Merry Christmas gorls, it’s Victor. Hope you’re all having a beautiful festive season and you’re appropriately overfed. Here’s a shorter-than-usual list of links I wanted to quickly share before I return to petting my parents’ cats:
Wikipedia is the best website
- A self-licking ice cream cone is a name for a system or organisation that only exists to perpetuate itself — such as government programs and charities who mostly raise budget and funds to keep existing and paying its salaries, without achieving their stated goals.
- The body transfer illusion is the perception of possessing and controlling body parts that aren’t your own, for example when using virtual reality, after the loss of a limb, or in controlled experiments.
- Heartless Bitches International was an early-web forum run by assertive and strong women to share their experience in a male-dominated world.
- The potato paradox is an infamous name for calculations that have a counter-intuitive result. As always, I’m loving the “(being purely mathematical potatoes)” and “(being purely mathematical water)” in textbook problem descriptions.
- Around a thousand Quadro Trackers (“also known as Positive Molecular Locators”) were sold to US enforcement agencies and schools in the 90s. The device claimed to be able to find drugs, weapons, explosives and missing people based on a “signature” card of the object or even a Polaroid of the person’s face. The manufacturers were eventually charged with fraud after the FBI found the device was mostly empty.
- The Balloonomania was a fad interest in hot air balloons in the late 18th century.
- You experience the doorway effect when going into another room and forget what you came here to do, or thinking about.
- At Art Basel Miami, a collective of artists set up an ATM with a leaderboard — if you withdrawn money from it, your account’s balance will be shown at the top, to highlight how rich attendees are.
- Great list of 40 useful concepts and biases to know about.
- How a 15-year-old schoolboy exposed a Wikipedia hoax about the inventor of the toaster (and why you shouldn’t always trust Wikipedia) (I should heed that advice!)
- A modern, better take on energy conservation in homes to reprioritise what needs to be done (for most houses, it’s not setting up solar panels).
- In 1883, the Krakatoa volcanic eruption in Indonesia produced the loudest sound in recorded history — so loud it ruptured eardrums of people 65 km away, and could be heard 5,000 km away across the oceans, as far as California.
- Building and maintaining a good online community is less like tending a garden, more like running a bar.
Everything is depressing
- Global warming means that the wine of the future will be (and is already!) produced in Sweden, Canada, Denmark and Norway.
- There’s an interesting new type of fraud has emerged lately, where you’ll buy something on eBay or other second-hand sites and receive a brand new version of what you paid for, straight from the official store, sometimes more than what you paid for, and without anything bad actually happening to you. It’s called a triangulation fraud, and if this happens to you, you’re not directly the victim: the fraudster acts as a secret middleman by ordering the nice stuff for you elsewhere using a stolen credit card, and is laundering the money you sent them instead. You have to admire how clever it is: doing that across multiple legitimate sellers makes it really difficult to be detected.
- It’s easy to poke fun at the Metaverse and its goofy graphics (and late legs!), but it’s important to remember that Meta’s business model is to cater to normies, and that direction is still one that might succeed.
- There Is No Moral Imperative to Be Miserable is a very spot-on analysis of the current discourse intersecting mental health and capitalism.
Good to look at
- Genders.WTF is another sad-hilarious compilation of badly designed form options for gender.
- I played the board game Railroad Ink recently, which is quite fun. Found that there’s a web version too which you can play solo or multiplayer.
- Gifaanisqatsi generates a small Koyaanisqatsi-esque film for you based on random slow-motion GIFs.
Work! Design! Tech!
- The Block Protocol is a standardised way to exchange “content blocks” between systems and APIs, which has lots of fun potential.
- A good Introduction to Power if you’re interested in strategy, or using power structures for good.
- Otta Salaries helps you compare average salaries for a lot of tech jobs roles and years of experience, to know where the market’s at and whether you’re underpaid.
- A lovely article on why it’s still useful to see and understand historical user interfaces to design new ones today.