Jach's personal blog

(Largely containing a mind-dump to myselves: past, present, and future)
Current favorite quote: "Supposedly smart people are weirdly ignorant of Bayes' Rule." William B Vogt, 2010

Thought Dump

I haven't felt like writing in a few months, clearly. But I've had some thoughts on what I could write about. Except many of them seem like rather obvious thoughts so to expand on them would be somewhat wasteful. But I'd like to record them anyway, so here we go with a handful. Disclaimer that I have not really thought much about this stuff -- to write is to think, thinking without writing is self-delusion.

New Years resolutions are coming up. I think an uncomfortable truth is that we can't really change ourselves that much, or that quickly. As much as media leads us astray with epic hero journeys and countless self-help books to the contrary, many people still have the same resolution year after year. "This time will be different," they say. And this is even when they have so concrete a goal to go for it! Many other goals are either vaguely defined or just non-existent.

So much is hereditary. It shouldn't be too surprising then that you can't escape too far from your genetic limits and starting point. In the heuristics and biases literature, just knowing about the ways you can be biased is not necessarily enough to guard against them. I like to think it helps, but only marginally. Similarly with knowing the techniques of Persuasion. And to top it off, you can be self-aware of a mental illness and perhaps live with it but that self-awareness can't let you think your way into a cure. Some days I suspect the only real way to reach a goal that is beyond your comfort zone is the old arsenic method.

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Converted AWS T1 instance to T2

Shout out to this blog: Go there for all your concerns.

I've been putting off moving this blog for a long while. It involved upgrading from ubuntu 12 to 14, upgrading apache (had a brief scare where I accidentally exposed everything in /var/www for about 20 seconds, fortunately no requests other than for /...), and following the blog. There was one last step of moving my elastic IP to the VPS, which turned out way more annoying than it should have been since it involved setting up the AWS CLI again. (Why can't it just be in the web console?)

Still, the server should now have a better CPU, better storage, better network, more RAM, and cost me half as much. Amazon really hates their legacy T1.

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If you're going to vote, do it like a horse race

I don't intend to vote this election cycle, though I would enjoy seeing Trump win. Last election cycle I half-seriously voted. My write-in candidates for P and VP were Princess Luna and Twilight Sparkle. The rest of the items on the ballot, which consisted of state and county initiatives, some congressmen, and various state and county officers, I took some time to look into each option and convince myself that one choice was better than another. My choices can be found on this site, though it may or may not be illegal to share them. (shrug)

Anyway I did it more for the fun of the exercise. It's a useful exercise everyone ought to complete at least once, because it doesn't take too much effort, and more importantly it offers a glimpse into the amount of effort it would really take to be the "rational, informed voter" the system pretends everyone is. Now imagine doing that more than once every 4 years -- I get ballot mails for all sorts of stuff at the city/county/state level, I ignore them. Imagine attending local city council meetings. I don't even know their schedule but I hear about them from time to time. I ignore them because I know that in order to have an opinion that's worth anything I would need to do a lot of work. I've got my own work to take care of, and it's not in the business of ruling people. I don't want to be in that business. Hence I'm not an expert in that business, and hence I don't see my opinion as being valuable. Let those who govern well govern as they see fit, not as the whims of the governed see fit. Whether this is done under the guise of democracy (like Singapore) or under a proper monarchy matters less than whether it is done. The People make for a terrible ruler, representatives or no. (Tangent, I once participated in the National Young Leaders Conference, that was very eye-opening as well in getting a glimpse of how the machine that is the federal government operates.)

So this brings me back to the title of this post. If you're going to vote, do it for the reasons you'd bet on a horse race. Now, there are a couple reasons one might bet on a horse race, and lots of reasons why one might make a particular bet. I'm not saying to pick any one of those, only to treat the process of voting in a similar manner.

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Side project energy

As a certain political persona might say, I'm kind of low-energy.

Take a look at my Github. It's gotten better. Take a look at this very blog. It's gotten better. 2015 was a rough year.

Ever since around the start of 2012 (we'll say this post) I haven't really been happy with my productivity. It's been ok for work related stuff, I survived school, but it's still not where I want it to be overall. And my side projects are all on life support, and that's where they've got more to them than just some ideas in a local readme.

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Brief history reminder

Remember the man named

This is basically my response to which I can't help but interpret as hilarious for its framing and sad if there is a shred of sincerity to it. If there is to be another glorious revolution (and we all know what side of the spectrum it will come from) there will be a lot of heads for the block, backs to the wall, and general in-group vs. other in-group killing. And as the bloodlust consumes all not even the ringleaders have a good chance of surviving.

All I'm saying is that if all you have is a paper saying "See?! I endorsed your side!" you in fact have nothing. Make better contingency plans than paper if you're legitimately worried about being a target.

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Nim is a cool language

If you haven't heard of Nim, you're missing out. Just google it -- there are some great blogs about why it's amazing. I found another one the other day, and thought it was an interesting topic to continue for myself. That blog is "Nim is the best programming language!" which I don't agree with, but that post is more about what the author looks for in a new language, and what is totally irrelevant. My views differ and yet we both came to love Nim.

I wrote a comment a while back summarizing what I thought are the "hooks" of Nim. The tldr quoting myself a bit is that Nim is fast (at or faster than hand C), supports all three of optional, tunable, implementation-swappable garbage collecting with access to malloc/free, easily embeds C or asm directly, has easy C interfacing, has static typing (mostly downside or me) but usefully inferred so it's often out of the way but also has useful builtin types like sized ints, plus it has distinct types, there are lots of compiler pragmas (common one being inline), user-defined compiler demands to make optimizations via term-rewriting macros, flexible name and calling semantics so that people can use their style preferences even when using third party libs, and finally Nim has an awareness of and support for many higher level language features enjoyed by other languages plus uses its not-exactly-Haskell-level static typing smartly unlike some languages that begin with g and end with o.

OK, so that's really the things that drew me into Nim, but the blog I linked earlier lays it out in a different manner of explicit non-criteria and criteria for whether he looks into a language or not. Let's do the same.

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There is no victory

With a few, minor successes fighting back against the people who don't want the rest of us to go about our lives without sticking politics (of any sort) into everything, against the people who find the idea of "live and let live" (to any extent) abhorrent, some (like Milo) on the alt-right are encouraged and feel like now is the chance to defeat the crazy extreme left and that if they are defeated at the height of their power they will never come back.


I'm not going to try and argue why this sentiment is obviously silly. Instead I'll just muse about what is to be done, given that victory cannot be achieved.

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