Links - December 07, 2016

  • What do cows want?
    Jayson Lusk

    Measuring a farm animal’s utility is an interesting exercise. Choice is not only a human problem.

  • This Is What Happens When Millions Of People Suddenly Get The Internet
    Sheera Frenkel - BuzzFeed News

    A fascinating story about figurative walls coming down. It made me think a lot about the inadequacy of the label “third world.” Coming from Costa Rica, which has the highest internet access rate in Latin America, the experiences told in this story are shocking. Widespread definitions and categorizations sometimes don’t make sense.

  • Even Trump Is a Keynesian
    Noah Smith - Bloomberg View

    Tax cuts, and infrastructure spending are good ideas, but will he actually put them in motion?

  • The hardest problem in computer science
    Eevee (Lexy Munroe) - fuzzy notepad

    I’d wager that this is the hardest problem in all human endeavors, and not just in CS. Communication is hard, and while language helps us share our ideas, it is nearly impossible to be sure that the message we wanted to get across was properly conveyed.

  • I, Pencil
    Leonard E. Read - Library of Economics and Liberty

    The fact that anything works is crazy. Making pencils is nearly impossible, and yet, there is probably a store within a couple of blocks from you where you can get one, along with N other more complex items.

  • Swift and the Legacy of Functional Programming
    Rob Napier -

    While I am not a swift-er yet (is that a thing?) I am slowly picking up functional programming, and I find the ideas in this talk quite valuable.

  • Prop 13, or, California's Progressive Blindspot Illuminated
    Diego Aguilar-Canabal - Bay Area Metropolitan Observer

    Shared without comment.

  • Knowledge Builds Technology and Technology Builds Knowledge
    a16z Podcast

    In this interview wit Joel Mokyr, Sonal Chokshi and the a16z team bring historical perspective into today’s economic environment. Building new things is easier when you have an understanding of the past. The episode reminded me of why I should have taken Mokyr’s class at NU, instead of signing up for an awful data structures course.

  • The History Of Light
    Planet Money

    Right up there with “I, Pencil” and the story of economic complexity, we have the story of economic growth. Consider this a case study.

Links - November 20, 2016

I am actively trying to de-emphasize content about Trump, and the election, but it is tough. Expect to find traces and parallels to these themes for the next few months.

  • A Bad Carver
    Sarah Perry - Ribbonfarm

    A dose of historical perspective for these times of economic anxiety and anomie. Unbundling and specialization leads to recondensation and reformation. In cycles, humanity tends towards complexity.

  • A Country Is Not A Company (1996)
    Paul Krugman - Harvard Business Review

    This is not about Trump. This is about (macro)economics, business, and the mind-bending realization that they are inherently different. Macro versus micro, closed systems vs. open systems, zero-sum games vs. growing pies. Out of all my classes at Northwestern, International Finance was probably the most unexpectedly enlightening. This is it, in a nutshell.

  • I’m a Latino in Tech, and I Think the ‘Diversity’ Discussion Is Broken
    Eric M. Ruiz - Observer

    A piece that echoes a lot of my own thouhgts on identity, well-summarized by quoting Nassim Taleb’s Black Swan: “…a philosopher from Peru resembles a philosopher from Scotland more than a janitor from Peru.”

  • Fake News
    Ben Thompson - Stratechery

    Facebook is a scapegoat among the aggregators. Hacker News could be just as guilty of this same issue, but they don’t operate at scale, and are not frequented by Average Joe. People are lazy, including me, and we will read whatever confirms what we already think. Some of us just do a bigger effort than others to keep our biases at bay.

  • Who Will Command The Robot Armies?
    Maciej Cegłowski - Idle Words

    In classic Pinboard style, Cegłowski starts up high with evil armies, police, and governments, but shows how in the end individuals - in this case, technical individuals - are on the hook. Facebook, Amazon, Google, and yes, Apple, all are comprised of individuals. What do we do to make sure that our decisions remain moral?

  • You Are Still Crying Wolf
    Scott Alexander - Slate Star Codex

    The media is a shit-show. Yesterday I watched Amanda Knox (which I definitely don’t recommend), and the whole time I kept thinking of this article. Unfounded phrases get repeated over and over for views and clicks, making monsters and presidents out of thin air. Trump is bad, but I trust that things will not change that much in the short term.

  • Wind Waker Graphics Analysis
    Nathan Gorodn - Medium

    Reading about graphics and procedural generation has become a new hobby for me.

  • Language, Meaning and Machines
    agibs010 - Goldsmiths, University of London

    Honestly, I don’t remember how I found this article. I assume Twitter. Finding who to give credit for it was impossibly hard. In any case, while the whole thing was interesting, the most valuable piece was learning about Pierre Jaquet Droz and his 18th century robots.

  • A Trunk Full of Truffles
    Planet Money

    A fun look at an extremely small market, dealing only in high luxury fungi.

  • The Backlash Has Arrived

    Aggregation Theory applied to Trump.

Trumped in SF

Trumped in SF

It has been a crazy few months. Yesterday and today were rough days. Continue reading...

Día De Los Muertos

Día De Los Muertos

Living in San Francisco means having a wealth of cultural events to enjoy. Due to the large Latin population, the Día De Los Muertos celebration in The Mission was one I didn’t want to miss. Since most people in Costa Rica don’t celebrate the holiday, the traditions were unfamiliar to me, and it was surprising to see how openly people honor their loved ones.

I went with the intention to stay for ten minutes, and ended up walking around for almost two hours. More...

Links - November 02, 2016

  • Uncertainty Wednesday: Limits on Explanations (Turing and Gödel)
    Albert Wenger - Continuations

    Whether we like it or not, Turing and Gödel proved that there is irreducible uncertainty in the world, and when we build models and explanations, we need to keep that in mind.

  • What else are we getting wrong?
    Dan Ghica

    I agree with Ghica. We need research into whether strong, static type systems help or hurt. When do we pick which? The issue is that any empirical study would have to control for training, use case, and many other variables. The end result would be to artificially recreate industry, which is basically impossible.

  • I don't understand Python's Asyncio
    Armin Ronacher

    Me either.

  • Want More Startups? Build a Better Safety Net
    Noah Smith - Bloomberg View

    The argument is easy, make it cheaper to take risks, and more people will take risks. Incentives.

  • An Email History of the 2001 iPod Launch
    Steven Levy - Backchannel

    15 years went by quickly. I remember my first iPod, back in 2004. Hearing a bit of what the future looked like back then is worthwhile.

  • The iPad: it’s for everyone else (2010)
    Ben Thompson - Stratechery

    History definitely rhymes! “…here’s the deal. Most people aren’t power users” is exactly what I’ve been thinking the past 5 days after the Mac release event. I am convinced that this generation of MBPs will sell well. Even if I am not buying one, the majority will.

  • Paint Drip People
    Kent Beck

    Don’t be a generalist, and don’t be T-shaped. Be a paint drip.

  • And Then They Came for Me...
    Mark Suster - Both Sides of The Table

    Not much needs to be said about this, but Mark Suster makes great arguments about why backing Trump is completely wrong.

  • Behind the Mask: Scenes From Nicaragua's Sandinista Revolution
    James Estrin - The New York Times

    Growing up in Costa Rica, I somewhat lived with the after-effects of the revolution. A large portion of the population in Costa Rica is from Nicaragua (somewhere between 5%-10%, according to Wikipedia) and while I have heard some stories, and learned a bit about this in school, I feel like I should make an effort and learn the history of my own “other”.

  • So Where Are We on the ‘S-curve’ for PC Devices
    a16z (podcast)

    The big question about technology today is who will be the leader for the next platform. As usual, great insights from the Andreessen Horowitz hallway.

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