What I'm reading 12/28-1/4

2016-01-04

The Website Obesity Crisis - Maciej Cegłowski

  1. "Remember when Google Maps, the most sophisticated web app of its day, was thirty-five times smaller than a modern news article?"
  2. "I began by replacing the image carousels with pictures of William Howard Taft, America's greatest president by volume."
  3. "In conversations with web performance advocates, I sometimes feel like a hippie talking to SUV owners about fuel economy."
  4. "The designers of pointless wank like that Facebook page deserve the ultimate penalty. They should be forced to use the Apple hockey puck mouse for the remainder of their professional lives."
  5. "These comically huge homepages for projects designed to make the web faster are the equivalent of watching a fitness video where the presenter is just standing there, eating pizza and cookies."
  6. "Advertisers will tell you it has to be this way, but in dealing with advertisers you must remember they are professional liars."

The scurrilous lies written about Charlie Hebdo - Robert McLiam Wilson

  1. "When the politically or religiously dismayed decide it's time to wade, guns blazing, into the supergeek underworld of leftwing satirical weeklies, that's something that changes the very laws of physics."
  2. "[Charlie Hebdo staff] look like kittens in a bunker. I'm tempted to say that this is now the world they live in. But that's not what is interesting. The point is that this is now the world you live in."
  3. "Only two days after the murders, the New Yorker published a riotously ignorant article that took Charlie to task for its evident Nazi-standard racism. It was in the New Yorker so it must have been true. It was a filthy and stupid libel."

Spain 1937 - W.H. Auden

  1. "O no, I am not the Mover, Not today, not to you."

How Completely Messed Up Practices Become Normal - Dan Luu

  1. "The data are clear that humans are really bad at taking the time to do things that are well understood to incontrovertibly reduce the risk of rare but catastrophic events. We will rationalize that taking shortcuts is the right, reasonable thing to do. There's a term for this: the normalization of deviance."
  2. "As an industry, we spend a lot of time thinking about how to incentivize consumers into doing what we want. But then we set up incentive systems that are generally agreed upon as incentivizing us to do the wrong things, and we do so via a combination of a game of telephone and cargo cult diffusion."
  3. "Turning off or ignoring notifications because there are too many of them and they're too annoying? An erroneous manual operation? This could be straight out of the post-mortem of more than a few companies I can think of, except that the result was a tragic death instead of the loss of millions of dollars."
  4. "Humans are bad at reasoning about how failures cascade, so we implement bright line rules about when it's safe to deploy. But the same thing that makes it hard for us to reason about when it's safe to deploy makes the rules seem stupid and inefficient!"
  5. "In most company cultures, people feel weird about giving feedback. Everyone has stories about a project that lingered on for months after it should have been terminated because no one was willing to offer explicit feedback."

Truffles, Caviar, and Cristal: A Tale from the Mythic Days of Magazine Expense Accounts - Robert Hughes

  1. "To put it bluntly, she gorged as though she had skipped lunch, but came out of it looking like the Sugar Plum Fairy, albeit one with truly wonderful breasts."

Why We Can't Solve Big Problems - Jason Pontin

  1. "Since Apollo 17's flight in 1972, no humans have been back to the moon, or gone anywhere beyond low Earth orbit. No one has traveled faster than the crew of Apollo 10. (Since the last flight of the supersonic Concorde in 2003, civilian travel has become slower.)"
  2. "With the exception of Google (which wants to "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful"), the ambitions of startups founded in the last 15 years do seem derisory compared with those of companies like Intel, Apple, and Microsoft, founded from the 1960s to the late 1970s."

FUCK THE CLOUD - Jason Scott

  1. "By the cloud, of course, I mean this idea that you have a local machine, a box running some OS, and a vital, distinct part of what you do and what you're about or what you consider important to you is on other machines that you don't run, don't control, don't buy, don't administrate, and don't really understand."
  2. "If you lose your shit, the technogeeks will not help you. They will giggle at you and make fun of your not understanding the fundamental principles and engineering of client-server models."
  3. "Insult, berate and make fun of any company that offers you something like a 'sharing' site that makes you push stuff in that you can't make copies out of or which you can't export stuff out of. They will burble about technology issues. They are fucking lying."

Entire US voter registration record leaks (191 million) - Chris Vickery

  1. "I have recently downloaded voter registration records for 191 million Americans from a leaky database. I believe this is every registered voter in the entire country. To be very clear, this was not a hack."
  2. "The mysterious, insecure database is currently configured for public access. No password or other authentication is required at all. Anyone with an internet connection can grab all 300+ gigabytes."

Peter Doig Discussing Sigmar Polke - The ASX Team

  1. "They were more quirky, idiosyncratic things that he discovered for himself and that he seemed to find personally amusing."

Silicon Valley is confusing pseudo-science with innovation - Ben Popper and Elizabeth Lopatto

  1. "On the surface everything about Theranos looked good, right? It wasn't until after The Wall Street Journal dug in that all the irregularities in partnerships, relationships with regulators, and general fuckery began to surface."
  2. "'Ask forgiveness, not permission' works fine in software. The medical field doesn't move as fast as the software industry because moving fast and breaking things is fine for things but not for people."

2015: Another Bad Year for Blasphemers - Sarah McLaughlin

  1. "In February, a man was sentenced to death (likely beheading, as is the Saudi Arabian way) for cursing God and Muhammad and hitting a Koran with a shoe."
  2. "This fall, Iranian courts decided that activist Soheil Arabi will spend 7 years in prison as punishment for "insulting the Prophet" on Facebook, and must prove his faith and knowledge of Islam in monthly meetings. This is actually an improvement over his earlier sentence: death."
  3. "Specifically, they beat [Farkhunda Malikzada], ran over her body with a car and dragged her down the street, stoned her, and then lit her on fire. She received essentially no help from the police during the attack."
  4. "In February, Al Qaeda members 'taught a lesson to blasphemers' by hacking atheist Bangladeshi blogger Avijit Roy to death with machetes."
  5. "Amos Yee Pang Sang, a 16-year-old blogger in Singapore was sentenced to a 4 week prison term in July for insulting Christianity, and he 'admitted to his guilt and promised not to reoffend, as he realised his actions were against the law and could disrupt social harmony' after he was required to go to counseling."

Interview with Jesper Louis Andersen about Erlang, Haskell, OCaml, Go, Idris, the JVM, software and protocol design  —  PART I - Federico Carrone

  1. "In biology, it has been observed solutions are usually not rewriting code, but rather patching code. Imagine a world where we are more inclined to build on top of what we already have rather than go down and rewrite older parts."
  2. "If the waterfall model risks not building the right product, then agile risks not building the product right."
  3. "If you reject an old idea, you need to explain why. If you reinvent an old idea, you need to know you reinvented it and what happened historically for that idea not to catch on."

Interview with Jesper Louis Andersen about Erlang, Haskell, OCaml, Go, Idris, the JVM, software and protocol design  —  PART II - Federico Carrone

  1. "Many of the problems in the design space requires a different approach than sheer execution brute force, especially in a multicore world. Had fast execution been important, it would have been addressed a long time ago."
  2. "If you introduce many abstractions, you are also introducing the need for readers to have that knowledge. It is possible to go overboard here, and end up with code which only a few people in the world can read and understand."

Spying on Congress and Israel: NSA Cheerleaders Discover Value of Privacy Only When Their Own Is Violated - Glenn Greenwald

  1. "All sorts of people who spent many years cheering for and defending the NSA and its programs of mass surveillance are suddenly indignant now that they know the eavesdropping included them and their American and Israeli friends rather than just ordinary people."
  2. "What happened to all the dismissive lectures about how if you've done nothing wrong, then you have nothing to hide? Is that still applicable? Or is it that these members of the U.S. Congress who conspired with Netanyahu and AIPAC over how to sabotage the U.S. government's Iran Deal feel they did do something wrong and are angry about having been monitored for that reason?"

Garbage Collection in Erlang - James Hague

  1. "The key is that garbage collection in Erlang is per process."
  2. "A system may have tens of thousands of processes, using a gigabyte of memory overall, but if GC occurs in a process with a 20K heap, then the collector only touches that 20K and collection time is imperceptible."