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Links and Notes for April 2nd, 2021

Published by marco on

Updated by marco on

Below are links to articles, highlighted passages[1], and occasional annotations[2] for the week ending on the date in the title, enriching the raw data from Instapaper Likes and Twitter. They are intentionally succinct, else they’d be articles and probably end up in the gigantic backlog of unpublished drafts. YMMV.

[1] Emphases are added, unless otherwise noted.
[2] Annotations are only lightly edited.

COVID-19

Facemasks in the COVID-19 era: A health hypothesis (National Center for Biotechnology Information)

“Many countries across the globe utilized medical and non-medical facemasks as [a] non-pharmaceutical intervention for reducing the transmission and infectivity of coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19). Although, [sic] scientific evidence supporting facemasks’ [nice job!] efficacy is lacking, adverse physiological, psychological and health effects are established. Is [sic] has been hypothesized that facemasks have compromised safety and efficacy profile [sic…and what?] and should be avoided from use. [sic] The current article comprehensively summarizes scientific evidences [sic] with respect to wearing facemasks in the COVID-19 era, providing prosper [sic] information for public health and decisions making. [sic]”

This abstract has so many typos and grammatical errors, there’s no way this was peer-reviewed. I can spare myself the job of reading the rest. I’d included it in my reading list to see what new information they’d brought to light about the efficacy of facemasks. The abstract is already a minefield of errors, so what’s the point of even reading the study?

Economy & Finance

Automation and the Future of Work by Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs (YouTube)

“Aaron Benanav will join the Rhodes Center to discuss his new book, Automation and the Future of Work.”

At 55:00

Mark Blyth: As the price of carbon goes up, costs go up. There’s kind of a trap here, that we fall into, that basically the transition to the post-carbon economy itself becomes productivity minus. There’s another way that we can have secular stagnation. It’s not just that the fact that we need to this transit, that as the price of carbon goes up, that firms are going to get even more hammered on profits and it’s going to make the situation even more complex. Any thoughts on that, in closing?

Aaron Benanav: We need to transition away from the fossil-fuel economy. The idea that we’re going to be able to do that and sustain or recover high rates of growth—in the kind of most optimistic version of the Green New Deal—I just don’t think that that is likely, basically for the reason that you suggested: that fossil fuel is a fundamental part of the rapid-growth economy.

“But that just means that we need to face more clearly the political struggles and conflicts that rapid growth has hidden in an earlier era and that the absence of growth has really brought to the fore. Those struggles over the character of what we produce, over how much people work and how much they’re […] subservient to their employers.

“[…] Those are questions that we’re forced to deal with because of secular stagnation. And I’ll just emphasize that what I like about automation theorists is precisely that they’re looking at this and trying, in the face of the kind of pessimism of that situation, to give a really optimistic story about the our future as a species.

“Now, they find their optimism in a tendency in technology and my account is that we can find that optimism instead in our capacity to reorganize society in a way that really leads to people working less, having a lot more say over their futures and in which slower aggregate growth on the whole does not lead to really negative outcomes for people’s lives and make them deeply insecure in their work. That’s my closing pitch.”

And quite a closing pitch in was. Great answer and summary of his whole thesis. Excellent interview.


You Can’t Trade Football Futures by Matt Levine (Bloomberg)

“Over time, the CFTC allowed more and more futures contracts, and the rationale was less “this is a commodity that someone can deliver in the future” and more “this is a financial contract that can hedge a real business risk.” So futures on volatility and interest rates are not like oil futures, in the sense that you can’t load an interest rate on a tanker ship and deliver it to a customer, but they are like oil futures in the sense that interest rates and volatility are important risks for real businesses and those businesses might want to hedge them.”
“Another very important difference, historically, is that a lot of commodity futures have physical settlement. That is, an oil futures contract feels more “real” than sports gambling because at the end of it the short party might deliver oil to the long party. (In practice futures tend to be used for financial hedging and speculation and are often closed out without delivery, but delivery is an option.) So a futures contract feels like a business transaction in which an oil producer arranges to deliver oil to an oil consumer, at a fixed price, in the future.


Book Review: Antifragile by Scott Siskind (Astral Codex Ten)

“And George can adapt. As his business starts going down, he can take appropriate steps, whether that’s branching out into new businesses (courier? working as a cabdriver half-time and digging ditches the other half?) or lowering his expenses. If demand declines in one neighborhood, he can figure out where the passengers are and shift to another. John can do none of these things. He just sits and banks until the axe falls.”

These examples from the gig economy tend to ignore the fact that you have to work like this. You can’t take a break or coast for a week when you’re sick or you slept poorly. There is no give in the system.

They make it sound like it’s so awesome because you’re not at the whim of a boss that, for inscrutable reasons, might someday just can you. That’s great, but the trade-off is that you’re constantly hustling, always worried that you’re missing an angle that going to directly reduce your pay.

Your day-to-day performance at a paid job doesn’t (or shouldn’t) matter too much, so you don’t have to stress if you’re not feeling that great—or just aren’t feeling “it”. At a gig job, everything you do can directly and negatively impact your actual income.

That’s just spreading the stress of a possible “black swan” firing out over your whole life, where you feel guilty for kicking back in the evening—ostensibly “after” work—when you know you could still be out there, earning money.

People, I think, are better at ignoring the not-really-looming threat of being fired for unknown reasons than seeing opportunity and money bleeding away minute by minute.

Think of how many people cannot live with themselves for not having taken advantage of a potential to make money—like having invested in Apple or Bitcoin or Tesla early—they beat themselves up all the time for it. Imagine if that was every day and about everything.

This book and the review make it sound like the “anti-fragility” is preferable, but it sounds worse to me.

“For example, when governments bail out failing businesses, they replace ordinary volatility (sometimes bad companies go bust and people have to shift to better ones) with extreme volatility (no company will ever go bust, until the economy becomes such a basketcase that the government runs out of bailout money and everything collapses at once because all the companies are incompetent dinosaurs).”

The argument here isn’t against stability, it’s against corruption.

“The dodos had a good run free from predators for a few thousand years − which just meant they had a really bad time as soon as predators arrived. If they’d had predators the whole time, those few thousand years would have been less peaceful and pleasant, but they would have been overall better prepared. Too much government intervention − Taleb claims − is about protecting dodos from predators.”

No agency and no responsibility. A child is beaten because children should be better at defending themselves. I get it for inevitable things, like tsunamis caused by earthquakes, or pandemics, but all of these examples are of human agency driven by egotistical motives of personal gain.

That’s exactly the argument I made above, but here he makes it sound like it’s better to live like Spartans (or Americans): constantly on edge and armed to the teeth, making themselves miserable with the fear of a potential attack, but also ready when one eventually comes.

That’s just letting the fear of a potential risk change who you are. What if it never comes? What if it does and it crushes you anyway? There’s a difference between preparing for something with a strong likelihood of happening and for something that is literally unpredictable.

How could the dodos have prepared for an attack from outside their world? It’s like us preparing interplanetary defenses “just in case”. What a fucking waste of resources and energy and stress.

“Sure, banking is fragile and taxi driving is antifragile, but this has already been priced in − investment bankers make big bucks partly to compensate them against the fact that they might get fired after a few years.”

That is absolutely not the reason they make big bucks. They make the big bucks because they’re criminals and they get what they can, all helping each other maintain the fiction that they should be paid that much. They earn that much because they are good at stealing from others and agree to a salary so that they can steal more than they would on their own.

““Formal systems can’t capture everything and we should be really careful with them” is absolutely true, but the exact task of figuring out how much to use them vs. not use them remains difficult and metis-intensive in a way that, of the figures above, only Chapman seems to grapple with seriously. At some point you have to do a thing, which usually means using some system but also being aware of its limitations.


Happy GameStop Earnings Day by Matt Levine (Bloomberg)

“The giant asset managers, the “Big Three” (BlackRock Inc., Vanguard Group Inc., State Street Corp.), want corporate profits to be high; they want widget workers to get paid a low salary, they want widgets to be sold to consumers at high prices, and they don’t particularly care if the price of widget machinery is high or low. The point is for someone (widget-machine companies, widget manufacturers, both) to collect big profits; the common shareholders will share in those profits wherever they are collected.
“Higher profits at Amazon.com Inc. or Walmart Inc. are better, for big asset managers, than higher profits at your local independent bookstore. If the wholesalers of some product are mostly big public companies, while the retailers are mostly small independent private businesses, the big asset managers will prefer anticompetitive pricing in the wholesale market, etc.”
“All I am saying is that one approximate but useful model here is that a lot of people got rich in the in-game currencies of various blockchain games, and there are only so many useful items that you can buy with those currencies, so now they want to spend their in-game money on rare, expensive, useless in-game status items. Does this person own Jack Dorsey’s first tweet? No, of course not, what would that even mean. Does he “own” it within the rules of a certain sort of blockchain game? Sure, why not. Can he exchange it for $2.9 million? I dunno, maybe? Can he exchange it for $2.9 million worth of Ether? Sure, why not. Why is it worth $2.9 million? Because it announces to other players of the game: “I was able to spend $2.9 million on this thing.” Is all of this real? Yes, a little, in a certain sense, but not entirely, not in the way that … real things are real?”


The IRS Is Letting the Rich Get Away With Tax Evasion by David Sirota (Jacobin)

“The new Internal Revenue Service (IRS) figures compiled by Syracuse University researchers show that in the last eight years, there has been a 72 percent drop in the number of audits of those making more than $1 million. In all, 98 percent of those making more than $1 million did not face an audit last year. Similarly, there has also been a 55 percent drop in the number of audits of America’s largest corporations. In 2012, almost all corporate giants were audited. In 2020, however, almost two-thirds of those corporations were not subjected to audits.
“Amid this decline in scrutiny of the rich, a letter to the Biden administration from eighty-eight progressive groups pointed out: “Since 2011, audit rates for millionaires, who are disproportionately white, have dropped more than twice as much as for taxpayers claiming the (Earned Income Tax Credit), who are disproportionately people of color. Audit coverage is now the heaviest in many low-income majority-Black counties.””
“At the same time, overall enforcement has been hobbled by draconian budget reductions that have resulted in 43 percent fewer IRS revenue agents and 26 percent fewer IRS criminal investigators in the last decade, according to the Syracuse data.”
“New York University tax law professor Chye-Ching Huang has noted that in 2013, the Treasury Department estimated “that each additional dollar dedicated to IRS enforcement results in directly recouping about $6 in taxes owed.””
““After years of Republican budget cuts and skewed priorities, the IRS now audits those who make $20,000 at about the same rate as the top 1%, even though the vast majority of unpaid taxes are attributable to wealthy tax cheats,” said Frank Clemente of Americans for Tax Fairness,”

Public Policy & Politics

Congress, in a Five-Hour Hearing, Demands Tech CEOs Censor the Internet Even More Aggressively by Glenn Greenwald (SubStack)

“Dorsey, by contrast, seemed at the end of his line of patience and tolerance for vapid, moronic censorship demands, and — sitting in a kitchen in front of a pile of plates and glasses — he, refreshingly, barely bothered to hide that indifference. At one point, he flatly stated in response to demands that Twitter do more to remove “disinformation”: “I don’t think we should be the abriters of truth and I don’t think the government should be either.”
“At one point toward the end of the hearing, Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX), in the context of the January 6 riot, actually suggested that the government should create a list of organizations they unilaterally deem to be “domestic terror organization” and then provide it tech companies as guidance for what discussions they should “track and remove”: in other words, treat these groups the same was as ISIS and Al Qaeda.

In other words, use the companies as the NSA.

“They want the worst of all worlds: to maintain Silicon Valley monopoly power but transfer the immense, menacing power to police our discourse from those companies into the hands of the Democratic-controlled Congress and Executive Branch.”


The Death of Humor by Matt Taibbi (TK News)

“Humor is dying all over, for obvious reasons. All comedy is subversive and authoritarianism is the fashion. Comics exist to keep us from taking ourselves too seriously, and we live in an age when people believe they have a constitutional right to be taken seriously, even if — especially if — they’re idiots, repeating thoughts they only just heard for the first time minutes ago. Because humor deflates stupid ideas, humorists are denounced in all cultures that worship stupid ideas, like Spain under the Inquisition, Afghanistan under the Taliban, or today’s United States.”
“Saturday Night Live even commemorated the release of the Mueller report and the death of the collusion theory not by making fun of themselves, or the thousands of pundits, politicians, and other public figures who spent three years insisting it was true, but by doing yet another “Shirtless Putin” skit, with mournful Putin declaring, “I am still powerful guy, even if Trump doesn’t work for me!” I defy anyone to watch this and declare it was written by a comedian, and not someone like David Brock, or an Adam Schiff intern […]”

True dat. SNL is so preachy. And just superficial and politically dumb as fuck.

“In 2021, we’re all mask, and it shines through in White that what drives Ellis batty is that modern Americans not only believe the phony opinions they get from memorizing the latest sacred texts of the Times bestseller list (a fashion obsession no different from the Zegna suits worshipped by the American Psycho bros), but require that everyone else believe them too.
“The Babylon Bee is marketed as something from one of my childhood nightmares (“Your trusted source for Christian news satire”), and the fact that it’s now exponentially more likely to be funny than Stephen Colbert feels like a sign of the End-Times.”
“People are attracted to humorists for the same reason; they’re saying what we can’t. If there’s no room for such people anymore, we’re in a lot of trouble. People can only go without laughing for so long.


Suez Canal blocked by grounded ship by Jean Shaoul (WSWS)

“Shipping lines shop around for countries with looser regulations in a system referred to as “flags of convenience” that enables them to pay lower wages, provide worse accommodations for their crew who are typically Filipinos, Bangladeshis, Chinese and Indonesians, and cut corners on maintenance. In 2019, ships registered to Panama accounted for 30 percent of all ships detained for failing port inspections across the Indian Ocean.”


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez denounces socialists and praises Biden administration, Democratic Party by Eric London (WSWS)

“And what does the DSA have to show for a half century of working within the Democratic Party? The party has abandoned any pretense to social reform, it has waged permanent war and overseen a massive growth in social inequality. The “realignment” strategy paved the way for the Democratic Party’s rapid movement ever further to the right. It succeeded in facilitating the Democrats’ adoption of identity politics, based on doling out privileged positions to corrupt representatives of various racial groups, and a more open acceptance of human rights imperialism.
“Their main role, as expressed in the interview, is to serve as gatekeepers of the bourgeois political left, channeling social opposition into the Democratic Party and placing its left opponents beyond the pale. Those who fight to mobilize the working class (“class essentialism”) for a break with the Democratic Party are “cynical bad faith actors” who want to “destroy.”


It’s All Just Displacement by Freddie deBoer (SubStack)

“If you feel you can’t get mad at the industry that’s impoverishing you, it’s much easier to get mad at the people who you feel are unjustly succeeding in that industry. Trying to cancel Glenn Greenwald (again) because he criticizes the media harshly? Trying to tarnish Substack’s reputation so that cool, paid-up writer types leave it and the bad types like me get kicked off? That they can maybe do. Confronting their industry’s future with open eyes? Too scary, especially for people who were raised to see success as their birthright and have suddenly found that their degrees and their witheringly dry one-liners do not help them when the rent comes due.
They’re so angry because they bought into a notoriously savage industry at the nadir of its labor conditions and were surprised to find that they’re drifting into middle age without anything resembling financial security. I feel for them as I feel for all people living economically precarious lives, but getting rid of Substack or any of its writers will not do anything to fix their industry or their jobs. They wanted more and they got less and it hurts. This isn’t what they dreamed. That’s what this is really about.”

In that, they are just like everyone else, people that they thought they could be comfortably dumping on from their elite perches. Now they have to put time and effort into the mental balancing act that allows them to continue to believe that everyone else who fails does so because of incompetence and laziness and lack of ingenuity and drive, but they themselves are failing purely due to external and unfair conditions caused by others. They fail to grok that everyone’s being torpedoed by the same system, by the same tiny handful of true elites.

“I’ve been telling the blue checks for over a decade that their industry was existentially fucked, that the all-advertising model was broken, that Google and Facebook would inevitably hoover up all the profit, that there are too many affluent kids fresh out of college just looking for a foothold in New York who’ll work for next to nothing and in doing so driving down the wages of everyone else […]”
“Why have half a million people signed up as paying subscribers of various Substack newsletters, if the establishment media is providing the diversity of viewpoints that is an absolute market requirement in a country with a vast diversity of opinions? You can try to make an adult determination about that question, to better understand what media is missing, or you can read this and write some shitty joke tweet while your industry burns to the ground around you.
“What there might not be much of a market for anymore is, well, you − college educated, urban, upwardly striving if not economically improving, woke, ironic, and selling that wokeness and that irony as your only product. Because you flooded the market. Everyone in your entire industry is selling the exact same thing, tired sarcastic jokes and bleating righteousness about injustices they don’t suffer under themselves, and it’s not good in basic economic terms if you’re selling the same thing as everyone else.”
“The vast majority of the country is not woke, including the vast majority of women and people of color. How could it possibly be healthy for the entire media industry to be captured by any single niche political movement, let alone one that nobody likes? Why does no one in media seem willing to have an honest, uncomfortable conversation about the near-total takeover of their industry by a fringe ideology?
“[…] they seem to have thought they could paint most of the country as vicious bigots and that their audiences would just come along for the ride.”


The Quest to Tell Science from Pseudoscience by Michael D. Gordin (Boston Review)

“You cannot just rely on those parts of science that are correct, since science is a work in progress. Much of what scientists claim is provisional, after all, and often turns out to be wrong. That does not mean those who were wrong were engaged in “pseudoscience,” or even that they were doing “bad science”—this is just how science operates. What makes a theory scientific is something other than the fact that it is right.


The Limits of Conspiracy Debunking by David Kordahl (3 Quarks Daily)

“I think there’s nothing wrong with calling behavior that takes agency away from voters “rigging,” which means that I think the Democratic primaries were rigged.”


The Evil Within Us by Chris Hedges (ScheerPost)

“The simplistic message was always the same. The world was divided into us and them, the blessed and the damned, agents of God and agents of Satan, good and evil. Millions of largely white Americans, hermetically sealed within the ideology of the Christian Right, yearn to destroy the Satanic forces they blame for the debacle of their lives, the broken homes, domestic and sexual abuse, struggling single parent households, lack of opportunities, crippling debt, poverty, evictions, bankruptcies, loss of sustainable incomes and the decay of their communities. Satanic forces, they believe, control the financial systems, the media, public education and the three branches of government. They believed this long before Donald Trump,”
Capitalism, because God blessed the righteous with wealth and power and condemned the immoral to poverty and suffering, is shorn of its inherent cruelty and exploitation.
Those who advance the holy crusade alone know the truth. They alone have been anointed by God or, in the language of American imperialism, western civilization, to do battle with evil. They alone have the right to impose their “values” on others by force. Once evil is external, once the human race is divided into the righteous and the damned, repression and even murder become a sacred duty.”
“Those gripped by radical evil always externalize evil. They lose touch with their own humanity. They are blind to their own innate depravity. In the name of western civilization and high ideals, in the name of reason and science, in the name of America, in the name of the free market, in the name of Jesus, they seek the subjugation and annihilation of others. Radical evil, Hannah Arendt wrote, makes whole groups of human beings superfluous. They become, rhetorically, living corpses before often becoming actual corpses.”
“We must unmask the lie of our pretended innocence. Long’s murderous spree was quintessentially American. That is what makes it, along with all other hate crimes, along with our endless imperial wars, police terror, callous abandonment of the poor and the vulnerable, so frightening. This evil will not be tamed until it is named and confronted.


Why We (Still) Shouldn’t Censor Misinformation by Joseph Uscinski (Reason)

“But it strains credulity to believe random tweets can lead otherwise normal people to drive across the country and stage an insurrection. That places an undue focus on misinformation itself, rather than on the people and institutions sharing it and on the people who choose to access and believe it. It also seems odd to call for more government intervention into our information ecosystem when government officials—the president, members of Congress—were, in this instance, the biggest purveyors of misinformation.”
“The desire that others believe the “right” things and act the “right” way is often well-intentioned. I too would prefer that people not inject themselves with bleach because they heard that it can prevent COVID-19. But designs on others’ beliefs are sometimes little more than expressions of crass self-interest or, worse, authoritarian tendencies.
“So on one hand, Sunstein acknowledges that officials cannot be trusted to police truth because they have their own biases, which can ultimately lead to punishing dissent rather than mere falsehood. But he simultaneously argues that more categories of speech should lack constitutional protection and that government should play a role in determining both what is false and under what circumstances people should be allowed to freely express falsehoods.”


Do You Believe in Magic? by James Howard Kunstler (Clusterfuck Nation)

“we’re nearing the end of mass motoring and commercial aviation as we’ve known them. If we even have electricity twenty-five years from now, it will come from much-reduced grids on a much more regional basis. The bottom line for all this is that pretty soon every corner of the country will be on its own amid quite a bit of social disorder and financial wreckage. So, whatever energy you actually can marshal to Build Back Better, save it for your town or your local community. […]”


Journalists Attack the Powerless, Then Self-Victimize to Bar Criticisms of Themselves by Glenn Greenwald (SubStack)

“Wow, what brave and intrepid journalistic work: speaking truth to power and standing up to major power centers by . . . working as little police officers for tech giants to prevent private citizens from being able to afford criminal lawyers. Clear the shelves for the imminent Pulitzer. Whatever you think about the Capitol riot, everyone has the right to a legal defense and to do what they can to ensure they have the best legal defense possible — especially when the full weight of the Justice Department is crashing down on your head even for non-violent offenses, which is what many of these defendants are charged with due to the politically charged nature of the investigation.”
“This USA Today article is thus yet another example of journalists at major media outlets abusing their platforms to attack and expose anything other than the real power centers which compose the ruling class and govern the U.S.: the CIA, the FBI, security state agencies, Wall Street, Silicon Valley oligarchs.”
“If you think the real power centers in the US are the Proud Boys, 4Chan & Boogaloos rather than the CIA, FBI, NSA, Wall Street and Silicon Valley, and spend most of your time battling the former while serving the latter as stenographers, your journalism is definitionally shit.”
“And just like that, the real victims in America are not the jobless or the homeless or residents of addiction-ravaged communities or victims of violent crime but, instead, the rich, famous TV personalities for CNN. This is the fictitious melodrama — with themselves cast as the stars — that they are demanding you ingest to treat them with deference and respect.”
Criticism, even harsh criticism, comes with the territory: the cost of the immense privilege of having a public platform to shape debate. If you do not want to be criticized or called names, don’t become a journalist or seek out public platforms.”

Art & Literature

Excavating the Future by John Thomason (Commonweal)

“The limits of this sort of public policy were visible in the Great Recession, but they appear even more stark now. The public-health measures necessary to control viral transmission are simply incompatible with many of the forms of mass consumption that undergird America’s economic dynamism. After a half-century in which one or both major political parties prioritized greasing the wheels for this kind of consumption, is it any wonder that mass death is a price that many are willing to pay to “reopen the economy”?”
“Davis’s greatest virtue as a writer may be his awareness that another, undefined future always lies just beyond the one that he has just excavated. And what that future looks like has everything to do with what the rest of us do now.”

Programming

It’s Not Wrong that “🤦🏼‍♂️”.length == 7 by Henri Sivonen

“For a higher-level language, arguments from space requirements or synchronization issues might not be decisive. It’s more relevant to consider what a given length quantity is used for. This is often forgotten in Internet debates that revolve around what length is the most “correct” or “logical” one. So for the lengths that don’t map to the size of storage allocation, what are they good for?”
“A programming language together with its library ecosystem should provide iteration over a string by Unicode scalar value and by extended grapheme cluster, but it does not follow that strings would need to know the scalar value length or the extended grapheme cluster length up front.
“[…] arguments in favor of UTF-32 typically come at a point where the person making the argument has learned about surrogate pairs in UTF-16 but has not yet learned about extended grapheme clusters being even larger things that the user perceives as unit. That is, if you escape the variable-width nature of UTF-16 to UTF-32, you pay by doubling the memory requirements and extended grapheme clusters are still variable-width.
Implementations that choose UTF-8 actually accept the UTF-8 storage requirements. When wider-unit semantics are chosen for a language that doesn’t provide raw memory access and, therefore, has the opportunity to tweak string storage, the implementations try to come up with ways to avoid actually paying the cost of the wider units in some situations.”
“I think the unwillingness of implementations of languages that have chosen UTF-16 or UTF-32 (or UTF-32-ish as in the case of Python 3) string semantics to actually use UTF-16 or UTF-32 storage when they can get away with not using actual UTF-16 or UTF-32 storage is the clearest indictment against UTF-16 or UTF-32 […]”
“[…] in terms of nudging developers to write correct code, UTF-8 has the benefit of being blatantly variable-width, so even with languages such as English, Somali, and Swahili, as soon as you have a dash or a smart quote, the variable-width nature of UTF-8 shows up. In this context, extended grapheme clusters are just extending the variable-width nature.
“If you are doing things that have to be extended grapheme cluster-aware, there just is no way around the issue of not being able to correctly segment text that comes from the future relative to the Unicode segmentation implementation that your program is using. This is not a reason to avoid extended grapheme clusters for tasks that require awareness of extended grapheme clusters.”
“Pulling in a lot of Unicode data due to baking extended grapheme cluster processing into programs whose problem domain doesn’t strictly require working with extended grapheme clusters would be problematic in embedded contexts where the executable size is a real problem […]”
“I’m not aware of any official Unicode definit[i]on that would reliably return 2 as the width of every kind of emoji.”
“The UTF-8 length of Japanese is over median but only by 4.1%. The Japanese version of the text is 48% kanji and 52% hiragana. Japanese Wikipedia has almost the same kana to kanji ratio, though different kana: 46% kanji and the rest almost evenly split between hiragana and katakana, so we may assume the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to be representative of Japanese text in terms of kana to kanji ratio.”

This sounds more complicated than handling dates, but it also sounds wonderful. A persistently analog feature of human language that refuses to let itself be eradicated by simplistic digital dictates that would eliminate expressiveness in the name of progress.

“What Twitter does seems fairer than just applying East Asian Width, but the result is still that the amount of information that can be packed in a tweet can vary four-fold depending on language. That still doesn’t seem exactly fair across languages.”


The dispassionate developer by Mark Seemann (Ploeh)

“Some open-source maintainers have created crucial software that runs everywhere. Companies make millions off that free software, while maintainers are often left with an increasing support burden and no money. They do, however, often get a pat on the back. They get invited to speak at conferences, and can add creator of Xyz to their social media bios. Until they burn out, that is. Passion, after all, comes from the Latin for suffering.”
“If you’re tired of working with legacy code without tests, most of your suggestions for improvements will be met by a shrug. We don’t have time for that now. It’s more important to deliver value to the customer. You’ll have to work long hours and weekends fire-fighting ‘unexpected’ issues in production while still meeting deadlines. A sufficiently cynical employer may have no qualms keeping employees busy this way.”
“Sometimes it’s hard and tedious work, but even so, I do much of it because I can’t really help it. I like to write and teach. I suppose that makes me passionate.”
“Being good at something helps, but you must also make sure that the right people know what you’re good at. You’re probably still going to have to invest some of your ‘free’ time to make that happen. Just beware that you aren’t being taken advantage of. Be dispassionate.”