Yesterday

Caliban’s War by James S.A. Corey (2011) (read in 2021)

Published by marco on in Books

Standard disclaimer[1]

The second book of the The Expanse begins on Ganymede, where we meet Prax Meng, a botanist of consummate skill and education. He has a daughter Mei with a debilitating but controllable disease. She is kidnapped from her pre-school. We also meet Bobbie Draper, a Martian Marine deployed on the surface, opposing the Earth forces that are also stationed there. Tensions are already high when a mysterious humanoid without a spacesuit tears across the surface, eliminating the... [More]

Two Days Ago

Subprime Attention Crisis by Tim Hwang (2020) (read in 2021)

Published by marco on in Books

Standard disclaimer[1]

This is a short book about the digital advertising business, including its history, its present, and possible futures. The history is that the advertising business has always struggled with the essential fact that they are selling a largely unquantifiable product. There are feelings about the effectiveness of advertising, but little evidence for the effectiveness of a particular ad. Effectiveness is measured in two ways: directly contributing to a sale (e.g. rebates, sales,... [More]

Strange Dogs by James S.A. Corey (2017) (read in 2021)

Published by marco on in Books

Standard disclaimer[1]

A girl named Cara lives on a planet named Laconia with her parents, who are part of a research team. Laconia is one of the 1300 ring worlds discovered by humanity in The Expanse novels. Cara enjoys visiting a local pond, where she watches the strange and alien local fauna, in particular the sunbirds. At twilight, “strange dogs” show up, but seem to pose no risk.

One day, Cara feeds a bit of her own food to a sunbird. She saw someone do something similar with a duck in a... [More]

3 days Ago

NY Times leads the charge against Russia

Published by marco on in Public Policy & Politics

I was at the NY Times this morning to look up a referenced editorial and landed on the home page instead. This is what greeted me, above the fold and prominently placed at the top and center of the site.

 NY Times Front Page on 26.01.2022

I don’t usually see the NY Times home page. It’s possible that it always looks like this. I honestly hope not, but can’t rule it out. This is war propaganda, pure and simple. Their formulation has nothing to do with reporting and everything to do with pushing an agenda.

The first headline... [More]

4 days Ago

Switzerland’s infection rate

Published by marco on in Science & Nature

The article So entwickeln sich die Corona-Zahlen in der Schweiz (SRF) is updated constantly. In the update from Monday, 24.01.2022, the matrix that shows the infection rate by age group was a particularly brilliant crimson.

 Matrix of Infections by Age Group

If I’m reading this chart correctly, 4.5% of 10 to 19-year-olds were infected with COVID in the week from 10.01 to 17.01. That seems like quite a lot. Switzerland has a 7-day rolling average of about 32,300 cases per day. That makes about 226,000 per week. The latest population... [More] (Wikipedia)

Clarifying efficacy percentage (vs. effectiveness)

Published by marco on in Science & Nature

In a recent article Links and Notes for December 17th, 2021, I noted that Doctor Mark Hanefeld seems to be underselling vaccine efficacy (predicted) and effectiveness (measured).

The podcast is linked below,

Coronavirus-Update Sonderfolge: Gerüchte und Fake-News zur Impfung einordnen | NDR Podcast by NDR Ratgeber (YouTube)

At 17:30, Herr Doktor Marc Hanefeld says,

“Nehmen wir mal einfach die Zulassungsstudien zu Biontech. Da haben wir eine 95% Effektivität. Und die Effektivität ist immer im Hinblick auf symptomatische Ansteckung. Das heisst, man wird angesteckt mit dem Virus und merkt was—hat... [More]”

Human achievements are cool

Published by marco on in Philosophy

As in 2020, this year COVID prevented my wife from spending the holidays with our family overseas, So, over the holidays, I was once again made to partake in a smattering of Christmas classics, of varying quality. Most of these stem from the late 60s and 70s and were already classics when we were growing up. Like watching Dinner for One in Switzerland, they are a tradition, regardless of their objective quality.

One of the newest in the stable is The Christmas Chronicles. That movie is more... [More]

5 days Ago

Homo Ignoramicus

Published by marco on in Public Policy & Politics

I watched a video called “Do Lockdowns Work?” in late December and wrote down a bunch of notes and thoughts as I did so. The title is ostensibly interesting, but they didn’t really talk about that topic all that much in the 80 minutes of the video.

First off, I don’t want my picking on Jimmy Dore and Max Blumenthal to be read as support of the policies or ideas of whomever they happen to oppose. I listened to their rather long, 80-minute video because I’ve learned from them in the past and... [More]

There was an attempt to justify Bitcoin’s power-consumption

Published by marco on in Technology

Many months ago, I watched the first segment in Track 1, called Debunking “Bitcoin Wastes Energy” by Nic Carter (The B-Word). Below are my notes and thoughts about it. He started off by asserting,

“As a neutral, global monetary network, Bitcoin has a valid claim on some of society’s resources.”

Does it, though? You can try to make this axiomatic, but I’m going to respectfully ask for justification. As someone speaking at a Bitcoin conference, you obviously have to claim that. It’s good that he did. That means that if I... [More]

The “Hustle” culture in Software Development

Published by marco on in Programming

Have you noticed that there is more and more content available to help you learn how to program? For every topic under the sun, there seems to be a blog article or video of superficially reasonable quality. For every question on StackOverflow, there’s an effusive answer with examples.

This is all pretty great, honestly.

However, with the increase in content. there is also the need to be able to wade through it.

How old is that StackOverflow answer? How appropriate is the answer to your... [More]

Hidden fairy tales

Published by marco on in Philosophy

Those who most easily deem something to be “fake news” are often the same people who can’t see the falsity in the news that they consider to be non-fake. They shout “conspiracy” at everything, except when a cabal of extremely wealthy people conspire to manipulate entire nations to keep money flowing upwards.

  • They believe that that financial system is a free market and that it works for everyone.
  • They believe that the rich pay too much in taxes.
  • They believe that the military budget is... [More]

Climate-change activism vs. the third world

Published by marco on in Science & Nature

I recently saw an argument that says that people like Greta Thunberg—let’s use her as a placeholder for any semi-affluent first-worlder—can argue all she wants for a massive reduction of fossil-fuel usage, but that she’s privileged to be able to do so, as there is zero chance that her life will be impacted negatively by it. The argument is that stopping fossil fuels now will leave the developing world even farther behind because they won’t be able to benefit from the economic growth they... [More]

Unearned confidence in comprehension

Published by marco on in Philosophy

From the article Against Intelligence by Justin E.H. Smith (Hinternet),

“Our default folk-theory of the sky and its objects, as a vestige of the closed world cosmology, is one in which distances between star systems is not significantly different from those between the planets of our own system.

And even those distances we grossly underestimate. The planets are light minutes if not light hours apart.[1] Months and years of even the most optimistic feasible journey time. But this lack suffuses most of how most humans—most... [More]

Gods of Risk by James S.A. Corey (2012) (read in 2021)

Published by marco on in Books

Standard disclaimer[1]

This story takes place after Caliban’s War, when Bobbie returns to Mars after having retired from the Mars Marines.

She’s living with her brother and his family. Her nephew David is a gifted student, enrolled in the terraforming program at school. He’s also a gifted chemist, so he’s tempted to make extra money by creating drugs for a local dealer. This is the Breaking Bad storyline, I guess. David is infatuated with LeeLee, one of the girls who orbits the leader of the... [More]

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (1937) (read in 2021)

Published by marco on in Books

Standard disclaimer[1]

Janie Crawford returns to the village where she has a home, crossing past the hooting and hollering peanut gallery stationed outside the town store. She continues onward, ignoring them, to visit her friend Pheoby, who’d stood by her all the time she’d been gone and who was dying to know what had happened since she’d left.

The rest of the book is Janie recounting the story of her life that led to her, at about forty years old, sitting on that porch with her friend Pheoby.
... [More]

6 days Ago

Links and Notes for January 21st, 2021

Published by marco on in Notes

Below are links to articles, highlighted passages[1], and occasional annotations[2] for the week ending on the date in the title, enriching the raw data from Instapaper Likes and Twitter. They are intentionally succinct, else they’d be articles and probably end up in the gigantic backlog of unpublished drafts. YMMV.

[1] Emphases are added, unless otherwise noted.
[2] Annotations are only lightly edited.

Table of Contents

Economy & Finance

Wash... [More] by Matt Levine (Bloomberg)

Links and Notes for January 14th, 2021

Published by marco on in Notes

Below are links to articles, highlighted passages[1], and occasional annotations[2] for the week ending on the date in the title, enriching the raw data from Instapaper Likes and Twitter. They are intentionally succinct, else they’d be articles and probably end up in the gigantic backlog of unpublished drafts. YMMV.

[1] Emphases are added, unless otherwise noted.
[2] Annotations are only lightly edited.

Table of Contents

Wordle

Published by marco on in Fun

I suppose it should come as no surprise that I’ve been playing this with Kath. As long-time Crossword (even occasionally cryptic crosswords) and Spelling Bee fans, Wordle fits right in. And it takes only a couple of minutes per day.

In Wordle, you have to guess a 5-letter word. All guesses must be real words. The puzzle indicates letters that are in the right position with a green background and letters that are in the solution, but in the wrong position with a yellow background. It’s kind of... [More]

1 week Ago

Schlitz Malt Liquor with Wilson Pickett

Published by marco on in Fun

With enough time having passed since it aired, I would have believed you had you said that this real commercial was an SNL spoof from the 70s.

Shlitz Malt Liquor with Wilson Pickett (YouTube)

It was great enough before before the bull showed up and Pickett elevated his egg-shaped lounger up out of reach.

CSS Speedrun

Published by marco on in Programming

If you want to test or hone your CSS skills, check out the CSS Speedrun. It lets you warm up with a relatively easy “intro”, then takes you through ten levels. Generally, each level tests a different feature of CSS (usually a specific selector). The final question (pictured) makes you combine what you’ve learned or used from other levels.

The image below is from my second time through. The first time through I needed about nine minutes; the next morning, I got through much more quickly. I... [More]