Links for March 2021

We cannot more highly recommend Tim Carroll’s pen-and-paper game Lineage, “a game about telling the story of a Royal family through the ages.” You and up to five friends (or enemies, I don’t judge) play as historians, piecing together the records of several generations of a great and powerful family. The resulting stories are prone to hilarity and tragedy, and are also “a handy world building tool for game masters, authors, and admirers of the sorts of diagrams that lurk in the appendices of thick fantasy novels.” While it was developed with royal families in mind, Tim notes that royals are not the only ones with insane family trees, and it could also be used to tell the stories of other kinds of families. Also interesting is that it was developed in the context of thinking about one-player role playing games. 

Apparently Regina George from Mean Girls was based on Alec Baldwin’s character in Glengarry Glen Ross. I knew she seemed familiar. Also, why is she named “Queen George”? Is Mean Girls an allegory for the Revolutionary War?

Relevant to recent discussions on alternative ways to structure the government: Thomas Jefferson thought that the constitution should automatically expire as soon as new generations make up a majority of the population, at which point the country should come up with a new constitution. McGill University political philosopher Víctor M. Muñiz-Fraticelli writes, “If a constitution is discussed, negotiated, and approved by citizens who are, necessarily, contemporaries, what normatively binding force does it retain for future generations who took no part in its discussion, negotiation, or approval?”

We’re glad to see Senator Sanders endorse almost the exact argument we made in our post about the Senate:

I come from one of the most rural states in America, and I lived in a town of 200 people for a couple of years. And I think there is not an appreciation of rural America or the values of rural America, the sense of community that exists in rural America. And somehow or another, the intellectual elite does have, in some cases, a contempt for the people who live in rural America. I think we’ve got to change that attitude and start focusing on the needs of people in rural America, treat them with respect, and understand there are areas there are going to be disagreements, but we can’t treat people with contempt.

The dead but amazing was the home of some of the best history writing of all time. A gem from the archives: Rah Rah, Rasputin. Here’s the pull quote. While their comrade was preparing to poison Rasputin: “…Felix’s friends were upstairs listening to Yankee Doodle Dandy, the only record they owned, over and over and over. Really.”

Zoom Escaper is a tool to help you escape Zoom meetings and other videoconferencing scenarios. It allows you to self-sabotage your audio stream, making your presence unbearable to others.” We do not officially endorse Zoom Escaper, but we do think you should know about it. Please enjoy responsibly. There’s also Zoom Deleter, which does what it says on the tin. 

Trust in the media is at an all-time low. Unusual proposal for a solution: replace journalists with CEOs, who are (apparently) much more trusted than journalists, especially the CEO of the company respondents work for. We appreciate how original this take is — we’ll also note that, if they want to go by this metric, scientists are even more trusted as a group, by at least 10 points.

Of course, scientists have their own limitations. In Questionable Practices by Researchers and Teenage Wizards, psychologist Sacha Epskamp compares Questionable Research Practices (QRPs) to his experiences as a teenager cheating at Magic the Gathering (MTG) in order to beat his older brother. I also sometimes cheated at card games when I was very young (by high school I knew better) — could that be part of why I find open science issues so intuitive?

Update from last month: NYU professor Todd Gureckis continues to impress with his attempts to improve video lectures based on insights gleaned from watching YouTubers. If any YouTubers read this, we would be very interested to hear what you think.

Honda makes capsaicin-impregnated duct tape to keep rodents from chewing on wires and hoses. “The report also noted that Honda was the target of a class-action lawsuit over its use of soy-based wraps in various vehicles, with the suit alleging that the delicious soy coatings in 2012-2015 models attracted rodents.”

We rather liked this video essay about Wes Anderson’s style of filmmaking.

Just how much of an environmental impact do cryptocurrencies really have? We’re still not sure, but we liked this attempt from Visakan Veerasamy to come up with some numbers. We’d be interested to see more analyses along these same lines — send them our way if you have them!

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