Guidance in uncertain times
Random Weird Issue #1
Welcome to Random Weird #1. This is the first irregular newsletter of this type.
Since I am usually sending noteworthy articles to friends and family anyways, I thought it might be a good idea to put together a short newsletter so more people can benefit. Sharing is caring after all.
While newsletters are becoming a bit hip again, becoming famous and important is definitely not my goal. Plus, if I’d be really cool, I’d start a podcast.
So what’s this thing about?
Well, as said, I just want to channel articles and information so more people can take advantage. Obviously, it is neither truly random nor truly weird (depending on the actual meaning/definition). We all have our blinders on and are attracted or at least more likely to notice things we have encountered before (cf. cognitive biases). Quite ordinary, sorry. Though, thankfully, there are still things that are odd, unusual, remarkable, or simply noteworthy. I’ll put together things that I found interesting here. And given I do this in my spare time, the newsletter will be irregular for sure.
Choose your leaders wisely
With the Covid-19 pandemic in full swing, everything feels uncertain and out of the ordinary. We are thus looking for proper guidance. Though this can be hard to come by. While people in certain positions are assumed to be leaders, it is uncertain times that separate the wheat from the chaff.
👑 Strongmen & Autocrats - look at that pandemic, while we form our dictatorship. From Hungary to China, strongmen are grabbing more power. Long live the kings!
In other words, while some leaders are navigating the crisis, some just want more power.
🤑 Cash in - Some leaders and politicians even cash in on the coronavirus epidemic (insider trading). While regular people get a bit of the bailout pie, Trump and big corporations get some serious dollars. And obviously, the rich get richer.
💻 Hermit tech and privilege - Technology enables us to work from home, makes social distancing easier. While it’s hard to stay at home, hermit tech is a luxury not everybody can afford. Not everybody is privileged enough to have a spacious house. Not everybody has the necessary resources and nor the right environment. Some people actually got to work. Essential workers are essential - but often not paid well.
📰 Fake news & source of information - the Coronavirus pandemic emphasizes the value of a strong service public again. As the Economist reports, "Countries with public-service media have more hard news and better-informed populations.” While social media and other platforms are good a spreading and distributing (fake) news, it’s still quality that matters. (Though, funding is always in question.)
☠️ Death cult - Follow the leader(s) off a cliff. Poor and rural regions are most likely going to have a higher Covid-19 fatality rate than more urban and affluent areas. Preconditions, demographics, and infrastructure do play a role. The Southern US, where Georgia just reponed, seems more vulnerable in that regard. Cheers to that! Sip some bleach or take some drugs.
🙏 Hail the tech gods - Since places of worship are closed and some leaders fail, people are again looking up to the tech gods. Now Marc Andreessen wants us to build. There are obviously multiple sides to it, but it seems the gods up in Silicon Valley are a bit out of touch with ordinary folks. Maybe unicorns are just unicorns. Of course not. Blockchain will save us. MuskBros unite.
(I am well aware of the irony of writing this on Substack.)
Tech’s big dirty secret is that behind the wonderland of automation and highly-paid “innovator” jobs it promises, are invariably hundreds of thousands of low-paid workers erased behind splashy propaganda like “just build”
- Mode View Culture
🕵️ From the pandemic to dystopia - give everybody access to people’s personal data. What can go wrong? We’ll do no harm, pinky swear. While this privacy erosion is bad in itself, it is even worse when leaders and populists try to grab more powers in fragile democracies.
📈 Fantastic data and where to find them
[data, data visualization, data journalism]
Data visualization and data is extremely valuable to understand the current pandemic. Our World in Data, The Financial Times, or The New York Times do a great job at the moment. But also many others.
And not just putting out absolute numbers, but things like projecting excess deaths (The Economist), moving patterns (Google), unknown cases (Süddeutsche Zeitung), growth waves (Reuters) or outlining who faces more risks (NYT).
This is especially remarkable as - quelle surprise - not all governments and agencies do not collect data properly. GAFA simply is cooler and pays more. And not everybody learns to develop in COBOL anymore.
Source: Financial Times
🕵️ I have nothing to hide
It’s a me, Mario! - Nintendo got hacked
Bosses don’t trust you working from home - Monitoring your home office
Whole Foods/Amazon tracks its workers. Essential serfs need to work.
Contact tracings apps are risky. 300+ scientists are skeptical.
🙅♀️ You did Nazi me coming
🔥 It’s getting hot out there
Breaking records again - warmest winter!