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Email a Dumpster Fire (hey.science)
1049 points by bschne 62 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 326 comments

This reminds me of a Burning Code celebration my team once had at ocean beach in SF.

We'd been slowly migrating from Angular 1.X to React (internally: the Angularpocalypse) for a few years and we'd finally migrated over our last few pages. The result was about 100k lines of JS and Rails code that could be safely deleted in a single PR. It had been such a long slog, though, that we felt the team deserved some catharsis.

We took a team-offsite day to gather on a nearby beach and burn the deleted code. In the interest of not wasting that much paper, we burnt a complete list of the deleted files in super-tiny font on a couple pages. We also each grabbed our least-favorite areas of the codebase to print out, including several dramatic readings. My selection was a section of code from about 4 years prior with a comment like //TODO: replace this asap.

I highly recommend it to anyone facing a long, clearly-delineated migration. Gift your old, shameful code to the flame.

I think this sort of thing, while cheesy in some respects is great for the team morale. A lot of companies do social things, which is great, but they are disconnected from the work. It's like stop work, do something social, and back to work. But with this ritual it's connected and a real celebration.

I hope React is better for you and you don't need to burn again in 5 years! Luckily hooks and non-hooks code works together nicely enough.

Employees of the Chinese company Hayer famously smashed really dodgy and low quality fridges their company had produced in the 1980s as the symbolic start to a new dedication to quality.

See https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/cnainsider/how-china-fr... for one write-up.

> Teetering on the brink of collapse, the collective enterprise had gone through three managing directors in 1984 when Mr Zhang, a 35-year-old city manager, was appointed as the fourth.

> No one expected much of him, since a revolving door of directors had failed to stop the rot. He put it thus:

> People didn’t have faith in the factory.

> But he grabbed the national headlines a year later, upon discovering from a check on the inventory that a fifth of the fridges were faulty.

> Each fridge was worth two years of a worker’s pay, but Mr Zhang ordered the workers to destroy those 76 fridges – with a sledgehammer.

The CEO joined in the smashing as well for extra symbolism.

Just in case anyone wonders if they got away from the brink of collapse or if they only smashed fridges:

> (The young manager) made it China’s version of the American appliance giant (General Electric)


Love the story. The company is spelled "Haier" by the way, if you are interested in reading more about it.


Which itself is a bad Latin transliteration of the second half of a bad Chinese transliteration of the German brand name "Liebherr", so I think they'll forgive the misspelling.

Thanks! I had fixed it first, but then must have screwed it up again in editing.

Samsung's Lee Kun-hee did this as well, in the 90s I think, but he made the factory workers watch while he and the other board members smashed stuff and set it on fire.

Agreed. I've always found the group social stuff to be contrived because the work is the only thing I have in common with most folks at work. That's not to say I haven't made friends through work but it's always been isolated and organic.

This reminds me of one time when I finally got to shut down a particularly hated internal web app. For a few hours before the PHP server was taken offline, visiting the site would only return this image: https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-6OWKZqvvPh8/UjBJ6xPxwjI/AAAAAAAAO...

That's awesome. What made the app so hated?

I'm going to make an assumption that it was a PHP app written internally by people that didn't know what they were doing, with no documentation, and that was fragile as all hell. Also probably written in some ancient php version that could not be upgraded and was a huge security risk.

At least that's what I tend to see in the field.

Check, check, and check. Add to that no version control, no tests, no development environment, a custom ajax frontend framework, and the fact that it was mission critical. About the only thing it had going for it was daily database backups (which came in handy).

I did my best to clean up the code so it was at least somewhat maintainable, but there were sections (the most important ones, of course) that I just wouldn't touch because it was impossible to tell what they did -- oh yeah, I forgot to mention the global variables, didn't I?

So happy that app is dead and buried.

We had a similar situation but with an ASP application that got rewritten from scratch in PHP instead. It's still running fine after 10 years without any big bugs. We didn't even get access to the sourcecode so it was all new bugs instead but at least it wasn't a big security hole whose database got wiped every week because of Bobby Tables. It had daily backups though that came in handy every week :-)

We have a support contract for an app like that...

On the bright side, using it to learn refactoring and migration techniques.

That is some Silkwood Shower shit.

I have one like that. It was written by interns. One day I swear I will be able to get rid of it!

Every since The Crown S4, I've lots of references flying around. I must say that she was superbly played by Gillian Anderson.

> Every since The Crown S4, I've lots of references flying around. I must say that she was superbly played by Gillian Anderson.

Whut? That seems a complete non sequitur, am I missing something, or are you replying to the wrong thread?

When Margaret Thatcher died there was a push to get that song to the top of the charts. It entered at #2

Thank you for explaining.

The chain of associations here was a bit longer than usual: Image Meme > Song Title > Prominent Death > Political Figure > Recent Dramatization > Actor in Role

That's about as complex as your average bilingual pun!


Have you started on the Reactocalypse effort yet?

Not gonna lie, I've been waiting for that to start to seem like a good idea. :) React seems to have more staying power than previous trends, though. Off the top of my head, the frontend library supremacy* went something like:

- 2008 to 2012: Jquery

- 2012 to 2014: Backbone

- 2014 to 2016: Angular

- 2016 to present: React

And although there are serious contenders, React still seems like it has a solid lead over all others. If it lasts another couple years, it's been the dominant tool for longer than most.

* Based entirely on "what I was hearing the most about at that time," not on any rigorous methodology. There was still plenty of Jquery code being written last year and there are large, mature codebases out there in Backbone and Angular.

> there are large, mature codebases out there in Backbone and Angular.

When it comes to large long-historied Angular codebases, I prefer the term "metastasized" over "mature," though now that we're in the 2020s we can almost use "legacy."

You know what's funny? When I was finishing a Backbone.js job (circa 2014? I can't recall) I looked at Angular and React and my conclusion, based on thought and research, was that while React looked better in the moment Angular was conceptually superior and would be the future (or the future would be something like Angular but better).

That was really a thing I thought, I posted it too and people were like "hmm yes good point."

I know I've been wrong before and since but for whatever reason that one stuck with me as a humbling moment, I had it all backwards.

Hey I was certain that the iPad would be a flop too and that one year from the release nobody would talk about it ...

I've been wrong about every US Presidential election since 2000! That takes special talent.

So next time tell us who you see win, then we'll know the opponent will win! :)

As an atheist I realize this makes absolutely zero sense, but I can't help but feel that "abusing" the power in such a way would somehow "jinx" it and cause it to backfire!

Backbone never got really popular here (Sweden). I still see some legacy apps running Angular but React took over from jQuery quite fast in 2015 or so. What I have noticed thouhg is that people who like MVC-frameworks tend to like using libraries similar to Vue and those who have more of an application approach to web apps tend to like React. Personally I think I got a bad first impression from Vue and have had a hard time trying to get to like it (I know it is popular). I think libraries such as Svelte and dev environments similar to Snowpack will gain traction the coming years. Focus on Developer Experience and doing the heavy lifting in the dev environment.

I keep wondering what everyone is going to complain about when it becomes clear React and Vue & a couple other decade old offerings are what everyone in JS land is using. The jokes about new JS frameworks being invented daily have started to fall off already. Stagnancy & ossification are setting in. Although functional components in React have, fairly recently, re-simplified/re-writeen the DX again.

Backbone was the first time there was framing at all. So long ago & so not that long ago!

The frontend world is maturing!

I remember having similar complains in the smaller rails world about a decade ago: every 6-12 months there'd be a new community-favorite gem to accomplish X, where X is any number of common needs: file upload, auth, json serialization, background jobs, etc etc. It was damn frustrating. I had the early-rails equivalent of js framework fatigue! But after a while it quieted down. I wouldn't call it stagnancy and ossification - I'd call it maturity and stabilization. :)

I was in those same trenches and I have the same scars. However... IIRC the difference between JS fatigue and magpie development with Gems (ooh! Shiny!) is that switching to the latest and greatest gems was usually painless. If you were willing to learn yet another DSL. With JS you have to throw everything away and start over with each new thing. But maybe Im just wearing ruby-tinted glasses. I actually liked the energy of the ruby community back then. But with JS I feel like it’s the blind leading the blind with the confidence of a used car salesman.

I like the term “magpie development”.

React has staying power this time, thank God. It's almost 8 years old and popularity is still increasing. Angular is dead to me though, which means big rewrites coming for me in the next few years...

The core React design pattern is nice, and the community is great, but the noise in the code.

What do you mean by noise?

Sh*t that sounds nice, but when stretched outside the simple documentation, has no purpose or meaning and ruins your life.

I’m looking at you -> { blah && }

What's the matter with that notation? I work in a code base many millions of lines large, see those every day, and think nothing of it.

This is just personal opinion: The one-way flow has made functional React components very noisy in terms of state and effects management.

For examples, here's a comparison implementing the same functionality using React hooks and Svelte: https://github.com/joshnuss/react-hooks-in-svelte

Now, there are ways to handle all this with less code in React as well (for example, MobX), but the current de facto defaults with hooks and Redux create so. much. boilerplate. for. every. little. thing.

I like and use React on almost a daily basis but I'll admit it can definitely be overly verbose sometimes (at least WidgetFactoryFactory's aren't common like in some other languages). I know next to nothing about Svelte though, I'd be interested to see how it compares to React in a complex app and what the big tradoffs are.

I think it's safe to say React wins on ecosystem but loses on verbosity w.r.t Svelte.

The noise is the code.

Play the spaces between the notes.

Old school Perl coder here - rolling my eyes... ;-)

The Pathologically Eclectic Rubbish Lister.

Talk to a sendmail v8 admin who had to hand edit sendmail.cf rewrite rules.

With or without m4?

Without m4. You'll likely speak to a gibbering mess though.

I’m triggered.

Phoenix Live View pattern is where it's at now. So much better.

you forgot prototype before jquery

And script.acoulo.us! What a duo they were. Actually I just checked and scrip.acoulou.us site is still alive, with last version from Dec 2010 :)

I use the browser extension Wappalyzer, which tries to detect the tech used in every site, and you would be surprised how many use the duo :)

Oh my god, the flashbacks!

Circa 2005 doing client work during summers off of uni in this newfangled “Ruby on Rails” (v0.8.x). I was new to all of it. Coming from Flash/Flex/AS and jumping both feet into Ruby, Rails, JS via Script.aculo.us! Great times!

Oh yeah, I'd forgotten about prototype! I also used Dojo heavily at one of my college internships. Ancient history in javascript-land. :)

Dojo[0] actually reinvented itself to be a full VDOM react-like framework, focused on enterprise


Seems they also had the good luck to have missed out on jQueryMobile too...


(I did make a bunch of money with that one project that went live for about 8 days before the company we did it for sold out and the new owners shut it down immediately. _So_ glad I was never on the hook for production support on that...)

mootools, anybody??

prototype was horribly named. I was just becoming aware of prototypal inherence and it was so confusing because search results mostly pointing to the prototype library.

And yahoo!

That timeline is missing vue and vanilla.js. Also, while personally I'm not a fan, Angular seems to continue to do well in "enterprise" projects where the web app isn't the main deliverable, and having a separate Node.js stack is undesired next to the Java or .net main backend stack.

You might be surprised how many sites are still using jquery..

Everything needs to be rewritten in phoenix live view now.

I have to say, Phoenix Liveview is one of the most exciting things to me, although it's not a match for what I'm working on right now. But my previous job it would have been a perfect fit (a big SPA for monitoring a bunch of IoT devices that had web socket connections to a backend). We were two frontenders and two backenders and we spent so much time implementing and maintaining, not to mention _arguing_ over the API between the SPA and the backend, and that API would've basically gone away if we'd used Phoenix Live. I really hope to get to use it at some point.

Thanks for making reference to LiveView. It reads a lot like Microsoft Blazor with server side rendering and two way communication through SignalR.

No no no it's all about Svelte now /s

I swear, front end just invents this stuff to keep us all confused :(


Here I am server side PHP and vanilla JS, one or two RiotJS components. LOB apps tho - different game I guess

We’ve done code burnings before. Throughout the year, any tech debt fixed or code repos removed could be printed out and burned in a bon fire at an annual gathering. Burning old chef code that made life pain every day? Put a smile on many faces haha.

We made a cake and stabbed it to death and then ate it.

When my team at a previous company finished a multi month migration of a large PHP app to the cloud we held a large deploy party where everyone gathered in a room and the CEO pressed a space bar labeled DEPLOY. A script ran, the load balancer config was upgraded and the whole team cheered for something ungraspable like this website in the cloud.

> In the interest of not wasting that much paper, we burnt a complete list of the deleted files in super-tiny font on a couple pages.

Pretty cool.

Did anyone beat the printer to death with a baseball bat?

I got your (Office Space) reference, but I’m thinking that beating older keyboards, mice and monitors to death may be more appropriate in this instance. Those monsters facilitated the creation of the code. They should die with the code.

I think it'd be hard for me to identify my "least favorite" area of codebase because I don't tend to get overly emotional about code.

If I did get emotional it'd only be due to some sort of bikeshedding (style complaints) that I would have forgotten about by the next morning anyways.

Congrats, robot human. Rejoice! You may exempt yourself from this extracorricular activity!

I heard of a team that did a similar thing;

Their app had some Norse name (something like Ragnarok or Valhalla etc) so the put it on an RC boat and torched it on a lake :-)

I'm curious, how many people got the reference to the first Burning Man, held on Ocean Beach in 1986?

Pretty similar! Fire and catharsis go hand in hand.

One just went past that said "everything is fine". It was committed to the fire, flew up, and landed back on the conveyor belt. A guy in a mask ran into the frame and picked it up and put it in the fire by hand.

I found it very in keeping with the theme.

Most of them are not going into the flames automatically.

It rained earlier and it looked like papers were getting stuck on the damp slide into the dumpster. Later on things were going a little more smoothly, except for one that caught fire but then made it out of the dumpster. I don't remember what it said, but it was my favorite.

Anyway, this is basically the epitome of 2020 development work for me. I wrote a whole bunch of well-tested code ahead of an event last weekend. At the last moment, a director changed the layout of the event in about the only way I hadn't foreseen. All my careful tests passing didn't make my code work during the event, which led to a bunch of manual correction the code was meant to avoid. I imagine the Hey team feels a little similar when tests work great and then the humidity ramps up.

Both are working now, though, so all's well that ends well :)

everyone is coming up with more complicated systems to usher it to the flames (e.g. vacuum it up and robotic arm drop it in, hook up a fan on low speed, etc) when it's really as simple as steepening the angle it drops in. also about 2 hours ago they didn't have a spot light on the subject to be torched so maybe they will get there.

it certainly re-energized the creative side of me to think up some similar live stream rube goldberg device so i like where their head is at

Appreciate that. Most everything on this is a hack. Slowly improving it as we go along. Steeper ramp today helped a lot.

I saw that one too. Hilarious.

Paper looks like it's sticking. They should just have the guy sitting next to a printer and a dumpster and then moving the paper from the printer to the dumpster.

Glad to be of service.

Part of what I love about this is that periodically it doesn't work and a dude comes in from off camera and manually makes sure your email is torched. Very 2020.


Hi there- do you know where the soundtrack from the background music playing comes from? I LOVE IT - so mellow and relaxing I've been playing it all evening with my family watching the emails. Would love to get the playlist if it's available? TY.

An allegory to all those deployments with just one manual step.

Or AI (with some human intervention required)

And cameras sometimes go out of focus.

> P.P.S. We're offsetting by 3x every bit of CO2 this creates via Cool Effect.

Is this really how this carbon offset thing works?

You release a bunch of greenhouse gases - but it's "OK" because you pay money to some organization that might eventually plant some trees (or use your money to buy/rent fossil-fuel-burning machinery to orchestrate the planting of trees)?

Seems like guilt-avoidance to me.

> You release a bunch of greenhouse gases - but it's "OK" because you pay money to some organization

It's about cleaning up after yourself. Clearly in the case of this machine, whose carbon impact is tiny compared to nearly every other combustion based machinery we use, the intent is symbolic.

> ...that might eventually plant some trees (or use your money to buy/rent fossil-fuel-burning machinery to orchestrate the planting of trees)?

For a reputable carbon offset, those carbon costs are accounted for in the offset, so even with them, it's a net-negative carbon transaction.

> Seems like guilt-avoidance to me.

That's besides the point. If it offsets the carbon produced, then it works, and it doesn't matter what the psychological motivation is.

But I agree that there is a problem with offsets: In a saner world we'd be imposing carbon taxes instead of this, but this is where we are today, with CO2 mitigation effectively taking the form of "donations".

Many organizations with good intent and survive on donations end up astray - see Red Cross and Haiti.

Donating money to some organization that claims they will plant trees to offset some amount of greenhouse gas emissions is a lot like trusting the American Red Cross to build houses and schools after a disaster. You're hoping they do what they promise (and instead of doing that, the American Red Cross billed majority of the donations as "Administrative Fees"[1]).

So, in reality you may or may not be "cleaning up after yourself". Actually, you're not cleaning up after yourself... you're outsourcing that job (and don't actually care if it gets done) so you can feel free to release more greenhouse gases.

[1] https://www.npr.org/2015/06/03/411524156/in-search-of-the-re...

> see American Red Cross and Haiti.

FTFY. The Red Cross is a reputable organisation that does wonderful work across the developing world. The American Red Cross is the corrupt one.

My mistake in conflating the two. Updated - Thanks for pointing out the distinction.

Though donating to it isn't a substitute for donations to the American Red Cross for disaster relief purposes. The ICRC specifically deals with armed conflict.

For disaster relief you'll have to find another reputable charity.

This is not true. The Red Cross in my country, which is an ICRC affiliate, does provide disaster relief. As far as I can tell, this is true across the board.




My assumption was that the comment I replied to was directed to Americans, and recommending the ICRC itself as opposed to the ARC.

Are you arguing that all donations are pointless because you can't know for a fact exactly what your particular dollars are spent on? If you just meant "not all nonprofits are perfect, make sure you do your research", I think that's common sense that doesn't really need to be said here.

If your claim is that Cool Effect is BS, then do you have some evidence other than some whatabouts?

If you could show that Cool Effect is BS and there was an alternative that really does offset the emissions, I'd bet these folks would be all for switching.

> In a saner world we'd be imposing carbon taxes

In my saner world, we wouldn’t have people knowingly create greenhouse gases for a PR stunt (whose only beneficiary is a corporation called Hey).

In don't know how much the advertising industry creates greenhouse gases but like any other human activity, that's a lot. From employees driving to work to the electricity needed to run the servers.

In this case, I don't think the dumpster fire produces more than a few kW of heat. If it was done inside an office space, it probably wouldn't be powerful enough to heat to room to a comfortable temperature. The server infrastructure required to stream the video most likely produces more CO2 than the fire itself, and I don't usually see an ad on web net saying "we bought carbon offsets to compensate for the greenhouse gases that video produced".

Here there is a visible fire, so people think "OMG, the planet", not realizing that their computer may be connected to a much larger fire in a coal plant.

This is a counterproductive attitude.

If you pit climate responsibility against people living their lives, climate responsibility will lose, full stop. In the short term, human beings are the way they are, and you won't be able to change human nature before the climate is destroyed.

People offsetting their consumption is way, way better than people saying "If you just want me to suffer, fuck it. I'm going to embrace being an asshole and do what I want."

For example, I'm going to throw some logs on the fireplace over Christmas. I can either find a way to offset my emissions elsewhere, or just say fuck it, those environmentalists are assholes so screw them. It's probably better for both of us if I donate, because not having a fire is off the table.

There’s significant evidence of a “rebound effect” when people are given the chance to signal their virtue or pay off their guilt somehow. That is, they feel justified in behaving worse than they otherwise would have (in this case, burning more logs than you would have without the offsets). This is a well established physiological phenomenon, though I’m not sure to the extent it has been studied with respect to carbon offsets.

So if carbon offsets don’t work well (which I think there is also significant skepticism about), then the net effect here is negative. On balance, it’s probably positive but I don’t think you can make a blanket assertion that skepticism here is counterproductive — it seems quite warranted.

> There’s significant evidence of a “rebound effect” when people are given the chance to signal their virtue or pay off their guilt somehow. That is, they feel justified in behaving worse than they otherwise would have

Wikipedia article on rebound effect: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rebound_effect_(conservation)

At some point someone with more money than you is saying fuck it, their comfort is more important than yours, and you’re just going to have to suck it up.

> I can either find a way to offset my emissions elsewhere, or just say fuck it,

You could also, you know, not burn firewood? There’s a reason no home built in the last 20 years in many states do not have wood-burning fireplaces.

You're making the GPs point quite nicely, in that it absolutely doesn't sound like it's worth dealing with you, and it's making me want to throw my hands in the air and say "fuck it, if I try to offset my emissions I'll just get whiners like TedDoesntTalk all up in my face, so i might as well not offset anything".

You're making things worse.

So, from one fellow environmentalist to another, keep it to yourself, for the good of the planet.

> > I can either find a way to offset my emissions elsewhere, or just say fuck it,

> You could also, you know, not burn firewood?

You apparently missed where he literally said:

> > because not having a fire is off the table.

It’s 3 degrees C in my house at the moment, because having a fire is off the table. I wear a jacket indoors. It’s cozy. It’s going to get a damn sight colder before winter is over. That’s fine. I have gloves and hats, too - and even a 160W electric blanket for when it’s Baltic - all our energy is renewable, produced here. It’s a great incentive for me to build out hydroelectric dump heating sooner rather than later.

I guess it’s every man’s right to burn a barrel of diesel in their yard “for the traditional effect” or whatever, though, and that’s why 2020 will be looked back at with fond memories before you know it.

They've been replaced with internal heating which may use electricity or in some cases Gas. Not for reducing emissions as much as it's cleaner for the house and getting/buying firewood is schlep.

I see this comment all the time and I'm never sure which of the two stances (or a third? don't want to pigeonhole you) people hold:

a) Offsets don't do what they claim to do, as in the earth in the universe where you give the offset has the same carbon problem as the one in the universe where you don't make the offset, or

b) Offsets are bad even if they do work. There's something morally repugnant about them even if logically they are moral.

From your wording and most of the responses I assume you hold a, but the tone and comparisons to indulgences, etc. make me think you actually (also?) hold b?

I personally hold the contrary opinion to b, but I'm not sure about a) so I'm always a little skeptical of the companies claiming to use carbon offsets. But the problem is definitely one of technology (measuring and holding people accountable to the offsetting) rather than an inherent philosophical contradiction in the concept of offsets.

I hold a third opinion.

Offsets are a promise to get rid of carbon for a price. There is a strong incentive to cheat and make the promise, collect the money, then do less than you promised to do. No matter what accountability mechanisms you create, eventually someone will fail to be completely honest, and will deliver cheap offsets as a result. The result is good prices. Eventually the failures of the market to actually deliver on their promise will become a scandal, but those scandals take a long time to materialize so we won't hear about it for a long time.

Which means it might or might not work, and we probably won't hear much about it if it doesn't.

Making this less hypothetical, go read https://features.propublica.org/brazil-carbon-offsets/inconv... for some investigative reporting on how often carbon offsets aren't actually doing what is promised.

The result? In the two large scale programs that have evaluations, the results were that 85% of efforts undertaken under the Clean Development Mechanism were likely ineffective, and 75% of those under Joint Implementation likewise were.

And yet, despite documentation of how ineffective those programs are, do you hear a lot of public scandals about ineffective carbon offsets?

Between perverse incentives and the history of failure, I do not expect future programs to do better. Nor do I expect to hear much about the failures that I think are going on.

Cool Effect conducts itself in a way to avoid those issues, and was almost certainly chosen with those potential issues in mind.

Additionally, the 3x funding suggests they are aware that an offset project has some inherent inefficiency.

if the incentives are not aligned, it's a dying proposition. incentives are very powerful

You missed the obvious larger problem with offsets: green washing. By giving people the ability to absolve themselves of guilt, they may change their behavior in response. Taking that extra flight, buying that new vehicle, owning the larger house. If (a) is true, then the existence of the offset is actually harmful.

But not if they're paying for that all with offsets, right? Or do you hold to my proposition a?

Huh? The point of offsets is to reduce carbon. I don’t care about the effect on you personally. If their existence causes more carbon through a combination of: a) ineffective programs and b) secondary physiological effects, then no one should support them (and ideally, they would just be disallowed by regulators — as it would be both in consumers and environmental interests — and replaced with mechanisms and incentives that actually work).

For clarity: I think they probably do work and there’s value there, but I think there are good reasons to be skeptical and evaluate carefully.

Penn and Teller came to the same conclusion on their show "Bullshit" back in 2008:


It's basically this millennium's version of the Catholic Church's indulgences.

From your link:

> There is evidence for global warming, though there's considerable reason to believe this is simply part of a natural cycle. There is some evidence that humans may contribute at least a bit to the change (though many sources suggest that human pollution is insignificant compared with forest fires, volcanos, etc.).

This is underhanded, weasel-word denialism. "Many sources suggest" my ass... Let's not give any credibility to this kind of bullshit.

They also did an episode about recycling being bullshit, which was full of misinformation.

Great magicians, but dishonest skeptics.

But doesn't everyone sort of agree now that it really is bullshit? Were they right but for the wrong reasons?

Plastic recycling is mostly B.S., it's difficult and so energy intensive that it's usually better for the environment to landfill the old plastic and make new stuff. Metal and paper recycling is very environmentally sound though.

> Metal and paper recycling is very environmentally sound though.

Glass too.

Hey, I've recently been marathoning this show. I'd say your description is as dishonest as you accuse penn and teller of being.

In that episode, they mainly point to paper and plastic recyclables as being net societal losses in 2003 when the episode was filmed. They only talk about metal and glass briefly, because it's pretty apparent that it is efficient to recycle metal and glass.

For what it's worth I don't actually think you are being dishonest, just hyperbolic.

Their passive smoking episode is famous for being absolute crap


The show pretends to be just about calling out "bullshit", but sprinkles in a lot of politics and opinions.

Penn is at least a partial climate change denialist. He is an entertainer, not an expert.

I don't think he's so much a denialist as an evangelical libertarian. His take is that it doesn't matter if it's man made or not, the market will solve the problem.

You could apply the same logic to any economic activity.

You mean I can just take a book from a bookstore, depriving others of the chance to read it, and it's somehow "OK" because I paid money to some organization that might eventually use it to print another copy?

Not the same.

Stealing books from a bookshop - ILLEGAL.

Pumping CO2 into the air and contributing to the global ecosystem's destruction - LEGAL.

Who's talking about stealing?

Yes, it is. But it's still a LOT better than silently ignoring it, which is the standard today.

Ignoring burning a few sheets of paper. The horror.

Carbon offsetting is different from indulgences, because the offset is actually calculated and verifiable. You pay some money to cover some materials and labor, that labor will result in x amount of carbon-dioxide being sequestered over a certain amount of time. You can actually go and research this stuff if you're so skeptical. There are actual explanations for how everything works, so it is in absolutely no way like a catholic indulgence, where you never actually know if the money you're spending is doing anything. You can actually go on the web and find answers to all your questions. Yes, I mean you, specifically.

You are implying that carbon-offsetting is some sort of sham that doesn't do what it says it does. Can you please provide sources to backup your claims?

That's the gist of carbon credits and taxation, yes. The idea is that the finances work as a disincentive at scale, but in reality if your business has no other way to operate, you're just going to pay the tax and live with it.

The airshed is, of course, indifferent to our financial games...

Now, if it actually works to change your behaviour so that you don't emit as much carbon because you can profit on the difference, well, hey! That's a good thing! But I don't think most industries can just stop on a dime and pivot like that.... it may provide incentives in the long term, or it just might end up with all the costs passed back to the consumer, who may or may not actually have a choice where to spend their money. This is basically the worst case scenario, where it just ends up being a financial game and doesn't improve anything. I hear that the solution in this case is just to ramp it up higher so that it eventually forces people to demand change; but they might just demand a change to the tax if no other options are forthcoming.

There's also the matter of catabolic processes, i.e. where something that emits less carbon is only financially feasible because of subsidies / taxes / etc. and in reality does not make economic sense to do. Any energy-generating technology that is not actually profitable without this is arguably taking in more energy than it produces, in the form of the externalities needed to enable it (i.e. fossil fuels that go into the building and maintenance of green energy projects).

> Seems like guilt-avoidance to me.

Isn't that what 99% of people, companies and governments are doing anyway? Doing things that look or sound green, while (voluntarily or not) ignoring the actual damage we're doing.

For example, my country banned plastic bags on the supermarket and everyone rejoiced, but no one has any intention to talk seriously about environmental problems. It's all a bunch of empty slogans and feel-good discourse.

Yes, it's more than a bit like paying indulgences to the church to absolve yourself of sins. That's how a lot of companies can be "carbon neutral" by purchasing offsets and credits. I believe Tesla makes a significant amount of its money by selling these offsets to other companies.

If sin were a globally distributed problem where:

1. the aggregate amount of sin in the world caused suffering

2. indulgences actually reduced the aggregate amount of sin in the world

then the indulgence system would make perfect sense. I agree there are problems with offsets and many of them aren't credible, but this indulgences metaphor has never made sense to me.

Really? Even though the lithium for Tesla batteries is incredibly damaging to the environment to mine?

Are we all buying into 21st Century Snake Oil here?

It's really not, compared to uh, oil.

And battery recycling technology is always improving. By the time the current Model 3s are retired, the vast majority of Lithium batteries will be recycled into new cars:

> By 2025, it is estimated that about three-quarters of spent electric batteries will be reused and then recycled to harvest raw materials.


There are actual standards for the credits so that people don’t buy snake oil.

Something like https://teamtrees.org/ or https://trees.org/ seems like a more direct approach to me.

Seems exactly the same to me. You pay some other organization some amount of money, and now you get a free pass to do whatever you want.

I had no idea this was really what everyone was talking about with carbon offsets.


> You pay some other organization some amount of money,

contradicts this:

> and now you get a free pass

and you aren't allowed

> to do whatever you want.

You pay for a specific amount of carbon offsetting, so you don't get to claim carbon neutrality if you exceed the amount you offset.

Of course given that this is all voluntary someone could lie, but that would be asshole behavior, and if you did it at scale (i.e. if a corporation lied about it), you would be discredited - in reputation and potentially be facing civil lawsuits.

Carbon Offsetting is a practice frequently applied to go Carbon Neutral or Carbon Negative. For some reason, Net Zero is considered "more comprehensive" than Carbon Neutral according to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_neutrality. What you are expecting is what many call Zero Carbon (and obviously the right path to aim for).

It is basically self-imposed carbon credits, since carbon credits are not politically viable or something.

Well you can't really expect those kind of solutions to scale. Burning a few bits of paper is small enough that you don't really need to worry all that much though.

I agree. Also, isn't the Kyoto protocol / carbon credits thing a very similar concept? Cmiw

Yep, it is.

Somehow the Stream-Window just kept black with Firefox.

But I dug up the direct link for the stream: https://video.ibm.com/embed/23996224

Firefox's "Enhanced Tracking Protection" blocks video.ibm.com by default. Not sure why.

Yeah. You are right. That fixed my problem.

Does Hey.com use IBM Cloud?

Nope. Separate infra for this project. I know, because I'm on the team that built both.

We don't, but streaming on YouTube/Twitch have some caveats that ruled them out for this.

Like what?

Content restrictions/moderation decisions that would be out of our hands.

In this case, we're a paying customer of the provider, not the product.

I would love to know your streaming setup for this. I did an interactive project using Twitch/YouTube chat a month back, controlmylights.net, and I found the delay on both of services was pretty bad. And you can't use Twitch's low latency mode on Safari/Edge. Also, unless you can monetize on YouTube you can't embed a live YouTube stream.

If you are interested in how I made it: https://edwarddeaver.me/portfolio/control-my-lights/

It's working for me right now on Firefox / Windows.

Still waiting on my email to show up though. Apparently it's awaiting review.

Tom Scott did a similar stunt, where Youtube comments were printed in real time and fed directly into a paper shredder.



not connected to the internet, but same general idea

And that one wasn't also an ad for an email service.


Fun idea! Would be nice to get an email back with "You are position x in the queue, ETA y minutes".

Patiently waiting to see my attachment meet its maker...

I did just get an email letting me know you will send a video of my submission though, that's nice!

We actually built that and had it implemented but decided to take it out. There are so many variables it would be hard to estimate.

But we're working on speeding up the whole contraption overall.

How long did the wait end up being?

oh - thats what the guy is doing with his phone.


As an aside: the web design for this page is super novel and cool. And I love the (somewhat random) ability to "close" the different windows and open them back up, as if it were a desktop environment. I wouldn't want this on every website I visit but it's certainly neat.

have you seen https://poolside.fm/ ?

thanks for sharing this

that's all Adam Stoddard. He's our marketing designer + a total genius.

Man, a lot of emails are queued up. I haven't seen mine yet, but I appreciate that they'll send you a clip of it burning.

For reference, here's what I sent: ╰། ◉ ◯ ◉ །╯ "help they trapped my soul in this piece of paper!"

that's an A+ submission. we have about 12k in queue right now

Oh! You should display the size of the queue.

We went back and forth on this. Simpler is better.

The ramp got wet and now everything gets stuck, that almost makes it better.

Kinda fun to watch them try and figure it out. I wonder if machine revisions/hacks will happen live on stream as well.

You got it. Definitely sticky.

I preferred to have this project be a little crappy on purpose. Most marketing projects are so shiny and perfect. This one is literally a dumpster outside. Warts and all.

I made the ramp steeper this morning and it seems to help.

I made a license plate hat for it and now it seems happier.

Haha, I love this, great project!

Hey all. I'm the creator behind this project and currently running the queue. Happy to answer any questions you have.

Hey, I have sent an E-Mail yesterday evening. Do you have a rough number, how long it takes on average before the mail gets burned?

we are about 13k behind right now

This reminds me of the Holiday Hole event by Cards against Humanity back in 2016. Were you inspired by that? Also how long is this going to run?

just generally inspired by CAH projects. they're rare and special. problems aside.

we'll run it as long as it's fun

were you inspired by The Internet Comment Shredder [1]? Your setup is very similar! Very fun.


nope, never saw it

2020 is all the inspiration one needs, for this.

I always admire these kinds of things, it's a genius marketing strategy and reminds me a lot of the sort of things that the people behind Cards Against Humanity have done. Anyone aware of others doing similar things?

https://mschf.xyz/ does similar things

Way to go, Dumpster Fire Operator Guy. Nothing gives me more anxiety than waiting for an inevitable printer jam or mechanical failure to occur.

i got u fam

This is fantastic! I just saw one paper sheet stayed in the printer tray. But the next one pushed it out.

This is the kind of automation I can get behind.

52k views, 268 emails torched.... ruby doesn't scale :)

Hah! More like physical constraints on physical objects doesn't scale!

The decision was made to not horizontally scale out the dumpster operations to match expected queue uptake. ;)

time to attach a twelve year old HP laserjet with ethernet interface, those things can churn out thousands of pages in a day in a law office environment.

Just saw a pic of Lindsey Graham go by! Perfect!

I chuckled when I saw it in the queue

Now.. this is the kind of performance art/marketing scheme I can get behind.

glad you enjoy it. what should we build next?

that's a fucked up kind of question. you be you?

This is possibly the first example of Dumpster Fire as a Service (DFaaS)

dumpster macroservice

Am I the only one who initially thought the whole set up was very small? I.e. it prints A6 pages and the dumpster is a box. But then a guy ran into the frame because the paper got stuck and I realised it's actually a full sized dumpster...

It's a 20ft shipping container. High cube so it's 11ft tall.

I love how it has one of those big honking emergency stop buttons.

Like, 2020 may indeed be a dumpster fire, but at least we can be confident that this particular installation is going to be a relatively safe, controlled dumpster fire.

it has 3 e-stops

I love the old school pixelated desktop GUI - especially with an HD video stream embedded in it. It's like a classic car with the engine swapped out for an electric drivetrain.

It would have been awesome if windows were movable, too.

that's all Adam Stoddard

I was thinking that a paper jam would result in the whole machine burning down, and I just noticed someone wander on to intervene when a print out got stuck at the end.

hotfix tongs

This idea is cool! How long do you plan to run the project?

TBD! as long as it's fun

I sent an email and was waiting for something to happen, was just staring at a blank screen... Once I disabled privacy protection my mind was blown. Super funny.

But it does make me wonder if people test their stuff with firefox and privacy protections ON. I think(?) it's the default now.

Either way, funny as hell. Well done!

Also funny that for every piece of paper someone has to walk up and help them get into the dumpster.

I use FF as my daily driver, and yes, it's tested fine with "Standard" Enhanced Privacy Protections. I did see the issue you were talking about, but I had to modify the permissions to "Custom".

I appreciated whomever burned a dependabot alert.

My favorite part of this is that they proactively offset the carbon emissions from their electricity usage via https://www.cooleffect.org/

Is there an easy way to calculate the climate impact of a software project? I’d love to do this for my next project.

After submitting a note I got a marketing email eg "PS: We made this experiment for fun, but we made HEY to make email better. Give it a try at HEY.com."

Just in case not obvious this is a marketing campaign by Hey.com (I was 90% sure) and they've got my email now :)

Could one turn it into an infinite loop by sending an email with a reply-to at the same address?

hey.com claims to have "fixed" email - I tried to find out what exactly they do to justify the claim but hit my timeout at about 5 minutes wading through vague testimonials. there's a 37min video that supposedly breaks it all down, I bailed about 5min in, afaict it's a just polished client.

It’s not an email client- it’s a gateway to a proprietary messaging service that happens to support email

Which is exactly what Gmail is.

Except that you can use Gmail through any IMAP/POP client (https://support.google.com/mail/answer/7126229?hl=en) while that's not possible with Hey where you always have to use their apps.

Yes I do suppose that's true, but I don't think that makes it any less proprietary in nature. The same could be said of many mail providers such as Gmail, Outlook.com, etc. They have their own way of doing it that, externally, looks like mail. Internally it's something altogether different.

This is proven by sending an email from one Gmail account to another. It is all but instant. I swear once the email arrived before the Enter key had debounced! SMTP can't move things quite that fast.

I don’t think it matters how it’s implemented internally, just like the end user doesn’t have to care about which language the IRC/web/Jabber server is implemented in. As long as it speaks the correct protocol to the outside it doesn’t matter and that’s the beauty of standardized protocols.

Right which is kind of my point. They say they've reinvented email or whatever, but haven't they all? The difference is that this provider forces you to use their client.

The "reinvention" is primarily in the client (but also in the client service) and has to do with getting you to use email differently by having you emails behave in a non-traditional manner.

In case you're serious about not understanding it, the essence of hey is getting an effective email triage workflow out of the box so you only see what you're interested in and don't spend any more time managing your email (inbox zero, filter rules, etc.)

I've learned to distrust services with rare/valuable domain names by default.

oh! i thought it was merely trying to create buzz but I didn't think about building up an email list. pretty smart.

Not the case, we're not keeping any of the email addresses/data. We'll add a note.

Thanks for the fast and appropriate response!

I think they need Terms/Privacy Policy and your consent if they are collecting emails. There is none of that.

Didnt really get the scale of what I was looking at until the guy ran over with a stick to move a stuck piece of paper

it's a 20ft shipping container high cube, which is 11ft tall

I have this on on a second monitor, and it really reminds me of New Year's: the colors, the random movement caused by the flames, the multiple views, and the lack of plotline all make it seem like a stream of Times Square on December 31. Y'all should bring this back then to give 2020 a proper sendoff.

we'll run it as long as it's fun!

We had a "previous model cleansing" ceremony once.

When we were about to launch a new version of our product (this is a physical piece of equipment), we took one of each model to an open car park lot, gave each of us a hammer. Each of us took our turn to smash it the bits with our hammer.

Had a quiet drink afterwards with the team.

I think those moments are way more important than they seem.

This looks like a laser printer, right? Could that be what's sometimes causing it to stick to the metal chute (i.e. leftover charge from the toner transfer process)? Or maybe an inkjet would just have different issues from slight dampness.

It looks like the rain is getting onto the conveyor and the chute, they just tried to dry it off

My thought was that the metal part of the chute is now holding on to more heat. So when the paper touches the metal is kinda burn-attaches itself to the chute. But your idea sounds more plausible!

Edit: I do appreciate the dude's commitment to burning our messages though!

nah, not the toner. it's because the ramp gets wet.

and when it's not wet it oxidizes from the heat. we're trying a few different coatings.

I actually am really enjoying the music, any chance anyone has a source for it?

I've checked a couple with Soundhound and they seem to be on "Healin' in the City Night, Vol 3" now


Edit: Hm, seems to be some chillhop playlist. "Stan Forebee & Kyle McEvoy - Kensington" now.

Didn't think I'd get a response, but thank you! Appreciate it, it was chill and relaxing enough I kept it open for several hours this morning.

royalty free chillhop on spotify

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