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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:

Stop trying

misc

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

Small company or big company?

misc

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

misc

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

Syntax highlighting is backwards

tech

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

misc

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)

tech

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

Are venture capital markets inefficient?

tech

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?

misc

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

misc

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.

Where, why and how I donated in 2017

altruism

This year, I met my goal of donating 50% of my income. The donation was split 20% to GiveWell and 80% to a donor advised fund (effectively deferring a decision until later). Here’s why.

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