Weekly roundup

Here are my favorite links from the week:

  1. A long but fascinating read into our 16th President’s mental state and how it influenced his administration: Lincoln’s Great Depression
  2. Why don’t trees touch each other more?
  3. Twitter thread about One woman’s grad school #metoo moment
  4. I think about this a lot: Everyone Has An Opinion About Government But Many Citizens Would Flunk Civics
  5. Yikes. TL;DR: Publishing malicious packages and getting developers to adopt them by issuing rogue PRs: I’m harvesting credit card numbers and passwords from your site. Here’s how.
  6. Software engineering as industrial design: Consider the bicycle
  7. A very cool, interactive post about special relativity: Inside Einstein’s head: an explorable explanation of relativistic spacetime
  8. Doomsday Prep for the Super-rich
  9. Astronomy picture of the day: Clouds of Andromeda
  10. One person’s opinion on Why the rewards for ambitious problem solving are about to get bigger
  11. A weekly digest from the winter keeper at Yellowstone National Park: A Life in Wonderland
  12. One person’s reflection on how hiking the Appalachian Trail changed her life
  13. Ever wonder How emoji are born?
  14. The Oatmeal: Multiplicative Idiocy. I have been in these meetings.
  15. I believe the highest leverage problem to solve in K-12 education today is fixing teacher tenure & comp. Here’s a blurb about how teacher collective bargaining harms student outcomes.
  16. YC published a decent overview for new developers on Building for the blockchain
  17. A neat writeup of the parallels and differences between today’s opioid addiction and the 19th century’s
  18. The original notes on Albert Hofman’s discovery of LSD
  19. After reading Your smartphone is making you stupid, antisocial, and unhealthy. So why can’t you put it down?, I’m considering how to even further reduce my usage.
  20. Red Dawn in Lapland is a good reminder of the history of Russia’s military activity (and WWII history)
  21. Is President Trump Above the Law? (FiveThirtyEight)
  22. An excellent David Brooks opinion piece: The Decline of Anti-Trumpism
  23. Tesla Model 3: The First Serious Review
  24. An early investor in FB wrote How to Fix Facebook — Before It Fixes Us and while I disagree with much of it (FB will never relinquish control of their user data!) it was an interesting read
  25. Excellent graphic essay about the relationship between WW2 and 9/11
  26. A great post on old english writing: Why do we continue to torture ESL students with bizarrities like the sentence “a rough coughing thoughtful ploughman from Scarborough bought tough dough in Slough”?
  27. The stages one woman went through when returning from a long-term backpacking trip
  28. FiveThirtyEight reports that It’s probably not possible to end Gerrymandering

Have a great weekend!

Legends of the Ancient Web

Highly recommended reading: http://idlewords.com/talks/ancient_web.htm

History and technology come and go in cycles. It’s notoriously difficult to figure out where in the cycle of history you are, or when the next technology trends will begin or end.

Much of what we read lately has to do with technology’s power to impact our political lives, our health, what we read and perceive. And the bad always comes with the good. I thoroughly enjoy radio as an example of a time in history that feels as tumultuous as our own and as a technology instrument that played a key role in those times.

Privacy matters. Free speech matters. As technologists, we do have an ethical responsibility to understand the consequences of our decisions.


Evidence-based journalism

I’ve been reading Wikitribune every day since they launched this summer, and I love it. From their About Page:

WikiTribune is a news platform that brings journalists and a community of volunteers together. We want to make sure that you read fact-based articles that have a real impact in both local and global events. And that stories can be easily verified and improved.

If you want to know more, check out the video on that page.

I’m becoming more and more skeptical that mainstream news media is good for the citizenry of this country (especially 24-hour cable news networks). I don’t trust them to check their facts. I don’t trust their judgement on what content they’re feeding me.

I reflect on this 1961 JFK quote often:

Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed — and no republic can survive. … And that is why our press was protected by the First Amendment — the only business in America specifically protected by the Constitution — not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and the sentimental, not to simply “give the public what it wants” — but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold, educate and sometimes even anger public opinion. This means greater coverage and analysis of international news — for it is no longer far away and foreign but close at hand and local. It means greater attention to improved understanding of the news as well as improved transmission. And it means, finally, that government at all levels, must meet its obligation to provide you with the fullest possible information outside the narrowest limits of national security. … And so it is to the printing press — to the recorder of man’s deeds, the keeper of his conscience, the courier of his news — that we look for strength and assistance, confident that with your help man will be what he was born to be: free and independent.