Monthly Curations: December 2022

Lidar overlay showing a part of an extensive civilization in Guatemala

Monthly Summary (December 2022)

Visiting the Taj Mahal in Agra

Major updates

  • India trip to meet family
  • Decided to start at a new place post-Sigma

(will follow-up with a post with details on each)

Minor updates

  • Traded in my troublesome Subaru Outback for something new
  • Side trip to Agra, saw the Taj Mahal (!)
  • Some Urbit adventures
  • Ate a bunch of good food at a bunch of interesting places


  • Glass Onion (sequel to Knives Out)
  • Nope (watched this in the flight)
  • The Greatest Showman
  • Netflix: Troll, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Bullet Train
  • Disney+: Mysterious Benedict Society (season 2)
  • Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix (finished listening to audiobook with Tara)
  • Nightmare before Christmas (family re-watch)
  • Enola Holmes (part 2)

(a good month for viewing …)

Monthly recap (November 2022)

A group of sea-turtles on Poipu beach

Major updates

  • Moving on from Sigma (more on this later)
  • Trip to Kauai
  • Tara’s birthday

Minor updates

  • Meeting various people, some after many years
  • Bunch of birthday parties
    • Discovered the Palo Alto Junior Zoo this way, pretty fun place !!
  • Trip to Children’s Discovery Museum after a long time
    • Realized it’s really for small kids
  • Trip to The Tech museum in San Jose
    • Exceeded expectations (!)
  • Got a massage (note to self: should do this monthly, at least)


  • Couple of side projects
  • Discovered a great series we all watched together: The Mysterious Benedict Society
  • Finished Abbott Elementary (Hulu)
  • Finished listening to audiobook of Plato’s Republic
  • Finished listening to Harry Potter and Order of the Phoenix with Tara (long, over 27 hours!)

Monthly Curations — November 2022

Monthly Curations — October 2022

  • I had initially dismissed this “crater full of ice” photo (on Mars) as too-good-to-be-true, but … it is real !
  • NeoVim is now just as much of an extensible editor (the easy use of Fennel for config has created an Emacs-Lisp counterpart !)
  • “Who made who” (from a HN comment, referencing links between cancers and fungi within them)
    • Sometimes I wonder if we’re just giant machines built by microorganisms. It would certainly make an interesting story, along the idea of a robot discovering they were made by somebody else, which I believe has already been explored
  • A talk on “Intelligence beyond the brain“, some notes:
    • Single-celled organisms are intelligent too
    • “Intelligent problem-solving in morphospace”
    • We can bio-engineer at a low-level, but not at a high-level
    • Cells can “recruit their neighbors” !!
    • Radically self-organizing
    • Experiments (some weird ones) show chemical intervention can “repair hardware defects”
  • “Systems at scale”, w.r.t. money laundering
  • Goddamnit, geeks have been righteously complaining about “feature-itis” and retreating to their hermit kingdoms for so long. Here is one such complaint all the way back in 1999 (!)
  • Elegant code, or inscrutable code golfing? You decide: “random walk in two lines
  • A somewhat despairing article, from the Economist (except it’s from 7 years ago, and things haven’t got any better …)
  • A “pre-historic” amputation (!)
  • I wanted the Moonlander but ergonomics led me to the Kinesis Advantage2. Today, you can get a mix of both, with the Kinesis Advantage360
  • Friedman describes the paradoxes we’ve been led to, in the absence of clear priorities
    • I understand why people want all five — now. I want all five! But they involve trade-offs, which too few of us want to acknowledge or debate. In an energy war like the one we’re in now, you need to be clear about your goals and priorities. As a country, and as a Western alliance, we have no ladder of priorities on energy, just competing aspirations and magical thinking that we can have it all.

  • On letting go of the GPL, by Martin Kleppman
    • For all these reasons, I think it no longer makes sense to cling on to the GPL and copyleft. Let them go. Instead, I would encourage you to adopt a permissive license for your projects (e.g. MIT, BSD, Apache 2.0), and then focus your energies on the things that will really make a difference to software freedom: counteracting the monopolising effects of cloud software, developing sustainable business models that allow open source software to thrive, and pushing for regulation that prioritises the interests of software users over the interests of vendors.

  • A phenomenal tour of the Great Pyramid, feels like I’m right there!

Monthly recap (October 2022)

“Spider army” 🙂

Minor updates

  • Pre-ordered the illustrated version of “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”, which arrived a couple of weeks ago
  • Some dental mishaps
  • Diwali
  • Halloween (felt like back to pre-covid in terms of crows and decorations!)
  • Meeting a bunch of new/old people


  • A new actually funny series (on Hulu): “Abbott Elementary
  • Caught “Ticket to Paradise” in the hall
  • Watched “Matrix: Resurrections” (and wish I didn’t, it was horrible)
  • Finished watching “Rings of Power” (ditto; though this was so bad it deserves its own post later)
  • A really fun show (on Disney+): “The Mysterious Benedict Society” (we have since started reading the book together, highly recommend!)

Monthly Recap (September 2022)

Just a random weird flower I saw while out on a walk
Just a random weird flower I saw while out on a walk

Major update(s)

Minor updates

  • AC stopped working on the hottest weekend of the summer, had to get a whole new one installed
  • Various meeting-people and catching-up events, various playdates
  • Discovered ready-made cocktails (and Sambuca)
  • Carpet cleaning: something put off for years, but totally worth it
  • Playing chess with Tara
  • Trying out CodeSpark as an iPad learning app


  • Audible: finished Sean Carrol’s “Something Deeply Hidden”, began Plato’s “Republic
  • Watched the Uncharted movie (well, had to)
  • Watched some of “Junior Baking Show” and a National Geographic wildlife documentary on Netflix
  • Started watching “Rings of Power” on Amazon Prime (final opinion pending)

Monthly Curations — September 2022

Facility map in the elevator of a “luxury” doomsday bunker

The longer I am a software engineer the longer I begin to understand that the soft skills are much more important than all the technical skills. For me software engineering is much about dealing with my insecurities and coming to term with my weaknesses. I also feel that it is a lot about dealing with your ego and a lot with cooperating with colleagues and bosses. The longer I am a software engineer, the more I understand that developing software is not about writing code but communicating with people.

The second Elizabeth was born on April 21, 1926, and has reigned over Britain since 1952. She was six weeks older than Marilyn Monroe, three years older than Anne Frank, nine years older than Elvis Presley—all figures of the unreachable past. She was older than nylon, Scotch tape, and The Hobbit. She was old enough to have trained as an army driver and mechanic in the last months of the Second World War.

“The conception of monarchy as a way of life is not easy to explain to those who are unaccustomed to it,” Morrah wrote in 1958, just six years into Elizabeth II’s reign. “To peoples whose social system and patriotic tradition are founded upon revolt against a distant or authoritarian king—to the Americans and the French, for example—it is apt to seem a paradox. Such as these are inclined to suppose that the British people only continue to tolerate their ancient monarchy because its real content has been emptied out of it by political progress.” But this was not true, Morrah argued. The British monarchy is one of the few institutions in history to have voluntarily ceded power, whether it be Charles II accepting the existence of Parliament or Elizabeth II paying income tax.

The Queen is dead; long live the King. The world must now discover, after a reign that lasted seven decades, what England, and Britain, is without her.

  • Something I learned: hyper-legible fonts (I never thought about how “blurry letters” would be so hard to distinguish!)
  • Interesting new browser, “Arc
  • Great overview of different financial eras with “computer analogies”
  • An interesting anecdote about the development of the Soyuz transport vehicle
  • A weirdly wonderful take on Terry Davis

Modernity has a strong apocalyptic feeling to it, in the biblical meaning of the word, which means “the unveiling”, the event when we see and know reality in all of its forms as it truly is. If we are in a stagnant period of history in which we are not having real technological progress but rather we just optimize screens to get people addicted to click ads, maybe the way out of this mess and to get actual innovation is to get on your knees and pray that God will illuminate you on how to build a warp drive.

  • On luxury doomsday bunkers (Manages to be ridiculous and frightening at the same time!)
  • An instrument the size of an house: a giant pipe organ
  • Closer to deciphering the Indus Valley Civilization script (perhaps?)
  • I hope to be this active in my 60s (!)
  • Software to be thankful for” (I would add a bunch of macOS desktop software to this, but otherwise a good list)
  • Attempting to predict the future of computing

Monthly Summary: Aug 2022

“Towers” in Minecraft I built with Tara

Major update(s)

  • Nearly a week in Big Island
  • A month-long saga of problems with my car came to an end, able to drive again

Minor update(s)

  • Playdates
  • School re-opened!
    • Bunch of “back to school” stuff
  • Family board games
    • Dixit (worked out!)
    • Karuba
  • Invasive double-implant dental operation


  • Audiobooks in the car with Tara:
    • Finished listening to book 3 of Wings of Fire
    • Started listening to Order of the Phoenix
  • Read The Untethered Soul
  • Tara watching new season of Bluey (one show we can bear to watch along too)
  • Watched Uncharted
  • Watched Stranger Things (season 3)


  • Tara started playing some Minecraft (only “creative mode” for now)
  • Some playing around with Wolfram Mathematica

Monthly Curations- August 2022

Sculpture at Waikoloa

  • Public art in a surprising place

Hilton Waikoloa’s art collection

In pursuit of that goal, Hemmeter traveled to China, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, Burma and beyond. He spent at least a year traveling and shipping artwork back to Hawaii on barges where it would then be flown by helicopter to the hotel’s property.

But the best thing about the collection, besides its sheer size and diversity, is that viewing it costs nothing, and that holds true for both guests and members of the general public.

Displayed throughout the corridors and common spaces for all visitors to enjoy, the Hilton Anatole’s varied collection ranges from 12-foot segments of the Berlin Wall painted by Jurgen Grosse to an 18th Century Thai Reclining Buddha fashioned in gilt-bronze.

The “just use Fossil” approach is particularly novel!

Spectacularly contrarian take: “Use one server

When you experience growing pains, and get close to the limits of your current servers, today’s conventional wisdom is to go for sharding and horizontal scaling, or to use a cloud architecture that gives you horizontal scaling “for free.” It is often easier and more efficient to scale vertically instead. Using one big server is comparatively cheap, keeps your overheads at a minimum, and actually has a pretty good availability story if you are careful to prevent correlated hardware failures. It’s not glamorous and it won’t help your resume, but one big server will serve you well.

Everything getting older

Food for thought

The Onion’s Our Dumb Century is a classic satirical look at the twentieth century, of course, but it’s also a nice tour through the American zeitgeist over that time. One of the headlines that hits a little harder than it used to is from 1985: “Dynamic New Soviet Leader Not on Brink of Death.” In the early 80s, the USSR successively appointed Yuri Andropov (68 years old, died in office in a year and a half) and then Chernenko (who took power at the age of 72 and died after just over a year). But now the US Senate is the oldest it’s ever been, the speaker of the House is 82, the party leaders in the Senate are 71 and 80, and the Presidency is held by someone who won at age 77, running against a 74-year-old.

A look at “low-level” schemes (though still missing a mention of Gambit/Gerbil)

An entertaining Youtube channel which also promotes a much-needed “cultural coming-together” in these times:

On the bio-electrical science behind how organisms control anatomy through gene expression.

On unifying “toy languages” and “real languages”

A blend of FreeBSD and macOS?

Sounds too good to be true, but good luck to the folks doing this 👍

Some Guix evangelism

Scheme in Excel? :-O

First Windows Subsystem for Linux, now this … how different from the world of 15 years ago ! 🙂

In which I learn about the python concurrency landscape

The promise of Rust, and a perspective on the languages that came before.

Matt Damon explains things 😐

(or, why moves are the way they are …)

Interesting overview of the types of computation in games (simulation numerical shading) and the varying performance aspects of each, and musings on “language suitability”.

Fun fact: a Russian team was hunting for Atlantis near Britain in the late 90s 🤷‍♂️

Fun fact: Alligators can go up to two years without food !!

(saw this while watching a new nature documentary)

Some interesting comments in this post on what was lost with the loss of the old Usenet:

Planta Sapiense

A look at Racket and Rhombus

Surprised I never came across this earlier: Cliodynamics

(Reminiscent of psychohistory !)