I'm Ben, and this is where I put things I write! Longer, polished essays go on the left, recent posts on the right.

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Why and how to start a startup serving emerging markets

why it’s one of the most effective ways to improve the world • why it’s hard • “local context plus high standards” • how to get started • where to live • what to work on

Autocomplete as an interface

the real reason zsh beats bash • how I got twice as fast in python • autocompleting all the things • maximizing user-interface bandwidth

Why squared error?

its computational convenience • connections to the Gaussian distribution • differentiability and basis independence • why not squared error • absolute-error methods

Advice on running an effective altruism student group

have two people • don’t be embarrassed • getting famous speakers • navigating bureaucracy • outside support • lessons from the philanthropy fellowship • advertising strategies

Plants, continued fractions, and the golden ratio

where should one grow one’s leaves? • sunlight maximization • the most irrational number • Fibonacci phyllotaxis

Tools for keeping focused
Attention is your scarcest resource
Be impatient
Essays on programming I think about a lot
What should we do about network-effect monopolies?
My weekly review habit
DIY server-only analytics with almost no code
Wireless is a trap
Learning to build conviction
College advice for people who are exactly like me
Stop your video calls from stuttering
Massachusetts should shut down immediately
Boston should begin aggressive coronavirus mitigation
You don’t need to work on hard problems
The unreasonable effectiveness of one-on-ones
Grad school is worse for public health than STDs
Your room can be as bright as the outdoors
Why Nations Fail and the long-termist view of global poverty
A checklist for stock option offers
Why are gradual static types so great?
The best RSS reader is Kindle4RSS
My 2018 donations
Make your habits zero-effort
Small company or big company?
Think real hard
Syntax highlighting is backwards
The real problem isn’t privacy, it’s our dystopian hellscape of Skinner boxes
Unintended consequences and GDPR (but not the way you think)
Are venture capital markets inefficient?
Is treating a cold with zinc still evidence-backed?
What to care about in a job
Where, why and how I donated in 2017
People seem very confused about 401(k) loans
The product
The Globalization Paradox and the perils of simple models
How bad are bad fundraising terms?
Startup options are much better than they look
Surviving lots of travel
Stock options are really complicated
Don’t run code at import time
Reading lately
Where I’m giving and why, 2016
[administrivia] Site migration
Don’t claw back employee options
I apparently got 50% better at my job last month
Back to benkuhn.net
Strangers Drowning
Effective altruism and quantitative estimates