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Links and Random Tidbits

January 22, 2023

Someone linked to this piece that explains how since the beginning of the internet, companies and platforms just want us to Stop Talking To Each Other and Start Buying Things. Also, is it just me or is Google getting less useful/good lately? A quick Google says other people have complained, but there is a theory that actually the internet itself is just worse. But just as AOL was nearly equivalent to “the internet” back in the 90s, Google is pretty close to being “the internet” for many Americans. If Google can’t separate the nonsense parts of the internet from the good content, what good is it? (Answer: It is good for advertisers, its true customers.)

Also, this Ezra Klein podcast on ChatGPT was great, pointing out the huge gap that exits right now with ChatGPT. He also noted and also that there are these circles of fake websites that only exit to sell advertisements (around 25:00 or look for Mayim Bailik or click farms in the transcript). Which is a thing that I’d noticed, but not really understood. Hence, Google (and my access to the internet) is getting worse. They want us to use algorithms and let them tell us what to read. What was wrong with RSS readers and blog rolls and weekly PF link roundups (what were those called? Parties?) and webrings that depended directly on communities to refer each other around?

Revanche shared her frustration of traveling with kids. We took our 4-year old on three airplane trips in 2022, and she is now a pretty champion traveler as long as we bring activities and the iPad. Except, she won’t walk any distance. She always asks to be carried (unless we find a moving sidewalk or escalator). I don’t want to bring a stroller at this age. After carrying her around San Francisco one day, and another day carrying her through airports, I bought a ($$$) preschool sized kid carrier, and it is a pretty good solution for us. She loves being in it, I like it better than a stroller or having her flail around in a piggyback ride. She is small enough that it should last as long as we’re strong enough to carry her.

We’re woking on some logistics for sabbatical, and I’m putting together a rough budget. There are a lot of unknowns, with the first being if I’ll be able to work at my job at all from abroad, and if not, if I can do it by setting myself up as a consultant. I have an old colleague who is moving to Norway (permanently) and trying to figure a similar thing out, so I should catch up with him on how that is going. Still, one perk of living in one of the more expensive places in the US is that even a pretty expensive place abroad is not shockingly expensive. When looking at housing options, T reminded me of our decision to rent our place in Santa Monica over a decade ago. The apartment was a bit over the budget we had set, but it was in the best location, and he ultimately convinced me it was worth it. I still consider it one of the best decisions we ever made together – it was the most amazing place I’ve lived, and it was perfect for that moment in our lives. We’re taking a similar approach, prioritizing location and experience, especially as it is a relatively short period of our life.

Fleishman is in Trouble is one of the few novels I’ve read in the last few years (my ability to read books went away in pregnancy and I’m fighting to get it back). Thus, I was obligated to watch the Hulu series, but mostly suffered through the first 6 episodes before the plot shift I was looking for materialized. Still, I really just don’t buy this NYT opinion piece (includes spoilers) lamenting the struggles of strivers who have $1M in net worth but still feel they are scraping by. I acknowledge have careers that are not much about “keeping up appearances”, but still. The NYT article linked to this substack post the further dove into the “plight” of the middle & upper middle class who just can’t break through to be truly rich because they don’t take the risk to start a business). This mentality just puzzles me. We are in (or close to) that supposed “no man’s land” where we will never be billionaires, but… I never set out with that as the goal. The goal was financial security, then financial independence, which is already a privilege.

That is all I have for today!

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