45 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Blog

“Always be networking. Always.”

—”45 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Blog – Which You Can Use to Grow Yours to 225,000 Visits / Month, Like We Eventually Did.” CodeInWP.com. April 27, 2019.

Good advice if you want to drive traffic to your site, become an “influencer,” make money off your blog, or be Internet famous.

Or, if you are like me, use it as a guide of things to avoid doing. Except have great content, that’s good advice for everyone.

Protecting Yourself From Identity Theft

“The reality is that your sensitive data has likely already been stolen, multiple times. Cybercriminals have your credit card information. They have your social security number and your mother’s maiden name. They have your address and phone number. They obtained the data by hacking any one of the hundreds of companies you entrust with the data­ — and you have no visibility into those companies’ security practices, and no recourse when they lose your data.

Given this, your best option is to turn your efforts toward trying to make sure that your data isn’t used against you. Enable two-factor authentication for all important accounts whenever possible. Don’t reuse passwords for anything important — ­and get a password manager to remember them all.

Do your best to disable the “secret questions” and other backup authentication mechanisms companies use when you forget your password­ — those are invariably insecure. Watch your credit reports and your bank accounts for suspicious activity. Set up credit freezes with the major credit bureaus. Be wary of email and phone calls you get from people purporting to be from companies you do business with.

Of course, it’s unlikely you will do a lot of this.”

—Bruce Schneier, “Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft.” Schneier on Security. May 6, 2019.

Peace Privilege

“She describes it as ‘peace privilege,’ approaching the world from a stability that allows for simplifications.

There’s always a lot of denial going on when trauma interrupts our safe outlook on life. We know that people in general don’t want to see horror except in comfortable contexts (like fiction) so seeing human beings systematically torturing, starving and hurting others makes us feel vulnerable, impotent or responsible. It makes us question the comfortable assumptions of our own lives and why have we grown in a safe environment (could it have been by chance?).”

—Manuel Llorens, “‘Peace privilege’ Also Means Disgust for Someone Else’s Suffering.” Caracas Chronicles. May 3, 2019.

And if it is by chance, will the dice roll differently, for me, sometime soon? Fix space and flow across time and we all live in a Caracas, It’s just not Caracas today.

Example: gun control is trying to reduce the systemic risk of individual violence while, at the same time, increasing the systemic risk of organizational and state violence. Are people in Caracas safer when all the guns are in the hands of the colectivos, police and military? What happens when the place you make your home becomes Caracas?

A Season Underground Eating the Pomegranate Seeds

“To be a ‘high functioning’ anything, let’s say, is just to know that you can work liberal subjectivity OK today but maybe not next week. A strictly finite talent for the long, merciless art of living in a house, speaking a language, and exchanging money, labor, goods, and services in that occult proportion that keeps you in circulation. We are probably past the last of our personhood already. We are probably running a credit line of brute executive function against minds and bodies that yield nothing anymore, depleted fucking soil. Some of us fall back on our families and renew ourselves. Some of us fall back on our families and don’t. Some of us fall into the hands of barbarism absent socialism, maybe making it back out and maybe not. Some of us have material recourse but die. It’s a weird “us,” built on material half-truths and asymmetrical feelings of symmetry—you won’t be shocked to learn intersectionality applies, and in particular the combo of middle-class roots and cis-ness is a hell of a good safety net—but I’ve made brothers, sisters, siblings in the mutual recognition of a season underground, and in the knowledge that we ate the pomegranate seeds. I think we sense each other with a kind of instinct, even online, and find ways to find each other.”

—Peli Grietzer, “A Season Underground: Russian Doll and Mental Illness.” Los Angeles Review of Books. May 6, 2019.

Against Hustle

“Even Thomas Merton — a mid-twentieth century activist monk who lived at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky, and whom Odell holds up as a model of informed, participatory refusal — might have difficulty following the same path today. My mom lives a couple hours away from the Abbey of Gethsemani and when we went there a few months ago there were barely any monks left. Reading a flyer I realized that not only do you have to renounce all worldly belongings to join the Abbey, you can’t bring any debt with you. Charities can alleviate some of the burden, but even becoming a monk won’t necessarily help you escape student loans.”

—Rebecca McCarthy, “Against Hustle: Jenny Odell Is Taking Her Time at the End of the World.” Longreads.com. April 2019.

Brain in a Vat

“In a challenge to the idea that brain death is final, researchers have revived the disembodied brains of pigs four hours after the animals were slaughtered. Although the experiments stopped short of restoring consciousness, they raise questions about the ethics of the approach — and, more fundamentally, about the nature of death itself. ”

—Sara Reardon, “Pig brains kept alive outside body for hours after death.” Nature. April 17, 2019.

Reminds me of a question I heard about whether anyone is still conscious during organ harvesting. The idea of being vivisected while conscious is serious nightmare fuel.

Brain in a vat has the potential to be worse because it could go on indefinitely, see Iain M. Banks Surface Detail as one possibility.

Castles of Burgundy

“The Castles of Burgundy has long been one of my favorite strategy board games, a 90-120 minute game of tile-laying with a complex scoring system that is often derided as “point salad,” meaning you can get points from so many different paths that there might seem to be no logic to it. I mention that up front because I think it’s a fair criticism of this style of game. Still, Castles of Burgundy is the best implementation I’ve seen of that sort of scoring, especially since designer Stefan Feld, who specializes in this sort of game, connects the different tile types in multiple ways, creating a game that scratches that complex scoring itch but is also well-balanced and coherent.

Digidiced has now brought Castles of Burgundy to Steam and to mobile platforms in a great-looking app that uses new artwork and allows for quick gameplay against AI opponents.”

—Keith Law, “Review: Beloved board game Castles of Burgundy is now an app.” arstechnica.com. April 13, 2019.

Available on iOS ($9), Android ($10), and Steam ($15).