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Name Marco Von Ballmoos
Member since
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Home page http://earthli.com/users/marco
Description

The (only) developer at earthli.com.

Contents

2647 Articles
101 Comments

Two Days Ago

A modest proposal: What about COVID bribes?

Published on in Science & Nature

In combatting the pandemic efficiently and successfully, Switzerland is in a pretty bad place right now. It’s not nearly as bad as Austria or Germany (or a bunch of Eastern Europe, for that matter), but it’s not too far behind.

There aren’t too many reasons to believe that things will go any better in Switzerland than it’s gone in those countries—with their overflowing hospitals and people dying due to emergency-triage policies.

That’s the thing about playing musical chairs for real: when... [More]

6 days Ago

Links and Notes for November 26th, 2021

Published on in Notes

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 They are intentionally succinct, else they’d be articles and probably end up in the gigantic backlog of unpublished drafts.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.

Table of Contents

1 week Ago

Truth is a bitter pill

Published on in Quotes

“The Truth Will Set You Free, But First It Will Piss You Off”

The Show

Published on in Quotes

“The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.”
Frank Zappa

Links and Notes for November 19th, 2021

Published on in Notes

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 They are intentionally succinct, else they’d be articles and probably end up in the gigantic backlog of unpublished drafts.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.

Table of Contents

2 weeks Ago

Links and Notes for November 12th, 2021

Published on in Notes

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.

Table of Contents

Google Meet Likes to Hang Up

Published on in Design

I’ve used Google Meet twice in the last month. In both conversations, I exited the meeting room completely inadvertently and was forced to scramble back, profusely apologizing for my lack of technical proficiency.

It all starts with the Google Meet page losing focus, then “detaching” itself from the main window. This seems like a “feature” that prevents the user from switching tabs away from an open meeting. It’s bossy and intrusive.

The first time this happened, I ended up looking at a large... [More]

COP26: A good time was had by all

Published on in Science & Nature

 The Edit by Mr. FishCOP26 has come and gone and many people, if not most of them, didn’t even notice. It was the 26th meeting of world leaders to discuss which measures they can all agree to put into place in order to address climate change.

A few of the other summits are famous by their city names: Kyoto in 1992, where the U.S.—by far the biggest polluter at the time—refused to ratify it; Copenhagen in 2009, where the world’s worst per-capita polluter Canada torpedoed everything so that they wouldn’t have to... [More]

3 weeks Ago

COVID never went away

Published on in Science & Nature

The DACH region ([D]eutschland, [A]ustria, S[CH]weiz) is looking down the barrel of its worst COVID wave yet. We are a good 20 months into the pandemic and nearly a year after the general availability of a highly effective vaccine. To be fair, most people under 65 were not able to get the vaccine until May or June (in Switzerland, at least). However, it’s been 5 months since then.

Stuck in the lifeboat

That’s more than enough time for a civilized and well-educated public to do the right thing... [More]

TacX Training > TacX Desktop

Published on in Design

It’s that time of year again.

It’s time to start biking indoors. 👎

That means the TacX comes out of the basement and I am, once again[1], confronted with the awfulness that is TacX Desktop. I fired it up and was confronted with all of the same bugs and UX missteps that I’d noted a year ago. It’s like the app hadn’t been updated at all.

I got suspicious because I have a friend who uses his TacX regularly and he wouldn’t put up with this crap…so what is he using? I searched the App Store... [More]

This sounds like an awesome job

Published on in Miscellaneous

After 16 years working at Encodo Systems AG, I’m currently between jobs. I’ve been asked a few times, “what do you really want to do?”, to which I usually answer, “what don’t I want to do?”

There are a lot of things I’d like to do that I think would be useful, but for which I’m currently unqualified, or only non-officially qualified. I’m a fast learner, but sometimes that’s not enough. You have to be able to hit the ground running. There’s other stuff for which I’m eminently qualified and for... [More]

A matter of scale

Published on in Quotes

“Kill one man, and you are a murderer.
Kill millions of men, and you are a conqueror.
Kill them all, and you are a god.”


I actually heard this quote initially as “Kill one man, and you’re a murderer; kill them all, and. you. are. a. god.”, delivered from the maw of “featuring ludacris”, Jay Balzarian’s dog on the TV Show Big Mouth. It was in S05E08, which was a Christmas show and the dog was playing a John Wick character and had just finished eliminating an entire Russian gang, triumphing at the... [More]

Apple M1 MacBook Pro

Published on in Technology

So I bought an M1 MacBook Pro (teacher discount FTW!) at the beginning of October and I’m very happy with it. It’s last year’s model, not the fancy new stuff, but it’s still worlds better than any laptop I’ve ever used. Here are the things I like about it so far.

  • The battery 🔋lifetime is extraordinary
  • It’s very quiet 🤫
  • The keyboard ⌨️ is very nice
  • The touchpad is, as always, fantastic
  • The Touch-Bar is quite useful
  • The sound quality on the speakers 🔊 is very, very good... [More]

How dumb can you be?

Published on in Philosophy

The article «Dummheit hat Hochkonjunktur»: Interview mit Psychiaterin Heidi Kastner by Nadja Pastega (Der Bund)[1] discusses the term “Dumm” (dumb, as in stupid). It’s always been a bit difficult to nail down what it means to be “dumb”, once you start to think about it. You can have smart people who act dumb. You can have smart people with no experience, so they’re intelligent, but not wise.

Then there’s the difference between “book smart” and “street smart”—they’re both useful in certain situations. If you don’t have... [More]

Links and Notes for November 5th, 2021

Published on in Notes

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.

Table of Contents

CSS sub-grids (and grids) with Kevin Powell

Published on in Programming

I’ve been using CSS Grids for a while now. I’ve found many instances where I had used flexbox, where grids turn out to be much more appropriate. That is, the grid layout algorithm lets me specify what I want without fiddling about with flex-base and flex-grow, etc. Flexbox definitely has its place, but I think we all ended up abusing it a bit in our rush to leave tables-for-layout behind.

But that’s all in the past because now we have CSS grids available everywhere and all is well with the... [More]

Sleep Cold

Published on in Quotes

“To enjoy bodily warmth, some small part of you must be cold, for there is no quality in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast. Nothing exists in itself. If you flatter yourself that you are all over comfortable, and have been so a long time, then you cannot be said to be comfortable any more. For this reason a sleeping apartment should never be furnished with a fire, which is one of the luxurious discomforts of the rich. For the height of this sort of deliciousness is to have... [More]”

1 month Ago

Why do people think the vaccine kills?

Published on in Science & Nature

I keep finding people who suggest that the vaccine is “potentially sacrificing millions of citizens like so many experimental fruit flies.” That is one of the more reasonable formulations, as the author of the article Medicine Wants to Kill You by James Howard Kunstler (Clusterfuck Nation) has included the word “potentially” to hedge his bets against the fact that many of us have not (yet!) fallen over with an acute case of death brought on by what they deem an untested—or under-tested—vaccine.[1]

They also seem to believe—and almost... [More]

Why can’t identifiers start with a number?

Published on in Programming

The video I’m not sure how much longer I can wait! by Kevin Powell is an excellent introduction to sub-grids in CSS. But I was more interested in the fact that he told his viewers that,

“you can use numbers in classes, but if you have a class or id that starts with a number, it’s invalid. […] It’s one of those weird things in CSS that sometimes trips people up.”

I immediately thought to myself, “it’s not weird. Every programming language is like that.”

Then, I thought, “I bet this guy only knows CSS, so he... [More]

A note on Rush Limbaugh (and others like him)

Published on in Miscellaneous

 A friend recently sent me this meme to note that they’d missed it when it was still relevant. That got me thinking, naturally.

What word should we use to describe Rush? “Genius” is not inappropriate, is it? I mean, he didn’t just carve out a niche; he carved out an empire. He knew what some people wanted to hear and he figured out how to get more and more people to want to hear it. He knew how to sell it. It seems like his radio persona matched his private persona[1], so it’s not even clear... [More]

It’s like you’re not even looking at the charts

Published on in Finance & Economy

The comic Explaining Capitalism to Aliens by Corey Mohler shows a top-hatted capitalist explaining our economy to two, much-taller, blue aliens with tentacles for arms and two extra tentacles extending from their ribcages. Their physiognomy isn’t relevant to the story, but that’s what they look like.

Alien: “Explain to us: how do you decide how to allocate resources, and who does what work, on Earth?”

Human: “So you see, on Earth we have a free market, so resources are efficiently allocated to meet the... [More]”