Stones Turned This Week

Matt Stoller wrote about the same old new efforts to regulate tech

To understand why it’s so hard to get these laws right, it helps to start with the two basic problems with antitrust law. The first is that regulators and enforcers make key policy decisions, and have done a very bad job at it. A good example is they just decided to stop enforcing the anti-chain store Robinson-Patman Act, which prohibits certain forms of kickbacks, as well as prohibiting giving better prices to bigger customers. At some point in the 1970s and 1980s, the Department of Justice and FTC chose not to enforce the law anymore. And when they stopped doing so, Walmart and other chain stores, and eventually Amazon, exploded in size and power.

I hated history courses in college but, as an ancient man, I now enjoy learning about history. This YouTube video about Aztec hygiene was a fun bit of entertainment.

This Bloomberg article about a payment scammer was way too long and depressing. It seems strange that we idolize some kinds of wealth and criminalize other kinds. Everyone in that Bloomberg story is gross to me.

As part of my futile efforts to save a Thundercloud tree I learned about Gall and a specific pathogen that can cause it

After reading this article in the Guardian I’m still skeptical about fortune telling, even when it’s a group of academics claiming the second sight.

Not a day goes by that I don’t wish I was better with my unix tools. I was trying to get better with Awk so I re-read several of my favorite tutorials

One of my favorite science blogs is cutting off comments, which I already ignored. In general, public comments provide little value because the commenters have no skin in the game and they just want to borrow eyeballs for their egos.

Apparently Substack wants to ride the comics bandwagon and of course their model is gross. I really can’t see how Substack is a good thing to bring into my life even though I keep finding myself on the website. Maybe some day we will all look back and think about how good Medium was. That’s dark.

I never thought an article about caramelized onions would be so entertaining.

There is no other word for it. Onions do not caramelize in five or 10 minutes. They never have, they never will—yet recipe writers have never stopped pretending that they will. I went on Twitter and said so, rudely, using CAPS LOCK. A chorus of frustrated cooks responded in kind (“That’s on some bullshit. You want caramelized onions? Stir for 45 minutes”).

There was a follow up to the NewsBlur Docker fiasco. Sometimes I read about problems and I am glad that they are not mine.

This article at Death and Gravity made me realize that I’ve been missing a great, and free, learning source: Python. Because of this I read the PEP summary for the statistics library. The rationale and plan is written concisely and is easily understood. It’s a great class in clear explanations of technical work.

I learned why we probably can’t be friends if I just want to sell you stuff.

I found out that Cory Doctrow has a blog that is really hard to read. I guess these are the blog designs we deserve in the age of Twitter.

Chaos management actually seems like a great idea. Back in a previous life I was the kook that insisted on all notes being accessible to the group so that we could swap in different problem solvers.

Panic ensued on the day that THE backend developer of one of the teams won the Lucky Lotto THE week of tight deadlines and unavoidable client promises. The developer (and his product manager) asked to reroll the Lucky Lotto so that he could have a “proper Lucky Lotto” in a quieter week and for another developer to enjoy it this week.

Edward Snowden published a lengthy article that sort of explains why America is stuck in a conspiracy driven death spiral. It was depressing.

I read a bunch of stuff that listed all of the ways that Donald Rumsfeld is a terrible person. I won’t link to any of them because we should all stop talking about Donald Rumsfeld. We had 88 years to document his terrible life.

On the whole, I don’t like Medium articles. I made an allowance for this interesting article by “EJ”: Suppose I Wanted to Kill a Lot of Pilots.

Well, life is complex and the choices that we should make today to influence who we are tomorrow are not always readily apparent. By thinking in reverse you might think more critically about your complex, seemingly unanswerable problems.

Medium tells me I only have 2 more “free” articles available to read this month. I’m not sure if that’s a threat or a promise.

I liked “Parse, don’t validate” by Alexis King. A lot of it is beyond what I need day to day (or even understand), but I throw around the word “parse” a lot without really considering what it means.

Consider: what is a parser? Really, a parser is just a function that consumes less-structured input and produces more-structured output. By its very nature, a parser is a partial function—some values in the domain do not correspond to any value in the range—so all parsers must have some notion of failure. Often, the input to a parser is text, but this is by no means a requirement, and parseNonEmpty is a perfectly cromulent parser: it parses lists into non-empty lists, signaling failure by terminating the program with an error message.

Did you see the thing about Github’s Copilot? It seems like a raw deal to have to pay for something that I’m also forced to contribute to. It’s the future though. I should probably get over it and understand how well it works. I think this sort of developer tool will be standard within a few years and the market is already heating up.

There were way too many words written this week about remote work. Most of them were written by people that are self employed or that are middle managers. I liked this one from “Cate”.

Embracing async means moving to writing as much as possible, especially things like status updates and announcements. Those do not need to be real time. Embrace written communication outside your chat app.