Links - January 31, 2017
The Trump Administration has been giving me lots of reasons to read on topics that I otherwise would not read about. I want to spend less time on social media trying to parse truth and facts out of the endless stream of articles, but it feels like I have to.
- Every day, there’s an all new you Robert Sapolsky - SavannahNow
The future exists, and we have a lot ahead of us. Let’s remember that.
- Standards Persist Drew Bell - Track Changes
A story of weather reports, demonstrating path dependence1000. “Choices we agree on now are going to stick around, and get baked into the foundational brick of our biggest, most critical systems. Be careful what you toss in there!”
- Continental Rift Joshua Kucera - Roads & Kingdoms
Borders, names, in-groups and out-groups, are all arbitrary, and more fluid than we generally think. Herodotus spoke of the divide between Europe, Asia, and Africa 500 years ago: “I cannot conceive why three names [Asia, Europe, and Africa] should ever have been given to a tract which is in reality one.”
- Time to Take a Stand Sam Altman
- Rules for a constitutional crisis Lawrence Lessig - Medium
The Consitution, Senate, Congress, are all institutions, and institutions are just people. We don’t live in a world of self-enforcing mechanics and contracts. We live in a world where rules and expectations put in place by people are enforced by people.
- How Donald Trump Could Build an Autocracy in the U.S. David Frum - The Atlantic
We’ve seen this before around the world. Let’s use those lessons.
- How To Get Your Green Card In America Sarah Matthews - BuzzFeed News
This was originally published a full year before the election. Coming here legally is not an easy process. Even though Oman and Costa Rica are so different, I see myself, and echoes of my experience in the US in a lot of these stories.
- I'm Loyal to Nothing Except the Dream Jeff Atwood - Coding Horror
Not Today January 30, 2017
I was in a bad mood. My flight to SFO had been delayed significantly, and five hours in, our pilot apologized: “Due to strong winds we’ll have to stop in LAX to refuel.” As soon as we landed, I turned off airplane mode and opened Twitter to pass the time while I waited to take off again. One thing was quickly made clear: due to an Executive Order from the White House, green card and visa holders are being detained in airports around the U.S. Fuck. Continue reading...
Surprise, you're in Costa Rica now! January 23, 2017
I had to arrange a last minute trip home to renew my visa in order to go to a different trip later this year. Now I am stuck here for a few days. Hopefully I won’t have enough time to do another set of Costa Rica photos, but who knows. More...
Wolfram's automata, a simple implementation with Python January 23, 2017
Complexity science is one of my favorite topics, ever. Wolfram’s elementary cellular automata are a great way to understand it, and writing code to generate them is very simple. Continue reading...
Links - January 22, 2017
The new year has received me with a lot of reading, but of the dead tree variety. I’m halfway with books #3 and #4 of the year by now. I guess an unexpected trip, and an even more unexpected stay in Costa Rica helped too.
- Metaphors We Compute By Alvaro Videla
Language matters. Names shape how we think. This is as important in computer science as in any other field. We talk about queues and stacks and bugs and patches, not because we like jargon, but because metaphors are the only way we can get complex ideas across quickly. Communication is the hardest thing about software engineering, and pretty much any human endeavor. Picking the right metaphors can ease our job significantly, and shed light on how others have solved the same problems in the past.
- San Francisco Asks: Where Have All the Children Gone? Thomas Fuller - The New York Times
There are a slew of insane facts in this piece. For example, San Francisco has the lowest percentage of children of any of the largest 100 cities in the US. The rate for San Francisco is 13%, for New York is 21%, and for Chicago, 23%, which is also the overall average across the United States. The number of dogs is roughly the same as the number of kids: 120k. There is one additional student enrolled in the public school system for every 100 apartments sold in the city. The public school system has shrunk by 40% since 1970. More than 10 private schools have opened in San Francisco since 2009. This city really makes no sense.
- The Department of Homeland Security International Entrepreneur Rule Fred Wilson - AVC
Very excited for this. Hoping to take advantage of it at some point in the future.
- Dismissing Python Garbage Collection at Instagram Chenyang Wu and Min Ni - Instagram Engineering Blog
I’ve never even thought that disabling garbage collection could be a sensible option. It’s always fun to see how people can take a deep-dive into the inner workings of their toolchain and come out with this kind of performance boost. Questioning basic assumptions can be a good idea.
- Some Colleges Have More Students From the Top 1 Percent Than the Bottom 60. Find Yours. The Upshot - The New York Times
Another great data visualization project out of the NYT’s “analytical journalism” desk, this time about the relationship between education and economic mobility. Finding your school is really easy. Here’s Northwestern, for example. There are no surprises: the numbers are stark, as expected.
- Looking for commonality among HTTP request APIs Brett Cannon - Tall, Snarky Canadian
When Brett started posting a bunch of polls on how people use various Python libraries for HTTP requests, I knew he was up to something good.
- The Sound of Silence Jessica Livingston
This post has been making rounds on tech twitter, and several of the newsletters I follow shared it, too. I wholeheartedly disagree with Jessica here, which is exactly why I wanted to share this. I think Anil Dash’s response summarizes my thoughts well.