Happy Monday! Today’s issue is going to be a medley of things.
Climate tales to inspire
In line with my previous rant in Deliberate 53 – Tales to inspire, not tales to condemn, I want to share good news from the climate front. Despite all Doom, Gloom, and Drama we are assaulted with every day – there is hope and inspiring initiatives are blooming in the Climate “industry”.
Forests are bouncing back
The world is literally a greener place than it was twenty years ago, and data from NASA satellites has revealed a counterintuitive source for much of this new foliage. A new study shows that China and India—the world’s most populous countries—are leading the increase in greening on land. The effect comes mostly from ambitious tree-planting programs in China and intensive agriculture in both countries.
The research team found that global green leaf area has increased by 5 percent since the early 2000s, an area equivalent to all of the Amazon rainforests.
I wrote a few things this week
In Oldschool Internet and the Blockchain I took a look at how big corporations are cannibalizing open standards the Internet is built upon, and how blockchain tech can help protect what’s left.
If you are using Roam, I have a treat for you (and if you’re not, this paragraph is going to be very confusing). In order to introduce a little more serendipity into my Zettelkasten, I wrote a plugin that will surface old blocks of my choosing into my daily pages. Every day, I enjoy a random block with a “Review” or “Grateful” tag. The plugin is called Troamback.
Using the precious few moments I can scavenge for myself while caring for my toddler, I am frantically typing up my long-overdue book reviews. The Scientist in the Crib is a deep dive into the cognitive framework of children exploring the world and how they closely match the scientific method. Of Wolves and Men is an account of the relations between the titular species.
Deliberate 52 – Farmers always Worked From Home ended up on the front page of Hacker News (New Yorker has a good intro on the social network if you’re not familiar). This is always exciting, but in a predictable Hacker News fashion, it sparked an unrelated and detailed discussion about the state of modern farming. Here are my favorite comments:
This commenter makes a great point how chores are now significally less laborious than in the past. It echoes the sentiment from my favourite TED Talk – Hans Rosling’s “The Magical Washing Machine”:
I think the problem with this debate isn’t about how much people have worked in the past, but more about what actually is work.
For example, in today’s society we do not think of basic chores like laundry as work, but in the past laundry was far more labor-intensive due to the lack of washing machines. Is repairing your broken furniture or clothes work? Is preparing your own food work? Those things are trivialized in today’s advanced capitalist societies, but might have been a substantial part of life for people in the past. Nowadays most people seem to just buy new furniture and clothes, and even food preparing has been substantially trivialized by resteraunts, orders, takeouts, and readymade meals, so we’re probably much more prilvileged than they were. But did the medieval people saw all of this extra work as “work” in today’s sense? (Graeber’s famous book (“Bullshit Jobs”) kinda touches on this aspect in the end chapter, but I wish he’ve delved a bit more on it. There’s a whole anthropology of work that’s left unexplored…)
Farming is much different now than it was in the past:
Modern farmers are polyglot technologists. Hybrid GMO seeds are selected to optimize yield in their specific soil and weather conditions. Tractors are largely self-driving along with a host of technology to rival a race car and harvesters give live feedback on the quality and quantity of grain so that farmers can make decisions about what to do with the grain- sell immediately, store, or take to a specialized storage facility to dry. Crops are rotated seasonally to minimize pests and optimize soil quality, sometimes on complex multi-year patterns of cover crops, cash crops, spring harvests, etc. Underground “tiling” is installed to speed the flow of water away from low-lying sections of fields to maintain consistent soil moisture across fields on rolling hills. And the futures, options, insurance and debt financing decisions to maintain stable income in the face of unpredictable weather and commodity prices rivals what any investment banker in Manhattan is doing. And that’s just for commodity grain producers, meat, dairy, fruits and vegetables have their own unique uses of cutting edge science and technology. A group of farmers in Iowa sitting at a conference about managing soil nitrogen are likely leveraging far more real science and tech than a group of web developers in the bay discussing the latest updates to React.
And this one is just so very Hacker News:
I’m a farmer in southern Colorado. Currently we grow marijuana and potatoes. I’m on HN because because I’m a long time Linux user (20+ years) and free software advocate and this is where a lot of the old boys still lurk
Finally, I want to start your week by recommending “What I Learned from a Week of Shitposting on LinkedIn“. The whole social network is just something else, and Kyle Coberly calls out the particular narrative style:
It’s a special kind of skill to make a post that’s nominally about someone else, but is ultimately all about you.
And then has some fun with it:
How can you tell if the person you’re interviewing is also a GoodPerson? The math is a simple system of equations:
goodperson = you
goodperson = candidate
you = candidate = goodperson
That’s why you should only hire people exactly like yourself.
My LinkedIn timeline could definitely use more fun and a little fewer success junkies.
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I write about the psychological and technical aspects of the Internet, focusing on remote work, online economy, and cognitive load. Every monday.