Abacus Noir

Self Wright


Finished reading the one I’d mentioned earlier and it … was … spectacular.

The way I randomly stumbled on this and picked it up and found it wildly exceeding my expectations is hard to replicate.

Our protagonists (who may or may not make it)

Some comedy, some romance, some bromance, some action, some tragedy.

Unlike other “related” books that go into “the treasure” or other conspiracy bits, this one focusses on the “random rank-and-file” people, and creates a story that is thrilling.

It is worthy of a grand movie — and not one of the current Marvel/DC-Comics/Disney superhero movies — but one of those epic/historical ones, such as Braveheart or Gladiator.

Amazon link

Note 1: there is at least one awesome easter egg that I won’t mention here.

Note 2: also, I didn’t realize that Jordan Mechner was also the one behind “The Making of Prince of Persia“, which I got from Stripe Press, and also liked.

Graphic Novel spree continues

Print roundup

WSJ, on staying the course
Letters to the Economist after a recent issue about “the illiberal left
WSJ, on science and faith

Generally interesting links – Sep 2021

A mammoth-ivory tiara, from a few dozen millennia ago


  • A trove of old Denisovan artifacts
    • Including the first ever stone bracelet …
  • “Matter from light” aka a demonstration of the Briet-Wheeler effect

  • Fungi hunting worms
    • Not something I’d have believed if I hadn’t seen it, since we usually think of “predators catching prey“, etc,


  • Can’t believe that there is even such a thing: “haunted dolls” on eBay!

  • On NFT-mania
    • “This is the stupidest or the most incredible decision of our lives,” said one buyer of an EtherRock, which are all based on the same free clipart.

  • On “Video games as the new smoking

    In our new reality, videogames is what smoking was in the ’60s. Cheap, damaging and addictive.
    Unfortunately this parallel world is so cool that you start losing interest in the “normal” wonders of reality. A walk in a forest doesn’t interest you that much, in fact it seems boring. They are just trees after all and it is not worth to move your ass from your couch to the outside world. Reality is neither predictable nor comfortable as a video-games.



  • Interesting comparison of the current state of NeoVim and Doom Emacs

  • On the downsides of too much type-level programming

  • From 1992 “the first year of Linux Distributions

    • Slackware and Debian both kicked off in 1993 (and are still rocking to this very day). SUSE rolled along in 1994 (which was, initially, based on Slackware), followed shortly thereafter by Red Hat.
  • Cloudflare’s “disruption” of S3

    • This is where zero egress costs could be an even bigger deal strategically than they are economically. S3 was the foundation of AWS’s integrated cloud offering, and remains the linchpin of the company’s lock-in; what if R2, thanks to its explicit rejection of data lock-in, becomes the foundation of an entirely new ecosystem of cloud services that compete with the big three by being modular? If you can always get access to your data for free, it becomes a lot more plausible to connect that data to best-of-breed compute options built by companies focused on doing one thing well, instead of simply waiting for Amazon to offer up their pale imitation that doesn’t require companies to pay out the nose to access.


Human origins

It’s one thing to encounter this in some fringe blog or video and another thing to see it as front-page news.

In my opinion, this is very very significant.

These are people like us, anatomically, cranially. Were they just sitting around, for all those millennia? What were they up to ?!

Zeppelin repair

Came across this in a large coffee-table size book on the Hindenburg.

Imagine doing repairs on the side of this giant airship, while in the middle of the ocean!

Clips from the weekend newspaper

“Animal farm” and “1984” would’ve never happened if Orwell hadn’t escaped the nightmare he later wrote about.

More graphic novels

I’ve decided to only check out graphic novels (for various reasons).

I enjoyed the last one I’d read (“The ring of the Nibelung”), and moved on to something random yet promising (essentially, browsed the stacks, picked one of three that I liked).

“The lunatic is all idée fixe, and whatever he comes across confirms his lunacy. You can tell him by the liberties he takes with common sense, by his flashes of inspiration, and by the fact that sooner or later he brings up the Templars.”

Umberto Eco, Foucault’s Pendulum

Elephant and Piggie

We’ve had this series for a while now.

It’s the one set of stories that works for children before they can read, when they can read only a few words, and for adults too!

Individual stores are collected in these “Biggie” editions

Highly recommend 🙂

Missing blogs

The content I find online is largely crap, of the form

  • “10 ways to …”
  • “How to …”
  • or, with increasing regularity, “you should feel angry about …”

(These days I’m finding occasional success with Substack. But only occasional.)

My favorite kind of content was a bit of the rambling sort, sharing opinions on this-and-that, without really any expectations of being read at all.

Quoting from other sources, making connections, the dream of hyper-text as briefly presented in the mid-90s, some time before the end-of-the-beginning-of-the-end-of-history.

This current “mood” was brought upon by accidentally coming across a blog I read around 2005-2010, and learning that the author passed away in 2013. Time flies.

Yes, there’s a risk of getting nostalgic here, and there are forms of content (most notably video, more on which some other time), and I used to be tired of “backward-looking-ness” too, but there you have it.

I know that kind of blogging isn’t going to come back, and I miss it.

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