The Best Writing Against, For, and On Substack

Applied Divinity Studies:

Many good points have been made on both sides, I’m compiling this writing here. If you’re aware of other examples, please send them over.

Against Substack

Packy McCormick (#11 Free): Personal Email

their product velocity is dog shit… don’t do anything for discovery… it crashes all the time… It absolutely blows my mind that they’ve raised as much as they have and have improved the product as little as they have.

Gwern: Comment on Reddit

One additional aspect of this is that Substack, technically, [is] just not very good. When I moved over, I ran immediately into multiple problems: the tracking links are so long that my newsletters get cut off, subscripts/superscripts just don’t work, etc. (Other problems have come up: AlwaysKillSticky is broken on Substack because they do really abominable things with comments, and we never did figure out why a Substack page is constantly firing off requests to the server.) I don’t aspire to make my newsletters as awesome as my website, but I expected Substack to at least be as decent as your raw dumped-HTML Mailchimp newsletter.

The Scholar’s Stage: Why I am Bearish on Substack

This is a recipe for intellectual sterility. A media ecosystem composed of the New York Times, a few other large newspapers, and a swarm of hungry Substackerati will starve itself out. The big Substack names will continue to rake in subscriptions, of course, but what will they have to talk about? Only the same old ideas they had been playing with for decades.

“We do these things not because they are easy, but because we thought they were going to be easy”


Now, all this is nice, but how do you fit this into your own app? The answer, unfortunately, is that it’s still being worked out. But given that it will probably be in the same language as your application, it makes sense to keep everything in the same repo. It still requires a separate tool to run (Pulumi), but you can think of this like just another tool in the toolchain. If that is the case, other than using the same language for building my app and the cloud infrastructure that it uses, what’s the point? If I have to use a separate tool just for this, then it’s not all that different than using Terraform, for example. This is where the Pulumi automation api comes into place.

I remember a client strongly advocating for “self describing xml” years ago.

Our Political Class; 2020

Robin Abcarian:

But it’s Kinney’s role as a lobbyist that sounds alarms. For people in his job, it’s important to show the world you’ve got the governor’s ear. Doing so can help bring in business from companies eager — or desperate — to get the governor’s attention.

Thanks to Politico we know, for example, that Kinney’s lobbying firm represents several small amusement park operators who have been pushing the governor to let them reopen their rides. (They were allowed to briefly reopen before COVID-19 cases spiked and the restrictions were reinstated.) His firm’s biggest client is Marathon Petroleum, which, according to Politico, “is a member of a powerful oil industry organization that battled proposals to ban hydraulic fracturing.” In September, Newsom made what some think was a halfhearted call to ban fracking in the state.

“The buzz this weekend among lobbyists,” wrote Politico, “was how Kinney couldn’t have asked for better advertising of his close ties to Newsom.”

So, for anyone keeping score, a governor violating pandemic restrictions to attend a birthday dinner for a lobbyist may be a terrible look for the governor, but it’s a brilliant business move by the lobbyist. Was Newsom played? I guess it depends on who squealed to the Chronicle about the party.

Patrick McGreevy:

California lawmakers who flew to a conference in Maui amid the pandemic broke their silence over the controversy Wednesday, defending the trip by calling it safe despite officials in their home state advising people not to travel during the current surge in COVID-19 cases.

The travel by more than half a dozen state lawmakers has drawn sharp criticism back in California, where observers say it sends the wrong message for legislators to leave the state and gather at a resort when COVID-19 cases are surging, leading to tougher restrictions on the movement of average residents.

The annual conference hosted by the San Diego-based Independent Voter Project has also been blasted by watchdog groups because corporate and labor interests that lobby the Legislature pick up many of the lawmakers’ tabs for a chance to schmooze with them out of the public eye.

“In normal times it is an abuse of office to have oil, utility and other big companies that lobby in the Capitol paying for an Hawaiian getaway replete with golf, hula show and mai tais,” said Jamie Court, president of the group Consumer Watchdog. “In COVID times, it is an abomination that legislators would break quarantine to play in the sun at a four-star resort.”

Posted in Uncategorized.

Business Models

From December, 2014:

I have long used a certain car service when visiting a large American City. They generally offer timely and professional service at a fair price with occasional promotions.

I found it interesting that my recent driver, the son of a long time chauffeur, sported the Uber app on a dashboard mounted new iPhone 5S (see photo below).

Note the prominent placement of Uber’s iPhone app (top left). The current service that I used offers nothing like it (they have a phone number, not great website and a terrible app that is simply a website wrapped in an app – yesterday’s news).

I asked him about this during our drive to an airport.

His response:

“Uber paid me $500.00 to try the iPhone and their app for a month.”

I asked him about their terms:

“$10/week” to participate and 20% of the ride revenue. I only do surge pricing. Their short runs for $10 to 15 are not worth it with traffic. They pay weekly, every Tuesday into my account.” “Their app works very well.”

What’s in it for Uber?

1. They are obviously targeting existing and successful drivers. They are also leaving current services in the dust from a customer and driver experience perspective.

2. Uber collects data. That prominently mounted iPhone with the Uber app knows who the driver is, his schedule and routes. It can obviously compare Uber and non Uber routes.

3. Uber has a relationship with a competitor’s driver assets. It’s rather deep and includes a financial account, active app, tracking and some customer (leads) data.

That iPhone running the Uber app is on the drivers dashboard and with him constantly.

4. This Uber relationship is an opening for other driver and client services, largely due to a superior app experience for all.

Posted in Uncategorized.

“It pains me to say this, but in certain quarters, religious liberty is fast becoming a disfavored, right”

Supreme court justice Samuel Alito😕

Just as the COVID restrictions have highlighted the movement toward rule by experts, litigation about those restrictions, has pointed up emerging trends in the assessment of individual rights. This is especially evident with respect to religious liberty. It pains me to say this, but in certain quarters, religious liberty is fast becoming a disfavored, right. And that marks a surprising turn of events. Consider where things stood in the 1990s. And to me, at least that does not seem like the Jurassic age. When a Supreme Court decision called employment division versus Smith, cut back sharply on the protection provided by the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. Congress was quick to respond. It passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). To ensure broad protection for religious liberty. The law had almost universal support. In the house, the vote was unanimous. In the Senate, it was merely 97 to three, and the bill was enthusiastically signed by President Clinton today that widespread support has vanished. When states have considered or gone ahead and adopted their own versions of reference. They have been threatened with punishing economic boycotts.

Eighth, he discussed the Little Sisters of the Poor case.

Some of our cases illustrate this same trend. Take the protracted campaign against the Little Sisters of the Poor in order of Catholic nuns, the Little Sisters or women who have dedicated their lives to caring for the elderly, poor, regardless of religion. They run homes that have one high praise. Here’s some of the testimonials filed in our court by residents of their homes. The Little Sisters, quote, do everything to make us happy. I feel I’m part of the family and that’s a great feeling. They will keep you alive 10 years longer than anyplace else because they love you. Carol hassel in a nutshell, I would say this about the Little Sisters, a little bit of heaven fell from the sky one day and landed in my apartment.

Despite this inspiring work, the little sisters have been under unrelenting attack for the better part of a decade. Why because they refused to allow their health insurance plan to provide contraceptives to their employees. For that they were targeted by the prior administration. If they did not knuckle under and violate a tenet of their faith. They face crippling fines, fines that would likely have forced them to shut down their homes.

Exodus: The ironies and finalities of being on top of the world.

Katherine Boyle:

It’s time to build, yes. But it’s also time to leave.

The battle over tech’s supremacy has been waged and all of our premonitions came true: We wanted flying cars and got vertical take-off innovation hubs from every car maker in America. Software has not only eaten the world, but feasted on your screen-weary eyes. It has swallowed your children, your church, your bank, and your politics, and somehow it all feels inevitable. That these feats of human progress—of instant connectivity in a now homebound world—became the scapegoat of our time is another symptom of the era’s end, cueing the quiet exodus of builders who had bigger aspirations than the same-day shipping that keeps our households afloat.

Now, Silicon Valley is witnessing a reckoning, but it’s not the long-awaited one predicted by the New York press, or the antitrust bonanza that Washington longs for because too many people seem satisfied getting their news from Facebook. The reckoning is more of a realization that tech exceeded expectations and somehow squandered the fruit of its own garden, and that a city on a hill that could have supported so much innovation was not Florence in the Renaissance nor the Athenian Academy with MacBooks. Rather, it became a government-sponsored needle exchange, a haven for the homeless and forgotten that put government’s paralysis on display downtown on Market Street.

2020 is not the great reckoning predicted in the book of Revelation, despite the fires, the plagues, and the wailing on Twitter. It is the resignation and determination of Exodus, of a dogged people packing up U-Hauls and fleeing this frontier state to seek an even newer, more eternal world.

San Francisco had four times as many deaths from overdose this year as it did from the COVID-19 virus.

Marketers are Addicted to Bad Data

Jacques Corby-Tuech:

Modern marketing is all about data and however hard you might try, you can’t spend any time around marketers online without being subjected to endless thinkpieces, how-to guides, ebooks or other dreck about how we need to track and measure and count every little thing.

We’ve got click rates, impressions, conversion rates, open rates, ROAS, pageviews, bounces rates, ROI, CPM, CPC, impression share, average position, sessions, channels, landing pages, KPI after never ending KPI.

That’d be fine if all this shit meant something and we knew how to interpret it. But it doesn’t and we don’t. 

The reality is much simpler, and therefore much more complex. Most of us don’t understand how data is collected, how these mechanisms work and most importantly where and how they don’twork.

And even if we know how the data is collected, what it means and what it’s actually tracking, most of us don’t have the technical chops to analyse the data we’ve collected1. I don’t mean to rag on anyone by saying this, but we do need a reality check.