Why I gave up on giving up Twitter June 29, 2017
As some of you might have noticed, my Twitter account has been mostly dormant for the last month or two. This was an experiment; an attempt to regain some of my dead time and be as productive as I used to be. I had done something similar once before - in 2013, I deleted the Facebook app from my phone and regained hours of my life. It’s been four years and I have not looked back. I figured Twitter could not be too different. Continue reading...
Pride '17 June 28, 2017
This year, my Pride weekend was very similar to last year’s. Saturday at Dolores, Sunday at the Civic Center Plaza. However, it was colder, and people seemed to be in a different mood. It was much tamer, and there were fewer naked weirdos, but there were other weirdos, like me, asking strangers for their portraits.
Sometimes, I am sad that these people will never see the photos I took of them. More...
Back in Chicago June 16, 2017
There are always good reasons to keep going back to Chicago. This time, it was for Hannah’s cousin’s wedding. More...
Another Great (Podcast) Link Dump - June 2017 June 15, 2017
- The Quiet Master of Cryptocurrency — Nick Szabo Tim Ferriss Podcast
I generally can’t stand Tim Ferriss, but this is a good episode. Nick’s blog is great (if you haven’t read him, start here).
- Extra: Henrietta Lacks Radiolab
At Northwestern, the “One Book” program tries to build community by sending incoming students a copy of a book before they arrive on campus. My year, it was The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. This episode gives an overview of her story, and by interviewing her family members, and some of the scientists involved in the research that her case spawned. To be honest, I started the book that summer, but never finished it. I’ll get to it some day.
- Funky Hand Jive Radiolab
Microbiomes are interesting. It’s odd to think that so much of our life is defined by bacteria.
- Squatters of the Lower East Side 99% Invisible
Planning urban development is hard, and sometimes, the unplanned spontaneous decisions of many lead us to interesting places that central planning couldn’t reach.
- Reversing the Grid 99% Invisible
I had never thought about the political implications about generating electricity at home. This episode discusses “net-metering,” or the billing mechanism that allows someone with PV panels on their roof to get credit for generating more electricity than they consume. How did it come about? Some guy plugged his PV panels into his meter, and it started going backwards!
- Speed Dating For Economists Planet Money
This makes the idea of getting an economics PhD even less appealing than it already was. The fact that even the people who arguably know the most about how markets function can’t build a better matching market.
- Spreadsheets! Planet Money
It’s ridiculous to think that spreadsheets were so revolutionary only a few years ago.
- Slot Flaw Scofflaws Planet Money
Is it illegal to study how a system works, to the point that you understand it so well that you can exploit it? No, that’s the whole point of open source software. Patch the issue, give the gray hat his bounty, and move on.
- Passports 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy
This series of podcasts by Tim Harford has given us strong history lessons, telling us why things are the way they are. This specific episode though, focuses more on asking whether any of it makes sense “From a certain angle, it is odd. Many countries take pride in banning employers from discriminating against among workers based on characteristics we can’t change: whether we’re male or female, young or old, gay or straight, black or white. […] But mostly our passport depends on the identity of our parents and location of our birth. And nobody chooses those.” Somehow, this seems ok in our modern mind set - it is all a game of Us & Them.
- What Kind of Idiot Gets Phished? Reply All
Lately I have been more paranoid than usual about this, and I am considering changing how I handle my password management all together, and even buying a YubiKey for personal use. This episode just backs that feeling even more.
- Blockchain Beauty Contest Exponent
If you think about it hard enough, everything is made up. Countries, money, companies, the constitution, everything! And, blockchains, too…
Another Great Link Dump - June 2017 June 15, 2017
Ha. And here I was thinking I’d post links more often… My stats say that while I used to read roughly 10-12 articles a day, these days I am barely hitting 5. My yearly rolling average peaked in mid-2016.
To be honest, I am not sure what to make of it.
This round-up is full of Apple stuff, so not too many comments on my end, but sharing some interesting perspectives. There’s also a ton on cryptocurrencies, because that’s the latest craze in tech, and I have also been following along.
- A Brief History of the UUID Rick Branson - Segment Blog
Identity online is hard - and I don’t mean tying your persona to social media, but actually tagging bits and bytes with other bits and bytes to identify them across machines. The self-incrementing column of integers is a mainstay of traditional databases, but what happens when scaling across machines becomes necessary? Here’s some history of how that’s been solved across the years.
- Apple Isn't a Tech Company Neil Cybart - Above Avalon
- A Year of Google Maps & Apple Maps Justin O'Beirne
- Actually good Silicon Valley critiques? Noah Smith - Noahpinion
While Noah lives in San Francisco, he’s not really a Silicon Valley insider, so seeing his reaction to Scott Alexander’s Reality Check was interesting. His take? “All in all, Silicon Valley represents one of the least objectionable, most rightfully respected institutions in America today.”
- Tulips, Myths, and Cryptocurrencies Ben Thompson - Stratechery
In a strange melding of worlds, Ben moves away from the usual tech talk and goes deep into the history of financial manias. Using Yuval Harari’s notion of shared myths, this post makes a clear difference between bubbles of irrationality, and bubbles of timing. I firmly believe that crypto is one of the latter.
- Bringing back the Somali shilling JP Koning - Moneyness
And if you really thought fiat is valuable, think again.
- Blockchains are the new Linux, not the new internet Jon Evans - TechCrunch
Evans with the counter-narrative: “It’s easy to envision how and why an interwoven mesh of dozens of decentralized blockchains could slowly, over a period of years and years, become a similar category of crucial infrastructure […] while ordinary people remain essentially blissfully unaware of their existence.” Ah, and nice Fred Wilson burn. I also thought the Rare Pepe story was nuts.
- The consequences of allowing a cryptocurrency takeover, or trying to head one off Tony Yates - FT Alphaville (Paywall)
What are the implications of crypto for central banking? The written-in-stone aspect of the blockchain makes monetary policy way more credible, which is a good thing, but at the same time crypto knows no borders, making adjustments by one group of users spill over to others quite easily. A more in depth look here.
- Chicago taxi industry sliding towards collapse Aamer Madhani - USA Today
The writing has been on the wall for a while - is not a surprise - but the numbers are staggering: “42% of Chicago’s taxi fleet was not operating in the month of March […] The average monthly income per active medallion has dipped from $5,276 in January 2014 to $3,206 […] medallions hit a median sales peak of $357,000 in late 2013, just before Uber arrived on the scene in Chicago. In April, one medallion sold for just $35,000.”
- Buyer Beware Fred Wilson - AVC
Initial coin offerings (ICOs) are all the rage these days. Some people will get screwed in this process, and I am staying away from buying any ERC20 tokens for a good chunk of time.
- Options vs. cash Dan Luu
A couple of years ago, right after my college graduation, I was very close to going the startup route, but ended up joining Apple instead. With hindsight, I can tell that financially the decision is a no-brainer: Cash is cash.
- Is the United States Becoming Less of an Optimal Currency Area? David Beckworth - Macro Musings
Currency areas, and defining regional economies is one of my long-time favorite topics. There is a trend in the US towards lower labor mobility, which has deep implications for the economy. Historically, if an economic shock hit a state like Oklahoma, its citizens would respond by migrating to California, where things were better. This is no longer the case. As this trend continues, the business cycles of different zones in the country may start to diverge, and at that point the monetary policy set by the Fed might stop making sense.
- Stop Pretending You’re Not Rich Richard V. Reeves - The New York Times
A note on inequality, since that’s another recurring theme here.
- When Pixels Collide sudoscript
If you haven’t heard about Reddit’s April’s Fools experiment from earlier this year, you need to read this. Emergent behavior is awesome.
- Alpha (A translation of Genesis 1) Douglas Summer Stay - Llamas And My Stegosaurus
We’re training our computers to do some really strange things. This one translated Genesis 1 to only use words that start with the letter “A.”