The Insightful Troll

Rants and ruminations.

The Museum of Endangered Sounds

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The Museum of Endangered Sounds

The Museum of Endangered Sounds is an interesting collection of sounds from old technologies. A lot of these brings me back to my childhood - from the thump of Space Invaders, Pac Man, the sound of NES cartridges and even the now extinct Nokia ‘candy bar phone’ ringtone. An aurual to through nostalgia.

A Steep Decline in Teen Mental Health

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CDC warns of a steep decline in teen mental health

The Washington Post is reporting that More than 4 in 10 told the health agency they felt ‘persistently sad or hopeless’:

Although young people were spared the brunt of the virus — falling ill and dying at much lower rates than older people — they might still pay a steep price for the pandemic, having come of age while weathering isolation, uncertainty, economic turmoil and, for many, grief.

In a news conference, Kathleen A. Ethier, head of the CDC’s division of adolescent and school health, said the survey results underscored the vulnerability of certain students, including LGBTQ youth and students who reported being treated unfairly because of their race. And female students are far worse off than their male peers.

Moriah Balingit

This situation if the result of the destruction of the social network of relations due to the modern lifestyle. To have meaningful social relations with our peers is extremely important for humans and even more so for teenagers.

First the modern lifestyle mostly destroyed the small communities where people know each other and spend a lot of time together. People began to stay in their house all the time with no contacts with a community. At this first stage, as the local community was eliminated, the remaining pillars of social relations were school, for young people, and work for adults. Adults were able to maintain some degree of additional social life by having some friends and inviting them regularly to create the opportunity to meet.

Later come all the smartphones, tablets, computers, social networks that captivated all the attention, especially of young people so even more so people were pushed to stay more at home and meet less people further increasing the social isolation.

The final blow came from the COVID-19 confinement were people were forced to stay at home reducing social contacts only to the close family members. This situation created an unsustainable isolation raising serious mental health problem especially for teenagers but also for adult people.

Modern society got it all wrong. We think having more goods and entertainment to consume make us happier but this is not how it works. Not if the social life and the social network around us is poor or non-existent.

We need to radically change modern lifestyle and stop with chasing materialism and showcasing wealth. The pandemic, I hope, has shown us that we need to re-orient ourselves to family, friends and community.

Development of the Thermians

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The cast of Galaxy Quest looks back on how the speech, mannerisms, and culture of the Thermian people were developed.

Never Give Up. Never Surrender!

The Dictator Trap

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Brian Klaas for The Atlantic:

[…] you have to understand the power and information ecosystems around dictators. I’ve studied and interviewed despots across the globe for more than a decade. In my research, I’ve persistently encountered a stubborn myth—of the savvy strongman, the rational, calculating despot who can play the long game because he (and it’s typically a he) doesn’t have to worry about pesky polls or angry voters. Our elected leaders, this view suggests, are no match for the tyrant who gazes into the next decade rather than fretting about next year’s election.

Reality doesn’t conform to that rosy theory.

Autocrats such as Putin eventually succumb to what may be called the “dictator trap.” The strategies they use to stay in power tend to trigger their eventual downfall. Rather than being long-term planners, many make catastrophic short-term errors—the kinds of errors that would likely have been avoided in democratic systems. They hear only from sycophants, and get bad advice. They misunderstand their population. They don’t see threats coming until it’s too late. And unlike elected leaders who leave office to riches, book tours, and the glitzy lifestyle of a statesman, many dictators who miscalculate leave office in a casket, a possibility that makes them even more likely to double down.

It’s not going to end well for Putin.

Its a Trap!

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Amazon Go’s “grab-and-go” shopping experience (where you walk out of the store with your items without having to check out first) doesn’t work that well for all shoppers.

When Amazon announced their new store concept, Xavier Harding wrote

White people who have never been “randomly” followed around at a Walgreens may have no problem walking into a store, grabbing an item and leaving — like this guy in the Amazon Go promo video.

But shoppers of color, who already see enough unwanted attention, may have their doubts. Especially in a store where the employees are mostly there for customer service, as Amazon’s promo video suggests. They roam the store, stock shelves and hang out near shoppers.

In the immortal words of Admiral Akbar:

Its a trap!

Appeasement Hasn't Worked.

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Jake Tapper stating the obvious - two decades of stern warnings and misplaced optimism in the US paved the way for Russian President Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine.

I mean honestly. If you were Putin do you were Putin, would you think there were any real limits to what you can get away with? I mean it’s easy to see why he thought this time would be no different. President Biden is right. Dictators who do not pay a price for aggression continue causing more chaos. But may I ask - have we actually learned that lesson?

So far, it looks like we have not. The US (along with the its NATO allies) must immediately enforce a no fly zone over Ukraine. Appeasement did not work with Hitler - it will not work with Putin.

We in the US say that we are the protectors of freedom and democracy in the world - the one indispensable nation. Well here is a clear cut case of when the United States military might is required. The world is watching. Are we as a nation going to live up to our rhetoric? Or are we going to stand by and let the thousands of civilians die?

The Rats Are Starting to Flee

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Looks like the sanctions are starting to bite - Lukoil is Russia’s second biggest oil company behind state-owned giant Rosneft. It now faces huge challenges as traders shun Russian crude for fear of running afoul of Western sanctions even though they do not directly target fossil fuel exports.

Lukoil shares listed in London have lost roughly 99% of their value following the invasion. Dealing in the company’s stock was suspended on Thursday. Predictably, the board has publicly broken ranks with Putin.

We express our sincere empathy for all victims, who are affected by this tragedy. We strongly support a lasting ceasefire and a settlement of problems through serious negotiations and diplomacy.

The rats have began to leave the sinking ship.

B-52s Deployed to the Ukraine Border?

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B-52 strategic bombers spotted less than 100 kilometers from Ukrainian border.

A few hours ago, a group of two American B-52 strategic bombers, escorted by NATO fighters, practiced strikes from Romanian airspace, approaching the borders of Ukraine at a distance of less than 100 kilometers.

Those B-52s are just aching to say hello to that that stalled Russian convoy. Finally - A message Putin will understand.

NATO Should Impose a No-fly Zone in Ukraine

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Luke McGee a CNN analysis piece:

Despite the bleak situation on the ground, NATO is unwilling to get directly involved in the conflict – including setting up a no-fly zone – beyond supporting Ukraine’s resistance to an invasion that is killing innocent civilians.

NATO’s Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, said on Friday that a no-fly zone over Ukraine is not an option being considered by the alliance. “We’ve agreed that we should not have NATO planes operating over Ukrainian airspace or NATO troops on Ukrainian territory,” he said.

Why? The sole purpose of the formation of NATO was to prevent rogue dictators and mad man to rain destruction on European nations and to secure the peace. The US and its allies could easily secure the airspace of Ukraine, making the Russian air force irrelevant.

Don’t get me wrong, no one wants a full scale all hands on board ground war in Europe, but appeasement never works. It didn’t work with Hitler and it won’t work with Putin - he is a deranged bully. Here we have a clear cut case to use our military might for what is a moral and justified cause. Iraq and Afghanistan weren’t. Ukraine is.

What Russia Wants

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This video is a helpful overview of some of the geographical, historical, demographic, environmental, political, and economic reasons why, from the perspective of Putin & Moscow, Russia wants to bring Ukraine back into their orbit.

Living With the Reality of the Forever War

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Humans are the scariest animals. And also the most durable. It’s like that. People can get used to anything. But I don’t want to.

The NY Times did a short series of videos about how average Ukrainians were preparing to defend their country. Video journalists spoke to military and residents in Mariupol:

Vaccine Denial Amongst Conservatives

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From Vox’s Joss Fong, a video essay on how conservatives turned against the Covid-19 vaccine in the US.

President Donald Trump presided over the fastest vaccine development process in history, leading to abundant, free vaccines in the US by the spring of 2021. Although the mRNA Covid-19 vaccines haven’t been able to stop transmission of the virus, they have been highly effective against hospitalization and death, saving hundreds of thousands of lives and rendering the majority of new Covid-19 deaths preventable.

Trump has received three doses of the vaccine. But many of his most dedicated supporters have refused, and many have died as a result. Why? Obvious culprits include misinformation on social media and Fox News and the election of Joe Biden, which placed a Democrat at the top of the US government throughout the vaccine distribution period. But if you look closely at the data, you’ll see that vaccine-hesitant conservatives largely made up their mind well before the vaccines were available and before Donald Trump lost the 2020 election.

In the early stages, conservative leaders (Fox News anchors and Donald Trump) repeatedly downplayed the severity of Covid-19 to a “flu like symptoms.” Having convinced their base of this, the mask and vaccine mandates seemed like over encroachment. Words matter. Words from leadership matters even more.

The GOP and Fox News has blood on their hands.

Trump Is a Traitor

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As if January 6th wasn’t bad enough - today in an analysis by Stephen Collinson:

“So Putin is now saying, ‘It’s independent,’ a large section of Ukraine. I said, ‘How smart is that?’ And he’s going to go in and be a peacekeeper. That’s the strongest peace force,” Trump said. “We could use that on our southern border. That’s the strongest peace force I’ve ever seen. … Here’s a guy who’s very savvy. … I know him very well. Very, very well.”

Trump was referring to Putin’s declaration on Monday that he would regard two rebel regions of eastern Ukraine, where he has been fostering separatism, as independent and his order for Russian troops, which Putin misleadingly called “peacekeeping” forces, to reinforce the enclaves. The move was a flagrant violation of international law, was resonant of the tyrannical territorial aggrandizement of the 1930s that led to World War II and was, as Biden said on Tuesday, tantamount to “the beginning of a Russian invasion.” In effect, the ex-President is trying to undermine US foreign policy as the current President tries to stop a war that could kill thousands of people and threaten the post-Cold War peace.

Helicopter Blades During Flight

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Here is what a helicopter blade looks like, from the perspective of a GoPro strapped to the blade show you forward flight and how the blade angles as we move forward.

Imitate, Then Innovate

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David Perell on innovation:

It’s counterintuitive, but the more we imitate others, the faster we can discover our unique style. In the entertainment world, there’s a long lineage of comedians who tried to copy each other, failed, and became great themselves: Johnny Carson tried to copy Jack Benny, but failed and won six Emmy awards. Then, David Letterman tried to copy Johnny Carson, but failed and became one of America’s great television hosts.

Reflecting on his own influences, Conan O’Brien said: “It is our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique.”

Modern creators do the opposite though. They refuse to imitate others and stubbornly insist on originality, which they hold as their highest virtue — even when it comes at the expense of quality. They might deny their ambition toward originality when you talk to them, but they reveal it in their actions. In general, creators spend much less time imitating their heroes than they do trying to make something new. I call it the Originality Disease — a pervasive plague that makes creators feel scared to imitate other people’s styles.

What Are Those Strips Hanging of the Wheels?

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If you’re bored and stuck in traffic, chances are you’ve probably looked around at the vehicles around you, looking for something, anything to ease the pain. As you play Miley Cyrus’ Party In The USA while you inch forward, you’ve probably spotted something off to the side on a slow-moving truck. The wheels on its trailer have little strips slowly rotating, drawing your attention in. What are those for?


Sometimes, truckers may find that the spring brakes on a wheel may be frozen and not releasing, leading to the wheel dragging. You can get stuck wheels from worn out braking components, rust, bad valves or a number of different possibilities.

One way to check wheel rotation is to paint a mark on a wheel, then drive the truck, turning enough so that you can see the mark in your mirrors. Another way would be to have a spotter check to see if all wheels are moving. Or you could attach wheel rotation indicators to your wheels’ lug nuts and easily be able to check which wheels are in motion.

Image for article titled Here Is What Those Strips Hanging Off Of Truck Wheels Are For Photo: Tyre Protector of North America They work better than a strip of paint because they stick out just far enough that a trucker should be able to see them in their mirrors.

A brilliant product - just surprised it took so long to come up with such a simple solution. Won’t make my compute any better but this files under useless information cabinet - for when I end up on Jeopardy.

Bill Maher - That's Not Karma

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people have to learn to disagree and not hate for it

Even though I disagree with him on a lot of topics as of late - he truly believes in, and understands the value of, freedom of expression to a stable and healthy society. Notice how he was able to maintain respect and deference to Whoopi even though it would have bßno matter what, I think we will be OK. We can all learn a lot about civics from this short clip.

Moon Crashing Into Earth?

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Kurzgesagt has made a video that shows what would happen to civilization should the Moon somehow get knocked from its orbit and head straight for the Earth. Spoiler: the Moon doesn’t even need to reach us to kill almost all life on the planet.

Understanding the Global Chip Shortages

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An excellent write-up Jan-Peter Kleinhans & Julia Hess for Stiftung Neue Varanwortung:

What customers and markets are currently experiencing as “the semiconductor shortage” is, in fact, multiple shortages happening concurrently in different process steps and supplier markets based on a multitude of dynamics and dependencies. The interplay between the underlying dynamics, such as high market entry barriers, high geographic concentration, high fab utilization and long manufacturing cycles, is the reason why skyrocketing demand and external shocks, from natural disasters and human error to COVID-19-related lock-downs, disrupted the value chain since 2020. Consequently, none of the shortages in semiconductor manufacturing can be explained by one reason alone. Most importantly, some of the underlying dynamics are unlikely to change in the future because they are rooted in fundamental characteristics of semiconductor manufacturing.

You can get the full PDF here. Well worth the 30 page read.