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thread locks, begging agents to do their job, the world outside castalia, personal effectiveness, let history forget you existed

This is a daily standup post of the work put into maintaining Ex nihilo nihil fit.

Newsletter (Sundays)

  • the well read series thinking 3 parts?
  • next part im going to contort class dynamics from economic theory to talk about reading books, the meme below basically
  • why reading more than 25 books puts you in a class with ultra marathoners
I just felt related to this picture.

Software (Saturdays)

  • the function calls from requires_action basically are a side effect. this will cause some unique threading/sync issues that will make parallel computing issues from 1000+ cloud servers look like a joke in comparison
  • coaxing assistants to call functions is much like trying to force a kid to clean their room. the more explicit the reward and task, the higher the likelihood of success. in some instructions, i've literally had to beg the model to call the functions. i wish i were kidding

Books (5/month)

links are affiliate! if you pick up a copy, i get a little kickback!

"My mouth felt dry. There sat the man I revered, my patron, my friend, whom I had loved and trusted ever since I could think, who had always responded to whatever I might say—there he sat and listened to me talk, or perhaps did not listen to me, and had barricaded himself completely behind his radiance and smile, behind his golden mask, unreachable, belonging to a different world with different laws; and everything I tried to bring by speech from our world to his ran off him like rain from a stone. At last—I had already given up hope—he broke through the magic wall; at last he helped me; at last he said a few words. Those were the only words I heard him speak today. " 'You are tiring yourself, Joseph,' he said softly, his voice full of that touching friendliness and solicitude you know so well. That was all. 'You are tiring yourself, Joseph.' As if he had long been watching me engaged in a too-strenuous task and wanted to admonish me to stop."

"Outside, beyond the boundaries of the Province, was a way of life which ran counter to Castalia and its laws, which did not abide by the Castalian system and could not be tamed and sublimated by it. And of course he was aware of the presence of this world in his own heart also. He too had impulses, fantasies, and desires which ran counter to the laws that governed him, impulses which he had only gradually managed to subdue by hard effort."

"Life is not a game of "wind up good at the end"; life is about steering the future. Look not to whether you are good or bad. Look to where you are, and what you can do from there."

"I've met many who are under the impression that when you realize the world is in deep trouble, you're obligated to respond by feeling more and more grim. Like a movie about a detective that's trying to save a kidnapped child: as the detective learns that the child is in more and more danger, they lock their jaw and become more and more grim and determined. Their respite comes only when the child is rescued. That's narrative thinking, and we aren't in a narrative. You can break the trope. (In fact, I encourage you to break tropes as soon as you realize that you're acting them out.)"

"In fact, personal effectiveness is all about having the right demeanor at the right time. I suggest a mix of playfulness, curiosity, relaxation, calm, and yes, grim determination. I also personally recommend a healthy dose of dark humor. Everybody's dying, after all."

"But I've always seen (programming having) much more in common with writing prose than math. It feels like you're writing a story and you're trying to express a concept to a very dumb person—the computer—who has a limited vocabulary. You've got this concept you want to express and limited tools to express it with. What words do you use and what does your introductory and summary statement look like? That sort of thing."

"Seibel: And why does that matter? Is that just for the satisfaction of it or is tasteful code also better in some practical way? Zawinski: To a large degree, tasteful and maintainable are similar. Or very closely related. One of the things that makes a piece of writing tasteful is if it's structured in a way that's easy to grasp. Are the facts loaded up at the front or are they scattered around? If you're referring back—if you're flipping through a book, can you figure out where in the book is the thing you kind of remember? “This was somewhere near the middle because that's where he talked about this thing.” Or is it just scattered all through. And that's the same sort of thing that goes on with programming a lot."

"I've also done a lot of testing since LiveJournal. Once I started working with other people especially. And once I realized that code I write never fucking goes away and I'm going to be a maintainer for life. I get comments about blog posts that are almost 10 years old. “Hey, I found this code. I found a bug,” and I'm suddenly maintaining code. I now maintain so much code, and there's other people working with it, if there's anything halfway clever at all, I just assume that somebody else is going to not understand some invariants I have. So basically anytime I do something clever, I make sure I have a test in there to break really loudly and to tell them that they messed up. I had to force a lot of people to write tests, mostly people who were working for me. I would write tests to guard against my own code breaking, and then once they wrote code, I was like, “Are you even sure that works? Write a test. Prove it to me.” At a certain point, people realize, “Holy crap, it does pay off,” especially maintenance costs later."

"“You don’t belong here,” he said, looking at the open doors to the Great Hall. “You belong with nicer people.” My voice rose with indignation. “Are you saying—” “I’m saying none of that, miw-sher. But these games are not for you.” We stopped at the verge of the courtyard. “I leave tomorrow morning,” he said. He paused, and then added quietly, “Be careful here, my lady. Let history forget your name. For if your deeds are to live in eternity, you will have to become exactly what your family wants you to be.” “And what is that?” I demanded. “A slave to the throne.”"

"It wasn’t until we’d actually shared living space for a while that I understood what she was not saying. Zoe herself, I noticed, never seemed to eat at all. If a stray loaf of rye bread did happen to end up in the cupboard, it would be gone immediately. In classic fashion, I found out the truth one day when I slipped into the apartment unnoticed and caught her. Other guys might walk in on the little woman riding sidesaddle with the gas man—I caught Zoe with something else down her throat. Her finger. The sounds emanating from the toilet were so hellish, I thought she was being stabbed. Clearly she wasn’t expecting me. I had a meeting at Club International, yet another “men’s mag,” but got the days mixed up and slimed back home on the IRT. I heard lamp-rattling gasps and dashed to the bathroom. There was Zoe, naked, on her knees before the porcelain throne, jamming her forefinger in and out of her mouth. Her long hair hung over her face. Her breasts rested against the bowl. I couldn’t tell if she was actually expelling, because her back was to me. Besides which, I couldn’t really take my eyes off her ass. Zoe had olive skin, incredibly soft, despite the phenomenal tone derived from entire days of stretching, working out, swimming, and, of course, pas de deux–ing until she dropped. Her bottom kind of humped up and down as she pumped her own stomach. Her retches tore out of her. It was like watching a car accident: I couldn’t look and I couldn’t look away. I don’t know how long I’d been staring before I noticed that her left hand, while her right poked down her throat, had a task of its own. Her humping grew even more furious. And I realized that as she was heaving, her fingers worked like drunken maggots between her legs. She began to rock on her haunches. Her head whipped back and forth, the sounds coming out of her more animal than human. It was such a private moment. Ferociously intimate. I had no doubt no human had ever seen this woman’s secret ritual. I didn’t know I had dropped my pants—didn’t even know I was standing there nursing a throbbing hard-on—until a groan of my own must have tipped her off. She swung around, hand still planted in her thicket of pubic hair, and screamed through a mouth that looked half melted. “Zoe,” I cried when her shrieking ceased. “Zoe!” But she was beyond hearing. Her eyes flashed like a trapped animal’s. The smear of vomit around her lips gave off a primal sheen. She might have been feasting on living entrails. In fact, she was—but they were her own. Without thinking, I took a step toward her. She leaped up from her crouch by the toilet. Sopping fingers tore at my chest. Strange, wild snarls escaped her lips. I grabbed her shoulders. She took a swipe at my face. I tasted her bile, like salt and mud. Then she dropped back to her knees. She jammed her right hand back between her glistening labia, grabbed my cock with her left, and guided it between those puke-moistened lips. Her clutch was so violent that I fell backward, hit the wall, and ended up on my back as she gulped and sucked, feeding off my hard-on like a starving jackal. It was over in minutes, but she remained over me, mouth cupped around my sucked-dry penis. Eyes squeezed shut, she continued working those bruised, shiny lips in a kind of hypnotic rhythm, trying to draw whatever last, remaining drop of sperm might be left. It got too painful and I had to move her head. Finally she collapsed between my legs, rolled her face onto my thigh, and opened her glassy eyes. “Protein,” she mumbled, and we both fell asleep on the bathroom floor."