Don’t turn on two-factor authentication

Before you require a second factor to login to your accounts, you should understand the risks, have a recovery plan for when you lose your second factor(s), and know the tricks attackers may use to defeat two-factor authentication.

~ Stuart Schechter

I repeat: Do not enable two-factor authentication until you understand how it works and what you are doing. You know who is usually locked out of your car, house, etc. right? You are!

This is a great article surveying a myriad of things you should consider before enabling two-factor security. Yes, it is more secure, but that means it is also more likely that you’ll lock yourself out, permanently.


Are you currently really good at keeping track of passwords and security questions?
Do you use a unique password for every service and web site?
…are the answers to your security questions completely random things you made up and stored in your security system, or did you really use your easily-learned mother’s maiden name?
…and is your “security system” not post-it’s on your monitor, but rather a real, secure, system?

And how about…

Do you have a system in place to give your beneficiaries access to your stuff—and ways to permanently lock-and-destroy things you don’t want passed along?

…if not, then turning on two-factor is not a good idea. You’re about to make things even more complicated when you are currently not doing the basic things well. Instead of blindly enabling two-factor authentication, you should move off of the bell curve and stop being an easy traget.

Step one: Learn how to use a password manager like 1Password or LastPass, and start using unique passwords.



The annotated version of the visualization (shown above) highlights the GEOS FP model’s output for aerosols on August 23rd, 2018. On that day, wildfires caused huge plumes of smoke to drift over North America and Africa, three tropical cyclones took place in the Pacific Ocean, and high winds over the Sahara caused wind-borne dust particles to fill the sky. All of these produced aerosols which are represented in the visual by different colors.

~ Matt Williams

I’m not sure if I’m more impressed by the beautiful composite photo and the science that went into it, or if I now just want to never inhale again.


Courage, part 1

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.

~ Anais Nin

Constant optimization

An unexpected benefit of all this self-imposed change is that it helps protect you from forming bad habits, which are hard to change once you get them. In fact, change itself becomes the habit, which is a good one to carry with you through your life. The willingness to experience change brings opportunity, wealth, learning, and happiness for most of us who embrace it.

Wait. Is he saying there are people who don’t optimize? #watisthisidonteven


How bad are things?

I think about all of the miserable people in my psychiatric clinic. Then I multiply by ten psychiatrists in my clinic. Then I multiply by ten similarly-sized clinics in my city. Then I multiply by a thousand such cities in the United States. Then I multiply by hundreds of countries in the world, and by that time my brain has mercifully stopped being able to visualize what that signifies.

~ Scott Alexander

The really interesting part of the article is where he whipped up a random “person” generator and fed it the best-estimate percentages of various problems. (Chance of drug addiction, chance of certain psychosis, etc.) He then generated a bunch of random people and, as is to be expected when the percentage chance for problems is low, he got a significant number of people who are “no problems.”

…and then he sketches (from his own direct experience) several types—not specific examples, but a type of person whom he sees many examples of—who fit into the “no problems” bucket of the “random person generator.” The take-away is that, yes, things are VERY bad.


Steve is not an aurora

This means that STEVE is not likely to be caused by the same mechanism as an aurora, and is therefore an entirely new type of optical phenomenon – which the team refer to as “skyglow”.

~ Matt Williams

Aside: “Steve” started as in-joke reference by some dedicated Aurora photographers. It was later backronymed.

I particular love this type of discovery. Looking at the shape of the visual phenomenon—it’s a straight-ish thin streak—I bet this is realated to certain types of mythologies and stories…


An open door policy

Aware of this research, my housemates tested their air quality and got levels between 1000 and 3000 ppm, around the level of the worst high-CO2 conditions in the studies. They started leaving their windows open and buying industrial quantities of succulent plants, and the problems mostly disappeared. Since then they’ve spread the word to other people we know afflicted with mysterious fatigue, some of whom have also noticed positive results.

~ Scott Alexander

I thought this was going to be an article about fossil fuels and global warming. No it’s much worse. It’s about how some people have measured levels of CO2 in their bedroom that exceed the OSHA workplace safe-exposure limits.

Now i’m wondering if one of the reasons I sleep better in the winter, is the difference in ventilation. Our A/C is a closed system—it only circulates the air in the house. But the wood stove lowers the air pressure slightly and that draws outside air in from the peripheral areas of the house. Tiny cool drafts come out of all the wall outlets and light switches in the winter providing fresh air ventiliation.



If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception it is a prevailing attitude.

~ Gen. Colin Powell

Meadows as endless as the desert

You know the landscape there, superb trees full of majesty and serenity beside green, dreadful, toy-box summer-houses, and every absurdity the lumbering imagination of Hollanders with private incomes can come up with in the way of flower-beds, arbours, verandas. Most of the houses very ugly, but some old and elegant. Well, at that moment, high above the meadows as endless as the desert, came one driven mass of cloud after the other, and the wind first struck the row of country houses with their trees on the opposite side of the waterway, where the black cinder road runs. Those trees, they were superb, there was a drama in each figure I’m tempted to say, but I mean in each tree.

Sometimes, a bit of writing simply must be shared.


How to be mindful

Slowly add mindfulness bells. A mindfulness bell can be anything in your environment. Thich Nhat Hanh suggested using traffic lights as a mindfulness bell — when you see one, instead of getting caught up in the stress of driving, allow yourself to become present. You can slowly find other mindfulness bells — your daughter’s face, opening your computer, having your first cup of coffee, hearing a train going by.

Finding ways to trigger making conscious decisions is the key to increasing the amount of time you are mindful. The possibilities are endless!