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Should you go out during a time of social distancing? A simple flowchart to help you decide

Note: this is meant to be humorous. For proper guidance, please refer to your local government of medical authorities for assistance.

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Is Cloud Computing Green?

It depends on how you measure it, but according to this New York Times Article, cloud computing has brought environmental benefits.

The article starts with this:

The computer engine rooms that power the digital economy have become surprisingly energy efficient.

A new study of data centers globally found that while their computing output jumped sixfold from 2010 to 2018, their energy consumption rose only 6 percent. The scientists’ findings suggest concerns that the rise of mammoth data centers would generate a surge in electricity demand and pollution have been greatly overstated.

That’s good. The other good thought here is that centralized computing can continue to drive out efficiencies that distributed computing can not.

All in all, one more reason for companies to embrace cloud computing.

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Ikea, in Architectural Digest, no less


So yesterday I highlighted that fast furniture is low cost and not great. Is it possible to have low cost furniture that is also good and stylish? I think you can, if you stick to the products listed here: The 13 Most Popular IKEA Products | Architectural Digest

If you mix them in with other furniture, or style them well, you can have a well furnished home that looks great and doesn’t cost much.

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On “Fast Fashion” Furniture


This piece
outlines how “fast-furniture” manufacturers have take a page from the book of fast fashion manufacturers and have gone on to make visually appealing but physically awful furniture.  It says:

Fast-furniture manufacturers (are) giving shoppers an opportunity to buy trend-informed furniture at a price that doesn’t force them to pretend they’re investing in the future. Wasteful though it may be, it doesn’t necessarily make sense to buy an expensive sofa if you don’t know where you’ll be living in a year.

So it should come as little surprise that much of this furniture isn’t great.

People want new furniture. They want to transition from stuff they find on the side of the road, or from IKEA, or even hand me downs from their family. But they don’t have the money or the patience to buy better pieces. This creates the fast furniture market.

File under “you get what you paid for”. Worth a read. Especially if you are attracted to the look and the price of some of these pieces.

In Defense of Self-Help Books

A strong defense of self help books can be found here: On Self-Help Books | The Book of Life.

Essentially the argument is that the genre has been overtaken and is associated with people like this:

And not associated with this:

We need a list of good self help books, classic and current. Unfortunately, even lists with the so called best self-help books of all time  are lacking in literary qualities. That’s a shame.

I think we need a new list of self-help books then, a list stretching  from the classics such as the Dhammapada and the Bible and the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, all the way to present day books like In Search of Meaning. A new list of books that help us live better lives but that are good as books themselves. It’s time for such a list, and time for the current list of self-help books to take a backseat to this new list.

 

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On ventilators

I’m not a ventilator expert, but I am curious as to what it takes to get more to patients who are sick due to COVID-19. This will give you some answers as to what it takes to get more out there: Why U.S. hospitals don’t have enough ventilators – The Washington Post

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Five ways to think about flattening the curve and other things related to COVID-19

Chances are you’ve seen this chart: it’s strongly related to the justification for all the dramatic changes that have been happening. Now there’s some counterarguments that it will not work: Squashing the curve? | plus.maths.org

First off, the chart is a model, and like all models, it makes assumptions. For COVID-19, the first  assumption it makes is that the outbreak will rise and then drop off. I am not sure this is true, and I don’t know if anyone else is certain either. There are good reasons to make this assumption, but certainty will come later.

Another big assumption this chart makes is that social distancing will bring the cases down so that there is enough health care capacity to handle it. I think social distancing will bring things down, but the health care capacity could still be overwhelmed.

Is social distancing useless then? I think that is the wrong question, and the wrong way of thinking about things. So how should you think about things?

First: think skeptically. I would say you should keep an open mind but be skeptical about information on the Internet. Things are changing all the time, and there is so much we don’t know. Be doubtful of anyone with strong certainty about this.

Second: think optimistically. My thinking was pessimistic before, but I think I am changing to being optimistic about how we deal with the disease. There are lots of positive signs out there and there are many people working to get more resources thrown at this.  It will make a difference.

Third: think maximally.  Continue to wash yourself with soap often. Continue to practice social / physical distance. Continue to do anything that a recognized authority says will help. More action is better than little or no action. Some action may be no better than eating chicken soup, but you don’t know. Just make sure you are following a recognized authority.

Fourth: think practically. You have to make tradeoffs. Some people have to travel outside to get to work or get groceries.  Try to minimize them. But don’t beat yourself up either. Do the best you can. Be cautious, but don’t panic.

Fifth: think and act healthy. The better you take care of your health, the better off you will be. There are other ways to get sick besides COVID-19 that could also land you in the healthcare system. That won’t help.