Media Summary: November 2017

Some interesting links for the month:

Moscow 1968
Moscow, 1968

 

“Let me furnish the amusements of the nation and there will be need of very few laws,” P. T. Barnum, the great impresario of the circus, told the New York Sun in 1880. In his essay “Superman Comes to the Supermarket,” Norman Mailer noted a strange depression at the 1960 Democratic convention, which didn’t make any sense until he saw John F. Kennedy in the flesh:

“I understood the mood of depression which had lain over the convention, because finally it was simple: the Democrats were going to nominate a man who, no matter how serious his political dedication might be, was indisputably and willy-nilly going to be seen as a great box-office actor, and the consequences of that were staggering and not at all easy to calculate.”

We are now living in the world Barnum and Mailer predicted. The United States has become a histriocracy. We are ruled by celebrity. Whether or not Trump himself is in power will not change this fact.

  • Bit of a bizarre trivia piece from Atlas Obscura.
  • Trends come and go in campus politics
  • Since ‘nation-scale cyberattacks’ are in the imagination again, this piece on how it first happened in Estonia, in 2007.
  • I’m going to keep plugging Inherent Vice as something you should watch, this time through a Youtube montage.
  • Fun to hear Frank Herbert talk (!) about the “origins of Dune” (original recording, from Feb 1969)
  • If you still aren’t persuaded of the extra-ordinary intelligence of octopuses, read this
  • If you’re up for a long-form article on liberty, individuals etc. try this piece

For us, too, bearing the duties and responsibilities of freedom without being prepared for them poses great dangers, especially the danger of abandoning our liberty in return for security or the passing pleasures and distractions of our abundant age. This danger is avoidable only if we take the long way to liberty, the way that prepares us through the practice of responsibility and through the formation and refinement of our souls.

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Monthly recap (November 2017)

Wikki sticks at a restaurant near Poipu
Wikki Stix at a restaurant near Poipu

Spent a week in Kauai. The first few days were surprisingly windy and rainy, but … improved a lot towards the end.

There is nothing better than floating on your back under the sun (can come pretty close to a sensory deprivation tank, IMO). The next-best thing was building strong sand structures with Tara (arches, and yes, a pyramid 😀).

Minor updates:

  • Pilot “waking up early” that had partial success, but still not there yet 😐
  • Tara’s first “trick-or-treatin” experience (good fun!)

Watched/read:

  • Finally watched “Stranger Things” (both seasons)

Sci/Math/Prog Summary: November 2017

A 1994 University of Minnesota alumni magazine spread featuring the Gopher protocol architects.

Interesting stuff from the past month:

Media Summary: October 2017

Some interesting links for the month:

Aerial view of Ur, 1927.
Aerial view of Ur, 1927

Setting up ZSH on a Mac

I’ve been using the excellent Fish shell for the last few (three? four?) years, but every once in a while I need bash-compatibility, and Zsh seemed like perhaps a sweet spot between the two.

If you’re in a similar spot, this is a two-minute (almost) guide to getting up and running with Zsh on OS X.

Step 1: What does brew have?

~> brew search zsh
==> Searching local taps...
zsh ✔                                zsh-autosuggestions                  zsh-git-prompt                       zsh-lovers                           zsh-syntax-highlighting
fizsh                                zsh-completions                      zsh-history-substring-search         zsh-navigation-tools                 zshdb

Step 2: Just install the main product

So brew has a lot of packages, but I just need zsh for now.

Step 3: Use it!

I used to have this two step process of first adding it to /etc/shells and then calling chsh -s on it, but there’s a better way to do it:

sudo dscl . -create /Users/$USER UserShell /usr/local/bin/zsh

Step 4: Configuration options

Here you can either create .zshrc files manual, or through the startup menu, or … use Oh-my-zsh/Prezto.

I went with the last one, but here’s what the “first time menu” looks like:

Please pick one of the following options:

(1)  Configure settings for history, i.e. command lines remembered
 and saved by the shell.  (Recommended.)

(2)  Configure the new completion system.  (Recommended.)

(3)  Configure how keys behave when editing command lines.  (Recommended.)

(4)  Pick some of the more common shell options.  These are simple "on"
 or "off" switches controlling the shell's features.

(0)  Exit, creating a blank ~/.zshrc file.

(a)  Abort all settings and start from scratch.  Note this will overwrite
 any settings from zsh-newuser-install already in the startup file.
 It will not alter any of your other settings, however.

(q)  Quit and do nothing else.  The function will be run again next time.
--- Type one of the keys in parentheses ---

Step 5: Prezto

Pretty straightforward to install, and you can keep tweaking later, if that’s what you want.

git clone –recursive https://github.com/sorin-ionescu/prezto.git “$ZDOTDIR:-$HOME/.zprezto”

And then

setopt EXTENDED_GLOB
for rcfile in "${ZDOTDIR:-$HOME}"/.zprezto/runcoms/^README.md(.N); do
  ln -s "$rcfile" "${ZDOTDIR:-$HOME}/.${rcfile:t}"
done

That’s it, open a new terminal and enjoy your new shell!

On the space dog

From an article in the New Yorker reminiscing about Laika:

But the story of Laika had a dark lie at its core. In 2002, forty-five years after the fact, Russian scientists revealed that she had died, probably in agony, after only a few hours in orbit. In the rush to put another satellite into space, the Soviet engineers had not had time to test Sputnik 2’s cooling system properly; the capsule had overheated. It remained in orbit for five months with Laika inside, then plunged into the atmosphere and burned up over the Caribbean, a space coffin turned shooting star. Turkina quotes one of the scientists assigned to Laika’s program: “The more time passes, the more I’m sorry about it. We shouldn’t have done it. We did not learn enough from the mission to justify the death of the dog.”

Monthly recap (October 2017)

Some ups and downs this month … leaving out some things.

One surprisingly good movie I saw this month was “Never let me go”, based on a book by the recent Nobel-prize winner, Kazuo Ishiguro. It’s already seven years old, and I’m surprised I never heard of it before. What’s more, it turns out another similar (in some ways) movie I saw a long time ago, “The Remains of the Day” was also based on a book written by the same guy (movie: 1993, novel: 1989) !!

Minor updates:

  • For various reasons, decided to make a will with my wife (not done yet, but got started on it)
  • Got another tooth extracted in preparation for an implant (long story, I have bad gums, need a bone graft and sinus lift, blah blah blah, painful and pointless)
  • Participated in a “Girls who code” event at work, which was extremely gratifying
  • Took a “mini train trip” with Tara (a few stops on the Caltrain)

Watched/read:

  • Logan (finally! it was good!)
  • Ghost in the shell (finally! it was good too!)
  • Bought Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco (finally! but won’t get to read it for a while …)
  • Our souls at night (Netflix)