Essays that I’m glad I read

Published by marco on in Fun

I read through The web’s funniest stories by Tim Carmody (Kottke) the other day. My favorites from that list are:

Quick reads

So You’ve Decided To Drink More Water by Mallory Ortburg (The Hairpin)

A nicely written fantasy about starting a new diet/lifestyle.

“[…] Grown men sink to their knees as you pass, their faces crumpling into shameless sobs. Mothers lift their children up to you in mute and expectant appeal. You bless them all. […]”
TOTO’S “AFRICA” BY ERNEST HEMINGWAY by Anthony Sams (McSweeney's)
You’re welcome in advance for putting this into your head for the rest... [More]

3 days Ago

Correspondence on Trump/Obama with a friend

Published by marco on in Public Policy & Politics

I received a response to some recent articles from a friend. He reads English fluently, but is much more comfortable writing in Italian, while my strengths are reversed. We agreed long ago to communicate bilingually to maximize expressiveness.

In a recent mail, he referenced two of my articles Once more unto the breach and Avoiding Distraction.

His comments are quoted below—I have translated them from the Italian—followed by my responses.

“You exalt the initiative of Trump versus the... [More]”

6 days Ago

Public Service Announcement: Redacted Tonight

Published by marco on in Public Policy & Politics

I’ve written several times about Redacted Tonight this year already, but I’m damned if that show doesn’t keep topping itself. The shows from the last two weeks have again been well-worth watching, providing unvarnished international news.

Yesterday’s show was about the complicity of mainstream media in the glorification of U.S. violence around the world. Lee shows examples from CNN, MSNBC and FOX where the reporting on America’s weapons of mass destruction is pornographic. A correspondent... [More]

1 week Ago

The French Presidential Elections of 2017

Published by marco on in Public Policy & Politics

I’ve been trying to get a grasp on the candidates before the election tomorrow. The following article comprises those notes and impressions. Maybe it will help someone else, but be aware that my primary sources are not French (though I did read through a few Wikipedia pages on candidates in French). As always, grain of salt, YMMV etc. etc.

I’ve read more widely, but the citations below come from three articles, Big Stakes in the French Presidential Election: Governance Versus the People by Diana Johnstone (CounterPunch) and The... [More] by Diana Johnstone (CounterPunch)

2 weeks Ago

The more you know, the more you know you don’t know

Published by marco on in Quotes

“Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.”
Voltaire on 1770

3 weeks Ago

Once more unto the breach

Published by marco on in Public Policy & Politics

We have more information then ever, but know less. The world is almost bereft of journalists. Almost every single person who you think is a journalist is instead a media personality. They are readers, not thinkers, not analysts. They know almost no history. What they do know is wrong, or viewed through such a strong partisan lens as to make no difference.

Most of what you read in articles is actually partially transcribed press releases. Or partisan think pieces based on them. There is little... [More]

1 month Ago

Herding Sheep

Published by marco on in Quotes

“The moment we no longer have a free press, anything can happen.

“What makes it possible for a totalitarian or any other dictatorship to rule is that people are not informed; how can you have an opinion if you are not informed?

“If everybody always lies to you, the consequence is not that you believe the lies, but rather that nobody believes anything any longer. This is because lies, by their very nature, have to be changed, and a lying government has constantly to rewrite its own history.

“On... [More]”

Costs nothing? Worth nothing.

Published by marco on in Quotes

“That which can be presented without evidence, can be dismissed without consideration.[1]

[1] Known informally as Hitchens’s razor (Wikipedia), it is actually an English translation of the Latin proverb “Quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur” (“what is freely asserted is freely dismissed”), which was commonly used in the 19th century.

Fakes of fakes

Published by marco on in Quotes

“All of the news is fake when corporate media connive with the powerful to produce their desired ends.”

A realization

Published by marco on in Quotes

“It was miraculous. It was almost no trick at all, he saw, to turn vice into virtue and slander into truth, impotence into abstinence, arrogance into humility, plunder into philanthropy, thievery into honor, blasphemy into wisdom, brutality into patriotism, and sadism into justice. Anybody could do it; it required no brains at all. It merely required no character.”
The Chaplain in Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

The Omphaloskepsis of the Faux-left

Published by marco on in Public Policy & Politics

Once you become aware of the self-indulgence of first-world media like the New York Times, you can see it everywhere. Their reporting, such as it is, is almost irony-free. It’s fake, a balsam designed to keep you calm and happy in your comfortable first-world cocoon.

Empathizing with the Elite

This is literally the worst thing to happen to anyone, ever.

For example, the article You May Want to Marry My Husband by Amy Krouse Rosenthal (New York Times) is about as manipulative as they come—and privileged. The author writes about... [More]

Rigged: How Globalization and the Rule...r by Dean Baker (2016) (read in 2017)

Published by marco on in Books & Movies

Disclaimer: these are notes I took while reading this book. They include citations I found interesting or enlightening or particularly well-written. In some cases, I’ve pointed out which of these applies to which citation; in others, I have not. Any benefit you gain from reading these notes is purely incidental to the purpose they serve of reminding me what I once read. Please see Wikipedia for a summary if I’ve failed to provide one sufficient for your purposes. If my notes serve to trigger an... [More]

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (2012/en-2014) (read in 2017)

Published by marco on in Books & Movies

Disclaimer: these are notes I took while reading this book. They include citations I found interesting or enlightening or particularly well-written. In some cases, I’ve pointed out which of these applies to which citation; in others, I have not. Any benefit you gain from reading these notes is purely incidental to the purpose they serve of reminding me what I once read. Please see Wikipedia for a summary if I’ve failed to provide one sufficient for your purposes. If my notes serve to trigger an... [More]

The “great ideas” hype machine

Published by marco on in Philosophy

I recently read the following citation in the review Yuval Noah Harari: ‘Homo sapiens as we know them will disappear in a century or so’ by Andrew Anthony (The Guardian):

“It’s one of those books that can’t help but make you feel smarter for having read it. Barack Obama and Bill Gates have undergone that experience, as have many others in the Davos crowd and Silicon Valley. The irony, perhaps, is that one of the book’s warnings is that we are in danger of becoming an elite-dominated global society.”

Ugh. This in no way makes... [More]

Capsule Movie Reviews Vol.2017.4

Published by marco on in Books & Movies

These are my notes to remember what I watched and kinda what I thought about it. I’ve recently transferred my reviews to IMDb and made the list of almost 1200 ratings publicly available. I’ve included the individual ratings with my notes for each movie. These ratings are not absolutely comparable to each other—I rate the film on how well it suited me for the genre and my mood. YMMV. Also, I make no attempt to avoid spoilers.

The Two Faces of January (2014) — 8/10
This is a slow-burning... [More]

2 months Ago

Logan: A man comes around

Published by marco on in Books & Movies

Logan is, from start to finish, a fantastic movie. It is enriched by knowing more of the back-story. It is the finale the series deserves, the denouement Wolverine has earned. The story is minimalist, in the best tradition of science fiction and cinematic storytelling, filling in only little details, letting incidental comments tell whole swaths of history.

On the surface, it’s at least partially an action movie. That is what many will see, to the exclusion of the film that I saw. Those... [More]

Avoiding distraction, part I

Published by marco on in Public Policy & Politics

Since the last election, America has become obsessed with synonyms for propaganda—fake news, alternative news—a focus that is, ironically, propaganda. Anything that doesn’t fit a particular worldview is fake news. The sources that trumpet the most about this are the ones I would trust the least: when did CNN or the CIA become purveyors of truth? This newly popular obsession is a distraction.

 Ted Rall 'Protesters Against Trump'After a week of tweets and executive orders, we see that Trump thinks he really did mean a bunch of... [More]

Bernie Sanders on the EPA, military and the ACA

Published by marco on in Public Policy & Politics

In 12 minute, Bernie provides some very good context and puts some budget numbers in perspective. He takes Trump to task about how he lies about supporting the environment and what his budget increase for the military could pay for.

Bernie Sanders' […] Response To Trump's Speech To Congress (YouTube)

Bernie says that the $83 billion extra that Trump wants for the military for next year could also pay for all qualified public-university students as well as make a good start on helping other students with their loans. That 83 billion could pay for single-payer... [More]

The annotation web standard

Published by marco on in Technology

The Web Annotation Working Group has published [t]hree recommendations to enable annotations on the web.

What does that mean for you, as a consumer of the Internet?

This standard will bring commenting and conversation and annotation into the 21st century. It will possibly bring order to the myriad systems and accounts and formats currently in place that allow for interaction and discussion.

The diagram Web Annotation Architecture (W3C) (SVG) is interactive and steps you through the whole concept.... [More]

The 40-car pileup that is the UPC Horizon Box

Published by marco on in Technology


We’ve been subscribed to UPC Cablecom for almost 15 years now.

In Switzerland, you have two parts of a cable package: a fixed price that pays for the cable company to get cable into your apartment, and a content package for services over that cable.

Until recently, the fixed price had been included in our rent and we’d had a pretty good deal on services for TV/Landline/Internet. This year, the cooperative where we live decided to stop including the fixed price in the rent. This... [More]

Mark Blyth on the Jimmy Dore show

Published by marco on in Finance & Economy

I last wrote about Mark Blyth about two months ago in the article Mark Blyth on Global Trumpism. I recently saw another interview with him on the Jimmy Dore show that I can recommend watching.

If you’ve watched Blythe before, he doesn’t cover a lot of new ground, but he does have a wonderful way with words and for getting right to the point. Often he can shut down an entire line of reasoning with a single, giant point that makes other arguments pale into insignificance.

The interview is split... [More]

The weird world of type-compatibility in TypeScript

Published by marco on in Programming

I recently fixed a bug in some TypeScript code that compiled just fine—but it looked for all the world like it shouldn’t have.

tl;dr: there is no TypeScript compiler bug, but my faith in the TypeScript language’s type model is badly shaken.

A simple example

The following code compiles—and well it should.

interface IB {
  name: string;

interface IA {
  f(action: (p: IB) => void): IA;

class A implements IA {
  f = (action: (p: IB) => void): IA => {
    return this;

Some... [More]

More odd design in iOS battery-management

Published by marco on in Design

When I snapped the screenshot shown below, I wanted the answer to one question:

I had actively used the phone for only about 2 minutes that day. Which application used the phone for the other 3 hr and 56 min?[1]

Apple’s design makes finding an answer frustrating, at best—and infuriating, at worst. Here’s what you see when you look at the battery settings.

 Who's responsible for this?

The batter control panel tells me that “[b]attery information will be available after using iPhone for a few minutes.”

Some questions:

Some comedy videos to soothe the exhausted leftie

Published by marco on in Fun

A friend on Facebook published a giant list of political-news links, one more stress-inducing and hyperbolic than the next. His friends commented about their existential angst and hair-pulling in response to the worst onslaught that the worst has had to offer to any group of people ever. To soothe the souls of these benighted individuals, I offer some distraction.

During dinner last night, we entertained ourselves instead with the following rabbit-hole of YouTube videos, starring Robin... [More]

George W. Bush’s newest book

Published by marco on in Public Policy & Politics

 Portraits of courageIt could have been better-timed—April 1st is still almost a month away—but George W. Bush has published yet another book, this one called Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors.[1]

This is a book of Mr. Bush’s paintings. His subjects are American soldiers. Just their faces, if the cover is any indication. To be honest, I think he’s gotten better over time. He’s definitely found his own style. We’re a long way from those odd bathtub and shower paintings.

 Bush inception showerAs... [More]

My Impressions and Notes from VoxxedDays 2017

Published by marco on in Programming

Encodo presented a short talk at Voxxed Days 2017 this year, called The truth about code reviews. Sebastian and I also attended the rest of the conference. The following is a list of notes and reactions to the talks.

Engineering You

Martin ThompsonVideo

The keynote was about our place in the history of software engineering. Martin described us more as alchemists than engineers right now, a sentiment with which I can only agree. There is too little precision, too little... [More]

Lee Camp > John Oliver

Published by marco on in Public Policy & Politics

I’m still watching John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, but I feel he’s slipping. He’s retreating to the safety of slagging on Trump almost exclusively which is both not very funny and not very helpful. Oliver is fading into the same vanilla and safe faux-leftism that characterized his ideological predecessors Jon Stewart and, to a lesser degree, Stephen Colbert.

Both Stewart and Colbert loved the military. By the end of their respective runs, their opposition to military adventures was not no... [More]

Russian Naval Attack (j/k)

Published by marco on in Public Policy & Politics

CNN is fake news. CNN is pure government propaganda. They may not be stumping for the current administration, but they’re definitely pushing somebody’s war-hawk agenda. Remember, CNN was born in the cauldron of the first U.S. Gulf War: it knows where the money is. It would be only too happy to make a ton of money reporting a juicy war with Russia. Don’t believe for a minute that CNN has any scruples.

I will prove this with a single article I found as the top search result for “Russian boat... [More]

Snubbing the New York Times

Published by marco on in Public Policy & Politics

As it appears, the New York Times, The LA Times, CNN and other august news-gathering organizations like Politico and Buzzfeed have been barred from a press briefing. Clearly the republic teeters. When The Gray Lady is snubbed, can internment camps be far behind? As you would expect, this immediately became a first-amendment, nay, a constitutional issue for the faux-Left, with the NYT at the forefront, hoisting its own banner high.

I don’t think press briefings are in the Constitution, though,... [More]

iOS Battery Drain

Published by marco on in Technology

I’m just going to leave this here. I used the stopwatch during a workout.
It was on for about 8 minutes total, and stopped about 5 or 6 times. I’m not sure whether I remembered to stop it or whether the stopwatch kept running in the background.

 The Clock? Really?

At any rate, this seems an inordinately large amount of battery usage for a stopwatch. Whoever wrote a smartphone clock app that can use 41% of the battery should be ashamed of themselves.