Roy Tang

Programmer, engineer, scientist, critic, gamer, dreamer, and kid-at-heart.

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Weeknotes 2021-05-09

This post is being published a day late. Things happen okay? Sometimes you get busy and things need to be pushed back.

The world:

  • like the thug that he is, our dear president claimed that the arbitral award ruling in the PH’s favor was nothing more than a sheet of paper he could easily discard. He also challenged former justice Antonio Carpio to a debate over the West Philippine Sea issue, a challenge the latter quickly accepted. As basically everyone expected, Duterte later chickened out, and offered his spokesman Roque as a distraction, er, proxy for the debate.
  • debris from a Chinese rocket was expected to crash back into Earth sometime this weekend, but no one could predict when or where. Some of my chat groups remarked that if it hits the PH, we are well and truly cursed. It finally landed in the Indian Ocean yesterday.
  • Controversial billionaire Elon Musk hosted SNL this weekend and for some reason, this caused Dogecoin to crash.
  • Bill and Melinda Gates announced they are divorcing. The timing is suspicious.
  • In the tech world, enterprise software maker Basecamp got into a bit of brouhaha this past week after a policy announcement of “no politics discussion at work” eventually led to around a third of their workforce choosing to resign. Casey Newton has a great writeup about it. It’s a big disappointment because the founders of Basecamp have always had a reputation of promoting positive workplace practices, including a book titled “It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy At Work”.

  • From Money Stuff a while back:

    • “On the other hand, if you send out those cars to drive themselves everywhere and they all crash and kill a bunch of people, that will be bad! You will be in bad trouble. “It’s better to ask forgiveness than to ask permission,” you will say, but this is not quite right; maybe it is better to announce success and then smugly add “sorry we didn’t tell you first,” but it is strictly worse to fail catastrophically and apologize. If you are going to fail it is better to ask permission, because forgiveness will not be forthcoming. If you are going to succeed, sure, it is better to ask forgiveness. “There’s nothing to forgive, you’re perfect, you little scamp,” everyone will reply.

      If you are doing some bold novel thing, you probably do not know, ex ante, if you will succeed or fail. Therefore you do not know, ex ante, if you should ask permission or forgiveness, if you should follow the law or not. But if you are the founder and chief executive officer of a company whose goal is to do some bold novel thing, you have been selected and encouraged precisely for your borderline-crazy optimism and self-confidence. You can’t do impossible things unless you first believe that you can, etc.

      If you are certain that you will succeed brilliantly in all your endeavors, then often the optimal strategy will sometimes be to ignore the law, or at least the parts of the law that stand in the way of your vision. Not, like, the objectively optimal strategy, but the strategy that you consider optimal given your subjective certainty that everything will work out for you”

  • Signal tried to release instagram ads that highlighted how targetted advertising works but their account conveniently got disabled for what Facebook claims was “an unrelated payments issue”.

  • From a recent Garbage Day, about Spotify’s algorithm:

    • We’ve seen how Facebook’s algorithmic recommendation of content, based on an algorithm that’s maximized for engagement, has started to distort reality. It has started to undermine democracy and amplified really harmful ideologies like white supremacy and white nationalism. And you can already kind of start to see this.

      Bands have kind of started to figure out like, “oh, all of our songs that sound kind of like this do super well with the Spotify algorithm, let’s just make more songs like that.” And you can’t fault the band for doing that. There’s so few opportunities for bands to make a living from their art at this point. But it terrifies me to think about a future where music is created to please some cold-blooded algorithm. And there’s just like something uniquely gross about that to me, when I think about how music is something that humans have been making for literally 1000s of years. It’s something that’s sacred, and, you know, not to pretend that it hasn’t been commodified in a variety of different ways for decades, or maybe even centuries. But this feels like a new frontier. That type of automated commodification of something that should be about humans and not robots.

  • Marvel released what is basically a sizzle reel for the MCU’s next 3 years worth of movies: I’m such a fanboy, I will gleefully admit that I got goosebumps when the video continued past the Shang-chi preview.

  • Rolling Stone lists the best TV sitcoms of all time. The comments are full of complaints about notable omissions.

My stuff:

  • I got my second dose of the Sinovac vaccine yesterday! Supposedly it’s fully effective about two weeks after the second dose, although studies show the efficacy is rather low. But some protection is better than none. Some better vaccines are starting to come in, we are supposedly due to get (a small amount of) Pfizer soon. I reckon since I’m hunkered down at home most of the time anyway, I’m okay with the weaker Chinese vaccine and don’t mind if the more effective vaccines go to the masses that have to go out and mingle for work.
  • Still sketching, although I’m a couple of days behind due to the aforementioned alleged busyness. Should catch up soon.
  • Watching:
    • Movies: Didn’t watch any last week, should correct that soon. I’m not even a third of the way through my James Bond run!
    • Nothing too notable, now that Invincible is done and we don’t have any running MCU series at the moment. Well, I did enjoy the recent two-part story on Supergirl where two characters travelled back to the past to meet young Kara and Alex in school. The rest of the season has bit a bit meh, so this was the highlight for me so far. The young versions were so perfectly cast!
  • Gaming:
    • Drafted a bit more Strixhaven on Arena, and finally ran the Sealed Open yesterday!
    • Still playing a bunch of Horizon Zero Dawn on PS4 and Street Fighter V on Steam. Hey, I got Balrog (Boxer) to bronze!
    • I finally finished the second run of Fire Emblem: Three Houses! There’s one more branch to explore (well, technically two, but I’m not too interested in the other one), but I might put the game aside for a while and find something else to play.
  • Books: Finished reading Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, still looking around for what to read next.
  • We didn’t have any quiz nights this week! Instead, I started digging a bit into the triviastorm back-end code and added some improvements I’ve been meaning to do for a while. When I’m done, I hope the answer checking becomes a bit more robust. Will also probably add a new batch of questions to the bot sometime this month.

This coming week:

Huh, nothing in particular I’m looking forward to this week. Anything I missed?

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