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“Week after Christmas” reading list, part one

The New Yorker: Jeffrey Sachs on the Catastrophic American Response to the Coronavirus. “Where does the United States stand in this? Well, the United States has done the unimaginable, and that is to try to cut the functioning of the W.H.O. in the middle of the pandemic. So I’m not looking for American heroism. I’m looking for the United States not to be among the most destructive forces on the planet right now.”

Creative Commons image by TUBS. Tap to view the source.

How to start a new job, in a new country, in the middle of a pandemic: Justin Giovannetti moved from Canada to New Zealand, and then COVID-19 happened. Here’s his report from November.

It starts when you’re always afraid: This is a 2013 piece by Greg Fallis, and it’s about a phenomenon that’s only ramped up since then. “The United States has become a nation ruled by fear-biters. A lot of our social policies are grounded in fear, and much of that fear is totally unfounded. We’re afraid of terrorists, so we find ways to weasel around the law in order to round up the people we’re afraid of and lock them away forever where we can’t see them. ‘Indefinite detention’ and ‘enhanced interrogation’ are other forms of fear-biting.”

Creative Commons photo by Giorgio Montersino. Tap to view the source.

The case against telecommuting: Face Time, a New Yorker article published back in the halcyon days of March 2013, uses the case of Yahoo!’s then-CEO Marissa Meyer’s ending of telecommuting at the company. The article does say that telecommuting is workable in companies with healthy cultures, but there was a trend away from it, and management at the time was all for bringing everyone back to the office. It makes for very quaint reading now.

And finally, here’s The Emotional Journey of Creating Anything Great.

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The only Myers-Briggs personality test that matters

Screenshot: “New and improved MBTI test” by janhooks — the only Myers-Briggs personality test that matters
Tap to see the source.

The Myers-Briggs personality test is all bunk anyway, so why not save time and just take the only Myers-Briggs personality test that matters?

And if you must know, the test usually tags me as ENTP.

Thanks to David Janes for the find!

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Making Shakespeare understandable with common household items, a tabletop, and good storytelling

Reading Shakespeare is torture. He wrote in verse, in 16th-century English, for a 16th-century audience whose only other entertainment options were bear-baiting and public executions.

Cover of CliffsNotes for MacbethThat’s why there’s an entire industry devoted to deciphering his Elizabethan gibberish. Having gone to high school in Toronto, my fellow students — which included Keanu Reeves, who was a couple of years ahead of me — relied on Coles Notes, the Canadian equivalent of CliffsNotes.

Today’s high school students have it a little easier. Each of his plays has at least a dozen performances on YouTube (an example: Titus Andronicus, performed by the Seoul Shakespeare Company — and yes, that’s Seoul as in South Korea) and dozens of explainer pages.

Because you are a reader of this blog, you are an erudite, sophisticated person, and recognized this scene immediately.

One of the newer Shakespeare resources to appear is ForcedEntertainment, a group of six artists based in Sheffield. They’ve decided to tell the stories in all of Shakepeare’s plays, aided only by household items on their tabletops.

So far, they’ve done:

One of the “Dating Game” scenes from this play.

The next plays in their series will be:

The closing scene.

I’ll be teaching programming for the rest of the year, and may have to steal a few tricks from these people.

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The “Two beers and a puppy” test

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Here’s a page from Ross McCammon’s book, Works Well with Others: An Outsider’s Guide to Shaking Hands, Shutting Up, Handling Jerks, and Other Crucial Skills in Business That No One Ever Teaches You.

Find as many “Two beers and a puppy” friends as you can, and better yet, strive to be one yourself.


Here’s the full text:

“Two Beers and and a puppy” is a test I developed while working on the Esquire story on the American “son of a bitch.” The test is: In order to find out how you actually feel about someone, ask yourself: “Would I have two beers with this person?” And: “Would I allow this person to look after my puppy over a weekend?”

Some people are no and no. These people are to be avoided at all costs. Some people are yes and no. These people are two be cautiously trusted. Some people are no and yes. These people are no fun but they make the world a better place — for puppies, especially. And some people are yes and yes. These people are wonderful people and your life and work are better for having them in your life. Seek them out. Collaborate with them. Enjoy their company.

[ Found via Ryan Rossman. ]

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Technically, a “buttload” is an actual unit of measure

For more information:

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Midweek memes, part 3: The truth about so-called “cancel culture”

Screenshot of tweet: Berrak Sarikaya (@BerrakBiz): It’s only cancel culture if it originates in the Cancelle region of France. Otherwise, it’s just sparkling consequences.
Tap to see the original tweet.

And in case you need to be reminded:

Comic: xkcd’s “Free Speech”. “Public Service Announcement: The right to free speech means the government can}t arrest you for what you say. It doesn’t mean that anyone else has to listen to your bullshit or host you while you share it. The 1st amendment doesn’t shield you from criticism or consequences. If you’re yelled at, boycotted, have your show cancelled, or get banned from an internet community, your free speech rights aren’t being violated. It’s just that the people listening think you’re an asshole, and they’re showing you the door.”
“Free Speech” by xkcd. Tap to see the source.
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Last night’s side dish: “Layogenic” curried cauliflower

For the next five weeks, I’m teaching an online Python class from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays. That means that on those days, I eat dinner a little earlier, which in turn means that I’ve got to have it prepped earlier.

Luckily, I have all sorts of tricks for this sort of schedule, one of which is the mid-afternoon veggie roast: Cut up some vegetables, drizzle with oil and seasonings, roast in the oven or turbo broiler for 45 minutes. It doesn’t take long to put together, and it doesn’t need to be attended to while in the over, allowing me to continue working.

Last night’s vegetable was a whole head of cauliflower in curry powder (I used Badia’s “Jamaican style” curry), truffle salt, and ghee.

While tasty, it doesn’t look pretty close up. It’s layogenic (pronounced “LIE-o-jennic”), a Filipino/English hybrid term that was BBC’s “Word of the Day” back in January. It means “attractive from a distance, but not close up,” — the “layo” part comes from the Filipino word for “far” or “distance”.