Assorted Links (Spring 2018)

I decided to take a break from my programming series this week (and probably next week too). Like back in the fall, I've got some links saved up that are related to things I've written, or that I just found really interesting.

Although I've been trying to learn some other programming languages recently by going through Seven Languages in Seven Weeks, one of the ones I'm most comfortable with is still R. So it's nice to read about its increasing popularity.

The world of cryptocurrencies has a lot more to it than just Bitcoin. Another one that interests me is Ethereum: it raises some possibilities in the field of smart contracts.

The links I shared in the fall included a biographical article about James Watt. This time, I have articles about two people to share:

If you're in Toronto and looking to explore some hidden/lost/vestigal streams, the Lost Rivers project may be of interest. In northern New Brunswick, check out Chaleur Green Trails.

This is a neat article about the science of brewing coffee and tea.

I came across a lengthy review of a series by Neal Stephenson.

The company I work for is headquartered in Pittsburgh, so reading about that city's post-industrial renaissance was cool.

A completely different post-industrial landscape can be found in the Caspian Sea—seasteading Soviet-style. The photos in this article are incredible. There is an art show currently at UNB (until April 6) that sounds like (I haven't been there yet) it also has photos from that region or nearby.

It's not getting as much attention (being more of a slow-motion affair, with less organized violence), but apparently the exodus of people from Venezuela is on a similar scale (over 1 million people have left the country in the past 2 years) to the refugee crisis in places like Myanmar.

Maps are cool. These ones analyzing US–Mexico cross-border cities were really neat.

Some documentaries I've watched, like Earth: A New Wild and Frozen Planet have featured reindeer herding. Apparently the free-range nature of these herds is leading to friction in Finland. The interplay between wildlife and property rights is relevant to my interests. On the subject of Earth: A New Wild, this blog post critiques one of the concepts it covers. A conservation approach that is meeting with some successs is pop-up wetlands; I read about them in a book (or possibly two) I reviewed.

Right now I'm reading The Dragon's Path, a novel by Daniel Abraham. He is half of the team behind The Expanse (the show returns on April 11); I've also read a great short story by him. I'm only a third of the way through the book (the first in a series) but I'm really enjoying it so far. Similar to A Song of Ice And Fire it brings gritty realism into a fantasy setting but I find it less grim than George R.R. Martin's work (and also faster-paced). It is well-written—even characters that do or support some awful things are believable, even sympathetic. One of my favourite characters is Cithrin, an orphan girl who was raised as the ward of a banking house. She relates a lot of things back to lessons her guardian taught her about finance, like in this excerpt where she considers flirting as negotiation:

Implicit exchange was something Magister Imaniel had talked about several times, and always with disdain. He'd liked the precision of measuring coin. Here, in the warmth of the taproom, the tastes of salted meat and fortified wine warming her blood, Cithrin wasn't sure she agreed. Surely imprecision had its place.

This was a good podcast episode about civility online. The same podcast had another episode recently about the book Soonish that was also interesting.

On April 7, the Paddling Film Festival comes to Fredericton. I hope to attend.