Things I read while I drank coffee this morning (7.7)

Use of Wolfram Alpha is difficult to trace, and in the hands of ambitious students, its perfect solutions are having unexpected consequences. It works by breaking down the pieces of a question, whether a mathematical problem or something like “What is the center of the United States?”, and then cross-referencing those pieces against an enormous library of datasets that is constantly being expanded. These datasets include information on geodesic schemes, chemical compounds, human genes, historical weather measurements, and thousands of other topics that, when brought together, can be used to provide answers.

I bought Stephen Wolfram’s A New Kind of Science about 10 years ago and it still sits on my shelf. Huge tome. Never read. Neat to see his ideas starting to come together with enough data.

A.I. is making it extremely easy for students to cheat

If you want to talk about the history of immigration in America, or urbanization or the expansion of transportation networks, really any subject that you want to explore, you can talk about it through beer

How The Story Of Beer Is The Story Of America

A Japanese approach to watchmaking, executed by hand.

Simply amazing and beautiful work on the watches and the photography set on this.

Portrait: Masahiro Kikuno, Japanese Independent Watchmaker

Things I read while I drank coffee this morning (3.15)

If I had to pick the critical technology for the 20th century, the bit of social lubricant without which the wheels would’ve come off the whole enterprise, I’d say it was the sitcom. Starting with the Second World War a whole series of things happened–rising GDP per capita, rising educational attainment, rising life expectancy and, critically, a rising number of people who were working five-day work weeks. For the first time, society forced onto an enormous number of its citizens the requirement to manage something they had never had to manage before–free time.

And what did we do with that free time? Well, mostly we spent it watching TV.

Interesting take on how the industrial revolution produced, frankly, a ton of alcoholics. We, as a society, had to come up with more formalized entertainment structures to keep people from binging, and over time we moved into spending a lot of our cognitive surplus by watching sitcoms.

Gin, Television, and Social Surplus

More than a century after their discovery, we still don’t really know what blood types are for.

Why do we have blood types?

The accelerators all brag about the total valuation of all their bets. Hey, companies we gracefully allowed to sign our deal are now worth $100 billion!! Rarely do they brag about the distribution of outcomes, and never do they dwell on whether the individuals who went through the sausage factory liked the smell.

Good read from @DHH

Don’t accelerate your startup

“What we are finding it’s much easier to use social engineering to trick people into installing malware than to exploit a vulnerability,” said Proofpoint’s Wheeler. “What attackers have done is replaced the automated exploit with (socially engineered) ploys to get people to click.”

Good read on the changing landscape of exploit delivery.


Things I read/saw while I drank coffee this morning (3.13)

The government-prepared return would estimate your taxes using information your employer and bank already send it. Advocates say tens of millions of taxpayers could use such a system each year, saving them a collective $2 billion and 225 million hours in prep costs and time, according to one estimate.

The original part of this article is an NPR report from 2013; it was updated yesterday for 2016.

How the Maker of TurboTax Fought Free, Simple Tax Filing

A must hear if you are into the advances (and mistakes) as humanity (via scientists) advance at an amazing and scary pace with CRISPR. The Radiolab recording is 3 I think in one, where the first two are reviews, and the last portion is the new update.

For this reason, I will do my best to share inspired drinks in all four parks beyond the standard sugar-water-with-a-shot. Think of me as your intoxicant informant.


I have an on and off again relationship with the Instant Pot. Sometimes we get into a mode where we make 2+ meals a week with it, other times it sits on our shelf for weeks at a time. I see the advantages of it for sure; I guess I just need to find some more recipes. Interesting read on it’s creation and cult that seems to have formed around it.

How the Instant Pot cooker developed a cult following

Things I read/saw while I drank coffee this morning (2.13)

I am very excited for the live action version of Ghost In The Shell. Based on this latest trailer it might not be a 1:1 of the original movie but also integrate some parts of the Standalone Complex.

The primates that ventured down out of the trees got access to a brand-new food source. “If you can smell the alcohol and get to the fruit faster, you have an advantage,” Dudley says. “You defeat the competition and get more calories.” The ones that stuffed themselves were the most likely to succeed at reproduction—and to experience (while eating) a gentle rush of pleasure in the brain. That buzz reinforced the appeal of the new lifestyle.

Great long form read in this month’s National Geographic on Alchohol and how we are genetically primed for it and also how damn old it is.

Our 9,000-Year Love Affair With Booze

” From tweaking algorithms to stepping up notifications to endlessly scrolling feeds, technology has turned human distraction into its metric of profit.”

Good read on how some old media brands ($DIS) are navigating the new attention economy.

The battle for consumers’ attention

Two interesting maps from @AEI


Things I read while I drank coffee this morning (2.8)

Excellent interview with @MCuban

Great read on Desktop usage drops.

Desktop dies on weekends

Bartle’s research showed that, in general, people were consistent in these preferred ways of being in online video game worlds. Regardless of the game, he found that “Socialisers,” for example, spend the majority of their time forming relationships with other players. “Achievers” meanwhile focus fully on the accumulation of status tokens (experience points, currency or, in Grand Theft Auto’s case, gleaming cars and gold-plated M16s).

How Video Games Satisfy Basic Human Needs