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Know It All

This new theme kicks ass! (After some local adjustments)

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

Newsletter (Sundays)

  • i had a thought today about the extreme lack of status signaling reading (the activity) provides compared to something visible. sure, you can extract how many books a person has read by quizzing them, or checking out how "lived in" their library is, or their goodreads, but there isn't really a way to tell how well read a person is by looking at them. knowledge camouflages itself when it is not evoked. therefore, the effort of reading for hours may be hard to justify if the status reward is opaque, and very much not guaranteed. i dont know where this is going, but let me cook
  • not to mention, knowing things runs the risks of being a know-it-all (bad), long before the reward of being a know-all (good)

Software (Saturdays)

Peep this new theme for the site, Hakone! I love it. Infinite scroll is basically a requirement for personal blogs post TikTok era.


Some notes:

To make background images "work" was a bit annoying, and I had to make some local changes.

Due to the powers that be, there is no way to use iOS background-attachment: fixed. This sucks but it is what it is. I had to remove the mobile background integration, and make it plain, but at least desktop users get a spectacle.

<!-- in header --> 
  @media (max-width: 768px) {
      .u-bg-feature-image.u-exist-feature-image {
        /* your other styles here */
        position: static; /* Default position */
        background: none;
        background-size: auto; /* Default size */
        background-repeat: repeat; /* Default repeat */
      .u-color-text-light {
        --color-text: var(--color-dark);
      --button-color-text: var(--color-dark);
      --button-color-border: var(--color-dark);

/* desktop */
  @media (min-width: 768px) {
    .u-bg-feature-image.u-exist-feature-image {
      image-rendering: crisp-edges;
   image-rendering: -moz-crisp-edges;          /* Firefox */
   image-rendering: -o-crisp-edges;            /* Opera */
   image-rendering: -webkit-optimize-contrast; /* Webkit (non-standard naming)*/
   -ms-interpolation-mode: nearest-neighbor;   /* IE (non-standard property) */
      rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.5),
      rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.5)

      background-attachment: fixed;

<!-- in footer -->

  document.addEventListener('DOMContentLoaded', function() {
  function checkViewport() {
    var screenWidth = window.innerWidth;
    var elements = document.querySelectorAll('.u-bg-feature-image.u-exist-feature-image');

    if (screenWidth < 768) { // Adjust this value as needed for your mobile breakpoint
      elements.forEach(function(el) {
        el.classList.remove('u-bg-feature-image', 'u-exist-feature-image');
    } else {
      elements.forEach(function(el) {
        el.classList.add('u-bg-feature-image', 'u-exist-feature-image');

  // Run on load

  // Add event listener for window resize
  window.addEventListener('resize', checkViewport);

I'm getting the images from the Met!

Search The Collection - The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Search art at the Metropolitan Museum.

run your python as modules, not scripts. save the headaches.

# no
python src/
# yes
python -m src.main

Books (5/month)

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

THE ENGINEERS AT SANDIA knew that nuclear weapons could never be made perfectly safe. Oskar Morgenstern—an eminent Princeton economist, military strategist, and Pentagon adviser—noted the futility of seeking that goal. “Some day there will be an accidental explosion of a nuclear weapon,” Morgenstern wrote. “The human mind cannot construct something that is infallible . . . the laws of probability virtually guarantee such an accident.”

“a weapon which requires only the receipt of intelligence from the delivery system for arming will accept and respond to such intelligence whether the signals are intentional or not.

The first of the three dubious virtues is desperation. There are bad ways to be desperate: visible desperation towards people can put you in a bad social position, strain your relationships, or otherwise harm you. Desperation towards a goal, on the other hand, is vital for a guilt-free intrinsic drive. By "desperation towards a goal" I mean the possession of a goal so important to you that you can commit yourself to it fully, without hesitation, without some part of you wondering whether it's really worth all your effort. I mean a goal that you pursue with both reckless abandon and cautious deliberation in fair portions. I mean a goal so important that it does not occur to you to spare time wondering whether you can achieve it, but only whether this path to achieving it is better or worse than that path. In my experience, the really powerful intrinsic motivations require that you're able to struggle as if something of incredible value is on the line. That's much easier if, on a gut level, you believe that's true.

Don't say "I'm trying to solve this math problem," say "I'm transforming the problem into a programming problem so I can see it from a different angle", or "I'm gameifying the problem so that my intuitions can get a better handle on it," or "I'm producing random algebraic manipulations of this equation in desperate hope that one of them happens to be the answer," or "I'm staring at the problem waiting for my gut to say something for enough time to pass that I can give up without losing face." Describe what you're doing on the level of granularity where at each step you describe, it would be silly to say you were "trying" at that step, in the same way it would be silly to say that you wake up and try to dress yourself—describe your actions on a level of granularity where each step is definitely something you're doing, rather than trying.

I'm not saying social goals are intrinsically bad. Wealth and status are useful aids when it comes to determining the future; the accomplishments and expectations of your peers can provide useful measurements of your abilities. But there's a difference between pursuing social goals for the sake of determining the course of our universe-history, and forgetting entirely that success is measured in terms of what actually happens throughout the course of history. I alluded to this when I described defiance as "choosing self-reliance." At the end of the day, each and every one of us is engaged in a personal struggle to determine the future. We are not alone; there are many around us who can be friends and allies and support us in our struggle. But the goal, in the end, is to use what resources we have at our disposal to ensure that the universe-history is filled with light, whatever our light may be. I hope yours includes friends and family and loved ones, but making it happen—that is your personal task. You are encouraged to draw on the support of friends and allies where possible; and ensuring that you have close connections may be one of the properties you're putting into the timeless history of our universe: But even then, the task of ensuring our universe-history is one in which you have close connections is your personal task.

Nefertiti has not done what she was supposed to, I thought. Instead of risking her place as Chief Wife to sway Pharaoh, she’s protected it by goading him on.

That’s the trouble with this business. People are always offering you things. And as soon as they’re mentioned—even if the idea never occurred to you before—you feel like you really want them. By the end of the conversation, whatever they’re dangling before you—which you didn’t know existed three minutes ago—has now become an absolute necessity. At which point whoever called you in the first place can feel comfortable taking it away. They’ve done their job… This is Hollywood’s dirty little secret. It’s not about making movies. Are you kidding? Forget that shit about “the Dream Factory.” It’s about manufacturing frustration. Preening movie stars making people out there in Dirtville feel like shit. People in offices making people who don’t have offices bark like dogs. All of them generating their daily quota of hopelessness. That’s the quantity in question. And the factories are always going full blast.