The Most Interesting Reads in October 2023

On Agatha Christie, British Fascism, Islam, Microsoft and more

Pavol Kutaj
10 min readNov 1


1. Agatha Christie Poirot S12E03 — Murder on the Orient Express

  • Thoroughly enjoyed this performance, properly sinister, with clear moral compass, one place where I can understand some nostalgia. There is good and evil in Christie, which may be childish and outdated but somehow, personally, also sound — surely for children. Where is the threshold when this stops being true then?

2. Hitler and the Mitford Sisters Transcript — The Rest Is History

she stays committed to Hitler even as it becomes increasingly evident that Britain is going to be going to war with Germany.So 1939 she goes to be the festival there with Diana.And Hitler basically says to them, look, you should get out of Germany because we are going to be going to war and Diana Julie goes back home, but Unity stays there and maybe one of the reasons why Unity stays there and a very physical evidence, both of Hitler’s favor and of her desire to become German is that Hitler has given her a flat.So he had given her a choice of four flats in Munich. She’d gone round. She’d chosen the one that she wanted, went around the house and these curtains won’t do at all. We must get rid of this awful sofa. Meanwhile, the two people who are being dispossessed, both of whom are Jewish are sitting in the hallway sobbing and she pays them no attention at all.

3. SE Radio 582: Leo Porter and Daniel Zingaro on Learning to Program with LLMs : Software Engineering Radio

4. A Clutter-Free Life: Going Paperless with Paperless-ngx

  • Fascinating due to the AI-assisted visuals and editing powers. I have a similar system simply using Google Drive/Docs with a file system. Surely not as efficient as tagging, but with Johnny.Decimal the effects are I believe similar with zero barriers to entry (i.e. self-hosting).

5. Advice for authors

The best time to start promoting your book is three years before it comes out. Three years to build a reputation, build a permission asset, build a blog, build a following, build credibility and build the connections you’ll need later.

6. Can’t Be F*cked: Underrated Cause of Tech Debt — Pursuit Of Laziness — A blog by Jesse Duffield

So, if you find that you CBF, don’t be dismayed; it happens to everyone (except those very special people we all aspire to). If in the moment you don’t have the strength to overcome it, at least be honest. And if you’ve been going 100% for too long, maybe it’s time to take that holiday.

7. : Saudi Arabia: The Mystery of the Kaaba Transcript — The Rest Is History

8. Examining the silicon dies of the Intel 386 processor

The 80386 was a major advancement over the 286: it implemented a 32-bit architecture, added more instructions, and supported 4-gigabyte segments.

9. What is Hamas? Here’s what to know about the militant group that controls the Gaza Strip. — Vox

10. Observability with Eduardo Silva — Software Engineering Daily

11. Bernard Lewis — Wikipedia

Rejecting the view that Western scholarship was biased against the Middle East, Lewis responded that Orientalism developed as a facet of European humanism, independently of the past European imperial expansion.[14] He noted the French and English pursued the study of Islam in the 16th and 17th centuries, yet not in an organized way, but long before they had any control or hope of control in the Middle East; and that much of Orientalist study did nothing to advance the cause of imperialism. In his 1993 book Islam and the West, Lewis wrote “What imperial purpose was served by deciphering the ancient Egyptian language, for example, and then restoring to the Egyptians knowledge of and pride in their forgotten, ancient past?”

12. Jacob Mikanowski on Eastern Europe (Ep. 192)

In Poland, there’s a name for — there are two schools of thought on what Poland is and should be. They come from the two dynasties that ruled Poland, the first two dynasties: there’s Piast Poland and Jagiellonian Poland. Piast is that more narrow, one-culture, one-religion — that’s what’s been assigned to it. That’s the dominant view. The Jagiellonians are this bigger, “We’re a confederation of peoples. We’re a bigger country. We have a big-tent version of Polishness.” I come from that.I think there’s more to it than most Americans know and also, in a way, than some Poles know.COWEN: This polycultural background: How much do you feel it has strong, deep roots? Is it your view that “Well, now it’s mostly gone; it really will not come back”? Or the fact that what we now call Poland was so strongly polycultural, say, 100 years ago, 150 years ago — that this will, in some sense, reemerge, and it will reemerge because it had been part of the past for so long?MIKANOWSKI: Really interesting, because it really was deeply rooted. Deep in the Middle Ages. Definitely in early modernity. And that old, supposedly mostly Polish Poland actually was hard to recover. It was the western part of Poland: it had tons of Germans (which people forget). It was also, in a different way, different balance, multiethnic.The 20th century did so much to change Poland’s geography, Poland’s borders, Poland’s ethnic and religious makeup, that if you had asked me that 15 years ago, 10 years ago, I’d say no. Poland is what it is. Poland is the white eagle, the pope, the Catholic Church. It’s a pretty set thing.It’s amazing how much I think the war in Ukraine has changed things. That we’re going towards — and the influx of Ukrainians, and actually Belarusians too. There are also Chechens in a smaller number; people from the former Soviet Union. Because of that war, the perceptions of difference have really shifted in Poland. From a very closed society, I think it’s opened up a little bit in a very meaningful way. It’s recovering some of that polyethnicity that it had lost. We’ll see how lasting that is, but I think it’s something that has really shifted the last few years.

13. Wanderings: Chaim Potok’s History of the Jews — Wikipedia

14. Your primary tag needs to be Switzerland — by Alex Dean

Event tracking is a riddle of a technology. It defies attempts to turn it into a feature (more on this later), but unlike ETL, it often isn’t treated as its own category. It’s an “I work in a café” technology — “oh that’s cool, what else do you do?”. (Nobody embodies this parental disappointment better than Segment: they went from an open-source tag manager to a ‘Customer Data Infrastructure’ to a fully-paid-up CDP.)

15. Battleground: Ukraine: 97. What lies behind the conflict in Gaza on Apple Podcasts

16. On a Lack of Ambition — by Maxi Gorynski

We have since at least the middle of the 20th century, prompted by the ideological desolation following World War II, been sliding into historical despair. This has been consolidated in the early 21st century by the increasing popularity of unfalsifiable identitarian doctrines stemming from the work of Foucault and his acolytes. Much of Foucault’s most popular work revolves around suggestions that all social connections are zero-sum power relations, and that ‘truth’ is a purely subjective concept. This has led to a sentimentalisation of history among the most highly-educated and, subsequently, a revulsion towards it. Even where a belief that history is where bad people live does not take hold in the individual, it forms a kind of miasma swirling around the resistant individual which that individual must then expend great energy to fight against — and it is a draining and emotionally taxing fight, for they who know that history is more than something to get upset about also know that all our hopes for the future lay in its archives.

17. Baghdad: The Arabian Nights Transcript — The Rest Is History

And it seems that the moment Baghdad is founded, scholars from across the near east are kind of zooming in on Baghdad now, why are they going there essentially because they know that they’re going to get sponsorship, which in turn begs the question. Well, why are they sure of that part of it?I think is that we talked about how Al Mansour has this ambition to make Baghdad a universal city in terms of time as well as space that he wants to fold in the learning and achievements of previously non-Islamic civilizations into Baghdad so that they can serve the greater glory of Islam. And that means that he is interested in all ancient civilizations. So not just the Greeks, but the Persian as well.And again, I think if there’s been a theme throughout these episodes, it’s the importance of Persian culture on the making of Baghdad. So a lot of the first Greek texts to be translated are actually written in Persian and House Of Wisdom, Beit Al Hikma was actually the Persian Sasanian word for a library. So that’s, that’s what itis.So the House Of Wisdom is probably founded by Al Mansur in Baghdad in, you know, very, very self conscious emulation of the Persian example. That’s what he’s trying to do. And it exists specifically to house books that have been translated, not from Greek but fromPersian, right? So these are translations of Persian translations of Greek.So the House Of Wisdom is not a center for the translation of writings from Greek. It’s not a research center, it’s not a kind of conference center where scholars meet up. It is basically a library as the Library OfAlexandria was. But with the establishment of that, you have other Caliphs who come in and they all have their own motives.So Al Madi, the pigeon racer, he’s a very devout Muslim. He’s very concerned to purify and clarify Muslims understanding of their faith. So he has a lot of debates with the Christian patriarchTimothy who has invited to set up shop in Baghdad. And in the course of these debates, it’s evident, I think that Al Madi realizes how much Christian theology has benefited from its immersion in Greek philosophy.So in Plato, but also particularly Aristotle, he’s the first Tiff to commission translations of Aristotle directly from Greek. I think he is doing that kind of rather in the spirit that the Chinesetoday might, you know, steal intellectual property from Stanford University or something like that.

18. Barry Can’t Swim · Biography

19. Base64 Encoding, Explained

20. SE Radio 586: Nikhil Shetty on Virtual Private Cloud : Software Engineering Radio

21. What happens when you update your DNS?

60 is a pretty short TTL, and in theory if everybody’s DNS implementation followed the DNS standard it means that if Github decided to change the IP address for, everyone should get the new IP address within 60 seconds.

22. Conversations with Tyler: Ada Palmer on Viking Metaphysics, Contingent Moments, and Censorship

23. Platform Engineering with Cory O’Daniel

24. The Mind Behind Windows: Dave Cutler — YouTube

25. Watch This Guy Work, and You’ll Finally Understand the TikTok Era

YoungX777 had been discovered by 25/7 in late October 2022, after Luzi and his two full-time music scouts had glimpsed promise in the data for his song “Toxic.” A sludgy sonic wallop about suicidal ideation, the song hadn’t racked up many streams. But its five-second intro, a post-toke cough followed by a throaty scream, had popped up in a few TikToks of MMA fighters pummeling each other and weightlifters grunting beneath squat bars. Experience had taught 25/7 Media that when brief “recreates” of these kinds of songs burble up in those particular TikTok communities, virality can soon follow.When the number of recreates climbs into the tens or hundreds of thousands, Magana told me, two of 25/7’s core tenets become germane. The first: Once a social media user hears an audio snippet nine times, it gets stuck in their head to some degree. The second, which Magana has dubbed the Ten Percent Rule, is that 10 percent of those earwormed users will end up tracking down the snippet’s original source

26. Volodymyr Zelensky’s Struggle to Keep Ukraine in the Fight



Pavol Kutaj

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