Things I read in December.

I spent less and less time in front of a computer this month after I finished work for Christmas. I have been reading a lot of books (rather than articles or documentation) on programming, which I have been meaning to do for a while. This started with Eloquent JavaScript by Marijn Haverbeke, which the best book I have ever read on the topic and something I finished cover to cover in a couple of days. Haverbeke is really good at explaining concepts and his mastery over the language really shines through in the book. Its not really a book for someone new to JavaScript, but really useful for firming up what you already know.

The second book I ended up reading over the holidays was A Common-Sense Guide to Data Structures and Algorithms by Jay Wengrow. This was again a really good book, I’ve never read someone describe recursion so well, the writing is really good and the concepts build up really well over the course of the book. The code samples are also in a mix of Python, JavaScript and Ruby.

Having completed these two books, I decided to keep going and complete the readings from Teach Yourself CS. After trying to figure out if I should complete the Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs in the original language of SCHEME or a modern version of SCIP in JavaScript, I decided to go with the original. All that LISP I figured out from configuring Emacs should come in handy and I feel like learning in a language I am not familiar with will help me

Emacs is a Lifestyle

Emacs is essentially a lifestyle (choice).

As the Lock Rattles

John Lanchester, amazing as ever in the LRB on the economic response to Covid 19. He remarks on the fact the stories we told ourselves about how our economy worked best without the government were shattered in 2008, and we carried on like nothing happened: “nobody knew what else to believe, or how else to think: they had grown so used to a particular package of economic doctrines that they had come to accept them as fundamental principles of reality, instead of merely a description of the way some segments of the world economy had operated for a short stretch of time.”

So we ended up with ‘Money printer go BRRR’ again over the pandemic, but we couldn’t afford to feed poor children over the summer:

Central banks can’t print money for political reasons, but it’s perfectly OK for them to print money when it’s necessary to keep the system running. It’s sometimes said that a certain kind of technocratic insider wants to keep democracy safe for capitalism. this is what that looks like: banks and government doing things for economic reasons they would be forbidden from doing for political reasons. Printing money to keep the system running? Fine! Printing money to fulfil democratically mandated political objectives? Verboten!

The reassurances that inflation would be ’transitory’ will make 2022 an interesting year. Still, its infuriating that people have to compete against the Treasury and the Bank of England if they want to buy a place to live and all that money ended up unsurprisingly in house prices.