February Reads

  • The things Peter Welch sends to recruiters. I stumbled upon his site a few years ago, when his post Programming Sucks made the rounds on the Internet. The guy is a designer and programmer by day, but he moonlights as a writer, which I really admire. I think his sense of humor is excellent. (If you liked Programming Sucks, you might also like this unrelated Quora post about agile programming.)

  • Maciej CegÅ‚owski's talk on website obesity. I recommend clicking through to the video, because he's a great speaker and he will make you laugh. The guy built a one-man bookmarking service that brings in enough money to not require a day job, which I think is really cool. I don't know if he'd be able to write and speak so freely if he were someone's employee.

  • Two very long articles about male nerds, the "nice guy" syndrome, and the underbelly of feminism. I came across them by sheer luck when a friend mentioned them about two years ago. I was in a pretty dark place back then, and I credit reading these (among other things) for allowing me to climb out. I recently re-read them while writing a letter to a friend, and they are every bit as powerful as I remembered.

  • The book Guns, Germs, and Steel, by Jared Diamond. I never liked history in school, because my teachers just wanted me to memorize dates and facts. This book offers a much more inspiring view of history as a way to understand the causes and effects that got us to the world we have today. Why did the Fertile Crescent and China lose their early lead in the development of advanced societies? Why did Europeans colonize North America and not the other way around? In a society organized as a nation-state, is kleptocracy the norm or the exception?

  • A Wired article about abusing slot machines that rely on insecure pseudorandom number generators.

  • A Planet Money episode about the surprising role of bees in today's intensive agriculture.