25 interesting facts #11

251. Democratization is associated with more deforestation (Sanford 2021)

252. Since the 1950s, there has been a moral aversion to using water as a weapon in armed conflicts (Grech-Madin 2021)

253. People with disagreeable personalities do not have an advantage in pursuing power at work (Anderson et al. 2020)

254. Overconfidence in news judgments is associated with false news susceptibility (Lyons et al. 2021)

255. The correlation between social media use and negative outcomes (such as loneliness) is small (Appel et al. 2020)

256. Brexit increased consumer prices by 2.9 percent, costing the average household £870 per year (Breinlich et al. 2021)

257. Users contribute to Stack Overflow as a way to improve future employment prospects (Xu et al. 2020)

258. People with low self-esteem and a weaker sense of control over their fates are more likely to blame the political system for the challenges they face in their lives (Baird and Wolak 2021)

259. Between the fifth and ninth centuries CE, Korea and Japan peacefully developed state institutions through emulation and learning from China (Huang and Kang 2021)

260. The proportion of employees describing their jobs as useless is low and declining (Soffia et al. 2021)

261. People are more likely to attribute moral standing to beautiful animals (Klebl et al. 2021)

262. Wolves make roadways safer because they reduce deer–vehicle collisions (Raynor et al. 2021)

263. Marijuana use is not a reliable gateway cause of illicit drug use (Jorgensen and Wells 2021)

264. Push polls increase false memories for fake news stories (Murphy et al. 2021)

265. World Bank project aid targets richer parts of countries (Briggs 2021)

266. Most people, if given the opportunity, would not want to know about upcoming negative events (Gigerenzer and Garcia-Retamero 2017)

267. There is substantial evidence on the negative impact of climate change on the planet (Hausfather et al. 2020, Im et al. 2017, Kulp and Strauss 2019, Mora et al. 2017)

268. The George Floyd protests decreased favorability toward the police (Reny and Newman 2021)

269. In Venezuela, the economic consequences of the Chavez administration were bleak (Grier and Maynard 2016)

270. Since the 1980s, the global twinning rate has increased by a third (Monden et al. 2021)

271. Some people are attracted sexually to intelligence (Gignac et al. 2018)

272. Luxury consumption can be a profitable social strategy (Nelissen and Meijers 2011)

273. Our daily mobility is characterized by a deep-rooted regularity (Song et al. 2010)

274. Men and women candidates are similarly persistent after losing elections (Bernhard and de Benedictis-Kessner 2021)

275. Public attitudes toward immigration in Europe become more negative closer to elections (Dekeyser and Freedman 2021)


Previous posts: #10 #9 #8 #7 #6 #5 #4 #3 #2 #1

Assorted links #7

181. Lectures on unemployment
182. Reversals in psychology
183. Objective or Biased
184. Place-Based Carbon Calculator
185. User:Emijrp/All Human Knowledge
186. The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
187. “I’ll Finish It This Week” And Other Lies
188. How to Study Mathematics
189. Some observations about life in Denmark vs. life in the US
190. ChessCoach: A neural network-based chess engine capable of natural language commentary
191. Music for Programming
192. Through Scandinavia, Darkly: A Criminological Critique of Nordic Noir
193. The Regular Expression Edition
194. How To Get Better at Painting – Without Painting Anything
195. The housing theory of everything
196. On the impracticality of a cheeseburger
197. The tangled history of mRNA vaccines
198. The invisible addiction: is it time to give up caffeine?
199. The worst volume control UI in the world
200. The biggest pandemic risk? Viral misinformation
201. The Is this prime? game
202. Open Source Alternatives
203. The most counterintuitive facts in all of mathematics, computer science, and physics
204. Halt and Catch Fire Syllabus
205. Typing Practice
206. Into the Fairy Castle: The Persistence of Victorian Liberalism
207. Chart Appreciation: Iraq’s Bloody Toll by Simon Scarr
208. A Fable of the OC
209. The PayPal Mafia
210. In Praise of Small Menus


Previous posts: #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6

How to study

I was reading this article on how to study. The article provides great advice, such as space out your study sessions and rely on retrieval practice. That made me reflect upon my own approach to studying and how it has changed over time. When I started studying (many years ago now!), I read every single word in every text to make sure I did not miss out on anything important. I read the text from A to Z, from the first to the last page (not including the list of references).1 However, this took a very long time and was definitely not a sustainable strategy.

Luckily, I found out that it was not only a waste of time to read everything, but also not the best way to engage with all the material. In the years where I was teaching, I gave a lot of students advice on how to study, and I told them again and again that what is important to learn is how to study rather than the specific content in the curriculum. Teach a man to fish and what have you.

Today, what I find interesting is the need to move from our traditional understanding of literacy to that of digital literacy. In brief, studying today is radically different than studying, say, 20 years ago. The table in the article From Written to Digital: The New Literacy covers the key differences between the two well:

This is not to say that reading is not important. It is. But when you study, you should focus on reading beyond the text at hand. Think about how it is connected to other studies, papers, books, ideas, etc. The important thing is not what you get out of a text – but where you store what you get out of it.

Time is a limited resource and you need to optimise your reading. I truly believe in slow reading, and the more time I spend with a text, the more time I will not only spend processing each paragraph, but also think about connections and implications. Books are like meals. You do not remember every aspect of any meal you eat, but they have an impact on your thinking, and you need to be very cautious with what you put into your body/brain. However, when studying, you cannot spend too much time with the same text as the marginal return will quickly decline.

So, how should you study? There are (at least) five different study strategies, namely (re)reading, highlighting, note-taking, outlining and flash cards (Miyatsu et al. 2018). I don’t think one strategy is intrinsically better, so I think it is more a question of finding the strategy that suits you best. Putnam et al. (2016) provide a set of specific strategies for how to optimise learning that are worth considering (from Table 1 in the paper):

  • Space out your learning.
    • Study for a little bit every day, rather than cramming in one long session.
    • Start studying early, and touch on each topic during each study session.
    • Reading before class and reviewing lecture notes after class will help consolidate what was covered in class.
  • Learn more by testing yourself.
    • Instead of writing a chapter summary as you read, write down what you remember after you read, recalling the details from memory. Then, check to see how well you did (the read-recite-review method).
    • Answer the “end-of-chapter” questions both before and after you read a chapter.
    • Use flash cards to learn key vocabulary. Retrieve the idea from memory (before looking at the answer) and use a larger (rather than a smaller) stack of cards. Put answers you missed back in the deck at an early place and the ones you got right at the end. Finally, aim to recall each item correctly multiple times before taking a card out of the deck.
    • Be skeptical about what you think you know—testing yourself can provide a better picture about which concepts you know
      well and which you might need to study further.
  • Get the most out of your class sessions.
    • Attend every class session.
    • Stay focused during class by leaving your laptop at home; you’ll avoid distracting yourself and your classmates, and you may remember more by taking notes by hand.
    • Ask your professor for a copy of any PowerPoint slides before class, so that you can take notes directly on the slide handout.
  • Be an active reader.
    • Instead of speeding through your reading, slow down and aim for understanding.
    • Ask yourself questions as you read, such as, “What did I learn on this page?” and “What on this page is new to me?”
    • Finally, write some of your own questions about tricky concepts: “What is an example of X in real life?” or “How is Theory X different from Theory Z?”
  • Other general tips.
    • Get organized early in the semester: Put major due dates and exams on your calendar, set reminders to get start studying early, and be sure to look at your calendar at least once a week so you can plan ahead.
    • Get some exercise. Going for a 50-min walk in nature can enhance your ability to focus on difficult tasks.
    • Sleep! Sleeping is critical for ensuring that memories are successfully stored in long-term memory.

There are different ways to study, and my own challenge over the years has primarily been one of finding the motivation. Interestingly, the motivation to study for me personally is often stronger when I have studied. For example, when I have accomplished something, my motivation to keep going is stronger. When I completed a module, my motivation to read through the papers and books again was stronger than prior to taking the module. I guess what I am trying to say is that finding a good way to study is not easy, and whatever works for you … works for you.

  1. Ironically, today, I primarily consult the list of references when I read academic texts before actually reading anything beyond the title and abstract. []

33

Thirty-three. Another year, same me ±95% CIs. One third of a hundred, give or take.

I read the post I wrote last year when I turned 32. It all seemed so recent. I could, in principle, repost my thoughts from last year and call it ’33’. There is not much of significance, if anything, to report on in my life now that I am 33. However, especially in the context of COVID-19, I guess it is a point in and by itself. It all feels like ‘no news’. It is the experience of waking up one morning and suddenly being a year older. One year of the one life I have to live. Definitely not a year wasted, but not a year “lived” either.

Of course, I have lived another year. In the grand scheme of things, I seriously cannot complain even one bit. I am very much aware of my privileges. I have had a lot of great experiences. I have not had any major setbacks. I have never worked this much. I have never relaxed this much. I have never read this much. I have never written this much. Et cetera. Maybe that’s the reason I felt like this year just … happened?

When I was younger I used to assume that the lifespan of a human being was 100 years, or, that my lifespan would be ~100 years. I knew that most people would not live to be 100, but it made sense to use 100 as a heuristic. That is the only way 33 stands out. 1/3 of 100. Based on the ONS ‘Life expectancy calculator‘, the average life expectancy for a 33-year-old male is 85 years. In other words, 52 years left (meaning that I – all else equal – have lived more than one third of my life now). My chance/risk of reaching 100 is 6.9%. Not 7.0 or 6.8%, but 6.9%:

This is ceteris paribus. With that in mind, I like the 6.9%. However, at this point, I don’t think I can do a lot more to increase my life expectancy at the margins. I live (relatively) healthy and there are no additional low-hanging fruits. What I can do is to have a subjectively longer life. Time seems more subjective as I get older, and if I had to live the rest of my life in pandemic mode, it would feel relatively shorter. New experiences – such as travelling – will make my life subjectively longer. In other words, to make my life as long as possible, I need to plan it in ways that feels longer – not by visiting the gym more often and eating less meat.

That being said, I am not sure I can do a lot. I can’t escape the fact that life, for the most part, is the day-to-day experience, and some days I feel like I am second-screening ‘the real life’. Getting shit done and calling it a day. Or as Stig Johansson formulated it, “All those days that came and went, little did I know that they were life.”

I am taking it for granted that people experience a lot of significant changes in their lifetime, such as technological and societal developments. It was only when I read the following passage from Matt Ridley’s book, How Innovation Works, that I got to think about how this is the exception rather than the norm: “Before the last two centuries, innovation was rare. A person could live his or her whole life without once experiencing a new technology: carts, ploughs, axes, candles, creeds and corn looked the same when you died as when you were born.”

I have lost count of the new technologies that have seen the light of day since I was a kid. Even at the age of 33 I have experienced a lot more new technologies than my ancestors experienced in a lifetime. This and the fact that the average life expectancy was, historically speaking, much lower in the past, made me conclude (yet again) that I should not complain. I have on all accounts already had a longer life, both in objective and subjective terms, than what most people could expect to experience in the past. I guess that puts history in perspective.

I remember watching Good Bye Lenin! in the cinema in 2003. That is 18 years ago now. The movie came out less than 14 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. That’s weird to me. I was closer to the historic event depicted in the movie at that time than I am to me watching the movie for the first time. At some point in the future, assuming I get to live to I am 75 (the odds are good!), the events depicted in Der Untergang will be closer to when I first watched the movie than the time that has passed me since then. I guess that puts history in perspective, too. I was also reading this article in The Atlantic that makes it clear that 2050 is closer to today than 1990, and significant changes to the climate will happen within our lifetime: “A child born today won’t enter the professional workforce until 2043; under the current timeline, decarbonization will be just about licked by the time they turn 30. Their job will be to live with climate change: They will see Antarctica’s crucial 2050s in the prime of their career.” Damn.

Well, for now we can focus on the present. The pandemic as we know it is (hopefully) over. It has been a weird year and a half, and I definitely lost faith in multiple things during the pandemic. Shaking hands, airports, the United States (or, whatever faith that was left), nine to five, time more generally, John Ioannidis, menu cards, etc. However, there is at least one thing I have gained faith in during the pandemic: QR codes.

What’s up for the next year? I don’t know. More of the same, I guess. I don’t have big dreams and mountains to climb. I definitely don’t seek or need fame – or convince the world of my individual brilliance. More importantly, I really enjoy working within a great team. In general, at least in my case, I believe reliable consistency beats occasional brilliance. However, my biggest fear is still to be complacent, especially because that is what I gravitate towards.

All this also confirmed that it was a good move to leave academia. Actually, this has been the first full year without an academic job since I got my PhD. I found it surprisingly easy to give up a permanent academic position and I have not considered even once looking into ways of getting back. None of my parents are academics, and I never had the feeling that being an academic was part of my identity. More importantly, I do not look at my academic friends and see lives that inspire me. That’s totally fine. I am sure it is great for a lot of people, but it did not do it for me. I also found John Williams’ Stoner depressing when I read it years ago and I doubt that would change upon a second reading.

More than anything, I enjoy that I am 33 and not 23. I don’t miss being younger. As I get older, I am quite confident that I will develop certain peculiar quirks (as most people do). Hopefully, I can do that with a certain level of open-mindedness and self-awareness. The good thing about getting older is that I am much more selective in terms of what I spend time on and what I care about. I do not let trivialities live rent free in my head to the same extent as I did ten years ago. I think I think a lot more about what I think about. What do I remember? What do I forget? I obviously don’t see hyperthymesia as a good thing, or even an option in my case, and I don’t want my memories to be a random sample of what I experience – but a carefully curated selection (to the best possible extent).

The bad thing about getting older is that it will be a slow process characterised by physical and cognitive decay, at least at some point and to some extent. The body I am in now will be the body I have to stay in when I am 43. Accordingly, I have to prepare for my 40s in my 30s while still enjoying my 30s. And I have to do that in a way that I did not have to do when I was in my 20s. I have to hit the gym and think about exercise in a different way. I am not there yet, but I could sympathise with, and maybe even relate to, the following lines from one of my favourite albums from 2020, Open Mike Eagle’s ‘Anime, Trauma and Divorce‘: “Started doing more pushups, back pain when I look up/ taking down what I put up, knee hurt when I stood up”. I had a few osteopathic appointments this year – not because I needed it, but because I want to do what I can to make sure that I will not need it in the future.

To reiterate what I said in my previous post: I write this for nobody but myself. I write this primarily to have something for myself to go back and read in the future. In some ways this is pretty similar to the FutureMe service where you can send a letter to your future self. I read old blog posts and I don’t recognise the person writing them, and I fear that if I don’t write a post like this, I will not be able to recall what was on my mind at a certain point in time in the future.

I know I shouldn’t care but the numbers tell me – for reasons beyond my comprehension – that people read my posts. I do sometimes think about the impression people (might) be left with if they only read my blog. The irony is that I read a lot of great books and articles, talk to a lot of interesting people, and have an overall positive outlook on things. This is ironic as I am more inclined to write about something if I have some critical, and often negative, remarks to a piece of research or the media coverage of opinion polls. You can call it a negativity bias. I have tried to reduce this bias by design over the recent years to make the blog more aligned with – and representative of – what I care about. For example, by sharing more of the interesting stuff I find in blog posts with links to interesting studies, potpourris, assorted links, etc. And by framing my blog posts in an explicitly more constructive way, e.g., to say “How to improve your figures” instead of “What I do not like about this figure”. However, I am sure there are still many ways in which I can become better at this in the future (and maybe it will come naturally as I get older!).

Well, again, not much to report on. A year where I existed but did not necessarily live. This can sound pessimistic but it is not. Actually, it is quite optimistic. It is only upon reflection now that I reach this conclusion, and it is from a point of optimism, i.e. that the next year will be even better.

Last, this is the second year in a row I write a post like this. I don’t know whether I will write another post next year. Maybe, maybe not. Let’s see. Maybe I will wait a few years before I pick up on it again. In the best of all worlds I can break the average life expectancy and write a blog post titled ’86’ in 2074. In the grand scheme of things, it will happen before I know it.

25 interesting facts #10

226. People scoring higher in narcissism participate more in politics (Fazekas and Hatemi 2021)

227. Hitler’s speeches had a negligible impact on the Nazis’ electoral fortunes (Selb and Munzert 2018)

228. People have shaped most of terrestrial nature for at least 12,000 years (Ellis et al. 2021)

229. Introverted people listen to more punk music than extroverted people (Anderson et al. 2020)

230. The readability of scientific texts is decreasing over time (Plavén-Sigray et al. 2017)

231. Pigeons can be trained to detect cancer in medical images (Levenson et al. 2015)

232. A moderate daily coffee intake does not cause dehydration (Killer et al. 2014)

233. Carpenter bees live in groups because of the energetic costs of nest construction (Ostwald et al. 2021)

234. After the Harvey Weinstein scandal, producers previously associated with Weinstein were about 35-percent more likely to work with female writers (Zhang and Luo 2021)

235. Children relatively old at school are more popular (van Aalst and van Tubergen 2021)

236. Academics write unclearly because they forget that they know more about their research than readers (Warren et al. 2021)

237. Passengers paid $23 to prevent a stranger from sitting next to them on the plane during the COVID-19 pandemic (Hyman and Savage 2021)

238. In the American Civil War, the leading cause of death among soldiers was diarrhea (Bollet 1992)

239. The news media portrays violence by Islamist extremists as terrorism more often than attacks by right- or left-wing extremists (Hase 2021)

240. Self-reported digital media use is rarely an accurate reflection of actual media use (Parry et al. 2021)

241. 70-80% of the Tutsi population died in the in the 1994 Rwanda genocide (Verpoorten 2020)

242. There are ∼50 billion individual birds in the world at present (Callaghan et al. 2021)

243. Exposure to heat waves increases discriminatory behavior toward outgroups (Choi et al. 2021)

244. Employers discriminate against overweight and obese employees (Mukhopadhyay 2021)

245. Too many confidence intervals in tests of mediation just exclude zero (Götz et al. 2020)

246. Strict voter ID requirements have no effect on voter fraud (Cantoni and Pons 2021)

247. Mothers regard their own baby’s fecal smell as less disgusting than that from someone else’s baby (Case et al. 2006)

248. In Indonesia, women with taller husbands are happier (Sohn 2016)

249. Many people believe diversification in investments increases the volatility of a portfolio (Reinholtz et al. 2021)

250. In the US, pornography use trended downward over the COVID-19 pandemic (Grubbs et al. 2021)


Previous posts: #9 #8 #7 #6 #5 #4 #3 #2 #1

Assorted links #6

151. The Art of Command Line
152. The Ultimate Guide to Inflation
153. How will climate change shape climate opinion?
154. We Should All Be More Afraid of Driving
155. A decade and a half of instability: The history of Google messaging apps
156. Twenty Years Gone: What Bobby McIlvaine Left Behind
157. Burning out and quitting
158. 100 Very Short Rules for a Better Life
159. How Flash games shaped the video game industry
160. How I practice at what I do
161. 10 Positions Chess Engines Just Don’t Understand‎
162. Hundreds of Ways to Get S#!+ Done—and We Still Don’t
163. Tank Man
164. This page is a truly naked, brutalist html quine.
165. The 25 Most Significant Works of Postwar Architecture
166. Eunoia: Words That Don’t Translate
Some documentaries I like that are available on YouTube:
167. Ways of Seeing: Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3, Episode 4
168. Kubrick Remembered
169. The King of Kong
170. Lektionen in Finsternis
171. Koyaanisqatsi
172. Baraka
173. Do Not Split
174. 66 scener fra Amerika
175. The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear: Baby It’s Cold Outside, The Phantom Victory, The Shadows in the Cave
176. Zizek!
177. Powers of Ten
178. Modern Marvels: The Berlin Wall
179. The Hotline Miami Story
180. Stop Making Sense

Setting up a Mac

I recently got a new Mac (because of M1). Inspired by this installation plan, I decided to make a list of the apps I should install. Hopefully this will work as a good checklist the next time I need to set up a new Mac.

  1. Download and install Homebrew (for package management)
  2. Download and install Firefox (for web browsing)
  3. Download and install R and RStudio (for statistical programming)
    • Change theme to “Tomorrow Night 80s” from Modern
    • Add the addin quickview
  4. Download and install iTerm2 (for a better terminal)
  5. Download and install Python (for programming)
  6. Download and install Dropbox and Google Drive (for file hosting)
  7. Download and install Steam (for gaming)
  8. Download and install Itsycal (for calendar management)
  9. Download and install Docker (for virtual containers)
  10. Download and install Microsoft Office (for Word, PowerPoint and Excel)
  11. Download and install 1Password (for password management)
  12. Download and install TweetDeck (for Twitter)
  13. Download and install Visual Code Studio (for programming and writing)
  14. Download and install Spotify (for music)
  15. Download and install Slack, Skype, WhatsApp, Zoom and Teams (for communication)
  16. Transfer SSL certificates and other relevant local files
  17. Change a series of defaults based on this list and this setup

This all works well and I am really happy with my Mac, especially the M1 chip. However, before I buy my next Mac, most likely in a few years time, I might try to see whether it is time to switch to Linux.

25 interesting facts #9

201. Rats can learn the complex task of navigating a car to a desired goal area (Crawford et al. 2020)

202. 90% of academics in the UK have been working while sick at least sometimes (Kinman and Wray 2021)

203. Back-to-front airline boarding in response to the COVID-19 pandemic roughly doubles the infection exposure compared with random boarding (Islam et al. 2021)

204. Consuming food from a shared plate promotes cooperation (Woolley and Fishbach 2019)

205. In the US, press releases opposing action to address climate change are more likely to be cited in national newspapers (Wetts 2020)

206. It is better to rely on mass media or advertising than influencers to get out your message (Rossman and Fisher 2021)

207. Trends in immigration news are largely unaffected by real-life developments (Jacobs et al. 2018)

208. Mutual fund managers from poor families outperform managers from rich families, because the latter are likely to be promoted for reasons unrelated to performance (Chuprinin and Sosyura 2018)

209. Citizens want the ideal-type politician to be more disagreeable than the average citizen (Aichholzer and Willmann 2020)

210. Cuttlefish can tolerate delays to obtain food of higher quality (Schnell et al. 2021)

211. Having children does not increase environmental concerns (Milfont et al. 2020)

212. The correlation between peer-review scores of grant proposals assigned by different reviewers is only 0.2 (Jerrim and de Vries 2020)

213. One-third of Amazon rainfall originates within its own basin (Staal et al. 2018)

214. Fewer young adults have casual sex, partially because of an increase in computer gaming and declines in drinking frequency (South and Lei 2021)

215. Food systems are responsible for a third of global anthropogenic GHG emissions (Crippa et al. 2021)

216. Cognitive complexity increases climate change belief (Chen and Unsworth 2019)

217. During the COVID-19 pandemic, new cycling infrastructure created cyclists (Kraus and Koch 2021)

218. Access to daylight and views in office buildings lead to improved productivity (MacNaughton et al. 2021)

219. Day-to-day temperature variability reduces economic growth (Kotz et al. 2021)

220. Cyclists have 84% lower CO2 emissions from all daily travel than non-cyclists (Brand et al. 2021).

221. People judge slowly generated predictions from algorithms as less accurate (Efendić et al. 2020)

222. Social norms moderate associations between personality traits and social distancing behaviors in a pandemic (Ludeke et al. 2021)

223. A CO2 emission into the atmosphere is more effective at raising atmospheric CO2 than an equivalent CO2 removal is at lowering it (Zickfeld et al. 2021)

224. Spotify’s New Music rankings favor indie-label music and music by women (Aguiar et al. 2021)

225. Citations make statements slightly more believable (Putnam and Phelps 2017)


Previous posts: #8 #7 #6 #5 #4 #3 #2 #1

Observationer relateret til COVID-19 #4

Planer. Min plan var, at mit forrige indlæg med observationer direkte eller indirekte relateret til COVID-19 skulle blive mit sidste indlæg i rækken. Der er dog nok en selvstændig pointe i, at hvis COVID-19 har lært os én ting, så er det, at ideen om at lave planer i en pandemi giver meget lidt mening. Det er desuden nu over et år siden, at jeg skrev mit første indlæg med nogle observationer relateret til COVID-19. Jeg husker det som om at pandemien allerede havde stået på længe, da jeg skrev det, og det føles ingenlunde som et år. Tiden flyver. Planer rykkes, aflyses, laves og ændres. Der er noget paradoksalt i, at jo mere kaos der er, desto mere har man brug for planer. Jo mindre sandsynligt det er at en plan kan holdes, desto større er behovet for et detaljeret Gantt-skema. Det gode ved at planlægge er desuden ikke kun prospektivt, men også for at kunne holde styr på, hvornår man havde planlagt at gøre noget – og hvornår man rent faktisk gjorde noget. Jeg har på stående fod ingen idé om, hvad jeg lavede i maj og juni, og så er det godt at kunne gå tilbage i arkivet og blive mindet om, hvad der rent faktisk fandt sted.

Forskningsfrihed. Der har været megen debat omkring COVID-19 og megen debat omkring forskningsfrihed på det seneste, men ikke meget om forskningsfrihed i relation til COVID-19. Det er komisk at observere forskere på en og samme tid diskutere forskningsfrihed og være tavse ift. eksempelvis Carlsbergfondets problemer. Den ene dag kan man se forskere udtale sig omkring forskningsfrihedens udfordringer i Danmark – og den næste dag retweeter de selvsamme forskere Flemming Besenbacher. Det er således interessant at se, hvordan forskere angiveligt har det OK med direkte og indirekte forsøg på at ødelægge den fri forskning, så længe de selv har en god forbindelse til den største trussel mod selvsamme. Jeg har tidligere udtalt mig kritisk omkring Carlsbergfondet, og den seneste artikel i rækken fra Berlingske om hvorfor Carlsbergfondet ikke har noget med seriøs forskning at gøre, bekræfter desværre tidligere kritik.

Dødsfald. Jeg kender (heldigvis) personligt ingen, der er død af eller med corona. Jeg kender også meget få kendte, der er døde af eller med corona. Jeg har læst flere historier, men jeg kan på stående fod ikke nævne én eneste (hvilket måske også siger en del om min selektive hukommelse). De kendte personer, der er gået bort i løbet af pandemien, er personligheder som Poul Schlüter, der som bekendt ikke havde corona. Hvad der ville forekomme mig sørgeligt ved at dø nu (foruden det faktum, at man permanent ville ophøre med at eksistere), er, at man aldrig får enden med på historien omkring COVID-19. Hvornår kom vi ud af pandemien? Hvornår vendte vi tilbage til normalen? Hvordan så normalen ud? Det er dog nok også en af de ting der generelt gør det svært at forholde sig til, at skulle dø. At man ikke får enden på historien med. Hvis jeg kunne få et lille indblik i, hvordan historien ville udspille sig efter min død, ville det trods alt være nemmere at skulle affinde sig med samme. Det er lidt nemmere at skulle forlade biografsalen velvidende, hvad der kommer til at ske i filmen. Desuden bør vi måske retrospektivt sørge mindre over nogle af de dødsfald, der indtraf sent i 2019? Hvis man var 90+ år gammel i 2019 og potentielt ikke havde mange (gode) år tilbage, var det måske slet ikke – igen retrospektivt betragtet – så slemt at skulle tage afsked med denne verden i 2019, før der var noget, der hed COVID-19 og isolation fra de nærmeste? Det kan desuden heller ikke udelukkes, at jeg har tænkt mere på dødsfald i forbindelse med, at jeg har genset Six Feet Under (jeg skrev et kort indlæg om serien for ti år siden). Det er nu 20 år siden at serien havde premiere, hvilket også affødte et par fine artikler om serien (se eksempelvis her, her og her). Serien formår stadig at balancere det tragiske med det komiske, hvilket måske netop gør serien ekstra anbefalelsesværdig i en tid som denne.

Uvidenhed. Der er en masse ting, vi ikke ved om COVID-19. Både som individ og samfund betragtet. Hvad der har interesseret mig på det seneste er at spekulere over, hvor tæt jeg i praksis har været på at blive smittet. Har jeg allerede været smittet? Taler vi rent held? Ville jeg, hvis jeg havde brugt en anden selvbetjeningskasse i Tesco, eller besøgt Tesco fem minutter senere, end jeg gjorde, ved ét besøg i løbet af det seneste år, havet haft virussen? Jeg læste The Knowledge Illusion af Philip Fernbach og Steven Sloman, hvilket kun fik mig til at reflektere mere over, hvor lidt jeg ved (og andre) egentlig ved, om COVID-19. Jeg har ligeledes læst et par empiriske studier om COVID-19 konspirationsteorier, og jeg er ikke overbevist om, at alle de teorier der betegnes som konspirationsteorier, nødvendigvis kan betegnes som konspirationsteorier (ikke at jeg tror de er sande, men at vi ganske enkelt ikke ved det). Det skriver jeg nok et indlæg om en skønne dag.

Café. Da jeg boede i Canterbury, frekventerede jeg ofte en lille lokal café og fik en Americano mens jeg lavede lidt arbejde (blandt andet grundet en elendig wifi-forbindelse, der gjorde det nemmere at undgå overspringshandlinger). Det kan man ikke gøre uden naturligt at komme på talefod med ejeren. Der gik ikke længe fra vi gik til at jeg skulle give min ordre til at han spurgte “The usual?” – til at jeg blot kunne gå ind, få øjenkontakt, give et nik og finde et ledigt bord. Jeg havde det fint med tanken om, at have mit eget sted, hvor alt føltes let og hjemmevant (“Sometimes you wanna go/ where everybody knows your name/ and they’re always glad you came“). Jeg tror pandemien har ændret dette for mig. Nu nyder jeg anonymiteten på Costa, Pret, Starbucks og lignende steder, hvor der er minimal (øjen)kontakt, mundbind, fuld anonymitet og hygiejnestandarder, som var det et industrikøkken. Den større fleksibilitet ift. hvor og hvornår man arbejder, så længe arbejdet bliver gjort, har også åbnet op for at man nemmere kan tage et par timers arbejde på en café i nærheden. Derfor har det også gjort det attraktivt med et abonnement hos Pret (en slags ‘Netflix for kaffe’, om man vil). (Hvis du vil finde en god Pret, hvor du kan sidde og arbejde lidt, kan jeg anbefale at vælge en, der har korte åbnignstider og holder lukket i weekenden, da de som regel ikke frekventeres af turister.) Jeg læste for år tilbage at WeWork sælger kontorplads med gratis kaffe og Starbucks sælger kaffe med gratis kontorplads, og dette ræsonnerer om muligt kun mere med mig ovenpå pandemien.

Sport. Da det stod fast at Danmark skulle spille mod England i EM-semifinalen på Wembley, samt at danske fans ikke havde mulighed for at komme ind i England, blev det muligt for mig at komme ind og se kampen. Jeg havde ikke overvejet dette – og jeg havde knap nok fulgt med i EM (min interesse for fodbold er – som med det meste sport – minimal og jeg ser som regel blot målene, når kampene er forbi). Det var dog intet mindre end en fantastisk oplevelse at mærke stemningen på Wembley, også til trods for kampens udfald (eller måske på grund af kampens udfald? der ville nok ikke have været lige så meget energi og larm, hvis England havde tabt). Wembley er angiveligt den bygning i verden med flest toiletter (det er i hvert fald hvad Wikipedia fortæller mig). I løbet af det seneste halvandet år har det været mærkeligt for mig at være i et offentlig rum med mere end 10 mennesker på samme tid, hvorfor det også var en surrealistisk oplevelse at være i rum med 60.000 andre. Min største bekymring med kampen var testsystemet. Jeg kunne læse forud for kampen, at det ikke blev taget videre seriøst. Hvad endnu mere problematisk var, at jeg skulle selvrapportere mit testresultat. Jeg er relativt overbevist om, at jeg ville have holdt mig langt væk fra kampen, hvis testen var positiv, men jeg er ikke overbevist om, at alle andre ville gøre (og har gjort) det samme. Der har da også været tal, der viser, at EM førte til flere smittetilfælde (da flere unge mænd end kvinder fik COVID-19 ovenpå EM-kampene), men dette kan ikke tilskrives selve det at se kampene på stadion (men i højere grad folk der mødes indendørs og ser kampene sammen).

Esport. På mange måder finder jeg esport mere interessant end sport – også selvom jeg er med på, at man kan diskutere, om førstnævnte er en sport. Pandemien har også været en god anledning til at se mere Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Jeg stoppede med at følge udviklingen da man begyndte at gå væk fra Counter-Strike 1.6, hvorfor jeg også finder det mere interessant at se kampe på de solskinsramte dust2 og inferno (nuke og train er selvfølgelig også gamle maps, men de forekommer mig for tunge, industrielle og kedelige). Der er ingen tvivl omkring, at der er langt mere strategi (“meta”) i spillet i dag, hvilket kun gør det sjovere at se. Det har dog ikke været uden vanskeligheder, at turneringer skulle flyttes online på grund af corona (for et af de mere ekstreme tilfælde på, hvad der kan gå galt, var der omkampen mellem NiP og Anonymo). Da det første LAN-event, IEM Cologne 2021, fandt sted siden det hele kom online, var det også nemt at se, hvordan spillestilen var hurtigere online, og det er ikke nødvendigvis de samme hold, der klarer sig godt online, der gør sig godt offline.

Mødekultur. Når møder finder sted offline, er der en anden mødekultur, end når man har møder på Zoom. Alene sådan noget som forventet påklædning er anderledes (møder der før i tiden ville kræve et slips, kan nu i de fleste tilfælde gå fint an uden). Jeg har en forkærlighed for møder, der starter til tiden – og ikke giver tid til folk, der lige er ved at lave en kop kaffe eller har ild i en ekstra lang frokostpause. Det værste er webinarer, der konsekvent venter op til 5 minutter på at komme igang, blot så alle får det hele med. Forskning kunne desuden tyde på, at møder der begynder senere irriterer mødedeltagerne og er mindre effektive (se eksempelvis dette studie). Der er også en lang række problemer, der kun kan opstå online, men hvor vi ikke har en praksis eller mødekultur for, hvordan man skal gribe det an. Når man eksempelvis bemærker at en mødedeltager fryser midt i at han eller hun taler, er der mindst fire spørgsmål, der melder sig. Det første er om andre også (non-)verbalt observerer, at en person er frosset fast. Dette kan også besvare, om det skulle være ens egen internetforbindelse, der forvolder problemer. For det andet er der spørgsmålet om, hvor længe personen vil være frosset. Vil det være længe nok til, at personen helt afbryder forbindelsen og skal finde møderummet igen? For det tredje er der spørgsmålet om, hvorvidt personen selv vil være bevidst omkring, hvad der er sket, når personen ikke længere er frosset fast. For det fjerde har vi spørgsmålet om, hvor vigtigt indholdet af det, der blev sagt, sandsynligvis er. Svarene til disse spørgsmål åbner for et hav af forskellige sociale dynamikker, der afgør, hvordan man skal forholde sig til det netop oplevede brud i kommunikationen. Det bedste scenarie er det, hvor ingen andre bemærker, at personen er frosset, og det var kun for en kort stund og personen var blot igang med at samle op på, hvad der allerede var blevet sagt af vedkommende selv og/eller andre på mødet. I denne situation er det kutyme at lade som om, at intet er hændt og om muligt blot kompensere for bruddet ved at nikke endnu mere bekræftende til, at man netop har lyttet til, hvad der er blevet sagt. Et mere kompliceret scenarie er, hvis man har erkendt, at mindst en anden mødedeltager også har erkendt, at der har været et brud. Dette fører til en situation, hvor det nu er en kollektiv beslutning om den frossede mødedeltager skal gøres opmærksom på bruddet. Min erfaring tilsiger mig dog, at der i 95% af tilfældende er bred enighed om, hvornår det er nødvendigt at informere en person om, at der lige er brug for, at vedkommende gentager en pointe. Dette bliver dog mere kompliceret som en funktion af, hvor længe personen er frosset og hvor vigtigt indholdet er. For hvert sekund der går, skal man både forsøge at udlede, hvad personen kan have sagt og vurdere, hvor længe der skal gå, før det uomtvisteligt skal nævnes, at en person har været frosset. Og skal man i den tid begynde at tale med andre mødedeltagere i frygt for, at der om et sekund eller to opstår en situation, hvor flere personer taler i munden på hinanden? Der er ingen klare normer for, hvordan man skal agere i sådanne situationer, især fordi sådanne situationer aldrig vil opstå på et fysisk møde. Det er den slags, kombineret med talrige andre faktorer, der gør fysiske møder langt bedre end onlinemøder. Når det er sagt har mødekulturen online udviklet sig siden pandemien, og det er langt mere naturligt at holde møder på Zoom i 2021 end 2020, men det er og bliver aldrig det samme.

Valg. Der var lokalvalg i maj i England, og det forløb fuldkommen problemfrit. Der var ved mit valgsted en kort kø (omkring 10 minutters ventetid), men hvis man ser bort fra social distance, mundbind og håndsprit, var det svært at se, at vi var midt i en pandemi. Jeg forventede en meget anden oplevelse, især fordi valgkortet sagde: “Expect voting to be different: You must wear a face covering, expect to queue and please bring your own pen or pencil, if possible.” Måske føltes det endnu mere som at udvise samfundssind, når man ikke alene tog hensyn til andre midt i en pandemi, men også stemte ved et valg (og mon ikke der er en korrelation mellem tilbøjeligheden til at bære mundbind og at deltage i valg). Den 19. juli var det såkaldt “freedom day” i England, hvor de fleste restriktioner blev løftet. Natklubber kunne således holde åbent igen og det var ikke længere et krav at bære mundbind mange steder. Som faste læsere vil vide, er jeg en stor tilhænger af personlig frihed, og især friheden til at gøre hvad der passer en, så længe det ikke skader andre. Det er dette sidste forbehold, der gør det svært for mig at fejre en frihedsdag, og betegne dagen som selvsamme uden en ironisk distance, da friheden til nu at leve “normalt”, uden restriktioner af nogen art, sandsynligvis vil skade andre. Jeg er med på, at det ikke er en nem beslutning – og det er relevant at forholde sig til, hvor længe restriktionerne skal være på plads samt hvor stor en pris man er klar til at betale, men det kan godt gå mig på, hvordan man taler om frihed i en pandemi. En “freedom day” ville alt andet lige også give bedre mening, hvis smittetallene var på et niveau, hvor der var noget at fejre. Meningsmålingerne har generelt vist stor opbakning til restriktionerne, men også stor opbakning til den siddende regering, så det bliver spændende at se hvordan det hele udvikler sig – og hvilke implikationer det vil få ved næste valg (selvom der potentialt er flere år til).

Indien. Sidst jeg var uden for EU (hvis vi ikke tæller post-Brexit England med), var Indien i 2019. Når jeg tænker på steder som Hampi, Old Delhi og Taj Mahal, har jeg svært ved at forestille mig, hvordan de tager deres forholdsregler ift. corona. Jeg mindes at jeg i begyndelsen af pandemien var overrasket over, hvor godt Indien klarede sig, hvorfor jeg også var mindre overrasket, da tallene desværre eksploderede tidligere i år. Det er intet mindre end en skandale, at der ikke blev lukket af for flytrafikken mellem England og Indien tidligere end der gjorde, hvilket desværre kan forklare den situation vi står i nu (med Delta-varianten).

Influenza. Det er imponerende, hvor meget vi ved om infektionssygdomme, som vi ikke vidste for 100 år siden. Jeg læste således forleden, at læger under den spanske syge ikke vidste, at influenza var forårsaget af en virus. Det fandt man først ud af i 1930erne. Vi kan kun være glade for, hvor meget vi ved om den slags i dag – og håbe på, at folk om 100 år vil se tilbage på 2021 og have akkurat samme tanke om, at vi vidste alt for lidt om infektionssygdomme i 2021.

Frugt. På kontoret har der udelukkende været frugt i naturlig indpakning siden pandemiens udbrud, altså appelsiner, klementiner, bananer m.v. Jeg konsumerer uden tvivl flere klementiner nu, end jeg gjorde for år tilbage, hvor det var mere sæsonbestemt. Det var derfor også et mærkeligt syn, da jeg i juni mødte på arbejde og kunne se frugtskålen fuld af æbler. Det må være et tegn på, at nogen i hvert fald mener, at pandemien er overstået.

Museum. Museumsbesøg er en af de aktiviteter, der ikke er radikalt anderledes efter en pandemi. Det er god stil at holde lidt afstand, ikke at røre ved noget, ikke at råbe osv. Faktisk er det blot blevet nemmere at være på et museum, da der nu er flere retningspile, så det ikke er en kaotisk oplevelse, hvor det kræver et kort at sikre sig, at man får det hele med. Jeg har siden genåbningen fået besøgt blandt andet Tate Modern, The British Museum, The National Gallery, Royal Academy of Arts og Whitechapel Gallery. Jeg kan kun bekræfte, at meget lidt har ændret sig.

Skak. Jeg har fået spillet en del skak i løbet af pandemien (primært bullet, 1+0), men jeg er stoppet igen. Det tager hurtigt overhånd og bliver dermed også noget, jeg alt for nemt kan få mange timer til at gå med. Mit problem er, at når jeg først bliver bidt af noget, vil jeg gennemføre det. Og skak er et svært spil at gennemføre. Det er dog et spil, der om noget kan øve én i at koncentrere sig. Problemet er, at jeg netop ikke bruger skal til at blive bedre til at koncentrere mig og sågar blive bedre til at spille skak, men blot have en nem overspringshandling, hvor man er fri for at tænke – og så er det bedre ikke at spille det. Mine bedste råd til folk der gerne vil blive bedre til skak er: 1) lær basale åbninger (og variationer heraf), evt. vha. af en service som Chessable.com, 2) løs taktiske puzzles, 3) træn dine evner til hurtigt at identificere koordinater på skakbrættet (eksempelvis ved at bruge denne service) og 4) se videoer af og med Ben Finegold og andre pædagogiske skakspillere på YouTube.

Vaccination. Jeg fik min første vaccination på en sommerdag i juni. Vejret var fantastisk og jeg fik det koordineret således, at jeg kunne ses med en tidligere kollega, der blev vaccineret et par minutter efter mig. Det var begrænset med bivirikninger, og jeg krydser fingre for at 2. stik vil forløbe lige så smertefrit. Min vaccinepræference blandt dem, der anvendes i England, var i praksis indifferent (jeg ville føle mig 100% tryg ved dem alle), men skulle jeg vælge, ville jeg gå med Pfizer > Moderna > AZ.

Biler. Jeg er ingen fan af biler, og kunne jeg fjerne dem fra jordens overflade, ville jeg gøre det. Jeg ser dem primært som et kollektivt handlingsproblem, hvor den offentlige transport ville være langt længere fremme, hvis infrastrukturen ikke tillod biler. Jeg så dette studie, der viser, at en stor del af værdien i at have en bil er muligheden for at køre hvornår og hvor det skal være – og denne værdi er øget i løbet af pandemien. Det giver god mening, især når folk også gerne vil undgå kollektiv transport, men man kan håbe, at bilerne i det mindste kan komme helt ud af byerne, når pandemien er overstået. De første tegn er her allerede, når man ser på, hvilke planer der er for Oxford Circus.

Restauranter. Jeg har i et tidligere indlæg gjort mig et par observationer omkring det at spise på restaurant i løbet af pandemien. Jeg kiggede på listen over steder, jeg havde spist ude fra 2020 til og med i dag, og det var sjovt at se, at der naturligvis kun var steder i England og Danmark. Her er listen: Notorious B.R.G (Canterbury), Fora Restaurant, Mudmee Restaurant, hohaki, Restaurant MAISON (København), The Godfather Pizza (Manchester), Gourmet Pizza Company, Busaba, Honest Burgers, Circolo Popolare, Bizzarro Restaurant, Kirvem Restaurant, Côte Brasserie, Murger Han Restaurant, Pizza Union, Dragonfly Cafe, BúnBúnBún, Laboratorio Pizza, Wicked Burgers, Hungry Donkey, Dishoom, CHIK’N, The Alchemist, Picky Wops, Eat ACTIV, Barcelona Tapas, Melrose Restaurant (Brighton), Tommi’s Burger Joint, Chamisse Restaurant, Roti King, Chopstix Noodle Bar, Hakkasan, The Kati Roll Company, The Barge House, HAZ, Byron Burgers, Under Uret (Svendborg), Burger Anarchy (Odense), Cafe Skt. Gertrud (Odense), Gaza Grill (København), Gasoline Grill (København), Chez Bruno (København), Pastaio, Mumbai Square, Bistrotheque, 3 Mien, Pizza East, 1 Lombard Street Brasserie, Restaurant & Bar, The Bike Shed, Mamuśka!, Cecconi’s Shoreditch, Rosa’s Thai Cafe, Ehla, The Hungry Buddha, Makan Malaysia, Nanny Bill’s, Kateh Restaurant, BrewDog, Albie Restaurant, Pho, Bleecker, Momoland, Burger & Beyond, Tikkarito, Katsutopia, Patty & Bun, Motu Indian Kitchen, SoBe Burger, Big Moe’s Diner, OTT Burgers, 1947 Restaurant & Bar, Mediterranean Cafe Soho, Butchies, Black Bear Burger, Meson Don Felipe, Sushi Lane, Morley’s Chicken, Bone Daddies, Cubana, Ghost Burgers og Smoking Goat. Som man også kan se, er der i de fleste tilfælde også tale om steder, hvor man kan spise ude, hvis vejret er godt. Mit håb er dog, at jeg i løbet af det kommmende år vil spise mere ude under normale omstændigheder og i andre lande end England og Danmark.

Assorted links #5

121. A Supercut of Supercuts: Aesthetics, Histories, Databases
122. UbuWeb: Film & Video
123. The Behavioral Economics Guide 2021
124. Climate Solutions 101
125. On Noise (the book)
126. PSY 1 | Introduction to Psychological Science | Lectures
127. Why Are Gamers So Much Better Than Scientists at Catching Fraud?
128. A Visual Guide to The Big Lebowski
129. Louvre site des collections
130. Driven by Compression Progress: A Simple Principle Explains Essential Aspects of Subjective Beauty, Novelty, Surprise, Interestingness, Attention, Curiosity, Creativity, Art, Science, Music, Jokes
131. Notes from a Moab Trailer
132. Boris Johnson Knows Exactly What He’s Doing
133. What does global warming spell for you… and your loved ones?
134. Day of Rage: An In-Depth Look at How a Mob Stormed the Capitol
135. We Are Living in a Climate Emergency, and We’re Going to Say So
136. Obama’s Words
137. The Problem With Bo Burnham’s Inside
138. Minard’s Famous “Napoleon’s March” Chart – What It Shows, What It Doesn’t
139. Story of Sosumi & the Mac Startup Sound
140. The 9/11 Pager Leaks
141. The 1904 Olympic Marathon May Have Been the Strangest Ever
142. The Library for The Study of What We Are
143. Creative Destruction: The Structural Consequences of Scientific Curation
144. Bear plus snowflake equals polar bear
145. Why you should put salaries on your job ads
146. My current HTML boilerplate
147. John McAfee Fled to Belize, But He Couldn’t Escape Himself
148. Myanmar Burning
149. 100 Things to Know
150. Life tips


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