Contesting

In fact, tried and tested is the best. Here’s a list of the top TV series, for example. Notice that the #1, Breaking Bad, ended in 2013. If people are still talking about it after so many years, it must be really good. Whatever effect marketing or “coolness” have has dissipated after some years.

Enjoy the Best, Not The Latest, Media – Kartick’s Blog

I’ve heard this sentiment before: “I don’t go for the latest, I only read classics.” Or: “There’s no point in wasting time on new TV shows, just watch ‘The West Wing.'” Admittedly, there’s value is coming back to classics, be in literature, music or movies and television, but while being a safe option, it leaves little room for formulating one’s own opinion. No matter what people say, it’s hard to approach “The Brothers Karamazov” with a “clean slate” sort of mind, unless of course you haven’t heard about it before (which can’t be the case if your goal is to reach for the classics).

I say: don’t.

Go to the contemporariest of contemporary art galleries, watch latest movies before you get the chance to read their reviews, read latest novels. That way you can contest, evaluate on your own, be part of the community that establishes what is to become “a classic,” what is good and what isn’t. Or better yet, screw the community and formulate your own judgments.

Experiencing culture without being able to contest it kills half of the experience.

“Twilight of Democracy”

Here’s what’s good about Anne Applebaum’s new book: it’s anecdotal in all the right places.

Note the soft carpet of my living room and the greasy fingerprints on the cover.
That’s realism for ya.

This is a book that attempts to explain the authoritarian turns across Europe and in the United States, and Applebaum, as you’d expect from her, provides a convincing, well-reasoned and insightful explanation as to why they are happening. And since she’s a well renowned international journalist and a wife to Poland’s former minister of foreign affairs, she’s been at the center of many of the important political events of the last decades (hence the anecdotes). It’s a very good book, well worth a read if you’d like to get a better understanding of what’s going on with the world, and it’s so up-to-date that it even covers the beginning of the pandemic.

One caveat though: Applebaum is what American political scientists would call a neoconservative, and thus her view of the events of the last 20 years is McCainy a bit. It’s not wrong and I’d say she keeps relatively neutral. But if you want a very different take, try Monbiots “How did we get into this mess?”—a worse book, but a somewhat fresher (i.e. left wing) view on things.

Ah and one final note: this book is short. Not too-short short, but short enough for people like me who use Piketty as a monitor stand. Digestible, that’s the word I was looking for. This book is digestible for software engineers.

VS Code

The best, most entertaining and immortal topic in software engineering is back! Editor Wars!

After reading Roben Kleene’s blog post I realized that I’ve been using VS Code all-day every-day for over a year now. I’m not willing to admit it because in my mind I’m a die-hard (n)vim user, but the reality is this: VS Code is brilliant. Kleene makes many great points about key ingredients of VS Code’s success (popularity/MS backing, plugin ecosystem, client-server architecture), and you should read his post.

Then today I read about “modernizing” Emacs, I saw the discussion on HN, and this comment in particular made me think:

I think VSCode is more than yet another editor, it’s more than what Textmate and Sublime were. There are two major reasons.

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We should cherish email

Recent launch of Basecamp’s Hey service made me realize how much I love email. Their pitch is actually on point:

Email gets a bad rap, but it shouldn’t. Email’s a treasure.

Damn right it is.

Email is a set of open protocols. We can argue about the “implementability” of IMAP clients and such, but it remains the only widely used, open communication system we have on the internet. XMPP was supposed to become its equivalent for instant messaging, but failed, and no other protocol took its place because it’s in no messaging platform’s interest to give its users freedom of choice. There are multi-protocol messaging apps, but they are essentially UI hacks. Even Twitter, which arguably isn’t an IM, is gradually limiting what third party clients can and cannot do.

Continue reading “We should cherish email”