The Takeaways: Week 14 of 2022

A periodic review of articles, newsletters, and podcasts that I found interesting, inspiring, or otherwise worth remembering.


Ted Gioia, The Honest Broker. The Fake Artists Problem Is Much Worse Than You Realize (April 9, 2022)

Note that one of the Hara Noda tracks has almost four million plays—that’s more streams than are attributed to most of the tracks on Jon Batiste’s We Are, which just won the Grammy for Album of the Year.

That’s an amazing fact to consider.

Can you really reach a larger audience by getting on a background jazz playlist than taking home the most coveted Grammy? I hate to share the bad news, my friends, but the world has changed.


Jessica Contrera, The Washington Post. The remarkable brain of a carpet cleaner who speaks 24 languages (April 5, 2022)

But growing up in Maryland, he often tried not to use [Spanish]. He didn’t want to feel even more different than the other kids. He was already browner than them. He already didn’t understand why they laughed at certain things, or why they seemed to be able to follow instructions from the teacher that made no sense to him. Spanish was his first secret.

When some distant cousins of his dad’s came to visit from Belgium, they used words different than Vaughn had ever heard. Vaughn became more and more frustrated that once again, he couldn’t understand.

"I was like, 'I want that power,'" Vaughn remembers.

From then on, he was entranced by every language he encountered. His mom’s French record albums. A German dictionary he found at one of his dad’s handyman jobs. A boy from the Soviet Union who joined his junior high class. By then, one of Vaughn’s favorite places was the library. He checked out a beginner’s guide to Russian.

Cory Doctorow, Pluralistic. Public Resource sets the law free (April 2, 2022)

And nowhere is the law more closed than when it comes to public safety codes. Across the world – but especially in the USA – local and state governments have fallen in love with the idea of "incorporation by reference." That's when a town council writes in its law books that "The plumbing code of Lower Pigsknuckle shall be version 2.1 of the American Society of Plumbers and Pipefitters Standard Plumbing Manual."

In theory, that's a reasonable way to make safety codes – each town shouldn't have to hire experts to create its own hand-rolled plumbing, electric, fire and other rules. But the problem comes with the standards bodies – generally adjuncts to or offshoots of industry associations – that develop these codes. These bodies are nominally nonprofits, but they still charge fortunes – thousands of dollars – to access their documents (some of that money goes to paying for standards development, but their IRS filings reveal that their top officers also skim 6- and 7-figure salaries from those fees).

Alexander B. Howard, Digiphile. Rebuilding trust in the USA is crucial for national security and public health (February 7, 2022)

The threat of wars in Europe and Asia will put a premium on national cohesion, as the enemies of democracy everywhere will use our glaring weaknesses to divide us further, amplifying our domestic merchants of doubt, denial, fear, & hate, flooding our beleaguered institutions with lies and lunacy.

Samantha Liss, Healthcare Dive. Surprise billing compliance 'very daunting,' regulatory experts say (April 7, 2022)

The bill goes beyond outlawing balance bills from fly-by out-of-network doctors, air ambulances and emergency rooms.

A much broader range of providers are required to hand over a "good-faith estimate," or a cost estimate for a procedure, for uninsured and self-pay patients when they ask. Practices are also required to alert patients they're entitled to such an estimate.

Molly White. Abuse on the blockchain (Lecture transcript) (March 7, 2022)

Finally, people will often address concerns about blockchain technologies by saying things like “it’s still the early days” and that “projects are very new and they’re still working out the kinks”. But we have to remember that Bitcoin has existed since 2008 or 2009. Over a decade. And there is still no good solution to many of the inherent problems, at least not one that doesn’t involve adding centralization. So, there are proposed solutions around permissioning and centralized services that are built on top of blockchains, but those are sort of antithetical to the web3 ideology, which is decentralized, trustless, and immutable.