Links Etc

aka “posting the things I’ve saved as a tab on my phone so I can stop thinking about them” aka “steering clear of real life issues that are taking up more of my brain but make for less exciting blog posts”

same scale

This rules. Two maps at the same zoom level. Compare a city you know to a city you’re visiting, see how big it “really” is. Thanks Josh!

pace layers

Hadn’t heard of this term but it makes a lot of sense. In particular, I’ve felt the need for the slower layers to be slower. It feels so important to maintain links to older culture - and I think we are kind of forced to maintain links to older nature.

ads in firefox

and how to disable them. sigh

needs

this could probably be summarized as “don’t run away from something, run towards something.” But that’s not quite it, more like “run towards something you feel is good, not something you think is good.” Don’t quit your job to become a florist because you think that’d probably be fun; quit your job to become a florist if you have tried it and know it would be fun. Unfortunately, it seems the only way to develop smart feelings about what it’s like to do X is to do X.

how to reason about covid and other hard things

I remember really liking this podcast, though in retrospect I’m not sure there’s one particular reason why. Just, in general, I like the way they’re approaching this problem. It’s not impossible; it may just take more time than you or I have, but that’s why I don’t write articles about covid. And we should absolutely be paying reporters who do!

(consider this also a plug for the Rationally Speaking podcast in general. The best “listen to authors and professors and etc talk about their corner of the world” podcast IMO.)

coinbase, “mission focused” or blissfully ignorant

A year ago, Armstrong posted, well, the above linked post. This was post-George-Floyd and around the time Basecamp told employees “no politics at work.” It sounded the same: “don’t talk politics at work or we will fire you” which sucks because for some people their whole life is kinda politics. (if you’re trans, a popular political position in the US is “no you’re not”; if you’re a woman with difficult reproductive circumstances, a popular position is “then perish”, etc; it gets hard to “leave politics at home”)

But around that time Armstrong posted something else that made me go “the worst person you know just made a great point” so I tried to steelman the “mission focused” post, and… ok, it’s possible.

The steelman version is something like the principle that lets me ignore, say, the war in Ethiopia right now. I mean, the war sucks! I’m sad it’s happening! and, if I were to donate, say, 1% of my income to Ethiopian human rights groups, then I’d have to also give 1% to those in Yemen, and Xinjiang, and North Korea, and pretty soon I’m out of percents, and who knows if that even did any good. Nobody short of Peter Singer would argue that I’m obligated to help all of these causes.

I’m not sure if the “you don’t have to be Peter Singer” approach applies more or less to (public) companies. On one hand, they have much more money and power than individuals. On the other hand, they’re more constrained: they’re sort of legally obligated to put profit first. So what you get when companies “care about social good” is usually some kind of nice-sounding platitude and maybe a few pennies tossed to BLM or Planned Parenthood or some cause before they get back to spending 99.99% of their effort on making money. (not that this is great; it’s just kind of the way it is.)

So I guess I’d want my company to care about social good in whatever way it applies to their business. Say, if we make clothes, I’d want us to be firmly committed to good labor practices and using sustainable materials; if we sold ads, I’d want us to make sure we don’t break all of journalism and support Nazis. Sometimes you have to look a little bit: like, in addition to labor practices and sustainable materials, you might say “a social justice cause that applies to our company is underrepresentation of POC designers, so we’re going to build a program to help address that.” That seems good. I’d want my company to also stand by their employees; so like, sponsoring visas, or paying extra on top of their health insurance if they’re in Texas and need an abortion, or whatever. Beyond that, I’m ok if they don’t take a stand on every cause. This… all sounds compatible with what Armstrong’s proposed?

(This could easily go wrong though; “internal division is bad” could imply “fire dissenters.” And I don’t love all the Netflix-like “championship team!” stuff; it seems to imply the “B players get severance packages” mentality that, I think, would make me constantly nervous and unable to focus. I guess I will reserve my overall judgment of this place; without being there, debating this could get stuck in mottes-and-baileys for a while.)


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