What I'm reading 8/27-9/3

2015-09-05

A Short Lesson in Perspective - Linds Redding

  1. "It turns out I didn't actually like my old life nearly as much as I thought I did. I know this now because I occasionally catch up with my old colleagues and work-mates. They fall over each other to enthusiastically show me the latest project they’re working on. Ask my opinion. Proudly show off their technical prowess (which is not inconsiderable.) I find myself glazing over but politely listen as they brag about who's had the least sleep and the most takaway food. 'I haven't seen my wife since January, I can't feel my legs any more and I think I have scurvy but another three weeks and we'll be done. It's got to be done by then The client's going on holiday. What do I think?'"
  2. "What do I think? I think you're all fucking mad. Deranged. So disengaged from reality it’s not even funny. It's a fucking TV commercial. Nobody give a shit. This has come as quite a shock I can tell you. I think, I've come to the conclusion that the whole thing was a bit of a con. A scam. An elaborate hoax."
  3. "The other consequence, with the benefit of hindsight, is that we became more conservative. Less likely to take creative risks and rely on the tried and trusted. The familiar is always going to research better than the truly novel. An research was the new god."
  4. "Our technology whizzes along at the velocity of a speeding electron, and our poor overtaxed neurons struggle to keep up. Everything has become a split-second decision. Find something you like. Share it. Have a half-baked thought. Tweet it. Don’t wait. Don’t hesitate. Seize the moment. Keep up. There will be plenty of time to repent later. Oh, and just to cover your ass, don’t forget to stick a smiley :) on the end just in case you’ve overstepped the mark."
  5. "Ideas themselves have become just another disposable commodity to be supplied to order by the lowest bidder."
  6. "I've seen quite a few creative drones fall by the wayside over the years. Booze mostly. Drugs occasionally. Anxiety. Stress. Broken marriages. Lots of those. Even a couple of suicides. But mostly just people temperamentally and emotionally ill-equipped for such a hostile and toxic environment."
  7. "But what I didn’t do, with the benefit of perspective, is anything of any lasting importance. At least creatively speaking. Economically I probably helped shift some merchandise. Enhanced a few companies bottom lines. Helped make one or two wealthy men a bit wealthier than they already were."

The Humane Representation of Thought - Bret Victor

Taco Bell Programming - Ted Dziuba

  1. "The cool-kids answer is to write a distributed crawler in Clojure and run it on EC2, handing out jobs with a message queue like SQS or ZeroMQ."
  2. "I could have done the whole thing Taco Bell style if I had only manned up and broken out sed, but I pussied out and wrote some Python."

Was Banning Tyler, the Creator, the Victory International Feminism Needed? - Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

  1. "For United States feminists like Nadine Strossen, a professor at New York Law School and the first woman President of the ACLU from 1991 to 2008, it doesn’t matter how 'offensive, how vile' Tyler’s lyrics or persona might be—under the Constitution, it’s protected speech. 'Censorship always does more harm than good, including and especially to the groups that are supposedly benefiting from it,' she said, referring to the premise of her 2000 book Defending Pornography: Free Speech, Sex, and the Fight for Women’s Rights."
  2. "She continued: 'Historically, every censorship law that was supposedly passed for the benefit of women, starting with Anthony Comstock in the late 19th Century, has been used systemically, through the so-called feminist anti-pornography laws in the US and Canada, has been used disproportionately but not exclusively against feminist expression.'"

The Arab Spring was a revolution of the hungry - Thanassis Cambanis

  1. "The basic equation is stark: The Arab world cannot feed itself. Rulers obsessed with security have created a twisted web of importers and bakeries whose aim is not to feed the population efficiently or nutritiously but simply to maintain the regime and stave off that much feared revolution of the hungry."
  2. "Saudi Arabia’s ultrarich monarchy calculated that it could survive any challenge from political dissidents critical of the country’s lack of rights and freedoms — as long as it could keep its citizens in material comfort. The king quickly increased handouts to citizens, and after a brief rumble, Saudi Arabians sat out the regional wave of protests that swept through nearly every other Arab state."

Is Our General Internet Experience Getting Worse? - Joe Fallon

  1. "Browsers are crazy fast at rendering plain HTML. Web servers are crazy good at compressing and serving plain HTML. Can anyone explain this insanity? Why do I need another rendering engine built in JavaScript?"
  2. "After the page is fully loaded, several modal pop-ups, pop-overs, and sliders appear. Those usually take another 2 seconds to dismiss, if I can even dismiss them at all. Some of them can’t be dismissed, or are broken on certain devices, and actually cover main content. It reminds of all of the porn pop-ups from the nineties. Why would anyone do that to their users?"

From REPL to Playgrounds - Manuel Chakravarty

  1. "Neither REPLs nor modern IDEs with integrated source-code debuggers are exposing the insides of programs in a manner that is easy to comprehend by the standards set in Bret Victor's essay and his talk 'Inventing on Principle'."

Why I Didn't Answer Your Email

  1. "If it was actually important that I read and respond to your email, and I couldn't tell that from the subject, what the hell is wrong with your writing?"

We Convinced Underrated Power Pop Punkers To Finally Release Their 2000 Album For Free

Creating Domain Specific Languages with Scala - Part 1

  1. "Although it might look hard at first look, defining your own (basic) DSL is very often quite easy. One thing to notice is that the only Scala features that we used here are o overloaded operators and implicits."

Born to Run and the Decline of the American Dream

  1. "'I don’t think the American Dream was that everyone was going to make it or that everyone was going to make a billion dollars,' he later said (as captured in the anthology, Bruce Springsteen Talking). 'But it was that everyone was going to have an opportunity and the chance to live a life with some decency and a chance for some self-respect.'"
  2. "Between 1967 and 1977 the average number of workers on strike climbed by 30 percent and the number of work days lost to stoppages by 40 percent. 'At the heart of the new mood,' argued The New York Times, 'there is a challenge to management's authority to run its plants.'"

Uber TLC FOIL Response

  1. "This directory contains data on over 4.5 million Uber pickups in New York City from April to September 2014."

Awk in 20 Minutes - Fred Hebert

Is Silicon Valley in Another Bubble…and What Could Burst It? - Nick Bilton

  1. "All of this exuberance is magnetizing the same diaspora of Wall Street bankers, models, college dropouts, and anyone else with a start-up idea who came to Silicon Valley in the mid-90s."
  2. "You know there’s a bubble," the saying goes, "when the pretty people show up."
  3. "All across the Valley, the majority of big start-ups are actually glorified distribution companies that are trying, in some sense, to copy what Domino’s Pizza mastered in the 1980s when it delivered a hot pie to your door in 30 minutes or less."
  4. "As the British economist John Maynard Keynes is said to have observed, the market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent."
  5. "Now countless people from all over want this to be a bubble and they want it to burst. There are the taxi drivers who have lost their jobs to Uber; hotel owners who have seen their rooms sit vacant as people sleep in Airbnbs; newspapers that are at the mercy of Facebook’s algorithms; booksellers and retailers who have been in an unrelenting war with Amazon; the elderly, who can’t keep up; the music industry; television producers; and, perhaps most of all, San Franciscans, who would rejoice in the streets if their rents fell from totally insane to merely overpriced, or if they could get into a decent restaurant on a Monday night."

Don Knuth and the Art of Computer Programming: The Interview - Richard Morris

  1. "I often tear up the first draft or two, after I see how things are going, because algorithms tend to be full of surprises."