User Tools

Site Tools



Most of these dictate how I currently think, which is biased. They are themselves biased, so take it all with a grain of salt because we could all be wrong!

  • “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
  • Carver Mead on Gravity: But these are all constructs of the human mind to help us to work with and visualize the regularities of nature. When we grasp onto some regularity, we give it a name, and the temptation is always to think that we really understand it. But the truth is that we're still not even close. Isn't it wonderful that nature is like that? It would be so dreadful if nature were so dull that we, with our pathetic little prejudices, had it all figured out already.
  • “If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself.”
    • “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”
    • “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
      • “I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.”
    • “Never memorize something that you can look up.”
    • “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”
    • * –Albert Einstein from goodreads quotes
  • Astro Teller, he learned a lot from his grandfather on how to speak clearly and listen carefully. He could think how to explain topics in a way that the listener would understand.
  • Athiest group against New Testament description of reality (referenced by Pastor Andy) was The Jesus Movement

Practical vs Academics

Super awesome essay about nuclear reactor atomic power design. rickover.pdf

Interesting Engineering Choices

“Only 2 dimms out of 500 fail” –> We need to know why only 2 fail out of 500!

TSOD Polling

“We should do it the most optimal way possible” (referring to managing TSOD polling on all imcs with interrupt timers and stuff)

  • Appeals to inner sense of doing things the perfect way, the most optimal.

“Wait, it's not working…why?”

  • Sucks to debug a complicated solution

“What's the simplest way we can do this…is that good enough”?

  • Pretty much goes against everything you learned in school and in interviews. :-)

Hardware bugs

Cache bugs are one of the fun ones. You think you're losing your mind and the people around you would probably agree. A couple of weeks go by, your spouse is ready to fire you, your boss wants to divorce you, and every waking moment is full of race conditions. Four-way stops on the drive to work are a source of stress and you punch buttons in the elevator and worry about firmware bugs. Then you get to your desk and there's the setup, a laughably small board for all the trouble it's made, and it's time for single combat, Sherlock Holmes style.

When you find the problem it's usually a blinding flash of realization that illuminates a tiny, eensy bit of code that you tweak and make right in a couple of minutes. Invariably the mistake was pretty stupid. The glory moment is over quickly because you know all the test cases will pass and that you've just nailed another one.

You've got bragging rights during one lunch, but that's it. It's off to more mundane bugs in the mortal world, and you feel a little sad.

I need to do hardware again.


  • Does God Exist? –> Mere Christianity, stuck at end of Chapter 3 / Chapter 4.

Absolute Moral Law

Book List

  • The Right Questions: Truth, Meaning and Public Debate by Philip Johnson. (the anti-evolution guy that gave debate at Stanford with the pro-evolution guy on the wiki home:origins)
  • “What we Can't Not Know”, Jay Budziszewski. Expounds in somewhat gory but also fast detail on origin of moral law. Only read up to first few chapters, as I had to return it. Still felt hand-wavy
    • ~“This book is not meant to persuade the critic”. Kinda lame excuse for avoiding the hard questions

Skip Centioli

Friend of Mr. Domes'. Skip Centioli video.



  • 5 to 1 good to bad statements between the couple.
  • Dedicated time to talk each week where both was well-rested and had some energy still. Otherwise time will never happen for difficult conversations.
  • If Skip said “let's make this time a good time” when his wife would bring up a difficult topic, neither of them wrote down the topic so that they would remember!
  • Guys are usually not that observant, which is why women are rather exasperated when they bring things up.
  • They mended things when they were thinking of divorce when they did the above and changed their path spiritually. Hmmm…interesting

N.T. Wright

  • His book on the resurrection of Christ (that Pastor Andy read).
    • A rebuttal that says it's nothing more than a restatement of Josh McDowell or Ladd's I Believe in the Resurrection of Jesus

Joe Perez

Mentor of Dorothy. Retired Christian man.

  • <Jesus died so that God could have a relationship with us again. Should Christians not also be for relationship with other people too?> He sees more progress in seeing God in his life when he talks and relates with other human beings / God's creation. Not in studying/learning so much.
  • Do you really want to live a one-dimensional life? It's good to stay focused onto something, but it's nice to enjoy some other things along the way too.
  • Do you think that something you don't/can't understand can still be true? Really stressed this, not sure why yet
  • Be highly skeptical of man's attempts at understanding God. (one definition of religion)

Essay on Proper Thinking / Citing Sources

Talking to an *extremely smart* child, they're 12. You are explaining a topic of your choice to them. 1000 words, fill a 5 minute time period. May 11. Tell Dorothy and record it.

Expressing a concern with the lack of citations in sermons thus far.

Simple example:

I am going to convince you that the moon is made of cheese / the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon was staged.

Moon is Made of Cheese

I believe that the moon is made of cheese. I really really want it to be made of cheese, so I'm going to have faith it's made of cheese because it'd be a really good thing for society.

Reasons Against
  • The moon is gray! Some cheeses are gray. Wouldn't it melt? It's gotta be super-special awesome cheese! Wow…cool!
Reasons For
  • Wallace and Gromit movie, where they take a rocket to the moon and eat some cheese and discover an evil stowaway while they're at it.

We have to find first-hand eye-witnesses to be able to show that something occurred or the state of something. Thankfully, the U.S. spent billions of dollars in the 1960's (the Apollo_11 Mission) to be able to see if the moon was made of cheese or not (just kidding).

9/11 Pentagon Attack Staged

Ehhh, not that helpful.

The above are simple examples to try and encourage a viewpoint, that critical thinking and fact checking are very important to making solid conclusions on something. Because of the obviously highly time-intensive nature of this research, most subjects will fall by the wayside as they are not as important as others. However, sites such as Wikipedia are structured for this it can only be done on a few subjects in one's lifetime. The current state of technology doesn't allow for this yet I don't advocate that this should be done for everything I am really annoyed when pastors give an explanation of a certain section of the Bible but lack the cross-references to other parts of the Bible to really drive home the point that I can trust them. Or, maybe we don't know the answer at all, and I want to be able to know that too! For example…the passage from young adults this week. Luke 22:24-27

24 Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest. 25 And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ 26 But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. 27 For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.


No Argument For God (so far good book by Christian on the unreasonableness of Christianity)

Room for God

>“Did Bible writers believe the Earth was flat?” “No – this false idea is not taught in Scripture!” [emphasis original] “Bible writers used the 'language of appearance,' just as people always have. Without it, the intended message would be awkward at best and probably not understood clearly. When the Bible touches on scientific subjects, it is entirely accurate.” (16, 17)

  • God of the gaps. I think it still holds, particularly with earth as center of universe thinking, or where religion gets in way of scientific thought.


  • Don't have anything for you yet. Trying to work out my own for right now…
  • Atheists probably will agree with Richard Feynman's perspective on God:
    • At the same time though, I think he's missing out!


    • Seems like it could be biased as they're trying to defend their own position as CS professors
    • Makes some good points, like doing good work that utilizes our gifts is worshipful to the Lord. Also, delighting in something well-made (like creation) seems good too.
    • Don't get the last one…for eternal ends.
    • Although they probably know this too, work is not the ultimate end-goal of the Christian existence. :) This is not mentioned at all in the essay, even as an end-note.

Voddie Baucham


Joshua Harris

  • From: Are You Putting Jesus on Hold? As Christians, we tend to overemphasize the good things of a relationship with Jesus and de-emphasize that it will be a lot more difficult (temptations, spiritual warfare, etc). Let's care more about raising true disciples of Jesus than we are building a crowd of people.

A.W. Tozer

  • From “The Pursuit of God”, and requoted by Amy Kim (would be good to re-read too):
    • A generation of Christians reared among push buttons and automatic machines is impatient of slower and less direct methods of reaching their goals. We have been trying to apply machine-age methods to our relations with God. We read our chapter, have our short devotions and rush away, hoping to make up for our deep inward bankruptcy by attending another gospel meeting or listening to another thrilling story told by a religious adventurer lately returned from afar.
  • The tragic results of this spirit are all about us. Shallow lives, hollow religious philosophies, the preponderance of the element of fun in gospel meetings, the glorification of men, trust in religious externalities, quasi-religious fellowships, salesmanship methods, the mistaking of dynamic personality for the power of the Spirit: these and such as these are the symptoms of an evil disease, a deep and serious malady of the soul.
  • Let any man turn to God in earnest, let him begin to exercise himself unto godliness, let him seek to develop his powers of spiritual receptivity by trust and obedience and humility, and the results will exceed anything he may have hoped in his leaner and weaker days.
  • And always He is trying to get our attention, to reveal Himself to us, to communicate with us. We have within us the ability to know Him if we will but respond to his overtures. (and this we call pursuing God!)

Just Stop and Think

  • Our relationship with the Old Testament
    • Still don't quite fully grasp (aka not okay with) what the Old Testament law (as strict as it was) was for! From “Do Christians have to obey the Old Testament law?” on FAQ's on Just Stop and Think
      • The purpose of the Old Testament law is to convict people of our inability to keep the law and point us to our need for Jesus Christ as Savior (Romans 7:7-9; Galatians 3:24). The Old Testament law was never intended by God to be the universal law for all people for all of time. We are to love God and love our neighbors. If we obey those two commands faithfully, we will be upholding all that God requires of us.

Francis Chan

John Piper

Brendan Kiu

  • B Kiu eloquently stating the truth of Luke 12 and how we as Americans ignore it :/ (it's the story of the poor woman giving up her two copper coins)
  • Farewell Yahoo, pursuing deeply meaningful things in life. For him, it's following the Lord over fixing code bugs or making money. w00t

Pastor Matt

  • (from my church back home, Harvest Community Church). His blog is here:
  • He believes in capitalism all the way. Agrees with my boss and Ayn Rand in saying it has provided wealth for nations.
    • When I teach Christian Worldview to adult undergraduate students, I tell them that if they want a good grade from me they have to do two things on every assignment in the following order: first, understand what the author/speaker is saying. Comprehend his flow of thought well enough that you can give it back to me in your own words accurately. Then, and only then, may you move on to the next step, which is to evaluate what he is saying and agree or disagree.
    • Why do I make such a point of this? Because it doesn't come naturally to us. We tend to quickly get wind of where an author or speaker is going, and we immediately begin making judgments about it before we've even heard him out. We know what we're comfortable with and we have little interest in being stretched beyond it. So we prejudge what others say before they've even finished saying it, which is a defense mechanism of sorts in that it gives us permission to stay comfortable, and to prevent new thoughts from challenging us.
    • The challenge for the students is a difficult one. I issue this challenge in part to get non-Christian students to at least understand Christianity on its own terms, not just some popular misconception of it. But you know what? The Christian students in my classes are just as bad at this as everyone else. Throughout the course we look at some non-Christian worldviews too and I tell them the same thing: learn it first, fairly and accurately. Then you may respond. But this is hard for many of them to do. The moment they get wind that an idea came from somewhere other than the Bible, their brains shut down and all the emotional defenses go up.
    • The students who do take me up on the challenge all end up saying the same thing, whether they're Christians or not. They tell me the class was informative, challenging, and they'd never thought about their beliefs in this way before. Many of them go so far as to say they weren't even aware that they could think about their beliefs this way. Because they accepted my challenge to understand first, they leave the class with a whole new set of tools to process what they believe and why. They're better people for having been stretched. For having listened.
  • Also on Logic, asking students to think about religion from a logical perspective, and eventually realizing that we are “tolerating” other religions (and especially the people that believe them) before we think rationally!
  • From Shane Claiborne Review The idea is that our philanthropy and charitable giving are often mediated by massive public and private institutions, so when we give we often never see or know who is being helped. But when we spend time with the poor, the oppressed, and the washed-up we learn their story and come to see them as human beings made in God's image (which they are) rather than as losers and statistics (which they're not). The hooker working the corner, the addict and the abuser are the ones Jesus sent us to love and preach the gospel to. When we take the time to build relationships in this way, helping “the poor” becomes helping Joe Donatello, Mary Sanford, or her kid Jessica. Grace becomes personalized.

Technology / Science / Engineering

  • Everybody Does Not Need to Learn How To Code. This is my nightmare vision—“everyone” approaches programming as a set of arbitrary technical details just because he or she should. With only bits and pieces, users can’t appreciate the ways that languages are designed to solve problems, and they are left with an even larger black box. With this approach to programming, their knowledge will eventually float into the ether in the company of other meaningless knowledge, like how to talk nicely to that broken Nintendo 64 cartridge. Be sure to give them the big picture!
  • Are Coders Worth It? Great commentary by a web developer on the short-term state of high demand for web developers. I think it's a short-term bubble. Also, the comment about the programmer whose dad was a plumber is awesome. You have to know the whole vertical chain of a product in order to stay employed (essentially be a CEO)

Richard Feynman

  • Cargo Cult Science. An essay by Richard Feynman.
    • Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. You must do the best you can–if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong–to explain it. If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it….
    • In summary, the idea is to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgement in one particular direction or another.
    • Very important to cover all your bases of where your results might have came from, even if you are financially tied to the results
    • Even scientists tend to ignore old results that show the wrong ways of doing something.
    • Publish everything! Even if you didn't get any money-generating results.
  • Challenger Space Shuttle Mission (at wikiquote above)
    • The fact that this danger did not lead to a catastrophe before is no guarantee that it will not the next time, unless it is completely understood. When playing Russian roulette the fact that the first shot got off safely is little comfort for the next.
      • In spite of these variations from case to case, officials behaved as if they understood it, giving apparently logical arguments to each other often depending on the “success” of previous flights.
    • Only realistic flight schedules should be proposed, schedules that have a reasonable chance of being met. If in this way the government would not support them, then so be it. NASA owes it to the citizens from whom it asks support to be frank, honest, and informative, so that these citizens can make the wisest decisions for the use of their limited resources. For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.

Alex Holland

  • A lot of claims for more government control sound like a perpetual motion machine. He asks a simple question, how are you going to get money to support your ideal? Take forcibly from those that have money. At what point does that stop?
    • You can't interpret the data the way you want to. Showing a picture of a starving baby with hungry mom to promote government welfare is not right! Show the consequences of government welfare too, lots of people lazily getting handouts!
  • He believes the best use of your energy are on the things that give you the most pleasure. So, none of this “help the poor.” It sounds weird, but he claims it is very deep and very true. Reikoff Objectivism is a really good overview. Objectivist Epistemology, Virtue of Selfishness, and Capitalism, the Unknown Ideal are all by Rand and summarized in Reikoff.
    • Not Utilitarianism, which Rand summarizes as “the greatest happiness of the greatest number”, which she proceeds to interpret happiness as what the majority want and points out cases where that does not maintain justice.
      • Mmmm…not sure what I think yet.
    • However, he still will pick up a dying guy on the side of the road, because by him/her getting better, I am able to get better in the long-term too.
    • He feels that if he doesn't want to be bothered, he shouldn't have to be. “If you decide to have a child, that is your problem, not mine!”
    • Summary of this idea is found in Objectionist Epistemology
  • If you want to do algorithms long-term, get a PhD. Better to do it earlier in life too.
    1. Do I want to do algorithms long-term? The fun part of me says sure/great! The God/philosophical side asks whether it's the most important thing to do. How will I know unless I've done it? Asking good questions of people that have done both…
    2. Study like crazy to make sure you get into a PhD program. Do projects, publish, etc.
    3. In what field? Not sure … many interests of mine.
  • In response to my question of “why was sports so emphasized in K-12 when we're just running around making noise and kicking a ball around?”
    • It is a much better teacher than real life on topics like failure and perseverance. Plus it's just fun to run around and be silly sometimes too!
    • Don't worry so much about the optimality of things.
    • Peter I. (PhD coworker that did college baseball) says it's really tough to do pro sports, because you are one injury away from losing your job! Especially pitching, all of your worth on a few muscles in your shoulder that aren't very well stabilized…
    • Biomedical engineering authors (or just bad authors) tend to say “this is what we did and how well it performed”, whereas more theoretical sciences state clearly how things are and then make logical conclusions from that.
  • What's important is not how much your salary has increased or not every year, but rather what your salary can buy you! If the price of something drops as a result of technology, now you can buy more with the same amount of money!
    • Technology frees up people to do other, more difficult work, not forcing you to quit your job. Now, what's tricky is finding that other work you should do. Go back to school…?
    • It's quite okay for someone to do a job for cheaper, which means I should be okay with a pay cut!
  • Intuition leads to thumb rules and heuristics that work pretty well, but have a limit. Math, although harder, will always prove to be the only right and best answer.
  • Optimize code for readability
    • Put config information in the same place. Keep config information right where you use it, not in a giant config file.
  • Focus on getting the vertical chain of input to output working first before you start sweating the details of how people will interface to each function later.
    • This does not conflict with the idea you should separate and abstract things intuitively (in OO fashion) and trying to get the default behavior easy-to-get-working whenever possible.
    • Me: Fail fast, fail often. Your brain can't handle the big picture right away usually
  • There should be a separation of government and economics just like there should be (and is) a separation of government and religion (“church and state”).
  • Few people want to talk about the fundamental principles of things because it's so against what we've been taught and does take more mental effort (which we've been told is bad)
  • Capitalism has been painted in a bad light. For every Bernie Madoff, there are thousands of peaceably-behaving individuals. The reason we haven't fallen into disarray (akin to Atlas Shrugged) yet is that government doesn't control everything yet.
  • Instead of forcing you to pay to contribute to social welfare, create an “Aid society”? that you pool your resources voluntarily to help people out and expect to be helped out when you also fall onto rough times.
  • By design, things that don't make money won't be pursued. How important is a human being then?

Math/Signal Processing

Rohit Negi

  • Use the simplest model possible for an estimation / noise cleanup problem. Even if it's not totally right, you will get a glimpse at other assumptions that you can make that will help you make an awesome parametric estimator. This is usually some parameter like amplitude, phase, frequency, etc., and usually estimated with maximum likelihood.
    • Non-parametric models are kind of like a black box…you don't know what's going on and you especially don't know what's going wrong! It's usually the last resort when you've exhausted your parametric estimation methods and you really don't know your underlying signal.


Bret Victor

  • BOOOOOOOOM. So much from this guy.

Alan Kay Talk on Programming and Scaling

What are important things to engineer?

  • Hello Kickstart,
  • I had the pleasure in high school of talking with Martin Fisher during his award for the Lemelson Prize at MIT, oh, 6 years ago. I have thoroughly enjoyed keeping up with your progress and your insight into how to best provide a “hand up” for people who are stuck in poverty with no visible way out. It has helped me really see the myraid of ways I am blessed to be living in America and how useless my advanced major might be for a vast majority of people. Am I willing to move to help? Probably not yet (gotta pay off the school loans too), but it is a thought in my mind.
  • Anyways, I was wondering if I could help in some immediate way and follow what you guys (and other similar groups) do a little more closely. My strengths are in programming, electronic “gadget” design, and various mathematical things, but I understand that phone apps or elegant equations probably don't raise people out of poverty. I am horrible at mechanical things, although I would like to improve and am taking baby steps.
  • Are there some books or blogs that you recommend? Your annual report is enlightening.
  • Thanks!
  • Hey Nolan
  • I wouldn't worry about being horrible about mechanical stuff. If that becomes part of an innovative system people can always be hired. I'm a mech eng grad, and a decade ago I might have said that real things that you can pick up and use were the really important things. Not now though. Years of experience and one MBA later, I'm convinced that what is most important are effective systems, and communications and electronics are key parts of that.
  • Here's one example. Renewables are becoming feasible. We can put together a simple PV pump system from off-the-shelf components with no more engineering knowhow than someone who knows how to charge the battery on their car. Getting it embedded as an accepted technology by small scale farmers (which will ultimately, after payback, increase their profits) will take financing systems, and electronic/GSM systems to control periodic payments. There's no way people can pay for these systems up front. Last week a guy resident in San Francisco showed me a device which could be used as part of this process - a small board about two inches square with one IC which will unlock solar panels if payments have been made by SMS.
  • Cheers
  • Alan

Alan Spybey Cert Ed(Design Technology), BSc (Mech Eng), MBA Director, Product Innovation and Development

The Tools To End Poverty **

Otha Stuff

  • Firmware Basics for the Boss. Excellent article by Jack Ganssle on the highlights of bad ways to do firmware engineering (although this applies to most areas where you have cubes and people doing work)
  • Virtual Reality is Addictive and Unhealthy. Unplug, because you can't handle the data rate! Control the tools, don't let the tools control you. Maybe someday an AI will parse through things for you…
  • Thou shalt not research / browse the internet past 10pm. You stay up way too late! Save it for normal hours when you can actually think!
  • Productivity Tips (P.G. Bovine)
    • Intensely single-task. You can do certain activities for only so long, and context-switching (“multi-tasking”) actually distracts you
    • Stepping away from your work is very important too.
    • Focus on becoming more effective / efficient at what you do. You need many rapid iterations for real progress, so make them as fast as possible
    • I like to combine watching or listening to sermons / YouTube videos with making food. That's one kind of multi-tasking I can get away with
    • To keep your job
    • Keep them short and sweet
essays.txt · Last modified: 2020/11/27 13:28 by admin