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You can own the ‘speakers on wheels’ rig from Mad Max: Fury Road!

The Doof Wagon

The auction begins on Sunday, September 26, 2021. Bidding starts at $1 [c].

(Found via the Digital Bits [c])

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‘Going private: Increasing numbers of Britons are abandoning the NHS and paying for medical treatment’

inews.co.uk [c]:

As more people opt to fund their healthcare themselves, or take out private health insurance, there is a danger of creating a “two tier” system, with wealthier people paying for speedy tests and treatments and the less well-off being forced to wait.

My initial response to that paragraph was: that’s fine. Rich people still pay their National Insurance. So if they’re willing to go private it means the NHS has less of a workload and will work better for those who can’t afford to go private. However, apparently not so:

“By and large, private hospitals in the UK don’t have a fully separate workforce from the NHS,… [they] don’t tend to directly employ a separate set of doctors. They are [mostly] NHS doctors spending part of their time in private practice to supplement their income.

“Staff [numbers] are going to be a critical constraint on the NHS being able to treat more patients and get rid of this backlog. If they are spending more time practising in the private sector that might be taking away time from the NHS, which may have an impact on people who can’t afford to go private,” Mr Gardner added.

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‘Instead’

Seth Godin’s blog [c]:

A simple substitute might change a habit.
Instead of a snack, brush your teeth.
Instead of a nap, go for a walk.
Instead of a nasty tweet or cutting remark, write it down in a private notebook.
Instead of the elevator, take the stairs.
Instead of doomscrolling, send someone a nice note.
Instead of an angry email, make a phone call.
Instead of a purchase seeking joy, consider a donation…

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When to quit a bad book

Taken from an article on Farnham Street, ‘How to Remember What You Read‘ [c]:

Author and librarian Nancy Pearl advocates the “Rule of 50.” This entails reading the first 50 pages of a book and then deciding if it is worth finishing. The Rule of 50 has an interesting feature: once you are over the age of 50, subtract your age from 100 and read that many pages.

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Eat, sleep and feel better

Some interesting simple points here about how something as simple as food can have a massive impact on how you feel. Obvious I know. But when the title of a video is ‘How to become more rational and level headed’ you expect a lot more mumbo jumbo. But the truth is, sometimes low-hanging fruit like eating properly, paired with a good sleep routine can be enough to help you feel dramatically better. [.mp4 of video]

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‘Anti-Aging: State of the Art’

Good introduction to anti-aging by JackH on LessWrong.com [c].

Notes/Highlights

There is an overemphasis on cryonics for life extension, rather than simply solving aging itself.


Today, there are over 130 longevity biotechnology companies and over 50 anti-aging drugs in clinical trials in humans [c].


… the highest rates of depression worldwide are among the elderly [c].

Interesting. I would not have guessed this. I’d always heard people get happier as they get older.


The difference between anti-aging and current medicine is the former prevents illness by targeting the hallmarks of aging, whereas the latter intervenes once a disease has emerged… The former extends unhealthy lifespan, whereas only the latter extends healthy lifespan.


Stanford University summarises (pdf) [c] four of the most promising approaches to slow or reverse aging in humans, based on studies in mice:

  1. Parabiosis: putting the blood of young mice into older mice.
  2. Metabolic manipulation: dietary restriction. Drugs like metformin and rapamycin are being considered and tested.
  3. Senolytics: drugs that target and kill senescent cells, which are a kind of ‘zombie’-like cell that accumulate with age. Killing senescent cells with senolytics extends the median healthy lifespan by up to 27% in mice [c].
  4. Cellular reprogramming: the conversion of old cells into ‘young’ cells.

Aging is essentially damage accumulation that occurs as a by-product of metabolism and causes the diseases that kill most people today. This damage comes in 9 forms, which are the hallmarks of aging. Many therapeutic strategies show great promise in extending healthy human lifespan by reversing the damage accumulated with aging. Four of the most promising strategies to extend lifespan in humans include parabiosis, metabolic manipulation, senolytics, and cellular reprogramming.


Off-shoot links

Cool links linked in the article.

/r/longevity
Lifespan.io: a site dedicated to longevity.
Greenland shark may live 400 years, smashing longevity record [c] – Science.org
Geroscience and Biotech Venture Capital – Sebastian A. Brunemeier – YouTube

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Will you get a day off work when the Queen dies? Is it a bank holiday?

I’ve been wondering for a while now – for purely selfish reasons – if there will be any bank holidays when the Queen dies.

Well, Politico has gained access [c] to documents which lay out the entire plan for what will happen after her death.

So, will you get a day off work? The answer is maybe:

The prime minister and the queen have agreed that the day of the state funeral will be a “Day of National Mourning.” This has also led to planning issues. The day will effectively be a bank holiday, although it will not be named as such. If the funeral falls on the weekend or an existing bank holiday, an extra bank holiday will not be granted. If the funeral falls on a weekday, the government does not plan to order employers to give employees the day off — the documents say that is a matter between employees and their staff

Simply put, if you work for a decent company they’ll probably give you the day off. If you work for a crap company, then don’t hold your breath.

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Effeminate looking men banned from Chinese television

Today in crazy China news [c]:

The Chinese government has ordered a boycott of “sissy pants” celebrities as it escalates a fight against what it sees as a cultural import that threatens China’s national strength.

In a directive issued on Thursday, China’s TV watchdog said entertainment programs should firmly reject the “deformed aesthetics” of niangpao, a derogatory term that refers to effeminate men.

The order came as Beijing tightens control over the country’s entertainment industry, taking aim at an explosion of TV and streaming shows that hold increasing sway over pop culture and the youth.

Young, delicate-looking men who display gentle personalities and act in boys’ love dramas have amassed large fan bases mostly comprising women.

Another thing to note about China:

Explicitly homosexual characters are not allowed on Chinese TV, and no prominent mainland Chinese celebrity has come out as gay. Platforms have previously blurred male stars’ earrings and ponytails because of their ostensible association with rebellion and counterculture.

Found via Tyler Cowen (Marginal Revolution) [c].

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Salman Rushdie’s next novel will be serialised on Substack

The Guardian [c]:

It will be a digital experiment in serialising fiction (“the way [it] used to be published, right at the beginning”) with new sections coming out approximately once a week over the course of about a year, he says.

A surprising number of the classics were originally serialised: Charles Dickens’ The Pickwick Papers is the best known example, but there is also Madame Bovary, War and Peace, and Heart of Darkness. Rushdie references the experience of Samuel Richardson, who serialised his novel Clarissa in 1748.

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Cunningham’s Law

Ward Cunningham’s Wikipedia page:

Cunningham is credited with the idea: “The best way to get the right answer on the Internet is not to ask a question; it’s to post the wrong answer.” This refers to the observation that people are quicker to correct a wrong answer than to answer a question.

Cunningham was the inventor of the wiki with his ‘WikiWikiWeb‘, by the way.

Here’s a random interview [c] of him done by Dave Winer of Scripting.com. It’s a little basic and quite clearly recorded in a restaurant or bar after they’ve had a few beers. Still, might be worth your time.

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‘China to Cleanse Online Content That ‘Bad-Mouths’ Its Economy’

Bloomberg [c]:

China kicked off a two-month campaign to crack down on commercial platforms and social media accounts that post finance-related information that’s deemed harmful to its economy.

The initiative will focus on rectifying violations including those that “maliciously” bad-mouth China’s financial markets and falsely interpret domestic policies and economic data, the Cyberspace Administration of China said in a statement late Friday. Those who republish foreign media reports or commentaries that falsely interpret domestic financial topics “without taking a stance or making a judgment” will also be targeted, it added.

The move is aimed at cultivating a “benign” online environment for public opinion that can facilitate “sustainable and healthy development” of China’s economy and its society, according to the statement. It followed a draft proposal issued earlier Friday by the cyberspace regulator to regulate algorithms that technology firms use to recommend videos and other content.

One of the reasons I’m keen on direct indexing becoming more mainstream is so I can take countries like China out of my pension investment portfolio. I do want the diversification of a ‘world index tracker’, but it would be nice to take dodgy countries like China out of the pot.

And it probably wouldn’t even cost me anything. I mean that’s half of the reason I want to take it out! Sure, morally I disagree with China. But I also think they simply won’t perform in the long run.

They haven’t done especially well over the past 10 years:

Oh and in other China news, ‘China Slashes Kids’ Gaming Time to Just Three Hours a Week‘ [c]:

Gaming platforms from Tencent Holdings Ltd. to NetEase Inc. can henceforth only offer online gaming to minors from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays, weekends and public holidays, state news agency Xinhua reported, citing a notice by the National Press and Publication Administration. The new rules, which limit teen playing time to three hours most weeks of the year, is a major step-up from a previous restriction set in 2019 of 1.5 hours per day, most days.

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Amazon’s Lord of the Rings TV show explained. What can they film?

Amazon Chronicles (Tim Carmody) [c]:

In his lifetime, J.R.R. Tolkien published two works of fantasy set in a section of the planet Arda called Middle-Earth: The Hobbit and then its multi-volume sequel The Lord of the Rings. While there are hints of other lands and ages in The Hobbit, it’s really in The Lord of the Rings that it’s decisively revealed that these stories take place at the end of the Third Age of Arda…

Over his life, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote and revised many stories about the First Age. These were collected and edited after his death by his son Christopher, and published in the books The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, Beren and Luthien, The Children of Húrin, The Fall of Gondolin, and others. It’s a rich and full mythology, and a television studio could take years to tell those stories.

Amazon has the rights to none of them. The Tolkien estate didn’t sell those. (And Amazon doesn’t have the Hobbit/Lord of the Rings-era stories either.)

What the Tolkien estate sold was the rights to the Second Age, but reportedly not the parts of those stories told in the books primarily about the First Age (the Silmarillion, etc.) At the same time, Amazon cannot contradict those stories either. Amazon’s series will have to be consistent with the Tolkien canon, while at the same time drawing on the vaguest, least detailed portion of it: genealogies, a few outlines of stories, and not much more.

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Link Money

‘The Mormon Church Amassed $100 Billion. It Was the Best-Kept Secret in the Investment World.’

The Wall Street Journal [c]:

[Ensign Peak’s (The Mormon Church’s investment division)] assets did total roughly $80 billion to $100 billion as of last year, some of the former employees said. That is at least double the size of Harvard University’s endowment and as large as the size of SoftBank’s Vision Fund, the world’s largest tech-investment fund.

[…] Church officials acknowledged the size of the fund is a tightly held secret, which they said was because Ensign Peak depends on donations—known as tithing—from the church’s 16 million world-wide members.

[…] “We don’t know when the next 2008 is going to take place,”… “If something like that were to happen again, we won’t have to stop missionary work.”

During the last financial crisis, they didn’t touch the reserves Ensign Peak had amassed, church officials said. Instead, the church cut the budget.

[…] Whereas university endowments generally subsidize operating costs with investment income, Ensign Peak does the opposite. Annual donations from the church’s members more than covers the church’s budget. The surplus goes to Ensign Peak. Members of the religion must give 10% of their income each year to remain in good standing.

Dean Davies, another member of the ecclesiastical arm that oversees Ensign Peak, said the church doesn’t publicly share its assets because “these funds are sacred” and “we don’t flaunt them for public review and critique.”

Imagine being a Mormon. You’re not allowed to even drink coffee, and you’re required to give 10% of your income to the church. And then you find out your religion has an investment fund worth $100 billion. Although Mormonism has always been a joke of religion, so perhaps it’s fitting.

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‘UK truck driver shortage signals a broken labour market’

Financial Times [c]:

In 2010, the median HGV driver in the UK earned 51 per cent more per hour than the median supermarket cashier. By 2020, the premium was only 27 per cent. They have faced a particular pay squeeze in the past five years: median hourly pay for truck drivers has risen 10 per cent since 2015 to £11.80, compared with 16 per cent for all UK employees. “Why would I want to be a truck driver, with all the responsibility, the long, unpredictable hours, if I can go to Aldi and earn £11.30 an hour stacking shelves?” says Tomasz Oryński.

[…] As a result, the workforce is ageing. In 2000, there was an even split between over-45s and under-45s. Now the over-45s account for 62 per cent.