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What is the purpose of Twitter?

Submitted by John on Tue, 04/26/2022 - 11:44

Some people think Twitter is a megaphone. Its primary purpose is for shouting into. Whatever you want to say, it goes into the megaphone and out into the world. 

Some people think Twitter is a way to create and maintain a community. For checking up on one another, giving tips and advice, making space for others and overall community care. Somewhere where you can share memes with your friends, maybe a little more public than a group chat. 

People in the first group are very concerned about their free speech rights. They want to say whatever they want and not have any mechanisms in the platform, or the policies of the platform that would restrict their messages from being seen by anybody. 

No volume controls on the megaphones!

People in the second camp want restrictions! In the form of content moderation, and community norms. They want the ability to have their community space and talk to each other without someone coming along and shouting abusive invective at them. 

So yeah, now that Elon has put forth a bid to take Twitter private, what is Elon going to do? Is he going to save Twitter or ruin it?

I personally think Elon is the kind of guy who wants to crank up the volume on the megaphones. People who agree with him, that the megaphones need to be louder, are ecstatic. They seem to think that he's going to fix everything that is wrong with the platform. 

But the folks who come to Twitter for community do not want their communities invaded by abusive randos. If the abuse gets loud enough, they will leave. 

When I talk to folks who live in the GOP ecosystem, they seem to think that the only thing Twitter does, is seek out anything that is not the left wing consensus and just nukes it from orbit. On purpose, to silence conservatives. No other reason. 

This has not been my experience, by and large. Most of the banning I've seen has been ultimately because of harassment of minorities, or other straightforward violations of Twitter rules that are viewpoint neutral. 

Let's be honest. Nobody is getting kicked off Twitter because of their opinions on tax policy. But there are some people who REALLY want to be able to call other people racial and sexual slurs, without any consequences. If this is what "free speech" looks like to Elon Musk, the GOP and Fox News, and Elon cranks up that "free speech" knob, then I don't think people who are targets of those slurs are going to stick around.  

I don't think Musk is mentally capable of understanding the community aspect of Twitter. Twitter is performative shitposting to Elon Musk, as far as I can tell. (And hey, I admit that shitposting is fun, although I try to limit mine to jokes about the Canucks, mostly just for my friend <a href = "">Brad</a>.) [Edit: 😂 I'm leaving the link typo in!]

So yeah, I do think it's super likely that he's going to destroy the best parts of Twitter, at least for a large chunk of Twitter's users. When that happens, people are going to leave. 

Of course, this is assuming the sale goes through in the first place. He says he has funding, but the funding is based on mortgaging his share of Tesla... and Tesla stock has crashed on the news of the Twitter sale going through. So we'll see what happens next. 


Making hot sauce

Submitted by John on Thu, 04/14/2022 - 10:43

The kids started getting interested in making hot sauce. We’ve made a few batches (with varying levels of success). This one turned out… alright. The flavors don’t quite meld and it’s rough around the edges… but let’s be honest, neither I nor the children know what the heck we are doing. Maybe it will get better over time!

The kid who made this hot sauce loves it on his eggs, and I guess that’s all that matters.

Flames coming up around a pot of simmering green and red hot peppers

For this recipe we simmered two jalapeño peppers and four dried hot peppers I grew in my garden last year (they are weird hybrid peppers, I’d say they are maybe on the hot side of medium hot). We covered the peppers in vinegar. The fire was supposed to add smokiness (and it did) and cooking the peppers outside kept us from gassing the rest of the household (that part worked too).

A jar of finished hot sauce, reddish brown in the light

The hot sauce turned a wonderful reddish brown when blended. We cooked them outside for about 10 minutes.


More links, with a focus on personal development

Submitted by John on Sat, 01/29/2022 - 12:54
  • Everything must be paid for twice - You pay once in dollars for the thing, and you pay a second time in time/energy/effort to get the benefit of the thing you paid for.
  • How a Simple Math Equation Can Transform Your Productivity - An example: 0.8 * 0.2 = 0.16. Lesson: When we operate at a fraction, we compromise the output.

  • Effortless personal productivity (or how I learned to love my monkey mind) - Develop an awareness of your mental states. Figure out what you are good at in each state. Apply your todo list to your mental state and do the things you are good at in whatever mental state you are in.

  • Articulate and Incompetent - "An articulate, logical, and consistent argument is not required to have any relationship with actual reality. Temperament and experience does." When we look back at our successes, our verbal brain can make up all kinds of reasons, in retrospect, why we succeeded. Often, success depends on intuition. Intuition is poorly articulated. To get intuition: "Increase your vocabulary of granular words to describe emotions and sensations."

  • "Squid, Zen and The Abyss." - There's a LOT in this one, but it's mostly about how to break out of the thinking ruts our verbal brain keeps us trapped in:

    A system that endlessly repeats the same behaviors enters the “frozen zone.” A business or individual that cannot innovate and play, becomes fragile, then dies....

    The thing that gets between you and seeing the world clearly is all your protections, traumas, and defenses. In a business context, this is “the way things have always been done.” This is something that can actually get worse with age; we get more attached to our professional identity, status, and material possessions. But if you can’t evolve as fast as our accelerating world, you risk being left behind. As management icon Peter Drucker put it: “the greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence itself but to act with yesterday’s logic.”

    The absolutely critical, yet oft-neglected, implication is that your old model needs to be destroyed before it can be replaced. This is usually INCREDIBLY UNPLEASANT.

  • The importance trap - Doing unimportant things makes you lucky. You know that whole thing about marking the things you do as important or urgent, and stay out of things that are neither important nor urgent. If you maximize your time on important and urgent things, you lose out on the ability to let your mind go, relax the analytical, and lose yourself in a hobby.

    Quadrant II [Important, but not Urgent] builds up your existing strengths, while Quadrant IV [Not Important or Urgent] exposes you to new abilities and trains you in less immediately needed skills. These “unimportant” activities are chosen by your subconscious. Your subconscious knows what you need.[1] Your conscious brain is much worse than your subconscious at identifying and prioritizing, because it’s too busy thinking of Quadrant II things. That’s why Quadrant IV activities invariably turn out to be useful, even though it doesn’t look like it when you’re doing them.[2]


Been a while since I've done a good old fashioned link dump

Submitted by John on Sat, 01/29/2022 - 11:54

Recent links I found that were interesting:


My internal dialogue as I woke up this morning

Submitted by John on Fri, 01/14/2022 - 06:29

Me, waking up with a sense of needing to do something today: Hello?

My internal voice: Hello.

Me: Uh. What's happening today? 

Voice: Pandemic.

Me: Yeah, right, Pandemic. That's not nearly specific enough. Do I have to get anything done? Are there deadlines? Should I be panicking? What's the metanarrative?

Voice: I don't know yet, I'm still waking up myself. 

Me: ... You're helpful. 

Voice: *shrugs*


Voice: It's a workday. You have some work related deadlines. Also looks like we have a series of in person things we have to do today, in the middle of Omicron flying around.

Me: Ah. Got it. Thank you for helping me calibrate my expectations. 


Speaking of Delicious Food

Submitted by John on Thu, 01/13/2022 - 21:04

I deeply enjoyed this recipe for tuna melts. I halved it and it worked great.

The cooking of the tomato in the oven was such a good idea (although, I think it's important to get the slices on the thin side so they cook through).

The kids were not fans. My wife said "I think it's too complicated for me", but I loved it.

  • 1/3 c. mayonnaise
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 (6-oz.) cans tuna
  • 1 ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 2 dill pickles, finely chopped
  • 1/4 c. finely chopped red onion
  • 2 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 slices bread, such as sourdough
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 8 slices cheddar


    1. Preheat oven to 400°. In a large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes (if using).
    2. Drain tuna then add to mayonnaise mixture. Use a fork to break up tuna into flakes. Add celery, pickles, red onion, and parsley and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
    3. Butter one side of each bread slice. Top an unbuttered side with approximately 1/2 cup of tuna salad, 2 to 3 slices tomato, and 2 slices of cheese. Top with another slice of bread, buttered side facing up. Repeat with remaining ingredients and place on a large baking sheet. Bake until cheese is melty, 5 to 8 minutes.


  • Tags

    My canonical hamburger

    Submitted by John on Thu, 12/30/2021 - 22:11

    So my canonical cheeseburger has:

    • lettuce (preferably iceberg, sometimes leaf, sometimes shredded, sometimes both)
    • tomato
    • sauerkraut
    • ketchup
    • mustard
    • relish
    • pickles
    • rarely, but sometimes, mayo
    • pickled onions
    • sliced big circles of raw onions
    • sautéed onions
    • sautéed mushrooms & peppers
    • sometimes thinly sliced sautéed jalapeños
    • and a perfectly fried sunny side up egg right on top

    Burger itself is a blend of hamburger (prefer a fattier blend when grilling, but usually go with 85/15 on a frying pan on the stove), regular Quaker Oats (a bit more than a handful or so per pound of meat, and I have small hands), a raw egg, quite a lot of Worcestershire sauce (not optional!), and generous amounts of seasoning. Here's one option: salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, finely chopped fresh thyme or fresh oregano, and if no fresh herbs are on hand, dried oregano, kind of sparingly compared to paprika (cannot have too much) and garlic powder (use lots). Another option: cut back bit on all of the above and replace with Penzey's Turkish blend. 

    The goal of the oats is to bind everything together because you're adding a lot of liquid. If you have a fattier grind you could maybe add a bit more oats. 

    Layer the seasonings and the meat! Put in 3/4 of an inch or so of meat into the bowl, season with all powders, repeat. Then add the oats, egg, and Worcestershire. Hand mix, don't over mix. Let it sit out to take the chill off while you prepare the toppings above.

    Cheese! I try to avoid cheddar because it doesn't melt very good. I usually don't use blue cheese, but sometimes do if I am missing some of the toppings listed above. 

    The secret to how I make all of that above is the cast iron pan. And even though I am usually making burgers for 8 other people in my family, everyone else only wants lettuce, tomato, ketchup, mustard, relish, and pickles, maybe a bit of onion. So I only have to prep everything else for just me, and since I'm only making one (large) burger, and that's a lot of different toppings, I only need to prepare a little bit of everything. 

    So the cast iron pan. I make burgers for absolutely everyone else in the house. Shoo them out of the kitchen, then I put my largish size patty on the cast iron. In the other corner of the cast iron, I put on the mushrooms, onions, peppers, and jalapeños (don't forget to season!). Depending on the size of the pan I am using, sometimes I can cram the egg in there too, but often times I use the smaller egg pan to get the egg right, if there's lots of crusties on the bottom of the burger pan. The egg won't flip right and it gets to be a problem. 

    Then it's a matter of cooking everything up so it finishes at the right time, and that takes practice. But when it's all done, I have this monster burger... that I eat all alone in the kitchen because everyone else has run off. Still delicious though. 


    At least I got a good shoulder workout

    Submitted by John on Wed, 12/29/2021 - 20:48

    I've been working on making a carving bench for some time now. Nearly 9-10 months maybe? Kind of like this:

    Found a log that was the right size, as well as another larger diameter one to use as a base for the axe work. 

    I put maybe 20-30 hours into cutting and shaping it last spring. (Mostly by hand, with an axe, then a draw knife.) But around end of April, beginning of May I started working on other projects and set it aside. In part, I needed some tools that I know I own but haven't been able to find since the move. 

    Refusing to buy replacements for tools I already own, I borrowed the tools I needed from a neighbor last week, and sat down to work on the bench today. 

    Unfortunately, after I lifted the bench off the axe block, I noticed a dark strip where the bench was in contact with the axe block. The green wood of the axe block wasn't able to dry in that spot, and it had fostered some mildew growth.

    And... a whole mushroom had fruited in the bark on the underside of the bench!

    I thought maybe I could salvage the bench by just taking off the bark, but when I started taking the bark off the *top side*, farthest from the mushroom, I could see the mycelium had spread throughout the whole bark layer. It didn't smell like anything I wanted to keep in the house, so I chucked the whole thing outside. 

    Ah well. Now I need a new axe block and a new log to make a carving bench out of.

    Omicron Update

    Submitted by John on Fri, 12/17/2021 - 03:38

    Alright folks, it's time for an Omicron update.

    I mean, it could be worse. But if you look at "how bad is this going to be for the health care system", it's going to be quite bad, and possibly even worse than that. 

    You've probably heard that Omicron is milder than other forms of Covid. This is true, and it's good news! So why would a milder form of Covid be bad for the health care system?

    First off, it's looking like Omicron is more transmissible than Delta. This means that if someone gets Omicron, they're more likely to pass it on to more people. 

    The second bit of bad news is if you get Delta, it doesn't do a good job of protecting you against Omicron, and if you get Omicron, it's not going to do a very good job of keeping you from getting Delta. 

    These two facts combined are going to be quite bad for all of the hospitals out there. For one thing, we are already in the middle of a Delta wave in the United States. Some doctors and nurses have been raising the alarm about how bad Covid is getting this winter. A wave of Omicron on top of our existing Delta wave is going to push hospitals to the breaking point, and possibly past it. Some hospitals are already turning away patients, the Delta wave is still not peaking, and Omicron hasn't even hit in force yet. 

    Even though Omicron gives milder cases, people are still dying from Omicron. Omicron is still sending people to the hospital. It's still sending people into the ER. It's still going to be a big strain on the healthcare system as a whole. 

    So what's the good news? 

    The first bit of good news is that even though Omicron is better able to slip past the natural antibody response of the adaptive immune system, the killer T-cell response is mostly not going to be fooled. So if your adaptive immune system has been exposed to Covid, either through infection by Covid or through a vaccine, you have some level of protection against serious disease or death.

    The second bit of good news is that we have a vaccine that is protective against the Omicron variant. It's three shots of Pfizer or three shots of Moderna. 

    Are you going to ask "Why do we need three shots if one or two shots didn't work the first time?" Are you going to make me answer this question when it's already way past my bedtime?

    Alright, but only because I love you and don't tell Mom we stayed up this late. 

    Your immune system has two parts. The first part is known as "innate immunity." You can think of this part as the first responders, because that is what they are. The biggest chunk of this innate immunity are the neutrophils. They attack every germ they see, whether they have seen the germ before or not. They can chase germs down, break apart connective tissue between cells to squeeze in there if there's a pocket of germs hiding away, call in more neutrophils for backup, and more. 

    If neutrophils are so great, why don't we have more of them? Well, it's because they are fairly expensive to make, in terms of body energy. So you just have enough for day to day needs (like when you eat your fries without washing your hands), with a reserve force in case you get a small cut or something like that. 

    If a neutrophil catches a germ, they engulf the whole thing, and take apart the germ and split it up into proteins. Then they examine each protein a very small piece at a time, looking for any spots in the protein that an antibody could possibly attach itself to. 

    These spots where antibodies could attach are called "epitopes". The neutrophil slices out the epitopes and sends each one along with a message to the bone marrow that says: "Hey, I found this thing, I think it's important! Start making antibodies for it!"

    And this brings us to the second part of the immune system, the adaptive immune system. The bone marrow gets all of these requests for antibodies, all over the time, all over the place. It makes antibodies, but it also makes more antibodies for an epitope if it gets more messages about the epitope. 

    It tunes the immune system response based on what it has seen before!

    The bone marrow really starts remembering all of this, remembering just how many messages it gets for each epitope. The more messages, the stronger the memory. The stronger the memory, the longer it will take for the memory to fade, and the quicker the body can gear up the antibody factories in the future. And the more recent the messages are, the more likely you are to have antibodies in your blood stream. 

    Why is your body doing this? Well, in part it's because antibodies are super cheap for your body to make. One cell can make MILLIONS of antibodies! 

    Amd here's a cool thing about this memory response of the bone marrow. If an immune system cell captures a germ with antibodies attached to it, it immediately tells the bone marrow all about it. And the bone marrow then pays closer attention to those antibody messages, because it knows for sure that that particular antibody is working!

    So the first shot of the vaccine just gets the bone marrow started, and kicks off that initial antibody response. 

    When the second shot hits, since you still have antibodies in your blood stream, some of the antibodies bind to the spike proteins. This is a much stronger signal to your bone marrow! This new stronger signal, plus the existing signal coming from the innate immune system, provides a good level of memory response, good enough that your body can handle the Delta variant effectively. 

    The third shot deepens the memory response of our bone marrow even more, which enables our immune system to mount an effective defense against Omicron. Even though Omicron is evading a certain amount of our antibodies because of the mutuations in the spike protein, the third shot boosts the level of all of the rest enough that it (very nearly) makes up for it. 

    And that's why three shots provides robost protection against Omicron!

    Which brings me to my final point. Omicron is going to be all over the United States by January. And it's growing at an exponential rate. "Oh boy, here we go again" I hear you say. And oh, I am right there with you friend. I'm tired, and not just because it's 3:30 in the morning when I'm typing this. 

    But, here's what I'm asking you to do. To the extent that you have the energy or capacity to do so, please consider taking your Covid precautions back up a notch. Right now, wearing your mask is the most bang for your buck you're ever going to get for the next year or more. Maybe you wear a mask in more places than you have been doing before. Or you upgrade from your old cloth masks to a new pack of N95 masks. Keep more distance away from others, linger less in the grocery store. Order some food to go instead of dining in. Stay out of all stores during peak hours. 

    I do not want to be sitting here asking you to do this. I don't want to do a bunch of this stuff myself. Earlier in the week, I was supposed to go eat lunch with my mom. Instead of dining in or even sharing a to-go meal in the car, she went to the store and picked up some sandwiches, drove to my work, and she ate hers in the parking lot in her car, while I stood 6-8 feet away and I ate mine. 

    I just want you all to be prepared and have a good understanding of what's coming. By the time January rolls around, all of the news reports will be about how many "fully vaccinated" people are getting sick with Covid. Or unvaccinated people who already had Covid so they thought that they didn't need the vaccine, but then they got it a second time. Don't be surprised when you see it.

    Stay safe.