…back to it [DOT 27/12/22]

or...maybe not...

…so…supposedly it’s time to get back to work

…but…if you can stay home instead…I vote for that option…I mean…it could be worse

Well, as a matter of fact, yes, it could have been […] Election denialism, while not a dead letter, is on the wane (e.g., nearly all losing candidates promptly conceded in 2022; the death toll from Covid this year was substantially lower than in 2020 and 2021 (i.e., the vaccines worked); Russia can’t seem to defeat Ukraine — nor has it started a nuclear war; despite inflation, hiring is brisk and the unemployment rate has remained low; movie theaters are back; and, hallelujah, the once-superhuman Tom Brady finally returned to Earth with the rest of us. Although we might not feel like partying like it’s 1999, the sky didn’t fall. If anything, the overall picture is improving.

So good on us for dodging the omnibus worst-case scenario. But why were so many of us racked with such outsized pessimism? Moreover, why didn’t we give the things that we were most worried about so much as a passing nod once they failed to materialize? In short, why do we have such a hard time putting things in perspective?

But there’s likely a psychologically deeper reason as well, one that has otherwise contributed to the successful adaptation of the human species since time immemorial. Call it negativity bias or affective asymmetry, but it is this: Relative to positive information, negative information carries more weight; moves us more strongly to act; and leads to greater learning — starting from infancy.
These biases are deep-seated in the human mind and can be difficult to overcome. Moreover, they are amplified because counterfactuals can be difficult to generate (i.e., it’s hard to remember the things that didn’t happen). This is further compounded by the fact that we tend to extract the “evaluative gist” of events and proceed to forget the descriptive details, as the latter are no longer relevant. Those details may be needed to update our beliefs at a later time but by then may be unavailable (either because they never made it into our long-term memory or because their memory traces are too faint for us to retrieve).

So, how can we do better? To answer this question, perhaps it’s helpful to understand that the human mind is motivated by three, often contradictory, goals: to get a decision right (accuracy), to preserve our cognitive resources (efficiency) and to leave our prior beliefs intact (cognitive consistency). That is, we like our beliefs to be settled and valid, and we like to arrive at them without too much effort at reasoning. As economy-minded souls, we also have a tendency to engage in theory-based (or top-down) reasoning, which means we often develop expectations about an event, and we too-often proceed to confirm those expectations even when they aren’t borne out by the evidence.

To do better, we need to try harder, and that entails two principal actions: We need to temper our expectations so that we remain open to the “evidence,” and we need to guard ourselves — especially in a time of political polarization — against “us versus them” reasoning so that we recognize that we are not always right and they are not always wrong. This is no easy feat, as belief confirmation and sticking with the in-group provide strong psychological rewards.

All the bad things that were supposed to happen in 2022 — but didn’t [NBC]

…sometimes we’re wrong…but then again…sometimes we’re not

…maybe it’s not an option…but if it is…maybe leave all that going above & beyond to the overachievers

It’s humblebragging season. Around this time of year newspapers are stuffed to the brim with articles about what so-and-so achieved in 2022 and what they hope to achieve in 2023. They read a book a day! They gave up alcohol! They gave up social media! They took up wild swimming!

Me? I did none of those things. Especially not wild swimming, which is a peculiarly British obsession. There’s nothing Brits love more than turning something objectively miserable into a hobby. Long muddy walks, beans on toast, swimming in freezing cold lakes: if it’s damp and vaguely masochistic, Brits are all over it.

[…point of order…I rarely eat them…but beans on toast really doesn’t belong in that list…they aren’t damp…if only because they’re hot rather than cold & damp has overtones of cold…& eating them is…not discernibly masochistic…the lady does still have a point, though]

Anyway, I’m not trying to dampen the mood here. This column […] was meant to be about how there is a lot of satisfaction to be had in small things. I may not have learned a new language or read 500 books in 2022, but you know what I did do? You know what I’m actually incredibly proud of? I fixed my kitchen cupboard. I watched a DIY YouTube video, bought some wood glue, felt a little lightheaded after inadvertently sniffing glue fumes, got out a drill and managed to fix my wobbly cupboard.

I then spent the next few months pitching my editors at the Guardian on a column about how I bravely overcame my fear of DIY. They all politely declined. Nevertheless, I persisted.

So there you go. There’s my little inspirational message for everyone to carry into 2023: never give up on your dreams. Even if your dreams are just trying to convince someone at the Guardian to let you tell the world how you fixed your kitchen cupboard.


…& you know what else? …fixing a kitchen cupboard is a perfectly good reason to be in the kitchen…which is in your house…& therefore does not require going out into the cold…unless you need something you don’t already have at home in order to fix it…but you know what? …that’s where the “make do” part of “make do & mend” comes in…just…improvise…it’s warmer that way…although…warmer might be what made it so damn cold

The data is clear: Rising global temperatures mean winters are getting milder, on average, and the sort of record-setting cold that spanned the country Friday is becoming rarer. But at the same time, global warming may be altering atmospheric patterns and pushing harsh outbreaks of polar air to normally moderate climates, according to scientists who are actively debating the link.

Drastic changes in the Arctic, which is warming faster than anywhere else on Earth, are at the center of the discussion. Shifts in Arctic ice and snow cover are triggering atmospheric patterns that allow polar air to spread southward more often, according to recent research.


…still…maybe…the penguins will save us?

In a research study released this week, scientists at McGill University in Montreal unveiled a wire mesh design, which could wrap around power lines, the sides of boats or even on airplanes and prevent ice from sticking to surfaces without using chemicals.

The scientists drew inspiration from the wings of the Gentoo penguins, which swim in ice-cold waters near the South Pole and manage to stay ice-free even when temperatures outside are well-below freezing.
Researchers replicated this design by creating a wired woven mesh using laser technology. After that, they tested the mesh’s ice-adhesion performance in a wind tunnel and found it was 95 percent more effective at resisting ice buildup than a standard surface of stainless steel. No chemical solvents were needed either, they added.
Kevin Golovin, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering from the University of Toronto, said the most attractive part of this de-icing solution is that it’s a wire mesh, which makes it long-lasting.


…because…well…going big might not cut it

The White House has set into motion a five-year outline for research into “climate interventions”. Those include methods such as sending a phalanx of planes to spray reflective particles into the upper reaches of the atmosphere, in order to block incoming sunlight from adding to rising temperatures.
Several American researchers, somewhat reluctantly, want to explore options to tinker with the climate system to help restrain runaway global heating, even as they acknowledge many of the knock-on risks aren’t fully known. “Until recently, I thought it was too risky, but slow progress on cutting emissions has increased motivation to understand techniques at the margins like solar geoengineering,” said Chris Field, who chaired a National Academies of Sciences report last year that recommended at least $100m being spent researching the issue.
Edward Parson, an expert in environmental law at University of California, Los Angeles, says Make Sunsets’ claims that it could return the world to its pre-industrial temperature for just $50bn a year are “absurd”. He explains that most researchers are wary of deploying what they consider to be a desperate, last-ditch option.
This prospect horrifies opponents of solar geoengineering. An open letter signed by more than 380 scientists demands a global non-use agreement for SRM; it also says that growing calls for research in this area are a “cause for alarm”, due to an unknown set of ramifications that will have varying consequences in different parts of the world and could scramble “weather patterns, agriculture and the provision of basic needs of food and water”.

Frank Biermann, an expert in global governance at Utrecht University, said he’s also disturbed that solar geoengineering will create a sort of moral hazard where governments ease off efforts to cut emissions and fossil fuel companies use it as cover to continue business as usual. Planet-heating emissions are expected to hit a record high this year, even though they must halve this decade if the world is to avoid dangerous levels of global heating.
“Termination shock terrifies me,” said Lili Fuhr, a climate and energy expert at the Center for International Environmental Law. “This is just a gigantic gamble with the systems that sustain life on Earth. It could be weaponized, it could be misused – imagine if, say, India and Pakistan disagreed over one of them doing this.

…as it happens…you don’t have to imagine it…that was one of the plot elements of neal stephenson’s last book…but…you probably don’t need to read that to figure out where it wouldn’t be great?

There are several types of proposed geoengineering, such as pumping a mist of salt water into clouds to make them more reflective of sunlight, or to place ice particles in high-altitude clouds to stop them trapping so much of the heat that bounces off Earth.

The most high-profile method, though, is firing a reflective substance such as sulphur or chalk dust from nozzles into the stratosphere, where the particles would then circulate around the world and start deflecting the sun’s rays. David Keith, professor of applied physics and of public policy at Harvard, estimates that around 2m tons of sulphur a year, injected via a fleet of about 100 high-flying aircraft, would cool the planet by around 1C, around the amount it has heated up since the Industrial Revolution.

…oh…what do you know…someone might have read that book for you…yet another reason you don’t need to leave the house today

Other effects on regional weather are more uncertain, to the extent one recent novel based on the topic, The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson, depicted India embarking upon solar geoengineering to save itself from deadly heatwaves while another, Termination Shock by Neal Stephenson, conversely had India sabotaging a sulphur deployment system in Texas because it interfered with its monsoon.


…you know…I’m starting to think maybe big tech isn’t going to save us

Musk has built his reputation on having a Midas touch with the companies he runs — something many investors and experts thought he would bring to Twitter when he purchased it for $44 billion in October, paying nearly twice as much as it was worth by some analyst estimates. He is known for sleeping on the factory floor at Tesla, demanding long hours and quick turnarounds from his workers. He is seen as an engineering genius, propelling promises of cars that can drive themselves and rockets that can take humans to Mars.
Musk’s net worth — largely fueled by his stake in Tesla, which has fallen by more than half this year — has plunged this year from roughly $270 billion to below $140 billion on Friday, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. That fall has relieved him of the title of the world’s richest man and called into question his ability to keep up with his billions of dollars in loans.


…&…that it increasingly looks like the “big” part might be overcompensation for being small-minded

Last month, Thiel finally stepped down from the social network,formally dissolving one of the most powerful partnerships in the history of Silicon Valley. As Facebook’s first outside investor, its longest-serving board member and a close adviser to CEO Mark Zuckerberg since he launched the company as a Harvard sophomore in 2004, Thiel helped alter the direction of the company whose products serve billions.
New reporting shows Thiel has set his sights on transforming American culture — and funding its culture wars — through what his associates refer to as “anti-woke” business ventures. These include a right-wing film festival, a conservative dating app founded by a former Trump administration ally and a firm, Strive Asset Management, that will “pressure CEOs to steer clear of environmental, social and political” causes, said Vivek Ramaswamy, the firm’s co-founder. One example is oil companies “committing to reduce production to meet environmental goals.”
Thiel and Musk may herald the rise of a new breed of tech billionaire, turning their deep pockets and distinct ideologies away from the companies that made their fortunes toward building a new version of the American right. It’s a powerful group that has the potential to anoint a rising generation of political leaders, transforming both the GOP and Silicon Valley.
In addition to the film festival, he has funded a Catholic prayer app, theconservative dating app, and a right-wing YouTube alternative Rumble. A recent investment is Strive, a firm that aims to rival megafirms like Vanguard and will buy large stakes in companies and push them away from environmental, social, and what the group describes as political agendas that the hurt the bottom line.



…if birds of a feather flock together…maybe it stands to reason that rich assholes glom onto one another…but you know what? …that shit ain’t natural…or maybe that ought to be them shits…wrong ‘uns, each & every one…& maybe we ought to do something about that

…just as soon as it warms the hell up



    • If the looters are so desperate (and they’re not, they’re breaking into electronics stores and mini-marts that sell beer and cigarettes, not supermarkets, I read in another article) they could always find work in one of New York State’s salt mines.

      I remember visiting friends a few years ago and going by what I thought was a huge construction site. I asked what was going in there. Turns out it was a sand quarry. I had never heard of such a thing, I thought quarries produced granite and marble. But no, they exist, and the sand is sold for top dollar to whoever wants to shore up their beaches after Mother Nature periodically washes all the sand away from storms or beach erosion. This was not in New York state but neither was I touring the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

      • Oh, I didn’t even notice they had comments! Yes, more perceptive insights from the engaged citizenry. Although not citizens of Buffalo, it sounds like. I’ve never been to Buffalo either so maybe I should leave a comment or two.

        One of the few things I know about Buffalo is that there are some Frank Lloyd Wright houses I’d like to see. One of the principles of his Usonian houses is that they have flat roofs. Which is fine, if you’re at Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona, but he built so many in the snow belt, and Buffalo is the snowiest place in the lower 48. How do they keep the flat roofs from collapsing under such heavy snowfalls? I think that will be my comment for Newsweek.

  1. It’s always amusing to me that Libertarian SW Engineers think they can save the world from librulizum. A group of mostly white (with a lot of Asian (south and north) mixed in) folks who are both brilliant in SW dev and fucking morons in everything else.

    Thiel just reinforces my belief that STEM education above all else is a bad idea. We need more LIBERAL ARTS education among STEM grads. Humanities is what keeps us from becoming Elmos or Thiels.

    Not realizing that the Greeks already invented what they’re about to go thru, Hubris.

    • …don’t know as I’d go so far as defending them…I just didn’t think they really qualified as masochistic?

      …probably been thirty years or more since I actually ate beans on toast…but a nice slice of decent toasted brown bread with hot baked beans slathered on top ain’t so bad as I recall…obviously if it’s soggy, poorly-toasted rubbish bread that’s just a mess…& there are much better bean dishes to be had…but it’s easy & we were definitely fed that stuff when I were a kid

      …but…fair enough?

      […I still think the scientists with the issues with geoengineering have valid concerns, though…& it could definitely stand to be warmer…unless you prefer your iguanas frozen, I suppose]

  2. Rip, you are prescient, with that sub-heading today!😆😂🤣


    And WELCOME to all our fellow Americans Texans, North of the New York/Texas border!😉

    Evidently the song Empire State of Mind was right, there is nothing NY can’t do…

    Including take over the entirety of the Continental US, and drive Ted Cruz and the rest of his State up into “The Land *Formerly* known as Canada”…


    this map at a coffee shop from CrappyDesign

    Thought y’all might like to giggle about this hot mess, just as much as I’ve been laughing this morning😁💖💞

    The comments are pretty golden!

    • The matchup of the folks talking in the weeds of the comments about Oil Texans migrating North, because Canada has successful cold-weather infrastructure, and Rip’s Pinky & The Brain picture was too perfect not to share that post😉

      That map is just goofy, and hilariously bad!🤣💖

      (I found out about it, from this article, over at Buzzfeed)

      • The tricky thing is prosperity gospel types see Democratic attacks on this “philosophy” as a good thing. It reinforces their sense that they should be hypocrites and out for power.

        A better approach is to drive wedges between the preachers and politicians and the followers, and you have to figure out ways to get them disillusioned and feeling taken advantage of.

        And even more important, win over what remains of swing voters and low information voters who scan just a few Facebook posts before they vote.

        The hard part is that the GOP preachers and politicians have been steadily undermining the neutral authorities to the point where it’s hard for even basic truths like vaccine safety to get through.

        What the GOP leaders benefit from is the degree of self-loathing in the press itself, especially the political press.

        Every time a place like CBS or CNN hires right wing pundits to essentially attack their own legitimacy, they contribute to a sense among remaining independents that GOP is right about press bias. Every time they run yet another moral panic bit by fake liberals bemoaning cancel culture on the left, they diminish their own legitimacy.

        It’s not hopeless, but it’s a lot harder and stupider then it should be.

        • …can’t help but feel at this point it’s mostly a matter of sunk costs more than anything

          …the endlessly cynical evolution of how to most effectively gull voters to a cause they wouldn’t vote for if they accepted the part where it’s based on a premise that casts them as somewhere between puppet & punchline is arguably the latest iteration of a mechanic that’s been with people since there were people…& in some senses even the anti-logic of vaccine &/or climate denialists is a somewhat logical conclusion of how that works…affective asymmetry & all

          …it seems more than fair to blame the assholes who think they’re playing the smart angle by leveraging the marks…but damn if it isn’t all kinds of hard not to blame the ones who’ve had any number of stark examples of ways they’ve been played to the point of cliché but would sooner keep fucking themselves over than admit they’ve been taken for fools

    • …chinese new year seems certain to be a massive problem…but after the draconian measures they had in place any attempt to “cancel” it might really kick off…that much it seems like they haven’t got a lot of choice about

      …but…refusing to use more effective vaccines because they were made elsewhere…& ditching vaccine requirements for people coming from elsewhere…as a lot of the diaspora does for new year…that seems like stuff where they maybe had a better option

      …quite apart from the possibility of it becoming a mass of vectors when they all come home again the potential for that much transmission across that population seems like it tips the odds on providing us all with new & exciting variants…which is a pretty miserable thought

      …throw in the part where the whole anti-vax rabbit hole means things we used to think we could mitigate pretty effectively are taking unexpected victory laps

      More than a third of parents with children under 18 — and 28 percent of all adults — now say parents should be able to decide not to vaccinate their children for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) to attend public schools, even if remaining unvaccinated may create health risks for others, according to new polling by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health-care research nonprofit.
      The growing opposition stems largely from shifts among people who identify as or lean Republican, the Kaiser survey found, with 44 percent saying parents should be able to opt out of those childhood vaccines — more than double the 20 percent who felt that way in 2019.
      Overall, 71 percent of all adults still support school immunization requirements, compared with 82 percent in 2019.

      …these I’m-not-owned backwards-brained chucklefucks & their “own research” are out there trying to bring back fucking polio & think they’re the beacon in the darkness

      …as if life wasn’t hard enough to begin with

      …there was a french dude a hundred & some years back who wrote about the idea of “collective consciousness”…& did a whole book (or possibly monograph for them as cares about the difference) about suicide…by his definition that would be

      all cases of death resulting directly or indirectly from a positive or negative act of the victim himself, which he knows will produce this result.

      …& as it happens he leaned to the view that you got more of that sort of thing where you found a lot of what I guess he, or possibly the french in general, called anomie

      In sociology, anomie (/ˈænəmi/) is a social condition defined by an uprooting or breakdown of any moral values, standards or guidance for individuals to follow.[1][2] Anomie is believed to possibly evolve from conflict of belief systems[3] and causes breakdown of social bonds between an individual and the community (both economic and primary socialization).[4] An example is alienation in a person that can progress into a dysfunctional inability to integrate within normative situations of their social world such as finding a job, achieving success in relationships, etc.

      …it’s the murder end of the murder/suicide pact they’re so hopelessly invested in that makes it hard for me not to want to see their heads rearranged…but I do wonder how many of these people refusing to vaccinate their children to protect what they seem to see more as a question of their own personal freedom than their kids’…are so annealed by cognitive dissonance that they consider china to be acting irresponsibly

      …as opposed to the ones who apply the same logic to the chinese & think they should fight for the right to get to stick it to the man & battle the tyranny of the state

      …another of life’s great imponderables, I suppose?

      • last i heard china has now aproved pfizer vaccines….or at least pfizer antivirals which may be an important distinction but i just read it as vaccines

        its the kinda thing makes me think shits real bad over in china right now

        factories considering shutting down for 2 months to have an extended new years holiday is another hint i guess

        (oh okay…they aproved the vaccine about 2 weeks ago and the antivirals is a today news story….hard to keep track of these things)


        • …call me a cynic…but I’m thinking it got bad enough & the people at the top of the heap know well enough that the odds are better with the foreign muck…& made it not illegal to get their hands on it

          …but the bulk of the very-substantial population…particularly the rural parts…I’m guessing are still on a solid diet of our vaccine is more effective due to increased levels of patriotism…& I’m guessing pfizer is likely to be in short supply for them

          …be nice to be wrong about that…but I don’t exactly fancy the odds?

      • Durkheim was such a good sociologist, his work still holds up.

        What blows my mind is my catholic schools required vaccines, as did my state college and state grad school.

        We have a Christian Scientist boarding school in St Louis that had a massive measles outbreak in the mid 90s. Like 250 people got sick, including people off campus who had students babysitting their little kids, etc.

        Like why would anyone be like sure who cares if my kid gets measles, mumps, or rubella? Never mind that if a pregnant person gets rubella they’re going to have bad complications or possibly miscarriage.

        • …it boggles my mind…I can’t remember if it was brave new world or something else but the conceit of people intentionally infecting themselves with things that could not only be cured but which they wouldn’t have caught without actively causing themselves to was in something I read a good few years ago…& at the time it seemed like one of those exaggerated-for-dramatic-effect bits of poetic licence

          …& yet…it turns out for some people it’s barely an exaggeration

          …what part of the miracle of modern medicine is somehow the wrong kind of miracle…& why does your loving god want people dying of plagues & pestilence…wasn’t that supposed to be visited upon the heathens & what have you?

          …I mean…abraham doesn’t go ahead & sacrifice the kid anyway just to own the pharisees…at least not in the version I remember

          …I sometimes wonder if people fond of quoting scripture have actually read it rather than merely memorized it?

          • My grandpa had a mild case of polio as a kid and had 2 siblings die from something we vaccinate for now (sorry, I don’t remember what it was, just that nowadays a kid wouldn’t even get it). I’m really glad he’s been dead for about fifteen years and wasn’t around to see the assholes with covid vaccines.

        • @brightersideoflife, the Catholics requiring vaccines when you were s kids really isn’t that surprising–it DOES fall into the “older” Catholic… philosophy? I guess I’d say, of “do unto others and collective good, that the non-Vatican/non-powerful side of the church used to be about… the “caring for the least” side of the equation, which was also pretty heavily influenced by the struggles (and collectivity!) that our middle-states’ grandparents had during the dustbowl & Great Depression–then War-Rationing years, where folks had to be collective and work *together* to a large extent, to survive through those struggles…

          plus that generation which was still influencing “the rules” at schools like yours (and my rural public school!) had lived through Polio and the years before the MMR vaccines.

          THEIR parents/grandparents had survived the Flu epidemic of 100 years ago… they KNEW the gift that vaccines were, and they all groked herd immunity’s ability to SAVE liveswhere (sadly!) *our* generations SINCE them almost been to have gotten a little “too comfortable” with folks *not* dying from “basic” childhood illnesses😕

Leave a Reply