic” part is what’s so scary; it can get real bad in there.

3. Every discussion about suicide contains a link to the suicide prevention hotline. … kinda curious, do they mind that a million people keep linking to them? Also, what happens when they get overloaded? I imagine “sorry, there’s nobody here to talk to you” is like the worst possible failure mode, so they probably super-prepare against it; I wonder how.

Tech isn’t neutral: a list of resources. Mostly just bookmarking this because one time I had to argue that tech isn’t neutral and I was unprepared. It’s so obvious! gosh.

Rumcakes and rainbows; or how meaning is interactively constructed through things, not inherent in them or totally in your head. This is also just a link to this whole ongoing Meaningness book project that seems to me generally pretty good. It’s like a philosophy book but you don’t have to know philosophy. It also AFAICT is trying to address the main question that I’m pretty interested in: what even matters, and why?

Mozilla “privacy not included” gift guide. This is always going to be an oversimplification but this seems to be a pretty good start. I like how they show what data is collected, and then let people vote on “… so, how bad is it?” to address the fact that “gathering X” isn’t inherently creepy. If a Fitbit checks my pulse, fine; if a “smart fork” does so, gtfo. Reminds me of Privacy Grade, which also used this kind of “analyze data use then let people vote” kind of thing.

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