The Dutch Reach

The Dutch Reach is a coined name for a suggestion to always open car doors using one’s opposite hand (i.e. across one’s body).

It’s suggested as a way to ensure one checks for ongoing cyclists coming from behind the vehicle.


Embalming became more common in the United States during the Civil War, as a service provided by a new profession of “embalmers” who could assist in body retrieval given that fallen soldiers were far away from their relatives.

After the war, the embalmers continued offering their services as a persisted …


There are two countries with no official capital, though they have de facto capitals — Switzerland (de facto capital being Bern) and Nauru (de facto capital being Yaren).


A fomite is an inanimate object which, when exposed to pathogens, can transfer disease to another person or host.

Deliberate Failure

Jono Dry’s How I Plan My Drawings has a nice suggestion for how to zero in on the boundaries of an idea (in the context of an artistic work, but it seems likely more widely applicable).

Namely — intentionally increase the failure rate of what you’re trying to accomplish …

Dolphins Are Whales

Dolphins are a species of whale. Specifically, cetaceans (an infraorder of animals which is Latin for “whale”) are divided into toothed whales, such as dolphins and beluga whales, and baleen whales such as blue whales.

Arabica and Robusta Coffee

Arabica beans tend to be more flat and oval-shaped. They grow at higher altitudes in slightly colder climates, contain less caffeine, and contain more “complex” or varied flavors.

Robusta beans tend to be a bit more rounded, with straighter creases. They grow at lower climates, contain around double the caffeine …

Race” & Fraternal Twins

Fraternal twins, which of course need not have any physical similarity, can also differ by “race”, or at least societally perceived race.

A few cases are noted in this Vox article.

(The article also points out that this is no different from any other physical characteristic which may differ in …


The Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) is a fundamental routing protocol of the internet which allows big networks (“autonomous systems”) to decide which paths to use to route traffic between each other [1].

Specifically, given some autonomous systems which connect to others, BGP allows systems within an autonomous system to reach …

Connectivity Outages

There is a mailing list hosted here which tries to centralize reporting of outages across communications infrastructure (networks).

NANOG is a broader intentioned group, but one which typically will report or opine on outages as well.

mpv and youtube-dl

mpv and youtube-dl can talk directly to each other.


$ mpv --ytdl-format=bestaudio ytdl://ytsearch:'think about things'

will immediately start mpv off playing the audio results of the youtube-dl search.

Modern Slavery

The legality of slavery of prisoners is literally codified in the thirteenth amendment abolishing slavery, which states:

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their …

Modern Chess Technicalities

The modern Chess rules had some unintended technicalities even until the 1970’s.

In particular, until the rules were amended, it was possible to read the castling rules as allowing a pawn promoted to a rook to then vertically castle with a king on its original square — i.e. e8 …

Electric Guitar Knobs

Don’t roll knobs immediately up to 10.

Doing so means that the only on-body adjustments that can be made are downward.

Instead, set volume down at least 1 stop, and then set appropriate amp settings (which will require more gain).

For tone, setting it half-way will give room in …

U2F and OpenSSH

As of OpenSSH 8.2, OpenSSH now supports U2F for authentication.

This is a totally separate authentication mechanism entirely from say, ED25519 host keys with a second factor; here, the U2F (e.g. Yubikey) is / has the key on it.

To use it though, both sides (server and client) have …

Liquid Magnets

There aren’t really any liquid magnets.

The Curie temperature of a material is the temperature above which it loses its magnetic properties.

Even ferrofluids are not actually liquid magnets, they’re small solid magnets suspended in a liquid (oil).

Symlinking Python (3) Interpreters

PEP 405 introduced a pyvenv.cfg file, useful for creating lightweight virtual environments without the hacks done by virtualenv historically. Doing so is much, much faster as well, since now creation of a virtual environment is essentially just creating 2 files (one file and a symlink).

It also though changed …

NYC Subway Signs

Every subway platform in NYC has a black and white striped board on it.

Conductors must point at the board at each station, to prove that they’re paying attention.

Watch this video and smile.


namei(1) (provided by util-linux on macOS) is a nifty utility for fully resolving symbolic links.

Given a chain of links, it will show e.g.:

⊙  namei =python                                     julian@Air ●
f: /Users/julian/.local/bin/python
d /
d Users
d julian
l .local -> /Users/julian/.dotfiles/.local
d /
d Users …


Copying to the Clipboard from the Console

The Firefox Dev Tools console defines a copy() function which will copy text to the clipboard.

For some reason, using navigator.clipboard.writeText("asdf"), which seems to be the normal way to do this fires a rejected promise. Probably something to do with …

Winning the Olympics

This video has an interesting showerthought about how to define who wins the olympics.

In short, rather than absolute number of medals (which favors large nations) or medals per capita (which favors small nations), a probabilistic-y combination of them is proposed (that’s obviously the technical term for it. Essentially …

Forecasting S-Curves

Forecasting s-curves (sigmoid, logistic, etc.) is hard.

This article has an easy explanation of why, and a conclusion that often predicting the specific s-curve given data is hard even up until one is already at the “flattening” portion of the curve.

New” Objects in Problems

This 3b1b video points out a nice heuristic for how to find solutions to a general problem.

The “source” problem there is about randomly choosing points on a sphere and asking what the probability is that the induced tetrahedron contains the center of the sphere.

But the “algorithm” to find …



A restricted subset of C is compiled via clang to eBPF bytecode, and the Linux kernel contains a JIT (and of course a VM) to execute it.


bcc is a higher level toolkit for interacting with eBPF (including via Python). For example:

from bcc import BPF

    text …

Spreadsheets Are Cool

Using a spreadsheet is an oddly good low-tech way to write out the layers of a song (for e.g. covering it / reproducing it).

As an example, for Jai Paul’s All Night, writing out something like:

Section Time Lyric Slow Attack Chords Doop Chords Wah Melody Drums
      x …


less -S

-S will disable soft line breaks within less, allowing horizontal scrolling.

Tailing Files

Use less +F instead of tail -f. It works the same, but supports interrupting the stream with SIGINT to e.g. search around, and then can resume tailing by hitting F again.

Doing so will …



Piping using foo &| bar will pipe both stdout and stderr to bar.


With MULTIOS enabled, multiple outputs to the same file descriptor can be provided, similar to using tee.

In other words:

$ date >foo >bar

will output date to both foo and bar. (Piping it will also work since …


mkdir -p will create a directory with its parents. But cp takes a parents option as well.

cp --parents foo/bar/baz/quux.txt some/directory will create some/directory/foo/bar/baz/quux.txt without any of the other directory structure from the original location.


dstat can replace a bunch of other statistical performance counting things (I/O, CPU, Disk, Network, Syscalls, etc.).


Try cooking vegetables “a l’etuvee.”

It retains tons of flavor. Any non-green vegetable is a good candidate — turnips, carrots, parsnips, cauliflower, squash, etc.

Cut them into pieces, put them flat in a pot. Fill the pot with enough water to cover 1/4 of the vegetables. Add a hunk …


Use socat instead of netcat. It takes something more like endpoint syntax (and does many more kinds of ports and configurable connectivity that come with them).

Tons of examples here.

11 Foot 8

11 Foot 8 is the nickname of a bridge in North Carolina that everyone essentially crashes into.

There are a ton of videos on YouTube of various “can opening” crashes despite numerous warning signs.

Blame the User

Sometimes it’s worth pondering this bridge in the context of “blame the …


git you magnificent beast…

Finding the History of a Function or Object

log -L :foo will show you the history of the function/object called foo. This is a smarter version of normal log -L which just knows about lines.

But because I’m lazy to even type this out …


pv is a useful utility to insert in shell pipelines for watching how much data passes through the pipe.

This page has a few simple examples, and there are more I’m sure with some googling around.

Bitcoin Lost

An analysis [1] calculates that the fraction of bitcoin “permanently” lost (due to e.g. wallets without keys, etc.) is around 25% of current circulation.

[1]found via this article (and originally I believe in a podcast I was listening to… forget which)


Poka-Yoke is a methodology in which a system is designed to methodologically discourage incorrect operation.

E.g. (from the above Wikipedia page):

a fixture that holds pieces for processing might be modified to only allow pieces to be held in the correct orientation, or a digital counter might track the …

Time Traveler’s Dictionary

Webster’s has a dictionary where words are sorted not alphabetically, but by when they’re known to have entered the English language — older words earlier on.