The finest handpicked things from the stinking and burning dumpster fire that is the interweb.

Month: January 2024

Selling our soul, one tiny bit at a time

I don’t know why; it might be sheer coincidence or algorithmic manipulation, but I keep coming back to the topic of information consumption.

In last week’s post, I wrote about how our reliance on algorithms for our informational needs might be turning us into dull and unremarkable individuals with generic tastes and views. I also wrote a bit of a confessional about how my own information consumption patterns might be buggered.

A few weeks ago, I heard Liv Boeree on the Triggernometry podcast talk about the fucked-up state of the media, and I’ve been letting the conversation simmer in my head. When I was thinking about what to write this week, the conversation popped into my head because it’s a natural extension of what I wrote last week.

Here are a few ideas from the conversation:

Hollowed husks

This is going to be a messy post, so brace yourself.

“It’s not true that life is one damn thing after another; it’s one damn thing over and over.” ― Edna St. Vincent Millay

Everything is cyclical.

Fear and greed. Hope and despair. Creation and destruction. Normal hairstyle vs. hair that looks like it was chewed by rats, untorn jeans vs. ripped jeans, market cap vs. equal weight, smartphones vs. dumb phones, vinyl vs. digital, real vs. virtual, full chaddi vs. half chaddi, techno-optimism vs. techno-despair: the more things change, the more they remain the same.

The reason why I’m saying this is because there’s something peculiar going on with the feeds from which I get most of my information. I’m an information addict. If I don’t have a steady stream of information injected into my brain, I start tweaking and fidgeting like a drug addict. Given my addiction, I’m always on the lookout for new apps and platforms that give me a good high.

How to be a little less stupid every day

Reasonable observations

  • Bitcoin investors stuck it to the man and the big government by getting approval…from the man and the big government.
  • I’m boycotting the Maldives. The fact that I can’t afford it has no bearing on my decision. I’m a patriot first, poor second.
  • Bangalore traffic police pass a new rule: the minimum distance between vehicles in traffic signals is 1 cm.
  • John Maynard Keynes famously said, “The government should pay people to dig holes in the ground and then fill them up.” He was saying this was a way for the government to create jobs and reduce unemployment. The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) digs up good roads because it’s Keynesian.
  • People in Silk Board honk like they’re in a rush to save dying people so that they can engage in road rage at 6 kmph.
  • If you don’t read books to show off that you are reading a book and post tweets about it, what’s the fucking point of reading a book?

A miracle in search of meaning

What the hell is the meaning of life?

The poetic physicist Alan Lightman said this on an EconTalk podcast episode, and my jaw dropped to the floor as soon as I heard it. As of the writing of this post, my jaw is still firmly pinned to the floor by gravity. I know this sounds obvious to anybody who remembers their science classes, but lucky for me, I had forgotten. Lucky because I got to hear the breathtakingly profound observation once again.

Alan Lightman: So all of the material of our body, except for the hydrogen and helium, was literally made in the nuclear reactions inside stars. And, if you could tag each one of the atoms in your body and follow it backwards in time as it went through the various materials that you’ve eaten during your lifetime and then to the air, soil, water, back billions of years ago to the time that the earth was formed, and even before that when material that formed the earth was in a gas cloud circling around, eventually each one of those atoms, each particular atom that you had tagged, maybe tagged it with your social security number, would eventually end up at the center of a star.

Russ Roberts: And—pardon my naivete—there’s a lot to say about that, obviously. Of course, my first thought for a non-scientific person is, ‘Aw, come on, you’re kidding.’ But, there is a great deal of evidence for this; and it is so extraordinary. One is tempted to say miraculous. That would not, I guess, be the appropriate word in the context of the conversation so far.

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