Gateway

"Me? I like songs with words. I don't care for, like, classical music."

(with barely-concealed contempt towards his interlocutor's ignorance and confusion) "But you like the Star Trek: Voyager theme, right?"

"I love the Star Trek: Voyager theme!!"

Grindstone

Sing a song of Purpose for the coder's missing nerve,
Of the melancholy bytes of which the proxy is to serve—
Arise, O coder's ​fury, set the wrongful source to right
Where the use-case fits the market and the market is alight!

Pose

stable_features_version_lint_before_and_afterI used to look down on posers who submit some contrived one-off trivial patch to a big, famous project like Django or whatever, sheerly for the glamor and ego-gratification of being able to say, "I'm a contributor to Django." I thought that if it wasn't a fix that you needed for your own work and you're not going to be a seriously involved contributor, it's more dignified to only work on your personal projects (which would be more authentic) or some non-super-famous but still widely-used library (which would have more socially-useful unfinished work left).

Then I landed a patch in the Rust compiler.

And it is so ego-gratifying!! But maybe now I have to submit a bunch more patches in order to prove—in order to be—a seriously involved contributor rather than a mere poser??

The View From Below

There's this phenomenon where two people are talking, and one of them offhandedly mentions some innocuous fact, and the other one has to stop them and have them explain both the fact, and what they expected their interlocutor to infer from the fact. When this happens once, it's usually just a matter of one happening to have some domain-specific knowledge that the other happened to not have, a coincidence that could just as easily have gone the other way.

When it happens multiple times with multiple topics, with both people in the same roles, the one who keeps having to ask for explanations begins to suspect that maybe it is not a coincidence, that maybe the other person just knows more stuff, full stop.

Standing at 130, you typically spend a lot more time talking down to 110 than being talked down to from 150, so it's an unusual feeling of helplessness. You want to cry out, "You know, I'm usually on the other side of this conversation!"

"I know," they say.

Specter

In the oneiric methodlessness of my nightmare, I am looking slightly up at a man who wears my face. His shoulders are raised in tension or the middle of a shrug and he is smiling guiltily, as if to say, It's not what it looks like, or maybe, Can't blame me for trying. I don't know him; if I were to guess who he is or what he wants, I would probably be wrong. But I can blame him, and I do.

Oral Tradition I

The great rabbi Computron-6f61f18b-9ebf-4379-8778-f9e5bda821d5 said: in the days of auld lang syne on Earth-that-was, a match of a very popular strategy board game was arranged between a team of grandmasters, as White, and the best computer program, as Black. White played c4. After thinking for 45 minutes, the computer resigned.

A rematch was arranged, this time with the program as White and the humans as Black. White played c4. After discussing for 45 years, the humans resigned.

Group Introduction Redux

(Previously.)

I'm pleased to introduce the five of you to start off the App Academy mentorship program. Zack -- meet [redacted 1], [redacted 2], [redacted 3], and [redacted 4], your mentees from the March 2016 cohort.

You'll have a chance to meet in person this Thursday at the mentorship kickoff [...] Until then, please send an email introducing yourself to your mentor/mentees, including what you did before App Academy, your favorite part of writing code, and what you like to do for fun (besides writing code).

[...] I think my favorite part of writing code is the vertiginous terror of manifesting machinery out of pure ideas, summoning thought-engines from the underworld with unknown lives and dollars hanging in the balance and protected only by the clarity of one's understanding, and the clarity of understanding of the ones who wrote the tools built on tools built on tools extending thirty layers deep into the underworld on which the fictive ontology of our existence carefully rests, praying that the test suite is comprehensive, knowing that it isn't, hoping that the fullness of your thought in its obvious righteousness doesn't need it and that the customers and investors and hypothetical ascended children's children's children would smile on this moment, judging that you have brought honor to this endeavor, the last human profession.

I would like to be able to tell you what I did before App Academy, but unfortunately, everything in my life before December 2013 is non-canon. Similarly what I do for fun. In any case, I have the honor to be,

Your obedient servant,
Zack M. Davis

Islands

(an office on the someteenth floor)

"So this is what it feels like to die."

(A beat.) "I'm skeptical of the claim that you're dying."

"If I can't solve our own take-home interview problem, then there's no reason for the global economy to continue to keep me alive. It's not a quick death, but ..."

Genesis

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was void and formless, and darkness was upon the face of the deep, and the spirit of God floated over the waters.

And God said, "Markets in everything."

And there were markets in everything.

Colony

"I've got to say, from one colony-of-intelligent-information-patterns-in-the-process-of-annexing-a-primate-brain to another, you're a really cool guy."

"Uh, I'm not sure I understood that first part. And I'm not a guy."

"Shh! Don't say that where my host organism might hear you! It might get ideas, and no one wants that."

Scoop Me Out of the Bargain Bin

If you're on a shoestring budget, look for factory rejects
You get the greatest models, just with one or two defects
Take me, I'm bright, hard-working, and will stick for the ride
Though with emotional stability six sigmas to the side, wo-o-oah

Scoop me out of the bargain bin and let me at the world
Scoop me out of the bargain bin and I will be your go-to girl
It's real, I'm such a steal, going for half the normal price
Scoop me up, I'm a bargain for such high-class merchandise

If You Had to Choose

"I just want a guy who's kind, and smart, and handsome, and truly understands the depths of my very soul," she said. "Is that too much to ask?"

"Yes. Pick two," said her older and wiser friend, who had studied the question. "And not the truly-understands-the-depths-of-your-very-soul one."