Replied to I’m Starting a Newsletter! (I’m Chris Beckstrom)

Expect maybe a few emails per month. In the emails I’ll tell you about blog posts, some of my recent projects, music I’ve released, videos I’ve done, some cool things I’ve found (links etc.), and other things that I used to post on social media.

I’m all signed up Chris. I am intrigued what you make of it. I too miss the interactions offered by social media.
Bookmarked Monday 14 March, 2022 | Memex 1.1 (

There’s clearly no Russian Plan B for Ukraine. If that is indeed the case, then we know what’s likely to happen.

When Chechnya was being obliterated in 1999, most of us paid little attention. After all, it wasn’t a European country. But Ukraine is.

Our complacent post-1946 holiday has really come to an end.

John Naughton wonders if the situation in Ukraine is history repeating and whether our post-1946 holiday is over.
Bookmarked Why the West May Have to Offer Putin a Way Out by Tom McTague (

The question for world leaders is how to ensure the Russian president is defeated while nevertheless providing him a route out of the crisis.

Tom McTague discusses the challenges associated with resolving the situation in Ukraine. This includes giving Putin a means of getting out with a win.

Unlike Khrushchev, Putin has not simply walked up to a line, but crossed it, unleashing a terror for which he should be held accountable. The horrible reality, though, is that the best option for the West might involve finding a way for him to not be held as accountable as he should be—but then to never forget what he has done.

This is also something Ezra Klein and Fiona Hill discuss on The Daily podcast.

Alternatively, Stan Grant touches on the wider political implications in regards to China and Taiwan.

Xi Jinping is the puzzle. He says he is a champion of globalisation and multilateralism. But he sounds and acts increasingly despotic.

Who is the true Xi? If it is the authoritarian who believes his time has come — if he will not talk Putin down — then we face the prospect of an even more deadly conflict in the near future.

In that case, we must accept that Vladimir Putin has not only invaded Ukraine, he has invaded Taiwan as well.

Bookmarked Pluralistic: 12 Mar 2022 by Cory DoctorowCory Doctorow (

This power-focused analysis thinks about speech systemically, and works more like a class action than an individual case. It has to move beyond the obsession with takedown/leave-up decision, and the appeals process. Instead, it has to focus on design choices about fact-checkers, algorithm design and sensitivity. Most of all, we need to break free of the trap of requiring ever-shorter takedowns of ever-broader categories of speech, with stronger rights of appeal for when this goes wrong.

Focusing on individual cases isn’t just impractical, it’s unhelpful, for four reasons:

i. Individual cases do little to illuminate systemic problems;

ii. Appeals processes do little to fix systemic problems;

iii. Transparency about individual judgments isn’t transparency into system design;

iv. Fixing things for individuals can make them worse for the group.

Cory Doctorow unpacks Evelyn Douek’s paper Content Moderation as Administration and the idea of focusing on systemic speech acts.
Bookmarked How To Make A Book Come To Life by Steve Brophy (Hedge School)

Welcome to part two of my self publishing journey. Part one is the hard part. Climbing that mountain requires consistency and plenty of will. Part two, although easier, was completely uncharted territory for me. Writing and editing writing is familiar. Understanding the process required to take that edited piece and bring it to the world was challenging. Hopefully this helps provide a little light for you on your own journey. I will share with full transparency the whole process. It is not the only way to get a book into the world, it is just the path I walked this time. Be sure to check out Part 1 to help set the scene.

Steve Brophy reflects upon the technical aspects associated with producing a book, including purchasing an ISBN, selecting art for the cover and choosing a platform to publish the book. Brophy also shares a link to Ron Vitale’s post on using IngramSpark.
Bookmarked The Books Briefing: Tim Wu, Mary Oliver, Hannah Arendt by Kate Cray (

Two years into a pandemic that has literally warped our brains, reclaiming concentration may seem like a tall order. But the literature of attention can offer lessons. Oliver’s essay collection Upstream models how to notice, and in Julie Otsuka’s novel The Swimmers, the titular characters turn to mundanity in the face of crisis, consumed by the rhythm of “stroke, stroke, breath.” And Jenny Odell’s How to Do Nothing is a vital reminder about the value of distractedness—so long as it’s mindfully embraced rather than forced.

Bookmarked Animated Character Drawing (

Have you ever had students create awesome drawings and wish you could bring them to life with movement? You can. With the free site you can take those hand-drawn masterpieces and make them animated GIFs to be added to any project. All you need is a drawing, the site, and Screencastify! Check out the steps and video below to get started!

Jeremy Badiner discusses how to use and screenrecording to create a GIF out of a sketch.

“Eric Curts” in Control Alt Achieve – March 2022 ()

Replied to Google Sheets COUNTIF Function (

COUNTIF Google Sheets supports three wildcards, *, ?, and ~.

The star * matches zero or more characters.

The question mark ? matches exactly one character.

The tilde ~ is an escape character that lets you search for a * or ?, instead of using them as wildcards.

Ben, I really need to do some work on picking the right tool for the task, so often I just use the QUERY formula to adjust my criterion out of habit. Using a COUNTIF seems a lot cleaner.
Bookmarked Say yes and never do it by Austin Kleon (Austin Kleon)

Whenever I’m bottomed out with my reading, I like to pick up a music book, and preferably an oral history. Anatomy of a Song is very hit-or-miss depending on who’s talking, but there’s some fun stuff in there, and some good “swimming upstream.” For example: the riff of The Beatles’ “I Feel Fine” came from one of John Lennon’s favorite records, Bobby Parker’s “Watch Your Step,” which came from Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say” and Dizzie Gillespie’s “Manteca.” (If you want something a little deeper on songcraft, I’d recommend Paul Zollo’s Songwriters on Songwriting.) And speaking of songwriting, I’m looking forward to catching Song Exploder at SXSW.

In March 12th edition of Austin Kleon’s newsletter, he discusses some books he returns to in regards to digging deeper into songs and songwriting.
Liked The Metaverse and the Future of the Internet | Dr. Ian O’Byrne (Dr. Ian O’Byrne | Literacy, technology, and education)

The problem I have with the metaverse, and “everything changing” is a concern about trust and third parties in a distributed system. Up to this point, it seems like most of the solutions we’re seeing in terms of blockchain, distributed ledges, the metaverse, NFTS, and crypto are trying to solve current problems using newer solutions. For now, I don’t see the solution to the problem and the introduction of blockchain and “what comes next” as being better than the current solution.

What is exciting is decentralizing power and decision-making as we think about the possibilities. Add a dash of transparency in the model…and count me in.

Liked We Should Not Endure a King by Cory Doctorow (

The point of antitrust isn’t to make companies work better. It’s to make them fail better. It’s to ensure that abusive employers can’t buy off the NLRB, that payday lenders can’t buy off the CFPB, that polluting industrialists can’t buy off the EPA, that murderously reckless aerospace companies can’t buy off the FAA, that intergenerational pharma crime families can’t buy off the FDA.

It doesn’t matter if a monopoly is efficient. If we let rich people structure our lives — if we yield to the right’s eugenic insistence that some are born to rule, the rest to be ruled —we pay a price so high that it erases any “efficiency” gains.

In the short term, it’s “efficient” to build an apartment complex with no fire doors; to toss your waste into the street; to drive drunk rather than paying for a taxi.

“Cory Doctorow” in Pluralistic: 28 Feb 2022 – Pluralistic: Daily links from Cory Doctorow ()

📰 Read Write Respond #073

I would like to say that it was a strange month, but every month feels strange at the moment.

At work, the end of year process has continued even if it is no longer the end of the year. The process of cleaning up data would be enough to keep me busy, but alas the return of schools also meant the return of support requests. With over 300 schools to support now, I am amazed that I still manage to stumble upon novel issues, but I do. I guess that is the joy of an ever growing project where there is always some new addition to stretch things that bit further.

On the family front, the return to school has brought its own anxieties. The government supply of rapid antigen tests has alleviated that to a degree, but the threat is still there. In addition to school, the children have returned to their extracurricular activities. The youngest is even trying out tennis. It almost feels like some kind of normality, except when you read the number of cases and they are just the ones we are aware of.

Personally, I finally got around to writing a post about my one word for 2022, memories. I think that I have added to my stress levels during the pandemic by setting unrealistic expectations on myself. Therefore, I am going to dedicate to letting my mind just wonder. I am hoping that will be more forgiving. Other than that, I listened to a lot of Methyl Ethel, in between reading David Malouf’s Johnno and Alice Pung’s Unpolished Gem. I also watched Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s documentary on the Vietnam War, the Daredevil series before it was taken off Netflix and Suits.

Other than that, here are some of the posts that have had me thinking:


Using Thinking Routines: 10 Ways You Can Die

Ron Ritchhart provides a list of ways to help thinking routines to succeed. This includes using thinking routines in your own learning, respecting that thinking leads to learning, and appreciating that they are a part of a larger agenda.

Who should read aloud in class?

Alex Quigley questions the practice of popcorn reading and instead focus on more fluent reading strategies.

How to explain an idea: a mega post

Mark Pollard unpacks the idea of an idea by demonstrating how to unpack an idea.

66 Event Design Questions

Melissa Emler provides a series of questions to consider when planning an educational event.

Learn with We Are Open Co-op

The We Are Open Co-op have collected together their various resources in one place, whether it be templates, online courses or episodes of the podcast.


How to avoid sharing bad information about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

In light of the Invasion of Ukraine, Abby Ohlheiser shares strategies for how to avoid sharing bad information.

Lessons in Self-Hosting Your Own Personal Cloud

Ernie Smith discusses the challenges associated with hosting your own cloud.

What It’s Like To Stop Using Google Search

Clive Thompson reflects upon his move away from using Google as his primary search engine.

How Spotify may have just quietly changed podcasts forever

Alex Hern explains the significance of Spotify’s acquisition of Chartable and Podsights on their goal to become the YouTube for podcasts.


In Praising of “Listening Through” (Every Album By Your Favorite Artist)

Kevin Smokler discusses his process for returning to a favourite artists full catalogue like returning to a long lost friend.

Netflix’s Vikings: Valhalla – why we’ve got the Vikings wrong

With the release of Vikings: Valhalla, Luke Walpole reflects upon our understanding of Vikings.

AFLW’s Kirsten McLeod wants to raise awareness about the ongoing symptoms of concussion

Kate O’Halloran reports on Kirsten McLeod’s challenges with concussion, explaining how it serves as yet another point of inequity associated with AFLW.

What gambling firms don’t want you to know – and how they keep you hooked

Rob Davies discusses the dark nudges used by betting companies tempt and manipulate users.

Read Write Respond #073

So that was February for me, how about you? As always, hope you are safe and well.

Image by Bryan Mathers
Bookmarked Learn with We Are Open Co-op – We Are Open Co-op by Anne Hilliger (We Are Open Co-op)

One of the bigger projects I’ve been working on during my internship at WAO was redesigning and rethinking our platform. Over the past years, We Are Open worked with a variety…

The We Are Open Co-op have collected together their various resources in one place, whether it be templates, online courses or episodes of the podcast. Along with the Hyper Island Toolbox and Laura Hilliger’s Participatory Learning Materials, this collection is useful in supporting the endeavour to make change.
Joshua Yaffa explores the dilemmas assocaited with the thawing of the Siberian permafrost. One of the issues is that once the process starts, nature takes over, pushing it forward.

“The problem is, you can’t just turn off, let alone reverse, permafrost thaw,” Natali said. At a certain point, nature takes over. Even the most forward-thinking legislature in the world can’t pass a law banning emissions from permafrost. As Natali put it, “It won’t be possible to refreeze the ground and have it go back to how it was.”

In addition to the release of carbon dioxide, the thawing releases ancient organism, such as the bdelloid rotifer.

Permafrost thaw has brought to the surface all sorts of mysteries from millennia past. In 2015, scientists from a Russian biology institute in Pushchino, a Soviet-era research cluster outside Moscow, extracted a sample of yedoma from a borehole in Yakutia. Back at their lab, they placed the piece of frozen sediment in a sterilized culture box. A month later, a microscopic, wormlike invertebrate known as a bdelloid rotifer was crawling around inside. Radiocarbon dating revealed the rotifer to be twenty-four thousand years old.

One answer to limit the thaw is to bring back bring back mammals to return nature to order:

During the Pleistocene era, the Arctic was covered by grassy steppe, which acted as a natural buffer for the permafrost. The mammals that roamed this lost savanna depended on it for food and also perpetuated its existence. Zimov wants to re-create that ecosystem. “We must return nature to order,” he said. “It will then take care of the climate.”

The theory rests on the warming effect of snow. As Zimov explained, there isn’t much hope of quickly cooling air temperatures. But lessening the snow cover during the winter would allow more cold air to reach the permafrost.

Liked myths and counter-myths – Snakes and Ladders (

I am still fascinated by Leszek Kołakowski’s idea that in every culture there is a technological core and a mythical core. As a culture develops it does not cease to engage with mythical experience, though the specific content of the myths may change and the ways we articulate our myths to ourselves may change. One of Kołakowski’s main points is that we have rarely understood the mythical core of our culture because we have a tendency to deny that we still experience the world mythically. The great value of these early sociologists and anthropologists is that they understood that we do indeed always experience the world mythically as well as rationally, and they try to unpack that.

Liked Tools (

There are two kinds of tools: user-friendly tools, and physics-friendly tools. User-friendly tools wrap a domain around the habits of your mind via a user-experience metaphor, while physics-friendly tools wrap your mind around the phenomenology of a domain via an engineer-experience metaphor. Most real tools are a blend of the two kinds, but with a clear bias. The shape of a hammer is more about inertia and leverage than the geometry of your grip, while the shape of a pencil is more about your hand than about the properties of graphite. The middle tends to produce janky tools unusable by everybody.

Bookmarked Who should read aloud in class? (The Confident Teacher)

Professor Diane Lapp, from San Diego State University, in the categorically titled, ‘If you want students to read widely and well – Eliminate ‘Round-robin reading’, suggests the following approaches:

  1. Repeated reading, which involves repeating a reading modelled first by the teacher or another proficient reader.
  2. Choral reading, which means reading together with others who are proficient readers.
  3. Echo reading, or the student echoing or repeating what the proficient reader has just read.
  4. Readers’ Theatre involves a dramatic reading of a text or script by the students.
  5. Neurological impress, which involves the student and teacher reading together while tracking words.
Alex Quigley questions the practice of popcorn reading and instead focus on more fluent reading strategies.
Replied to Boards Of Canada’s ‘Geogaddi’ Turns 20 (Stereogum)

Geogaddi lingers because it exists outside of time. Boards Of Canada were reacting to the sounds that they knew and the events that they saw. They seemed to be reflecting on the present, the past, and the future all at once. They were assigned a place in a zeitgeist that didn’t interest them at all, and they more or less refused to take part in that zeitgeist, even if that zeitgeist could’ve made them rich. (Boards Of Canada have not, for example, performed live since around the same time that Geogaddi came out.) Geogaddi might be 20 years old now, and it might call up memories of a time that’s 20 years past. But Geogaddi does not belong to that time, as some records do. Geogaddi belongs to nothing and nowhere.

I loved Geogaddi and Music Has The Right To Children. I had never thought of the timeline characteristics of Geogaddi, but it is true.