Thursday, January 21st, 2021
Dated but still interesting: The Guardian looks at the design of Japanese newspapers
Tuesday, January 19th, 2021
Nice backgrounder at Stat News on the history of mRNA vaccines.
Friday, December 25th, 2020
Thursday, December 24th, 2020
The Basecamp fellows have released a new web development paradigm, Hotwire. I don’t quite get it, but with their pedigree and skill as the makers of Ruby on Rails, this could be big.
Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020
This lengthy interview with Secretary-General Sayyid Nasrallah may be useful for insight into Hezbollah’s perspectives. There are some bizarre connections, such as the notion that Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 because of deep concern regarding Iran’s “liberation of Khorramshahr” in the Iran-Iraq War.
Monday, December 21st, 2020
High Output Management
Andrew S. Grove
In his careful, cogent and memorable take on effective management, Silicon Valley founding father Andy Grove places a surprising emphasis on meetings; he has the temerity to take issue with — or at least, refine — Peter Drucker’s admonition that they’re a waste of time. Grove’s issue: meetings are the very medium of management; his refinement: that there are actually two major types of meeting, routine and ad hoc, and it’s where there’s a profusion of the latter that something’s amiss.
This erstwhile CEO of Intel notes that while most management books are targeted either at the very top or the very bottom — at the CEO or at those who directly manage frontline workers — the majority of managers manage other managers, and it’s for them he mostly writes, the middle managers.
The book has the authority of someone eager to share lessons from his own extensive experience — indeed he seems to have always worked with one eye towards gaining such knowledge, in no small part because being able to convey what one knows ensures that one actually understands it; that is, managers should also write and teach.
Grove defines the aim of management as increasing the productivity of subordinates, which can be achieved in only two ways: by improving their skills and by improving their motivation. Skills are improved by training, which the manager should undertake himself, considering it not busywork but an opportunity to solidify his own understanding and role-model corporate behavior. Motivation meanwhile is improved best via one-on-one performance reviews. These measures for corporate success are bracingly clear and specific — both the reasoning behind them and how to undertake them.
A refugee from Nazi Europe, Grove may be a legend yet the book is suffused with a democratic humility, a great American sense that success can be approached by all as an engineering problem. A book among books.
PS — A high testament: I actually remembered all these points without reopening High Output Management. I don’t think that’s ever happened before.
Wednesday, December 16th, 2020
The architect would surely be pleased that there is once again a Frank Lloyd Wright hotel in Japan — though he’d probably say: Just the one? (Actually it’s not by Wright but Arata Endo, who seems a tasteful and disciplined disciple.)
The first lab-grown chicken meat will be served at a Singapore restaurant this weekend!
Good old Speccie:
For Britain, there are many lessons to be learned from the IDF, a democratic military machine that relies heavily on technology to engage enemies on various fronts and in diverse contexts.
This from “Britain is right to pursue closer military ties to Israel” by Jake Wallis Simons. I had not known that the source of Israel’s tip-off regarding Syria’s North Korean nuclear reactor was a British spy.
Tuesday, December 15th, 2020
Monday, December 14th, 2020
Dave Rupert does a nice job (April 2018) listing the pitfalls of card UIs. I’m beginning to think though that for Rupert, a long list of drawbacks is throat-clearing for “I’m going ahead with this.”
Friday, December 11th, 2020
I’ve been surprised and disappointed by just how many people are hesitant to take up the COVID-19 vaccines now coming online. In this concerned Nautilus article “How to Build Trust in Covid-19 Vaccines”, the authors take on the issue with sober good sense, eg:
Mandatory vaccination policies should be avoided because they could backfire. More acceptable would be tying vaccination status to travel or access to public places.
Thursday, December 10th, 2020
Monday, November 30th, 2020
What a perfect, impassioned argument by Scottish, sorry, British broadcaster Neil Oliver in praise of keeping Britain. For him it is, correctly, not a confused affair of the dismal science but a clear celebration of the happy heart.
Saturday, November 28th, 2020
The Lean Startup
So much of Eric Ries’s The Lean Startup seems such conventional wisdom now that evaluating its merits is hard.
Entrepreneurship is about management. A startup is an institution designed primarily for learning; learning is accomplished by experimentation with the product and observing customers interact with these experiments; what is learned may then temper the vision for the product. Repeatedly iterated, this is the way through the eye of the startup needle, Reis argues, replete with numerous vivid examples, such as the Village Laundry Service in India learning what its customers mistrust and what they’re willing to pay more for.
The book refers back to and sits well alongside Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm and Steve Blank’s The Four Steps to the Epiphany, both of which I picked up next.
Friday, November 27th, 2020
Thursday, November 26th, 2020
Weekly became daily quickly.
3D model of Fallingwater by sighty for sale, including a portion of Bear Run, which interestingly gets cuts off even before the bridge that obviously crosses it, making this a model not of the house but of a model of it.
Boy, there are other models too. Here’s an interactive Fallingwater by archimore. It has the interior, even the raised rocks around the fireplace! (Though missing the grand swinging water heater.) The non-Wright dining-table chairs that Mrs Kaufman brought. The portrait of Edgar on the wall! Yet no walkway up to the Guesthouse, and no Guesthouse.
And another Fallingwater by Myles Zhang which does have the Gueshouse and ramp, even the steps into the swimming pool. And a very long stretch of Bear Run. It does have the round red water holer, but no furniture.
Would be good to merge these magnificent efforts to make a more detailed, canonical model.
Monday, November 23rd, 2020
Sunday, November 22nd, 2020
Saturday, November 21st, 2020
George Carlin on Time in 1978. Embarrassingly I’d only ever seen him older. In interviews he says he set out to be Danny Kaye; I think that’s noticeable here.
Thursday, November 19th, 2020
Wednesday, November 18th, 2020
“Indie developers need protection from monopolistic and anti-competitive practices from larger players in the market through strong government regulation, not a discount on their first $1m in sales.” “Apple’s 15% Deflection Tactic” by John Luxford.
Tuesday, November 17th, 2020
Sunday, November 15th, 2020
Saturday, November 14th, 2020
Friday, November 13th, 2020
Thursday, November 12th, 2020
Wednesday, November 11th, 2020
Tuesday, November 10th, 2020
There’s a big difference between nothing and almost nothing, when it’s multiplied by the area under the sun.
Paul Graham, General & Surprising
Sunday, November 8th, 2020
Seeming US President-elect Joe Biden “has said openly for a long time that “he will go back to the nuclear agreement,” warns Israel’s Settlements Minister and long-time soothsayer Tzachi Hanegbi. “I see that as something that will lead to a confrontation between Israel and Iran.”
On NPM becoming part of Microsoft, by Bryant Jimin Son. I feel stalked in my work life by Microsoft, which I strive to avoid ever since their horrible behavior re IE6. First Skype, then Atom, now NPM. Fortunately, there are alternatives.
Robert Kagan puts recent US history into perspective, talking to the rather platitudinous Walther Russell Mead. Some choice cut:
Russia and China are always going to be fundamentally at odds. It would be a very strange universe in which they are not. If I really believe that if you’re a Russian and you wake up sweating bullets at 3:00 in the morning, what you’re sweating about is the fact that China is going to take over Siberia in one way or another. China is a big, and by the way, the racist feelings on both sides are enormous. They both think the other one is a monkey and have always felt that way.