Pi-hole

 

Pi-hole is a little open source Linux-based DNS ad blocker that you run on your network to soak up all the ad junk before it hits your browser.

I tried it in a VM and was amazed at the speed difference it made despite the fact I already have uBlock Origin installed in my browsers.

I decided to get a Raspberry Pi 3 from Amazon (the starter kit with Pi, case, micro usb, and power cord). I had Pi-hole installed and configured within a few minutes and it works beautifully. The speed gains are very noticeable.

I strongly recommend this, and encourage anyone who uses it to support the project.

Some conspiracies are real

In the 90’s I used to believe any and all conspiracy theories were utter rubbish. Over the years my confidence in my hard skeptic position has diminished.

The first knock came when Echelon turned out to be true. I was told about it by a drunken colleague at British Telecom a few years before it was publicly revealed. The same person also told me about the Five Eyes intelligence agencies tapping the core internet trunks, something Snowden confirmed nearly 20 years later.

Another knock came from the realization that the 40 year war on dietary fat turned out to be misguided at best, if not criminally negligent.

The book and later film the Merchants of Doubt exposed the unbelievable scale and boldness of the industrial disinformation campaigns waged against us all.

Recently I witnessed an anti-conspiracy staple take a fatal hit. “Conspiracies cannot be real because people cannot keep secrets”. I used to believe this until I was involved in the recent Specter and Meltdown response. For months, hundreds of not thousands of security professionals across the industry worked together – conspired – in total secrecy, to patch all major operating systems against the vulnerabilities.

Now it seems like every week I am hearing about conspiracy theories that turn out to be true.

Today the “baby powder causes cancer” conspiracy theorists appear to have been right. Reuters has revealed that the company did indeed find asbestos in some of its talk products as far back as 1971. I can remember dismissing that one too.

There are two good books that address this topic.

William Dershowitz on Multitasking

“Multitasking, in short, is not only not thinking, it impairs your ability to think. Thinking means concentrating on one thing long enough to develop an idea about it. Not learning other people’s ideas, or memorizing a body of information, however much those may sometimes be useful. Developing your own ideas. In short, thinking for yourself. You simply cannot do that in bursts of 20 seconds at a time, constantly interrupted by Facebook messages or Twitter tweets, or fiddling with your iPod, or watching something on YouTube.

I find for myself that my first thought is never my best thought. My first thought is always someone else’s; it’s always what I’ve already heard about the subject, always the conventional wisdom. It’s only by concentrating, sticking to the question, being patient, letting all the parts of my mind come into play, that I arrive at an original idea. By giving my brain a chance to make associations, draw connections, take me by surprise. And often even that idea doesn’t turn out to be very good. I need time to think about it, too, to make mistakes and recognize them, to make false starts and correct them, to outlast my impulses, to defeat my desire to declare the job done and move on to the next thing”

https://theamericanscholar.org/solitude-and-leadership/

Ryan Holiday on High Agency People

The mathematician and economist Eric Weinstein, has a category of individual he defines as a “high agency person”.  As Eric would elaborate on Tim Ferriss’ podcast:

“When you’re told that something is impossible, is that the end of the conversation, or does that start a second dialogue in your mind, how to get around whoever it is that’s just told you that you can’t do something? So, how am I going to get past this bouncer who told me that I can’t come into this nightclub? How am I going to start a business when my credit is terrible and I have no experience?”

It was Steve Jobs who once said that, “Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.”

Once you learn this, he said, you’ll never be the same again.

People have spoken of Jobs’ “reality distortion field” and this is really what it was. He believed more in his own agency – his own power to change and affect things – than he did in conventional wisdom or other people”s opinions.

But this idea of agency is a controversial one today. Most of discourse is marked with shibboleths that reveal our doubts about agency. We speak of privileges and systemic biases. We talk of our problems as if they are intractable, overwhelming and malevolently created. Even on the extreme right, there is an obsession with biological differences between sexes and races, about whether one gender or another is naturally better at this or that. Again, these are simply averages that have nothing to do with individuals. Our focus on it all, from either side, is a way of subtly erasing agency. We emphasise where we are disempowered rather than opportunities for empowerment.

The line from Hannibal when he was told that crossing the Alps was impossible: Aut inveniam viam aut faciam. I shall either find a way or make one.

This is what high agency individuals do. This is how they respond to bad odds, to big doubts, or frustrating situations.

https://journal.thriveglobal.com/are-you-a-high-agency-person-how-to-respond-when-you-hear-no-db3cafff6b1d

Police Kanban

Why don’t the police use a public Kanban board to show the progress of criminal cases through the system?

Their workrate and priorities could be assessed openly. It would be great for transparency. Victims and journalists and other interested parties could track cases without needing to call the police.

This occurred to me after reading about some dreadful case in Sweden where a child rape victim’s case had not been processed after a year, and her attackers were still roaming about in the community as they all waited for the police to investigate. Journalists were calling the police for updates. The lack of transparency combined with public ignorance about both the scale of certain crimes and polices under resourcing all contributed to the situation.

Making the police workload publicly visible could really help focus resourcing discussions.