My book is out!

The Mom Test is one of those books that I would never have read if I didn’t need to for work, and was instantly thrilled that I had. Having productive conversations is one of those meta-skills that gets way too little attention but underpins basically every other piece of pedagogy. This book helps you have those conversations.

I’ve been working through many, but not all, of the essays in Adventures of a Computational Explorer by Stephen Wolfram. I suspect we’ll know within 15-20 years whether Wolfram’s big, and somewhat esoteric, scientific bet – that the universe is built bottom-up from the emergent properties of simple computational rules – is true. But many of the essays aren’t about that at all. They present an attractive model for the productive life. (Wolfram sits in roughly the same region of my embedding space as Tyler Cowen for this reason.)

Dark Matter and Dark Energy: The Hidden 95% of the Universe was interesting, clear, well-written, but like so many of these sorts of books it became rushed at just the same moment that its content got interesting.

I’m still digesting C. P. Snow’s The Two Cultures. I suspect it might be the most important book I will read this year.

Jessica’s work on LLM feature visualisation and the SolidGoldMagikarp token was released to, well, quite some acclaim. Cool to have the Rumbelow name known for something other than failed television retailing, Ripperology, ecoactivism, or pompous tech blogging.

Good Matt Clancy post on productivity and immigration.

Somebody hired a team of people to sit behind him and keep him on task. Panoptiproductivity!

We’re planning on having children soon, and will likely home-school. This post on the childhoods of exceptional people did nothing to dissuade me.

I liked this post about ways to waste your early career.. My big takeaway: you can change things. Matches my more general prior that one should, on the margin, do the thing that cultivates excellence.

Thresholds, everywhere.

The basics of rationalist discourse, cast in the gleefully autistic mold of LessWrong. (Note, for instance, the interlude on the notion of a ‘guideline’.)

Yaml ‘Aint Much Loved.

Ben Reinhardt has announced his new private ARPA lab, Speculative Technologies. (See also the founding document.) Excited about this, and ARIA, and any other attempts to create institutions from the ingredients of skill, hope, operational excellence, and just the right amount of hubris.

Rohit is smart. Question remains whether

Smart approach to nudging semantics into the type system.

Ken Shirriff opens up an 8086 and looks at its processor flags.

A superb SwiftUI technical video, zoomed in on a piece of UI from The Browser Company. And more excellent content from the same team, this one a live design review. The format works well: a short segment of meeting, followed by talking-head commentary after the fact by the participants. TBC have nailed their content. I watched these videos and wanted to work for them.

Progress isn’t zero-sum.

When restaurants win Michelin stars, their menu descriptions get longer and their prices go up. Not surprising but still interesting. Status is performance is status!

Mercury is so dense that an anvil can float in it. Similarly:

Saturn is dense, but the coffee in Peru is far denser

I enjoyed Chasing New Horizons, but I’d like someone to write the How Apollo Flew to the Moon nerd-version.

Strange New Worlds: The Search for Alien Planets and Life Beyond Our Solar System was also fun.

Electric Warrior by T. Rex was one of those albums that has passed me by, until Spotify blended Life’s A Gas into some Daily Playlist. Since then, it’s been on repeat.