Links and Notes – Week 12, 2020

‘Working From Home — Tips, Tricks and Motivation’

I’ve read a lot of these type of articles this week. This is my favourite. I really like the ‘pairing up’ idea a lot:

Pick a buddy for an afternoon, install Discord, and stay persistently on Discord with them or your team so you can strike up audio conversations at will and feel like you’re interacting more. Hearing other people socialize even if you’re not interacting will help with the isolation.


[New Book] ‘Coffeeland: One Man’s Dark Empire and the Making of Our Favorite Drug’

Near the end of Coffeeland, Sedgewick attempts to quantify exactly how much value a pound of coffee gives an employer (or, put another way, extracts from an employee)… He estimates that it takes 1.5 hours of Salvadoran labor to produce a pound of coffee. That’s enough to make 40 cups of coffee… In other words, the six cents that Hill’s plantation paid for an hour and a half of labor… was transformed into $22.50 worth of value [for the American economy,] an alchemy that reflects both the remarkable properties…

But the symbiotic relationship that coffee and capitalism have enjoyed for the past several centuries may now be coming to a sad close. Coffea arabica is a picky plant, willing to grow only in the narrowest range of conditions: Sunlight, water, drainage, and even altitude all have to be just so. The world has only so many places suitable for coffee production. Climate scientists estimate that at least half of the acreage now producing coffee—and an even greater proportion in Latin America—will be unable to support the plant by 2050, making coffee one of the crops most immediately endangered by climate change. Capitalism may be killing the golden goose.

To be released on April 7, 2020.


Apple Product Updates

Updated iPad Pros with a new keyboard that has a trackpad because iPadOS 13.4 now has ‘pointer’ support! The MacBook Air and Mac mini also have been updated. Daring Fireball has a good summary.


‘For, Then Against, High-Saturated-Fat Diets’

Could eating a lot more saturated fat and a lot less unsaturated help the obesity epidemic? Spoiler: probably not. But this article is still very much worth your time. If only because it doesn’t pretend to know all the answers, which I always appreciate when it comes to articles on nutrition and health.


‘How Saunas Could Boost Your Mental Health’

Jari Laukkanen, a Finnish cardiologist who’s fond of taking a daily sauna, has observed a similar pattern among larger groups. In a 2018 study of more than 2,000 Finnish men, he found a correlation between taking a traditional sauna four or more times a week and decreased risk of developing a physician-diagnosed mental-health disorder.

My current gym is a little bit out of my ideal price range. But I’m still a member because its the only one in town with a sauna and steam room. And I find 25 minutes in a sauna to be a truly wonderful thing. It’s a great way to unwind after a workout or a long week. And while I’ve never been particularly convinced by a lot of the supposed physical health benefits it wouldn’t suprise me at all if it does improve mental health.

I think this paragraph sums up the reason why you have to take a lot of sauna health studies with a grain of salt:

But critics contend that these associations could stem from selection bias — fit people who exercise regularly may just happen to sauna more often. Sauna bathing could also serve as an indicator for people who live in affluent societies and have healthier living patterns.


‘The Stoics in Exile’

Coronavirus self-quarantines are the closest many of us are going to come to being exiled. It’s important to use that time wisely. Learn from the stoics in exile:

Now imagine this. Imagine you’re at your peak in Rome with a remarkable influence, life is pretty good, and you get kicked out, you’re exiled, you go from Rome at its peak to some desolate island in the middle of nowhere. How would you respond to that?

Well, if you’re a Stoic philosopher you’d respond with taking responsibility and looking after yourself properly. That’s what Rufus did. He took exile as an opportunity to practice courage, justice, and self-control. Exile doesn’t prevent anyone from practicing these virtues, he said.


‘TikTok Told Moderators: Suppress Posts by the “Ugly” and Poor’

One document goes so far as to instruct moderators to scan uploads for cracked walls and “disreputable decorations” in users’ own homes — then to effectively punish these poorer TikTok users by artificially narrowing their audiences.



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