January 24, 2021

It’s as though recognizing what made The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay hard to read in spite of it’s obvious quality and genuine appeal opened the flood gates. I will finally finish it tonight.

Jason Becker

January 23, 2021

One thing that’s tough about being a product person is the despair you feel when using what by all accounts should be a great product that conquers the market and watch it flounder anyway.

Jason Becker

My new Mac mini is coming this week. This will be my first new computer in almost 5 years, so I’m pretty excited. For reasons unbeknownst to me, I have decided I will not use Migration Assistant. This will be the first time in at least 5 Macs that I’m going fresh. This will also be the longest I’ve gone without a new Mac 1.

Taking stock of software is going to be hard, but my first step to prepare for this new computer is actually related to I/O. I currently have a 2016 retina MacBook Pro with Four Thunderbolt ports. Every port, including the headphone port, is in use. The new Mac mini has only two Thunderbolt ports, but also comes with some additional ports.

Laptop bang-on, showing all ports in use.

On the left side, I have an Ethernet to Thunderbolt adapter, my microphone (Audio-Technica ATR2100 mini USB-A to USB-C), and a 3.5mm to RCA cable that goes into my powered speakers (Kanto YU-5s). On the right side, I have a Thunderbolt cable that goes into the LG 5K Ultrafine monitor, providing power, display, and acting as a USB-C hub, and a USB-C cable going to a Samsung SSD I mount under my desk which is my primary Time Machine drive.

I am also using all of the ports on the back of my display. There, I have the connection to my laptop, a USB-C cable to a 4-port USB-A hub (where I keep my Logitech mouse universal reciever thing plugged in and otherwise just have it available for hot swaps), a USB-C to USB-A micro cable (which I use to plug in a Blu-ray drive or my Fujitsu Scansnap scanner when needed, but often is just “danging”, and my keyboard.

Back of my LG 5K Ultrafine Display

I truly went all in on the USB-C lifestyle, primarily though the use of new cables.

The Mac mini, however, has one ethernet port, one headphone jack, two Thunderbolt 4 ports, and two USB-A ports.

Here’s how I think I’ll re-arrange my cables. The monitor and SSD will remain directly plugged in via Thunderbolt 4/USB-C. The ethernet adapter can go away for direct use of the ethernet port. The microphone will move to being plugged into the monitor by using the slot vacated by my keyboard which I will plug directly into one of the USB-A ports on the Mac mini. I will also move the mouse to being directly plugged in via USB-A rather than using the four port USB-A adapter. At that point, I think I could actually remove the USB-A hub entirely– I use it very rarely, I already have one USB-A micro cable dangling and ready, and I’d have an additional USB-C port freed up behind my monitor. I keep several USB-something to USB-C cables on a pegboard above my desk and have 3 USB-A to C adapters there as well (of which I only really need to keep one).

Was I originally nervous about moving from four, versatile, fast Thunderbolt ports to two? Absolutely. But once I went through how I actually use all cables attached to my computer, I quickly realized that I would be in great shape. One thing this setup will not allow for is easy hot swapping back to my laptop at my desk. If I had kept the keyboard and mouse attached to the monitor, then I could move one cable and reasonably be back at work on my other computer. I decided that this is a non-goal. In truth, it’ll probably just delay me from doing a good job of fully migrating from my laptop to my new desktop.

  1. I truly think we’re in a new age where Macs are finally exciting and worth buying again. I frequently traded in my Mac after 2-3 years before because there was a reason to. I didn’t keep this Mac for five years because I wanted to, I kept it because I had no reason to upgrade. I think this is equal parts the longevity of my 2016 rMBP, which I wisely upgraded to 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD and better processor and the lack of new compelling products. No more. [return]
Jason Becker

A good overview on important work in school finance. The flat-to-regressive financing of schools nationwide represents a failure of state finance systems to overcome the inequities introduced by having local-based funding and control of schools.

The core purpose of state funding (and federal funding) is to take advantage of better funded, larger jurisdictions to do redistributive policy that counteracts the unequal opportunity caused by local funding. Our national failure to drive enough dollars through states through sufficiently progressive mechanisms results in a failure to equalize opportunity.

This is the real reason why zip codes define the destiny of children. It is not about district effectiveness or efficiency, but instead about district starvation of resources to meet the challenges they face, while others are awash in the money they need.

When we say we favor local control of education, we are advocating for maintaining a tiered system of access to resources and school quality. We are saying the rent or mortgage parents can afford and/or the distance they can travel for work defines the opportunity for their children.

Layering on our history of housing segregation and the drawing of school district and municipal boundaries to explicitly create white and not white, have and have not schools and communities, school finance fairness serves as a quantified keyhole through which we observe a state-supported caste system in the US.

Jason Becker

My last Now page update was 10+ months ago right as lockdown really hit. I’m just not quite sure I’m ready to change it while I still feel like my world is in some kind of stasis.

Jason Becker

DC Statehood is as necessary as obvious. Virtually any belief in democratic representation cannot plausibly deny this. This shouldn’t be a debate.

Jason Becker

Chef is a movie for anyone who loves food and loves cooking. No surprises there. But if you like watching competent people in the kitchen make food that looks incredible, I’m not sure any other movie competes.

The cast is fantastic. Favreau and Leguizamo are great, but every role, big or small received the same careful attention. Oliver Platt, Amy Sedaris, and Bobby Cannavale are stand outs.

Despite the call outs to Vine, the idea that Twitter is novel and hard to understand, or the skepticism of food trucks that firmly place Chef in its time, the movie hardly feels dated. It’s a classic story— middle-aged man who has lost his way and neglected his family rediscovering himself and rebuilding his relationship with his son along the way.

But here’s the thing— if you make a movie that has beautiful cooking and shows off Cubanos, beignets, and brisket from Franklin’s? I’m going to show up. And in this year, when I haven’t been able to travel to these places that I went every year to eat the food that makes those places special… damn that hits.

Jason Becker

I’ve been slowly reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. I keep saying, “It’s very good, but I always stop reading after 20-25 pages.” I thought, “maybe it’s boring.” Tonight I realized it’s because reading about Jews during the Holocaust is emotionally exhausting.

Jason Becker

January 21, 2021

New M1 Mac is coming next week! This is the first time in a long time I think I’m going to not use Migration Assistant.

Convince me otherwise?

Best tips for paving the way and getting ready? I haven’t had run my “bootstrap” script in 5 years.

Things to know about #rstats?

Jason Becker

January 20, 2021

For a while, I visited home roughly every 8-10 weeks after I moved away. My uncle would invariably have some article that was in the paper just that week he wanted to share with me when I got there.

I never thought about how this was a way to make sure we stopped to have a conversation. He worked strange hours, often overnight, and so overlapping wasn’t always easy.

I still miss him.

He and I would have had a lot discuss these last few weeks, with the Georgia runoff, insurrection at the Capitol, and now swearing in of President Biden and Vice President Harris.

This last year would have infuriated him and saddened him, and my grandmother. I can hear the way they would have sounded as they cheered during the swearing in. I know they would have called me.

It’s strange the times we remember those we have loved and now lost. But although I am sad thinking of them, I like to sit in these melancholy moments, because they are the times that my memories are most vivid and complete.

Jason Becker

January 19, 2021

It was planned for months, openly on Facebook in plain view of everybody. Remember that when politicians call for more intrusive surveillance in response.

stretchcat, describing the recent insurrection at the US Capitol.

Jason Becker

I have to admit, it’s getting hard for me to make it past 2pm without switching back into my soft pants.

Jason Becker

January 18, 2021

I cannot believe there are influential people now claiming that bitcoin is an energy storage technology.

Jason Becker

My summary on public intellectuals:

Bad takes tend to be correlated. Good takes are not.

Jason Becker

For all the complaints that people have about challenges with a carbon tax or cap and trade, we should institute a global carbon tax just to tank bitcoin.

Jason Becker

January 17, 2021

This fall, Elsa and I stalked a house for sale that was just unbelievable and not ridiculously out of reach. Made the mistake of walking the trail it overlooks today.

A stream in the woods
Jason Becker

This story has me really questioning what it would take to swap to Gitlab, which would likely be my choice if I started from scratch.

Jason Becker

January 16, 2021

My mother: “It’s only 50 minutes from Midtown Manhattan by train, and it’s such a beautiful area, that’s why it’s so expensive.”

Me: “No, it’s expensive because of exclusionary zoning.”

Jason Becker

Two great leads, too smart, too quick, waxing philosophic in the nadir of their relationship as they are stuck cohabitating until the end of London’s first lockdown. Is Locked Down about the haphazard heist in its third act? No, of course not. It’s almost a silly bit of Harrod’s advertisement tacked on to a timely one-location film about discovery and romance during pandemic times.

Zoom and Skype have quickly become a part of television and film produced in the last year, and Locked Down uses these devices well, with strong appearances by Dulé Hill, Sir Ben Kingsley, Ben Stiller, and Mindy Kaling. I do wonder if all these stories produced now, about now will have staying power.

But Chiwetel Ejiofor and Anne Hathway are both magnificent as a couple whose relationship has died with much left to say to each other and learn about themselves.

For some people, Locked Down will read as overly dramatic, with dialog that is overly sophisticated and clunky even as it’s rendered with ease by two phenomenal actors. For others, it will read as literary or theatrical and quotable. For me, it’s too well acted, well made, and well paced to fall entirely flat, although I find myself wishing it had the conviction to have a far smaller third act. Having a daring, wild project where our leads work together ensure their rekindling and reconciliation feels great. Having that be an almost ridiculous set of circumstances leading to a diamond heist was maybe not the right wild project for my tastes.

Jason Becker

Maybe this is a dumb question, but can anyone explain why we’re not doing a 3-4 week hard lock down right now?

Jason Becker