America’s ABC News mentions the “stagnant” and “inefficient” Cuban economy – but zero mention of 60 years of American sanctions.

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/bureaucrat-set-replace-raul-castro-cubas-president-54574396

I’m trying to learn to write comedy about the news ala Weekend Update. It’s surprisingly hard. Who knew?

Evernote “Use With Siri” iOS 11

I updated my iPad Pro and iPhone 7 Plus to iOS 11 today and noticed under Settings > Siri & Search > Evernote on the iPad this new “Use With Siri” option. I turned it on, tried a few things, but nothing worked. So I posted on the Evernote forum and DT Low gave me the secret mantra.

Hey Siri   Create a note in Evernote called Testing

Hey Siri    Find a note in Evernote

The first time I tried this on the iPad, Siri told me something like “I’m sorry (Dave, but I can’t do that) – you’ll need to open Evernote to continue.” So I let her do that and that’s where the experiment ended. But I tried again, invoking Siri from the lock screen, and TADA. It worked. Now I can create and search notes using Siri! I can die a happy man.
Except – the “Use With Siri” option doesn’t appear on the iPhone 7 Plus and I don’t know why.
evernote ios 11 use with siri

Update: Doh! To get it working on the iPhone I just had to update the Evernote app!

Find & Replace in Evernote

Cross posting this solution from the Evernote Support forum.

If you are trying to work out how to find and replace inside Evernote (nb: this is a MAC only solution), here’s the best current solution (as Evernote doesn’t support it natively for some unknown reason).

  1. CMD-A the text of the note you want to edit.
  2. Right Click inside the note then Services ▹ New TextEdit Window Containing Selection”.
  3. Then in TextEdit “Edit ▹ Find ▹ Find & Replace”.
  4. Then copy all and paste back over selection in Evernote.

How The Syrian Civil War Started

I’m quite proud of our new in-depth podcast series on how the Syrian civil war started. I think it’s the best work I’ve done so far. We’re 13 episodes in already and only up to March 2011. But we started back in 632 CE with the death of the prophet Muhammad and explained the Sunni-Shia split, then went on to explain some of the history of the Middle East, including the end of the Ottoman empire, the French mandate, the creation of Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia, the creation of the Ba’ath Party, the rise of Hafez Al-Assad, the Lebanon Civil War, the OPEC crisis, the duplicity of Henry Kissinger, and the transition of power to Bashar Al-Assad – because unless you have an appreciation for these events, there’s no way you can really grasp what’s happening over there right now. Start at episode one by clicking the image below or going to our iTunes page.

How To Print Index Cards From Word

I’ve wasted hours of the last couple of weeks trying to work out how to print 3×5 index cards from Word via my Canon MP250. I finally worked it out today and here’s how I did it.

  1. First of all, it’s worth knowing that the Canon Mp250 will NOT print 3×5 cards. So stop trying.
  2. It WILL, however print 4×6 index cards – so go down to your nearest office supplies place and buy some of those.
  3. Open Word and create a new document. Or just use this template I created for you.
  4. If you’re on a Mac, go to FILE>PAGE SETUP and select 4×6
  5. Copy and paste your content into this document.
  6. Place cards in printer vertically (ie with smallest edge at the top)
  7. aaaaand print!

These days I’m using index cards to memorise a bunch of things, including the opening monologue for my documentary about Jesus, the entire text of The Raven by Poe, and a bunch of random facts I want to remember. I’ve tried using Evernote as flash cards over the years, but it just doesn’t work for me. I can carry around flash cards made from index cards in my pocket or briefcase and just test myself whenever I have a few minutes. Sometimes you just can’t beat the old school methods.

Suicide, Free Will & A Monster

RIP Chris Cornell. I’m seeing a lot of posts on Facebook about suicide awareness today and I’m wondering if suicide hotlines work. If your brain is in a state where you’re seriously contemplating suicide (as opposed to just feeling down with remote thoughts of suicidal ideation), are you likely, in that state, to call a hotline? Does anyone have solid data? According to this article in Scientific American, “it is essential to recognize that most suicides are driven by a flash flood of strong emotions, not rational, philosophical thoughts in which the pros and cons are evaluated critically.”

This article quotes extensively from psychologist Roy Baumeister, who according to Wikipedia is now based at the University of Queensland. Baumeister simultaneously claims that “disbelief in free will can lead people to act in ways that are harmful to themselves and society” and yet “feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt, inadequacy, or feeling exposed, humiliated and rejected” lead to suicide. In my experience, when you stop believing in free will, those “feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt, inadequacy, or feeling exposed, humiliated” disappear. Where there is no free will, there can’t be any shame or guilt or inadequacy. Your actions are determined by physics, beyond “your” control. Even if your brain chemistry is going haywire for some reason, once the underlying neural structures have changed so fundamentally don’t believe in free will, it seems unlikely to me that any of those feelings can arise (beyond momentarily popping up before being negated).

In other news – Roger Ailes died. Not suicide, perhaps surprisingly after the year he’s had. I tend to agree with Matt Taibbi that Ailes was “one of the worst Americans ever”:

He is on the short list of people most responsible for modern America’s vicious and bloodthirsty character.

We are a hate-filled, paranoid, untrusting, book-dumb and bilious people whose chief source of recreation is slinging insults and threats at each other online, and we’re that way in large part because of the hyper-divisive media environment he discovered.

Ailes was the Christopher Columbus of hate.

And, of course, he played an enormous role in making Trump President. But as I keep saying (and I’ve been saying it since Bush) – Trump isn’t the problem, he’s only a symptom of the problem. I suspect that focusing on removing Trump is missing the point.