Going Home With Wendell Berry

The Democrats and the liberals are not thinking yet about these people that they blame for electing Mr. Trump. The people who elected Mr. Trump are people whose expectations have been raised by the connivance of the market. “You people deserve something better than this. You oughtn’t have to work so hard.” And so on. Their expectations have been going up. But the lid on their economy has been coming down. You can’t say they did a good thing by electing Mr. Trump, but you have at least to acknowledge their real trouble, even their desperation.

The Deliberate Awfulness Of Social Media | The New Yorker

Social-media platforms know what you’re seeing, and they know how you acted in the immediate aftermath of seeing it, and they can decide what you will see next in order to further determine how you act—a feedback loop that gets progressively tighter until it becomes a binding force on an individual’s free will.

Google Tracks Your Movements, Like It Or Not

The AP learned of the issue from K. Shankari, a graduate researcher at UC Berkeley who studies the commuting patterns of volunteers in order to help urban planners. She noticed that her Android phone prompted her to rate a shopping trip to Kohl’s, even though she had turned Location History off.

Don't Let TripAdvisor Kill Adventure

It used to be easy to distinguish such independent travelers from the lemmings following flag-waving tour guides. But the line between them has blurred. If your trip follows a tightly-planned agenda inspired by user reviews, popular Instagram feeds and Top 10 lists, aren’t you really just taking a virtual group tour, with your smartphone waving the flag?

Patagonia Vs. Donald Trump

“The best thing you can do for the planet as far as clothing goes is to buy used clothes and wear them until you just can’t wear them anymore,” Chouinard said. “It’s like a car. If you get rid of your Chevy and buy a Prius, you’re not doing anything for the planet—you just put one more car on the road. Someone else is going to be driving your Chevy.”

Email Is Your Electronic Memory | Fastmail Blog

Right now, email is not like that. Email is static, immutable, unchanging. That’s really important to me, and really important to FastMail. Our values are very clear – your data belongs to you, and we promise to be good stewards of your data.

How Intel Makes A Chip: Bloomberg

Intel’s chip designers are committed rationalists. Logic is literally what they do, every day. But if you get them talking about their work, they tend to fall back on language that borders on mystical. They use the word “magic” a lot. Gelsinger, the former CTO, says he found God a few months after starting at Intel in 1979. “I’ve always thought they went hand in hand,” he says, referring to semiconductor design and faith. Maria Lines, an Intel product manager, becomes emotional when she reflects on the past few years of her career. “The product that I was on several generations ago was about 2 billion transistors, and now the product I’m on today has 10 billion transistors,” she says. “That’s like, astounding. It’s incredible. It’s almost as magical as having a baby.”


China's Surveillance State Should Scare Everyone: The Atlantic

The new social credit system under development will consolidate reams of records from private companies and government bureaucracies into a single “citizen score” for each Chinese citizen. In its comprehensive 2014 planning outline, the CCP explains a goal of “keep[ing] trust and constraints against breaking trust.” While the system is voluntary for now, it will be mandatory by 2020. Already, 100,000 Chinese citizens have posted on social media about high scores on a “Sesame Credit” app operated by Alibaba, in a private-sector precursor to the proposed government system. The massive e-commerce conglomerate claims its app is only tracking users’ financial and credit behavior, but promises to offer a “holistic rating of character.” It is not hard to imagine many Chinese boasting soon about their official scores.

While it isn’t yet clear what data will be considered, commentators are already speculating that the scope of the system will be alarmingly wide. The planned “citizen credit” score will likely weigh far more data than the Western fico score, which helps lenders make fast and reliable decisions on whether to extend financial credit. While the latter simply tracks whether you’ve paid back your debts and managed your money well, experts on China and internet privacy have speculated—based on the vast amounts of online shopping data mined by the government without regard for consumer privacy—that your Chinese credit score could be higher if you buy items the regime likes—like diapers—and lower if you buy ones it doesn’t, like video games or alcohol. Well beyond the realm of online consumer purchasing, your political involvement could also heavily affect your score: Posting political opinions without prior permission or even posting true news that the Chinese government dislikes could decrease your rank.

While some of this reads like scaremongering propaganda against those “other” people who don’t share our American values of freedom and have no problem being constantly watched, there are fundamental, objective differences between this and a credit score that should raise the eyebrows of any human.

A New Space Race

Asked about a new space race after the Falcon Heavy launch, Mr Musk was enthusiastic: “Races are exciting.” They also let pacesetters guide the field. If you start a race in the direction you think people should be going, it may not, in the end, matter if you win.


Exalting Data, Missing Meaning

I’ve observed a common failure mode in decision-making: an overriding obsession with data—with appearing scientific—and an associated repudiation of philosophy.

That’s a totally appropriate obsession in some fields, like manufacturing, transportation, and aviation. But in consumer products, education, and so many other domains involving the messiness of humanity, the data obsession falls prey to hidden errors and distorts our true goals. Worse, it deprives us of truly meaningful insights that are available via philosophy, intuition, and stories, but not yet fully explicable through quantitative systems.

Public Health And Smartphones

“It’s Homo sapiens minds against the most powerful supercomputers and billions of dollars …. It’s like bringing a knife to a space laser fight,” Mr. Harris said. “We’re going to look back and say, ‘Why on earth did we do this?’”

Calling this the “smoking of our generation” is starting to seem unfair to the cigarette companies.

Making China Great Again

In the U.S., where police departments and the F.B.I. are adopting comparable technology, facial recognition has prompted congressional debates about privacy and policing. The courts have yet to clarify when a city or a company can track a person’s face. Under what conditions can biometric data be used to find suspects of a crime, or be sold to advertisers? In Xi Jinping’s China, which values order over the rights of the individual, there are few such debates. In the city of Shenzhen, the local government uses facial recognition to deter jaywalkers. (At busy intersections, it posts their names and I.D. pictures on a screen at the roadside.) In Beijing, the government uses facial-recognition machines in public rest rooms to stop people from stealing toilet paper; it limits users to sixty centimetres within a nine-minute period.

The Merge

I believe the merge has already started, and we are a few years in. Our phones control us and tell us what to do when; social media feeds determine how we feel; search engines decide what we think.

He’s stating this in such simple terms, but it’s hard to find anything that’s actually wrong about what he’s saying.

The Honey Hunters Of Nepal

With each move toward the hive, the holds get smaller and farther apart. He moves slowly but with confidence until only 10 feet separate him from his quarry. This final section of loose, wet rock offers hand- and footholds no bigger than Mauli’s fingertips, and since he is not attached to a safety rope, it would be certain death should he lose his grip. Adding to his challenge, he carries a 25-foot bamboo pole hooked over one shoulder, and he pinches a bundle of smoldering grass between the thumb and forefinger of his right hand. A wispy trail of smoke drifts upward from his hand toward the agitated bees. If air currents cooperate, the smoke may engulf the bees and confuse them slightly as he approaches.


A Growing Number Of Young Americans Are Leaving Desk Jobs To Farm

The number of farmers age 25 to 34 grew 2.2 percent between 2007 and 2012, according to the 2014 USDA census, a period when other groups of farmers — save the oldest — shrunk by double digits. In some states, such as California, Nebraska and South Dakota, the number of beginning farmers has grown by 20 percent or more.

Inside Out

“Inside Out” is rated PG (Parental guidance suggested). Young children may be mildly alarmed in places, especially at the sight of their parents weeping through the last 20 minutes.

The Rise And Fall Of The English Sentence Issue 54: The Unspoken Nautilus

These new complex, compressed, meaning-particle-mashing noun compounds bear more resemblance to the intricate words of Ket or Mohawk than to the airy periodic sentences of the Declaration of Independence. This is likely no accident. Biber and Gray point out that scientific prose, which used to be written for any reasonably educated person, has come to target smaller and smaller communities of close colleagues—like the small, close-knit communities that have nurtured many of the world’s oral languages and their meaning-dense linguistic units.

Reminiscent of kanji in Japanese and Chinese

Facebook’s People You May Know Feature

Connections like these seem inexplicable if you assume Facebook only knows what you’ve told it about yourself. They’re less mysterious if you know about the other file Facebook keeps on you—one that you can’t see or control.

I’m shocked—shocked!—to find there’s gambling going on in here.

Emily Wilson

There is a stranger outside your house. He is old, ragged, and dirty. He is tired. He has been wandering, homeless, for a long time, perhaps many years. Invite him inside. You do not know his name. He may be a thief. He may be a murderer. He may be a god. He may remind you of your husband, your father, or yourself. Do not ask questions. Wait. Let him sit on a comfortable chair and warm himself beside your fire. Bring him some food, the best you have, and a cup of wine. Let him eat and drink until he is satisfied. Be patient. When he is finished, he will tell his story. Listen carefully. It may not be as you expect.

Turn Off Your Push Notifications. All of Them

You’re letting someone insert a commercial into your life anytime they want. Time to turn it off.

No shit.

Not even wrong - ways to dismiss technology

The question, then, is not whether something works now but whether it could work - whether you know how to change it. Saying ‘it doesn’t work, today’ has no value, but saying ‘yes, but everything didn’t work once’ also has no value. Rather, do you have a roadmap? Do you know what to do next?

Elon Musk Publishes Plans for Colonizing Mars

ITS rockets will launch the spaceships to Earth orbit, then come back down for a pinpoint landing about 20 minutes later. And “pinpoint” is not hyperbole: “With the addition of maneuvering thrusters, we think we can actually put the booster right back on the launch stand,” Musk wrote in his New Space paper, citing SpaceX’s increasingly precise Falcon 9 first-stage landings.

Space X

Maybe there is some market for the really fast transport of things around the world, provided we can land somewhere where noise is not a super-big deal because rockets are very noisy. We could transport cargo to anywhere on Earth in 45 minutes at the most. Hence, most places on Earth would be 20–25 minutes away. If we had a floating platform off the coast of New York, 20–30 miles out, you could go from New York to Tokyo in 25 minutes and across the Atlantic in 10 minutes. Most of your time would be spent getting to the ship, and then it would be very quick after that. Therefore, there are some intriguing possibilities there, although we are not counting on that.

Green Arabia

Jibla is certainly off the beaten track, but what’s authentic here is hopelessness, hunger, and poverty.

The Falling Apple, Revisited

And if you’re an Apple user who is being intellectually honest, you know all of this to be true.

Search your feelings, Luke

How the Fleet Foxes Frontman Got Out to Get Back In

Between January and March of 2013, the Fleet Foxes frontman, Robin Pecknold, lived alone in a small house in Port Townsend, Wash., a wind-swept town on the northeast tip of the Olympic Peninsula — a two-hour ride from Seattle by car and ferry — that empties during the dark, chilly winters. He spent his days taking a 12-week woodworking course that emphasized labor-intensive traditional craftsmanship using hand tools. Most nights, he went for long runs through the town’s hills, streets and marinas.

Sounds extremely familiar…

‘The Internet Is Broken’: @ev Is Trying to Salvage It

The trouble with the internet, Mr. Williams says, is that it rewards extremes. Say you’re driving down the road and see a car crash. Of course you look. Everyone looks. The internet interprets behavior like this to mean everyone is asking for car crashes, so it tries to supply them.

One More Thing

It turns out that when you turn a skyscraper on its side, all of its bullying power dissipates into a humble serenity.

The Benefits of Solitude

Our friends and families don’t want us to wander off in search of the expansive, euphoric revelations that Byrd experienced in his Antarctic abyss. So we keep warm, instead, within our comfortable culture of monitoring and messaging. We abhor the disconnection that the woods, the desert, the glacier threaten us with in their heartless way. Our culture leans so sharply toward the social that those who wander into the wild are lucky if they’re only considered weird.

Moxie Marlinspike >> Stories >> Hypothermia

Sailors who are really good, know everything about boats, and have thousands of hours at sea are continually and unshakably terrified while on the ocean. Not because they don’t know what they’re doing, but because they know the ocean so well as to fear it deeply, regardless of how conditions may initially appear. Novices, on the other hand, usually proceed with an affect which is considerably more blithe. As Brian Toss once said, there are only three types of sea-faring sailors — dead, novices, and pessimists. I knew this, but not well enough.

Remembering Bob Taylor, the Tech Legend Who Invented ‘Almost Everything’

For the generation of tech companies in the 1970s and early 1980s, the essential cluster was at Xerox PARC—and its leader was Bob Taylor.

While Trump promotes coal, other countries are turning to cheap sun power

Outside the plant’s operations center, a worker-safety chart rated the day’s ultraviolet radiation levels on a scale of one to 10. “Eleven,” it read. “Extreme.”

Chile’s solar capacity goes to 11, in other words 🎸

The perilous politics of parking

Cities should stop trying to increase the supply of parking and rigging the market in favour of homeowners. Instead, they should raise prices until the streets and the car parks are nearly, but not quite, full—and charge everybody.

The Great Communicator

“He seemed like he was just an easygoing coach,” Lindor says, “that was always chewing gum and making the right decisions.”

Neuralink is horrifying

Even if I had the talent to do these sorts of things (obviously I don’t), I think the wiser and more ethical path is a family, a career, a home, and then historical oblivion.

I’m really glad there are people who aren’t content to just run out the clock on their lives and then fade into historical oblivion, as this piece argues is the more ethical path.

How Indians reliever Andrew Miller will end the tyranny of the save

He stayed on the air mattress. “The word I keep coming back to is ‘adaptable,’” Kim says, remembering a story about Andrew’s childhood. “I worked every other weekend, and my husband and his friend David would load him in the back of the car and go riding on the hunting property [in Gainesville], and Andrew would just go along with it. My sister-in-law said we weren’t real parents because 
Andrew was too easy.”

Chase Had Ads on 400,000 Sites. Then on Just 5,000. Same Results.

JPMorgan started looking into preapproving sites, a strategy known as whitelisting, this month after The New York Times showed it an ad for Chase’s private client services on a site called Hillary 4 Prison. It was under a headline claiming that the actor Elijah Wood had revealed “the horrifying truth about the Satanic liberal perverts who run Hollywood.”

"Guerrilla Art"

On the surface, it appears to be another work of guerrilla art — but it’s not.

Neuralink and the Brain’s Magical Future

There’s no way to pick out one quote from these 38,000 words but it’s a pretty mind-blowing piece. Need to read it a couple more times.

#Vanlife, the Bohemian Social-Media Movement

As I thumbed toward the top of the screen, I had the disconcerting sense of watching a life become a life-style brand.

When Pixels Collide

The Blue Corner wasn’t alone. Another group started a Red Corner on the other side of the canvas. Their users claimed a leftist political leaning. Yet another started the Green Lattice, which went for a polka-dot design with interspersing green pixels and white. They championed their superior efficiency, since they only had to color half as many pixels as the other Factions.

How Nintendo told gamers to get lost

Mr Miyamoto wanted you to get lost. The propulsive, unidirectional energy of “Super Mario Bros” was a holdover from the era of coin-gobbling video-game arcades. By contrast, “The Legend of Zelda” rewarded stoic perseverance, frequently leaving the player puzzling over what to do next. The aspirations of “The Legend of Zelda” had less in common with the feverish spirit of the arcades than of J.R.R. Tolkien.

The inspiration for this style of gameplay was Mr Miyamoto’s own childhood memories from the countryside of Sonobe, Japan: combing rice fields, scaling hillsides, fishing lakes. One foundational experience he had as a child was stumbling upon a cave, which he eventually mustered the courage to enter by the light of a homemade lantern “The game is not for children,” he would later say, “it is for me.” Link, like Mr Miyamoto, is left-handed. Sonobe is 20 minutes from my current “home” - coincidence? Not really, I think.

Why Japan’s Rail Workers Can’t Stop Pointing at Things

It is such an integral part of Japanese transportation that direction boards at the Kyoto Rail Museum even feature characters in the classic point-and-call stance.

Is it worth the trouble?

One must imagine Sisyphus happy

Meet the Man Who Charges $780 a Day to Reveal Japan’s Hidden Secrets

“See these stairs and lead up to that door?” Nohara asked me before leading me up a random flight of stairs to a mysterious door with nothing on it. “That is a restaurant.”

He then opened the door to show me a fully functional restaurant equipped with an open kitchen. There’s nothing outside the building that gives off even the slightest clue that food is served there.

Welcome To Mars! Enjoy Perpetual Jet Lag Under An Eerie Red Sky

“Solmorrow is a longer day”, as the Book of Mormon says

Why Nothing Works Anymore

A local eatery near me whose interior design invokes the 1930s features a bathroom with a white steel crank-roll paper towel dispenser. When spun on its ungeared mechanism, an analogous, glorious measure of towel appears directly and immediately, as if sent from heaven.

Rolling out a proper portion of towel feels remarkable largely because that victory also seems so rare, even despite constant celebrations of technological accomplishment. The frequency with which technology works precariously has been obscured by culture’s obsession with technological progress, its religious belief in computation, and its confidence in the mastery of design. In truth, hardly anything works very well anymore.

Escape to another world

Stand back, however, and the implications are far more substantial than this. One can just about spot the vision of a distant, near-workless future in the habits of young gamers. If good things in life can be had for very little money, then working hard to have more than very little money looks less attractive. The history of the industrial era has been one in which technology has reduced the proportion of income devoted to necessities like food while providing vast new possibilities for consumption. As this happened, the hours worked by the typical person declined.

How the Internet Is Saving Culture, Not Killing It

In the last few years, and with greater intensity in the last 12 months, people started paying for online content. They are doing so at an accelerating pace, and on a dependable, recurring schedule, often through subscriptions. And they’re paying for everything.

Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds

This borderlessness, or, if you prefer, confusion, is also crucial to what we consider progress. As people invented new tools for new ways of living, they simultaneously created new realms of ignorance; if everyone had insisted on, say, mastering the principles of metalworking before picking up a knife, the Bronze Age wouldn’t have amounted to much. When it comes to new technologies, incomplete understanding is empowering.

The Not-So-Surprising Survival of Foursquare

Foursquare likes to show off its data-crunching prowess with predictions. It forecast the sales figures for the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, for instance, and the decline in revenue, almost to the burrito bowl, for Chipotle following the E. coli mess. The company currently derives ninety per cent of its revenue from allowing a variety of businesses to use not just its A.P.I. but its data, too.

Japan’s government tries to free its soldiers from pacifist shackles

The SDF remains one of the world’s odder armies. It has never fired a shot in battle. Its main role, for many Japanese, is disaster relief. Yet it has a larger navy than France and Britain combined, including four huge “helicopter carriers”.

A report from De Beers’s new diamond mine

The marketing worked. In 1939, 10% of American brides received a diamond engagement ring. By the end of the century 80% did. The result was a unique industry, controlled by a single company that was both marketer and miner, a capital-intensive business built on an ephemeral link to love, its success due to strangled supply and inflated demand.

Why Patagonia's off-the-wall advertising asks customers to think twice before buying its products

“When I die and go to hell,” he wrote, “the devil is going to make me the marketing director for a cola company. I’ll be in charge of trying to sell a product that no one needs, is identical to its competitors and can’t be sold on its merits.”

New York Museums Signal Their Resistance to Trump

Most significant, the week after Trump signed his now unravelling travel ban, the Museum of Modern Art replaced seven works in its sacrosanct fifth-floor galleries—the domain of van Gogh, Picasso, and Pollock—with pieces by artists from three of the seven targeted Muslim-majority nations. Each is accompanied by an extended label that reads, “This work is by an artist from a nation whose citizens are being denied entry into the United States, according to a presidential executive order issued on Jan. 27, 2017. This is one of several such artworks from the Museum’s collection installed throughout the fifth-floor galleries to affirm the ideals of welcome and freedom as vital to this Museum as they are to the United States.”

Reflecting on one very, very strange year at Uber

I’d rather be a pirate than join any navy but boy is this a fucked up navy.

Understanding Pac-Man Ghost Behavior

The key to understanding ghost behavior is the concept of a target tile. The large majority of the time, each ghost has a specific tile that it is trying to reach, and its behavior revolves around trying to get to that tile from its current one. All of the ghosts use identical methods to travel towards their targets, but the different ghost personalities come about due to the individual way each ghost has of selecting its target tile.

The Two Friends Who Changed How We Think About How We Think

In Lewis’s account, the relationship between Kahneman and Tversky was as intense as a marriage. As anyone who has been married knows, marriages can be fraught, and they sometimes dissolve entirely, rarely amicably. Tversky and Kahneman never got divorced, but they did start dating other people, and their relationship became strained.

The retreat of the global company

The result will be a more fragmented and parochial kind of capitalism, and quite possibly a less efficient one—but also, perhaps, one with wider public support. And the infatuation with global companies will come to be seen as a passing episode in business history, rather than its end.

From Michael Lewis, a Portrait of the Men Who Shaped ‘Moneyball’

People close to both men, including Mr. Thaler and Ms. Tversky, say Mr. Lewis captured the intensity of their relationship and their individual quirks. Colleagues described how the pair would finish each other’s sentences and could often be heard cackling from behind an office door as they wrote dense academic papers. Mr. Tversky was the bold one who delighted in undermining well-established dogma within psychology. Mr. Kahneman was cautious, sensitive and deeply pessimistic.

Anthony Bourdain’s Moveable Feast

He is Apollo in drag as Dionysus.

One of several memorable lines in a great profile.

2001: A Space Odyssey

Everyone on the agency team had poured their hearts into this production. No detail went unchallenged. You’d be surprised how passionately people can debate the nature and volume level of the “space hum” heard in the background.

I hand-carried the final version of HAL to our regular marketing meeting, where Steve had his first viewing. To our delight, he loved it even more than the original storyboard. Kane’s voice, Coppos’s craftsmanship and just the right touch of space hum were a perfect combination.

Elon Musk Interview with Sarah Lacy

“I’d like to be born on Earth and die on Mars.”

Peter Thiel on Education

The main part on education starts around the 44:00 mark. Highly recommend the entire interview.

There’s a lot of questions about what it is that people are getting with an education […] The financial product it’s closest to is an insurance product. People are basically investing in education to buy insurance so that they don’t fall through the big cracks that exist in our society.

You have to somehow engage in the reality. People are trying to buy insurance, and/or they’re trying to win this tournament. That’s the reality you should engage in.

If we talk about education as learning, you’re just taking the weird marketing at face value, and that’s not even what’s going on. If you’re saying we’re going to help do that better, most of the time you’re not even wrong.

Peter Thiel's 'CS183: Startup' Class 1 Notes

“1 to n” versus “0 to 1”:

Progress comes in two flavors: horizontal/extensive and vertical/intensive. Horizontal or extensive progress basically means copying things that work. In one word, it means simply “globalization.”


Vertical or intensive progress, by contrast, means doing new things. The single word for this is “technology.” Intensive progress involves going from 0 to 1 (not simply the 1 to n of globalization).


Anyone on a mission tends to want to go from 0 to 1. You can only do that if you’re surrounded by others to want to go from 0 to 1.

Blake Masters is taking Peter Thiel’s class at Stanford this quarter, and is graciously posting his notes. They’re fascinating, naturally.

Class 2

What to Do on the Day After ObamaCare

John H. Cochrane neatly summarizes the root causes for many of the healthcare system’s woes. For one:

The main argument for a mandate before the Supreme Court was that people of modest means can fail to buy insurance, and then rely on charity care in emergency rooms, shifting the cost to the rest of us. But the expenses of emergency room treatment for indigent uninsured people are not health-care’s central cost problem. Costs are rising because people who do have insurance, and their doctors, overuse health services and don’t shop on price, and because regulations have salted insurance with ever more coverage for them to overuse.


If we had a deregulated, competitive market in individual catastrophic insurance, that market would be so much cheaper than what’s offered today that we would likely not even need the mandate.

This paragraph, meanwhile, sounds straight out of… well, you know. “Certificates of need”?

In my home state of Illinois, every new hospital, expansion of an existing facility or major equipment purchase must obtain a “certificate of need” from the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board. The board does a great job of insulating existing hospitals from competition if they are well connected politically. Imagine the joy United Airlines would feel if Southwest had to get a “certificate of need” before moving in to a new city - or the pleasure Sears would have if Wal-Mart had to do so - and all it took was a small contribution to a well-connected official.

Despite the fact that it was published last night, I actually hadn’t read it before posting this.

The Fallacy of Funnels

When your only goal is a conversion, as opposed to a happy life-long customer, all sorts of tricks will “help” you along your way. It’s the same line of thinking as dudes focused on getting one-night stands in nightclubs. Sure let’s swap numbers, I’d love to meet your friends, and your parents too. They’ll say anything to get what they want.

I’ve repeated a variant of this on a number of occasions, though I usually use the analogy of putting out a sign in the Marina advertising “Free trip to Napa” (when there is no free trip).

Hacking is Important

Hackers are allergic to process not because they don’t understand the value; they’re allergic to it because it violates their core values. These values are well documented in Zuckerberg’s letter: “Done is better than perfect”, “Code wins arguments”, and that “Hacker culture is extremely open and meritocratic”. The folks who create process care about control, and they use politics to shape that control and to influence communications, and if there is ever a sentence that would cause a hacker to stand up and throw his or her keyboard at the screen, it’s the first half of this one.

This is one of the better summaries of the hacker Weltanschauung, and how it contrasts with the rest of the world, that I’ve read in a while.

Code. Wins. Arguments.

Frighteningly Ambitious Startup Ideas

I might be the only one, but there’s usually at least one quote in a Paul Graham essay that makes me laugh out loud. To wit:

Now [Google’s] results seem inspired by the Scientologist principle that what’s true is what’s true for you. And the pages don’t have the clean, sparse feel they used to. Google search results used to look like the output of a Unix utility. Now if I accidentally put the cursor in the wrong place, anything might happen.

The rest of the essay is brilliant as usual. I won’t try to distill it further.

Lord of the Files: How GitHub Tamed Free Software

First bookmark on the new system. Seemed appropriate.

Minimal Mac | TV Is Broken

She just does not understand why one would want to watch anything this way. It’s boring and frustrating.

See also: “I finally cracked it”

John Fairfax, Who Rowed Across Oceans, Dies at 74

The Most Interesting Obituary in the World:

At 9, he settled a dispute with a pistol. At 13, he lit out for the Amazon jungle.

At 20, he attempted suicide-by-jaguar. Afterward he was apprenticed to a pirate. To please his mother, who did not take kindly to his being a pirate, he briefly managed a mink farm, one of the few truly dull entries on his otherwise crackling resume, which lately included a career as a professional gambler.

Mr. Fairfax was among the last avatars of a centuries-old figure: the lone-wolf explorer, whose exploits are conceived to satisfy few but himself. His was a solitary, contemplative art that has been all but lost amid the contrived derring-do of adventure-based reality television.

Groupthink: The Brainstorming Myth

The solo students came up with roughly twice as many solutions as the brainstorming groups, and a panel of judges deemed their solutions more “feasible” and “effective.” Brainstorming didn’t unleash the potential of the group, but rather made each individual less creative.


Osborn thought that imagination is inhibited by the merest hint of criticism, but Nemeth’s work and a number of other studies have demonstrated that it can thrive on conflict … “Maybe debate is going to be less pleasant, but it will always be more productive. True creativity requires some trade-offs.”

A Proposal for Penn Station and Madison Square Garden - NYTimes.com

To pass through Grand Central Terminal, one of New York’s exalted public spaces, is an ennobling experience, a gift. To commute via the bowels of Penn Station, just a few blocks away, is a humiliation.

A Word to the Resourceful

They traversed idea space as gingerly as a very old person traverses the physical world.

This image/analogy is incredibly apt.

Schlep Blindness

PG brilliantly distills a facet of building companies - “schlep blindness”:

The most striking example I know of schlep blindness is Stripe, or rather Stripe’s idea. For over a decade, every hacker who’d ever had to process payments online knew how painful the experience was. Thousands of people must have known about this problem. And yet when they started startups, they decided to build recipe sites, or aggregators for local events. Why? Why work on problems few care much about and no one will pay for, when you could fix one of the most important components of the world’s infrastructure? Because schlep blindness prevented people from even considering the idea of fixing payments.

Probably no one who applied to Y Combinator to work on a recipe site began by asking “should we fix payments, or build a recipe site?” and chose the recipe site. Though the idea of fixing payments was right there in plain sight, they never saw it, because their unconscious mind shrank from the complications involved.

The Social Network That Stole Christmas

“You can also go into someone’s Path – which is a lot like a Facebook timeline, but without all the third-party junk and ads.”

What went wrong with Jawbone's UP?

Posted some thoughts on Quora after a few weeks wearing the UP. Three key flaws:

  • I still have to tell the UP what “mode” I’m in (normal, sleeping, or exercising).

  • Syncing is awkward and unreliable.

  • No API/data export, and no web interface.

I’m pretty excited for the Basis to arrive, as it appears to address all three.

Ron Paul on The Tonight Show

Everyone should watch this. There isn’t a single thing he says that isn’t 100% correct.

On marriage:

My position on marriage is that the government ought to just stay out of it totally and completely and stop arguing about it.

On taxes:

“Sometimes people complain, you know, ‘the lower half don’t pay taxes, what are we going to do about it’, and I say ‘we’re halfway there!’”

“What would our main source of revenue be [if not income tax]?”

“Where it came from before 1913.”

“If the people want us to be the policemen of the world and have welfare from cradle to grave, then no, you can’t get rid of taxation and we’ll continue on until we’re totally bankrupt and our currency fails. But if you want a Constitutional government you really don’t have to have an income tax.”

On foreign aid:

How much of it should be cut?

All of it […] Foreign aid takes money from poor people in this country and gives it to rich people in other countries.

Side note: Jay Leno’s explanation of our relationship with Israel - “we don’t like to see the little guy get picked on” was unintentionally hilarious.

On Mitt Romney:

“He used to be governor of Massachusetts.”

“Right, very good, that’s like a Rick Perry answer.”

“Well maybe that’s what he should stay, is governor of Massachusetts.”

Louis CK Live at the Beacon Theater

I really hope that this becomes more common, and not the exception that proves the rule. No middlemen, no signing up for something. Just a transaction between a creator and the people that want to enjoy something and will pay money to do so.

I’m also just going to assume that it was my question on Quora that got him to post an update on the (impressive) sales figures to date.

Further, from the AMA on Reddit:

It’s like that thing in the movie “Twister” where they send a bunch of little data collecting balls up into a tornado and just download the lovely results. The whole things has been like that. From the moment it went online and i saw the result of every decision i made. the last question the web guys asked me before we posted was if I wanted the mail list button defaulted to “opt in” or “opt out” and i said start it at opt out. It’s such a tiny thing but I keep hearing about it from people.

The Future of U.S. Health Care - WSJ.com

This is a really great survey of the current landscape in the health care industry. One quote from a self-insured employer jumps out:

Last year, MasterBrand, which has some 7,000 U.S. employees, started tying their insurance-premium contributions to their health-risk factors. Those who score poorly on measures such as cholesterol, blood pressure, body-mass index and tobacco use pay more each week.

What's Your Startup's "Bus Count"?

Rob Mee of Pivotal Labs:

The reality is that most programmers working on their own only spend a small fraction of their day actually programming: the interruptions are legion, and dropping in and out of a state of concentrated focus takes most of their day. There is a solution, however: pair program. Two programmers, one computer. No email, no Twitter, no phone calls (at least not unscheduled; you can take breaks at regular intervals to handle these things). If you do this, what you get is a full day of pure programming. And “getting in the zone” with someone else actually takes almost no time at all. It’s a completely different way of working, and I maintain that it is far more efficient than working alone ever can be. And in fact, with the current level of device-driven distraction in the workplace, I’d suggest it is the only way that software teams can operate at peak efficiency.

No Death, No Taxes

A pair of Stanford freshmen came in next, with an idea for a mobile-phone application called QuadMob, which would allow you to locate your closest friends on a map in real time… “On Friday night, every single week, I go to a party, and somehow you just lose your friends – people roll out to different parties. And I always have to text people, ‘Where are you, which party are you at?’ and I have to do that for, like, ten friends, and that’s just a huge pain point.”

The QuadMob candidates did not get a Thiel Fellowship.

parislemon | Squared Away

This may sound like hyperbole, but I’m pretty sure that in 5 years I’ll be able to say exactly when/where I first used card case.

"I finally cracked it" - Marco.org

The way to revolutionize the TV market is to cut out all of the legacy. No cable companies. No broadcast tuners. No channels. No DVRs. All internet delivery. All on-demand. No commercials.

2007 WWDC Keynote - iPhone

Watch starting at 5:00. The audience reaction to the pins dropping onto the map is remarkable - in 2007 it was revolutionary that you could find nearby businesses on a mobile device.

Marc Andreessen on the Dot-Com 'Bubble'

M.B.A. graduating classes are actually a reliable contrary indicator: if they all want to go into investment banking, there’s going to be a financial crisis. If they want to go into tech, that means a bubble is forming.

The World Is An Internet Startup Now - John Battelle's Searchblog

The Internet no longer belongs to the young tech genius with a great idea and the means to execute it online. Innovation on the Internet now belongs to the world, and that is perhaps the most exciting thing about this space. It’s attracting not just the “next Mark Zuckerberg,” but also thousands of super smart innovators from every field imaginable, each of whom brings extraordinary insights and drive to play. And that’s another reason I love this industry, because, in the end, it’s not a singular business. It now encapsulates the human narrative, writ very large.

Steve Jobs Presents to the Cupertino City Council (6/7/11)

We’ve seen these office parks….and they get pretty boring pretty fast. We’d like to do something better than that.”

This was more mesmerizing than the keynote the day before. Alexia nailed the short commentary - “Best ‘one more thing’ ever.”

My life in Accenture before startups - swombat.com on startups

“At the same time, something really bothered me about my work. It felt pointless.”

Dogs On Tiny Rocking Chairs: Will A Groupon IPO Injure Them?

Jonathan Swift is alive and well in the form of Paul Carr

A VC: Paperless Financing Docs

“I am going to find out if we can use Docracy on our next venture financing to make things more efficient.”

Docracy at the TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon

I really love this idea. Looking forward to seeing Docracy present on Wednesday.

The University Has No Clothes

“When [my daughters are] 18 years old, just hand them $200,000 to go off and have a fun time for four years? Why would I want to do that?”

Y Combinator Is Boot Camp for Startups | Magazine

“In an early sign of the evening’s significance, [PG] is actually wearing long pants.”

Google and the Death of Osama Bin Laden

Right now google suggests “osama dead” and “osama bin laden” after typing a single character.

Larry Page email to the Java language user group, 1996

“I have a web robot which is a Java app”

There are two kinds of people in the world

Sweeping generalization? Yes. Bordering on cliche? Maybe. Inspiring? Damn straight.

In the Plex, by Steven Levy

“The Back-Rub team discovered that by retoggling an incorrectly set switch in the basement, it could get full access to the T3 line.”

Yeah. An “incorrectly” set switch.

In Praise of Quitting Your Job

“States of approval and decisions-by-committee and constant compromises are third-party interruptions of an internal dialog that needs to come to its own conclusions.”

Behold: Image view modes - GitHub

GitHub consistently delivers features that people didn’t know they needed, and subsequently cannot live without

Subject: Airbnb

“He [@fredwilson] is the least suburban-golf-playing VC I know.”

Paul Graham: Why Smart People Have Bad Ideas

From April 2005:

The most common [proposal] was some combination of a blog, a calendar, a dating site, and Friendster. Maybe there is some new killer app to be discovered here, but it seems perverse to go poking around in this fog when there are valuable, unsolved problems lying about in the open for anyone to see.

The Wire: Season Two

“We used to make shit in this country, build shit. Now we just put our hand in the next guy’s pocket.”

Twitter Was Act One | Business | Vanity Fair

“He thinks the city ought to rip out the intrusive, noisy, balky video screens in the backseats of cabs and instead install Apple iPads equipped with a credit-card reader from Square.”

ExxonMobil CEO Really Hurt That College Student Is Talking About Him Right Now | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

“Throughout the course of the day, Tillerson grew increasingly worried as he agonized over what could happen if the undergraduate ever posted her anti-oil views on Facebook, sources reported.”

Square - Pricing

I go for a quick run and come back to see an entire industry disrupted.

WITN: Is Justin Bieber Why Lady Gaga Is Pantsless In Paris? [TCTV]

“I think there’s a degree of revisionism there with the history of Bieber.”

Silicon Valley: an apology - Telegraph

I’d like to apologize for Paul Carr’s hat

Inside the DNA of the Facebook Mafia

You had me at “Engineers Are Gods and Education Isn’t What Made Them That Way”

What do we build now? A page from Blueleaf's Lean Startup Playbook (with examples) - John Prendergast

The idea is to test a feature from concept to implementation beginning with the simplest, lowest effort version that will give us data about user behavior with the feature or concept.

Paul Buchheit: The two paths to success

Paul B’s writing is on par with Paul G.

Mobile Identity by Rebekah Cox - Quora

“Your identity is the product of how you manage your attention and others’ access to that attention.”

Should You Really Be A Startup Entrepreneur?

‘Yeah, I was actively involved on that one. Our advice is what helped them target the right market, hire the right team, build the right products.’ And there are some delusional people who really believe it.

Woke up this morning with a raspy voice and a...

Congrats to @jasonkincaid for an epic AC/DC cover. Your prize: being the guinea pig for me to test my new bookmarklet:

About that slowness on Twitter

Huzzah! I can scroll again

How Facebook Ships Code

Fascinating look at ‘developer-driven culture’, not to mention a complex machine running at full speed and scale.


Good tune from a band called “Fun”. via @bensign

Secrets of BackType's Data Engineers

Very impressive. I’d bet on these guys.

Facebook runs on a very stiff, crude model of what ...

“The social equivalent of liver failure”

The 373-Hit Wonder

“Before each show, Gillis swaddles his laptop in Glad plastic wrap and Scotch tape to protect it from the beer and sweat of the fans onstage with him”

RSS: Not Dead Yet

RSS is merely “pining for the fjords”