The American poet Edward Estlin Cummings (1894–1962) was famous for his eccentric use of spacing and capitalization, to the point that his name is usually styled as e e cummings. I wonder what he would think of an RxJS question that a friend asked me: “Is returning throwError the same as writing ‘throw error’?”

The short answer (whatever e e would say) is no. They are completely different, but the fact that he asked is interesting.

throwError() is a function; specifically, it’s a function that returns an Observable that immediately errs out.

מַה נִּשְׁתַּנָּה, הַלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה מִכָּל הַלֵּילוֹת

Ma nishtana, ha-laylah ha-zeh, mi-kol ha-leylot
Why is this night different from all other nights?

Two mathematicians are in a restaurant, arguing about how well the general public understands math. One says he is going to the restroom and goes instead to kitchen and talks to the waitress. He gives her a twenty-dollar bill and tells her, “When you come to my table, I’m going to ask you a question. You answer ‘x-cubed over three’. Remember that: ‘x-cubed over three’.”

The mathematician returns to his table and resumes the argument with his colleague. When…

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Ben Lesh has a terrific article called “Don’t Unsubscribe”, telling you why you are better off not explicitly unsubscribing, but instead relying on constructs that cause the unsubscriptions to happen. In that spirit, I wanted to title this article “Don’t Even Subscribe”, but the truth is, there are a few places where you have to subscribe, so I settled for the less-emphatic title you see.

When should you subscribe? The answer to that question is, “Only when you absolutely…

One afternoon several years ago, I was roaming the grounds of Angkor Wat, a giant abandoned temple complex in western Cambodia, when I spotted a group of four elephants, taking a smoke break.

When I say “taking a smoke break”, I mean that the elephants were taking a break from their work, which was hauling howdah-fuls of sightseers around the ruins, not that they were literally smoking cigarettes. I knew then and I know now that elephants are not biologically capable of smoking cigarettes. They don’t even have real lips.

Nonetheless, when I revive the scene in my memory, the…

When I was about four, I saw a ceremony on television. We were in the high-ceilinged living room of our apartment on the outskirts of Hanau, watching grainy Armed Forces Network footage of a black, station-wagon-like vehicle solemnly proceeding down a city street, servicemen in white hats marching behind it. “He used to be president,” my mother explained. “He died.”

Most of my life, I assumed that it was the immediately previous president, Lyndon Johnson, reposing in that slow station-wagon. It was only as an adult, once the Internet made looking up such trivia infinitely easier, that I learned that…

Michael Lorton

Michael is an engineer, novelist, and traveler based in San Francisco.

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