Programming Sucks

Here are the secret rules of the internet: five minutes after you open a web browser for the first time, a kid in Russia has your social security number. Did you sign up for something? A computer at the NSA now automatically tracks your physical location for the rest of your life. Sent an email? Your email address just went up on a billboard in Nigeria.

These things aren’t true because we don’t care and don’t try to stop them, they’re true because everything is broken because there’s no good code and everybody’s just trying to keep it running. That’s your job if you work with the internet: hoping the last thing you wrote is good enough to survive for a few hours so you can eat dinner and catch a nap.

As poignant, true, and depressing as it was back when it was 2014.


Working on a suicide helpline changed how I talk to everyone

It turns out that conversations with friends are not so different. Even when you think you know somebody, you never have all the information; something always gets lost in translation. Sometimes you strip away unnecessary banality but, often, something essential is cut. Friends might avoid the truth because they are afraid of being judged. They might be unable to put their thoughts into words, or they might be held back by motives or concerns they don’t even fully understand themselves. Or they might be expressing themselves perfectly well to you, but you twist their words because you are superimposing your own models of the world onto them. To varying degrees, there is an uncrossable chasm between you and everybody you care about.


The power of low expectations

At the end of January, I had an epiphany.

Kim and I were sitting in the living room one evening, relaxed in our easy chairs, both reading books. All four of our beasts were nestled nearby. The house was quiet. For the first time in forever, I felt completely content.

For maybe twenty minutes, I paused what I was doing and simply savored the moment. I stopped. I looked around. I made time to be present in the Now.

This article is really helping me cope with my anxiety as of late.

I think the expectations I place on myself are too high.


What My Sled Dogs Taught Me About Planning for the Unknown

Planning for forever is essentially impossible, which can actually be freeing: It brings you back into the present. How long will this pandemic last? Right now, that’s irrelevant; what matters is eating a nourishing meal, telling someone you love them, walking your dog, getting enough sleep. What matters is that, to the degree you can, you make your own life sustainable every day.


Take a Walk

Now that many of us are working from home, we’re walking in order to fill up space … to clear our minds … to cry … to talk on the phone … to entertain our kids … to do nothing … but walk.

This podcast is best enjoyed sitting down.

(The internet sarcasm is thick in my tone, in case you were wondering.)


The Most Amazing Bowling Story Ever

His teammates aren’t interested in talking about what he can do to make his strikes more solid, though, or even tonight’s mildly competitive league game. They’re still discussing a night two years ago. They mention it every week, without fail. In fact, all you have to do is say the words “That Night” and everyone at the Plano Super Bowl knows what you’re talking about. They also refer to it as “The Incident” or “That Incredible Series.” It’s the only time anyone can remember a local recreational bowler making the sports section of the Dallas Morning News. One man, an opponent of Fong’s that evening, calls it “the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen in a bowling alley.”

Bill Fong needs no reminders, of course. He thinks about that moment—those hours—every single day of his life.

A truly incredible story, artfully written and filled with many unexpected turns.


What it’s Like to be a Billionaire’s Butler

While it’s easy to assume that anyone who willingly becomes a butler must harbor a notion of his own inferiority, none of the butlers I met were slavish doormats or even particularly humble. From Ford, who thought Claudia Schiffer’s lifestyle beneath him, to Govender, the self-described "ultimate servant," to Bonell, who’s bringing five-star service to the newly moneyed East, all have healthy egos buttressed by a belief that their way is the best possible way. A happy butler is a Buddhist monk in tails, taking pleasure in the duty itself. Serving, but never servile.


Allison Jones: Nerd Hunter

Jones began her career with the two-beats-and-a-punch-line sitcoms of the nineteen-eighties, but, in working with Feig and the director Judd Apatow, she was required to try something revolutionary: find comedic actors who, more than just delivering jokes, could improvise and riff on their lines, creating something altogether different from what was on the page.

I’ve seen Allison Jones’ name in the credits of so many of my favorite shows for years. This bio rounds out the picture a little bit for me on who this incredible person is.


Staying Productive on Distracted Days

Cal Newport:

I don’t normally spend much time reading information online, so I definitely noticed this morning the unusual degree to which I was distracted by breaking election news. This points to an interesting question that I’ve seen discussed in some articles in recent days: what’s the best way to keep getting things done on truly distracting days?

My answer: don’t.


The Confessions of Marcus Hutchins, the Hacker Who Saved the Internet

At around 7 am on a quiet Wednesday in August 2017, Marcus Hutchins walked out the front door of the Airbnb mansion in Las Vegas where he had been partying for the past week and a half. A gangly, 6'4", 23-year-old hacker with an explosion of blond-brown curls, Hutchins had emerged to retrieve his order of a Big Mac and fries from an Uber Eats deliveryman. But as he stood barefoot on the mansion's driveway wearing only a T-shirt and jeans, Hutchins noticed a black SUV parked on the street—one that looked very much like an FBI stakeout.

Journalism students should study this as a quintessential way to write a profile piece. I find computer security a fascinating topic, but it's hard to present it to non-nerds as a compelling story. Andy Greenberg did this story justice.