What I Read This Week: 2021-28
After a long intermission, I am happy to be back!
The Failures That Made Ian Fleming
Born to a life of privilege (his paternal grandfather, a Scottish banker, was a self-made millionaire; his mother sported the aristocratic maiden name of Evelyn Sainte Croix Rose), Fleming was raised in some of the finest homes in Mayfair, Hampstead, and Oxfordshire. His maternal grandfather was captain in the Royal Buckinghamshire Militia, and his father rose quickly through the Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars, and might have risen just as quickly in Tory politics had his life not prematurely ended in the Battle of the Somme. The family entertained and was entertained by the likes of Churchill and Disraeli; and Fleming, like most of the men in his family, attended Eton, establishing connections that would see him through a lifetime of opportunities to “fail upward.” (Just look at Boris Johnson.)
The unreasonable effectiveness of just showing up everyday
With no self-imposed time pressure, I was able to focus on just one thing: showing up every day and writing some code. Some features took an hour to implement, some took several hours spread over days, some even stretched into weeks, but it did not matter because there were no deadlines of any sort.
Also my approach to newsmailer.io. =)
Stolen Picasso and Mondrian Paintings Found Stashed in a Ravine in Greece
Good artists copy, great artists steal.
I loved this:
Oblique Strategies is a card-based method for promoting creativity jointly created by musician/artist Brian Eno and multimedia artist Peter Schmidt, first published in 1975. Physically, it takes the form of a deck of 7-by-9-centimetre (2.8 in × 3.5 in) printed cards in a black box. Each card offers a challenging constraint intended to help artists (particularly musicians) break creative blocks by encouraging lateral thinking.
In homage to it I have been collecting my own set of “oblique questions”: questions that apply to engineering problems to get a different perspective on them.
The Success and Failure of Ninja
If I were to summarize what I learned in a single sentence, it would be this: we talk about programming like it is about writing code, but the code ends up being less important than the architecture, and the architecture ends up being less important than social issues. […] That is, as programmers we like to talk about problems as if they are primarily technical — “how do I optimize this loop to squeeze more qps out of this service?” — when in my experience the tech almost always ends up secondary to bigger picture factors.