r/pics June 2017


4 from 2014 (links)

I periodically revisit the links at the bottom of my reading list (managed by pocket) to see if I can either dump them from the list unread, leave them there for reading at an unspecified future point or ideally read them and push them to my archive.

Having done this recently these 4 links from 2014 stood out. All of them talk about the way the world is today, and are particularly interesting to me as they could all just as easily have been published this year (with some small changes no doubt).

The Economist challenges the principle of driving shareholder value and notes that since it became a corporate mantra the value of a CEO’s remuneration has increased 8-fold, which most certainly was not the point. Please remember the quote that follows is from 2014 when no-one thought Brexit or Trump likely to come to pass….

And that trend, which has spilled out to the rest of the developed world, is leading to the growing anger of  voters and the resistance to globalisation which may eventually cause even more damage to business and investors.

This link is a guide to Shenzhen, almost certainly out of date in some regard (I’m no Shenzhen expert), but the reality of the Chinese tech markets is fascinating and although it took me nearly 3 years to read this I’m still glad i did.

A good overview from the Guardian about progress made by ‘robot’ writers. The primary example here is a quick news story about an earthquake report, in this case some gentle tremors. Published and approved by a human, but written by a computer. This was in 2014, I can’t help but imagine this is more widespread today.

Hammond was in the limelight recently, having claimed that by 2025 90% of the news read by the general public would be generated by computers. “That doesn’t mean that robots will be replacing 90% of all journalists, simply that the volume of published material will massively increase,” he explains. “Take the example of small amateur baseball games. They don’t interest the media, but several dozen people follow each one. Quill collates data on thousands of these games and can produce thousands of articles almost instantaneously, one for each match, in a style similar to sportswriters, who are easy to imitate.”

The last link is about the nature of the global clothing industry, although the article concentrates on the Korean impact on LA’s Jobber market.

How did this neighborhood become what it is? The answer lies in a 50-year process of migration and generational progress—one that has recently reached a kind of critical mass.

A well written and good exploration that reminds us that even in these times of incredible and fast change the slower moving trends driven by demographics and migration still hold some sway.

 

 


Linkdump: The Trump/Bannon administration

I’m more than slightly fed up with the huge amount of writing about the US administration that has been dominating my reading sources since the trump election. It’s understandable, of course even fundamentally important actually, and I’ve been duly consuming a lot of it to try and keep up, but I just want to get some texture back into my reading.

So, to that end this linkdump is an attempt to draw a small line under the one topic I’ve been reading more about than anything else since November 2016. I’m not signing off completely, but I am trying to re-balance what I’m reading. You’ll be able to form a quick opinion about where I sit on the question of Trump and Bannon from the sources, let alone the content of these pieces, but there are also a number of well written essays/articles here that I think are sincere and informative regardless of which side your opinions trend towards.

The Economist tries to be even handed in a high level view of the Trump administration recognising the potential for improved domestic economics while worrying about the fragility of the western world order built by the US since WW2, and largely, of course, built for the US also.

Politico offers up an overview of the kind of secrets that will now be available to Trump. Very interesting and slightly scary, regardless of who holds power.

The United States has invested trillions of dollars to ensure that its president can know more than anyone else on Earth—knowledge meant to be deployed to the country’s advantage in trade negotiations, military posturing and a thousand other ways big and small

There are a bunch of pieces raising the alarm about Steve Bannon. Some are focused on where he comes from, politically, and what he has previously claimed to be his political goals, others worry specifically about his elevation to the National Security Council.

In 2015 Bloomburg called him the most dangerous political operative in America

From the Washington Post, The danger of Steve Bannon on the National Security Council

Michael Mullen, who served on G W Bush’s security council is concerned about the potential for the NSC to become politicised.

The security council was formed in 1947 to serve a unique role in our government. It facilitates and coordinates, providing a forum through which federal agencies discuss and debate policy and, ultimately, provide counsel to the president about how best to keep the American people safe. At N.S.C. meetings, representatives from the State Department, the Pentagon, the Treasury Department, the intelligence community and other agencies speak freely and critically about the full breadth of options available to the United States. Those discussions can get heated at times. They can certainly get territorial. But they seldom get political — nor should they.

Foreign Policy puts together a really good piece about how incoming administrations commonly make structural changes and how a raft of seemingly innocuous decisions can be massively important. It holds the view that the Trump/Bannon setup isn’t great but the real value here is to understand the underlying reasons and history of these kind of changes. As the headline suggests understanding these things helps us to answer the question of who is the power behind the throne.

This from the New Yorker is in similar territory

And its almost certainly true that an examination of who the most powerful people in Trump’s inner circle are would be incomplete without some kind of summary of Jared Kushner

Kushner imagines his role as managerial, not policymaking. “I’m not political,” he told the audience, not entirely credibly. In D.C., as Reagan’s adage goes, “People are policy,” and no person, other than Trump himself, has been as politically instrumental in advancing the new president’s ambitions.

And Ivanka

When she was appointed to the board of directors at Trump Entertainment Resorts, at age twenty-five, the situation was “stacked all the way against me.”

This link is included almost entirely because it uses the phrase “Javanka”

There has been quite a lot of comment about whether we are seeing a slow structural dissoultion of democracy and a move through populism to autocracy. I’ve included this essay because it is laying down some markers, before the event, that we can monitor easily enough, that can help us worry, or hopefully help us to not worry.

10 ways to tell if your president is a dictator

Finally, because it’s important to be aware of the whole picture if possible, I include this from Politico. I imagine their readership to be fairly anti Trump, so it’s worth taking this on board.

Donald Trump might be more popular than you think

 

 

 

 


Video Linkdump Jan 2017

I see a Darkness – Bonnie Prince Billy

Most Things Haven’t Worked Out – Junior Kimbrough

The Claw – Jerry Donahue

Sophsticated Trump

Jerusalem – Alpha Blondy

Du Hast – Dobranotch

Come Alive (The War of the Roses) – Janelle Monae

While my Guitar Gently Weeps – Prince killing the solo

Marauder – Jesse Stewart

Adventures of an adolescent trash barrel robot

Life During Wartime – Talking Heads

Turn On Your Love Light – Black Crowes/Bob Weir/Tedeschi Trucks Band

Super Bowl Sundae – Ozomatli

Immigrant Song – Galactic w/ Chali 2na and Boots Riley


Linkdump Jan 2017

I’ve been using twitter to capture my linkdumps. But i’ve never really liked using twitter. I think it has use as a broadcast medium (if you have 10-100’s of thousands of followers), but is a terrible content firehose unless you follow maybe only 8 people and i’m not fussed about capturing running commentaries on, well, anything really.

Twitter is a great thing for certain types of real time information, so I won’t be deleting my account.It was the only relevant news source during the London riots, for example, that gave me the comfort to go back to bed safe in the knowledge that my street wasn’t going to get overrun. But I am going to try and revisit using this blog as my online home again, capturing mostly linkdumps admittedly, but hopefully getting some writing going again too.

To that end this 1st dump will be somewhat retrospective and will capture most of what I’ve dumped to twitter over the last year. Favourites marked.

The overton window and Brexit

Favourite: Love Bladerunner? Read this. Typeset loveliness

An old fashioned scandal. Light relief considering more recent controversies.

Working for the on demand economy

Yolandi

Ninja

The worst men on the internet

Favourite: An AI wrote this short movie

The soviet internyet

$50 of wonderful crap from Shenzen

A bleak perspective of a Trump presidency

Technology in rural America

Guns and computers, mad things in US regulation

Killing things in the name of conservation

Electric cars

The most exclusive restaurant in America

Thiel and Gawker

Nassim Taleb – how to own a person (legally)

Great big lakes are like batteries

The twitter founding story

The end of Roger Ailes

Peter Thiel – contrarian or inconsistent self serving power grab

Desalination

Trolling in Epic Mafia

Formalised Russian trolling?

The people Dylan Roof knew

Favourite: The old days and expense accounts

Favourite: The best war reporter of his generation

Its from 1964 but this will help you understand American politics

Favourite: Short fiction – One Star

The most British thing

Little green men

Favourite: Rent extraction – points of control

Ben Evans – thinking about cars

Hacking the Ukrainian power grid

Companies more powerful than some nation states

Estonia e-residency

Favourite: Commoditsed container shipping

Favourite: Short fiction – the end of data

Stephen Wolfram and the box of a million souls

Favourite: Learning to speak Lingerie

Edward Luttwak

Favourite: American boomtowns

Idlewords trip to Antartica

Would you do what a robot told you to

Your parents were spies

Favourite: The LIbertarian Police Department

The blockchain

Favourite: open source and proprietary software a precautionary tale

The MOVE bombing in Philadelphia


r/pics April 2015


20 links

I’ve not been posting much, November last year was the last time I got anything out, but I have been reading a lot. So I figured I’d put up a bunch of links, all of which I think are worth reading. In no particular order…..

 

Eigenjesus and Eigenmoses

Instead I asked myself: “what other ‘vicious circles’ in science and philosophy could one unravel using the same linear-algebra trick that CLEVER and PageRank exploit?”  After all, CLEVER and PageRank were both founded on what looked like a hopelessly circular intuition: “a web page is important if other important web pages link to it.”  Yet they both managed to use math to defeat the circularity.

 

 

Confessions of a Sociopath

Perhaps the most noticeable aspect of my confidence is the way I sustain eye contact. Some people have called it the “predator stare.” Sociopaths are unfazed by uninterrupted eye contact. Our failure to look away politely is also perceived as being aggressive or seductive. It can throw people off balance, but often in an exciting way that imitates the unsettling feeling of infatuation. Do you ever find yourself using charm and confidence to get people to do things for you that they otherwise wouldn’t? Some might call it manipulation, but I like to think I’m using what God gave me.

 

Airport runway markings

Another thing to keep an eye out for? Markings that have been blasted away. The FAA keeps strict rules about how paint or marks are removed—they’re absolutely never to be painted over, since the decay of the new mark might wear away to reveal conflicting information. Instead, airports have to sandblast or power wash the old paint away and re-do it.

 

Common sense regarding the Apple watch…

And yet, the panel seemed perfectly comfortable speculating for over an hour on what features in the Apple Watch would be delivering a great user experience and how users would find the Watch valuable. This really surprised me because the panel of experts was speculating about features that are available to test run today…on Android Wear.

 

Oh, regulators…such fun

Silva related how the top bankers in the nation were asked to contribute money to save Lehman. He described his disappointment when Goldman executives initially balked. Silva acknowledged that it might have been a hard sell to shareholders, but added that “if Goldman had stepped up with a big number, that would have encouraged the others.”

“It was extraordinarily disappointing to me that they weren’t thinking as Americans,” Silva says in the recording. “Those two things are very powerful experiences that, I will admit, influence my thinking.”

 

The Economist talks sense about online advertising

Essentially their model — a lot of seem to be reliant on “eventually we hope AOL or Yahoo will buy us, and then it’s their problem if we don’t make any money.” So they’re doing some really good journalism, but I think there’s a problem there.

 

Charlie Munger …you’d best read this if you like hearing how the really successful guys do things 

When I talk about this false precision, this great hope for reliable, precise formulas, I am reminded of Arthur Laffer, who’s in my political party, and who is one of the all-time horses’ asses when it comes to doing economics. His trouble is his craving for false precision, which is not an adult way of dealing with his subject matter.

 

It took some time but people are finally looking at apps in a more instructive way

By comparison, news-related applications do not requires a lot of phone resources. They collect XML feeds, some low resolution images and render those in pre-defined, non-dynamic templates. They use a tiny fraction of a modern smartphone’s processing power.

 

This explains why we have security theater in the post 911 world

Yet the attack involved not merely the towers, but two other actions, in particular a successful attack on the Pentagon. Why is it that only a few people take proper notice of that? If the 9/11 operation had been a conventional military campaign, the Pentagon attack would have received most of the attention. In this attack, al‑Qaida managed to destroy part of the enemy’s central headquarters, killing and wounding senior commanders and analysts. Why is it that public memory gives far more importance to the destruction of two civilian buildings, and the killing of brokers and accountants?

 

The sharing economy – a critical assessment

What triggers a mutation? Schumpeter insists that this evolution is disciplined above all by new consumers’ needs combined with the new institutional forms that must be invented to reliably meet those needs.

 

That point where you go…ah its all bulls**t

Venture capitalists may remind founders not to get carried away because they may need to raise money again soon, perhaps in a less-favorable market. Fundraising at a lower valuation is known as a “down round.” It’s a major Silicon Valley no-no in terms of perception, and it can have negative effects, depending on the other stipulations of the agreement.

 

You should probably just read everything this guy writes, just for fun

In Yemen you don’t really talk while eating. This makes the heavily-armed diners staring up at me from their carpets seem even more menacing. The wait staff, on the other hand (at least I assume that’s what they are) run round shouting at the top of their voices. Almost everyone has already purchased a bag of qat, which they’ll start chewing after lunch. The qat is leafy and kind of bulky, and comes in a colored plastic bag. Some men tuck it under their shirt, so it hangs over their belt like a paunch. Others carry it in their hand. The effect is to make everyone look excessively health conscious and obsessed with salad.

 

Who knew agile was a labour movement..

The fifth principle asks that managers trust developers and create a pleasant work environment that motivates good work. The eleventh principle advocates for self-organizing teams—giving developers autonomy and freedom to choose the projects and features that most interest them and avoiding a dictatorial style of management.

 

Always bet on text

It can be indexed and searched efficiently, even by hand. It can be translated. It can be produced and consumed at variable speeds. It is asynchronous. It can be compared, diffed, clustered, corrected, summarized and filtered algorithmically. It permits multiparty editing. It permits branching conversations, lurking, annotation, quoting, reviewing, summarizing, structured responses, exegesis, even fan fic. The breadth, scale and depth of ways people use text is unmatched by anything.

 

So, music is in a good place…

I’m sure it happens every day – that a kid in one of these far-flung places can find a new favourite band, send that band a message, and that singer of that band will read it and personally reply to it from his cell phone half a world away. How much better is that? I’ll tell you, it’s infinitely better than having a relationship to a band limited to reading it on the back of the record jacket. If such a thing were possible when I was a teenager I’m certain I would have become a right nuisance to the Ramones.

 

A view on where London is heading, might explain why the conservatives are so complacent about a Brexit

In order to gain the position of a global financial super-hub, and potentially that of world financial capital, the City of London has been making an effort to attract Chinese and Islamic finance, both in rapid expansion.

 

Context collapse, women and the internet

We no longer know what neighborhood we’ve wandered into, we don’t know the shape of the building, or the condition of the room. We don’t know what other people are wearing — our first and most profound way of signaling cultural affiliation and social-economic status.

 

How it all began

“But as time went on, every time there was a problem in the camp, he was at the centre of it,” Abu Ahmed recalled. “He wanted to be the head of the prison – and when I look back now, he was using a policy of conquer and divide to get what he wanted, which was status. And it worked.” By December 2004, Baghdadi was deemed by his jailers to pose no further risk and his release was authorised.

 

There’s something about medium that causes me to pause but I still like what is being said here…

That’s why, internally, our top-line metric is “TTR,” which stands for total time reading. It’s an imperfect measure of time people spend on story pages. We think this is a better estimate of whether people are actually getting value out of Medium

 

We need more people to burst these bubbles

I, personally, want to put a gold chain on my phone, pop it into a waistcoat pocket, and refer to it as my “digital fob watch” whenever I check the time on it. Just to make the point in as snotty and high-handed a way as possible: This is the decadent end of the current innovation cycle, the part where people stop having new ideas and start adding filigree and extra orifices to the stuff we’ve got and call it the future.