We’re Not All That: High School is America in miniature

High school is just a bunch of scared people pretending they’re not.
—Cameron Kweller portrayed by Tanner Buchanan in He’s All That (Netflix, 2021)

While not exact, this quote is incredibly similar in tone to a quote from a columnist in June 1928, which has been oft repeated and slightly modified since including versions by Will Rogers and in Fight Club.

Americanism: Using money you haven’t earned to buy things you don’t need to impress people you don’t like.
—Robert Quillen, The Detroit Free Press, Page 6, Column 4, Detroit, Michigan. June 4, 1928

It’s all about image and being what we’re not.

Apparently the message of the original film She’s All That was completely lost. I’m not sure the current incarnation of this remake will be an inflection point either.

Social Media, Fast and Slow

I like the differentiation that Jared has made here on his homepage with categories for “fast” and “slow” posts.

It’s reminiscent of the system 1 (fast) and system2 (slow) ideas behind Kahneman and Tversky’s work in behavioral economics. (See Thinking, Fast and Slow)

It’s also interesting in light of this tweet which came up recently:

Because the Tweet was shared out of context several years later, someone (accidentally?) replied to it as if it were contemporaneous. When called out for not watching the date of the post, their reply was “you do slow web your way…”#

This gets one thinking. Perhaps it would help more people’s contextual thinking if more sites specifically labeled their posts as fast and slow (or gave a 1-10 rating)? Sometimes the length of a response is an indicator of the thought put into it, thought not always as there’s also the oft-quoted aphorism: “If I Had More Time, I Would Have Written a Shorter Letter”.

The ease of use of the UI on Twitter seems to broadly make it a platform for “fast” posting which can too often cause ruffled feathers, sour feelings, anger, and poor communication.

What if there were posting UIs (or micropub clients) that would hold onto your responses for a few hours, days, or even a week and then remind you about them after that time had past to see if they were still worth posting? This is a feature based on Abraham Lincoln’s idea of a “hot letter” or angry letter, which he advised people to write often, but never send.

Where is the social media service for hot posts that save all your vituperation, but don’t show them to anyone? Or which maybe posts them anonymously?

The opposite of some of this are the partially baked or even fully thought out posts that one hears about anecdotally, but which the authors say they felt weren’t finish and thus didn’t publish them. Wouldn’t it be better to hit publish on these than those nasty quick replies? How can we create better UI to solve for this?

I saw a sitcom a few years ago where a girl admonished her friend (an oblivious boy) for liking really old Instagram posts of a girl he was interested in. She said that deep-liking old photos was an obvious and overt sign of flirting.

If this is the case then there’s obviously a social standard of sorts for this, so why not hold your tongue in the meanwhile, and come up with something more thought out to send your digital love to someone instead of providing a (knee-)jerk reaction?

Of course now I can’t help but think of the annotations I’ve been making in my copy of Lucretius’ On the Nature of Things. Do you suppose that Lucretius knows I’m in love?

Read SoulCycle’s exclusivity was its secret weapon — and its downfall (Vox)
The boutique fitness phenomenon sold exclusivity with a smile, until a toxic atmosphere and a push for growth brought the whole thing down.
A fascinating story about culture and exclusivity.
Read China sends a message with Australian crackdown by Richard McGregor (ft.com)
Pressure by Beijing offers a glimpse of the road map for a more illiberal order
For a glimpse of the future in a world dominated by China, a good starting point is Australia. Beijing’s embassy in Canberra last week handed the local media a short document detailing 14 grievances that China says are the cause of its rapidly deteriorating relations with Australia.
Liked a post by Ryan BarrettRyan Barrett (snarfed.org)
One could write an entire book on what this chart shows us. – Max Roser
Holy crap! This graph indicates something is dramatically broken in America. And we wonder why healthcare is such a hot button issue. Obviously someone (or many someones) is making a lot of money keeping the American portion so horribly out of whack.
Read - Want to Read: The Constitution of Liberty by F. A. Hayek (University of Chicago Press)
From the $700 billion bailout of the banking industry to president Barack Obama's $787 billion stimulus package to the highly controversial passage of federal health-care reform, conservatives and concerned citizens alike have grown increasingly fearful of big government. Enter Nobel Prize-winning economist and political theorist F. A. Hayek, whose passionate warning against empowering states with greater economic control, The Road to Serfdom, became an overnight sensation last summer when it was endorsed by Glenn Beck. The book has since sold over 150,000 copies.
The latest entry in the University of Chicago Press's series of newly edited editions of Hayek's works, The Constitution of Liberty is, like Serfdom, just as relevant to our present moment. The book is considered Hayek's classic statement on the ideals of freedom and liberty, ideals that he believes have guided--and must continue to guide--the growth of Western civilization. Here Hayek defends the principles of a free society, casting a skeptical eye on the growth of the welfare state and examining the challenges to freedom posed by an ever expanding government--as well as its corrosive effect on the creation, preservation, and utilization of knowledge. In opposition to those who call for the state to play a greater role in society, Hayek puts forward a nuanced argument for prudence. Guided by this quality, he elegantly demonstrates that a free market system in a democratic polity--under the rule of law and with strong constitutional protections of individual rights--represents the best chance for the continuing existence of liberty.
Striking a balance between skepticism and hope, Hayek's profound insights are timelier and more welcome than ever before. This definitive edition of The Constitution of Liberty will give a new generation the opportunity to learn from his enduring wisdom.
Read - Want to Read: The Road to Serfdom: Text and Documents by F. A. Hayek (University of Chicago Press)
An unimpeachable classic work in political philosophy, intellectual and cultural history, and economics, The Road to Serfdom has inspired and infuriated politicians, scholars, and general readers for half a century. Originally published in 1944--when Eleanor Roosevelt supported the efforts of Stalin, and Albert Einstein subscribed lock, stock, and barrel to the socialist program--The Road to Serfdom was seen as heretical for its passionate warning against the dangers of state control over the means of production. For F. A. Hayek, the collectivist idea of empowering government with increasing economic control would lead not to a utopia but to the horrors of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.
First published by the University of Chicago Press on September 18, 1944, The Road to Serfdom garnered immediate, widespread attention. The first printing of 2,000 copies was exhausted instantly, and within six months more than 30,000 books were sold. In April 1945, Reader's Digest published a condensed version of the book, and soon thereafter the Book-of-the-Month Club distributed this edition to more than 600,000 readers. A perennial best seller, the book has sold 400,000 copies in the United States alone and has been translated into more than twenty languages, along the way becoming one of the most important and influential books of the century.
With this new edition, The Road to Serfdom takes its place in the series The Collected Works of F. A. Hayek. The volume includes a foreword by series editor and leading Hayek scholar Bruce Caldwell explaining the book's origins and publishing history and assessing common misinterpretations of Hayek's thought. Caldwell has also standardized and corrected Hayek's references and added helpful new explanatory notes. Supplemented with an appendix of related materials ranging from prepublication reports on the initial manuscript to forewords to earlier editions by John Chamberlain, Milton Friedman, and Hayek himself, this new edition of The Road to Serfdom will be the definitive version of Hayek's enduring masterwork.
Liked a tweet (Twitter)
Some fascinating cultural anthropology going on here.
Read Hollywood has a talent pipeline problem. Brian Grazer and Ron Howard have an app for that (Los Angeles Times)
Impact Creative Systems, an offshoot from Imagine Entertainment, is launching a new app called the Creative Network, a LinkedIn-meets-Slack for screenwriters and studio heads.
I’ll have to take a look at this, but I’m not really sure what the direct problem is that they’re solving for. The bigger problem is usually filtering through a load of crap to find the actual talent, and I’m not sure how this app is fixing that particular problem. They may be making the net wider which is good, but there’s still the filtering problem which is the bigger problem. 
 
Naturally getting talented people to help mentor people is a good thing, but it’s also the piece that almost never happens because it takes a lot of time and effort and doesn’t always pay off. I’m not sure where their system is adding value aside from a few links.
 
This definitely disintermediates the agent in the system, so perhaps the extra value is seen in circumventing them to take advantage of the unwary writer one is mentoring?
Read Your Local Bookstore Wants You to Know That It’s Struggling (nytimes.com)
Independent booksellers are desperate for customers to return, and not just for an online reading.
Bookmarked on: Oct 15, 2020 at 20:19


Avid Bookshop in Athens, Ga., sends personalized URLs to customers with a list of handpicked recommendations. 

Perhaps if they went the step further to set up domains for their customers, they could ostensibly use them not only as book blogs, but also to replace their social media habits?

An IndieWeb friendly platform run by your local bookseller might be out of their wheelhouse, but it could potentially help solve their proximal problem while also solving one of society’s problems all while helping to build community.
Annotated on October 16, 2020 at 12:51PM

Take Vroman’s Bookstore, a 126-year-old institution in Pasadena, Calif. It has more than 200 employees, 20,000 square feet of space and the rent to go along with it. In a normal year, it hosts anywhere from 300 to 400 events, bringing in authors for readings and signings, along with customers who buy books and maybe a glass of wine from the bar. But none of that is happening this year. 

Coincidentally I bought two books at Vroman’s yesterday and it looked reasonably busy for mid-day. (Maybe because of this article?)

It’s a bit disingenuous to mention wine at their bar as their wine bar was only finally open for a minute before the pandemic shut everything down.
Annotated on October 16, 2020 at 12:54PM

Like many other stores, Vroman’s is hosting online events to promote new books, which can attract attendees from all over the country but generally bring in almost no money. 

Maybe they need a book paywall for admission into those events? Buy a book to get the zoom code to get into the event?

David Dylan Thomas essentially did this for his recent book launch.
Annotated on October 16, 2020 at 12:55PM

In the best of times, the margins at a bookstore are paper thin — traditionally, a successful shop hopes to make 2 percent in profits — but operating during a pandemic is even more expensive. 

Yes—they said paper thin…
Annotated on October 16, 2020 at 12:57PM

Read Opinion | California, Reject Prop 22 (nytimes.com)
Gig workers deserve the dignity of fair compensation.

Are gig workers employees or freelance contractors? It’s been a question for companies like Uber, Lyft, Instacart and DoorDash for nearly as long as “gig work” itself — or at least the Silicon Valley version — has existed. California voters next month may finally help settle the matter.
This is another great example of companies attempting to privatize profits and socialize the losses, or in this case pass along the losses and lost productivity to their employees (or as described here their independent contractors).

Why can’t they do some of the hard “technology” work and solve the problem of helping their workers become dramatically more productive?

Annotated on October 13, 2020 at 10:58PM 

The backlash from gig economy companies was immediate, and Uber and similar app-based businesses have committed nearly $200 million to support a state ballot measure — making it the costliest in state history — that would exempt them from the law. 

This is a pretty good indicator that it will save them 10x to 100x this amount to get rid of this law.

One should ask: “Why don’t they accept it and just pass this money along to their employees.”

Annotated on October 13, 2020 at 10:50PM