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Kaius  ·  174 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What are you Reading?

Just finished The Dark Forest. It was pretty good, I enjoyed it more than the first (which I can barely remember).

Started on The Templars but I dont think it will stick with me for long.

I'm also reading The Murderbot Diaries which are fun little scifi stories but nothing earth shattering...

Politics on the Edge was surprisingly good! A Tory (conservative) politician runs for office in a small province and makes his way to the UK cabinet, detailing the madness of UK politics along the way.

I'm about 40% through The Brothers Karamazov audiobook and Im enjoying it but its so long winded I get tired and have to switch to something else for a while. This happens whenever I try Russian novels, and I believe it to be a deep character flaw.

Kaius  ·  174 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What are you Reading?

    My theory with The Expanse is Abraham and Frank had a really cool story idea around a gumshoe and a rich girl that ends with the discovery of a new alien life form on Venus. And they did so well with it they went "we can do anything" rather than "we wrote a closed-loop story with two interesting characters in it that we just killed off and now we need to make Holden and Naomi interesting for as long as we can, despite the fact that their principle character traits are whininess and petulance." It's like trying to write the Jack Reacher series after you've killed Jack in Book 1.

100%. I read the entire series Miller is the only character who is actually interesting. They tried real hard to add arcs to the others and I think they all fell flat.

Kaius  ·  174 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What are you Reading?

    American Prometheus - Nothing earthshattering. Gave good context for Oppenheimer I felt. Curious if anyone else has read it.

Read it many years ago, I knew very little about Oppenheimer going into it. The main takeaways was the sheer size of the Manhattan project, the curious nature of Oppenheimer as a person, and then the political intrigue that followed related to his security clearance over the suspected association with the Communist party.

I particularly liked the "competency porn" aspect of it; remarkably talented individuals doing things that require remarkable talent. It scratches that "gee I wish I was a genius" itch you get in fiction like The Martian or whatever. But this was a real genius working with other genius's to do something momentous. I remember reading Bryson's book at the same time as this and it explained much of the explosion in physics around the 20's and 30's and the big players involved.

As a self professed nerd I knew I'd like the science stuff but was surprised to find the political bits pretty interesting. The paranoia of the time period, the creation of a new age, what it means to create something you cannot control, being discarded once you have served your purpose, the beginning of the cold war, and perhaps the social structures in the US at the time, were all fascinating. I ended up reading Caro's LBJ biographies not to long after which though not completely related, have some overlap with the social paranoia and McCarthyism.

The part that stayed with me afterwards was how Oppenheimer was such a difficult person to really get a grip on. He was clearly brilliant, and charming, but also depressive and emotionally complex. Morally ambivalent? Is that a good term for it? He wrung his hands and quoted the bhagavad gita over his role in making the bomb, but then celebrated the anniversary of the day the bomb was dropped in costume dress up for the rest of his life...

Was he too brilliant to comprehend, or just a messed up clever individual? The book was good to not spell out too much its views, although given it took years to write I wonder how much bias it contains.

As for the movie, I've seen it once and was underwhelmed, I'm holding judgement until I watch it again.

Kaius  ·  202 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: OpenAIs Alignment Problem

Certainly a lot of grifting going, particularly in terms of the valuations and projections. Maybe OpenAI was on track to build AGI, but it almost certainly is not going to get there now. I think its more likely to become a product arm for Microsoft, helping make PPT better at formatting your shitty slides that no one reads.

But that's the company. The technology around LLMs will be useful, are already useful, even if they don't progress much further than where they are today. The reason for this is that there are lots of mediocre people working jobs and churning out very mediocre content. The LLMs can churn out mediocre shit at a higher rate at a fraction of the cost. So our mediocre slide deck needs are met. Ask me how I know...

Kaius  ·  477 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Behold a Pale Horse

I worked in a call center years ago doing tech support for broadband issues. I'd say 80% of calls fell into 1 of around 20 problem categories (cannot connect, web pages don't load, reset my password, help me clear my search history before my wife comes home). Lots of repetition with slightly augmented instructions depending on the callers needs/ability (pacing, alternative descriptions, more/less commanding depending on their ability to stay on topic).

Call times mattered, so like a priest in a brothel, you were always searching for the fastest way to finish things up. Sometimes that meant going slower, sometimes it meant being slightly rude and cutting people off mid-rant so that you could get to the part where you flip the switch and the problem is solved. Wrap-time (time 'wasted' between calls) mattered, so if you had a ranty bastard screaming at you on a call for 10 minutes, you (the human, with human behaviors and soft feelings) had to "get over that shit" in seconds and switch to your baseline state for the next ranty bastard in the queue.

On any given day I would converse with something like 100 people for roughly 5 minutes. It's like if speed dating was your job, but instead of flirting, you have to fix their printer while they glare at you. It was a constant stream of human interactions which neither party wanted to have. It made me HATE speaking on the phone with people. It made me great at blocking out peoples current emotional state and get them aligned and working on a goal, or said another way: "Fuck your feelings, we got shit to do and then we never need to speak to each other again!". That isn't normal now is it.

So my guess is that AI will be a shit show at the start but it will eventually end up being BETTER for customers in the end, you get to rant to someone that sounds real, they will respond in the most efficient way to help you vent. They will sound authentic and genuine when they express remorse for your lack of service. And they will forget you instantly when you hang up.

Kaius  ·  488 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What are you Reading? Number who knows

Berserk Volume 1 by Kentaro Miura

Somewhat random pickup for me as apart from Sandman, Maus and a few other graphic novels I don't usually read them. I enjoyed this one and will grab volume 2 at some point. My guess is that it will improve as Volume 1 did have a "pilot" feel to it in places. 4/5.


The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch - 1st of the Gentlemen Bastard series.

Lots of recommendations for this one so I tried it out. I find that highly recommended books are very much hit and miss for me, same with movies. I would say this was a pretty good fantasy with a story that moved along very quickly and didn't really let up. Some parts were done really well and were quite clever, parts of the main character were genuinely sophisticated in a kind of Ender's Game fashion, but then towards the end it relied too much on plot armor and big moving pieces. 3/5, good but not rushing to read the next one.


Doom: Game Engine Black Book by Fabien Sanglard - Available online https://fabiensanglard.net/gebbdoom/

So this is essentially a deep dive into the software, hardware, tools, processes, and people who created Doom way back in the 90's. I played the game a lot when I was younger and have an interest in how these games were built. Perhaps too eclectic for a general audience but well worth checking out if you want to dig into some retro game building. 4/5, i'll be checking out his other books.


Crafting Interpreters by Robert Nystrom

Bob works at Google on the DART language and has a deep interest and understanding of computer languages. He wrote this as a guide to those of us interested in building your own computer language interpreter (the thing that takes your code, interprets it, and executes it). He brings you through two different ways to implement one, first using an Abstract Syntax Tree approach that is simpler but slower, and then using a Virtual Machine approach (similar to Java) which is faster. Great book, enjoyed creating my own language from it. 4/5.


The City of Bohane by Kevin Barry

Kevin is an Irish author I've been following for a while, he writes some nice short stories like The Pub with no beer for example. The novel is set in a fictional Irish town in the near future where there is little technology and an assortment of violent and vibrant characters. I just finished it today and the story is good but its really the authors use of a corrupted English language full of vivid descriptions that I enjoyed. I listened to the audiobook and the author reads the book himself. It included the immortal line:

    He gave him a side-eyed glance that you wouldn't see on a stoat in a ditch.


Kaius  ·  614 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The Black Frogs of Chernobyl

Its always interesting to hear about life in the exclusion zone and how radiation presents far less of a threat to wildlife than human civilisation. Makes you think about the local area you live in and how very different it would be if we were not here, we are constantly maintaining it in a state that suits us, far more artificial than we realise (this is from someone who lives in the 'countryside').


Chernobyl street view is quite a trip.

Kaius  ·  764 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Supreme Court has voted to overturn abortion rights, draft opinion shows

Yea I read Volume 1 of Shelby Foote's "The Civil War" based on how much Ken Burns leaned on him in the documentary (this was years ago, when I first watched it). Like him or not, Foote's anecdotes and insights in the documentary added much to its success, he romanticized the conflict from a mostly Southern perspective, delivered with a whiskey sipping drawl. He had charm. Upon reflection after the fact however, his lingering praise for Nathan Bedford Forrest felt odd. At one point he mentioned that Lincoln and Forrest were the two geniuses to be revealed from the war... hmm.

Ta-Nehisi Coates probably summed it up best:

    I'm looking forward to finishing Foote's trilogy. It really is an engaging read. And yet here is the bit of sadness: He gave twenty years of his life, and three volumes of important and significant words to the Civil War, but he he could never see himself in the slave. He could not get that the promise of free bread can not cope with the promise of free hands. Shelby Foote wrote The Civil War, but he never understood it. Understanding the Civil War was a luxury his whiteness could ill-afford.

Its well worth watching, but with clear eyes.

Kaius  ·  765 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Supreme Court has voted to overturn abortion rights, draft opinion shows

Much appreciated, I just finished rewatching Ken Burns Civil War doc and had started making my way through this playlist so this discussion is timely.

Stepping away from the war itself and looking at some of the societal reasons beyond slavery that drove the conflict is interesting. I hadn't seen the World-Systems theory before, where would a luddite learn more?

Kaius  ·  765 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Supreme Court has voted to overturn abortion rights, draft opinion shows

    The North can't make money if employees are free, the South can't make money if employees are skilled.

Help me parse this a bit more? Why is North restricted by "Free" and the South restricted by Skilled workers?

Kaius  ·  769 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Mechanical Watch

This guy always has fantastic articles, the animations are amazing.

Kaius  ·  827 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: March 2, 2022

Right, you can escape after f7+.

I love a good chess puzzle.

Kaius  ·  827 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: March 2, 2022

Rh8, Kxh8, f7#

There is also f7#, Bxf7, Rh8#

Kaius  ·  934 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: November 17, 2021

Were you dropping a hint so that they would have additional time to prepare for your exit? You say it was strategic so just wondering what the goal was.

I know that when someone hands in their notice in my current place, and they are good at their job, there is usually some counter-offers or conversations that happen to see if the person will agree to stay. This is good if you want to stay, or were looking for a raise. But if I intend to leave anyway then its better to reduce these discussions and drama to a minimum.

My plan, should i decide to leave is to book 3-4 days vacation time, and then hand in my notice as it begins, by the time I get back I would have avoided much of the drama and it would be old news.

Kaius  ·  956 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: October 27, 2021

I had booked this week off as vacation time from work, we didn't really have any plans to go anywhere but I've been feeling cooped up in the house and was looking forward to spending some time out and about in the fresh air doing normal stuff. The one thing I did have planned to do was go see DUNE on the big screen.

On Monday we heard that several of my sons classmates had contracted covid, he developed some symptoms and had a positive test on Tuesday, so he had to isolate. I also had a mild sore throat on Tuesday and not wanting to get anyone else sick I also isolated.

The end result is that my intended week away from work ended up with me spending ~4 full days and nights living/eating/sleeping in my home office :D I could have cancelled the time off and just worked, which is probably what I should have done, but I was so pissed off I just spent my days fishing in Read Dead Redemption and reading books.

Getting test result today, hopefully negative, if it is I think ill go dance naked in the streets or something to make up for lost time.

Kaius  ·  956 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: ACTION BUTTON REVIEWS Cyberpunk 2077

OK, see now that helps. This changes the context from "Unaware youtuber generating low-effort low-value stream-of-conscious nonsense interminably" (of which there are thousands others) to "Fully-aware artist intentionally creating interminable review as expression of their regard for the game being reviewed". Which elevates the entire thing a lot.

So that's cool.

I'm not gonna watch it though, cos its 10 hours and I get the sense that most of the message is "Hey this thing is 10 hours long!!!!", which you can get without having to actually watch it.

I haven't played Cyberpunk 2077 yet, but the fact someone created a 10 hour saga about it is making me want to...

Kaius  ·  958 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: ACTION BUTTON REVIEWS Cyberpunk 2077

This might be interesting but is completely unbearable to watch (I say this knowing it has ~200K views already). I watched 7 minutes and then started skipping forward a little before just giving up. I abandoned ship when he started naming almost every game he had played during the GTA3 framing bit.

I'm sure a SHITLOAD of time went into editing this, but not everything that a person says is interesting; of the 7 minutes I watched maybe 1.5 should have made the final cut.

Kaius  ·  999 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Useful Spy Books

Good ones.

I ran into another this morning:

Life: Health, Wealth, Freedom; In general most people only have two at any one time.

- Youth you have Health and Freedom but usually lack wealth to take advantage of the Freedom

- Mid-life you have Health and Wealth but lack Freedom due to responsibilities (job, kids)

- Old age you have Wealth and Freedom but may lack the Health to take advantage of the Freedom

Kaius  ·  999 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Useful Spy Books

From somewhere in the middle of this article:

    One is what I would like to call the communication triangle. Communications can be secure, easy to use or hard to detect. But seldom all three.

In the software world we have oft used anecdote: Cost, Scope, Time: pick the two you want, you can't get all three. You roll it out whenever someone asks you to build Amazon.com when they only have a Wordpress level budget or a two week deadline. I like it for its brevity and conciseness, its understood immediately and retained well. It also gives a nice insight into the difficulties of a particular technical domain, yet avoids having to explain anything technical at all.

Are there other examples of this in other fields beyond Software and Spycraft? I would assume Politics, Medical practice, Law, Criminal investigation has similar trade-off triangles.

Kaius  ·  1001 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: ‘Never Forget’ Is Breaking America

I remember reading this David Foster Wallace article when it first came out (2007). His thought experiment was that America should not respond with rage, and instead the right approach was to view the victims of 911 as "democratic martyrs" as Wallace puts it. Over the years his sentiment has returned to me several times, usually when I take my shoes off in an airport.

Of course it is also an impossible response for a country to accept. Were the 88/12% split in the opposite direction, which it would need to be to be accepted; my guess is that the 12% would burn the country down in their grief and anger.


One thing that I am constantly amazed by is the "They hate us because of our freedom!" sentiment. I mean do people really think that some dude in Afghanistan hates a country 3K miles away because of their political system? I'd say its far more likely the fact that his grandmother was blown to bits by a drone strike is the root cause don't ya think. Or in other words, they might have good reason to hate.