The Most Interesting Reads in March 2023

Ukraine, AI and Louis CK :)

Pavol Kutaj
10 min readApr 14


A Devastating Moment of Clarity in Ukraine — Tablet Magazine

The Future of the Modern Data Stack in 2023

Thinking about Tracking Design, Part 1: What is tracking anyways?

1I think it’s fair to say that behavioral tracking is not well understood outside the data world; the term ‘tracking’ itself sounds scary, like stalking! It makes people think about something very personal, a process where a website comes to know your deepest secrets, as with the Stasi agents in the German field Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others).The reality is more prosaic, however, so with this first post I would like to demystify this process and explain what is actually going on

Louis CK- Back to the Garden

  • His first standup I did not pay for (sorrry Louis), the provocations are great, I can’t help, however, but to think if some deeper mechanism responsible also for his art is not too affected by his enemies. Jordan Peterson’s appearance on Lex Friedman’s show left a weird taste in my mouth and I am attributing his pro-russian stance as being in a wrong battle against woke for way too long.

How the War in Ukraine Ends

At peak, the Ukrainians were firing — expending — upward of ninety thousand artillery shells a month. U.S. monthly production of artillery shells is fifteen thousand. With all our allies thrown in, everybody in the mix who supports Ukraine, you get another fifteen thousand, at the highest estimates. So you can do thirty thousand in the production of artillery shells while expending ninety thousand a month. We haven’t ramped up. We’re just drawing down the stocks. And you know what? We’re running out.

The Great Feminization of the American University

Sometimes a single incident efficiently summarizes a larger trend. So it is with New York University’s selection of its new president, Linda Mills, a licensed clinical social worker and an NYU social work professor. She researches trauma and bias, as well as race and gender in the legal academy. She is a documentary filmmaker and teaches advocacy filmmaking. She serves as an NYU vice chancellor and as a senior vice provost for Global Programs and University Life. In all these roles, Mills is the very embodiment of the contemporary academy. The most significant part of her identity, however, and the one that ties the rest of her curriculum vitae together, is that she is female, and thus overdetermined as NYU’s next president.

Who are the people I most admire? — Marginal REVOLUTION

Overall I was surprised how few of you approached the question the way I have, rather as a group you picked too many nerdy white guys. Now I don’t like to play “the PC card,” and if a process generates a lot of nerdy white guys, I don’t then assume that process is necessarily biased or requiring correction. Still, the fact that my list creates so much room for women (and non-whites) suggests it reflects the universality of human experience more than what most of you came up with.

Manhole cover — Wikipedia

PEP 435 — Adding an Enum type to the Python standard library

The properties of an enumeration are useful for defining an immutable, related set of constant values that may or may not have a semantic meaning. Classic examples are days of the week (Sunday through Saturday) and school assessment grades (‘A’ through ‘D’, and ‘F’). Other examples include error status values and states within a defined process.It is possible to simply define a sequence of values of some other basic type, such as int or str, to represent discrete arbitrary values. However, an enumeration ensures that such values are distinct from any others including, importantly, values within other enumerations, and that operations without meaning (“Wednesday times two”) are not defined for these values. It also provides a convenient printable representation of enum values without requiring tedious repetition while defining them (i.e. no GREEN = ‘green’).

enum — Support for enumerations — Python 3.11.2 documentation

Python list of lists from enum — Stack Overflow

We’re Missing a Key Driver of Teen Anxiety — The Atlantic

Last week, columbia university became the latest school to announce that it would no longer require SAT or ACT scores for undergraduate admissions. The school’s decision was “rooted in the belief that students are dynamic, multi-faceted individuals who cannot be defined by any single factor,” the college said in a defense of its policy change.The SAT has faced heavy scrutiny for privileging rich families, which can pay for test-prep classes for their kids. Some believe that dropping the test is an ethical move toward equality in selective college admissions. Others argue that Columbia is replacing one metric skewed toward rich students with a bundle of metrics that are even more stratified by socioeconomic status, such as high GPAs, internships in Nicaragua, and expensive traveling soccer teams.

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How-To Find the Process ID Holding Open Ports

Is there a way to have a default value inside a dictionary in Python? — Stack Overflow

Simple techniques for complex projects

Invest in slack buffers for any critical dependent components.Heroism is more fun but less reliable than good planning.Invest in slack buffers for any critical dependent components….and more

The False Promise of ChatGPT

ChatGPT is a bullshit artist with no real understanding of what it’s writing about, but so are an awful lot of white-collar workers. It reliably emulates the shibboleths that indicate membership of the professional middle class. It isn’t particularly creative or interesting, but it wasn’t trained to do that — it was trained to produce maximally safe, inoffensive output. If people don’t see ChatGPT as being massively disruptive, then I think they have failed to recognise the sheer proportion of working hours that are spent writing quite mundane letters and reports. Anyone who spends most of their working day in Outlook and Word should be extremely nervous about the medium-term implications of LLM

Snowclone — Wikipedia

The Strongest Evidence Yet That an Animal Started the Pandemic — The Atlantic

Awakening from the Meaning Crisis

Mocking, Monkey Patching, and Faking Functionality — Python 401 2.1 documentation

Sometimes while testing you need some fake data. is a part of the library that allows you to intercept what a function would normally do, substituting its full execution with a return value of your own specification. Note that monkey patching a function call does not count as actually testing that function call! You ARE NOT actually using the function that you’ve monkey patched; you are rejecting its default behavior and subsituting it with new behavior.

A Year after the Invasion, the Russian Economy Is Self-Immolating

Russia’s permanent loss of 1,000+ global multinational businesses coupled with escalating economic sanctionsPlummeting energy revenues thanks to the G7 oil price cap and Putin’s punctured natural gas gambitTalent and capital flightRussia will only become increasingly irrelevant as supply chains continue to adaptThe Russian economy is being propped up by the KremlinMore can be done…..

Colonialism: A Moral Reckoning — Marginal REVOLUTION

That is the new book by Nigel Biggar, and it has already created a storm of controversy because of his claims that the British empire is, in my words, “underrated.”Let me first say that I am in no way upset at this thesis being put explicitly on the table. And the book has many valuable discussions, covering issues such as how hard (at some point) the British worked to ban slavery, what were their motives for empire, what kinds of pressures for assimilation were asserted, and much more.My disappointment is how little space is devoted to the topic of sustainable economic growth. In which parts of the empire did British rule boost sustainable economic growth, relative to a counterfactual of peaceful interaction but no conquest? Singapore and Hong Kong seem obviously much richer and better off due to earlier British rule. Malaysia likely as well, though the magnitude of the gain there is smaller. But Sierra Leone not? The country is miserably poor and has had numerous years of civil war, with a legacy of slavery as well. Who could object to trying another run of history there, removing the British imperial role? It is hard to see that it could get very much worse. But then where does one put Kenya?

Dmytro Kuleba: Russian victory will ruin everything the West stands for — New Statesman

Only 41, he is Ukraine’s youngest foreign minister and a career diplomat, as well as the son of a career diplomat. But when I spoke to him by video link on 9 March he was blunt and direct with his answers, though he never strayed too far from his role. When I asked him if the war would end with a military victory or diplomacy, his first instinct was to reply, “Russian defeat”, but he quickly reverted back to diplomat in chief.

Ezra Klein: This Changes Everything

Pynecone: The easiest way to build web apps.

  • I’ve been automating workflows using CLI tools and it’s working great for me. However terminal is scary for non-programmers; this could be a way to migrate python scripts to web apps rather quickly.

The Impact of AI on Productivity — Marginal REVOLUTION

Conditioning on completing the task, the average completion time from the treated group is 71.17 minutes and 160.89 minutes for the control group. This represents a 55.8% reduction in completion time. The p-value for the t-test is 0.0017, and a 95% confidence interval for the improvement is between [21%, 89%]. There are four outliers with time to completion above 300 min. All outliers are in the control group, however our results remain robust if these outliers are dropped. This result suggests that Copilot increases average productivity significantly in our experiment population. We also find that the treated group’s success rate is 7 percentage points higher than the control group, but the estimate is not statistically significant, with a 95% confidence interval of [-0.11, 0.25].

Full interview with Clifford Geertz — part one — YouTube

Khan Academy integrates GPT-4 as every student’s customized tutor

  • Education (personal AI assistant) usecase has been mentioned repeatedly as one of the imaginable benefits (see Sam Altman talking with Kara Swisher in the second half of March 2023), but I am not convinced, I am not convinced. I can imagine it helping me interacting over a long complicated difficult text, for example what Mortimer Adler called “synoptic reading” (comparing to texts I don’t know about). Curious.



Pavol Kutaj

Today I Learnt | Infrastructure Support Engineer at with a passion for cloud infrastructure/terraform/python/docs. More at