log.nikhil.io

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.