I’m Ben, and this is where I put things I write! If you’re a new visitor, check out the best-of list, and if you like it, subscribe. Or read some recent posts:

My 2018 donations


This year I met my donation goal again, and donated in the same proportions as last year.

Stop trying


Why you should give up on using willpower to maintain habits.

Small company or big company?


A friend doing a job search recently asked me:

A choice I will likely have is whether to work at a larger company… or a startup… I was wondering if you had any particular feelings on this question.

In the long run I’m hoping to work at a non-startup …

You too can use the Feynman Algorithm


“Write down the problem; Think real hard; Write down the solution”–it actually works.

Syntax highlighting is backwards


Most code editors color different pieces of your program in different ways. For instance, they’ll make keywords like if bold and bright so that you notice when you’ve misspelled them. They’ll make non-executable parts like comments and documentation fainter so that you know that the computer isn’t seeing that part of the program. But isn’t that exactly backwards?

The real problem isn’t privacy, it’s our dystopian hellscape of Skinner boxes


The problem isn’t just that GoogFace let advertisers know what you’re interested in. The problem is that this is their only job, as in, the only thing that makes them money. Any way in which GoogFace make you happy, solve your problems, or improve your life is more or less accidental.

Unintended consequences and GDPR (but not the way you think)


Somehow I never worried about this particular failure mode (in either component):

Are venture capital markets inefficient?


Top venture capital firms predictably earn massive returns. Is this a violation of the efficient market hypothesis? And why might it be happening?

Is treating a cold with zinc still evidence-backed?


I used to think zinc was the only known evidence-based cold treatment, but the analysis everyone cites was recently retracted. Is it another victim of the replication crisis?

What to care about in a job


In 2014, I wrote about how I chose my first job out of college. I’ve learned a lot in the 4 years since then–here’s how I would change my criteria if I were picking a job today.

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