Author Archives: Robert Marsanyi

My job

I think, in ten years or so, software development will be done in the way project management is done now: as a marshaling of resources rather than the craftwork that currently defines it. The resources will mostly be machine intelligence, bent to the task of mapping fuzzily-defined specifications into executable code. There’ll be a few old crutzers still building things by hand, but such bespoke work will be expensive, and valued more for the aesthetic appeal than the practical benefit.

Ian’s skill set will be much more relevant than mine at that point.

Premature optimism

Debbie Dingell is worried.

Godfrey: What could Trump do to change things up and win your district in November?

Dingell: I got yesterday, from somebody, something called a confession. [Editor’s note: It was a viral, anonymous social-media post.] I used to think I was pretty much just a regular person. But I was born white into a two-parent household, which now labels me as privileged, racist, and responsible for slavery. I’m a fiscal and moral conservative, which by today’s standards makes me a fascist because I plan a budget. But I now find out that I’m not here because I earned it, but because I was advantaged … I think and I reason, and I doubt much of what the mainstream media tells me, which makes me a right-wing conspiracy nut. I’m proud of my heritage and our inclusive American culture. It makes me a xenophobe.

That’s what I’m worried about. This letter right here is what worries me.



Getting tired of hearing state reps from around the country whining about how they did the right thing, but the virus infections are going back up. The virus doesn’t care. You can follow recommendations, or not. Recommendations represent everything from our current best guess at how to deal with the problem to politically motivated bullshit. No panacea. Virus doesn’t care which you do.

The plague state

The aspect of inequality I am concerned about is the fortunate group evading any need to address the problems of the world, because they can use their money and power to insulate themselves from the effects: climate, crime, housing shortages, …

But not this, apparently. Hope springs eternal.

Wait a minute

If the 40 most powerful people in the world have more sway than the poorest 50%, then fixing all our problems amounts to convincing 21 people, doesn’t it? That sounds easier than convincing half the planet. Inequality for the win.

Just 1.5% of all rape cases lead to charge or summons, data reveals | Law | The Guardian

Figures show significant fall in prosecutions in England and Wales and victims waiting longer for justice
— Read on

Tech might help here. I can imagine an app, running on your watch, that in response to a keyword starts an audio or video recording. This might bring the same phenomenon of radical transparency to this crime that we see having such results in the use of cellphone video for violent crimes in general.

Unfortunately, the main candidate for an app like this, the Apple Watch, doesn’t have a mic or a camera; it’s focused on touch and sight as primary interfaces.

Jad Abumrad: How Dolly Parton led me to an epiphany | TED Talk

Radiolab is, and has been for a while, a most interesting and challenging program.  I don’t listen to it regularly, but I’m usually sucked into it when I do.  Jad and his co-host, Robert Krollwich (sadly, he’s now retired from the show) created a new way of doing talk radio.

So, he does this TED talk, and it’s about how he sees what he’s done and what he needs to do.  And, typically, he’s rethought how to do TED talks from a guy wandering around on stage with slides to a video podcast that’s really absorbing and good at explaining what he’s saying while he says it.  And the point, which is a riff on the old Marxist thesis/antithesis/synthesis, is revealed as relevant to now, in a performance of exactly the point he’s making.

Worth a watch.  If you haven’t listened to Radiolab, try it out