Blurt!Commonplace Book

“Endless money-losing is a variant of counterfeiting, and counterfeiting has dangerous economic consequences. … Competitors have to copy their fraudulent competitors. It’s a variant of Gresham’s Law, which says that ‘bad money drives out good’.” (Matt Stoller, “WeWork and Counterfeit Capitalism”)

Feb. 23, 2020, 8:52pm

“A lawful evil character ‘plays by the rules but without mercy or compassion.’ The New Yorker uses jarring diereses to prevent misreading of words that no one has trouble reading, and it doubles consonants in words like focussed because it said so, that’s why.” (Jonathon Owen, “The Style Guide Alignment Chart”)

Feb. 23, 2020, 8:40pm

“[T]he standards-and-accountability movement … is an elaborate sorting device, intended to separate wheat from chaff. The fact that students of color, students from low-income families, and students whose first language isn’t English are disproportionately defined as chaff makes the whole enterprise even more insidious.” (Alfie Kohn, “Can Everyone Be Excellent?”)

Feb. 23, 2020, 8:37pm

“The sharp turns and the difference in floor levels at the junction prove conclusively that the tunnel was excavated from both ends. At the junction itself, the floor level drops 60 centimeters from north to south, a discrepancy of less than one-eighth of a percent of the distance excavated.” (Tom M. Apostol, “The Tunnel of Samos”)

Feb. 23, 2020, 8:29pm

“Journalists routinely cover inequity as an abstract phenomenon that can be observed and remarked upon from afar, but it’s a rare media organization that would produce a guide for navigating rural poverty, or managing an opioid addiction, or handling your lease when you’re getting gentrified out of your neighborhood.” (Harry Backlund, “Is Your Journalism a Luxury or Necessity?”)

Feb. 23, 2020, 8:10pm

“The innovation that Johannes Gutenberg is said to have created was small metal pieces with raised backwards letters, arranged in a frame, coated with ink, and pressed to a piece of paper, which allowed books to be printed more quickly. But Choe Yun-ui did that—and he did it 150 years before Gutenberg was even born.” (M. Sophia Newman, “So, Gutenberg Didn’t Actually Invent the Printing Press”)

Feb. 20, 2020, 8:38pm

“What’s maddening about Pinker’s body of recent work is that it attacks the very people who are doing the most to address the problems he says he cares about.” (Nathan J. Robinson, “The World’s Most Annoying Man”)

Feb. 20, 2020, 8:31pm

“Uber has no hope of expanding its transport services beyond taxis. Uber’s costs are higher than traditional cab operators, and nothing in Uber’s IPO prospectus offers any clue as to how it could ever reduce its costs to the point where they became competitive with mass transit or private cars.” (Hubert Horan, “Uber’s Path of Destruction”)

Feb. 20, 2020, 8:18pm

“Clericalism, with its cult of secrecy, its theological misogyny, its sexual repressiveness, and its hierarchical power based on threats of a doom-laden afterlife, is at the root of Roman Catholic dysfunction.” (James Carroll, “Abolish the Priesthood”)

Feb. 19, 2020, 9:01pm

“The children seem to have scooped up clay-rich mud from the floor and smeared it on a stalagmite against the far wall, then drew curved, sinuous shapes in the wet clay with their fingers. Today, visitors to the cave can see those fluted finger-tracks, which clearly mark the heights of the three young children.” (Kiona N. Smith, “14,000-year-old footprints record an underground Stone Age family outing”)

Feb. 19, 2020, 8:43pm

“A client would come in to work out a billing procedure, and after Jackson had put the relevant numbers on a sheet — in light pencil, so erasures could be easily made — various questions would come up. For example, if the billing procedure was based on a 15 percent interest rate, what would happen if the rate went up to 18 percent? To find out, the whole sheet would have to be redone. Each figure would have to be punched into a hand calculator and then checked by one of Jackson’s employees.” (Steven Levy, “A Spreadsheet Way of Knowledge” (1984))

Feb. 19, 2020, 8:32pm

“These random angry people are merely asking us to keep our promises. We told them 20-some years ago that we’d try to abolish government and bring a world of plenty. We told them we’d make them powerful, that we’d open gates of knowledge and opportunity.” (Paul Ford, “Why I (Still) Love Tech: In Defense of a Difficult Industry”)

Feb. 19, 2020, 8:27pm