- Why We Should Demand a Shorter Workweek
To add some perspective: Refusal of work
- The Lost Civilizations of Asia
Some preservation would indeed be appreciated, many of the lesser known sites are slowly rotting away.
- Why Birds Keep Crashing Into Cars And Planes
Apparently because they judge the potential danger of approaching objects by distance and not by speed.
- Burma’s bizarre capital: a super-sized slice of post-apocalypse suburbia
I only drove through Naypyidaw by bus at night, but it sure did feel bizarre.
- The great escape that changed Africa’s future
Highly recommended, a very good read and a gripping story.
- Being an Animator in Japan Is Brutal
I’m no Japan expert, but I can’t imagine that 1000$ a month is anywhere close to a living wage.
- No more physics and maths, Finland to stop teaching individual subjects
I’m not sure I like the premise, but education surely can do with an overhaul.
- Guest Post: 5 Chinese Ghost Cities That Came Alive
Good read, especially because gives an alternative version on China’s urban development.
- Ebola whole virus vaccine shown effective, safe in primates
That’s some great news.
- The Origin of the Tale that Gavrilo Princip Was Eating a Sandwich When He Assassinated Franz Ferdinand
Time for some history.
- Why Thai women cut off their husbands’ penises
The article is somewhat older, but still an interesting read.
- Wie Austromarxismus zum Spottbegriff wurde
A short but interesting article about Austrian Marxism after the first Wold War.
- Journey to the Centre of the Earth
Fascinating visualization by the BBC.
- Hip Hop Video from Saudi Arabia Takes on the Exploitation of Immigrant Laborers
Good to see some social awareness in the region.
- A new New Cairo: Egypt plans £30bn purpose-built capital in desert
Egypt plans to build a new capital with up to 5 million inhabitants within 5-7 years.
- Lighten Up
Our narratives should be as diverse as our realities.
- Parasite turns shrimp into voracious cannibals
Exploring the role of parasites in cannibalism.
- Noam Chomsky on the Roots of American Racism
Once again a very interesting interview.
- The Bengal Famine: How the British engineered the worst genocide in human history for profit
Als this is not the only politically motivated/engineered famine.
- Google crocks capacitors and deviates DRAM to root Linux
That’s one creative exploit.
- Chinese Labor Strike: 5,000 Workers Strike At Factory Making Shoes For Nike, Timberland, Kenneth Cole; Police Dogs Deployed
There is a certain irony to labor strikes in “Communist” countries.
- Psychoactive Plant May Hold Key to Reversing Diabetes
Always good to see some potential advancements for chronic diseases.
- Government agents ‘directly involved’ in most high-profile US terror plots
While there’s no need to get the tinfoil hats out, this trend for entrapment by government agencies is rather disturbing.
- Here’s what happened when Bogota decided to let graffiti artists do their thing
Bogota is a city I feel I didn’t have enough time for. Certainly would be worth another visit.
- Neil Gaiman: ‘Terry Pratchett isn’t jolly. He’s angry
RIP Sir Terry Pratchett!
- Listen: Why Scientists Have Created Music Just for Cats
Animals react to music that’s specifically made for them.
- For the first time, the world economy grows while carbon emissions don’t
They are still crazy high though…
- How Ikea took over the world
A really good read.
- Malaysia’s first warrior woman
A female MMA fighter is helping in destroying stereotypes.
Disclaimer: The good folks at The Pragmatic Bookshelf were nice enough to provide me with a free copy of this book, but this has no influence on the contents of the review.
My first contact with Dave Thomas was the famous “Pickaxe book” for Ruby. It wasn’t my first contact with the language, but it certainly helped in deepening my understanding of it. It’s a great book, and I went back numerous times to re-read certain chapters. I already had a crush on Ruby, but “the Pickaxe” helped turning that into a solid and lasting love affair.
Fast-forward some years. While I still love Ruby and work with it professionally, I have to admit to having a new language crush: Elixir. I’ve been interested in Erlang for several years, read some books, dabbled a bit, but never really got into the language. Elixir however got me hooked almost from the get-go. I find it’s a simple, elegant language, that’s easy to pick up, but has quite some depth.
Let’s start off by clearly stating what this book is not: a reference. It weighs in at around 340 pages and does not try to cover every aspect of Elixir/Erlang. It still is one of my all-time favorite programming books though. Why? Because I believe it does an amazing job in conveying the “essence” of Elixir. There’s no point in documenting APIs, the language has great documentation online. Instead Dave tries to teach the reader how to think in Elixir.
“Programming Elixir” has three main parts. The first called “Conventional Programming” introduces some core concepts like pattern matching and immutability, before covering Elixir types, functions, modules, language constructs, and project organization. It’s easy to read, but not too boring for seasoned developers. However, if you have some previous experience with Elixir, Erlang, or even some other functional programming language you may end up skimming this section a bit, at least I did.
Where it starts to get really interesting is the next part called “Concurrent Programming”, which covers processes, nodes and the basics of OTP. This latter part can easily fill books of its own, so the author only manages to cover some behaviours, like servers (gen_server to be specific), supervisors and applications. It’s some excellent material however, so unless you’re a seasoned Erlang developer this part alone could be reason enough to read this book. Sure, it would have been great to go into some more detail or cover more of OTP, but I think it’s more than enough to make people understand the core principles of the framework so they are able to continue their studies with a solid foundation. I’ve seen many people struggle with the concept of processes and message passing concurrency, despite the relative simplicity of the Actor model. But when Dave suggests thinking of processes somewhat like objects in the sense that they encapsulate state, sending messages suddenly will feel very familiar to OO programmers who find it hard to structure their code around Elixir/Erlang semantics.
Last but not least there’s “More Advanced Elixir”, which covers macros, protocols, the language’s approach to mixins and a grab bag of topics that didn’t quite warrant chapters of their own. I really liked this entire section, especially the parts on protocols and mixins. I feel like it gave me the tools to look at most Elixir code and figure out what’s happening, which is quite an achievement for a book of this length.
The world of Erlang/OTP is somewhat different from other programming languages, so no matter what your background is, chances are that certain things may feel somewhat alien to you. This is were “Programming Elixir” shines: it doesn’t just try to get you to write Elixir, it wants you to write good idiomatic code because you understand what makes the language tick. The writing has a good flow and is to the point. On top of that each chapter comes with some well thought-out exercises that should keep motivated readers busy for a while. It’s hard to imagine a better introduction to the language than “Programming Elixir”, highly recommended!
- No, Mornings Don’t Make You Moral
Luckily my job allows me to at least somewhat live my night owl tendencies.
- No one could see the color blue until modern times
While the title is borderline click bait, the actual article is very interesting.
- Pepe Mujica: “Vielleicht bin ich ein wenig Anarchist”
Nice interview (in German).
- GPG And Me
While the actual blog post is a bit weak, the comments have some good discussions.
- Araújo’s Vision for East Timor
Sometimes you also have to talk about the “forgotten” countries.
- Brazil releases ‘good’ mosquitoes to fight dengue fever
This sounds like it could be a major step in the fight against dengue!
- The Punisher’s Paradise
“The state calls its own violence law, but that of the individual, crime.” — Max Stirner.
- “I found myself turning into an idiot!”: David Graeber explains the life-sapping reality of bureaucratic life
- In the End, People May Really Just Want to Date Themselves
At least according to statistics done with data from various popular online dating sites.
- Exclusive: Lost City Discovered in the Honduran Rain Forest
There may be remnats of a whole lost civilization, but they are threatened by greed.
- The best idea to redevelop Dharavi slum? Scrap the plans and start again
When visiting Dharavi in 2008 I was blown away. Certainly not what I expected from a slum.
- Modernization Theory and Uncritical Histories: A Review of South Korea’s Rise
Since I’m not a big fan of modernization theory myself, this resonates with me.
- Ancient Civilizations Held The Key To Gotham’s Growth
Maybe some things really don’t change.
- Why are women leaving the tech industry in droves?
As if our industry didn’t already have a pretty bad male:female ratio…
- ‘Nobody My Age Can Afford to Stay Here Forever’
Unfortunately London’s not the only city that’s becoming unlivable.
- 10 photos of the real 19th Century Gangs of New York
- The disappeared: Chicago police detain Americans at abuse-laden ‘black site’
No matter where they are, “black sites” should not be part of any law enforcement apparatus.
- Visualizing Hold’em Hands
Poker and visualizations in one post, I basically had to include this.
- Antiwork – a radical shift in how we view “jobs”
I always was of the opinion that work is overrated.
- The super-rich don’t care about us. It will be their downfall
Always refreshing to see articles like this in mainstream media.
- Was Colonialism Good for Asia?
This article tries to refute a controversial claim made by the mayor of Taipei.
- What ISIS Really Wants
This is a very long read for an article (around 45 minutes), but it’s worth every minute of it.
- Das Geheimnis des billigen Öls
Interesting article on why olive oil can be so cheap in discount supermarkets (in German).
- What is the oldest city in the world?
tl;dr: Probably Aleppo.
- Malaria on Myanmar-India border is ‘huge threat’
Now that’s bad news.
- The Time Everyone “Corrected” the World’s Smartest Woman
Funny, I just talked about this statistical problem with a friend last week.
- Jerry Lawson, a self-taught engineer, gave us video game cartridges
Do you have good memories of blowing into game cartriges? This is the man to thank!
- The Tyrant as Editor
Interesting article about Stalin as editor of Pravda and editor of history.
- Equation Group: The Crown Creator of Cyber-Espionage
If that’s not state-sponsored, then what is?
- hackme: Deconstructing an ELF File
Great read. If you like this sort of thing, I can wholeheartedly recommend A Bug Hunter’s Diary (affiliate link).
- 10 Things People Once Complained Would Ruin The English Language
Next up: the Internet.
- Samsung’s warning: Our Smart TVs record your living room chatter
If you read the article, also read this comment: comment
- Singapore: A Mutiny Like No Other
A bit of history for the 50 years anniversary this year.
- No Big Bang? Quantum equation predicts universe has no beginning
This week’s most discussed Physic’s article.
- Chinese charge government officials for being part of “illegal underground Tibetan independence organization”
I have to say I’m somewhat surprised by this.
- A City Where Everyone Works, There is No Police, and the Salary is 1200 Euros
This is not some sort of socialist utopia, but a real place.
- Does Work Really Work?
Somewhat older, but still a very good read.
- Spanish is the happiest language, Chinese the most balanced, new study reveals
Language ans statistics, of course I like this.
- Life in Prisons in Southeast Asia is far removed from the West
No news here, but may be interesting for people not aware of the situation in SE Asian prisons.
- Don’t Call them Expats, They are Immigrants like Everyone Else
For me: expat = sent abroad by company, getting bonuses etc. for working abroad. Everyone else, myself included, is a foreign worker/migrant. In a discussion on Facebook however someone mentioned the following, which strikes me as true: moving from richer to poorer country = expat. Moving from poorer to richer country = migrant.
- Yes, Oil Is Behind a Lot of Wars
Also interesting in this context: Greed versus Grievance
- India: The Austria-Hungary of the 21st Century?
You don’t see Austria and India compared all that often. Th comparison seems rather far-fetched though.
- Sea Slug has Taken Genes from the Algae it Eats, Allowing it to Photosynthesize Like a Plant, Study Reports
This is really fascinating, but is it true?
- Top China analyst: Beijing has been duping the US since Mao
Now I’m not one to underestimate the Chinese, but this does sound a bit paranoid.
- The World’s Email Encryption Software Relies on One Guy, Who is Going Broke
Luckily this article seems to have greatly improved things for Werner Koch.
- What are Europeans afraid of most?
“A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic. And yet the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp.” — George Orwell, 1984
- Parton sends books to Rotherham
Let’s finish on a positive note…
- Men are less promiscuous when women are scarce
Evolutionary speaking, this seems to make sense.
- Greece shows what can happen when the young revolt against corrupt elites
I wonder if something similar will happen in Spain this year.
- Indonesia Is About To Start Producing A Male Birth Control Pill That Will Change The World
This would be a real game changer for women around the world.
- China’s tourist turn-offs: visitor numbers down thanks to rising yuan, pollution and visa issues
Reading this makes me glad that I managed to see China in the early 2000s.
- Pablo Escobar’s hippos: A growing problem
Escobar certainly left a legacy to Colombia.
- Human rights groups demand UN action on abuses in Laos
Unlike most of its other SE Asian neighbors, nobody seems to talk about Laos much.
- How Seville transformed itself into the cycling capital of southern Europe
Seville’s one of my favorite European cities already, here’s one more reason to like it.
- Spanish Civil War: Rediscovered photos in Navarra museum
Very interesting photos.
- Auschwitz Survivor Gena Turgel Walked Out of Gas Chamber Alive
Despite the sensationlist headline, it’s important we listen to the last Holocaust survivors.
- 7 shocking facts about Saudi Arabia under ‘modernizing’ reign of King Abdullah