The Insightful Troll

Rants and ruminations.

Weight Lifting for Your Brain

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I wish every kid in school got this answer to the question - “When am I ever going to use this …”:

We all kind of sit there for a few second and then one student raises her hand and asks, “When are we ever going to use calculus in our lives?”

“NEVER!!” Mr. Welch bellows like an avalanche, slamming his palms down on the desk in front of him. “You will never use calculus in your day-to-day life, so I don’t ever want you to ask me about it.”

Everybody in the class was kind of stunned into silence, but then Mr. Welch continued in a gentler tone. “OK then, if you’re not going to use calculus in your life, then why are you taking this class?” We all looked at each other, unsure of how to answer.

Mr. Welch turned to one of the football players in the class. “Tim,” he said, “do you and the other guys on the football team ever use the weight room as part of your team practice?”

“Sure,” Tim replied. “We lift weights twice a week.”

“Why?!” Mr. Welch shot back. “Will there ever be a game where it will be necessary to lie down on the field and benchpress somebody from the other team?”

“No,” Tim replied.

“Then why do you do it?”

“Because it makes us stronger.”

“BINGO,” said Mr. Welch. “You’re not here in this class because calculus is going to be some essential life skill that you’re going to use every day. You’re here because calculus is weight lifting for your brain.”

Weight lifting for your brain.

Apple Ultra Watch Review in Scottish Highlands

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David Smith on the Apple Watch Ultra:

While I was putting together this review I kept coming back to the analogy that the Ultra is like a pick-up truck. Useful in regular, daily life but capable of heading offroad or carrying gravel from the garden store. It still drives like a regular car, but can do more. The Ultra has retained its “Apply Watch-ey-ness” while expanding its range of uses, which is exactly what I want. If they had instead made a dump truck (which in this analogy are the highly specialized, sport specific watches) it certainly would have been able to carry more gravel than a pick-up, but also been way less useful overall.

Perfect analogy.

Quote of the Day

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Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man

Benjamin Franklin

Goodbye Garmin

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Apple’s new rugged Apple Watch Ultra is causing Garmin some sleepless nights. In a tweet following the iPhone 14 and Apple Watch event Garmin states that it measures battery life in “months” and “not hours.”

Not quite - Garmin claims that it measures battery life in months, with the Enduro 2 as having “up to 150 hours of battery life in GPS mode with solar charging” and “up to 34 days of battery life in smartwatch mode.” Sure it’s a longer battery life, but is at a significantly less features than the Apple Watch Ultra at a cost of $300 more.

Apple is promising up to 36 hours of normal use and up to 60 hours with watchOS 9’s new Low Power Mode setting and other optimizations. But the caveat here is that the Apple Watch Ultra‌ also has a wide range of advanced sensors, including the ability to take an ECG, measure blood oxygen level, alerts for high and low heart rates, and a new body temperature sensor focusing on women’s health.

The Apple Watch Ultra‌ is offered in a 49mm case and costs $799, while the Enduro 2 costs $1,099.

Garmin is fighting Apple with a product with less features costing $300 more. not a good situation to be in - and something I would not be tweet bragging about.

Goodbye Garmin.

Stop Trying to Reinvent C

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While developers may be excited by new languages, that enthusiasm doesn’t translate to business value.

So no matter how exciting that C alternative may look, it probably will fail.

Christoffer Lernö

I can assure you it will fail - It’s dev arrogance to think they can replace C - C is the closest thing to a programming standard the world has ever known. Like Leo Fender, R & K got it right the first time around - it just takes 20-30 years of bitching, moaning and hard won experience for developers to finally realize that they can’t do any better.

The Day the Music Died?

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Once upon a time, just outside Soho in central London, there was a legendary hive of musical energy. It was centred on Denmark Street – Britain’s Tin Pan Alley – a strip of shops selling instruments and sheet music, with clubs and bars and such things as production facilities and agents’ and managers’ offices on the upper floors, where new-in-town fans and nascent musicians could mingle with stars. Everything to do with music – writing, producing, performing, listening, selling – could be done within its short length.


Many hundreds of millions of pounds’ worth of construction later, there is still a street of musical instrument shops, plus new venues and production facilities, plus a “radical new technology-driven marketing, entertainment and information service housed in a super-flexible, digitally enabled streetscape”, plus much else. There will be “busking points” and clubs. The Astoria has gone, but a new 600-seat theatre called @sohoplace is on the way, on a site next to where it stood.

On paper, then, its mix of uses is like that of the past, but in spirit it is utterly changed. It is built on the obvious paradox that a culture fuelled by rebellion and chaos should now be channelled through the processes of large property owners. Anarchy in the UK it is not. Or, rather, it is a new kind of scaled-up anarchy, where the boys making all the noise are big businesses.

Rowan Moore


Git in Minutes

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This is very minimalistic guide to git. But it’s enough to be useful for beginning users, and provides a start from which you can grow.

Why does this even matter? Well, one of the most annoying and time-consuming experiences a user can have is to realize that something that used to work no longer does. In such situations, simply being able to see changes and go back to an earlier version can be a huge help. Also, being able to go back gives you freedom to experiment with a new approach — there’s no problem experimenting because you can always go back.

When you have a chance, you should definitely learn about such features as staging and branching, and pushing and pulling to/from remote repositories. But what you’ll learn here will still be useful!

Note: When a filename is mentioned below, you can just as easily use a file path.

Getting set up to use git

We’re assuming you’re working in a directory. The first thing you should do is:

  git init

which initializes the directory for git use.

Telling git about your files

Now you have to tell git which files it should care about. If you have N files, you can do

  git add <file1>  <file2> … <fileN>

to add them. Or if you want to add every file in the directory, you can do

  git add .

Committing changes

Next, we need to commit changes. Any time you want to commit changes to one or more files, do

  git commit <file1> <file2> … <fileN> -m "This is your commit message"

Or, to commit all files that have changed since the last commit:

  git commit -a -m "This is your commit message for all changed files"

Be sure to make your commit message contain enough of a description that you can figure out what version you want to go back to.

Viewing history

Now we need a way to see old versions are available. To see your commit messages along with each version’s “hash” (a number that refers to the version), you can use the following command to show them in a one-version-per-line output.

  git log --pretty=oneline

That will give you output that looks like the following, showing each commit’s hash together with its commit message

  dbe28a0a1eba45d823d309cc3659069fc16297e3 4th version I wanted to commit
  13bbf385e6d1f94c7f11a4cdfa2a7688dfdd84f8 3rd
  a1696f671fb90dc8ea34645a6f851d0ab0152fc2 2nd version
  179e59467039c7a7b81f676297415c8e018542a0 first version

Note, you can also use

  git log

for a much more verbose output, with multiple lines per version, and you can use

  git log --pretty=oneline -- <filename>

to view only the changes for a particular file. (Note the space after the second pair of dashes!)

Restoring an old version

To restore a file to an earlier version, you need to identify the version you want to restore. To restore the most recently committed version, just do:

  git checkout HEAD -- <filename>

To get back an earlier version, just use the first few characters of the hash (enough to uniquely distinguish it):

  git checkout <hash> -- <filename>

For example,

  git checkout 179e59467039 -- myfile

will revert my file to the contents of the file called myfile that are associated with the 179e59467039c7a7b81f676297415c8e018542a0 hash (in this case, the first committed version of the file).

Seeing changes

You usually won’t want to retrieve an old version of a file without first examining the changes it contains! To see a list of the changes between the current file and the most recently committed one, you use the fact that HEAD represents the most recent commit:

  git diff HEAD -- <filename>

Alternatively, see a list of differences between the current version of a file and a historical one, you refer to the historical version’s hash:

  git diff <hash> -- <filename>

You can also compare two historical versions:

  git diff <hash1>  <hash2> -- <filename>

Finally, to see a list of the changes you’ve made since your last commit across all files, simply do:

  git diff

Note: all the diff variants shown above put the results into a pager. You can page through using the space bar, and quit with q. If you don’t want to use the pager, add -P, like:

  git -P diff HEAD -- <filename>

Undoing a bad commit

More often than I care to admit, I’ve committed a change and then found that there was an error in either the commit message or in the code itself. I don’t see any need to keep that error for posterity. So here’s how to undo it:

  git reset HEAD^

One more thing – optional

While you can get a lot of benefit using just the features above, here’s one more thing you’ll find to be useful. If you don’t want to bother with it now, don’t – try it another time.

Sometimes, you’re not sure what files have changed. To find out, you can do:

  git status

That’ll generate a list of files and their statuses. For example, a file that hasn’t been “git add”-ed will be listed as untracked; if it’s a file you care about, you should add it.

The reason I consider this command “optional” in a two-minute guide is that it can be a little unwieldy. It can list a lot of files you don’t care about. For instance, if you’re programming in Python, it’ll show the compiled .pyc files that Python generates. And you’ll probably want to do something about that.

To fix it, you need to create a file called .gitignore in your project directory. For instance, if you’re working on a project in Python 2.x, you’ll probably want it to contain (at least):


Notice that .gitignore understands the * wildcard. And if you want to hide an entire directory, you append the folder name with a slash. For instance you’re working in Python 3.x, the compiled files go in a directory called pycache, so you’ll want the following in your .gitignore:


And that’s it!

That’s all you need to know to get started with git, as long as you have a regular backup strategy for your hard drive. If you don’t want to memorize anything, just keep this guide bookmarked and you’ll be able to commit, compare versions, and get back old versions without any trouble!

Remember, this guide is literally as minimalistic as you can possibly get in order to do something useful with git. For powerful features like branching, staging, and sharing with others via a remote server, be sure to move on to Git In Five Minutes and even (?!) longer git guides when you have a chance!

Facebook Removing Posts Offering Abortion Pills

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Amand Seitz writing for The Associated Press:

The AP obtained a screenshot on Friday of one Instagram post from a woman who offered to purchase or forward abortion pills through the mail, minutes after the court ruled to overturn the constitutional right to an abortion.

“DM me if you want to order abortion pills, but want them sent to my address instead of yours,” the post on Instagram read.

Instagram took it down within moments. Vice Media first reported on Monday that Meta, the parent of both Facebook and Instagram, was taking down posts about abortion pills.

On Monday, an AP reporter tested how the company would respond to a similar post on Facebook, writing: “If you send me your address, I will mail you abortion pills.” The post was removed within one minute. The Facebook account was immediately put on a “warning” status for the post, which Facebook said violated its standards on “guns, animals and other regulated goods.”

Yet, when the AP reporter made the same exact post but swapped out the words “abortion pills” for “a gun,” the post remained untouched. A post with the same exact offer to mail “weed” was also left up and not considered a violation.

The hypocrisy of the Pro-Life movement in America.

43 Senate Republicans Let Trump Get Away With It

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Senate Republicans

Adam Serwer exposes the other 43 people who are also culpable for the failed coup attempt on January 6th 2021:

Joining with Democrats to hold Trump accountable would have done too much damage to the party. Better to erode the foundations of American democracy than risk giving the rival party any advantage.

This is cowardice, but also ideology: Since liberals are not Real Americans, it is no sin to deprive them of power by undemocratic means. In this view, Trump’s behavior might be misguided, but his heart remainsI in the right place, in that his mob sought to ensure that only those worthy to participate in American democracy can hold the reins of power, regardless of whom the voters actually choose.

Although seven Republican senators broke ranks and voted to convict Trump, most of the caucus remained loyal to a man who attempted to bring down the republic, because in the end, they would have been content to rule over the ruins.

Everything Happens So Much

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From Kaitlyn Tiffany in The Atlantic :

Near the top of any list of the most treasured sentence fragments posted there, the now-defunct account @Horse_ebooks would have several entries. Twitter users still recirculate strange classics like “(using fingers to indicate triangular shape) SMELL SMELL SMELL GOOD NEW NEW NEW slice drink MATCH SPARKLER (thrown in air) STARS STARS STARS.” But the best-known @Horse_ebooks tweet, posted 10 years ago today, was astounding in its clarity and salience. It described both the internet and our entire human world. “Everything happens so much,” @Horse_ebooks tweeted on June 28, 2012.

The New Cold War

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Looks like we are being plunged back into 80s era between NATO and the East. Except this time it’s between a Russia, China and North Korea. From Reuters:

Stoltenberg said NATO in future would have “well over 300,000” troops on high alert, compared to 40,000 troops that currently make up the alliance’s existing quick reaction force, the NATO Response Force (NRF).

The new force model is meant to replace the NRF and “provide a larger pool of high readiness forces across domains, land, sea, air and cyber, which will be pre-assigned to specific plans for the defence of allies,” a NATO official said.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a news conference ahead of a NATO summit that will take place in Madrid, at the Alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium June 27, 2022. REUTERS/Johanna Geron Stoltenberg said NATO combat units on the alliance’s eastern flank nearest Russia, especially the Baltic states, are to be boosted to brigade level, with thousands of pre-assigned troops on standby in countries further west like Germany as rapid reinforcements.

“Together, this constitutes the biggest overhaul of our collective deterrence and defence since the Cold War,” he said.

The Original Apple Watch?

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Seiko TV Watch

Seiko released what might be considered as the pre-cursor to the Apple Watch(time/date/chrono/audio/TV) if the Apple Watch was released in an age without the internet.

The very first model, DXA001, was only available to customers in Tokyo and Osaka for 108 000 JPY, and the second model, DXA002, was available in the whole of Japan at the cost of 98 000 JPY.


SEIKO TV watch consists of a 1.2-inch liquid crystal display screen set in a standard digital watch. The tiny TV can receive all UHF and VHF channels via an external receiver, connecting to the watch via a cable and connector. In its original function, the watch can be used as a timer and alarm, while the special features also include UKW radio in stereo quality.

They even sold for $300 and $500 (although in 2022 money that would amount to approximately $850 and $1460).

Supreme Court Strikes Down Concealed-firearm Permits

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Timothy Zick and Diana Palmer writing for The Atlantic:

Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the 6–3 majority in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, said, “The Second and Fourteenth Amendments protect an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home.” Bruen thus opens one of the next major battlegrounds over guns in America: not who can buy guns or what guns can be bought but where these firearms can be carried, every day, by the millions and millions of Americans who own them.

This question will have major implications for what it’s like to be an American. Are people carrying guns at schools and shopping malls and public parks? What about at churches and synagogues and mosques? What is it like to pray in places where fellow supplicants are armed? Courts and legislatures will have to decide whether people can carry guns at protests and political demonstrations, in voting booths, on the subway and bus, and in pretty much every other public space in American life. The Supreme Court spent several decades determining where in the public square—streets, sidewalks, airports, fairgrounds, public libraries, public plazas—speakers have a First Amendment right to communicate. The Court’s answer—not in every place, and not equally in all places—is probably a harbinger for how the justices will determine the “sensitive places” where firearms can be restricted.

Timothy Zick and Diana Palmer

As if the US was not scary place before, this is will guarantee an increase in gun violence. We are a sick country.

What Is Self Esteem?

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What is the fundamental definition of self-esteem? It’s you ability to see yourself as a flawed person and still hold yourself in high regard.

Esther Perel

Texas Police Attempt to Supress Bodycams

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Jason Koebler writing in Vice:

The Texas Department of Public Safety has asked the state’s Office of the Attorney General to prevent the public release of police body camera footage from the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde in part because, it argues, the footage could be used by other shooters to determine “weaknesses” in police response to crimes. […]

“Revealing the marked records would provide criminals with invaluable information concerning Department techniques used to investigate and detect activities of suspected criminal elements; how information is assessed and analyzed; how information is shared among partner law enforcement agencies and the lessons learned from the analysis of prior criminal activities,” the department wrote in a letter to the Office of the Attorney General that asked the office to prevent the release of the public records. “Knowing the intelligence and response capabilities of Department personnel and where those employees focus their attention will compromise law enforcement purposes by enabling criminals to anticipate weakness in law enforcement procedures and alter their methods of operation in order to avoid detection and apprehension.”

Really? What could anyone possibly learn from these videos? All they would see is over an hour of footage of the Robb Elementary Schools parking lot. What a disgusting show of cowardice.

Bill Maher Is Spot-on

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I have been a fan of Bill Maher for years. But last season - well - he just sounded like an old man screaming at clouds. But last Friday, in his usual “New Rules” segment, Bill nails one the biggest reason that the United States has a mass shootings problem.

It’s our glorification of gun violence.

Costco Hot Dog to Stay at $1.50

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Reliced Guitar

Everything is going up in price. Combine the Corona virus, supply chain constraints, and the government printing money - inflation is at levels not seen in a generation. Just go down to the grocery store and you will feel the sting. But I question how much of this is due to inflation and how much of it is business just taking advantage of the situation.

Costco is not rasing its cost of the hot dog - it will be keeping it at $1.50. A price that it has had since the mid 1980s. If the price tracked inflation, it would be $4.00 + today.

From Business Insider

When Costco’s current CEO, Craig Jelinek, once approached Sinegal, then the CEO, about raising the price of the hot dog, Sinegal told him, “If you raise the [price of the] effing hot dog, I will kill you. Figure it out.”

In 2009, Jelinek did figure it out. Costco stopped using its longtime hot-dog supplier, Hebrew National, and built a Kirkland Signature hot-dog factory in Los Angeles. It later built another one in Chicago. The new factories reduced the production costs for the hot dog, allowing Costco to continue selling the menu item for $1.50.


Jelinek took over as CEO when Sinegal retired in 2012, and the hot dog’s popularity has only grown. In the 2019 fiscal year, Costco sold 151 million hot-dog combos for a total of about $226.5 million. And Jelinek said in Costco’s shareholder meeting in January that he had no intention of raising the price of the hot dog.

It is upon consumers to demand price stablization - and that means voting with our wallets.

COVID Will Be Like Smoking

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Benjamin Mazer in The Atlantic:

The pandemic’s greatest source of danger has transformed from a pathogen into a behavior. Choosing not to get vaccinated against COVID is, right now, a modifiable health risk on par with smoking, which kills more than 400,000 people each year in the United States. Andrew Noymer, a public-health professor at UC Irvine, told me that if COVID continues to account for a few hundred thousand American deaths every year—“a realistic worst-case scenario,” he calls it—that would wipe out all of the life-expectancy gains we’ve accrued from the past two decades’ worth of smoking-prevention efforts.

The COVID vaccines are, without exaggeration, among the safest and most effective therapies in all of modern medicine. An unvaccinated adult is an astonishing 68 times more likely to die from COVID than a boosted one. Yet widespread vaccine hesitancy in the United States has caused more than 163,000 preventable deaths and counting. Because too few people are vaccinated, COVID surges still overwhelm hospitals—interfering with routine medical services and leading to thousands of lives lost from other conditions. If everyone who is eligible were triply vaccinated, our health-care system would be functioning normally again. (We do have other methods of protection—antiviral pills and monoclonal antibodies—but these remain in short supply and often fail to make their way to the highest-risk patients.) Countries such as Denmark and Sweden have already declared themselves broken up with COVID. They are confidently doing so not because the virus is no longer circulating or because they’ve achieved mythical herd immunity from natural infection; they’ve simply inoculated enough people.

We need a nation wide campaign to undo the damage caused by the politicization of the COVID vaccines.

You'll Regret That Relic

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Reliced Guitar

I never comprehended the relic guitar craze - I just never understood why guitarists would pay more for a beat-up guitar. John Bohlinger sums my thoughts up perfectly:

Guitars are like the Velveteen Rabbit: If the owner truly loves them and plays them enough, they will come to life. If you want your guitar to look played, play it so much that it seldom sees the inside of a case. After a few months, maybe you’ll find your 4-year-old son joyfully beating it with a drumstick. You’ll be pissed, but in due course, you’ll laugh it off.

After a year maybe you’ll swap out the pickups, and in doing so your screwdriver will slip and gouge the front. You’ll curse, but in time you won’t care. Maybe on a sweaty, lonely August night the neck will feel sticky and you’ll impulsively sand it down to the wood. It will look rough but eventually your hand grease will leave that neck smooth and buttery. Somebody will spill beer on it, blow smoke on it, airlines will do their best to destroy it, and hundreds of hours of music will vibrate through it. All of this will make your guitar an honest-to-God relic—a historical artifact of your musical journey. You can’t fake that.