Weeknotes #180

in weeknotes

  • In one of the more bizarre geopolitical incidents of my life, Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of Wagner Group, a private military company, began and then apparently ended a coup against… somebody in the Russian Government, albeit not Vladimir Putin (ABC News). It’s still unclear what Prigozhin was really attempting to do but on Saturday, he captured (if that’s the correct word) the military headquarters of the Russian defence ministry in Rostov-on-Don. By evening, Belarusian President, Alexander Lukashenko, has brokered some kind of deal and Prigozhin had called off the don’t-call-it-a-coup coup. I don’t know how much weight it will have in the grand sweep of history but for a few hours on Saturday, it didn’t seem outside the realm of possibility that Putin himself would be overthrown.

  • In far more quotidian news, we received a letter from the local government explaining that, due to changes in the law, we no longer qualify for financial support for the kids. I’m very fortunate to have a good job, so it’s not a major disappointment but it wasn’t possible to read the letter without a touch of cognitive dissonance. The Japanese Government—and Prime Minister Kishida—has introduced various monetary incentives to encourage people to have more children and here I am with three, being told that we will no longer be receiving this largesse. Please cue the smallest violin in the world.

  • Mum returned safely to Australia in the early hours of Sunday morning. She hasn’t made it back to Sydney just yet, opting instead to meet Dad in Cairns and take a well-deserved break. I’m glad she’s still able to stay with us for a decent amount of time each year and get some quality time in with the kids.

  • Speaking of the kids, we took them all to the arcade adjoining the nearby cinema. I finally relented and let Emma and John have a turn on the so-called ‘UFO catcher’ claw machines (Wikipedia). Unsurprisingly, all three of us almost won a prize before it slipped out of the clutches of the claw in the final few seconds.

  • Yet more Janet programming! There’s an old programming aphorism that the bug is never in the compiler. While it wasn’t in Janet’s compiler per se, I did discover a subtle bug in the next closest thing: Janet’s core library of functions. The bug affected code that tried to execute a command and send the output from both STDOUT and STDERR to a single file descriptor (in this case, /dev/null). My PR to fix it was accepted and will hopefully be part of an official release soon.

  • I enjoyed this interview with author Ted Chiang (paywalled) in which he said he’d prefer A.I. had been called ‘applied statistics’.

  • I watched the first episode of the second season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. It was both silly and charming in the way this show often is. I have some trepidation about where they’re going with the arc of this season but will keep my fingers crossed that the show maintains its episodic nature and doesn’t devolve into yet another megamovie.

  • Did you know Norah Jones is the daughter of Ravi Shankar? I somehow avoided discovering this until reading this article in Vulture about ‘nepo babies’ in Hollywood. I don’t listen to Jones a great deal so let’s just link to her incredibly successful 2002 album, Come Away with Me (Apple Music).

Michael Camilleri inqk.net