Rocket Bomber - article - Links and Thoughts - linking to other people's stuff - Links and Thoughts 33: 1 October 2014

Links and Thoughts 33: 1 October 2014

filed under , 1 October 2014, 17:37 by

Maceo Parker – Shake everything you’ve got

Good Afternoon.

The great thing about link round-up posts is there generally isn’t a narrative through-line to worry about — each post is a stand-alone, so even long delays between posts might as well be no delay at all, really — and raiding my cache for (slightly) older links is also fine, as an old link is still a good read so long as the stories are new to you.

In light of the Ebay/PayPal spinoff and the introduction of Apple Pay, I thought this article was worth revisiting:
“A decade after the idea was first sketched on the proverbial drawing board, Starbucks is poised to finally let its customers order their coffees from their phones. And the company’s plans for building on its wildly successful mobile app don’t stop there.
“The Seattle-based coffee giant, which said in March that more than 14 percent of purchases in its U.S. stores are paid for through its app, will allow customers in one undisclosed geographic test market to start placing pickup orders from the Starbucks app later this year, according to the company’s Chief Digital Officer Adam Brotman. This should not be confused as an experiment, Brotman made clear. Starbucks is determined to eventually roll out the technology nationwide, no matter how long it takes.”
Starbucks Has Bigger Plans in Mobile Payments Than Most People Realize, Jason Del Rey, 17 July 2014, Re/code []

“Of course, it has its limits. Testing sewage won’t tell you who’s using, or even how much, Holcomb says. You can’t measure whether the concentration changes over time because more people are ingesting certain drugs overall or because a few people are just ingesting more.
“But it can tell you some things according to Banta-Green — trends over time, for example, or variation by day of the week. Hypothesizing that recreational users partake more on weekends while serious users go all week long can also reveal patterns. And other things, like certain diseases or even medication use, can be measured by sewage as well. University of Puget Sound Associate Professor Dan Burgard has used the practice, often called sewer epidemiology, to study how students use Adderall around exams.”
What Sewers Can Reveal About a City, Rachel Dovey, 1 October 2014, Next City []

“But that’s just it, there’s no incentive to try. Likes breed laziness. Why should a site bust its balls and budget producing exemplary pieces of writing when posting the same, tired, gimmicky viral content will guarantee the good times will never end? There’s every reason to lower the bar, and no reason to raise it. That’s why the content business is where it is. The truly remarkable writing is being carted off into high-brow ghettos like Byliner that can’t even afford to keep an editorial staff together, not to mention the New York Times’ well-publicized financial troubles.
“The Internet media world is a maelstrom of homogeneity. Every site’s editorial mission has become the same: Appease the Facebook user no matter what, even if it means becoming glorified content re-branders rather than legitimate news and opinion outlets, even if it means becoming a carbon copy of a thousand other websites all racing each other to the very bottom.”
The Internet has a content diversity problem, Matt Saccaro, 11 June 2014, The Daily Dot []

Doomed to repeat it etc etc:
“Once upon a time wars were fought for fun and profit; when Rome overran Asia Minor or Spain conquered Peru, it was all about the gold and silver. And that kind of thing still happens. In influential research sponsored by the World Bank, the Oxford economist Paul Collier has shown that the best predictor of civil war, which is all too common in poor countries, is the availability of lootable resources like diamonds. Whatever other reasons rebels cite for their actions seem to be mainly after-the-fact rationalizations. War in the preindustrial world was and still is more like a contest among crime families over who gets to control the rackets than a fight over principles.
“But times have changed, Krugman points out. ‘If you’re a modern, wealthy nation, however, war — even easy, victorious war — doesn’t pay,’ he writes. ‘And this has been true for a long time.’”
Krugman on the Terrifying Reason Nations Keep Waging War subtitled, “War is a huge money loser. So the motive is not greed”, Janet Allon, 18 August 2014, AlterNet []

“Over the last few years, the cognitive science of drawing has begun to receive some serious attention. Previously, researchers had been more interested in understanding the way we appreciate fine art, from Leonardo da Vinci to Jackson Pollock, but far fewer studies had concerned the kind of everyday scribbles we all produce. Yet it seems that our rough sketches do serve important functions. One study has found, for instance, that far from being a distraction, doodling can prevent our minds from wandering into daydreams about the past or future, boosting concentration and memory”
Are we hard-wired to doodle?, David Robson, 1 October 2014, BBC Future []


Today’s Book Recommendation is Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott; it’s not my recommendation per se (though I have certainly done so many times in the past) — instead, today’s rec comes from C.G.P. Grey:

“I’m going to attempt, for a little while anyway, to make public some of my notes from some of the books that I’ve read. This is partly because people are forever asking what I’m reading, but it’s mostly as a way to try and encourage myself to read both more deeply and more frequently — a target I have been trying, and failing, to hit for all my adult life.” …
“These won’t be reviews, they really will just be some sections of the book with a line or two on why I highlighted them. But I hope that they can give you a good idea of if a book might or might not be for you, and if you should read it yourself. Many non-fiction books can be summarized with a few lines, but Bird by Bird captures, for me, why it still often feels necessary to read the entire thing and why you may want to as well even after reading my notes.”
link to the rest: Book Notes: ‘Bird By Bird’ By Anne Lamott


Diary entry for 1 October:

First, a note on the links: since I am (at least temporarily) linking to some relatively ‘old’ stuff, I’ve switched the formatting a bit — not just a hyperlink, but something closer to the way I cite quotes in my long essays. This isn’t APA, MLA, or Chicago Style (over time I’ve fallen into my own pattern without referencing these, based off of vague 20-year-old memories of MLA and now-ancient high school and college papers) but you’ll note I included the date (for those of you who, for whatever reason, won’t read something unless it’s ‘new’).

Also, for my book recommendations, I’ll be relying on (and linking to) the rich (nigh limitless) trove of book reviews and blogs online, and a bit less on my own personal reading. Indeed, if I get to the point where I’m posting one of these every day, I’d quickly run out of books (or begin to sound like a broken record as many of the books I like are going to be similar to each other, for obvious reasons).

And let me hide this little bit at the bottom of the post: [metablogging] Yeah, haven’t written much for the blog recently and I’m kind of sorry for that but not really sorry and I’m thinking about what to do about that and which direction to go from here [/metablogging]

We’ll both see about that, and what comes next, when it comes.

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Yes, all the links are broken.

On June 1, 2015 (after 6 years and 11 months) I needed to relaunch/restart this blog, or at least rekindle my interest in maintaining and updating it.

Rather than delete and discard the whole thing, I instead moved the blog -- database, cms, files, archives, and all -- to this subdomain. When you encounter broken links (and you will encounter broken links) just change the URL in the address bar from to

I know this is inconvenient, and for that I apologise. In addition to breaking tens of thousands of links, this also adversely affects the blog visibility on search engines -- but that, I'm willing to live with. Between the Wayback Machine at and my own half-hearted preservation efforts (which you are currently reading) I feel nothing has been lost, though you may have to dig a bit harder for it.

As always, thank you for reading. Writing version 1.0 of Rocket Bomber was a blast. For those that would like to follow me on the 2.0 - I'll see you back on the main site.



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