Monthly recap (May 2018)

 

Tall eucalyptus trees in Great Otway National Park, along the ocean road

 

Major updates:

  • Australia trip!
    • Walked around Sydney
    • Great Ocean Road
    • Fed some kangaroos and wallabies (not yet sure about the difference)
    • Saw the Penguin parade
    • Ate lots of good food

Minor updates:

  • Hiking with Tara
  • Went for the Warriors/Cavaliers game (quite an experience!)
  • Tinkering with routine changes around reading and yoga (Yogaglo!)

Watched/read:

  • Season 1 of Lost in Space (okay)
  • Season 1 of Veep (funny!)
  • The Little Prince on Netflix (wonderful!)
  • Black Panther, Jumanji (meh for both)
  • Death of Stalin (outstanding!)
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Programming/Math/Science roundup: May 2018

Can you imagine paying $4900 for a calculator? In 1968 money??

A history of personal (static) blogs

I’ve accumulated a few static blogs over the years, each starting out, running for a while, and then petering out.

The first version, with Hakyll

The second version, with Jekyll

The third version, with Hugo (still alive, apparently!)

A good question at this point is, why did I ever bother, and why do I want anything other than this (WordPress) blog?

If you go through the content in the old repos I pointed to above, most of it was sort of “snippets”, notes about this or that, fleeting documentation, little experiments.

This sort of stuff is both too noisy (I feel) in the middle of regular summary updates, and yet something I like to have around. So, meh, I can do some sort of fancy tag-based separation in WordPress, or … I can just dump it all into a different place and never worry about the overlap.

Also, Cryogen, the Clojure-based static site solution I’m using for this, seems cool. So there’s that.

Note: Another good question here is: what should I do about all the previous existing content? There’s actually a ton of markdown-posts in each “version” of the blog(s), so I should eventually migrate all of that over.

On the death of Stalin

I believe I’ve just watched the funniest movie in at least a few years. Every single scene, every single interaction, is shot through with dark humor. It really doesn’t get any darker than this.

It’s the kind of material which a lesser movie might have tried to satire or (worse!) turn into a fictionalized documentary.

But no, an accurate retelling is all that works here, preserving all of the idiocy, all of the despair, all of the absurdity— and there is so much absurdity here!

My favorite movie of the year, by far.

General Interesting Links: April 2018

 

Yes, the figure at the bottom of this absurdly tall tree is a horse!

 

Bunch of random stuff that I liked this month:

In this process, which scientists call ‘ballooning’, the spider creates a sail-like web that catches the breeze, allowing it to travel distances as short as a few meters or embark on epic journeys that can take them up into the jet stream or as far as remote islands in the ocean.

  • I found some old advertisements that I liked, but I liked them so much I made the one-liner into a separate post.
  • I’ve been watching a bit of “Thomas the Train Engine” with my daughter, and have a growing unease at the back of my mind each time I do, but this person nails the reason why; will never be able to look at it the same way again (!)
  • I feel terrible that I never paid attention to this line at the beginning of The Big Lebowski, so here’s someone over-analyzing it
  • Something that doesn’t fit anywhere: about seeking, and insights (also has something to say about the Matrix, and about just doing)
  • The “canon wars” continue on (I’m very pessimistic about all this; readers who’ve seen me mention Allan Bloom in the past know which side of the fence I sit on, though)
  • Finally, the real” story of Alladin turns out to be way more obscure/interesting than I knew!

The un-happened future

Regular readers may have noticed my fondness for historical advertising (of a very specific kind). Here are some old advertisements by Bohn Aluminum that I came across, and here is a bigger list. This stuff dates from the 1940s.

These look like the background design of Bioshock and you can’t imagine seeing something like this today, but the real story here (I think) is how it used to be possible to imagine building big stuff in a positive sense, and how everyone almost took it for granted that “wonderful infrastructure” was going to come, perhaps sooner, perhaps later, but it was going to come.

Today, it’s hard to find believers of that sort. Today, this giant rocket airplane, with five decks, would draw either a laugh, or a smirk, or worse, but for a brief period it might have drawn admiration.

Starting new C++ projects

I wanted to have a playground to try out new idioms and concepts (hah!) in C++, and it became an excuse to figure out what the right way (in my opinion) would be, given the enormous range of choices each step of the way.

I settled on two requirements: a good build system and a good standard library augmentation.

There are numerous build systems these days, but (blame familiarity here, I guess) I went with Bazel.

Similarly, familiarity led me to pick Abseil over (say) Boost or Folly.

To show how straightforward it can be these days to “just start making” something in C++, I made a small dummy program that has a single cc_binary rule and uses some basic string library functions.

(The real story is how amazing it is to have open-sourced versions of these, this setup would have been unthinkable just a couple of years ago!!)

Take a look here.