Link Roundup: October 2023

A Weird New Scam | stderr – Remember when FTB went down for a few days around September 12 or so?  Marcus Ranum explains what happened, entertainingly.  The short version is, someone claimed they had a copyright on the banner image–you know, the one that says on it–and the hosting service shut down the site because DMCA is fundamentally broken.

Fractal Mazes – Commenter amito pointed me to their fractal maze browser app (see app, Github).  (Solver beware: I’m pretty sure the first maze by Noke Lieu just doesn’t have a solution.)  And then Jay McArthur linked to their own github page with a collection of more fractal mazes with citations, plus a python app.  I’m proud to have made three mazes featured in both of these.  I made them a long time ago (here’s one), but they’re still kicking around.

Fractal mazes are great, I love them.  I first heard about fractal mazes in 2003 through MathPuzzle, and then I designed three myself almost a decade ago.  You cannot solve fractal mazes with the conventional right-hand rule, but there is a computationally efficient terminating algorithm that will solve any fractal maze.  Perhaps one day I will describe the algorithm.

This is Financial Advice | Folding Ideas (video, 2:32 hours) – Dan Olson explains the cult that formed in the aftermath of Gamestop becoming a memestock in early 2021.  I feel good about being a memestock naysayer from the very beginning.  You’re not sticking it to the man by losing money on the stock market, I mean, really.

Ever since the 2008 financial crisis, I’ve seen a lot of people mythologize the short seller.  The memestockers take this to an extreme, simultaneously casting short sellers as the villains of the economy, while enshrining Michael Burry (from The Big Short) as a hero.  But even among ordinary folks, I hear people blame the 2008 financial crisis on short sellers, and it’s not clear what the theory is there.

Jordan Peterson & the Rise of the Metrosexual | We’re in Hell (video, 1:07 hours) – It’s not so much about Jordan Peterson as it is about metrosexuality–a consumerist form of masculinity.  He only briefly mentioned it, but I was interested in the history of men’s movements, and how they were split over their reaction to second wave radical feminism (which was the movement that brought sexual politics to the fore).  There were three branches, corresponding to the male feminists, the men’s rights activists, and… the mythopoetic movement?  I looked that up, and they were a movement focused on self help and Jungian psychology–arguably they had a lot in common with Jordan Peterson.

Planned obsolescence will kill us all | Unlearning Economics (video, 1:07 hours) – Planned obsolescence is a real and widespread problem that occurs across industries, even when everyone hates it.  Even when companies don’t plan for obsolescence, market forces pressure them in that direction, incenting them to deprioritize product lifetime in favor of just about anything else.  Virtually no effective policy remedy exists.

How video games explain the supply chain crisis | Polygon (video, 19 min) – If you enjoyed my essay about capital in board games, you might also enjoy this video about logistics in video games.  My brothers and I have played Factorio quite extensively, and we’re very good at logistical problem solving.  One strategy that I hit upon, is building exactly the right number of resources in exactly the location where they’re needed, which cuts down on the need to transport them long distances.  It’s remarkable how many solutions like this have analogues in real logistics.

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