What I'm reading 8/19-8/26


Tehran’s Promise - Robin Wright

  1. "But America has crept back in, shaping everything from Iran’s self-perception to its cultural appetites and fast-food cravings."

  2. "'The Americans are much better carpet merchants than any Iranian could dream of!' the Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, told me, during a troubled period in the final weeks."

  3. "At one point, Zarif got up, walked around the room, and announced, 'I have to leave.' He then sat on a chair against a wall and put his head in his hands."

  4. "Kerry, known for being unflappable, lost it, too. Toward the end of six difficult hours, he slammed his hand down on the conference table so hard that his pen flew across the table and hit one of the Iranians."

  5. "'It’s such a complex set of relationships,' the State Department official said. 'We know each other. All of the mistrust that has been there for these decades remains. It's not gone. It's incredibly present all the time. But it fights against the fact that we've spent two years getting to know each other.'"

You Really Don’t Need To Work So Much - DHH

  1. "It’s completely unrealistic to expect someone five levels deep in the bowels of the organization to reach out to the fifth-richest man in the world and trouble him with his or her toils."

  2. "'But that’s not what I meant' is an adequate, if somewhat naive, excuse the first time you see the consequences of your actions. The second, third, or fifth time, it's a lot less so. At some point 'unintended side effects' becomes 'predictable outcomes'."

Get me off Your Fucking Mailing List - David Mazieres and Eddie Kohler

  1. http://scholarlyoa.com/2014/11/20/bogus-journal-accepts-profanity-laced-anti-spam-paper/

NSA Spying Relies on AT&T's 'Extreme Willingness to Help' - Julia Angwin, Jeff Larson, Charlie Savage, James Risen, Henrik Moltke, Laura Poitras

  1. "AT&T began turning over emails and phone calls 'within days' after the warrantless surveillance began in October 2001, the report indicated."

  2. "Targeting someone on American soil requires a court order under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. When a foreigner abroad is communicating with an American, that law permits the government to target that foreigner without a warrant. And when foreigners are messaging other foreigners, that law does not apply and the government can collect such emails in bulk without targeting anyone."

We Are Not Thinking Big Enough - Lawrence Lessig

  1. "I fear we are not thinking big enough. So used are we to getting crumbs, we can't imagine an actual meal."

Don't Settle: The Journalist in the Shadow of the Commercial Web - Guy Patrick Cunningham

  1. "Or, as Adler puts it in After the Tall Timber: 'Independent journalists have obligations of their own.'"

  2. "But, for most users and nearly all working journalists, the online experience takes place entirely on the commercial web — an explicitly commercial space dominated by a very small number of companies, such as Facebook and Google. Those companies make decisions based on their own interests, and those of their shareholders."

  3. "A journalist that doesn’t know their subject down cold ends up with a monologue: they have just enough information to make their own judgment about what happened, but cannot make the kind of argument that might convince the reader this judgment is correct."

  4. "Skepticism is the first step to being a good journalist. And the first step to good writing. But it’s worth pausing to note that real skepticism — as opposed to showy faux contrarianism — takes time."

  5. "...I certainly believe that bad journalism ultimately serves the powerful"

  6. "But it’s another, more subtle habit that strikes me as especially pertinent in today’s professional environment: the risks of settling down."

  7. "Serious publications ... tend from time to time to hire talented people, educated, usually young, devoted to the craft of criticism, at least as it entails fidelity to an art and to a text under review. What usually happens is that such a critic writes for some time at his highest level: reporting and characterizing accurately; incorporating in whatever is judgmental evidence for what he’s saying (a sign of integrity in a critic, as opposed to an opinion monger, is that he tries for evidence; in reviewing prose forms, for example, he will quote); and producing insights, and allusions, which, if they are not downright brilliant, are apposite. What happens after a longer time is that he settles down."

The Creative Apocalypse That Wasn't - Steven Johnson

  1. "As file-sharing and iTunes and Spotify have driven down the price of music, they have also made it far easier to envelop your life with a kind of permanent soundtrack, all of which drives awareness of the musicians and encourages fans to check them out in concert."

  2. "Why have the more pessimistic predictions not come to pass? One incontrovertible reason is that — contrary to the justifiable fears of a decade ago — people will still pay for creative works."

The Ketamine Cure - Caroline Winter

  1. "'It's settled—to my mind beyond a shadow of a doubt—that ketamine has a powerful antidepressant effect for as many as 50 percent of people where other medications haven’t been helpful,' says Michael Thase, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania who's consulted for various drug companies developing ketamine-like products."

  2. "Hartman tried more than 15 antidepressants, none of which worked. He never married and mostly kept to himself. 'When I would get social invitations, I would say, 'Thanks, but I'm already busy,'' he says. 'Really I was hiding at home because I needed to repair myself so I could get out of bed the next morning.' Eventually, Hartman decided that ending his life was the most humane option. Hoping to mitigate the trauma for his family, he set the date a couple of months into the future so a young relative could finish the school year."

Lessig on Equal Citizens

Anatomy of a runaway IT project - Bruce F. Webster

  1. "Builds take all night."

  2. "Developers check in files that won’t even compile."

  3. "The FUBAR project keeps being touted as a world-class development team, but it is not producing world-class, or even minimally-professional, results."

  4. "Two consultants rewrote the 140,000 lines of [original obscure language] into 4200 lines of Java. The Java version runs as fast on a laptop PC as the original version runs on a high-powered UNIX server."

  5. "The fallacy that software is somehow different is just that — a fallacy, and one that costs corporations millions (if not billions) of dollars a year in missed schedules and failed projects. When it comes to engineering, sincerity and commitment, while important, can never substitute for expertise and quality of work."

  6. "There isn’t enough intellectual honesty within the FUBAR project. Managers reject or explain away bad news and real problems, looking instead for people who will tell them what they want to hear."

The Wetware Crisis: the Thermocline of Truth - Bruce F. Webster

  1. "...we tend to rely on seat-of-the-pants (or, less politely, out-of-one’s-butt) estimations by IT engineers or managers that a given subsystem or application is “80% done”. This, in turn, leads to the old saw that the first 90% of a software project takes 90% of the time, and the last 10% of a software projects takes the other 90% of the time."

Project from Hell

  1. "55 people in the team: 20 developers, 35 managers."

  2. "Doing a first checkout requires taking an appointment with the version control team, usually granted a week later."

  3. "Build takes 48 hours on 32 parallel machines."

  4. "No dynamic library linking: executable sizes in the range of several hundred megabytes."

The Downfall of Imperative Programming - Bartosz Milewski

  1. "Originally there wasn't much interest in FP outside of academic circles because there was no functional killer app. Now we know that this killer app is concurrency."

  2. "Programmers are scared of concurrency, and rightly so. Managers are scared of concurrency even more."

Rust Inside Other Languages - Ruby

  1. "Whoa, that was fast! On my system, this took 0.086 seconds, rather than the two seconds the pure Ruby version took."

You Really Don’t Need To Work So Much - Tim Wu

  1. "in white-collar jobs, the amount of work can expand infinitely through the generation of false necessities—that is, reasons for driving people as hard as possible that have nothing to do with real social or economic needs."

The Factory of Ideas: Working at Bell Labs - Computerphile - Brian Kernighan