The Most Interesting Reads in March 2024

monks&focus, bunch of vim, social media excesses, Sam Huntington’s morning routine, history of databases, and the rise of a remote husband.

Pavol Kutaj
8 min readApr 13, 2024

The Perils of Audience Capture — by Gurwinder — The Prism

What Monks Know about Focus — by Joel J Miller

In his twenties, he and his friend Germanus joined a monastery in Bethlehem. The two became fast friends, “inseparable bunkmates,” of such shared intensity and interest “everyone remarked on the equality of our companionship and our sense of purpose. They said that we were one mind and soul in two bodies.” The pair wanted to know all the ins and outs of their discipline and decided to travel beyond their local confines to hear from reputed monastic masters. So, for the next decade and a half they traveled the Nile Delta, interviewing the men known as the Desert Fathers, those in monasteries as well as hermits living on their own.

Rise of Worse Is Better

  • An example when content and idea wins over clarity and form. The difference between design styles that the essay opens with is really not clear. One wishes for a diff editor. Yet, one of the most famous piece of writings in the field. And cool, too.

Let me start out by retelling a story that shows that the MIT/New-Jersey distinction is valid and that proponents of each philosophy actually believe their philosophy is better. Two famous people, one from MIT and another from Berkeley (but working on Unix) once met to discuss operating system issues. The person from MIT was knowledgeable about ITS (the MIT AI Lab operating system) and had been reading the Unix sources. He was interested in how Unix solved the PC loser-ing problem. The PC loser-ing problem occurs when a user program invokes a system routine to perform a lengthy operation that might have significant state, such as IO buffers. If an interrupt occurs during the operation, the state of the user program must be saved. Because the invocation of the system routine is usually a single instruction, the PC of the user program does not adequately capture the state of the process. The system routine must either back out or press forward. The right thing is to back out and restore the user program PC to the instruction that invoked the system routine so that resumption of the user program after the interrupt, for example, re-enters the system routine. It is called PC loser-ing because the PC is being coerced into loser mode, where loser is the affectionate name for user at MIT. The MIT guy did not see any code that handled this case and asked the New Jersey guy how the problem was handled. The New Jersey guy said that the Unix folks were aware of the problem, but the solution was for the system routine to always finish, but sometimes an error code would be returned that signaled that the system routine had failed to complete its action. A correct user program, then, had to check the error code to determine whether to simply try the system routine again. The MIT guy did not like this solution because it was not the right thing. The New Jersey guy said that the Unix solution was right because the design philosophy of Unix was simplicity and that the right thing was too complex. Besides, programmers could easily insert this extra test and loop. The MIT guy pointed out that the implementation was simple but the interface to the functionality was complex. The New Jersey guy said that the right tradeoff has been selected in Unix — namely, implementation simplicity was more important than interface simplicity. The MIT guy then muttered that sometimes it takes a tough man to make a tender chicken, but the New Jersey guy didn’t understand (I’m not sure I do either).

The subprocess Module: Wrapping Programs With Python — Real Python

Vim Checkbox Toggle — VimTricks

How to replace a character by a newline in Vim — Stack Overflow

Why we 💚 Vim (Changelog Interviews #450)

Vim round table discussion with Drew Neil, Tim Pope, and Yehuda Katz (Changelog Interviews #56)

  • As mentioned above, the worse of the two Changelog episodes. However Drew Neil is still great and Tim Pope makes a mysterious short apppearane.

How to Make ‘Vim Editor’ as Bash-IDE in Linux

Slashing Data Transfer Costs in AWS by 99% · Bits and Cloud

Summarizing ‘The DevOps Handbook: How to Create World-Class Agility, Reliability, and Security in Technology Organizations’

Cut and Download Youtube Videos

Advent of Computing: Episode 96 — What Exactly IS A Database? Part I

Martin Luther: The Man Who Changed The World — YouTube

The rise of the remote husband

Never Wish For Less Time — The Daily Dad

I have a new rule in my life,” ​John Mayer said during a recent show​, “and the rule is: Never wish for less time. Waiting for things to be over is just wishing for less time. Waiting for this to be over to get to the next thing — that’s just wishing for less time.” Wishing for less time with our kids, that’s what we’re doing. Wishing for their childhood to be over, that’s what we’re doing. “I’ve realized,” he adds, “Everything you love and hate leaves at the same speed: Done. Done. Done. The thing you hate that you have to do tomorrow will be over before you know it, and the thing you’re looking forward to tomorrow will be over before you know it…So wherever you go, just make a home right there and do that thing…Wherever you are, go, ‘this is where it’s all at right now.’ I’ve been having the time of my life because I figured that out.”

John Mayer New Rule in Life: Never Wish for Less Time

Fareed Zakaria on the Age of Revolutions, the Power of Ideas, and the Rewards of Intellectual Curiosity (Ep. 208)

Sam Huntington was quite an extraordinary character, probably the most important social scientist in the second half of the 20th century. Huge contributions to several fields of political science. He lived next to me. Me, obviously in a tiny graduate student apartment, but he in a townhouse on Beacon Hill. I would sometimes talk to him. We’d have coffee in the mornings. He had a routine, which is, he’d get up about 6:00 a.m. He’d go down to the basement of his townhouse, and at 6:30, he would start writing or working on whatever his next big research project was. He’d do that, uninterrupted, for three hours at least, sometimes four. Then, at about 9:30, 10:00, he would take the subway to Harvard. His point was, you got to start the day by doing the important work of academia, which is producing knowledge. All the rest of it — teaching, committee meetings, all that — you can do later. He was so disciplined about that, that every five years or so, he put out another major piece of work, another major book.

What does connection reset by peer mean

“Connection reset by peer” is the TCP/IP equivalent of slamming the phone back on the hook. It’s more polite than merely not replying, leaving one hanging. But it’s not the FIN-ACK expected of the truly polite TCP/IP converseur.


Anger is eliminated with the disposal of a paper written because of provocation

Anger suppression is important in our daily life, as its failure can sometimes lead to the breaking down of relationships in families. Thus, effective strategies to suppress or neutralise anger have been examined. This study shows that physical disposal of a piece of paper containing one’s written thoughts on the cause of a provocative event neutralises anger, while holding the paper did not.

Jonathan Haidt on Adjusting to Smartphones and Social Media (Ep. 209)

Sociologist talking about natural needs of humans. Finally someone. Human children play a lot. All mammal children do. They have to play to wire up their brains. They have to do that a lot, and we all did that. Everyone over 40 did that. We did that during a crime wave, when there were flashers and perverts and drunk drivers. We didn’t use to lock them up. Now we do. It’s gotten much safer since the ’90s. We went out when life had some danger in it. We played and played and played. We loved TV. We probably watched two or three hours a day of that, but we had a lot of time unsupervised to play.

The problem with screens is that they’re so attractive. They came in, the whole virtual world opened up just as we were freaking out about child abduction in the ’80s and ’90s. The main argument in the book is that we have taken the healthy, normal, play-based childhood that all mammals need, and we swapped it out and gave them a phone-based childhood, once we gave them an iPhone.

The issue isn’t like, “Oh, you have a screen. Let’s have AI get rid of the screen.” No. The issue is, you are on this thing, which we can call an experience blocker. A phone is an experience blocker. That means you spend a lot less time talking to other people, in the presence of other people. You’re not with your friends. You are sleeping less. You’re out in nature less. You have less of almost everything. You don’t read books. You have no time for anything else.



Pavol Kutaj

Today I Learnt | Infrastructure Support Engineer at with a passion for cloud infrastructure/terraform/python/docs. More at