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Tom MacWright

tom@macwright.org

Recently

Definitely no metaphor here

Reading

  • 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism - a quick read that I’ve nonetheless taken weeks to slowly get through. As deeply critical Amazon reviews indicate, it isn’t completely neutral, but it does have really fascinating observations about economic principles that have been really helpful for my understanding. And, thankfully, it’s from 2012, so it can bring me out of the accursed present for brief moments.
  • Paul Graham’s The Submarine is spot-on and honestly depicts the interactions of PR firms and startups. It is best read in conjunction with The Outlines’s Valley of the Dolts, about the fealty of media to startup hype. And then you may drift to another article in The Outline which reads ever so vaguely like an advertisement, and briefly mentions VC funding without noting that one of those funders was In-Q-Tel, the CIA-backed, funder.
  • On Numbers & Experiences by Rebekah Cox is another perfect description of a larger phenomenon in tech. I love continuing to read Arty Papers, remembering that I also read it back in 2008 or something, when she was working on sidejobtrack.com.
  • Michal Migurski is researching redistricting, and wrote a great overview of the subtle problem.
  • I’m still loving Zach Holman’s writing, like this one, ‘Bring in the Goddamn Adults Already’
  • Against Legislating the Nonobvious, about GitHub’s new Terms of Service, is a good legal-minded read about a slightly new policy. I’m thoroughly disappointed by the state of IP law, and its lack of progress. Simple questions like ‘can package metadata count as sufficient notice of a license’ aren’t concretely answered and probably never will be, at this pace.
  • I learned a lot from designing better tables and practical typography’s guide to table design. It’s neat to see one more situation besides programming in which monospaced fonts are appropriate.
  • The Rise of Worse is Better is a neat description of the LISP vs C design philosophies, and satisfyingly names the winning camp the ‘New Jersey’ approach, which as a proud New Jerseyan I enjoy.
  • Matt Might is switching to medicine. I’m competitive by nature - always trying to get to some new level of knowledge or competence. But there are a few people who, despite a great deal of humility, scare me - Matt is one of them, Jeff Dean is certainly another. Without alluding to the toxic 10x programmer myth, there is still something genuinely unnerving about people who’ve been part of so many consecutive home-runs, something that makes it hard to imagine the steps from ‘here’ to ‘there’.
  • Everything You Know About Mass Incarceration Is Wrong was indeed an eye-opener: there’s lots of informed-seeming media that it contradicts, like Adam Ruins everything’s take on private prisons and lots of writing against the drug war.
  • I learned this month:
    • Academy Awards and Oscars are the same thing
    • Cilantro and Coriander are the same thing
    • Array.reduce has weird behavior if you omit the initial value

Listening

Like last month, just one song:

Things could be different but they’re not

I’ve been listening to this 12+ minute long song by Of Montreal constantly. It’s perfect. It’s a lot like Deerhunter’s Monomania, which I’ve also been listening to a lot: a long, focused, trance-like repetition. Of Montreal’s jam has even less variation than Deerhunter’s with roughly one chord running the whole way through, but dramatic vocal shifts forming the song structure, kind of like early Bill Callahan songs, but angrier.

March 2, 2017   @tmcw