I Miss You

We don’t talk much these days but we go way back. We started out in the same generic scene, but then we found our groove out in the weirder and under-explored fringes. Over the years we grew and developed together. We have a rapport. So I’m feeling kinda bummed about how I permanently and irrevocably lost any way of contacting […]

I Aten’t Dead

My initial impulse was to delete the blog, de-list the book, and generally disappear quietly into the ether. Then, after sleeping on it a while, I figured I could just mothball Deep Dish, and start a new, pseudonymous blog elsewhere with no audience, zero expectations, and a clean slate.

…finally, I decided to stop being a drama queen and start posting again right here, unabashedly rejoining my fellow mentally disturbed people who insist upon Having Opinions in public.

So that’s what I’m gonna do (with a few small changes)…

personal security audit cover image

Getting Hacked and Getting Hard

CLEARANCE SALE! VANS SHOES CHEAP! I was as surprised as anyone to hear that I’d pivoted from blogging to hawking knock-off footwear on Facebook. After pulling down the scam posts and changing my password, I checked my activity log. At least three interlopers had somehow managed to access my account, one of them several years ago. Creepy, but unimaginative: they didn’t lock me out, or steal my identity, or use my password to access other sites. As far as I know, my nudes are still between me and Zuckerberg.

Then there was the second incident: I changed my Google password, immediately forgot it, and couldn’t get back in. I filled in the account recovery forms over and over, and sat there silently panicking as each robotic form rejection destroyed a tiny piece of my soul. There was no way to get in touch with a human being. With one moment of carelessness, I was sure I’d lost all my work, and years of treasured memories.

On both occasions I got lucky: it could have been much, much worse. Screwing up for a third time was probably tempting fate, so I decided it was time to actually sit down and sort out my online security…

the futility of giving universally good advice

A Repository of Cool Stuff For People Who Are Somewhat Like Us

No-one is ever forcing you to act on a recommendation, this is just another data point to factor into your decision, and more information is always better. Right?

…no. Search costs are a thing that exists. Bad information is worse than no information, so we have a responsibility to find and boost genuine signals, rather than spray out more noise. As Tyler Cowen says, giving someone your favourite book imposes an obligation on them: now they have to read it, or skim enough to convincingly pretend they read it, or at least feel guilty about not having read it.

Format, context, preference, timing: unless all these factors happen to line up, specific recommendations sound a lot like random monkey noises.

I say all of this as a prelude to the fact that I’m about to…lay a bunch of recommendations on you.

The Matthew Effect: For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.

Meditations on Momentum

What’s the difference between Robert Galbraith and J.K. Rowling? Clearly, being a talented writer is necessary, but not sufficient. Rowling has momentum on her side. At this point, she could publish the contents of a bowl of alphabet soup, and it would still sell better than 99 per cent of novels by hopeful first-time authors.

This is a ‘no duh’ example, designed to get you nodding your head along. But momentum is everywhere, and it’s rarely in plain sight. Without being consciously aware of doing so, I’ve written about it in four domains…

The Brave New World of Wireheading

The rat’s paw moves constantly, sometimes becoming a blur as it depresses the lever over and over. Once, twice, ten times, a hundred times, five thousand times in the space of an hour. With each push, an electrode sends a jolt of electricity coursing through its tiny rodent brain. The rat will push the lever for as long as 24 hours without stopping. It won’t eat, or sleep, or make any effort to leave the confines of its stainless steel cage. Unless the men in white lab coats cut off the current, it will stimulate itself to death.

It’s 1954, and science has just stumbled upon the brain’s pleasure center. Heady days! The excited researchers repeat the experiment on monkeys, and find, again, they can reach right into the hypothalamus and light it up like a Christmas tree, transforming their subjects into blissed-out automatons. The seminal paper concludes that these results could “very likely be generalized eventually to human beings—with modifications, of course”.

Of course…

One Year Blogiversary: Trials, Tribulations, Lessons Learned

What I’ve Learned From One Year of Blogging

One year ago today – with trembling fingers – I hit ‘publish’ on my first ever blog post. A squalling infant entered the world, confused and alone in a strange land. It was ugly, weird, and coated in blood and slime. I named it ‘Deep Dish’. I’m a proud parent these days, and it’s been a rewarding year. But this little brat has also kept me awake for plenty of long nights. To mark the blog’s first birthday, I thought I’d give you a look behind the scenes, as well as a sense of where things are heading from here…