W1D5 - Think clearly from first principles

Content: End of the énarques

I spent a summer in London, staying in Holborn. Every weekend I would walk over to the Royal Opera House to pick up a complimentary copy of the FT Weekend. Reading the cover article would be the highlight of my week.The articles featured these days don’t seem to be as hard-hitting as they used to be; fortunately I managed to save up my favorites. Top of the list is an article by Jo Johnson on ‘the end of the énarques’. It’s no longer available on the FT (and nothing pops up on Google), so I’ve enclosed the article below.

Content: Goldberg Variations

Since we’re heading into the weekend, let’s include even more content. I came across Glenn Gould’s masterful performance of Bach’s Goldberg Variations in Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs. Comparing the 1955 version (his first recording) with the one in 1981 (his last) is truly inspiring. It's a meditation on the passage of life.

Content: Jiro Dreams of Sushi

On the theme of achieving mastery, I’m reminded how Bradfield School of CS had a framed picture of Jiro on its walls. I learned a lot from the classes at Bradfield, but perhaps the most valuable lesson was a constant refrain from the instructor Oz telling us “think clearly from first principles”.


Getting back on topic i.e. RC, I looked into rebuilding my dev environment with Nix today as the issue with macOS Catalina has now closed. For context, Nix here is just the package manager (vs NixOS or the Nix language).

Nix lets you build environments in a declarative way. You write all the packages you need in a shell.nix file to create your environment. When you have a new machine, simply use the same shell.nix file and it’ll recreate the same environment. Another plus is much easier rollbacks.

On the flip side the Catalina issue is now closed because there’s a workaround, but this involves partitioning your drive. It was relayed to me how this can be "quite painful”. Also “the learning curve is really intense” when installing something that’s not in nixpkgs.

Since I’m juggling a few things, maybe rebuilding my dev environment can be pushed back a bit. It makes me wonder what things will be like further down the road when we have ARM MacBooks...

Week 1

I’m pretty spent from attending lots of events in the first week, didn’t do that much coding today and doubled down on more events - mathematical thinking, software design, ML theory. Presentations at 4 pm ET marks the end of the week quite nicely.

What can I say? Week 1 of RC has been a blast! It’s affirming seeing the diversity of backgrounds and knowledge. As a self-taught programmer, this week helped illuminate how the path towards mastery is not linear. It’s multi-dimensional.

Content: The Alchemist

I’ll end this post with one more piece of content. There are a few books that I’ve read and re-read, especially in moments of self reflection. I especially enjoy Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist for this purpose, and particularly this quote:

"What is the world's greatest lie?" the little boy asks.The old man replies, "It's this: that at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what's happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That's the world's greatest lie."