Link dump

Link dumps 2020-03-21

We're still in lockdown, so there's not much happening. Still, it gives me time to read...

Vincent Alexander's thread on classical music in classic cartoons; Art, Music, Fun; A fun twitter thread on the classical music that you know, but you don't know you know - because it was in cartoons! Lots of small videos make for a fun thing to dip into and out of to put a smile on your face.

Revealed: More money went on failed Garden Bridge than TfL has spent maintaining Thames’ crossings in last decade; Politics, Scandal; The title kind of says it all. Boris Johnson wasted more money trying to get a legacy for his name than he spent on maintaining critical infrastructure for the city. Why anyone thinks he's competent is beyond me...

How Land Registry Data Reveals London’s Secret Tunnels; History, Society, Engineering; How can you find a secret tunnel? Well, you can start by finding out who says that they own the land. I wonder if we can use this to discover shell companies that the intelligence services use?

From buggies to buses, the first Black-owned US automaker did what few others dared; History, Society; A nice summary of a car manufacturer owned and run by an African-American family at a time when that seems unthinkable. They didn't survive, but just the idea that they tried at that time is inspiring.

Stad Ships Tunnel; Engineering, Transport; Ah, Norway. A huge engineering project so that ships can take a shortcut - it makes so much sense, yet has that tinge of visionary lunacy that we associate with the Victorian era in Britain. Never change, Norway. We love you for stuff like this.

If Rush Hour Dies, Does Mass Transit Die With It?; Society, Politics, Transport; An interesting idea. Personally I doubt rush hour will die, but it may get a bit less busy. We're looking at a change, and we have to make that age-old call - is transit a social good we're willing to fund, or a luxury that we're not willing to fund. I think most people who know me can guess which side I fall on.

The paradox of financial innovation; Economics; I find some of the ideas in this fascinating. I don't necessarily agree with it, but I do find myself realising that the markets are set up more for the benefit of those that are already wealthy than for the benefit of society. Securities linked to occupations seem particularly interesting as an idea... (Be warned: he uses Marx in the academic sense not the tabloid sense. Serious readers only, please!)

National Security Risks of Late-Stage Capitalism; Security, Computing, Economics; An interesting column from Bruce Schneier about how a lack of economic incentive is leaving our country - and companies - vulnerable to security risks.

SMBC Comics: Funny; Fun, Society; "Kids start off functional and we adjust them until they're broken! Kids ask why countries don't get along and we just shake our heads instead of saying the truth which is that we are crazy and one day you will be crazy too." - Truth.

Baroness Barker in the House of Lords on trans rights; Society, Human Rights; Baroness Barker makes a powerful speech. The highlight: "We are in familiar territory because powerful campaigns have common characteristics and patterns. A classic campaign identifies a minority group—preferably one about which the majority population knows little—ascribes to it characteristics and motivations which make it a threat and repeats those assertions, preferably with the backing of a neutral body or experts, over and over until they become received wisdom. It is what happened to migrant communities in the UK in the 1970s and, in the 1980s, it was lesbians and gay men. Today, it is the turn of trans people."

I spared you some Brexit links this month, because there was already quite a bit of politics mixed in here. But rest assured that there will probably be something next month, because it's not going away.

Link dumps 2020-02-21

This is the first link dump. It's currently an experiment - the format may change.

Basically when I find something I like reading, I'll bookmark it. Then I'll dump that link here with a little bit of commentary about why I dumped it here. Each link dump should be on the third Sunday of the month...

I started collecting the links at the start of February, and am still forgetting to bookmark all of them, so this one's a bit small. Let's see if there's a second one!

From Dayton, Ohio to Donald Trump - Poetic Fitness; Politics, Economics, Society; This is an interesting long read that posits that both capitalism and communism suffered from the same evil - efficiency. It's an interesting point of view, and I have to admit that it resonates strongly with me. In my professional life I'm often arguing for more resources so that we can mitigate hardware failure or demand spikes - it's baffling to me that we don't take a similar view at a broader societal level. This is nothing new either - the Beeching Cuts and Thatcher's aggressive running down of coal mining are other examples of efficiency being sought with no thought to the wider impact it will have. Sadly, I have no solutions. But I do think it's interesting that it's not a problem specific to a particular political camp...

Stumbling and Mumbling: Labour's patriotism problem; Politics, Identity; I hate nationalism. I don't care which country it's from, it's just not my thing. I just can't believe the immense coincidence that all nationalists just happen to have been born in the best nation in the world, despite all being from different nations. But increasingly our politics is turning nationalist - and this reminds us that nationalism shouldn't be about flags or trophies, but about what our nation does for its people. (It also reminds us that you shouldn't read the comments. You have been warned!)

Glenfarclas 105 Review - The Dramble; Whisky; Zander writes an interesting set of thoughts about water & whisky bottling. And a decent review of Glanfarclass 105, which provoked the whole thing. Worth a read. My tuppence? I like to be able to explore some whiskies. I also like to be able to just drink some others. There's room for both unwatered and watered whisky in my selection...

The Real Novelty of the ARPANET; Computing, History; A reminder that computers used to be even more isolated than they sometimes seem today. The real value in the early internet was less that computers were connected, and more that they were learning to speak a common language for that connection. Cooperation is always a better strategy long term than exclusion.

Brexit & Beyond: The Brexit we've got; Politics; A reminder of how we got to this variant of Brexit, and that those pro-Brexit folks who complain about it have to realise - this is the only Brexit we have. Until they accept that, they will never be happy with it.

We now have new evidence that Richard III murdered the princes in the tower; History; It's not a smoking gun - or should that be blood-stained dagger? - but it's interesting to see that there's still new circumstantial evidence turning up. We'll never be able to prove something like this absolutely, but we can get a fuller picture.

Post Office Railway – Subterranea Britannica; History, Infrastructure, Railways, Logistics; A decent history of "mail rail", the underground railway in London that delivered mail without clogging up the streets. This wasn't new to me, but I found myself doing some research on it after finding an artefact of the railway on an old map, and thought it worth sharing.

King’s Cross: Clearing the Throat and removing the hump! | Rail Engineer; Railways, Infrastructure, Engineering; When engineering projects hit the public consciousness it's usually due to delays, overspends and failures. Here's a complex, difficult project that's succeeding - they not only redid a track layout, but removed a sewer and did it all despite COVID-19 and a storm. A little ray of brightness to end on!

That's it for now, see you in March.

Link Dumps

These are the things I've been reading that I wanted to share.

The dump happens monthly, on the 3rd Sunday. Probably.


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