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Tim Goh


pretty happy with my first effort at anapestic tetrameter, albeit mostly cribbed from The Destruction of Sennacherib:

When the network partition hit pager bells tolled
And the ops team lay cursing at devs uncontrolled
The technology chosen was MongoDB
Thus they forsook both five nines and consistency
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Just finished powering through the Worm saga.  Highly recommended.  In bullets:

- superhero SF epic
- 1.75m words, equivalent to all 5 GoT books to date, half of the 10 core Malazan books, or 10-20% more than Cryptonomicon+Baroque
- serialized semiweekly for 2.5 years
- author is trope-literate, in a good way
- inventive usage of powers, intelligent formulation of n>1 order effects
- strong, realistic emphasis on the value of information in battles (have yet to encounter a better treatment in this genre)
Like superhero stories? You may enjoy the endlessly inventive Worm saga of SF novels. My review:

#fiction #superhero #fantasy  
1.01 | Worm
1.01 | Worm
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Released Go/ast Rider, semantic diff for Go source.  Shows changes in struct and interface declarations, and function/method type signatures.

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Fun trope reversal framing humans as a scary alien species

Select quotes:

- Removing a limb will not fatally incapacitate humans: always destroy the head

- Our jaws have too many teeth in them, so we developed a way to weld metal to our teeth and force the bones in our jaw to restructure

- We have a game where two people get into an enclosed area and hit each other until time runs out/one of them passes out
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I'd love to see Randall Munroe take down one of these ridiculous questions, but until that happens this answer is amazing enough to be an equivalent.
So, let's say you're shrunk to the size of an insect and thrown into a blender. There's no lid, and the blender is going to start in thirty seconds. What do you do?

How am I shrunk?

What do you mean?

I mean, are my atoms smaller? Are my cells smaller? Do I have fewer cells?

Uh, okay. Your atoms are smaller.

How did that happen? Did you change the strong coupling constant?


Okay, then I'm dead. Unless you change electromagnetism as well, I'm not sure my atoms hang together particularly well. I mean, to compress atoms that much, you have to change the constant a lot.

Okay, then I change that too.

Great. Now I'm made of small atoms. I'm still dead.


Because I'm breathing big atoms. And they're going to interact with my little atoms. And I'm going to die as soon as these giant oxygen atoms end up mixing with my little atoms.

Also I hope these little atoms with different coupling constants aren't more stable than the big ones.

Otherwise you just destroyed the universe.

You monster.

So, okay. Maybe you just have smaller cells?

Okay, I'm dead.

Sorry, my biology depends on a certain ratio of cytoplasmic volume to membrane surface area. The most relevant thing that happens now is that my brain blows its entire load of neurotransmitter vesicles in accidental collisions with my neuronal membranes.

I go into status epilepticus, and I die. This spares me the blender, though. So there's that.

Fine. Fine.  You have fewer cells.

Okay, I'm still probably dead. 

Well, I don't know. I think what happens when you reduce the number of cells in my brain is not sufficiently well-defined. I mean, right now, the loops that run my autonomic nervous system require billions of cells. Is that not the case now? 

Sure. Yeah. Whatever. That isn't the case.

Okay. Still dead. Sorry.

Now that my number of neurons has been decreased by orders of magnitude, I'm now just a little machine that runs on instinct, and can't even conceive of 'blenders,' much less my own death. 

Also, I can't see for shit. The resolution of my vision is determined by the number of rods and cones I have.

Ignore the details! You're just as smart as you were before!

Okay. Still dead. 

The surface area of my lungs is way too high relative to my blood volume. Every time I inhale, presuming that I still have the same sort of instincts, I'm giving myself escalating oxygen poisoning. I might also get the bends at normal pressure. I'm not sure about that one, but I'll put it on the list of things that I'm dead of before worrying about blenders. 

Oh, and my kidneys have too high of a membrane surface area relative to my blood volume. I'm rapidly pissing out my entire bloodstream as I sit here in this blender, thinking of a solution to my conundrum. Really, the blender is looking pretty good right now.

Actually, there's probably something wrong with all my organs that are in contact with my blood, as a matter of fact. Though I can't immediately think of what's wrong with my liver or pancreas. 

Okay, ignore your organs. Assume we fixed all that before we put you in the blender.

Still dead. Sorry.

My skin surface area is too high relative to my volume. My stupid moist skin is bleeding out all my water into the air. Unless I coat myself in wax like an insect, I'm going to dehydrate to death real soon now. 

Also, how warm is the room? If it's not near 98.6, I'm not even homeothermic anymore. See, my volume is --

We get it. You have problems with your volume relative to your surface area.

I'm really strong though. I'll give you that. Except --

What, this kills you too?

Well, eventually. Probably not yet.

See, the nice thing about being the size I am right now is that I can carry around a lot of energy. Animals as small as the one-inch me sitting in the blender need a more constant energy intake, because they can't store as much at the same time. I have all these big inefficient muscles relative to my size, and insects, well, don't.

Wait, what? Aren't insects super-strong?

Yeah, for their size. But most of the amazing feats of strength are just these little bundles of muscle fibers and some amazing biomechanical hacks.

Huh. What?

Grasshopper legs work like a crossbow. A slow-twitch muscle fiber draws back against a tendon, and then another muscle fiber releases the latch and sends it flying. It's pretty cool, and way, way more efficient -- at least at that scale -- than my big, dumb fast-twitch muscles.

Same thing with mantis shrimp claws, springtail furculas, and other, similar things. I'm going to need a lot to eat. And I'm probably not going to be able to get it. Because I'm tiny.

Wait. Now you're not dead.

Oh. So, is this the part where I'm supposed to remember the square-cube law?


Oh. Then I jump out of the blender, I guess. 

If you knew that all along, why didn't you tell me earlier?

Uh, because I assume you weren't looking to hire the person who thinks of the benefits of changing scale at the very last minute, when it's too late to do anything about it? You can't just shrink me down to the size of a bug and expect that the only thing that's going to change is my ability to jump.

I am designed for the scale I'm built at. This is not something which you can simply insert later.

Wait. In this hypothetical, am I Google?

Uh, no. There's a reason that Google's banned questions like this for a decade. This is that reason.
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"Two players, Black and White, play on a board ruled into a grid of 36 ranks (rows) by 36 files (columns) with a total of 1,296 squares. The squares are differentiated by marking or color.

Each player has a set of 402 wedge-shaped pieces of 209 types. The players must remember 253 sets of moves."

Pedantic note: The use of 'Ultimate' for 'Taikyoku' is idiomatic translation taken to the worst extreme.  The literal translation is 'large-scale'.
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These paintings look stunning enough on a monitor -- the 6'x4' originals would probably overload visual cortices.  If you are or can be in NY this week, go!

"It's art that uses some of the techniques of journalism (I interviewed activists from all over the world), to make giant, subjective, old-school allegorical paintings." - Molly Crabapple
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The best design of any bookstore I've been to, subtly encouraging and overtly facilitating a tranquil atmosphere within and without.  The architects absolutely nailed it.  There is no better home for books than the clean lines and open spaces of such an exemplar of modern architecture.

Constructed in post-Kindle 2011, this is a loving tribute to the printed word, a signal of confidence in -Japan's demographics- the staying power of books (note: not 'paper books', not 'dead tree books', nor any other unnecessary neologism. Just 'books').
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"In researching this essay, I tried to read all of [Tim] O'Reilly's published writings: blog posts, essays, tweets. I read many of his interviews and pored over the comments he left on blogs and news sites. I watched all his talks on YouTube."

Research of this caliber is unheard of in the world of fluff that tech journalism has become.  A sprawling essay that somehow sacrifices neither flow nor focus while taking us through the history of O'Reilly (both the man and the eponymous company) -- even finding time to explore Postman and Korzybski.

Highly recommended.
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