quoteblog archive

For a short period of time during the first month of 2018, I maintained a quote blog at https://zachlatta.com/quoteblog.html (click here for archive.org link as of writing).

I’m creating this page to archive the content of the old quote blog for posterity.


The secret to public speaking is to speak as if you were alone.


The secret to tweeting is to tweet as if making notes for yourself.



The name “lobster” comes from the Old English loppestre, which is thought to be a corrupt form of the Latin word for locust combined with the Old English loppe, which meant spider.

How terrifying.

– Consider the Lobster, Consider the Lobster (pg. 237)


The night of the Paris shootings we had thousands of people online using the platform to find and verify what was happening. I was fielding multiple Twitter DMs offering to invest $1M+ in our next round, and our coverage was noted by nearly every news organization that night and the next day. We were set.

One of the interested parties was a billionaire who was the longtime CEO of a media organization that’s a household name. We met several times, he and his fund wanted to take most of the $2m round we were raising, and the deal was all but done. The term sheet had been signed for about a month, we had been going through due diligence, we had flights and a hotel ready for the first board meeting — everything seemed fine.

I was always nervous that something could possibly go wrong, but what happened caught me very offguard.

I was skiing with my family over the Christmas holidays (December 23), when I followed up yet again with the fund that was leading the round to make sure they were wiring the funds soon (we were close to out of money). Instead I got a phone call out of the blue saying curtly, “We decided not to do the deal,” with little to no explanation, and he hung up.

And that was it.

Eventually all of the investors either got spooked or offered to put in little enough that I knew we wouldn’t make it to raise another round. And just like that, in one moment, for reasons I may never understand, we were done.

What happened to Grasswire


China’s fastest-growing online industry segment in the first half [of 2017] was food delivery, as startups backed by Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. touted discounts and marshaled armies of people to get restaurant meals to the homes of almost 300 million.

The population of people who rang up meals from phones and computers surged 41.6 percent to 295 million over the first six months, the government’s online industry overseers said in a biennial internet snapshot Friday. That’s well in excess of other markets, including the 7.7 percent user growth in digital payments and 23.7 percent rise in ride-hailing, both more mature sectors.

There were 751 million internet users in mainland China as of June, almost 20 million more than at the end of 2016, according to the report.

295 million people in China ordered online food delivery the first half of 2017. Out of 751 million internet users. This is insane.

China’s Hottest Internet Sector Is Old-Fashioned Food Delivery


Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s coming-out party was a catalyst. The e-commerce giant pulled off the world’s largest initial public offering in 2014 – a record that stands – to drive home the scale and inventiveness of the country’s corporations. Alibaba and Tencent now count among the 10 most valuable companies in the world, in the ranks of Amazon.com Inc. and Facebook. Chinese venture capital rivals the U.S.: three of the world’s five most valuable startups are based in Beijing, not California. And it doesn’t help that U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration continues to pursue restrictive immigration policies, discouraging foreign students and workers alike.

Chinese Workers Abandon Silicon Valley for Riches Back Home


Why does Dhillon defy the progressive status quo that someone of her race, her gender, and her background is expected to defend? Well, she would likely scoff at the premise of that question. For one thing, Dhillon doesn’t buy into standard identity politics. “I certainly have tried to resist labels in my life,” she told Inc. “I think they’re limiting. Complex people can have complex different aspects to them.”

The Lawyer Behind the Google Memo Guy’s Lawsuit Isn’t Who You’d Expect


According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) mathematics and science assessment results for tests conducted in 2000, 83% of 12th graders are not proficient in mathematics, and 82% of 12th graders are not proficient in science.

Math and science are the two most popular subjects though!

A Report Card on Teens’ Favorite Subjects


Source tweet.

Streaks are super motivating and I was very disappointed when GitHub removed the counter for their streaks.

I really like this interface on Chatterbug. It gives way more context for what actually happened than GitHub and it includes a helpful recap of what you’ve done in the past week. Might be cool to also show what you did the week before to compare progress?


Here is a theory. Top athletes are compelling because they embody the comparison-based achievement we Americans revere — fastest, strongest— and because they do so in a totally unambiguous way. Questions of the best plumber or best managerial accountant are impossible even to define, whereas the best relief pitcher, free-throw shooter, or female tennis player is, at any given time, a matter of public statistical record. Top athletes fascinate us by appealing to our twin compulsions with competitive superiority and hard data.

Plus they’re beautiful: Jordan hanging in midair like a Chagall bride, Sampras laying down a touch volley at an angle that defies Euclid. And they’re insiring. There is about world-class athletes carving out exemptions from physical laws a transcendent beauty that makes manifest God in man. So actually more than one theory, then. Great athletes are profundity in motion. They enable abstractions like powerand grace and control to become not only incarnate but televisable. To be a top athlete, performing, is to be that equisite hybrid of animal and angel that we average unbeautiful watchers have such a hard time seeing in ourselves.

So we want to know them, these gifted, driven physical achievers. We too, as audience, are driven: watching the performance is not enough. We want to hear about humble roots, privation, precocity, grim resolve, discouragement, persistence, team spirit, sacrifice, killer instinct, liniment and pain. We want to know how they did it. How many hours a night did the child Bird spend in his driveway hitting jumpers under homestrung floodlights? What ungodly time did Bjorn get up for practice every morning? What exact makes of cards did the Butkus boys work out by pushing up and down Chicago streets? What did Palmer and Brett and Payton and Evert have to give up? And of course, too, we want to know how it feels, inside, to be both beautiful and best (“How did it feel to win the big one?”). What combination of blankness and concentration is rquired to sink a putt or free-throw for thousands of dollars in front of millions of unblinking eyes? What goes through their minds? Are these athletes real people? Are they even remotely like us? Is their Agony of Defeat anything like our little agonies of daily frustration? And of course what baout the Thrill of Vitory — what might it feel like to hold up that #1 finger and be able to actually mean it?

How Tracy Austin Broke My Heart, Consider the Lobster (pg. 142)


It is this, I think, that makes Kafka’s wit inaccessible to children whom our culture has trained to see jokes as entertainment and entertainment as reassurance. It’s that students don’t “get” Kafka’s humor but that we’ve taught them to see humor as something you get — the same way we’ve taught them that a self is something you just have. No wonder they cannot appreciate the really central Kafka joke: that the horrific struggle to establish a human self results in a self whose humanity is inseparable from that horrific struggle. That our endless and impossible journey toward home is in fact our home.

A crude way to put the whole thing is that our present culture is, both developmentally and historically, adolescent. And since adolescence is acknowledged to be the single most stressful and frightening period of human development — the stage when the adulthood we claim to crave begins to present itsef as a real and narrowing system of responsibilities and limitations (taxes, death) and when we yearn inside for a return to the same childish oblivion we pretend to scorn — it’s not difficult to see why we as a culture are so susceptible to art and entertainment whose primary function is escape, i.e. fantasy, adrenaline, spectacle, romance, etc.

Do you think it’s a coincidence that college is when many Americans do their most serious fucking and falling-down drinking and generally ecstatic Dionysian-type reveling? It’s not. College students are adolescents, and they’re terrified, and they’re dealing with their terror in a distinctively US way. Those naked boys hanging upside-down out of their frat house’s windows on Friday night are simply trying to buy a few hours’ escape from the grim adult stuff that any decent school has forced them to think about all week.

Some Remarks on Kafka’s Funniness, Consider the Lobster (pg. 64, paraphrased)


Something I’ve wanted for a long time: a way to “replay” RSS feeds of old blogs.

I’m constantly stumbling upon now-defunct blogs with tons of high quality content, like Less Wrong.

I can’t help but feel like I’ve missed the bus. It’s one thing to lurk through their archives and it’s another to experience the posts as they’re written real-time. You miss out on rebuttal articles, on shifting themes, and on a good amount of the context in the comments.


Make the world we live in your art, weave positive visions together from a zillion hearts, minds and souls, help friend realize their visions in our shared world, and then awaken to a universe alive beyond any one mind’s wildest imaginations.

Danielle Fong on turning 30. Also filled with lots of good advice.


Building something that users understand and enjoy is all that matters. If they don’t get it, you aren’t making it easy enough to learn.

Products don’t have to be “easy to use” just “easy to learn” and create strong motivation to learn and want to use.



On the other hand, although the UK’s university system is considered superior to China’s, with a population that is only one-twentieth the size of my native country, competition, while tough, is less intimidating. For example, about one in ten applicants gets into Oxbridge in the UK, and Stanford and Harvard accept about one in twenty-five applicants. But in Hebei province in China, where I am from, only one in fifteen hundred applicants gets into Peking or Qinghua University.

The Western Elite from a Chinese Perspective