Happy Easter!


Grayscale your phone!

Vox has a new video with three tips to stop wasting time on your phone:

  1. Block all notifications except those initiated by actual humans with requests for contact.
  2. Move endless scrolling apps off your home screen. Keep only in-the-moment tools on your home screen.
  3. Make your screen black & white. Remove all color. Grayscale your phone!

The idea is that you not be compelled to engage with your phone like an addiction. Vox argues that phone applications are designed to mimic the same mechanism that creates gambling addiction.

On my own phone, I had already blocked most notifications and moved my infinite scrolling apps off the main screen, but grayscaling my phone was a more difficult task. There is no “grayscale button” and the app store was full of junk that didn’t work. This website, however, had instructions that did work for me. So now I’m trying my phone in grayscale only, to hopefully be more productive and less attune to what the app developers want me to do.

This is just one more way we can regain a sense of personal sovereignty in this digitally controlled world.

The Incentive of Capitalists

A common position of a left-leaning person is a deep suspicion of privatizing publicly-owned goods. Often the suspicion has certain merit behind it but that does not mean that all privatization is bad.

This post was inspired by a popular economics tweeter–

Overlooked is that capitalists, as owners of capital, have an incentive to utilize profits to maintain the value of their capital. This means that real money will be used to repair and refurnish these assets. When the asset is an electrical grid, that incentive itself become a public good. After all, an institutional bureaucrat or elected official with perhaps (up to) a decade in leadership over this type of infrastructure doesn’t have this type of incentive. He will be gone before the problem of decay become apparent and his successor can blame someone who is no longer at the helm and no longer politically relevant. Instead the pressure is to keep wages and benefits high for employees (which is good, but not at the expense of maintenance) and to otherwise not “rock the boat” by drawing attention to growing concerns.

Malls: Replacing Retail with Experiences

A large local mall recently lost a landmark store, one that sells high-end clothing and other items. Although most malls have been hit by serious decline, this one has thrived, mostly due to location. Looking forward, however, retail will have ever more competition and locations with high fixed costs won’t offer the flexibility that most retailers need to survive.

Instead of replacing retail with retail, it would be wise to consider venues that offer experiences, such as indoor driving range and pub combinations, indoor skydiving, or perhaps sports fields or zip-line courses. Experiences usually can’t be provided online and require a fixed location. Given that malls have large, open indoor space, it is at least worth a serious consideration.

Interesting Links & News Update – 24 January 2018

Today’s Quote:
“[Watches and clocks] inevitably fall in step with an owner’s natural disposition, be it ponderous or ebullient, and in the same way they reflect his conjugal patterns and political persuasions.” -Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar

A conservative argument against voter identification laws

The principle that opposes voter identification laws is that it is the duty of the government to prove that I am not who I say I am, and not my duty to prove to the government that I am who I say I am. Fundamentally, this is about keeping intrusive government out of the lives of the people except when absolutely necessary. That’s the argument Ted Cruz uses in his tax reform arguments, that Rand Paul uses when he argues against Real ID laws, and that Ronald Reagan argued when he proclaimed more government isn’t the solution to the problem…it is the problem!

This argument does not oppose government officials investigating real cases of fraud, but it does put the responsibility on the government, not the citizens, in discerning the validity of one’s statement of identity. In a world of limited government, that’s the way it ought to be.

Privacy is dead

The natural state of man is to have very little privacy. Throughout all human history until the development of medium and large cities, everyone knew everyone’s business. This temporarily changed during the urbanization of human civilization, giving people the real ability to keep matters private, and to “start over” in a new city if necessary, but technology and societal complexity is returning us to the norm of low-privacy.

An example now in the news is a health insurer sending HIV status notifications by mail — with a clear envelope window, allowing handlers of the envelope to read about the addressee’s HIV status.

Before privacy was a social expectation, persons with certain diseases would be exiled to “leaper camps” and the like. Given a return to a low-privacy society, how can we avoid repeating past dehumanizing errors by those who harshly judged their neighbor for personal failings, disease, and other stigma-inducing situations?