Weekly Head Voices #105: There will be tears.

Congratulations, you have successfully completed the week of Monday February 8 to Sunday February 14, 2016!

About 4 seconds after posting previous edition WHV #104 to Facebook with the “When you’re a vegan <boy with bulging veins> and haven’t told anyone in 10 minutes” meme image included, friend Ivo T. zinged me with this reply:


So much truth. I have been put back in my place. Sorry vegans. Sorry MBA students. Not sorry Ayn Randers.

This is currently my favourite lager ever (at least until next week):

Jack Black Brewers Lager

It is indeed a craft beer. If we’ve ever chatted more than 10 minutes in the past (or in the future), you’ll know everything about my braai, and you probably also know that I find craft beer to be one of the greatest inventions ever, along with fire, and the internet.

Here’s a another beer which I recently had the pleasure of enjoying, at a secret networking meeting (yes, we have secret meetings where we in fact do manage a large number of aspects of your daily life, and where we also orchestrate it so you’ll never suspect that we are behind everything, subtly manipulating reality) where, when the beer arrived at the table, everyone who looked vaguely hipster-like claimed vocally not in fact to be even remotely hipster-like:

Tears of the Hipster Beer

META-HIPSTER CRAFT BEER! At first I was confused, but then I realised it was just another case of WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE!

(By the way, I stripped the EXIF GPS data from the Jack Black photo, because privacy, but I left it hidden in the tears of the hipster. First one who tells me in the comments where the secret meeting was held gets a free craft beer!)

Nerd tip of the week: It’s somehow not prominent enough on their site, but GitLab, the open source GitHub alternative, also offer free hosting of an unlimited number of private repositories with an unlimited number of private collaborators. In other words, if you’re on a budget, you can host your commercial and proprietary project git repositories (and bug tracking and wikis) there at no cost. This is cheaper than github ($7 for the smallest subscription for 5 private repos) and better than bitbucket (private repos for free, but if you have more than 5 team members you have to pay). I pay quite gladly for the online services I use, but in this particular case, such a level of free is hard not to like.

Nerd tip #2 of the week: The Clang static C++ analyser is brilliant. If you program in C++, and you need to up your game, integrating this into your workflow is a solid step in the right direction. I’ve been using this via the scan-build method. Let me know in the comments if you’d like to know more about this!

After some professional ethernet cabling down to the sort-of basement of our new house, I have checked off another item from my non-existent bucket list: We now have a lab at our house. So far there are computers, all kinds of DIY supplies and art stuff for the genetic offspring units, and all of this to create. I spent some of the best times of my life in labs of some sort of another. It’s really great bringing some of that back home to my clan.

Have a great week kids, see you on the other side!

What a country!

Exactly ten minutes after having made a single discreet phone call, a truck arrives at one’s house with thousands of pieces of lovingly chopped braai wood. The amount of one’s choosing is then lovingly yet efficiently stacked right by the holy altar of meat scorching, after which the truck leaves on its next mission.


(P.S. The wood is rooikrans.)

Time-traveling Danube Dubstep in my BBQ [Weekly Head Voices #58]

The title is pretty close to pure gobbledygook, but that’s what you get when the foundations of physics seem to have been rattled every so slightly. Let’s first take a gander at this gentleman, pointed out to me by TNR, as he rattles the foundations of absolutely insane facial expressions. He really gets going at about 23 seconds into the video:

The insane asylum soundtrack accompanying this artwork belongs to the music genre called Dubstep, music that is notoriously hard to dance well to. However, the following gentleman seems to have mastered the art just perfectly (if you’re really pressed for time, start watching at 1:13):

At this junction, as they say, you might be wondering why I’m showing you dubstep videos. Well, I have only the following to offer: Alliteration!

You see, this week I flew to Vienna (unfortunately not under my own power yet) for a meeting with some old and some new friends (Graz, my man in Vienna, Rostock, Bergen, Delft) to set up a new EU research project. It’s just grand when you sit around the table discussing the ins and outs of a research project and realise that the convenors have managed to put together a perfect team in terms of skill set but more importantly also in terms of social interaction. Cross your fingers that the thing gets granted, then I’ll be able to tell you more.

On the topic of flying, you will not have missed that CERN LHC scientists measured an ever-so-small discrepancy in the arrival time of neutrinos travelling over 732 km through the Earth (I wish I could do that) to Gran Sasso.  The neutrinos seemed to have arrived 60.7 nanoseconds earlier than they should have, had they been traveling at the speed of light.


The scientists really did their best to explain that the devastating impact of this result, were it to be true, necessitates further study to find for example hitherto unknown systematic errors that could be the cause. The media of course had great difficulty not sensationalising the whole business. Personally, my money is naturally not on faster than light travel. Whatever the case may be, this world event has resulted in the prerequisite physics jokes. My favourite is this one, via @flyosity on twitter:

“We don’t allow faster than light neutrinos in here”, said the bartender. A neutrino walks into a bar.

On the topic of world events, Saturday September 24 was the South African national Braai Day. BRAAI DAY PEOPLE! As is the duty and pleasure of every red-blooded Saff Efrican I fired up my BBQ on Saturday. On Sunday, I did so again, this time with some of them lovely rib-eye steaks (yes, after years of practice I make a perfect medium-rare pink-in-the-middle steak on the barbie) and, even more importantly, joined by a full complement of my super-social neighbours. Perfect weather, scorched animal parts, zillions of kids running around (not scorched), beer and friends: Life is exceptionally good.

For this week’s backyard philosophy, I wanted to bring under your attention Steven Pinker’s new book, to be released on October 4 and titled The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has DeclinedPinker is a well-known experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist, linguist and popular science author with a penchant for evolutionary psychology. In this book, Pinker argues that we humans currently find ourselves  in the most peaceful time of our species’ existence. Looking back through history, it becomes apparent that we’ve been becoming persistently less violent over the past hundreds of years. I find that an absolutely marvelous observation!

Let me conclude with suitable Pinker quote, found on this Pharyngula post (emphasis mine):

I think the final and perhaps the most profound pacifying force is an “escalator of reason.” As literacy, education, and the intensity of public discourse increase, people are encouraged to think more abstractly and more universally, and that will inevitably push in the direction of a reduction of violence. People will be tempted to rise above their parochial vantage point, making it harder to privilege their own interests over others. Reason leads to the replacement of a morality based on tribalism, authority and puritanism with a morality based on fairness and universal rules. And it encourages people to recognize the futility of cycles of violence, and to see violence as a problem to be solved rather than as a contest to be won.

Rebecca Black is OK! [Weekly Head Voices #56]

Probably the most brainless song on the whole of YouTube must be “Friday” (don’t click that link, please) by Rebecca Black. At one stage, she’s seriously singing about leaving home and going to the bus stop on Friday. As if that’s not mentally taxing enough for her, her friends arrive in a car, and, wait for it, SHE HAS TO DECIDE IN WHICH SEAT TO SIT. Heavens. Talk about broody teenager angst. DANGIT I MISS GRUNGE!

In any case, I was convinced that Rebecca Black was a portent of the end of the world as we know it, probably due to an unstoppable tsunami of vacuous stupidity crashing through the whole of civilization (you have to admit, there are signs. what signs? well mostly politicians and managers). However, due to a recent instance of such blinding brilliance that I had to don my mental steampunk goggles of total darkness (yes, the ones I’ll be wearing to Burning Man when I go there), I have to revise my opinion of Rebecca. You see, her musical atrocity has acted as a catalyst for the creation of the musical masterpiece that is Braaiday! Seat yourself comfortably, and experience it:

Yes? Yes. Hang on while I listen to it one more time. No I don’t need YouTube anymore, the whole thing is engraved in my brain. By the way, September 24 is National Braai day in South Africa. You know what to do…

As if Braaiday wasn’t enough to make my year, TNR, friend and business partner, underwent two significant life events:

  1. He turned a year older.
  2. The day after his birthday (doh), TNR was offered an assistant professorship in our section!

We’ll leave the consequences of life event #1 for a later, more philosophical, occasion. The consequence of #2, together with the fact that we’ve somehow managed to attract a handful of Truly Kickass people (you know who you are, kickass people!), is that there’s now an absolutely fabulous vibe in our research group. I’ve had the privilege of experiencing this specific vibe in other places before. You can’t engineer it, it simply has to happen. The best you can do, is to put the right people together and cross your fingers. When it does decide to appear, it’s epic!

On a different topic: The reason why I’ve been ignoring all of your email the past weeks, and why I generally haven’t even been able to pay attention to the beautiful wooshing sound all of my passing deadlines made as they flew by, is because I was first preparing for and then running, together with a whole team of ninjas, the TU Delft CS first year introductory project. I designed this brand-new module last year, and severely honed it this year. 130+ first years worked together in 26 small groups designing and implementing augmented reality music instruments with real-time video analysis, 3D graphics and sound loop mixing. CACOPHONY with a capital C!

I’ve uploaded to YouTube some video impressions of the top teams demonstrating their projects in the concluding session. Click here to view these and any other clips that other peeps have tagged with “ti100a” (the course code).

OK people. That was it for weeks 35 and 36 (this post was 100% produced within moving trains!), the week 37 blog post will hopefully appear this weekend sometime. I’m still Way Too Busy (do you hear that wooshing sound in the distance too?), but managing to keep myself quite happy by:

  1. ensuring that most of the time I spend, I spend creating value;
  2. ensuring that the people I interact with are primarily of the ass-kicking variety;
  3. making many bullet lists like this one.

See you on the other side!

P.S. Have you heard about batmanning? Apparently it’s the new planking: