How to survive solitary confinement

I highly recommend McKinley Valentine's email newsletter, The Whippet. In each issue she presents interesting ideas, art, videos, and articles.

Here's an item from the latest issue (#85):

How to survive solitary confinement

I like to read things like this, keep it in my pocket, so I worry less about what if it happens.

The recommendation is more or less -- you'll go crazy anyway, so go crazy with intention, to protect your brain.

The human brain does very badly in social isolation - we're not built for it, and people start hallucinating and dissociating very quickly when it's complete. It's actual torture, but people don't expect it to be because it sounds so low-key.

So the people in this article - both people who've survived solitary, and psychologists - suggest using a lot of visualisation. Imagine yourself in a much bigger space than you are, get to know it. Have a "workspace" where you train, maybe practice a sport in your mind. Every day, regularly, like you were outside and had a proper life. Imagine meeting a friend and having conversations with them.

Part of what makes you go crazy in isolation is the lack of external cues and structures, so it has to be structured visualisations, not just panicked uncontrolled daydreaming.

From someone who survived 7 years in almost total solitary confinement (again, this is torture, it is amazing he came out of it relatively okay):

"He he used to kill time for hours working out detailed visualizations of himself in a vivid alternate reality, where he could inhabit open spaces and converse with people.

Read the rest

Why newsletters are the best form of social media: “You don’t have to fight an algorithm to reach your audience”

In The New York Times, Mike Isaac explains why newsletters are a better way of communicating than Facebook and Twitter.

For me, the change has happened slowly but the reasons for it were unmistakable. Every time I was on Twitter, I felt worse. I worried about being too connected to my phone, too wrapped up in the latest Twitter dunks. A colleague created his own digital detox program to reduce his smartphone addiction. I reckon he made the right choice.

Now, when I feel the urge to tweet an idea that I think is worth expounding on, I save it for my newsletter, The Dump (an accurate description of what spills out of my head). It’s much more fun than mediating political fights between relatives on my Facebook page or decoding the latest Twitter dust-up.

I agree with Mike. Platforms like Google, Facebook, and Twitter control every aspect of your communication. As centralized proprietary platforms, they own your content and your audience. They can deplatform you with the push of a button and permanently cut you off from a readership or viewership you've spent years to cultivate. With a newsletter, you have the email addresses of all your subscribers. Newsletters are so much better than Facebook I'm surprised Zuckerberg isn't lobbying Congress to ban them.

Speaking of newsletters, you should check out Boing Boing's newsletter! I also have a couple of newsletters you might be interested in: Recomendo, a weekly newsletter with 6 short tips and recommendations, and Book Freak, a weekly newsletter with useful quotations from books I've read. Read the rest

Curated list of good newsletters

I've been enjoying newsletters more than ever. This old-school form of communication has made a comeback, probably in response to the way Facebook controls the content you see. With a newsletter, there's no middleman filtering out the content.

A relatively new newsletter publishing service called Revue has launched a directory of its favorite newsletters. The newsletters they have selected are not necessarily published using Revue, which is a good move on their part. I'm happy they have included my own newsletter, Recomendo (a weekly newsletter that gives you 6 brief personal recommendations of cool stuff).

Here are some newsletters I really like: Quartz Daily Brief, 5-bullet Friday, The Intercept, WTF Just Happened Today?, Tofugu Thursday, and The Journal.

What newsletters do you subscribe to that you are excited to see appear in your email inbox? Read the rest

WTF Just Happened Today - daily newsletter

Matt Kiser has started a good newsletter called "What The Fuck Just Happened, Today? Logging the daily shock and awe." He summarizes and links to the major political news events of the day (Trump Picks Neil Gorsuch, A Scalia Clone, For The Supreme Court") and includes a a few items of Lesser Importance (Bannon explained his worldview well before it became official U.S. policy) as well as a section called Tweets to Shake Your Head At (The estimated security cost for Melania living 200 miles away from Trump is double the annual budget for the National Endowment for the Arts.) Read the rest