log.nikhil.io

2019 (127 posts)

A Year of Jackshit

2019 in review, by way of Mr. Lovenstein’s comics.

And why not just twist the knife?

Process and Tooling

I thought using loops was cheating, so I programmed my own using samples. I then thought using samples was cheating, so I recorded real drums. I then thought that programming it was cheating, so I learned to play drums for real. I then thought using bought drums was cheating, so I learned to make my own. I then thought using premade skins was cheating, so I killed a goat and skinned it. I then thought that that was cheating too, so I grew my own goat from a baby goat. I also think that is cheating, but I’m not sure where to go from here. I haven’t made any music lately, what with the goat farming and all.

I’ve made this mistake all too often, especially when trying to learn something new.

Things that quote kinda reminds me of:

The Happiest Little Human

I’ll consider myself dead on the inside until I’m this ecstatic after sipping mushroom soup.

White Statues

Vox on the history of plain-white Roman statues and how historians attempt plaster reconstructions with the original colors. Like this one:

Bad Genius · 2017 · IMDb · A-

Slow start but gets pretty exciting towards the end. I couldn’t wait for Lynn to rid herself of her parasitic friends (especially the cloying Grace, played to perfection by Eisaya Hosuwan.) Cheating on standardized tests is big business in India and China. The Atlantic has a relatively recent article on the phenomenon.

The usual commentary on class and meritocracy. Lots of love for Boston University.

Halvor Lines

Saw these trucks on the interstate the other day and feel in love with the logo 😍 Designed by a buncha nice Minnesotans at Swim Creative.

Dank Typefaces

Was looking try something other than my beloved Operator Mono and came across Dank Mono which claims to be a “rather special coding font.” I love it. Looks like the cooler twin of Inconsolata. I remain quite tickled by how many of my co-workers find the italic variants of monospaced fonts ‘disturbing’ when they look at my screen.

Richard Serra on Art

Q: Why make art? What do you find by doing it? What does it get you?

Serra: I always wanted an alternative existence. And by that I mean I wanted to do something where I could study my own sentiments and experiences. And I found that I can do that in relation to making things and making art in particular. And I did that since I was a kid it was a place I always could go to that I could concentrate and deal with the problems that I thought were of interest to me. And if I was clear enough about what it was that I was probing, and stayed with the premise of I was probing, it was possible that it could also be clear to someone else, and it was important that it not be something that somebody else has done.

I think one of the things art does is that it asks you to perceive what it is on its own level […] I think works of art engage, possibly, an ‘internal memory bank’ that isn’t linear and it can make you see the outside reality in that way also.

That’s from a recording at the SF MoMA. I first heard of him after moving to Des Moines and seeing his “Five Plate Pentagon” at our beautiful sculpture park.

Image Source: DSM Public Art Foundation

Home

So, here you are

too foreign for home

too foreign for here.

Never enough for both.

Ijeoma Umebinyuo, Questions for Ada

and

Home is not where you are born; home is where all your attempts to escape cease.

Naguib Mahfouz

The Irishman · 2019 · IMDb · A

The last 15 minutes are the best depiction of old age, loneliness, and isolation I’ve ever seen committed to film. Two masters at their very best.

I love all the memes about its length but (a) the pacing was brilliant and (b) I am someone who grew up watching 200-minute family-values extravaganzas and can take it. Still:

Need to read up more on the de-aging process they used in the film.

The AppleTV Remote Sucks

Dec 9 It’s so bad a Swiss company made a much saner substitute that sells for ~$20.


Nov 16 Looks like you can use the old remote with the new AppleTV.


I’m annoyed every time I have to use the infernal thing.

  • It tries (poorly) to be something other than a damn TV remote1.
  • There’s no way to tell which end is up.
  • There’s no accidental tap detection when you pick it up.
  • It’s way too small.
  • It’s way too slippery.
  • I use Siri to skip forward and backward because the edge clicks are unmemorable and dysfunctional.

I use the iPhone app when I can and, while I can’t stand the terribly implemented inertial scroll, still find it better than the hardware.

Inertial scrolling does in fact exist on the Siri remote, but the effect is muted. The on-screen movement doesn’t accurately reflect your swiping — scrolling is staggered and it often stops abruptly, when you don’t intend to stop. This makes aspects of navigation, like manual search or entering your email address or password, extremely cumbersome.

– Dave Smith, “My biggest problem with the new Apple TV remote

See also: Steve Brykman of ArsTechnica’s thoughts on “the nightmare horrorshow” that’s the remote.

  1. “You’re basically getting a giant iPad game that you have to play with a tiny remote” 

State, Coupling, Complexity, & Code

Dependencies (coupling) is an important concern to address, but it’s only 1 of 4 criteria that I consider and it’s not the most important one. I try to optimize my code around reducing state, coupling, complexity and code, in that order.

I’m willing to add increased coupling if it makes my code more stateless.

I’m willing to make it more complex if it reduces coupling.

And I’m willing to duplicate code if it makes the code less complex.

Only if it doesn’t increase state, coupling or complexity do I dedup code.

The reason I put stateless code as the highest priority is it’s the easiest to reason about. Stateless logic functions the same whether run normally, in parallel or distributed. It’s the easiest to test, since it requires very little setup code. And it’s the easiest to scale up, since you just run another copy of it. Once you introduce state, your life gets significantly harder.

I think the reason that novice programmers optimize around code reduction is that it’s the easiest of the 4 to spot. The other 3 are much more subtle and subjective and so will require greater experience to spot. But learning those priorities, in that order, has made me a significantly better developer.

crun1r on HackerNews (emphasis and formatting mine.)

❣️


Jan 12 On “incidental duplication”:

I’ve usually heard this phenomenon called “incidental duplication,” and it’s something I find myself teaching junior engineers about quite often. There are a lot of situations where 3-5 lines of many methods follow basically the same pattern, and it can be aggravating to look at. “Don’t repeat yourself!” Right?

So you try to extract that boilerplate into a method, and it’s fine until the very next change. Then you need to start passing options and configuration into your helper method… and before long your helper method is extremely difficult to reason about, because it’s actually handling a dozen cases that are superficially similar but full of important differences in the details.

I encourage my devs to follow a rule of thumb: don’t extract repetitive code right away, try and build the feature you’re working on with the duplication in place first. Let the code go through a few evolutions and waves of change. Then one of two things are likely to happen:

  1. you find that the code doesn’t look so repetitive anymore, or,
  2. you hit a bug where you needed to make the same change to the boilerplate in six places and you missed one.

In scenario 1, you can sigh and say “yeah it turned out to be incidental duplication, it’s not bothering me anymore.” In scenario 2, it’s probably time for a careful refactoring to pull out the bits that have proven to be identical (and, importantly, must be identical across all of the instances of the code).

burlesona on HackerNews (emphasis and formatting mine.)

Hubble Ultra-Deep Field

One of my favorite things in the world.

Located southwest of Orion in the southern-hemisphere constellation Fornax, the rectangular image is 2.4 arcminutes to an edge, or 3.4 arcminutes diagonally. This is approximately one tenth of the angular diameter of a full moon viewed from Earth (which is less than 34 arcminutes), smaller than 1 sq. mm piece of paper held at 1 meter away, and equal to roughly one twenty-six-millionth of the total area of the sky. The image is oriented so that the upper left corner points toward north (−46.4°) on the celestial sphere.

Wikipedia (emphasis mine)

Here’s all that in video form

The best screensaver in the world using red-shift data

And a very high-resolution image (> 60MB). Wallpapers are available.

Our shit is so, so, so tiny.

There are over 100 billion galaxies in the universe. Simply saying that number doesn’t really mean much to us because it doesn’t provide any context. Our brains have no way to accurately put that in any meaningful perspective. When we look at this image, however, and think about the context of how it was made and really understand what it means, we instantly gain the perspective and cannot help, but be forever changed by it.

We pointed the most powerful telescope ever built by human beings at absolutely nothing for no other reason than because we were curious, and discovered that we occupy a very tiny place in the heavens.

Deep Astronomy

Not so sure about “instantly” gaining perspective but the rest about wonder and curiosity and our insignificant place the heavens still stand.

Comrade Hoff

Loving these Moebius-like works by Ali Hoff (prints are available.) Imagined it being a short animated series like Aeon Flux 😍

AppleTV, AppleTV, AppleTV

I absolutely love Dustin Curtis’ splendid explanation of “AppleTV” branding that’s making making the rounds on HN. For posterity, I stole this handy color-coded transcription off Michael Tsai’s blog.

See also: The intractably stupid AppleTV Remote.

A Vickrey Auction

When you end up paying the price you bid (“first price”), you have a strong incentive to lie about how much you’re willing to pay. Suppose there’s an item for sale that you’d be happy paying up to $1,000 for if necessary, but of course you’d rather pay less. In a first-price auction, if you bid $1,000 and you lose. Well, someone else was willing to pay more than you were willing to, so that’s OK, but if you win, you know that nobody else offered that price and you’d be slapping yourself for not going for $950 and saving a little. Or, who knows, maybe there are really few buyers and you later discover that the second person was only valuing the item at $600? Damn, you could have walked away with it for $610!

[. . .]

In a second-price auction, there’s no reason for you to do that. You can simply say exactly the maximum price you are willing to pay, and there’s never any advantage for you in saying anything else:

  • You don’t want to post a higher bid since you might be forced to pay it, and you don’t want to do that.
  • You don’t want to post a lower bid since you might lose the item for no good reason at all.
  • You’ll end up paying exactly what it takes to win the item: one dollar or one cent more than the next person’s maximum bid.

So, a second-price mechanism encourages everyone to bid truthfully, and the item ships to the person who really values it at the highest price. It’s the best outcome for the seller and as good an outcome for everyone else as they could wish for.

Incidentally, note that this is exactly what happens in ordinary public auctions (“going once, going twice… sold!!”) Everyone walks in with an idea of how much they’re willing to pay, and they keep bidding one dollar more than the current price until they hit their max—but they’re never forced to reveal their max and what they end up paying is just one dollar (or penny, or whatever) more than the second-highest bidder.

– Alon Amit on Quora (emphasis mine.)

Quite a bit of Game Theory stuff on Wikipedia as well.

Midsommar · 2019 · IMDb · B+

Moody and plenty gruesome. Got tired of the commune’s many ‘rituals’. Florence Pugh is 💯, as is the creepy-ass soundtrack. Learned about senicide. First half is a bit of a slow burn like “Hereditary”.

Dawid Planeta’s Illustrations

I could just stare at his work all day. This one’s called “The River of Life

and this one “Deep Forest

Data, Data, Data

Linus Torvalds on git

I’d also like to point out that unlike every single horror I’ve ever witnessed when looking closer at SCM products, git actually has a simple design, with stable and reasonably well-documented data structures. In fact, I’m a huge proponent of designing your code around the data, rather than the other way around, and I think it’s one of the reasons git has been fairly successful

[. . .]

I will, in fact, claim that the difference between a bad programmer and a good one is whether he considers his code or his data structures more important. Bad programmers worry about the code. Good programmers worry about data structures and their relationships.

Gavin Shapiro Makes Looping Things

This is just wonderful stuff. More on his website and on Instagram.

Game Over · 2019 · IMDb · B+

Entertaining, very nicely done, two-hour long desi “Black Mirror” episode1. Taapsee Pannu was 💯. You will want to hug Vinodhini Vaidynathan’s character. Saw with Deepu and we wondered what makes Tamil directors so good at this genre.

  1. “Presented” by Anurag Kashyap. Not sure what that means. 

Because God Can See

When I was little — and by the way, I was little once — my father told me a story about an 18th century watchmaker. And what this guy had done: he used to produce these fabulously beautiful watches.

And one day, one of his customers came into his workshop and asked him to clean the watch that he’d bought. And the guy took it apart, and one of the things he pulled out was one of the balance wheels. And as he did so, his customer noticed that on the back side of the balance wheel was an engraving, were words.

And he said to the guy, “Why have you put stuff on the back that no one will ever see?” And the watchmaker turned around and said, “God can see it.”

Now I’m not in the least bit religious, neither was my father, but at that point, I noticed something happening here. I felt something in this plexus of blood vessels and nerves, and there must be some muscles in there as well somewhere, I guess. But I felt something. And it was a physiological response. And from that point on, from my age at the time, I began to think of things in a different way. And as I took on my career as a designer, I began to ask myself the simple question: Do we actually think beauty, or do we feel it?

– Richard Seymour, How Beauty Feels

I want it to be as beautiful as possible, even if it’s inside the box. A great carpenter isn’t going to use lousy wood for the back of a cabinet, even though nobody’s going to see it. When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.

Steve Jobs

You did quite a bit more than the MVP for the fucking “sprint”, but you smile a lot and sleep quite well indeed. Saved here via Stephanie Harcrow’s post.

Article 15 · 2019 · IMDb · A-

A wafer-thin afterthought of a plot undergirds an important and harrowing commentary on the history, pervasiveness, and evil of the caste system in India.

Excellent cinematography and performances by Ayushmann Khurrana, Kumud Mishra as Jatav, and Sushil Pandey as Nihal Singh.

Anurag Kashyap on The Struggle

Kashyap on his journey to become one of India’s most important filmmakers.

The cover picture is clickbait. No “shocking” revelations. Just a good story about pursuing one’s chosen vocation with grit and perseverance (with a bit of luck along the way.)

On “Josh Talks”, who look like a TED clone and are “on a mission to raise the aspirations of Young India.”

Ballpoint Octopus

I fight Crime. And I Read.

In Ramayya Vasthavayya, Avinash is a mononymous “Central Crime Branch” officer who, according to the barcode on his IDENTITY CARD, loves new-agey mind meld books. Or so I gather. Couldn’t decipher the other barcode but submit that it might reveal his preference for reasonably priced cutlery sets at Bed Bath & Beyond.

Netflix’s “Secret” Genre List

A list of sub-genres you cannot view easily on Netflix. From a Reddit thread on the subject:

This is ridiculous. What kind of hubris does Netflix have to think that their recommendation engine is better than browsing by category? Browsing by category has been the standard for browsing things since categories of things has existed. Some VP of product made his bonus by convincing someone that his ML team could do better. “Yeah, just remove it and let us populate 15 movies randomly in a whimsical fictitious category like ‘movies with dogs and music’. People will love it.”

and

Because the studios pay Netflix (via discounted licensing) for favorable placement on those “recommended viewing” lists.

Always follow the money.

Baghban · 2003 · IMDb · F

Jaspreet Singh on the awful abandonment fantasy beloved by desi parents (starts around 1:10. Here’s the entire shitshow.)

Yakeen maan-na, Baghban dekhne se pehle mujhe idea bhi nahin aaya tha ki maa-baap ko nikaala bhi jaa sakta hai.

Computers Are Fast

A nice little quiz meant to illustrate how much your typical Python and Bash code can accomplish in one second.

If the answer is 38,000, both 10,000 and 100,000 are considered correct answers. The goal is to not be wrong by more than 10x :)

and

A newer computer won’t make your code run 1000x faster :)

Florence

Beautiful, astoundingly well-crafted, painfully short work of interactive art.

Manmarziyaan · 2018 · IMDb · B+

Watched with Paaji. Third Anurag Kashyap and Amit Trivedi film. Superb. Maybe a little too drawn out at times (gotta fit in all 14 tracks of that sweet Trivedi score) and was dismayingly Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam-predictable towards the end.

Gray Waala Shade” (with the accompanying opening scenes) is a magnificent song12.

  1. Yes, yes, “Daryaa” too. 

  2. Kashyap saw Poonam and Priyanka Shah on this viral Bharatnatyam video before asking them to be part of the movie. 

How to Buy a Bob Ross

Was watching an episode or two of Joy of Painting with my sister when we wondered what happened to all the finished paintings on his show.

Now we know.

Digital Octopode

Never knew this was a thing. Behold a pliable, $200 digital model of an octopus for 3D Studio Max (with “72366 Faces and 71879 Vertices.”)

Why Hulls are Painted Red

TL;DW: This is “anti-fouling” that repels barnacles, algae, and mollusks by emitting “biocides”. This is desirable because they cause drag (think fuel) and structural damage. Red because traditionally some oxide of Copper.

Also this:

In nature bright colours serve as a warning and to stay away. Ships are very territorial and have even been known to attack people.

Love, Knowledge, and Compassion

Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a great ocean of anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair.

I have sought love, first, because it brings ecstasy – ecstasy so great that I would often have sacrificed all the rest of life for a few hours of this joy. I have sought it, next, because it relieves loneliness – that terrible loneliness in which one shivering consciousness looks over the rim of the world into the cold unfathomable lifeless abyss. I have sought it finally, because in the union of love I have seen, in a mystic miniature, the prefiguring vision of the heaven that saints and poets have imagined. This is what I sought, and though it might seem too good for human life, this is what – at last – I have found.

With equal passion I have sought knowledge. I have wished to understand the hearts of men. I have wished to know why the stars shine. And I have tried to apprehend the Pythagorean power by which number holds sway above the flux. A little of this, but not much, I have achieved.

Love and knowledge, so far as they were possible, led upward toward the heavens. But always pity brought me back to earth. Echoes of cries of pain reverberate in my heart. Children in famine, victims tortured by oppressors, helpless old people a hated burden to their sons, and the whole world of loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life should be. I long to alleviate this evil, but I cannot, and I too suffer.

This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered me.

– Bertrand Russell, What I Have Lived For

Hellboy (2019) · 2019 · IMDb · D

Why?

This travesty should make it very clear that Guillermo del Toro loves and paints his monsters better than anyone else in the business.

Two Levels of Not Giving a Fuck

No Code is the best way to write secure and reliable applications. Write nothing; deploy nowhere.

Start by not writing any code.

Brilliant. I love both the presence and contents of the Dockerfile in that repo. As is always the case with such projects, the issues and pull requests are 💯

And if one is tempted to go against the tenets of No Code, there’s always my beloved fuckitpy, a (strangely well-thought-out) “Python error steamroller”1:

@fuckit
def buggy_function():
    problem_solved

@fuckit
class BuggyClass(object):
    def __init__(self):
        everything_works_now

And:

This module is like violence: if it doesn’t work, you just need more of it.

  1. Inspired by FuckitJS

Aziz Ansari: Right Now

Reminded me of Dave Chappelle’s intimate and heartfelt Bird Revelation. Spike Jonze directed this one. You won’t be missed, RAAAAAAAANDY.

Comedians and Comics

From an episode of My Next Guest with David Letterman:

Letterman: First of all, let’s define terms. Comedian and comic: used interchangeably but mean two different things.

Seinfeld: Kind of different, yeah. A comedian is a, to me, a full-fledged, not only a monologist, but someone who can really work a room, work a crowd and has a real act. A comic… that, I think, is a notch down. Wouldn’t you agree?

Letterman: Well, you’re assigning value to them.

Seinfeld: Yes.

Letterman: I thought they were two different pursuits. That a comedian was somebody who would be funny on stage, in a theatrical production, or in film, something like that, whereas a comic would be more like what you’ve made a career of.

Seinfeld: Oh, no, no, no. You’re talking about a comedic actor. Jackie Gleason was not a comic. He started out as a comic but he was a great comedic actor. Ten Danson is a great comedic actor, but he’s not a comedian. He has no act to do in Vegas. Which is the objective.

Letterman: So you’re saying that a comedian… but I don’t understand why there is a judgment assigned to being a comic.

Seinfeld: Just because we like judging others, that’s the reason.

Romeo Akbar Walter · 2019 · IMDb · C

Completely predictable plot and twists, ridiculous ending, cookiecutter songs (features the laziest, dullest, ‘You composed it the day before it was due didn’t you?’ qawwali I’ve ever heard.)

Fantastic cinematography. Sikander Kher is great. Got a lot of digital errands done whilst watching it, so there’s that.

Dancing & Walking

From 2016. I wonder how long this would take to render on the latest and greatest graphics card (an nVidia RTX 2080 Ti that sells for $1,200.)

I could watch this one for hours and might just loop it on the old iPad

US Population Density

The red and orange areas have about the same number of people (~104 Million)

More on this interactive page.

Baby Chromatophores

I cannot get over how maddeningly cute this is. Reddit user pendragwen’s comment makes it even better:

Awww! But look at how they test out their chromatophores first thing after hatching! It’s speculated that color-changing is how they communicate and show emotion. Almost like a little joyful stretch and squeal. “Yay! I’m alive!”

😍 (YouTube link)

Simpler Gmail

Michael Leggett, lead designer of Gmail from 2008-2012

“It’s like Lucky Charms got spewed all over the screen,” he says to me, as he scrolls through his inbox. It’s true. Folders, contacts, Google apps like Docs and Drive–and at least half a dozen notifications–all clutter Gmail at any given moment. And of course, there’s that massive Gmail logo that sits in the upper left-hand corner of the screen. Just in case you forgot that you just typed “gmail.com” into your browser bar three seconds ago. “Go look at any desktop app and tell me how many have a huge fucking logo in the top left,” rants Leggett. “C’mon. It’s pure ego, pure bullshit. Drop the logo. Give me a break.”

Fast Company, “The former lead designer of Gmail just fixed Gmail on his own”

So he made this plugin for Chrome and Firefox that cuts out all the terrible visual noise of Gmail. I’m never uninstalling this one.

And while I’m on the subject, who signed off on this disaster?

Because we all know that the only way to attact attention to a UI element is to adorn it with a big blue goddamn fucking tumor.

CNC Mountains

Dom Ricciobene makes stunning 3D topographic maps, and very satisfying time-lapses, with a CNC machine. Like this one (don’t want to embed Instagram.) Here’s one of Westeros 💯

Text Objects versus Motions

Excellent talk by Chris Toomey on Mastering the Vim Language. Features a lot of must-read Vim resources and nice-to-have plugins. Key takeaway for me: Prefer text objects to motions when possible (corollary: “Is this repeatable?”)

Chernobyl · 2019 · IMDb · A+

On Post-Truth

What is the cost of lies? It’s not that we’ll mistake them for the truth. The real danger is that if we hear enough lies, then we no longer recognize the truth at all. What can we do then? What else is left but to abandon even the hope of truth and content ourselves instead with stories? In these stories, it doesn’t matter who the heroes are.

But it is still there. Every lie we tell incurs a debt to the truth. Sooner or later, that debt is paid. That is how an RBMK reactor core explodes. Lies.

To be a scientist is to be naive. We are so focused on our search for truth, we fail to consider how few actually want us to find it. But it is always there, whether we see it or not, whether we choose to or not. The truth doesn’t care about our needs or wants. It doesn’t care about our governments, our ideologies, our religions. It will lie in wait for all time. And this, at last, is the gift of Chernobyl.

Where I once would fear the cost of truth, now I only ask: What is the cost of lies?

And: What would happen were you to ingest a grain-sized piece of the Reactor No. 4’s core today:

If you ate this fuel chip, not much of it would likely dissolve in your gut; the matrix is UO2, and U(IV) Oxide is poorly soluble even in the acid environment of the gut. But let’s say it did dissolve completely and got metabolized. You’d be committing yourself to about 20 mSv (2 rem) from Cs-137, and probably a similar dose from Sr-90. Basically, if you were a radiation worker in the USA, your annual dose limit of 5 rem would be met. In many countries and facilities, you would exceed annual allowances.

Light Pollution Map

DarkSiteFinder is a map of light pollution around the world.

The maintainer explains why he doesn’t use the Bortle Scale. In Iowa, Lake Sugema and The Whiterock Conservancy appear to be the ‘best’ places to see some (more) stars.

Minute Repeaters

Developed in England during the 17th and 18th centuries, minute repeaters sound the time in hours, quarters and minutes—hence their name. Repeaters served a practical purpose: telling time in the dark. When streetlights were rare and matches and candles precious, chiming watches were a logical solution but not a simple one.

[. . .]

A minute repeater chimes different sounds for the hours, the quarter hours and minutes. The lowest tone—dong—is for hours, the highest tone—ding—is for minutes and a combination of both—ding-dong—counts quarter hours. If the slide is pushed at 12:59, the sounds heard are: 12 dongs for the hour then three ding-dongs for the quarter hours followed by 14 dings for the minutes.

A Minute Repeater Is as Close to Time Travel as We Can Get Today

How delightful! Watches with these complications are very difficult to make and are hence very expensive. Here’s a video of Patek Philippe’s entire line of minute repeaters. Cursory Googling tells me that the nine watches on the table are worth a total of ~$5.4M.

The Korn Shell

Good talk by Siteshwar Vashisht at FOSDEM 2019 on maintaining the Korn shell and old codebases in general. I came by his work while reading up on the fish shell. Featured this nugget

He talks about how they removed dead/inapplicable code and micro-optimizations, refactored a lot of legacy code, improved tests, switched to a new build and CI system, and so on.

Began with this baffling one-liner that won the International Obfuscated C Contest in 1987

main() { printf(&unix["\021%six\012\0"],(unix)["have"]+"fun"-0x60);}

And reminded me of this Aaron Sorkin-esque story about David Korn which I heard via BLN

Greg Sullivan, a MicroSoft product manager (henceforth MPM), was holding forth on a forthcoming product that will provide Unix style scripting and shell services on NT for compatibility and to leverage UNIX expertise that moves to the NT platform. The product suite includes the MKS (Mortise Kern Systems) windowing Korn shell, a windowing Perl, and lots of goodies like awk, sed and grep. It actually fills a nice niche for which other products (like the MKS suite) have either been too highly priced or not well enough integrated. An older man, probably mid-50s, stands up in the back of the room and asserts that Microsoft could have done better with their choice of Korn shell. He asks if they had considered others that are more compatible with existing UNIX versions of KSH.

The MPM said that the MKS shell was pretty compatible and should be able to run all UNIX scripts.

The questioner again asserted that the MKS shell was not very compatible and didn’t do a lot of things right that are defined in the KSH language spec. The MPM asserted again that the shell was pretty compatible and should work quite well.

This assertion and counter assertion went back and forth for a bit, when another fellow member of the audience announced to the MPM that the questioner was, in fact David Korn of AT&T (now Lucent) Bell Labs. (DavidKorn is the author of the KornShell).

Uproarious laughter burst forth from the audience, and it was one of the only times that I have seen a (by then pink cheeked) MPM lost for words or momentarily lacking the usual unflappable confidence. So, what’s a body to do when Microsoft reality collides with everyone else’s?

Ascending by Grave Nature

Wonderful stuff by Christopher O. Mathews. My favorite track has to be “Azimuth”.

The Titanic and Climate Change

Stumbled upon this nearly three-hour, real-time, annotated simulation of the Titanic sinking. Late night1.

Which led me to James Cameron’s 2012 documentary Titanic: The Final Word, in which he assembles a group of engineers and historians to fix the simulation in the 1997 movie, which leads to this ‘final’ version.

Cameron, in the documentary:

Part of the Titanic parable is of arrogance, of hubris, of the sense that we’re too big to fail. Well where have we heard that one before? There was this big machine, this human system that was pushing forward with so much momentum, that it couldn’t turn, it couldn’t stop in time to avert a disaster. And that’s what we have right now. Within that human system onboard that ship, if you want to make it a microcosm for the world, you have different classes, you know, you’ve got first class, second class, and third class. Well in our world right now you’ve got developed nations and undeveloped nations. You’ve got the starving millions who are going to be the ones most affected by the next iceberg that we hit, which is going to be Climate Change.

We can see that iceberg ahead of us right now, but we can’t turn we can’t turn because of the momentum of the system. Political momentum, business momentum. There are too many people making money out of the system the way the system works right now, and those people, you know, frankly have their hands on the levers of power and aren’t ready to let them go. Until they do, we’re not going to be able to turn to miss that iceberg and we’re gonna hit it. When we hit it, the rich are still gonna be able to get their access to food, to arable land, to water, and so on. It’s going to be the poor, it’s going to be the steerage, that are gonna be impacted. It was the same with Titanic and I think that’s why this story will always fascinate people. Because it’s a perfect little encapsulation of the world and all social spectra. But until our lives are really put at risk, the moment of truth, we don’t know what we would do.

  1. Speaking of… found this amazing model of the ship

Killing Eve - Season 1 · 2018 · IMDb · A

My new favorite show. Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer are 💯💯💯. The best soundtrack to a TV show I’ve heard in years (Hannibal being my absolute favorite.) Via KC.

Faceshifting

Bill Hader is made to faceshift when doing his impression of Arnold Schwarzenegger. It’s weird and brilliant and I love it. Here’s another where he does Al Pacino.

TIL about the term “deepfakes”.

Us · 2019 · IMDb · A

Excellent stuff again from Jordan Peele. Thought the first half was about slavery and lost identity. Wisecrack has a great video on the movie’s various interpretations.

Journey, not Destination (I guess?)

“Foreshadowing Is Not Character Development”

Via Deepu.

My anger has never been with the writers for having a character I love to come to a tragic end like that. No matter how gut-wrenching it was, they, or George RR Martin, always laid out a convincing argument for why it happened. And that’s what great writing does, it makes you think of the downfalls as being a result of the characters actions or a clear set of events.

For Ned, he went from Point A - being hand of the king, to point B - getting beheaded and his family being torn apart. No matter how devastating though, it was set up and executed perfectly. From the moment he figured our Cersei’s children were by Jaime and not Bobby B, the things he did, the decisions he made, led to his death. We as viewers know that he made a critical mistake in telling Cersei that he knew. In trusting and underestimating Littlefinger. And lastly with Sansa and himself trusting that Joffrey would keep his word in being merciful if Ned admitted treason. It is why when the end of Episode 9 happened, no one was talking about how bad the writers were. Our frustrations were with Ned, our anger was with Joffrey and Cersei. It is not that he deserved to get killed, it is that we have a full understanding of how he got there. There is no arguing against that progression.

And most importantly this moment hits us with what was the hard truth of the show the characters, no matter how much we love them, will suffer the consequences of their actions.

TropeAnatomy

And finally, and I’ve watched this a few times with unhealthy glee, Screen Rant on how the HBO Season 8 pitch meeting might have gone (via CM.)

Season 8 was a stark reminder1 of George RR Martin’s writing prowess2.

  1. Unoriginal and lame but couldn’t resist. 

  2. Even if he has to imprison himself in a small cabin to finish things

Fungi Are Horrifying

Every person I’ve sent this to has seen it. Not sure why my own internet excursions didn’t yield this manifestly horrifying video.

The last few seconds reminded me of scenes from Annihilation. Like this one:

Edit: It’s been used in Eastern Medicine for a while. Like the top YouTube comment notes, “Cordyceps is evolving to trick us into believing it is medicine.”

Stop Motion Laundry

Absolutely amazing stop motion by Daniel Cloud Campos & Co.

Here’s the making of. They did it over 17 days. I wonder when they got any sleep. At one point he says “we got 2 seconds after 4 hours.” ~3 minutes of video = 360 hours, or 15 days 😬

And it reminds me of the Oldboy fight scene!

Game of Thrones Ratings

Via Rotten Tomatoes and with the awesome ChartJS. Dots are episodes, contiguous lines are seasons (static version.)

A search for episode titles on GitHub yielded this indescribably amazing, mostly hand-curated GoT Dataset by Jeffrey Lancaster (who published a Medium article describing his process. Has a Stranger Things dataset as well.)

Update: MFW watching the final episode.

Penny Flip Tip

Whenever you’re called on to make up your mind,
   and you’re hampered by not having any,
the best way to solve the dilemma, you’ll find,
   is simply by spinning a penny.
No—not so that chance shall decide the affair
   while you’re passively standing there moping;
but the moment the penny is up in the air,
   you suddenly know what you’re hoping.

Persi Diaconis, The Problem of Thinking Too Much

Mama

For My Mother by May Sarton

Once more
I summon you
Out of the past
With poignant love,
You who nourished the poet
And the lover.
I see your gray eyes
Looking out to sea
In those Rockport summers,
Keeping a distance
Within the closeness
Which was never intrusive
Opening out
Into the world.
And what I remember
Is how we laughed
Till we cried
Swept into merriment
Especially when times were hard.
And what I remember
Is how you never stopped creating
And how people sent me
Dresses you had designed
With rich embroidery
In brilliant colors
Because they could not bear
To give them away
Or cast them aside.
I summon you now
Not to think of
The ceaseless battle
With pain and ill health,
The frailty and the anguish.
No, today I remember
The creator,
The lion-hearted.

💗

via Catherine

Data, Data, Data

Vicki Boykis’ excellent article on every aspect of ‘Data Science’ I can think of: a little history, employment prospects, skills, education, and continuous learning.

It would appear that more than half the job, at least, is wrangling (replicating, cleaning, imputing, transferring, understanding, augmenting) data. It’s boring and super-important so, of course, is the least favorite thing 🙃

Source

A Lisp Interpreter in Python

Peter Norvig: (How to Write a (Lisp) Interpreter (in Python)).

See also: HyLang. Looks super cool and always makes me wonder if anyone’s ever used it in production.

JavaScript Delenda Est

Back in the second century BC, Cato the Elder ended his speeches with the phrase ‘Carthago delenda est,’ which is to say, ‘Carthage must be destroyed.’ It didn’t matter what the ostensible topic of the speech was: above all, Carthage must be destroyed.

My opinion towards JavaScript is much like Cato’s towards Carthage: it must be rooted out, eliminated and destroyed entirely. I don’t know if I’d go quite so far as to say that the fundamental challenge of mass computing is the final destruction of JavaScript — but I want to say it, even though it’s false.

JavaScript is a pox, a disaster, a shame. It is the most embarrassingly bad thing to become popular in computing since Windows 3.1. Its one virtue (that it’s on every client device) is outshone by its plethora of flaws in much the same way that a matchstick is outshone by the sun, the stars and the primordial energy of the Big Bang added together.

JavaScript is the XML, the Yugo, the Therac-25 of programming languages. The sheer amount of human effort which has been expended working around its fundamental flaws instead of advancing the development of mankind is astounding. The fact that people would take this paragon of wasted opportunity and use it on the server side, where there are so many better alternatives (to a first approximation, every other programming language ever used), is utterly appalling.

JavaScript delenda est.

I don’t know what my newfound affection for it says about me. Via HackerNews.

Holmes & Watson · 2018 · IMDb · F

An awful, unnecessary, ghastly shitshow.

Correlation and Causation

Tyler Vigen maintains around 30,000 examples of “spurious correlations” (also available in book form). For instance:

You can also “discover” your own. Like this one

A Vigilante · 2018 · IMDb · B+

The first two-thirds are brilliant. As for Olivia Wilde and her riveting performance:

[. . .] it’s still good to see a cunning and capable actress rise above her usual projects, such as stupid fodder like Tron or Cowboys and Aliens, or labels like “Sexiest Vegetarian Celebrity of 2010.”

After Enough and five Death Wish movies, the revenge genre is not without its recurring clichés, many of which get defrosted and microwaved again in A Vigilante. The point, if there is one, is that “heinous criminal felonies are acceptable if they are justified by a woman driven beyond the limits of reason.” As one battered wife says, “Every graveyard is full of people who didn’t make it.” The same is true of old movies gathering dust in Hollywood film vaults.

– Rex Reed, Olivia Wilde Goes Full Charles Bronson in the Brutal Revenge Thriller ‘A Vigilante’

Destroyer · 2018 · IMDb · B+

A bit tedious. Nicole Kidman is 💯

Gandhi the Annihilator

At least in Civilization:

[. . .] Gandhi tends to be the first to use nuclear weapons, and spares no expense on wiping your civilization off the map. You probably always thought you were crazy — how could a series that prides itself on historical accuracy portray Gandhi so wrong? Well, you’ll be happy to know that both your sanity and Civilization’s historical integrity aren’t at fault. Instead, a bug’s to blame.

In the earlier Civs, leaders are given a set of attributes that dictate their behavior. One such attribute is a number scale associated with aggressiveness. Gandhi was given the lowest number possible, a rating of 1. However, when a civilization adopted democracy, it granted a civilization -2 to opponent aggression levels. This sent Gandhi’s rating of 1 into the negative, which swung it back around to 255 — the highest possible rating available, and thus, the infamous warmonger Gandhi was born.

– Geek.com, What caused Gandhi’s insatiable bloodlust in Civilization

And they just left it in there as an homage:

This cyclical aggression scale was fixed in later versions of the game, but Gandhi wasn’t totally cured of his bloodlust. The team fixed Gandhi’s aggression rating, but as an Easter egg paying homage to the earlier aggressive versions of Gandhi, ramped his nuke rating through the roof. So, while it may be difficult to push Gandhi over the edge, he goes from zero to nuclear option once you do.

Via MS.

Concave Mirror, Ball, Black Hole

This video of a ball swinging in front of concave mirror (starts at 2:00, cannot embed for some reason) reminded me of simulations of what it would be like if one fell into a Black Hole.

Here’s a Schwarzschild Black Hole, one “with mass, but with no electric charge, and no spin.” (Source)

Scaling Mountains

Mountains should be climbed with as little effort as possible and without desire. The reality of your own nature should determine the speed. If you become restless, speed up. If you become winded, slow down. You climb the mountain in an equilibrium between restlessness and exhaustion. Then, when you’re no longer thinking ahead, each footstep isn’t just a means to an end but a unique event in itself. This leaf has jagged edges. This rock looks loose. From this place the snow is less visible, even though closer. These are things you should notice anyway. To live only for some future goal is shallow. It’s the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top. Here’s where things grow.

– Robert M. Pirsig, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

via BG

Midwest Distances

Next door 1 - 2 miles
Right up the road 5 - 10 miles
Up North 15 - 100 miles
A couple miles 10 - 20 miles
Not too far 20 - 50 minutes
A little ways Over an hour
A pretty good drive 2 hours+
Drive down there Literally any direction

Can attest 😆. Via.

Assistant Executive for the Task Force on Employee Services

Via GLP, a University Title Generator that generates “prestigious” titles and associated salaries. A few random gems

  • Associate Coordinator of the Subcommittee for Community Services
  • Deputy Vice President of the Office of Alumni Planning
  • Provost for the Subcommittee for Investor Diversity
  • Vice Chair of the Subcommittee for Donor Technology

It Will Be Okay

It seemed to me that the house would collapse before I could escape, that the heavens would fall upon my head. But nothing happened. The heavens do not fall for such a trifle.

– Conrad, Heart of Darkness (taken completely out of context…)

Amar Bose on Life

Amar Bose on education, teaching, purpose, creativity, not whinging, Norbert Weiner (under whom he was a grad student), and working with the right (and ethical) people. Starts around 24:00.

Alan Kay on OOP

OOP to me means only messaging, local retention and protection and hiding of state-process, and extreme late-binding of all things. It can be done in Smalltalk and in LISP. There are possibly other systems in which this is possible, but I’m not aware of them.

Dr. Alan Kay on the Meaning of “Object-Oriented Programming”

So… Erlang? (RIP Joe Armstrong 🙏) And that was before this

(I’m not against types, but I don’t know of any type systems that aren’t a complete pain, so I still like dynamic typing.)

Indeed, Dr. Kay.

Medieval Fun Land

As the final season of HBO’s blockbuster television series Game of Thrones hits screens around the world today, audiences in China are begging for the explicit scenes of sex and violence not to be censored. [. . .] Disgruntled viewers in China have previously compared the significantly edited version to a “medieval castle documentary”.

Which natually leads to (which won’t embed for some reason so here)

After You Die

Ramin Nazer on some models he entertains of what happens to us after we die. A few of my favorites

Bannockburn by Loscil

Timelapse of the Future

Best thing I’ve seen this year. About as spiritual as it gets.

After an unimaginable length of time, even the black holes will have evaporated and the universe will be nothing but a sea of photons, gradually tending towards the same temperature, as the expansion of the universe cools them towards absolute zero. Once the very last remnants of the very last stars are finally decayed away to nothing and everything reaches the same temperature, the story of the universe finally comes to an end. For the first time in its life, the Universe will be permanent and unchanging. Entropy finally stops increasing because the cosmos cannot get any more disordered.

Nothing happens. And it keeps not happening forever.

😢 how beautiful is that? And black holes take a long, long time to evaporate

A black hole with the mass of the sun will last a wizened 1067 years. Considering that the current age of our universe is a paltry 13.8 times 109 years, that’s a good amount of time. But if you happened to turn the Eiffel Tower into a black hole, it would evaporate in only about a day.

And that’s after this happens

It will take hundreds of trillions of years for the first stellar remnant to cool completely, fading from a white dwarf through red, infrared and all the way down to a true black dwarf. By that point, the Universe will hardly be forming any new stars at all, and space will be mostly black.

BLN and I spoke about how we simply have no good strategy to attempt a comprehension of “hundreds of trillions” of years.

Gurgaon · 2016 · IMDb · B+

Captured the city’s many contrasts quite well. Felt like I was watching Mirzapur again. The excellent Pankaj Tripathi plays the same wealthy, powerful, morally bankrupt, declining patriarch as in the show. Pretty much the same deal if they’d cast a mannequin instead of Akshay Oberoi.

Raman Raghav 2.0 · 2016 · IMDb · A

Everything I expected from an Anurag Kashyap movie. Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Vicky Kaushal were 💯 The real Raman Raghav story is quite crazy.

Simmba · 2018 · IMDb · C-

Remake of the Telugu Temper. Saviour Porn. Read this article on “procedures established by law” and mind-boggling backlogs in the Indian Legal System.

Tumbbad · 2018 · IMDb · B+

Not much of a story but loved the cinematography and pre-Independence setting. Easily the best Indian horror movie I’ve seen after Manichithrathazhu.

Aquaman · 2019 · IMDb · C+

Fell asleep about three times trying to finish this visual overload. Ended up taking a walk right after this exchange

“You expect me to call you Your Highness?”

“No, I expect you to call me… Ocean Master.”

Old iOS Theme

Found screenshots of a beautiful vintage theme I’d installed on my iPhone 5 via Cydia when I was stupid enough to jailbreak my phone. Wish I could still use it though 😍

The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley · 2019 · IMDb · B+

A great complement to the book.

When I think of Theranos, I really think that there were two entirely different worlds. There was the carpeted world and there was the tiled world. In the carpeted world where Elizabeth was a goddess. Everyone, you know, almost worshipped the ground she walked on. She could do no wrong. She was the next Steve Jobs. Theranos was changing the world. And then you go into the tiled side and nothing works. We’re on a sinking ship. Everything is a lie. Reconciling the differences between those two worlds was really hard for me to do.

[…] I would leave the tiled world thinking, ‘Oh man, sinking ship.’ And I would go have one conversation with Elizabeth. And I would be so motivated to go back and work and I felt like I was changing the world again. And I would go back into the tiled world and I would go, ‘Wait, what just happened?’ You want it to be true so badly and even for me, I was working with these devices every single day and she could still kind of convince me. When I think back on those conversations, I just think ‘How did she do that?’

Tyler Schulz

Fleur Drive, March, 2019

via /r/desmoines. Source unknown.

The Wailing · 2016 · IMDb · A

Saw with LD. Long, slow, visceral, beautiful, gory. Kept me guessing. Excellent stuff.

There’s a pervasive hush and sense of stillness that lingers over the region of Gokseong, and scenes of brazen, crazed madness are often preceded by shots of tranquil mountain vistas whose lush, thickly forested landscapes increasingly feel smothering and secretive. This is a film as beautiful as it is gory, as painstakingly scenic as it is committed to stark visual interplays between darkness and light.

All the while, the story of Gokseong unfolds in fits and starts, each puzzle piece more confusing than the last. Are the residents of the town being systematically poisoned with a drug that causes them to become frenzied, savage killers? Are they being cursed? Or is it both, and for what reason? Na’s writing layers tension upon tension, particularly through the escalating paranoia that each of the townspeople comes to feel for any and all outsiders.

However, answers are much harder to find in this film than accusations. Horror fans wanting a plot whose ending dovetails nicely with all the elements that preceded it may wind up feeling frustrated, though many more may be drawn into the heart of its darkness: the conviction that terror has come to this town and there is no escape to be had.

– Aja Romano, The Wailing is the most unsettling Korean horror film in years, but it offers more chills than answers

CVS Receipt Generator

Garrett Whisten made a most amazing CVS receipt generator. He even wrote a scraper that gets real product names off their website 🙏 🙌

Padaiyappa · 1999 · IMDb · B

Rajnikanth was 49 when this “mega-hit” was released.

But Why the Dog?

Does The Dog Die? is a publicly curated database of sensitive, “emotional spoilers” for books, movies, TV, and many more categories. Unconsenting Media is a similar database of “sexual violence in broadcasting”.

How a Watch Works

A delightful, 20-minute video from the Hamilton Watch Company1

and a tl;dw version of the above

  1. Bought one after looking to get the “Murph Watch” in Interstellar. That article notes that they only made 10 for the movie (and gave one away.) Well, they’re offering it now 😍 

Bhaagamathie · 2018 · IMDb · B-

Johnny Gaddar · 2007 · IMDb · B+

Watched with D and M. Good thriller. Dharmendra was great. Was made aware of Neil Nitin Mukesh jokes.

Rōshi Shopsin

A few favorites from a selection of Kenny Shopsin’s infinite wisdom. He ran this diner (which doesn’t really sound like one…)

On ambition

It’s just an initiation into the idea until the abilities to appreciate life forthe moments in a row starts to make you a deeper and more fulfilled person, and the energy you put towards pursuing the goals … it starts out obsessive.

The point of goals

My stupid goal: I’ve risen above that and I don’t need a goal, I’m just stupid. I just float free, knowing that after you’ve pursued a stupid goal for a long time, even if you understand it’s not important, you understand it’s a device to help you overcome the absurdity of life.

Social Media (article lists this as “on getting involved”)

[One] modern phenomenon is that people have begun to savor their spectatorship rather than being involved. They don’t want to be a part of it, or if they do, they don’t know how. They construct an artificial wall between reality and themselves — and they don’t cross it.

And on life

The only way to not be crushed by the stupidity of life is to pursue something energetically and gain as much satisfaction as you can before it gets stupid — and just ignore the fact that it’s stupid. The whole thing is shitty. You’re gonna fucking die.

Chennakesava Reddy · 1987 · IMDb · D+

“No really, why do you do this to yourself?” - KS

Features, in my estimation, the greatest solo special ops scene ever committed to film. No expert, but the knee-pillow fire might be related to why Seal Team Six attempted to destroy one of their damaged choppers.

Witch

Witch is +tab on steroids.

CSS Still Life

A pure CSS still life by Ben Evans who appears to be working on an online story with pure CSS illustrations as well. Via Deepu.

Paleoart

All Yesterdays is an exploration of things we know we will never know about “dinosaurs and prehistoric animals” . Jonathan Wojcik at bogleech.com has an excellent review of the book. Of particular interest: We know little-to-nothing about the creatures’ anatomies and morphologies because of missing soft tissue data. Here are paleoartists’ recreations of a cow and a swan:

Looked up a sperm whale’s skeleton and can’t imagine how lacking a recreation would be:

Source

This article discusses the history and current state of paleoart. And this post is the ultimate TL;DR on the subject

As C.M. Kosemen explains throughout All Yesterdays, we really can’t ever know how much fat and other soft tissues contributed to the overall shape of dinosaurs since that’s the first thing to rot and shrivel tight against their bones and like even a sperm whale has a little skinny skeleton.

so like

how would we know?

Juliana Lepine

Makes amazing sculptures. See the ones of Freddie Mercury and Doc Brown posted on social media quite often. Has an active YouTube channel.

Where is the Friend’s Home? · 1987 · IMDb · A+

A 100 Indian Films

Hugo Migration

Gave Hugo a try and was quite impressed by the ease and speed. The official documentation kinda sucks at introducing key ideas (like taxonomies) in a gradual way that’s helpful to newcomers, but is great for variable and function references. Found these two posts very helpful. Here’s another that explains template variable scope well. And another that goes over theme development step-by-step.

Sticking to Jekyll for now since

  • I don’t post that often and can wait a minute for recompilation if/when I have that many posts
  • Hugo does not compile SASS like Jekyll; don’t want to make an asset pipeline or turn to readymade solutions like this
  • It doesn’t do archives like Jekyll. Approaches like these might be creative but… 🤷‍♂️

Hugo is as insanely fast as advertized. I love the section and taxonomy abstractions, myriad content types, and I18n support. I’d use it to build any static website that’s not a blog. For now, Viva Jekyll.

Starman

A beautiful meditation by the brothers Jacobo and Sergio Abril of Nada Studios (who are architects.)

Andrea Marcias

Letters to a Computer

The Des Moines Register on how to send them email in (I’m guessing) the late 80s/early 90s.

DSM Register on how to send mail to a computer

An article on how Baud Rate isn’t the same as Bit Rate

Baud rate refers to the number of signal or symbol changes that occur per second. A symbol is one of several voltage, frequency, or phase changes. NRZ binary has two symbols, one for each bit 0 or 1, that represent voltage levels. In this case, the baud or symbol rate is the same as the bit rate.

– Lou Frenzel, Electronic Design, “What’s The Difference Between Bit Rate And Baud Rate?

Via /r/bitcoin

UI Pedantry

Can’t Unsee is “Spot the difference” for UI nerds. 6530. On the “hard” sections, wondered how much the minutiae matter if a user is unable to discern the difference between two comps after a few seconds.

Via Deepu

It’s Never Finished

I think my job doesn’t have an end goal. Words like “finished” or “complete” don’t exist. We do our best with today’s menu and entertain our guests. That’s all for today, it’s repetition.

– Chef Nozumu Abe, Sushi Noz

A Love Letter to the Internet of Old

In an age where we interact primarily with branded and marketed web content, Cameron’s World is a tribute to the lost days of unrefined self-expression on the Internet. This project recalls the visual aesthetics from an era when it was expected that personal spaces would always be under construction.

Crazy Rich Asians · 2018 · IMDb · C

I don’t understand the ratings and the hullabaloo over what was affluence porn with a tired Bollywood plot (Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham came to mind but I’m sure there’s something else that aligns better with CRA.) Might be a satirical, over-the-top take on new and old money in Singapore, though I wonder it was construed as such by the target audience.

And then:

Racism against minorities is endemic in Singapore. Job advertisements frequently only ask for those who can speak in English and Mandarin, and even if minorities are able to do so, they are told that only ethnic Chinese are wanted. Muslim women in hijabs are kept out of certain civil service jobs because of their headwear. While there are police bans on speaking in Tamil, there are yearly tax-funded programs to promote speaking in Mandarin. Minority representations are rife with stereotypes and the idea of the quintessential Singapore girl is one that embodies only East Asian beauty standards. The country’s ruling power has stated that Malay-Muslims in Singapore cannot be trusted in the armed forces due to their divided loyalties between religion and state. It has further accused them of being unable to ‘integrate’ an irony considering that Malay people are considered the original inhabitants of the land. The founding father of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, holds views on genetics that would seem disconcertingly similar to eugenicist and white supremacist ideals, as he has touted the genetic superiority of the Chinese as stronger and hardier, with Indians not being as bright, but still better than the lazy, un-driven Malays. Chinese people wear Indians in ‘brown face’ and many elite public schools are reserved for them.

[. . .] Given this context, this movie is actually perpetuating the state of racism and Islamophobia in Singapore. The only Brown people in the movie are opening doors or in service of the elite Chinese in the movie. Minorities only exist in the periphery of the film. Why is this being lauded as revolutionary?

What people celebrating this movie are doing is bringing a Western racial framework to bear upon a Singaporean one.

– Sangeetha Thanapal, “Crazy Rich Asians” Promotes The Ongoing Systematic Erasure And Oppression Of Singapore Minorities On A Global Screen.

Rockstar Developer

Rockstar Developer

Via

Bird Box · 2018 · IMDb · B-

A slasher version of A Quiet Place except The Monster gets you when you open your eyes (but only at key moments that further the plot.) Snoozefest after the first half. Had no idea that the lanky, highly tattooed extra is a famous rapper. A few plotholes that bugged me:

What exactly constitutes a safe barrier between your vision and the outdoors? By the movie’s standards, a thin-fabric blindfold and a sparse canopy of leaves count, but a security camera does not.

How did Trevante Rhodes manage to keep such a defined six-pack over the course of five home-bound years, and would he be willing to share that workout routine?

Elsewhere, Gizmodo on how the unseen monster is an allegory for the pernicious effects of social media on our lives. Huh.

They Shall Not Grow Old · 2018 · IMDb · A+

A masterpiece. Powerful and harrowing. Glad I stayed till the end of the credits.

Still, the film doesn’t hold back in its depiction of the brutality of trench combat, and how most British soldiers started seeing the war as a pointless effort the longer it dragged on. “The strongest opinion they would have had was, ‘The German army’s in Belgium and France, and we’re coming over here to push them out because we’re friends [with Belgium and France],’” Jackson said. “I don’t think people could quite get their heads around why the British and the Germans were suddenly enemies.” As the conflict winds down and more prisoners of war are taken, testimonial after testimonial in They Shall Not Grow Old suggests that British soldiers saw little difference between themselves and their supposed adversaries.

“They were dealing with the same hardships, eating the same crappy food, in the same freezing conditions, and they felt a sort of empathy,” Jackson said. “They were there because their governments told them to be there.” That empathy, mixed with a sense of futility, is what makes They Shall Not Grow Old such a precise triumph. Jackson takes whatever amorphous ideas the average viewer might have about the First World War and uses real human experience to give them shape. As the film’s hundred-year-old footage springs to life, each face—whether muddied, wearied, relieved, or overjoyed—suddenly belongs to a recognizable person again. It’s both thrilling and humbling to witness.

– David Sims, “They Shall Not Grow Old Is a Stunning World War I Documentary

It was the greed of rich belligerents trying to get richer. W.E.B. Du Bois, the black writer and activist, said it was the competition over resource-rich colonies in Africa. It was a struggle between liberty and autocracy (although czarist Russia’s alliance with France and England undercut that argument). It was because mankind’s moral instincts—this was philosopher and pacifist Bertrand Russell’s view—lagged behind its material wealth. It was Germany’s psychological insecurity, triggered by Britain’s naval supremacy and the fear of Russia’s rising might. It was, simply, the insanity of the only carnivorous species that kills its own kind for no good reason.

– Burt Solomon, “The Tragic Futility of World War I

The “Not Invented Here Syndrome”

In programming, it is also common to refer to the “NIH syndrome” as the tendency towards reinventing the wheel (reimplementing something that is already available) based on the belief that in-house developments are inherently better suited, more secure, more controlled, quicker to develop, and incur lower overall cost (including maintenance cost) than using existing implementations. In-house developments are often collaborative with each other. When two in-house developments come together, it is informally known as “computer incest.”

Wikipedia

Found when I was looking for a dependency-free XML-to-JSON parser wherein the author notes the “fine NIH tradition of JavaScript developers everywhere.” Reminded me of this

FML

Via

Art School of Fish

Peppermint · 2018 · IMDb · C-

Recommended by Uber driver. Watched since I love a good revenge flick. Terrible. Had a good nap, though.

Teardrop

Set to “Destino

💗💗💗

Input

A highly configurable, free-for-private-use typeface

David Mitchell on Taxation

Oh how I love a good David Mitchell rant. This one’s on avoiding taxation via pension contributions:

[. . . ] what we’re essentially saying is that people get to choose, if they’re rich, how much they reckon they out to pay. Where on this moral scale do they place themselves, what can they square with their greed and their conscience.

And that’s an insane system because ultimately, that is a tax on conscience. That means that the conscience you’ve got, the better person you are, the more you pay in tax. So we’re taxing being nice.

Now any economist will tell you that what you do in government is you tax the thing you discourage and you don’t tax the thing you want to encourage. So we tax nicotine, because we want to discourage smoking. We tax alcohol, we want to discourage drinking. But we don’t tax pension contributions because we want to encourage people to put things into their pensions.

So what we’re doing is we’re discouraging people from being nice and having a conscience by taxing it. And that is the most fucking bonkers system that we could’ve possibly come across.

via DH.

Mirzapur - Season 1 · 2018 · IMDb · B+

Binged this. Narcos (kinda) + Gangs of Wasseypur. Violent, stylish, predictable. Pankaj Tripathi is excellent.

The 41-year-old actor had nine releases last year, of which he bagged a special mention at the National Film Awards for his performance in ‘Newton’. “With the films I am offered today, I’m satisfied, in the sense that from the last two months, I have been choosing really good scripts. But I’m still searching for that one script which would truly amaze me, challenge me. It will take time and I’ll get what I want. I am an actor here but my approach is still that of a farmer. I’ve sowed the seeds, now I’m waiting for the plant to grow. I’m in no rush,” he said.

Ralph Breaks the Internet · 2018 · IMDb · A

As wonderful as the first one. Could not fucking stand Sarah Silverman’s cloying Vanellope von Schweetz, which I suppose was the intended effect.

Venom · 2018 · IMDb · C+

Venom goes from evil alien mastermind who wants to take over the planet to Toothless in “How to Train Your Dragon” in about five minutes.

Toothless

His new motivations make no sense whatsoever.

But in the case of Venom, the action follows nothing. There’s no reason for Venom to risk his life because he doesn’t seem to care about people, and it’s never been his arc to learn about why caring for humanity is important. Venom is not about an alien symbiote coming to Earth and learning that people are worth saving. It’s about a cannibalistic, violent force who merges with a hapless shmuck and decides to stick around. Venom’s sacrifice means nothing because even if you buy that he’d be willing to save Earth, that’s different than being willing to die to save it.

– Matt Goldberg, “The Ending of ‘Venom’ Is Familiar Except It Makes No Sense

Honest Trailers on the movie. I suppose it’s all forgiven if you make $0.9B. Of course there’s a sequel. Of course I’ll watch it.

Searching · 2018 · IMDb · A-

Watched with LD. Clever, clever! Loved all but the last 15 minutes.

Cute Aggression

NPR on why many of us can identify with little Agnes:

The study found that for the entire group of participants, cuter creatures were associated with greater activity in brain areas involved in emotion. But the more cute aggression a person felt, the more activity the scientists saw in the brain’s reward system.

That suggests people who think about squishing puppies appear to be driven by two powerful forces in the brain. “It’s not just reward and it’s not just emotion,” Stavropoulos says. “Both systems in the brain are involved in this experience of cute aggression.”

The combination can be overwhelming. And scientists suspect that’s why the brain starts producing aggressive thoughts. The idea is that the appearance of these negative emotions helps people get control of the positive ones running amok.

“It could possibly be that somehow these expressions help us to just sort of get it out and come down off that baby high a little faster,” says Oriana Aragón, an assistant professor at Clemson University who was part of the Yale team that gave cute aggression its name.

– Jon Hamilton, “When Too Cute Is Too Much, The Brain Can Get Aggressive

11th Hour Panic

Shturmovshchina was a common Soviet work practice of frantic and overtime work at the end of a planning period in order to fulfill the planned production target. The practice usually gave rise to products of poor quality at the end of a planning cycle.

It has three very, very familiar stages

  • Spiachka (hibernation) – this is the first third of the planned period. Nobody’s doing anything, mostly because there are no orders to do anything
  • Raskachka (buildup) – at this stage it is more or less known what should be done, but there is too much time ahead, and during that time the requirements may change, as well as the management;
  • Goriachka (fever) – this is the last stage of the planned period; by the end of this stage the product is supposed to be ready, or the management may be reprimanded; everybody works like crazy, with the bright future being so near.