Linking Out Loud #18

By David Laing

David Laing

Hey everyone,

Last week I started reading Douglas Hofstadter’s 1997 book, Le Ton beau de Marot, which is about the beauties and challenges of translation. This theme is explored through the lens of a single, short poem, written by Clément Marot in the early 16th century.

In the first chapter, Hofstadter provides several translations that preserve the literal meaning but none of the structure of the original poem. Armed with these translations, the reader is challenged to produce a ‘true’ translation that does preserve the structure. Challenge accepted: I spent about five hours working on my translation, and it was a blast. I’ll share it with you after I finish the book—I’m planning to write an extensive review.

// recently read

Steve’s Google Platforms Rant

30 minutes | Steve Yegge | 2011

The story, told by an insider, of how Amazon came to be the market leader in cloud computing.

You wouldn't really think that an online bookstore needs to be an extensible, programmable platform. Would you?

Well, the first big thing Bezos realized is that the infrastructure they'd built for selling and shipping books and sundry could be transformed [into] an excellent repurposable computing platform. So now they have the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, and the Amazon Elastic MapReduce, and the Amazon Relational Database Service, and a whole passel o' other services browsable at

>>> Read it

The Car Bundle

15 minutes | Alex Danco | 2019

A fresh take on the economics of car ownership.

Even if you put aside the some of the more emotional or expressive aspects of car ownership (which are powerful in their own right), car ownership is a compelling deal because it bundles together four core jobs, and practically all car owners use them for at least two of these things: commutingshoppingkids, and recreation. If one or two of those tasks are essential for you, the car will hold pretty strong as an indispensable possession for most people, at least in North America.

That’s why ditching car ownership is going to be really unattractive for a lot of people - no matter how attractive you make the alternatives.

>>> Read it

How to write better emails

5 minutes | Lazarus Lazaridis | 2019

Useful advice, with many examples, for writing emails and Slack messages that make it easy for the reader to extract key information.

>>> Read it

Why haven’t you read The Way of Kings (a musing on Goodreads data for predictive power)

5 minutes | nansenamundsen | 2019

A reddit user reflects on the best books he has read in the past ten years, and notices that they all have high (4.3+) average ratings on Goodreads, have thousands of ratings, and are at least a decade old. I checked the books I read this year, and found that their average ratings would have almost perfectly predicted my own ranking of them. I expect I’ll start considering Goodreads data more deliberately when choosing books.

>>> Read it

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All the best,


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