Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

05 Jan 2008, 13:10 p.m.


Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2008 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

I post lots of little links in the account that Leonard and I share, and that keeps this blog from just being a mass of commentless links. But every once in a while I wish to celebrate bits of the net with/at you. Here!

If you can't get enough Randall Munroe, his LiveJournal should absorb you for ten to twenty minutes. Munroe's experience of Cryptonomicon and mine concur: "I keep picking it up to glance through and then accidentally reading through to the end." Sadly, Knuth, Stephenson, et al. are probably too busy with their magna opera to enjoy the thrice-weekly distraction of Munroe's work.

The soldiers' truce of 1914 -- I knew about it, but it turns out I didn't know a tenth of the story. Tremendous.

And, in a discovery almost certainly irrelevant to your life and to mine, I think Pseudonymous Kid's mom's dad lives where I used to live.

But the real hot tip of this entry is Yishan Wong's Reddit comments. Wong works at Facebook, his wife just had a baby, and I'd rather read his comments on Reddit than blog posts by jwz or Steve Yegge. Examples:

Abortion clinic bombers are the only terrorists who can accurately be described as "hating us for our freedoms."....

It's not one bad programmer. PHP makes bad programmers worse, but it also forces good programmers to have to be kind of bad just to get things working "okay."

What's remarkable about PHP is that it's the best PHP programmers who are the ones most vocal about how awful it is....

Just for irony's sake, I use [the powerful chip in the Sony PlayStation 3] to crack the encryption on my Blu-Ray discs.....

But the bit I really love, the bit that throws Paul Graham into the water, is Wong's encouragement and HOWTO on learning to work hard.

...One bonus effect is that you learn what smartness really does for you: it's a multiplier. It doesn't give you success for nothing (i.e. 5000 x 0 = 0), but if you apply smarts to a work ethic, your output is multiplied (i.e. 5000 x 10 = 50000). So a smart person who learns to work hard benefits far more than a mediocre person who works hard.

This benefit becomes very addictive: "whoa, by sheer force of will I can essentially call into being wealth for myself!" and that's what keeps you from backsliding....

That's going on my reread-regularly list.


Eric Fischer
05 Jan 2008, 16:41 p.m.

Donald Knuth was in the audience at Randall Munroe's event at Google. I don't know if that means he is a regular reader, though.

05 Jan 2008, 17:05 p.m.

Wow, thanks for the kind words! I am flattered!

Seth Schoen
05 Jan 2008, 22:05 p.m.

The plural of "magnum opus" probably has to be "magna opera" to make the adjective agree with the noun.