Welcome to the latest edition of Ramble, a compilation of what I have been pondering, learning and enjoying for the past little while.
Now, grab a beverage and let’s begin.
This is an amazing image -
Note the 20-30 year latency between maximum cigarette sales and lung cancer mortality.
- It is possible disincentive a behaviour into oblivion with taxes.
- Social pressure works - people don’t want to have to go and stand alone in the little taped off square across the road just to have a smoke.
- Nicotine replacement is an excellent thing and should be more widely available.
- There has never actually been a double-blinded randomised controlled trial that proves smoking causes lung cancer (because imagine what that trial would look like…).
- Connected side note - but there has also never been a rigorously conducted, double-blinded randomised controlled trial showing that parachutes save lives when falling from cruising altitude…
What I am Reading:
- Cubans Denounce ‘Misery’ in Biggest Protests in Decades - Frances Robles - The New York Times - 5 mins
The protests were set off by a dire economic crisis in Cuba, where the coronavirus pandemic has cut off crucial tourism dollars. People now spend hours in line each day to buy basic food items. Many have been unable to work because restaurants and other businesses have remained on lockdown for months.
Having travelled to Cuba in 2018, this is not surprising. There were tourism dollars to be had, but even at that time lines snaking away from grocery stores and banks were ubiquitous; ration/quota books were easily visible in the hands of the locals; and the government-run stores were tragically, hilariously mis-managed - think a whole row of canned sardines but no bread and milk…
Then as in now, there was a heavy police presence at all times. Excellent for traveller-safety, not for public dissent.
- Opinion: Simone Biles penalized for having skills other gymnasts can't pull off - Nancy Armour - USA Today - 3 mins
I will be trying to watch Simone Biles competing in this Olympics because she is one of the greatest athletes of all time, let alone gymnasts.
But how about this bizarrely paternalistic and cringe-worthy episode in response to Biles performing a couple of ‘league-of-her-own’ tricks -
In an effort to deter other gymnasts from trying skills they are not physically capable of doing, the International Gymnastics Federation watered down the value of a new element Biles plans to do at the world championships.
There’s no shortage of hypocrisy in that rationale. If the federation is so concerned with athlete safety, why allow I and J skills in the first place? If Biles’ double-double is going to encourage gymnasts to take risks they shouldn’t, wouldn’t her triple-double do the same?
This is a great read. The whole Epstein thing is so interesting.
The sources, who range from former arms dealers to former spies — and also Hoffenberg — suggest that Epstein, who lacked any sort of moral compass, decided to go one step further and compromise influential people by recording them doing things they wouldn’t want made public.
- Worlds Apart: Remote Indigenous disadvantage in the context of wider Australia - Jacinta Nampijinpa Price - The Centre for Independent Studies
A staggering look at the third-world-ish level of disparity among and between remote and very remote Indigenous Australians and their metropolitan kin.
What I am Watching:
The Dead Don’t Die (Netflix)
Well, it stars Bill Murray, Adam Driver and Tilda Swinton so you know it will be good. But then it is weird, and unexpected, and completely ignorant of the viewer - all on purpose - such that I had to keep watching.
Honestly, this isn’t even a recommendation - I just had to tell you about this weird movie.
Ok, this is actually a recommendation, go and watch it.
What I am Listening to:
Check out this episode of the ‘Planet Money’ podcast by NPR: Video Gaming The System
- Runescape - the old (but still running) open world quest-ish online game.
- The long-time gamer bros start to see a mob of new players that just fish and farm and hunt incessantly - like 12-16 hours a day.
- When these weird fishermen gamers are asked what they are doing, the responses are in Spanish.
- Eventually, the gamer bros start to realise these Spanish-speaking newbies are only trying to earn game gold coins - to sell on third party market places for actual dollars (probably US currency as a standard).
- But where are they from?
- Well, when the power went out it Venezuela - side note - socialist bullshit, nationalised utilities, approaching failed-state, hyper-inflation, people trying to live on a couple of dollars a day -
- - all the spanish gold-miners disappeared instantly.
- So - boom - they are Venezuelan - and it turns out they are just trying to make online gold (fake, no actual store of value) to sell to other Runescape gamers for cold hard USD so that they can feed their family at home in Caracas.
- Some long-time gamer bros didn’t like this so a bunch of them formed a mafia called ‘Reign of Terror’ and guarded a profitable cave (again, in Runescape, not a real cave) around the clock.
- Then started extorting visitors to the profitable cave with ‘pay or die’ ultimatums (remember, we are still in an online world).
- The Venezuelans with a bunch of other South Americans didn’t like this so formed up a South American freedom posse.
- Then a huge battle royale happened at the profitable caves.
- It literally lasted a week, with players taking it in shifts to keep the fight going.
- The Venezuelans won.
- But the game-makers, Jagex, modified the map so that these particular caves were not so profitable - because the ‘mining gold-selling it for cash’ game is frowned upon.
- So the Venezuelans moved on to the next place they could make some coin.
So it’s wild. There is the underdog story, some wild explanations of in-game economics (like hyperinflation of the price of all the stuff the Venezuelans were hoarding), the culminating battle, and the overall story of actual Venezuelans making actual dollars so they can support their family in a pretty terrible situation in the real world.
There are only three real sports: bull-fighting, car racing and mountain climbing. All others are mere games.
- Ernest Hemingway
More on Sports:
Serious sports has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence: in other words it is war minus the shooting.
- George Orwell
Recently in History:
July 10, 1985 - The Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior is sunk in Auckland Harbour. Spoiler: It was the French.
July 14, 1789 - The Bastille is stormed by a mob of Parisians.
July 21, 1969 - Neil Armstrong walks on the moon.
July 24, 1847 - The Mormons, led by Brigham Young, finally reach the Salt Lake valley.
Over the last little while I have been making myself an online home here:
I think it is important for people to be able to control their online identity. And one of the ways to get ahead of the game is to make sure you own and/or control you own name.
So the way you do it is:
- Go to godaddy.com
- Search “your name” (or a permutation of your name) as a domain name
- Pay the fee - which I assume just goes to some sort of ethereal internet god
- And that’s basically it - pay the small annual fee and you own your name forever
Then if you want to make a website out of your name:
- Open a wix, wordpress or ghost account (or any website builder - all google-able)
- Follow the instructions (I happened to use Ghost)
- That’s it
If you are lazy and not particularly ‘website-building’ minded, like myself, you could then do the third bit:
- Go to freelancer.com.au and make an account (free)- use this link and get a free $25 to start with
- Pick the lowest budget category and post the job “make me a website”
- Pick a developer based on their bids and experience
- Chat to them about what you want
- The project gets done
- And then that’s really it
Before we Finish:
Since I have made this little online home of mine over at lukereynolds.org I plan on moving this email over there as well.
Nothing for any of you lovely people to do, I will likely just copy this email list over - unless you don’t want me to, which is completely fine (so let me know).
Otherwise, stay tuned.
Thank you once again for reading along with me.
If you found something you liked, let me know.
If you think I can do something a little smoother, please let me know.