What Are Discounted Earnings?

The other day I was reading research from way back in 2011: Chetty, Friedman and Rockoff’s fascinating and multifaceted study on the long-term financial impacts of teacher quality on students. The study draws some conclusions on the impact of teachers on lifetime earnings of their students, referencing the concept of present value. Read on: At age 28, the oldest age at which we currently have a sufficiently large sample size to estimate earnings impacts, a 1 SD increase in teacher quality in a single grade raises annual earnings by 1. [Read More]

A parable for the adversarial relationsihp between social networks and their users

Your day is divided into on-network and off-network instants. The off-network instants aren’t completely without utility: in some, you’re producing ideas and digital artifacts which will later become content (thanks!); in others, you’re earning the requisite dinero that keeps you in the coveted demographic of people with discretionary income (thanks again!). You want to keep the set of on-network instants small. You like the network (you grew up with it!), but come on. [Read More]

A Humble Alternative to Technical Interviews

I’ve got a proposal for an alternative to the dreaded technical interview loop that could make life easier, better and cheaper for people and their companies. The idea came from a conversation with coworkers I overheard a few years back: INT. OPEN OFFICE - DAY Two software engineers, GEORGE, a senior engineer and highly-skilled technical leader who people love to work with, and JOHN, a mid-level engineer, banter in their San Francisco office, surrounded by drink fridges and ping-pong tables. [Read More]

"I had confidence that I would catch the baby": 15 years ago, one of the finest columns ever written

Fifteen years ago today, Dan Barry published a piece in his About New York column that I consider some of the greatest 750 words of news-writing of all time. Give it a read on the NYT archives. I found this particular column linked on Twitter back in the early 2010s. I read it, was struck by its affect, then promptly lost track of it. A few years ago, I finally dug it back up and put it in my Permanent Set Of Very Important Bookmarks and ever since I’ve re-read it every few months. [Read More]

Books I read in 2018

2018 was a good reading year for me, in part because I traveled for two months out of the year, allowing me ample face-in-Kindle time. Now, a log of what I read this year. The healthcare books Early this year, I became fascinated with America’s dysfunctional healthcare system and tried to build a mental map of the healthcare ecosystem. It’s a convoluted system, but all three books below are worth reading. [Read More]

No-sweat Jupyter notebook setup on Google Compute Engine

So you want to putter around with some data using Jupyter Notebook, and you don’t want to be limited by your local machine’s specs or have your laptop fan sounding like a jet engine. Here’s a solution using Google Compute Engine that takes about 10 minutes to set up. Create the virtual machine. You can do this via the Google Cloud UI by following the tutorial here. There are a number of reasonable presets for machines you can use depending on your needs. [Read More]