How will coronavirus effect…

  • the recreational drug market? Will cross border drug movement increase and how will production change?
  • dog ownership? Now is a good time to have a dog. From both the human and canine perspectives.
  • people with mental health issues? Being stuck indoors is going to massively alter even the mostly mentally strong.
  • climate change? Will the world start to focus on it more?
  • travel post-virus? Will there be a boom as people take on a carpe diem attitude in the years following coronavirus?
  • the number of children born? Couples don’t have a lot else to do.
  • long term success of school children? Will being essentially home schooled be good or bad for the education and development for this current crop of children?
  • advancement of technology? Will this be the final nail in the coffin of Moore’s law?
  • music, writing and other creative outputs? How much will free time increase them?
  • gym-based exercise? Will outdoor activities like running and cycling experience more than just a short term uptake as some people discover their joys and benefits for the first time?
  • the number of people who start ‘prepping’ and off grid living? At the very least I expect the average homes pantry and freezer size to increase post-virus.
  • conflict around the world? Will more than just a brief pause happen? Will many essentially fizzle out? Or will tensions actually increase?
  • society as a whole when so many elderly are likely to die? What will we lose?
  • future preparedness? Will this be treated as a dress rehearsal for potentially more devestating pandemics in the future or will it be treated as more of a final test unlikely to happen again this century?
  • minimum wage? Will ‘unskilled’ labour be more highly valued and appreciated going forward?
  • journalism? Will their perceived value in society increase due to the large coronavirus-based output and more people reading their (digital only) work?
  • air travel? Is this the end of budget airlines? Will airports and airlines be nationalised?
  • the quality of roads? Will governments take advantage of the lack of cars on the road and rebuild and update major motorways?
  • alchohol consumption? And how many new alcoholics will be created by citizens having no work, more anxiety and little else to do? As well as the chance for nightly drinking to become a habit.
  • dating and sex? Are new relationships totally on hold, or will pen-pal and video dating take over? Will single people desperate for sex help spread coronavirus? Will goverments ban one-night stands?
  • sleep patterns? With less work to wake up for will people become more in tune with their natural circadian rhythm?
  • the price of oil? How low will the per-barrel cost go?
  • divorces? Will they increase by as much as I expect?
  • will siblings grow closer or further apart?
  • traditional broadcast television? Will every channel just air reruns as they can no longer make new programming?
  • christmas? How many less presents will be under the tree at the end of 2020?
  • endangered animals? Will their numbers start to recover? Or as those who protect them disappear into their homes will poachers risk coronavirus infection for financial reward?
  • the restaurant industry? How many can actually wait out the financial storm?
  • sport? Will this just be a year unrecorded in sports history?
  • doctors and nurses long term? With so many potentially dying will there be a massive shortage over the next decade?
  • food consumption? Will it force the move to less intensive farming? How will vegans and meat eaters be effected differently?
  • the price of chickens? If eggs are hard to come by in supermarkets will people start selling their back garden chickens for thousands of pounds?
  • the flu long-term? Will peoples potentially better hygiene habits stop the flu being as dangerous as it once was?
  • remote working? Will it bring about a great change to the average office workplace?
  • the ability for women to get abortions?
  • air quality? Will the lack of cars make a massive long term difference?
  • gardens? With so much time on their hands will people decend upon their gardens for fresh air and start to pamper them into beautiful oblivion? Or will they become essential food growing areas and become like allotments?
  • drone deliveries? Will it finally become more than just a publicity stunt and actually be a viable delivery option?
  • domestic abuse? Many sufferers are now stuck in their homes with their abusers with no where to go.
  • economies world wide? Are we entering a decade long depression? How can poorer countries survive when they can’t borrow from other wealthier countries who have taken on massive debts themselves?
  • civil unrest? Will the national lockdowns go on so long that one day the public will have enough, spill onto the streets, and riot?

I have a lot of questions. But sadly not a lot of answers. We will just have to wait and see…

Developers: Show Users What You’re Working On

Today I stumbled on the website for a blogging engine called Blot that I’d never heard of before. The general design of the site and the fact that it ‘turns a folder into a blog’ made me think it was probably created by some dude about five years ago and is now probably long abandoned.

But while it turns out that it is about five years old and is also made by just some dude it most certainly isn’t abandoned. Because after some more poking I found a really cool ‘news’ page. Essentially it’s a mirror of the developers to do list along with their recently completed tasks. It’s a simple but wonderful idea and does a great job of quietly broadcasting the hard work of the developer and signals to users that the service is still very much in development. I wish more services and software did something similar. And Blot itself looks cool. Check it out.

Toilet Paper Shortages in 1940 and 2020

I’m currently reading The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson. It’s great (I might post some more extracts in the coming days) and it feels like a particularly appropriate read during the ongoing coronavirus crisis as the book focuses a lot on the the day-to-day realities of the Blitz, which all too often are starting to vaguely resemble what people are currently going through today. Example in point, toilet paper shortages:

Many other products, while not rationed, were nonetheless in short supply. A visiting American found that he could buy chocolate cake and a lemon meringue pie at Selfridges, but cocoa was impossible to find. Shortages made some realms of hygiene more problematic. Women found tampons increasingly difficult to acquire. At least one brand of toilet paper was also in perilously short supply, as the king himself discovered. He managed to sidestep this particular scarcity by arranging shipments direct from the British embassy in Washington, D.C. With kingly discretion, he wrote to his ambassador, “We are getting short of a certain type of paper which is made in America and is unprocurable here. A packet or two of 500 sheets at intervals would be most acceptable. You will understand this and its name begins with B!!!” The paper in question was identified by historian Andrew Roberts as Bromo soft lavatory paper.

‘Comfort food sales rise amid coronavirus self-isolation orders’

In the week that ended March 14, popcorn sales were up 48%, pretzels up 47% and potato chips up 30% compared to a year earlier, according to Nielsen data cited by the outlet.

“People are retreating back into comfort habits,” said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Jennifer Bartashus. #

I think this is less about these items being ‘comfort food’ and more about them having a long shelf life. Lots of shops currently have very limited frozen goods and most people only have so much fridge and freezer space so buying items you can store at room temperature for a long time makes sense. I’m making sure I have plenty of nuts, tuna and tinned meats and vegetables.

‘Apple Acknowledges Personal Hotspot Issues’

MacRumors:

In an internal document distributed to Apple Authorized Service Providers this week, obtained by MacRumors, Apple has acknowledged that some iOS 13 or iPadOS 13 users may experience issues with Personal Hotspot.

I have had nothing but problems with Personal Hotspot for a long time. Long before iOS 13. And that’s actually a big problem because when I turn it on it’s because I can’t find Wi-Fi anywhere and I really need it to just bloody work right now. But all too often it fails. An iPhone is increasingly a digital Swiss Army knife and Personal Hotspot is an important part of that. It has to work 100% of the time. Imagine if Apple Pay didn’t work every single time?

‘No, coronavirus isn’t going to break the internet’

‘Some web services are facing outages but the internet is largely resilient to collapse’:

In response to concerns about networks not being able to cope with the demands being placed on them, BT has said it has “confidence” that it will be more than able to cope with people spending more time at home. The group says the highest peak its ever seen in demand hit 17.5Tb/s – during coronavirus there’s been a 35-65 per cent increase in daytime traffic but the highest peak has only been 7.5Tb/s.

And Netflix still isn’t delivering capped streams to me, by the way.

Rishi Sunak’s 80% + Universal Basic Income

Today the UK declared the closure of cafes, pubs, restaurants, nightclubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres. And to help the employees of the affected industries the Chancellor of the Exchequer – Rishi Sunak – announced that the government will pay 80% of their salary for the foreseeable future so that they neither lose their jobs or struggle too much financially. It’s a bold and expensive move that will cost the taxpayer hundreds of billions of pounds and take decades to pay off. But I think it’s the right move.

And after watching the press conference for these announcements I turned to my Mum and said that Rishi Sunak is the only high-level UK politician currently responding appropriately and sensibly during the coronavirus crisis. James Kirkup of the Spectator agrees:

In some ways, it’s easy and even important to keep Rishi Sunak’s performance in announcing his coronavirus job retention scheme in perspective. It should, after all, be pretty easy to be popular in politics when you are offering to spend literally limitless amounts of money protecting people from economic hardship. […]

But even taking those things into account, I still consider Sunak’s performance one of the most impressive I’ve seen from a British politician in more than 20 years in and around Westminster.


With so many governments helping out their citizens finanically at the moment universal basic income (UBI) has appeared in the news several times. I’m still unconvinced by some of the maths and theory behind UBI but I do wonder if the coronavirus crisis will be the catalyst for more UBI adoption worldwide in the same way that the catalyst for the UK’s universal health care – the NHS – was World War II.

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.

‘Netflix to Cut European Traffic by 25% Due to Coronavirus’

Netflix said on Thursday it would reduce its bit rates across all its streams in Europe, in effect cutting traffic on its European networks by 25% to preserve the smooth functioning of the internet during the coronavirus crisis.

The move came after talks between European Union industry chief Thierry Breton and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings. Breton had a day earlier urged the video streaming service to downgrade the quality of its video to avoid internet gridlock.

Pure PR, I suspect. I’m sure overall internet traffic has increased recently, but I doubt peak traffic has by much. And of all the services least likely to suffer due to overloaded networks, it’s Netflix. They frequently stress test their services and are directly connected to basically every internet exchange (IX) worldwide thanks to their Open Connect programme. This is just helping hand syndrome. Netflix wants to appear like it is ‘doing its part’.

I just went on Netflix and it’s not currently throttled. I’m being delivered full-fat 1080p streams. So either it’s not in place yet or they’re just getting rid of 4K.

Seneca’s Morning Routine

Seneca's Morning Routine

I’ve been re-reading “Daily Rituals: How Great Minds Make Time, Find Inspiration, and Get to Work” recently. It’s a wonderful collection of the daily routines of some of historys most iconic people. One person not in the book though? The Stoic philosopher Seneca. So here’s his morning routine according to his Letter LXXXIII.

He begins his day with some exercise. Usually a run with his trainer/slave Pharius. Only for a small amount of time though because as an older man he “only has to stir and is weary.”

After that he takes a plunge into his cold swimming pool.

Next, it’s time for breakfast and he has the most uncomplicated one imaginable: bread. He likes its simplicity, rejoicing that he doesn’t even have to lay the table.

Fitness, food, and bathing taken care of he follows them up with a short nap.

His morning routine is now over and the rest of his day is “wholly divided between rest and reading.”