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Get a weekly roundup of the best Substack posts, by hacker news affinity:

Top posts of the month

By hacker news affinity
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Freddie deBoer 8802 HN points 25 Jul 22
If you’re in the significant majority of readers who never reads the comments, feel free to skip this post. In fact do me a favor and skip it. I should have known better, and would have, had I not used a failed freelancing piece as a post. Last Friday I decided to
Freddie deBoer 6711 HN points 27 Jul 22
None of us can effectively audit criticism of ourselves, for obvious reasons. But there is one complaint about me that I know just isn’t true. At some point in the 2010s, when I was in grad school, it became the fashion for people coming after me to call me the “eternal grad student” or something. This was the insult, that I had been a grad student forever and would apparently be a grad student forever. I believe this originated in the comments section of the Bush-era group blog Lawyers, Money, and Guns, but who knows. There was just one problem: I in fact tore through grad school at a fast pace. I completed my MA at the University of Rhode Island in two years and my PhD at Purdue in four years. Six years total. The average time to get a PhD
Freddie deBoer 4672 HN points 05 Aug 22
Comments were inadvertently off on this post initially. I've turned them on. I’m supposed to feel fragile. I’m supposed to be beset with fears of feeling replaced and angered over a relative loss of social standing, at least as determined by my race and gender. After all,
Freddie deBoer 3562 HN points 02 Aug 22
Tomorrow I will post the introductory entry for our Book Club selection the Giver. No reading assignment for tomorrow, just getting started. There’s a guy named Tom Delgado that I follow on YouTube and support on Patreon. I’ve never met him (online or irl), but I’m a fan of his work. He’s a tour guide. He mostly does NYC videos but if you search around in his channel you’ll find him in Europe and South America also. My girlfriend was getting into these walking videos that didn’t have any talking, but this channel popped up in our feed and I enjoy it much more. I can see his videos not being everyone’s cup of tea, but I find him funny and I really get a lot out of the history and trivia he lays out. But then, it’s little surprise I would enjoy the channel, as I’m someone who thinks that the in-person guided tour experience is really underrated.
Freddie deBoer 3278 HN points 12 Aug 22
When I was a child, we would travel to Indonesia, where my father conducted his research. It was the time of Suharto. My dad’s research mostly took place in Bali, where the regime was careful to limit its presence; they didn’t want to spook the tourists, you understand. But still, the signs were there, if you knew how to look. Every once in a while, a black army truck, filled with soldiers; your odd military checkpoint; and, always, Indonesian friends and peers of my father who were critical of the regime, and afraid. Viscerally afraid, the kind of fear that shakes you when you observe it as a child. It was difficult for Western academics, too, though they obviously faced far less threat. No one wanted to be a collaborator, and among the many I met, none had anything but disgust for the Suharto regime. But to complain publicly risked being barred from the country, which did no good for anyone. I believe the tension haunted my father.
Freddie deBoer 1806 HN points 22 Jul 22
Comments are off again until I decide otherwise. You know why. I have had enough. In happier news…. Compact Magazine just published my first piece for them, and I’m very fond of it. I hope you’ll give it a look. As I say in the piece, I have a harder and harder time writing straightforward argumentative essays these days; after 15 years I’m just tapped out on the form. Increasingly I pepper my writing with little challenges or formalist tricks, oblique references, paragraphs where I will challenge myself to avoid using a particular grammatical form or where the sentences proceed in length in terms of number of sentences by the Fibonacci sequence. Anything to stay interested. This piece is kind of a tone poem, a dreamy little meditation on Las Vegas and the American soul. But even there, I have no thesis and do not want one. This is the kind of thing that excites me now in terms of craft. Please check it out and, if you like it, share it - especially because I am currently banned from Facebook. (I got banned because their bots thought a reference to our drone bombings was a threat to drone bomb, and then banned again for complaining about the previous ban.)
Freddie deBoer 1084 HN points 31 Jul 22
Here are links to writing by subscribers for the month of July, presented in the order in which I received them. If I’ve missed someone entirely, please let me know and I’ll be sure to include you next month; if I’ve misformatted something, comment and I will fix it on the website. Those of you who formatted your submissions in the way I asked are the real MVPs. Please note that while I tried to remember every email sent to the wrong address, I disavow any responsibility if I missed yours!
Freddie deBoer 567 HN points 03 Aug 22
I have a weird relationship with The Giver, Lois Lowry’s abstract and imagistic portrayal of a very particular dystopia. There’s no reason why I shouldn’t like it, and there are things that I admire about it very much. That abstraction is one big one. While I recognize that George Orwell’s
Freddie deBoer 258 HN points 23 Jul 22
She had worried that she would slow the caravan down, given that many were in gasoline powered vehicles and she was on horseback, but she quickly realized she shouldn’t have. With the dodgy state of the vehicles and the lack of maintained roads, they crawled across the landscape. Still, the convoy looked impressive; functioning automobiles were not unheard of, but refined gas was harder and harder to come by and she had not seen one in many years. It occurred to her that her younger cousins would get a thrill from seeing them arrive, and she felt a pang of homesickness. Her old life seemed very far away.
Freddie deBoer 232 HN points 02 Aug 22
For four days she had done little else than try to maintain her feeling of skeptical hopefulness, in part because there wasn’t much else that she could do. But Mac’s paranoia was infectious. They had relocated Long Fei to their tent complex, which now seemed to take up most of the yard. In this, the largest tent, they had erected most of their computing gear. It was a small mountain’s worth of electronics, beige towers stacked one on top of another, a large enclosure filled with hard drives, some ancient-looking tech like oscilloscopes wired into the mix somehow. It stood, all in all, a good three feet taller than Haojing herself. Emerging from the center stood a tall, telescoping antenna, which they had deployed with great delicacy and from which long thing membranes were extended. When she had asked their purpose, Simon had simply said they were gathering data.
Freddie deBoer 232 HN points 04 Aug 22
But she was not patient. It must have been shortly after midnight when she had woken up by Mac’s commotion; now it was perhaps an hour before dawn. She had headed to her room in the house and seethed, plotting her next move. She had only stopped by Long Fei’s tent and told him to be ready for anything. He seemed skeptical, but she knew implicitly that he would stand with her, whatever happened. For the next several hours she lay in her bed and stared at the ceiling, grimly contemplating the paths available to her.
Freddie deBoer 232 HN points 08 Aug 22
Chapter 28 She clutched her brother’s lifeless body, screaming into the noise around her. He felt light and supple in her arms. She pressed his face into her chest and sobbed. The wind was now howling, the vibration seemed as strong as ever despite the number of downed drones, and the explosions and gunfire around her battered and dulled her senses. She sat exposed to all of it, surrounded by all of it, the war around her supremely indifferent to her brother, to her blinding rage and impossible grief, and so she screamed and screamed into the noise.