log.nikhil.io

How to Respond to a Pandemic

And don’t forget to vote to privatize and abolish the Fire Department by calling their experience and credentials into question!

How I think one should respond to a Pandemic, by @ShowerThoughtsComics

By @ShowerThoughtsComics

On Good Commit Messages

On the developer side, what I hope people are doing is trying to make, not just good code, but these days we’ve been very good about having explanations for the code. So commit messages to me are almost as important as the code change itself. Sometimes the code change is so obvious that no message is really required, but that is very very rare. And so one of the things I hope developers are thinking about, the people who are actually writing code, is not just the code itself, but explaining why the code does something, and why some change was needed. Because that then in turn helps the managerial side of the equation, where if you can explain your code to me, I will trust the code.

A lot of open source in general is about communication. And part of it is the commit messages, part of it is just the email going back and forth. Communicating what you’re trying to do or communicating why something doesn’t work for you is really important.

– Linus Torvalds, in conversation with Dirk Hohndel (emphasis mine)

This is pretty much what mine look like. For my personal stuff, I get so lazy, I use a list of developer excuses to generate a commit log that looks like this 🤦‍♀️

My shitty, lazy commit log

I hereby swear to read this document and make writing good commit messages a habit ✋🚀

On Masks

Bill Burr on The Joe Rogan Experience:

BURR: I don’t want to start this bullshit. I’m not gonna sit here with no medical degree, listening to you with no medical degree, with an American flag behind you smoking a cigar, acting like we know what’s up, better than the CDC. All I do, is I watch the news once every two weeks - I’m like, “Mask or no mask? Still mask? Alright, mask!” That’s all I give a fuck about. I don’t care. I just love how wearing a mask became like this fucking like soft thing that you were doing… like being courteous…”

ROGAN: It’s for bitches1.

BURR: Why is it for bitches? That’s just so stupid.

ROGAN: (Fakes weak cough)

BURR: Oh God you’re so tough with your fucking open nose and throat and your five o’clock shadow. This is a man right here! A man doesn’t wear a mask.

Rogan’s immediate response somehow reminded me of the “infantile phallocentric Nietzscheanism that is destroying modern human culture” from one of my favorite articles.

21 Bridges · 2019 · IMDb · C+

About as predictable as it gets. Chadwick Boseman is excellent.

Getting Naticked

Rex Parker:

A long time ago, I was solving this puzzle and got stuck at an unguessable (to me) crossing: N. C. WYETH crossing NATICK at the “N” — I knew WYETH but forgot his initials, and NATICK… is a suburb of Boston that I had no hope of knowing. It was clued as someplace the Boston Marathon runs through (???). Anyway, NATICK — the more obscure name in that crossing — became shorthand for an unguessable cross, esp. where the cross involves two proper nouns, neither of which is exceedingly well known. NATICK took hold as crossword slang, and the term can now be both noun (“I had a NATICK in the SW corner…”) or verb (“I got NATICKED by 50A / 34D!”)

Here’s the Urban Dictionary entry. Learned that that “crosswordese” is a thing. Been doing the NYT Crosswords fairly regularly over the past few years and that page has a lot of useful, vowel-y ‘bridge’ words and phrases (e.g. AGRA, ESAU, ISAO, OMOO, DEUSIRAE.)

The Rhythm Section · 2020 · IMDb · C+

Am a sucker for a good revenge story. This one was very slow and kinda haphazard. But I didn’t think it was bad enough to deserve this:

The film received negative reviews from critics and was a box-office bomb, having the worst wide opening weekend of all-time, the biggest drop in theaters, and is projected to lose Paramount $40 million.

Wikipedia (emphasis mine)

Good grief Basel! Blake Lively put in one of those “triumphant” performances 👏💯🏅

The Outsider · 2020 · IMDb · B-

Jason Bateman directed the first few episodes of this show and appears to be on a roll (saw this right after the third season of Ozark.) It was a 10-episode miniseries that was 5 episodes too long. Everything about the antagonist was either laughable or inconsistent. Cynthia Erivo was magnificent as the wicked-smaht and quirky Holly Gibney whose savant-superpowers remained largely unused by the plot.

Gary Oldman as Dracula

by the incomparable Herb Ritts. Not the same Dracula, but seeing these made me think of one of my favorite things: “Horrible Tragedy” by Philip Glass and the Kronos Quartet for the 1931 movie.

Gary Oldman as Dracula - One

Gary Oldman as Dracula - Two

Always be leveraging

On tech culture’s obsession with quantifying and optimizing every single moment of one’s existence1:

I hate this framing. It is pressuring, dehumanizing as it contextualizes human endeavor in transactional terms, usually in a market.

I know this goes against the ethos of high-tech, but humans don’t have an imperative to be as productive as possible. They don’t have to make the most use of their time. They don’t have to get as efficient as they could. These are metrics that work fine for our machines, our code. But humans are not machines. Sure, we shepherd the machines, and sure sometimes we are in rivalrous dynamics that increasing efficiency has a payoff, but it is never the goal in itself.

The real “currency” we have, if we are using the term in the sense of denoting essentialness, is our humanness, our mortality, our psyches, our connection with other people and seemingly mundane but meaningful parts of our lives. I mean, look how many of us started baking their breads and enjoying it. It is not a wise use of the “currency of time”, but it is part of life very well spent, as our internal reward mechanisms have been telling us.

@acituan on HackerNews, commenting on this article

  1. With corroboration via sophomoric interpretations of stoicism and objectivism, all aimed at summoning this latent, dispassionate übermensch whose sole purpose is to “leverage” and deliver value. ↩︎

Vivarium · 2019 · IMDb · B+

An entertaining, unsettling, dissatisfying Lovecraftian allegory for suburban life and child-rearing (esp the teenage years.) Dragged on for a bit: I imagine it would’ve worked great as a Black Mirror episode. Jonathan Aris and Senan Jennings were supremely creepy and magnificent and perfectly cast for their roles 🙌

That '70s Typeface

Spent a few frustrated hours over the years trying to identify this typeface I’d see on restaurant menus, photocopied class handouts, movie titles (even Indian ones from the early 80s), and a lot of books. I now know what it is and am quite happy the mystery’s resolved.

It’s Souvenir! Designed in 1914, super-popular/overused in the 70s, and much derided by designers in later decades (“A terrible typeface. A sort of ‘Saturday Night Fever’ typeface wearing tight white flared pants.”)

ITC Souvenir Sample

The Official Response

WOOLEY. What if the Prime Minister insists we help them?
SIR APPLEBY. Then we follow the four-stage strategy.
WOOLEY. What’s that?
SIR WHARTON. Standard Foreign Office response in a time of crisis.
SIR WHARTON. In stage one we say nothing is going to happen.
SIR APPLEBY. Stage two, we say something may be about to happen, but we should do nothing about it.
SIR WHARTON. In stage three, we say that maybe we should do something about it, but there’s nothing we can do.
SIR APPLEBY. Stage four, we say maybe there was something we could have done, but it’s too late now.

A political manual for the ages.

The Tornado Omelette

I have found a new thing I’m going to turn into scrambled eggs repeatedly until I get it right.

See also: more omelettes.

Tanhaji - The Unsung Warrior · 2020 · IMDb · C+

Another jingoistic saffron shitshow a la “Padmaavat1. Quite the visual spectacle: like walking through a racist and revisionist Amar Chitra Katha. Saif Ali Khan’s Uday Bhan is the only interesting character. Of noble Rajput blood, he succumbs to eating crocodile meat, sexual assault (of chaste Hindu women who need protection), comical levels of bloodlust, a fuckton of kohl, and villainous-looking sartorial choices.

Because that’s what hanging out with evil Muslim foreigners will do to you 🤷‍♂️

Prof. Ruchika Sharma’s take on its historicity is worth reading for these things called ‘facts’ your WhatsApp relatives won’t appreciate. ProTip ✨: Please don’t make the mistake of suggesting that the “India” depicted in the movie did not exist until independence, three centuries later #swaraj

Gender Roles

Sofia Tolstoy, at 19, after the first of their thirteen children:

I am left alone morning, afternoon and night. I am to gratify his pleasure and nurse his child, I am a piece of household furniture. I am a woman. I try to suppress all human feelings. When the machine is working properly it heats the milk, knits a blanket, makes little requests and bustles about trying not to think — and life is tolerable. But the moment I am alone and allow myself to think, everything seems insufferable.

At 25:

I am so often alone with my thoughts that the need to write in my diary comes quite naturally […] Now I am well again and not pregnant — it terrifies me how often I have been in that condition. He said that for him being young meant “I can achieve anything.” For me […] reason tells me that there is nothing I either want or can do beyond nursing, eating, drinking, sleeping, and loving and caring for my husband and babies, all of which I know is happiness of a kind, but why do I feel so woeful all the time, and weep as I did yesterday? I am writing this now with the pleasantly exciting sense that nobody will ever read it, so I can be quite frank with myself […].

And:

I have served a genius for almost forty years. Hundreds of times I have felt my intellectual energy stir within me and all sorts of desires - a longing for education, a love of music and the art. And time and again I have crushed and smothered these longings. Everyone asks, “But why should a worthless woman like you need an intellectual or artistic life?” To this question I can only reply: “I don’t know, but eternally suppressing it to serve a genius is a great misfortune.”

Here’s more about her life and her diaries.

Chill Midwesterners

When I see a carefree runner in I-did-not-need-to-see-that shorts in windy, 5-degree weather.

By @artbyjuliet.

COVID-19 Map

Found this map when Googling “coronavirus india”. Looks like it’s maintained by the WHO and is pretty up-to-date. They have a daily update page.

At the time of this writing, there are 110,029 confirmed cases, with 3,817 deaths in 105 countries. China, South Korea, Iran, France, and Germany account for 95% of the total number of cases and in that order.