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Recurse Center

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Coding requires collaboration. As Andrew Bosworth said recently: doing anything meaningful past a certain point requires more than one person. So if you want to build, it’s important to do so as part of a welcoming, collaborative environment.

One environment I’ve long admired is that of the Recurse Center (formerly known as Hacker School). They’ve been unusually thoughtful about the dynamics of their culture. I’ve always thought that if I had three months to spare, I would attend a batch to experience the community directly (and hopefully contribute back however I can).

And, well, now I have that kind of time.


I was initially surprised by how many experienced engineers told me that they too would attend a Recurse Center batch, if only they could make the timing and logistics work. But I think it shows that no matter how long you’ve been coding, there will always be areas of programming you’ve been meaning to try, and it’s best to do so around other people.

I’m applying to the Summer 2 batch (starting in July). If you have the time to spare, you should apply too!

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Evolution

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Mike Isaac and David Gelles, writing for the NYT Bits blog:

After the flurry of attention and just a few months later, Secret opted to raise another round of financing, this time seeking $25 million. Bill Maris, managing partner of Google Ventures, did not think it was a good idea and the company did not participate.

“We advised them against it,” Mr. Maris said in an interview, referring to Secret’s leaders. “We told them they didn’t need the money. And raising that much money that soon, it was going to be impossible to meet the expectations in the future.” […]

The company completed its $25 million financing led by Index Ventures and Redpoint Ventures, along with a variety of individual angel investors. In that round, the two founders each wanted to take $3 million off the table for themselves, a practice that is commonplace for more mature companies, but less so for very young start-ups.

“It’s like a bank heist,” Mr. Maris said. “That’s not how you do a start-up.”

Later in the day, in an email to Isaac he posted publicly on Medium, Bill Maris wrote:

I want to correct and amend a few things. I wanted to let you know how my views had evolved since we spoke. […] I do want to make clear that this was not a “bank heist,” and that was a poor choice of words on my part.

That implies that the founders were trying to line their pockets at the expense of others. After having a heart to heart with David, I don’t think that’s true. David rightly pointed out to me that he and Chrys worked extremely hard. They built something that captured the imagination of a lot of people and had a huge amount of users. The tone and content of my comments as printed don’t pay the appropriate respect to that fact.

I don’t know what motivated him to speak so openly to The Times, but I know which one of his views sounds more honest to me, and it isn’t the “evolved” one.

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rafeco
21 days ago
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Taking that money was a bank heist.
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Consumer Reports’s Initial Apple Watch Test Results

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Impressive scratch-resistance results, especially for the sapphire crystal on the steel Apple Watch. Water resistance was as good as better than promised, and the heart rate monitor was as accurate as their highest-rated dedicated chest-strap monitor.

More details here.

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rafeco
30 days ago
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Most of what people don't like about the Apple Watch is software issues. The hardware seems great.
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Recently Spotted 103-Year-Old Orca Is Bad News For SeaWorld -- Here's Why

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UPDATE: Since this post, Granny has been making serious waves, by guiding her familyswimming hundreds and hundreds of miles off the Pacific coast and by generally proving SeaWorld wrong in every way. Also see this post for an explanation of how scientists know her age. 

SeaWorld could be in trouble because of “Granny,” the world’s oldest known living orca. The 103-year-old whale (also known as J2) was recently spotted off Canada’s western coast with her pod -- her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. But while the Granny sighting is thrilling for us, it’s problematic for SeaWorld.    

First of all, SeaWorld has claimed that “no one knows for sure how long killer whales live,” when simple figures or even living and thriving examples -- like Granny -- can give us a pretty good idea. The Whale and Dolphin Conservation project estimates that whales born in captivity only live to 4.5 years old, on average; many of SeaWorld’s orcas die before they reach their 20s. Perhaps because of their reduced lifespans, the whales are forced to breed continuously and at perilously young ages, which could also diminish their overall health. 

Another key aspect of an orca’s life -- which is missing in captivity -- is the ability to swim up to 100 miles per day. When Granny was spotted earlier this week, she had just finished an 800-mile trek from northern California along with her pod. According to animal welfare advocates, long-distance swimming is integral to orcas’ psychological health and well-being; SeaWorld, however, has gone on record claiming that orcas do not need to swim hundreds of miles regularly, ostensibly to defend the parks’ cruel practice of keeping massive, powerful orcas confined to cramped tanks.

Since Granny was first spotted (as early as the 1930s), she’s believed to have mothered two calves, who in turn have had calves of their own. (One of her grandchildren, Canuck, reportedly died at the age of 4 after being captured and held at SeaWorld). As her pod has grown, Granny has kept up with them -- without being separated through human intervention -- and traveled astonishing distances with her pod annually. Orcas at SeaWorld are routinely separated from their pods, which has been known to cause huge mental and emotional strain and can prevent calves from developing normally.

Granny doesn’t simply represent an impressive feat of nature; she embodies what’s wrong with SeaWorld by being a living example of what’s right in the wild. While it’s true that most wild orcas don’t live as long as Granny has, their lifespans are still dramatically longer than those of SeaWorld’s whales (the NOAA estimates that wild female orcas, like Granny, live an average of 50 to 60 years). Their lives are also filled with much more swimming, exploration, variety and bonding with family -- in other words, their lives are likely filled with much more joy.  

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5 public comments
levenzhang
18 days ago
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jeremylanteigne10 days ago
The difference is being able to live
Courtney
28 days ago
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If you can see the problem with SeaWorld, then I also encourage you to take a look at our prison system and its effects on inmate mental and physical health.
Boston, MA
jeremylanteigne
29 days ago
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The difference is being able to live
Calgary, Alberta
FuliginCloak
31 days ago
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_Blackfish_ was a pretty decent documentary on this topic, the ethically very troubling practice of keeping orcas in captivity. These are very intelligent, even creative, and very social creatures. Keeping them as we do is as wrong as it would be to keep human kids in isolated cellars.
JayM
32 days ago
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:(
Boston Metro Area

1491, the TV series

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1491 TV

Charles Mann's 1491 is one of my all-time favorite books. I mean, if this description doesn't stir you:

Contrary to what so many Americans learn in school, the pre-Columbian Indians were not sparsely settled in a pristine wilderness; rather, there were huge numbers of Indians who actively molded and influenced the land around them. The astonishing Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan had running water and immaculately clean streets, and was larger than any contemporary European city. Mexican cultures created corn in a specialized breeding process that it has been called man's first feat of genetic engineering. Indeed, Indians were not living lightly on the land but were landscaping and manipulating their world in ways that we are only now beginning to understand. Challenging and surprising, this a transformative new look at a rich and fascinating world we only thought we knew.

On Twitter yesterday, Mann shared that a documentary series was being made based on the book. The eight-part series is being commissioned by Canada's APTN (Aboriginal Peoples Television Network) and Barbara Hager, who is of Cree/Metis heritage, will write, direct, and produce.

This is fantastic news. I hope this gets US distribution at some point, even if it's online-only.

Tags: 1491Barbara Hager books Charles MannTV books
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rafeco
34 days ago
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Very eager to see this
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1 public comment
DMack
35 days ago
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Let's make an effort to better understand Native Americans and their history, but by all means let's keep calling them "Indians" like it's a pre-war daffy duck cartoon lol
Victoria, BC
inklesspen
35 days ago
Indian is actually a preferred term by a lot of native activist groups.
blakeyrat
32 days ago
Read the book, he talks about that. He uses "Indian" because the majority of the groups he interviews self-identify as "Indian". Who is he to tell them what word to use?

Desire map of the world

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This map was compiled using the autocomplete results for "how much does a * cost" for every country in the world.

Desire Map World

Some notable desires: Mexican tummy tucks, Brazilian prostitutes, Albanian nose jobs, Russian MiGs, Lebanese PS3s, and Japanese watermelons.

See also the desire map of the US.

Tags: Google   maps   search
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rafeco
35 days ago
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I award Iran "most terrifying"
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3 public comments
emdot
36 days ago
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I like how the "To fly a mig" answer got its own color denoted as WTF.
San Luis Obispo, CA
pfctdayelise
36 days ago
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This is a pretty friggin bad analysis. You really think the people googling "How much does food cost in Spain" are Spanish? Come on now.
Melbourne, Australia
DMack
36 days ago
Glad I'm not the only one who noticed that. It's more like a curiosity map, based on wherever the person was googling from
omegar
36 days ago
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Mexican tummy tucks, Japanese watermelons.
México, D.F.
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