Benjamin Esham


A grocery-store receipt that lists each apple and banana separately.

Note to self: if you’re debating whether your website should drop compatibility with an old browser so you can use some new-ish JavaScript feature, don’t forget to check whether that browser’s old TLS stack is already preventing it from connecting to your site at all!

“Let’s start on the recipe for our new ‘vegan tiramisu cheesecake.’ What are you thinking?”

“Well… it should probably have no ingredients in common with either tiramisu or cheesecake.”

“Oh, for sure.”

Tiramisu cheesecake for sale in a store. The ingredients are cashews, walnuts, almonds, dates, maple syrup, coconut oil, cacao powder, espresso powder, vanilla extract, sunflower lecithin, lemon juice, and salt.

“Though the name literally means ‘New Castle’ in French, it also involves a pun on the French ‘neuf,’ which is pronounced like the Norwegian onomatopoeia for ‘oink.’ ”

The things you learn on Wikipedia

My favorite thing about paying $300 a year for EpiPens is that if everything goes well, I won’t even use them.

The hottest gig-economy service in 2020 will be “Uber, but for opting out of mandatory arbitration clauses.”

Today I learned: the town of Ytterby in Sweden is the namesake of four elements: yttrium, ytterbium, erbium, and terbium.

Today I learned:

  • Roxann Dawson, who played B’Elanna Torres on Star Trek: Voyager, was married to Casey Biggs, who played Damar on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Their marriage predated either of them appearing on Star Trek. (Dawson directed the 2019 Christian drama Breakthrough, which I involuntarily watched over someone’s shoulder on a plane the other day.)

  • Prior to becoming an international man of mystery, Edward Snowden was a SharePoint administrator.

I got an email from eBay this morning—September 15, 2019—telling me that their “updated User Agreement will take effect on August 30, 2019 for all users.” How on earth can it be legal for them to make a change like this without at least 30 days’ notice beforehand?

Shutterfly tried the same thing a couple weeks ago (new terms effective September 3rd; notification sent on September 7th) with the added shit-covered cherry on top of a new mandatory arbitration clause. I closed my Shutterfly account.

Sometimes I find it disconcerting that I can’t run df -h on my brain and find out how much space is left in there.

The medium is the message, and when the medium is ads sent through the mail, the message is “we don’t give a shit about the environment.”

Haskell salesman: *slaps roof of Traversable t => t a* the typeclass doesn’t give you any a priori guarantees of how many a you can fit in this bad boy

The thing I like least about doing Python code reviews is feeling like I’m the static analyzer. Like, I have to make sure that variables aren’t used before they’re defined, because otherwise the code will be merged, deployed, and run before Python itself will complain.

Cory Doctorow:

The adoption curve for oppressive technology goes: refugee, immigrant, prisoner, mental patient, children, welfare recipient, blue collar worker, white collar worker (think, for example, of video surveillance cameras).

(Via Bruce Schneier, who says, “I don’t agree with the ordering, but the sentiment is correct.”)

I don’t have anything insightful to say about the children (and adults) we’ve locked in cages. I’ll just say this: it’s cruelty, plain and simple. It’s sadism without any possible justification or excuse. America is big enough for everyone who wants to be here.

Good thing I’ve been brushing up on my French so I kn—wait

A screenshot of the Duolingo app. The question at the top reads, “Which of these is ‘the box’?” Four French words are offered as choices, but each includes a picture that makes it clear what that word means.

A tall, gray-blue fence recedes away from the viewer. In the foreground is a large bed of daffodils.

The University Avenue entrance to the garden of the George Eastman Museum. Shot with a Canon EOS M5 and filtered all to hell with VSCO.

“Circa 2016” is Latin for “I don’t actually know what ‘circa’ means.”

In his book The Shah, Abbas Milani writes about a lavish gala held in 1971 to celebrate the 2,500th anniversary of the Persian Empire:

Dinner was a six-course, five-hour extravaganza, created by the famed Max Blouet; much of it flown in from Maxim’s of Paris. It included fifty roast peacocks, “quail’s eggs stuffed with golden caviar, crayfish mousse, saddles of lamb.” The only thing Persian on the menu was the caviar. The Shah, allergic to caviar, was served a vegetable instead.

Imagine even knowing whether you’re allergic to caviar.

The two approaches to pet ownership in Game of Thrones:

  1. Utter apathy

  2. “They are literally my children.”