Ciro Santilli is a male human software engineer and activist born in Brazil, Earth in 1989 AD.
Quick facts:
Other people with the same name are listed at Section "Ciro Santilli's homonyms".
Figure 1. 19th century illustration of the Journey to the West protagonist Sun Wukong. Source.
Sun Wukong (孙悟空) is a playful and obscenely powerful monkey Journey to the West. He protects Buddhist monk Tang Sanzang, and likes eating fruit, just like Ciro. Oh, and Goku from Dragon Ball is based on him. His japanese name is "Sun Wukong" (same Chinese characters with different Japanese pronunciation) for the love. His given name "Wukong" means literally "the one who mastered the void", which is clearly a Dharma name and fucking awesome. This is another sad instance of a Chinese thing better known in the West as Japanese.
It is worth noting however that although Wukong is extremely charming, Ciro's favorite novel of the Four Great Classic Novels is Water Margin. Journey to the West is just a Monster of the Week for kids, but Water Margin is a fight for justice saga. Sorry Wukong!
Figure 2. Ciro Santilli playing with a pipette at the University of Cambridge circa 2017.
The photo was taken in an open event organized by the awesome Cambridge Synthetic Biology outreach group, more or less the same people who organize: www.meetup.com/Cambridge-Synthetic-Biology-Meetup/ and who helped organize How to use an Oxford Nanopore MinION to extract DNA from river water and determine which bacteria live in its.
Taking part in such activities is what Ciro tries to do to overcome his lifelong regret of not having done more experimental stuff at university. Would he have had the patience to handle all the bullshit of the physical word without going back to the informational sciences? Maybe, maybe not. But now he will probably never know?!
Notice the orange high visibility cycling jersey under the lab coat, from someone who had just ridden in from work as fast as possible as part of his "lunch break". It is more fun when it is hard.
Figure 3. Scribe Jean Miélot, 15th century.
Ciro Santilli fantasises that he would have make a good scribe in the middle ages, partly due to his self diagnosed graphomania, but also appreciation for foreign languages, and his mild obsession with the natural sciences.
OurBigBook.com is Ciro's view of a modern day scriptorium, except that now the illuminations are YouTube videos.
Chill and eat your bread in peace comes to mind. A scribe, in a library, reading and writing the entire day in peace and quiet. The life!
The job of a Internet-age scribe is basically that of making knowledge more open, legally extracting it from closed copyrighted sources, and explaining your understanding of it to the wider world under Creative Commons licenses on the web. And in the process of greater openess, given a well organized system, we are able combine the knowledge of many diffferent people, and thus make things more understandable than any single/few creator closed source source could ever achieve.
Ciro once saw some cartoon on Wikipedia help pages of a turtle with a book in one hand, and typing into Wikipedia on its computer, TODO find it. That cartoon summarizes well the modern scribe life.
Ciro Santilli is actively looking for donations and contracts so he can continue to work full time on OurBigBook.com sustainably, and develop free hardcore university-level STEM education for all ages! Ways to give:
  • monthly subscriptions of 1$/month or more on either:Even if you chose a symbolic 1 dollar/month donation, that is extremely welcome to signal your interest! This way if a certain critical mass of sponsors is ever reached (~100?), Ciro can start to more actively asking slighly higher ammounts to really try to achieve full time self sufficiency.
  • one time donations: for ammounts of the order of up to 100 USD, consider a 1 USD monthly subscriptions instead: 100 USD doesn't change much short term, and is generally more powerful as a 1 Dollar/month over 8 years of signaling interest. But if you prefer one time, no problem, Ciro will still gladly take your money:
    • PayPal: www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=8MWBKY5LAUUKS Note that dots in Gmail address are ignored, and it is perfectly normal if the email you see has some extra dots in it
    • cryptocurrency: note that Ciro is not a regular crypto user, so you might want to make a smaller test donation and confirm that it worked by contacting Ciro before going for colossal ammounts (one can dream):
      • Bitcoin address: 3EhVRTYervXhmVimtg71h9WYhhgSa6W7L3. This is a Coinbase wallet, off-chain transactions with no transaction fees accepted from other Coinbase users.
      • Monero address: 84yNhReik1g5jhK4ymwUzXhbqyh49swSF6qE4HCq4SbBCZkSabiZSx7JEKt5225WbkbQaWRY9R3LnAkKDay7aWYSTJcspK3. This is a Binance wallet, off-chain transactions without transaction fees accepted from other Binance users. But of course, that kind of defeats the privacy goal of Monero.
  • larger grants/contracts from filthy rich individuals or organizations: contact Ciro as mentioned at: Section "How to contact Ciro Santilli" to discuss.
    Ciro is interested in contracts/voluntary work that would be compatible/synergic with the OurBigBook.com project. Some possibilities include:
    • interacting directly with classes of university students to help them learn the class subject, while at the same time spreading the university knowledge outside of the university walls
    • one-to-one mentoring of individuals of any age that are looking to make an impact in the world, and not just pass their exams
    • fixing specific bugs in related projects Ciro has experience in. These could be either via one-off contracts, or on platformas such as:
    For grants, think of amounts and time frames starting at 1 year OK tech worker salary in a tech hub of a developed country.
    Something like 2000 euros/month after tax (~30%) would likely the minimal somewhat sustainable long term ammount. 4000 euros/month after tax would be a good tech worker salary.
And if you have a different preferred payment mechanism not listed above, please contact Ciro, and he will set it up.
Ciro's current ambitions require him to remain in developed countries, because Ciro wants to document advanced science and technology by liaising with top universities, and there is not nearly as much high technology in poor countries. Remaining in developed countries is also a required due to family reasons.
If you would like public acknowledgement for your support, Ciro will very gladly give it, just let Ciro know how you'd prefer it. Due to Ciro Santilli's campaign for freedom of speech in China, many supporters have chosen to be anonyomous, and that is totally fine, not everyone is interested in politics, or has a situation where going public is acceptable, so we don't have a standard setup yet, let's build it together. A acknowledgement section at the bottom of this page would be a minimum, but I for larger donations we could add a your advertisement in a locations such as:
So that he can work full time on OurBigBook.com and revolutionize advanced university-level science, technology, engineering, and mathematics eduction for all ages.
Donating to Ciro is the most effective donation per dollar that you can make to:
Ciro's goal in life is to help kids as young as possible to reach, and the push, the frontiers of natural sciences human knowledge, linking it to applications that might be the the next big thing as early as possible. Because nothing is more motivating to students than that feeling of:
Hey, I can actually do something in this area that has never been done before!
rather than repeating the same crap that everyone is already learning.
To do this, Ciro wants to work in parallel both on:
Ciro believes that this rare combination of both:produces a virtuous circle, because Ciro:
  • wants to learn and teach, so he starts to create content
  • then he notices the teaching tools are crap
  • and since he has the ability to actually improve them, he does
As explained at OurBigBook.com and high flying bird scientist, Ciro is most excited to make contributions at the "missing middle level of specialization" that lies around later undergrad and lower grad education:
  • at lower undergrad level, there is already a lot of free material out there to learn stuff
  • at upper graduate level and beyond, too few people know about each specific subject, that it becomes hard to factor things out
But on that middle sweet spot, Ciro believes that something can be done, in such as way that delivers:
  • beauty
  • power
in a way that is:
  • in your face, without requiring you to study for a year
  • but also giving enough precision to allow you to truly appreciate the beauty of the subject
    Ciro's programming skills can also be used to create educational, or actually more production-like, simulations and illustrations.
Ciro believes that today's society just keep saying over and over: "STEM is good", "STEM is good", "STEM is good" as a religious mantra, but fails miserably at providing free learning material and interaction opportunities for people to actually learn it at a deep enough level to truly appreciate why "STEM is good". This is what he wants to fix.
The following quote is ripped from Gwern Branwen's Patreon page, and it perfectly synthesizes how Ciro feels as well:
Quote 1. Omar Khayyam's chill out quote.
Omar Khayyam also came to the Vizier... but not to ask for title or office. 'The greatest boon you can confer on me,' he said, 'is to let me live in a corner under the shadow of your fortune, to spread wide the advantages of Science, and pray for your long life and prosperity.'
In addition to all of this, financial support also helps Ciro continue his general community support activities:
A provisional budget of donations and spendings is being maintained at: sponsor/budget.js.
That is being done as an exercise only for now, since the ammounts are trivial, but if ammounts ever start getting larger, we will actually start generating more proper accounting.
Ciro Santilli wants to make sure that you get clear highlights of what your donation money is going into.
Besides the budget transparency, he is trying to give clear and summarized details of development milestones.
The following channels are being used:
  • twitter.com/cirosantilli2: Ciro's secondary Twitter has a small stream of smaller updates, usually one or two a week, both project specific, but also of "the project led me to answer this Stack Overflow question" nature, as well as short China updates.
    Major milestones will also appear under the primary twitter: twitter.com/cirosantilli.
  • Ciro's Edit: Ciro has been sending update emails entitled "Ciro's Edict" to his sponsors. These include information more or less similar to the Twitter, but in a more cohesive form not limited to 140 character paragraphs.
    When emails would get too large, Ciro is creating separate pages for them, see e.g.: ciro's Edict #4. This does reduce the exclusive priviledge of the sponsors a little bit, but better have clearer communication in the first place.
  • github.com/cirosantilli/ourbigbook/commits: the more hardcore coders amongst you can also of course have a quick look at the commit log. Ciro has been trying to keep it relatively clean and meaningful, to varying degrees of success.
Ciro Santilli has sometimes wasted time with low impact projects such as those listed at Ciro Santilli's minor projects instead of doing higher impact projects such as those mentioned at: Section "The most important projects Ciro Santilli wants to do".
But maybe "Everything you did brought you where you are now." applies, maybe it is during the "low impact activities" that one gets the inspiration and experience required for the "high impact ones".
Mission: to live in a world where you can learn university-level mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology and engineering from perfect free books that anyone can write to get famous.
Live website: ourbigbook.com
Further information and rationale: Section "OurBigBook.com"
The project's mission is one of, or perhaps the most important, life objective of Ciro Santilli. Reproductive goals aside. These two types of goal are incommensurable. This is one of the great challenges of life.
This is ongoing project.
Ciro's goals in advertising this half done project are is partly to obtain some feedback, and partly to give the idea to someone else who might help push it further, be it in this stack or not.
Better editing support is a must, likely WYSIWYG.
But besides that, it is already in broad strokes the best approach Ciro Santilli can come up with to try and reach the mission statement only with technical advances, i.e. without large amounts of money or political influence which Ciro Santilli does not have.
Maybe that website isn't enough of a technical advance to reach its mission. Maybe there is some further not yet imagined technical insight that would push it into viability. Maybe not. But one must try. Only God can know the answer to these questions.
As of 2022, Ciro has spent about 2.5 years full time working on this project. First he spent about 1 year in 2014 on the first iteration: github.com/booktree/booktree, a GitLab fork, but then decided it was not the way to go.
Then around 2021 he put in some more 1.5 year of full time work, now with a possibly overly complicated (or perhaps just insane/immature) Next.js/Sequelize from scratch website stack.
It makes Ciro a bit ashamed to see that "so little user visible stuff was achieved in so much time". It is partly because he and many people underestimate the difficulty of web development. Perhaps there were some bad stack/usless feature choices issues. And a good dose of indulging in studying the natural sciences to bootstrap content and have fun. But really trying is the only way to learn.
This is the most important technical tutorial project that Ciro Santilli has done in his life so far as of 2019.
The scope is insane and unprecedented, and goes beyond Linux kernel-land alone, which is where it started.
It ended up eating every system programming content Ciro had previously written! Including:
so that that repo would better be called "System Programming Cheat". But "Linux Kernel Module Cheat" sounds more hardcore ;-)
Other major things that could be added there as well in the future are:
Due to this project, some have considered Ciro to be (archive):
some kind of Linux kernel god.
which made Ciro smile, although "Linux kernel documenter God" would have been more precise.
Code 1. Terminal dump of a LKMC session with two tmux panes with QEMU on left and GDB on right showing a backtrace of the Linux kernel code currently being under QEMU.
[    1.451857] input: AT Translated Set 2 keyboard as /devices/platform/i8042/s1│loading @0xffffffffc0000000: ../kernel_modules-1.0//timer.ko
[    1.454310] ledtrig-cpu: registered to indicate activity on CPUs             │(gdb) b lkmc_timer_callback
[    1.455621] usbcore: registered new interface driver usbhid                  │Breakpoint 1 at 0xffffffffc0000000: file /home/ciro/bak/git/linux-kernel-module
[    1.455811] usbhid: USB HID core driver                                      │-cheat/out/x86_64/buildroot/build/kernel_modules-1.0/./timer.c, line 28.
[    1.462044] NET: Registered protocol family 10                               │(gdb) c
[    1.467911] Segment Routing with IPv6                                        │Continuing.
[    1.468407] sit: IPv6, IPv4 and MPLS over IPv4 tunneling driver              │
[    1.470859] NET: Registered protocol family 17                               │Breakpoint 1, lkmc_timer_callback (data=0xffffffffc0002000 <mytimer>)
[    1.472017] 9pnet: Installing 9P2000 support                                 │    at /linux-kernel-module-cheat//out/x86_64/buildroot/build/
[    1.475461] sched_clock: Marking stable (1473574872, 0)->(1554017593, -80442)│kernel_modules-1.0/./timer.c:28
[    1.479419] ALSA device list:                                                │28      {
[    1.479567]   No soundcards found.                                           │(gdb) c
[    1.619187] ata2.00: ATAPI: QEMU DVD-ROM, 2.5+, max UDMA/100                 │Continuing.
[    1.622954] ata2.00: configured for MWDMA2                                   │
[    1.644048] scsi 1:0:0:0: CD-ROM            QEMU     QEMU DVD-ROM     2.5+ P5│Breakpoint 1, lkmc_timer_callback (data=0xffffffffc0002000 <mytimer>)
[    1.741966] tsc: Refined TSC clocksource calibration: 2904.010 MHz           │    at /linux-kernel-module-cheat//out/x86_64/buildroot/build/
[    1.742796] clocksource: tsc: mask: 0xffffffffffffffff max_cycles: 0x29dc0f4s│kernel_modules-1.0/./timer.c:28
[    1.743648] clocksource: Switched to clocksource tsc                         │28      {
[    2.072945] input: ImExPS/2 Generic Explorer Mouse as /devices/platform/i8043│(gdb) bt
[    2.078641] EXT4-fs (vda): couldn't mount as ext3 due to feature incompatibis│#0  lkmc_timer_callback (data=0xffffffffc0002000 <mytimer>)
[    2.080350] EXT4-fs (vda): mounting ext2 file system using the ext4 subsystem│    at /linux-kernel-module-cheat//out/x86_64/buildroot/build/
[    2.088978] EXT4-fs (vda): mounted filesystem without journal. Opts: (null)  │kernel_modules-1.0/./timer.c:28
[    2.089872] VFS: Mounted root (ext2 filesystem) readonly on device 254:0.    │#1  0xffffffff810ab494 in call_timer_fn (timer=0xffffffffc0002000 <mytimer>,
[    2.097168] devtmpfs: mounted                                                │    fn=0xffffffffc0000000 <lkmc_timer_callback>) at kernel/time/timer.c:1326
[    2.126472] Freeing unused kernel memory: 1264K                              │#2  0xffffffff810ab71f in expire_timers (head=<optimized out>,
[    2.126706] Write protecting the kernel read-only data: 16384k               │    base=<optimized out>) at kernel/time/timer.c:1363
[    2.129388] Freeing unused kernel memory: 2024K                              │#3  __run_timers (base=<optimized out>) at kernel/time/timer.c:1666
[    2.139370] Freeing unused kernel memory: 1284K                              │#4  run_timer_softirq (h=<optimized out>) at kernel/time/timer.c:1692
[    2.246231] EXT4-fs (vda): warning: mounting unchecked fs, running e2fsck isd│#5  0xffffffff81a000cc in __do_softirq () at kernel/softirq.c:285
[    2.259574] EXT4-fs (vda): re-mounted. Opts: block_validity,barrier,user_xatr│#6  0xffffffff810577cc in invoke_softirq () at kernel/softirq.c:365
hello S98                                                                       │#7  irq_exit () at kernel/softirq.c:405
                                                                                │#8  0xffffffff818021ba in exiting_irq () at ./arch/x86/include/asm/apic.h:541
Apr 15 23:59:23 login[49]: root login on 'console'                              │#9  smp_apic_timer_interrupt (regs=<optimized out>)
hello /root/.profile                                                            │    at arch/x86/kernel/apic/apic.c:1052
# insmod /timer.ko                                                              │#10 0xffffffff8180190f in apic_timer_interrupt ()
[    6.791945] timer: loading out-of-tree module taints kernel.                 │    at arch/x86/entry/entry_64.S:857
# [    7.821621] 4294894248                                                     │#11 0xffffffff82003df8 in init_thread_union ()
[    8.851385] 4294894504                                                       │#12 0x0000000000000000 in ?? ()
                                                                                │(gdb)
Figure 1. Ciro Santilli's amazing Stack Overflow profile.
Ciro Santilli's Stack Overflow contributions have, unsurprisingly, centered around the subjects he has worked with: systems programming and web development, and necessary tooling to get those done, such as Git, Python, Bash and Ubuntu.
His best answers are listed at: Section "The best articles by Ciro Santilli".
Stack Overflow has been the initial centerpiece of Ciro Santilli's campaign for freedom of speech in China, until Ciro noticed that GitHub might be potentially even more effective for it.
In Stack Overflow Ciro likes to:
  • answer important questions found through Google which he needs to solve an actual problem he has right now, and for which none of the existing answers satisfied him, and close duplicates.
  • monitor less known tags which very few people know a lot about and where the knowledge sharing desperately lacking, but in which Ciro specializes and therefore has some uncommon knowledge to share
In practice it also happens that Ciro:
When he gets an upvote on one of his more obscure answers, Ciro often re-reads it, and often finds improvements to be made and makes them.
He doesn't like to refresh the homepage looking for easy reputation on widely known subjects. See also: online forums that lock threads after some time are evil.
For this reason, Necromancer is Ciro's favorite badge (get 5 upvotes on a question older than 60 days), and as of July 2019, he became the #1 user with the most of this badge. Announcement on Twitter.
The number two at the time was VonC (see also: Section "Epic Stack Overflow users"), who had about 16 times more answers than Ciro in total! From this query: data.stackexchange.com/stackoverflow/query/1072396?&Date=2019-07-01&UserId=895245 it can be seen that as of July 2019, 1216 out of his 1329 answers were answered 60 days after the questions and constitute potential necromancers! Compare that to VonC's 1643 potential necromancers out of 21767 answers!
Someone at Ciro's work once said something along:
The more patents a research project generates, the less actually working products it produces.
and this does ring true in Stack Overflow as well. When you are answering stuff, it means that you either didn't know, or that the information wasn't well available, and so your specific application is progressing slowly because of that. Once the generic prerequisites are well solved and answered, you will spend much more time on your business specific things rather than anything else that can be factored out across projects, and so you will get more "directly useful work" done, and less Stack Overflow answers. Of course, without the prior research in place, you can't get the final product done either.
In terms of per year reputation ranks, Ciro was in the top 100 in of the 2018 ranking with 38,710 reputation gained in that year: stackexchange.com/leagues/1/year/stackoverflow/2018-01-01?sort=reputationchange&page=4 (archive). Note that daily reputation is mostly capped to 200 per day, leading to a maximum 73000 per year. It is possible to overcome this limit either with bounties or accepts, and Ciro finds it amazing that some people actually break the 73k limit by far with accepts, e.g. Gordon Linoff reached 135k in 2018 (archive)! However, this is something that Ciro will never do, because it implies answering thousands and thousands of useless semi duplicate questions as fast as possible to get the accept. Ciro's reputation comes purely from upvotes on important question, and is therefore sustainable without any extra effort once achieved. Interestingly, Ciro appeared on top of the quarter SE rankings around 2019-11: web.archive.org/web/20191112100606/https://stackexchange.com/leagues but it was just a bug ;-)
There is no joy like answering an old question, and watching your better answer go up little by little until it dominates all others.
Stack Overflow reputation is of course, in itself, meaningless. People who contribute to popular subjects like web development will always have infinitely more reputation than those that contribute to low level subjects.
What happens on the specialized topics though is that you end up getting to know all the 5 users who contribute 95% of the content pretty soon as you study those subjects.
Like everything that man does, the majority of Ciro's answers are more or less superficial subjects that many people know but few have the patience to explain well, or they are updates to important questions reflecting upstream developments. But as long as they save 15 minutes from someone's life, that's fine.
For example, Ciro's most upvoted answer as of July 2019 is stackoverflow.com/questions/18875674/whats-the-difference-between-dependencies-devdependencies-and-peerdependencies/22004559#22004559 was written when he spent his first week playing with NodeJS (he was having a look at Overleaf, later merged into Overleaf, for education), which he didn't touch again for several years, and still hasn't "mastered" as of 2019! This did teach a concrete life lesson to Ciro however: it is impossible to know what is the most useful thing you can do right now very precisely. The best bet is to follow your instincts and do as much awesome stuff as you can, and then, with some luck, some of those attempts will cover an use case.
Ciro tends to take most pride on his systems programming answers, which is a subject that truly relatively few people know about.
Ciro also derives great joy from his "media related answers" (3D graphics, audio, video), which are immensely fun to write, and sometimes borderline art, see answers such as those under "OpenGL" and "Media" under the best articles by Ciro Santillis or even simpler answers such as:
Ciro's deep understanding of Stack Overflow mechanisms and its shortcomings also helped shape his ideas for: OurBigBook.com. So it is a bit funny to think that after all time Ciro spent on the website, he actually wants to destroy it and replace it with something better. There can be no innovation without some damage. It also led to Ciro's creation of Stack Overflow Vote Fraud Script.
After answering so many questions, he ended up converging to a more or less consistent style, which he formalized at: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/18614/style-guide-for-questions-and-answers/326746#326746 Like any other style guide, this answer style guide, once fully incorporated and memorized, allows Ciro to write answers faster, without thinking about formatting issues.
Ciro also made a question title style guide: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/10647/how-do-i-write-a-good-title/311903#311903 but for some reason the Stack Overflow community prefers their semi-defined title meta-language to proper English. Go figure.
Ciro started contributing to Stack Overflow in 2012 when he was at École Polytechnique.
Like all things that end up shaping the course of one's life, Ciro started contributing without thinking too much about it.
His first answer was to the LaTeX question: Standalone diagrams with TikZ?, which reflects the fact that this happened while Ciro was reaching his Ciro Santilli's Open Source Enlightenment.
When he started contributing, Ciro was still a newbie. One early event he will never forget was when someone mentioned a "man page", and Ciro commented saying that there was a typo!
When Ciro reached 15 points and gained the ability to upvote, it felt like a major milestone, he even took a screenshot of the browser! 1k, 10k and 100k were also particularly exciting. When the 100k cup (archive) arrived in 2018, Ciro made a show-off Facebook post (archive). At some point though, your brain stops caring, and automatically filters out any upvotes you get except on the answers that you are really proud of and which don't yet have lots of upvotes. The last remaining useless gamed achievement that Ciro looked forward to was legendary (archive), and which he achieved on 2021-02-16.
Figure 3. Ciro Santilli with his Stack Overflow 100k reputation cup.
From the start, Ciro's motivations for contributing to Stack Overflow have been a virtuous circle of:
  • save the world through free education
  • It feels especially amazing when people in the real world start taking note of you, and either close friends tell you straight out that you're a Stack Overflow God, or as you slowly and indirectly find out that less close know or came to you due to your amazing contributions.
It is also amazing when you start having a repertoire of answers, and as you are writing a new answer, you remember: "hey, the knowledge of that answer would be so welcome here", and so you link to the other answer as well at the perfect point. This somewhat achieves does what OurBigBook.com aims to do: for each small section of a tutorial, gather the best answers by multiple people.
Ciro feels that his Stack Overflow alter ego is the user kenorb, which has a surprisingly similar contribution pattern (one of the top necromancers) and subjects (Python, Bash). Ciro tried to contact him to say hi, but it was hard to find a contact. kenorb, feel free to send Ciro a hi one of those days. His GitHub github.com/kenorbA gives name Rafal W. and links to some trading stuff: github.com/EA31337, especially compatible with his stated location of London. Rafal is Rafael in Polish: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rafał It would normally have the l with a stroke, but ASCII. LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/kenorb/. Ah, so R3 he works at is actually a blockchain company: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R3_(R3CEV), FOREX appears to be his on-the-side.
Another one is Aaron Hall, who is also very high on the necromancer list, answers in Python which is a topic Ciro cares about, and states on his profile:
Follow me on Twitter and tell me what canonical questions you would like me to respond to!
so another necromancer.
Way to go.
Ciro also asks some questions on a ratio of about 1 question per 10 answers. But Ciro's questions tend to be about extremely niche that no one knows/cares about, and a high percentage of them ends up getting self answered either at asking time or after later research.
Since 2015 Ciro Santilli has carried out a campaign to promote freedom of speech in China.
The campaign has centered around publishing censored keywords on his Stack Overflow username, thus using his considerable Stack Overflow presence to sabotage the website in China. Here is an early web archive.
Figure 1. Chrysanthemum Xi Jinping with 六四 spice added by Ciro Santilli. This was one of the profile pictures that Ciro Santilli used as part of his campaign.
Like most people in the West, Ciro has always been for political freedom of speech, and therefore against the Chinese government's policies.
However, the seriousness of the matter only fully dawned on him in 2015 when, his mother-in-law, a then a 63-year-old lady, was put into jail for 15 days for doing Falun Gong.
And all of this was made 100 times worse because Ciro deeply loves several aspects of China, such as food, language, art and culture, and saw it all being destroyed by the Communists: cirosantilli.com/china-dictatorship/does-ciro-santilli-hate-china
The rationale of this is to force the Chinese government to either:
  • leave things as they are, and let censored keywords appear on Stack Overflow (most likely scenario)
  • block Stack Overflow, and lose billions of dollars with worse IT technology
  • disable the Great Firewall
In the beginning, this generated some commotion, but activity reduced as novelty wore off, and as he collected the reply to all possible comments at: github.com/cirosantilli/china-dictatorship.
This campaign has led him to have an insane profile view/reputation ratio, since many people pause to look at his profile. He is point "A" at the top right corner of Figure 2. "Scatter plot of Stack Overflow user reputation vs profile views in March 2019 with Ciro Santilli marked as A":
Figure 2. Scatter plot of Stack Overflow user reputation vs profile views in March 2019 with Ciro Santilli marked as A. The A is towards the top right corner.
Ciro feels that the view count started increasing more slowly since 2020 compared to his reputation, likely every single Chinese user has already viewed the profile.
Figure 3. Ciro Santilli with a stone carved Budai in the Feilai Feng caves near the Lingyin Temple in Hangzhou taken during his legendary 2012 touristic trip to China. Will he ever be able to go to China again to re-experience such marvelous locations?
These are some smaller projects that Ciro Santilli carried out. They are all either for fun, or misguided use of his time done by an younger self:
They are sorted in order of "most likely to get done first".
Actual section at: Section "OurBigBook.com"
Video 1. Top Down 2D Continuous Game with Urho3D C++ SDL and Box2D for Reinforcement Learning by Ciro Santilli (2018) Source. Source code at: github.com/cirosantilli/Urho3D-cheat.
Figure 1. Screenshot of the basketball stage of Ciro's 2D continuous game. Source code at: github.com/cirosantilli/rl-game-2d-grid. Big kudos to game-icons.net for the sprites.
Video 2. Top Down 2D Discrete Tile Based Game with C++ SDL and Boost R-Tree for Reinforcement Learning by Ciro Santilli (2017) Source.
The goal of this project is to reach artificial general intelligence.
A few initiatives have created reasonable sets of robotics-like games for the purposes of AI development, most notably: OpenAI and DeepMind.
However, all projects so far have only created sets of unrelated games, or worse: focused on closed games designed for humans!
What is really needed is to create a single cohesive game world, designed specifically for this purpose, and with a very large number of game mechanics.
Notably, by "game mechanic" is meant "a magic aspect of the game world, which cannot be explained by object's location and inertia alone". For example:
  • when you press a button here, a door opens somewhere far away
  • when you touch certain types of objects, a chemical reaction may happen, but not other types of objects
Ciro Santilli believes that it is this interface between the continuous/noisy level (now well developed under artificial neural network techniques of the 2010's) and the symbolic AI level that the gold really lies. The key question is somewhat how to extract symbols out of the space-time continuous experiences. Other people feel the same, see e.g.
Much in the spirit of gvgai, we have to do the following loop:
  • create an initial game that a human can solve
  • find an AI that beats it well
  • study the AI, and add a new mechanic that breaks the AI, but does not break a human!
The question then becomes: do we have enough computational power to simulation a game worlds that is analogous enough to the real world, so that our AI algorithms will also apply to the real world?
To reduce computation requirements, it is better to focus on a 2D world at first. Such world with the right mechanics can break any AI, while still being faster to simulate than a 3D world.
The initial prototype uses the Urho3D open source game engine, and that is a reasonable project, but a raw Simple DirectMedia Layer + Box2D + OpenGL solution from scratch would be faster to develop for this use case, since Urho3D has a lot of human-gaming features that are not needed, and because 2019 Urho3D lead developers disagree with the China censored keyword attack.
Simulations such as these can be viewed as a form of synthetic data generation procedure, where the goal is to use computer worlds to reduce the costs of experiments and to improve reproducibility.
Ciro has always had a feeling that AI research in the 2020's is too unambitious. How many teams are actually aiming for AGI? When he then read Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom (2014) it said the same. AGI research has become a taboo in the early 21st century.
Related projects:
Bibliograpy:
Video 3. DeepMind Has A Superhuman Level Quake 3 AI Team by Two Minute Papers (2018) Source. Commentary of DeepMind's 2019 Capture the Flag paper. DeepMind does some similar simulations to what Ciro wants, but TODO do they publish source code for all of them? If not Ciro calls bullshit on non-reproducible research. Does this repo contain everything?
Video 4. OpenAI Plays Hide and Seek... and Breaks The Game! by Two Minute Papers (2019) Source. Commentary of OpenAi's 2019 hide and seek paper. OpenAI does some similar simulations to what Ciro wants, but TODO do they publish source code for all of them? If not Ciro calls bullshit on non-reproducible research, and even worse due to the fake "Open" in the name. Does this repo contain everything?
Video 5. Simulating Foraging Decisions by Primer YouTube channel (2020) Source. This channel contains several 2D continuous simulations and explains AI techniques used. Notably, they have several interesting multiagent game ideas. TODO once again, are all sources published? Claims Unity based, so another downside, relying on non-FOSS engine. Ciro became mildly jealous of this channel when he found out about it, because at 800k subscribers at the time, the creator is likely able to make a living off of it, something which Ciro thought impossible. It hinges a large part of the amazing 3D game presentation, well done.
It is unbelievable that you can't find easily on YouTube recreations of many of the key physics/chemistry experiments and of common laboratory techniques.
Experiments, the techniques required to to them, and the history of how they were first achieved, are the heart of the natural sciences. Without them, there is no motivation, no beauty, no nothing.
School gives too much emphasis on the formulas. This is bad. Much more important is to understand how the experiments are done in greater detail.
The videos must be completely reproducible, indicating the exact model of every experimental element used, and how the experiment is setup.
A bit like what Ciro Santilli does in his Stack Overflow contributions but with computers, by indicating precise versions of his operating system, software stack, and hardware whenever they may matter.
It is understandable that some experiments are just to complex and expensive to re-create. As an extreme example, say, a precise description of the Large Hadron Collider anyone? But experiments up to the mid-20th century before "big science"? We should have all of those nailed down.
We should strive to achieve the cheapest most reproducible setup possible with currently available materials: recreating the original historic setup is cute, but not a priority.
Furthermore, it is also desirable to reproduce the original setups whenever possible in addition to having the most convenient modern setup.
Lists of good experiments to cover be found at: the most important physics experiments.
This project is to a large extent a political endeavour.
Someone with enough access to labs has to step up and make a name for themselves through the huge effort of creating a baseline of amazing content without yet being famous.
Until it reaches a point that this person is actively sought to create new material for others, and things snowball out of control. Maybe, if the Gods allow it, that person could be Ciro.
Tutorials with a gazillion photos and short videos are also equally good or even better than videos, see for example Ciro's How to use an Oxford Nanopore MinION to extract DNA from river water and determine which bacteria live in its for an example that goes toward that level of perfection.
The Applied Science does well in that direction.
This project is one step that could be taken towards improving the replication crisis of science. It's a bit what Hackster.io wants to do really. But that website is useless, just use OurBigBook.com and create videos instead :-)
We're maintaining a list of experiments for which we could not find decent videos at: Section "Physics experiment without a decent modern video".
Ciro Santilli visited the teaching labs of a large European university in the early 2020's. They had a few large rooms filled with mostly ready to run versions of several key experiments, many/most from "modern physics", e.g. Stern-Gerlach experiment, Quantum Hall effect, etc.. These included booklets with detailed descriptions of how to operate the apparatus, what you'd expect to see, and the theory behind them. With a fat copyright notice at the bottom. If only such universities aimed to actually serve the public for free rather than hoarding resources to get more tuition fees, university level education would already have been solved a long time ago!
When Ciro Santilli first learnt the old Zermelo-Fraenkel set theory and the idea of formal proofs, his teenager mind was completely blown.
Finally, there it was: a proper and precise definition of mathematics, including a definition of integers, reals and limits!
Theorems are strings, proofs are string manipulations, and axioms are the initial strings that you can use.
Once proved, press a button on your computer, and the proof is automatically verified. No messy complicated "group of savants" reading it for 4 years and looking for flaws!
There are a few proof assistant systems with several theorems in their Git tracked standard library. The hottest ones circa 2020 are:
And here are some more interesting links:
However, as expressed by the QED manifesto, is unbelievable that there isn't one awesome and dominating website, that hosts all those proofs, possibly an on the browser editor, and which all mathematicians in the world use as the one golden reference of mathematics to rule them all!
Just imagine the impact.
Standard library maintainers don't have to deal with the impossible question of what is "beautiful" or "useful" enough mathematics to deserve merged: users just push content to the online database, and star what they like!
We then just use GitHub-like namespaces for each person's theorem, e.g. "cirosantilli/fundmaental-theorem-of-calculus" or "johndoe/fundmaental-theorem-of-calculus" so that each person owns their own preferred definition IDs, which others can reuse.
No more endless bikeshedding over what insane level of generality do your analysis theorems need to be (Ciro Santilli attended at talk about lean where the speaker mentioned this was a problem)!
This would move things more out of the "pull request and Git tracked code" approach, into a more "database with entries" version of things.
Furthermore, it is just a matter of time until the "single standard library" approach starts to break down, as the git clone becomes impossibly large. At this point, people have to start publishing separate packages. And when this happens, you would need to retest every package that you add to your project. This is why a centralized database is just inevitable at some point, it just scales better.
Interested in a conjecture? No problem: just subscribe to its formal statement + all known equivalents, and get an email on your inbox when it gets proved!
Are you a garage mathematician and have managed to prove a hard theorem, but no "real" mathematician will read your proof because your unknown? Fuck that, just publish it on the system and let it get auto verified. Overnight fame awaits.
Notation incompatibility hell? A thing of the past, just automatically convert to your preferred representation.
Such a system would be the perfect companion to OurBigBook.com. Just like computer code offers the backbone of Linux Kernel Module Cheat Linux kernel tutorials, a formal proof system website would be the backbone of mathematics tutorials! You know what, if OurBigBook.com becomes insanely successful, Ciro is going to add this to it later on.
Furthermore, it would not be too hard to achieve this system!
All we would need would be something analogous to a package registry like PyPI or NodeJS' registry.
Then, each person can publish packages containing proofs.
Packages can rely on other packages that contain pre-requisites definition or theorem.
Packages are just regular git repos, with some metadata. One notable metadata would be a human readable description of the theorems the package provides.
The package registry would then in addition to most package registries have a CI server in it, that checks the correctness of all proofs, generates a web-page showing each theorem.
All proofs can be conditional: the package registry simply shows clearly what axiom set a theorem is based on.
This is a close as we can get to Erdős' book.
Maybe Ciro will just stuff this into OurBigBook.com once that takes over the world.
This project could be seen as a more automated/less moderated version of ProofWiki.
If you are going to live, you might as well chase one of them.
You might not achieve them in your lifetime, but you never know. At some point, the pieces just "fall into place", and they happen.
And they will all come from deep tech.
Ciro Santilli would like to contribute to them. but this is a bit less realistic than software projects.
But who knows? Maybe he can code some stuff in those areas.
And one can at least have some fun by learning deeply about those subjects.
As of 2019, the silicon industry is ending, and molecular biology technology is one of the most promising and growing field of engineering.
Figure 1. 42 years of microprocessor trend data by Karl Rupp. Source. Only transistor count increases, which also pushes core counts up. But what you gonna do when atomic limits are reached? The separation between two silicon atoms is 0.23nm and 2019 technology is at 5nm scale.
Such advances could one day lead to both biological super-AGI and immortality.
Ciro Santilli is especially excited about DNA-related technologies, because DNA is the centerpiece of biology, and it is programmable.
First, during the 2000's, the cost of DNA sequencing fell to about 1000 USD per genome in the end of the 2010's: Figure 2. "Cost per genome vs Moore's law from 2000 to 2019", largely due to "Illumina's" technology.
The medical consequences of this revolution are still trickling down towards medical applications of 2019, inevitably, but somewhat slowly due to tight privacy control of medical records.
Figure 2. Cost per genome vs Moore's law from 2000 to 2019. Source.
Ciro Santilli predicts that when the 100 dollar mark is reached, every person of the First world will have their genome sequenced, and then medical applications will be closer at hand than ever.
But even 100 dollars is not enough. Sequencing power is like computing power: humankind can never have enough. Sequencing is not a one per person thing. For example, as of 2019 tumors are already being sequenced to help understand and treat them, and scientists/doctors will sequence as many tumor cells as budget allows.
Then, in the 2010's, CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing started opening up the way to actually modifying the genome that we could now see through sequencing.
What's next?
Ciro believes that the next step in the revolution could be could be: de novo DNA synthesis.
This technology could be the key to the one of the ultimate dream of biologists: cheap programmable biology with push-button organism bootstrap!
Just imagine this: at the comfort of your own garage, you take some model organism of interest, maybe start humble with Escherichia coli. Then you modify its DNA to your liking, and upload it to a 3D printer sized machine on your workbench, which automatically synthesizes the DNA, and injects into a bootstrapped cell.
You then make experiments to check if the modified cell achieves your desired new properties, e.g. production of some protein, and if not reiterate, just like a software engineer.
Of course, even if we were able to do the bootstrap, the debugging process then becomes key, as visibility is the key limitation of biology, maybe we need other cheap technologies to come in at that point.
This a place point we see the beauty of evolution the brightest: evolution does not require observability. But it also implies that if your changes to the organism make it less fit, then your mutation will also likely be lost. This has to be one of the considerations done when designing your organism.
Other cool topic include:
It's weird, cells feel a lot like embedded systems: small, complex, hard to observe, and profound.
Ciro is sad that by the time he dies, humanity won't have understood the human brain, maybe not even a measly Escherichia coli... Heck, even key molecular biology events are not yet fully understood, see e.g. transcription regulation.
One of the most exciting aspects of molecular biology technologies is their relatively low entry cost, compared for example to other areas such as fusion energy and quantum computing.
As of 2020, Ciro Santilli is getting excited about quantum computing, which is a deep tech field.
He's a bit lazy to explain why here, but Googling will be more than enough.
There is a risk it will fizzle and the bubble pop, like any revolution.
But recent developments are making it too exciting to ignore.
This is one of the deep tech bets that Ciro Santilli would put his money in as of 2020.
How hard could it be? You just have to learn the encoding of the neural spine/eyes/ear, add an invasive device that multiplexes it, and then the benefits could be mind blowing.
Interestingly and obviously, the initial advances in the area are happening for people that have hearing or vision difficulties. Since they already have a deficient sense, you don't lose that much by a failed attempt.
Hearing is likely to be the first since it feels the simplest. Ciro heard there are even already clinical applications there. TODO source.
Main section: fusion power.
This is a long haul. But we have to give it a shot.
These are the best articles ever authored by Ciro Santilli, most of them in the format of Stack Overflow answers.
Ciro posts update about new articles on his Twitter accounts.
Some random generally less technical in-tree essays will be present at: Section "Essays by Ciro Santilli".
Ciro Santilli is very happy to meet people with related interests, he really loves his like-minded online friends. Even if you don't have something a specific goal in mind for the contact, please just say hi.
To contact Ciro publicly about any general subject that is not covered in a more specific GitHub repository, including saying hi or suggestions about his website either:
Publicly viewable contact is preferred if possible to more effectively share Ciro's wisdom with the world.
But if you feel more comfortable with private contact, no problem, either:
  • extract Ciro's email from one of his GitHub repositories. It might be of the form lower case first name, followed by a dot (which Google actually ignores), followed by his lower case last name, and under a popular email domain from Google
  • use Telegram: telegram.me/cirosantilli. Note that end-to-end encryption is present on secret chats only, which don't have device sync. Ridiculous. Recommend 1 week self-destruct timer.
    Please treat this as email, Ciro might not reply immediately, but he will reply. So write longer complete messages each time.
    Ciro is trying to move more and more to end-to-end encrypted methods as a basic computer security hygiene exercise.
    Telegram is the best such mechanism that Ciro could find for now that does not require sharing cell phone numbers with all contacts.
    The closed sourcedness of the server is however a major point of concern. Signal would be a better choice, but it does not have usernames and so requires users to share cell phone numbers.
    Another major pain point of Telegram is the lack of message sync across devices, which Signal also already solves.
  • use LinkedIn or any other public profile linked to from: accounts controlled by Ciro Santillis
  • Discord ID: cirosantilli#8921
If you are a privacy freak or are going to tell Ciro state secrets Ciro has:
  • this GNU Privacy Guard public key: pubkey.gpg
  • a ProtonMail account which is of form: "Ciro's GitHub username + protonmail.com". Ciro doesn't use this very often, so if you don't get a reply soon, do ping Ciro in some other way telling him to check his protonmail. Ciro aims to maintain very high operations security standards on that account, making it the most secure way to contact Ciro, and the only one with a reasonable chance of plausible deniability:
    • multi-factor authentication
    • unique password not-reused anywhere else, and not saved on any computer or disk (and therefore entered manually on every new session)
    • immediate deletion of received messages after reading. This is further strengthened by Ciro Santilli's bad old event memory
    • one week message expiration on every message sent
    • only opened from trusted devices and when in a private location
    • only accessed through Tor Browser
    • concession: notifications that messages were received in the ProtonMail mailbox are sent an unencrypted mailbox which Ciro views more regularly and which has more free storage. But the message content itself is not. It does not seem that the Android app has a mode where it only notifies you of new messages but requires a password every time to see any messages. Also Android appears to request to remember passwords every time, so you risk clicking yes at some point.
If you have Ciro's phone number (available to closer acquaintances), Ciro's preferred messaging software is Signal. But he basically also runs all other major apps as well. Ciro sets a 1 week disappearing messages timer to all conversations. This is slightly less secure than protonmail as Ciro does not use multi-factor authentication to open the messages every time, but it should be pretty damn good already.
Disqus comments were removed from his website in 2019-05-04, a manual dump is available here, removal rationale at: why Ciro Santilli removed Disqus comments from his website in 2019-05-04.
Ciro Santilli controls the following accounts.
With non-trivial activity:
Other accounts:
Accounts in Chinese websites. These accounts might be banned or altered or offer other limitations, so Ciro only communicates briefly through them. All communication through those channels should obviously be assumed to be compromised:
Accounts in Russian websites:
Dead websites:
Accounts controlled by Ciro Santilli on Twitter:
Welcome to the wonderful world of Cirism!
Followers of Cirism call themselves Cirists.
Enlightned Cirists donate money to the cause at: Section "Sponsor Ciro Santilli's work on OurBigBook.com". It is totally optional of course, your soul will just be eternally damned if you don't.
Ciro Santilli once proclaimed:
Thou shalt eat thy watermelon in the morning, and thy melon in the evening. Thou shalt not eat thy watermelon in the evening, nor shalt thou eat thy melon in the morning.
Unconditional basic income is Ciro Santilli's ultimate non-transhumanist technological dream: to reach a state of technological advancement and distribution of resources so high that everyone gets money for doing nothing, enough for:
  • basic survival needs: food, housing, clothes, hygiene, etc.
  • two children to keep the world going. Or immortality tech, but is harder and borderline transhumanist :-)
  • high speed computer and Internet
Once a person has that, they can "learn, teach" and create whatever they want. Or play video games all day long if they wish.
Ciro santilli will not live to see this, and is content with helping it happen faster by increasing the efficiency of the world as. And having at least two well educated kids to carry on the project after he dies :-)
Technologies which would help a lot towards unconditional basic income, and might be strictly required required are:
So in the worst case we can just grow brainless bodies and replace the cavity hole with a computer that controls the body, possibly with high level decisions coming from a remote building-sized genetically engineered biological AGI brain.
Of course, it is all about costs. A human costs about 130k 2010 USD/year. So how cheap can we make the AGI / robot human equivalent / year for a given task?
AGI + humanoid robots likely implies AI takeover though. It would then come down to human loving bots vs human hating bots fighting it out. It will be both terrifying and fun to watch.
AGI alone would be very dangerous, in case it can get control of our nuclear arsenals through software zero days or social engineering. Although some claim that is unlikely.
Humanity's best bet to achieve silicon AGI today is to work on: Ciro's 2D reinforcement learning games.
By Charles Bukowski mentioned e.g. at tatyanany.medium.com/slavery-was-never-abolished-it-was-only-extended-to-include-all-the-colors-6ca21d586e7e:
Slavery was never abolished, it was only extended to include all the colors.
Bibliography:
Video 1. Easy street by Stan Kenton and June Christy (1945) Source. TODO exact lyrics for copy paste? There seem to be several variants, and I don't have the patience to transcribe. Close enough: lyricsplayground.com/alpha/songs/e/easystreet.html. Except that with UBI there won't be a:
guy that you can hire to plant trees so you can have shade
because most people will have something better to do. That's where artificial general intelligence comes in!
Figure 1. Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1563) Source.
Even the Bible writers already know that multiple languages suck as seen from the Tower of Babel parable
Isn't it incredibly fitting that the building of the European Parliament looks like the Tower of Babel?
The fact that in poor countries a huge number of people do not speak the economically dominating language of the world, the lingua franca, English as of 2020, is a major obstacle to the development of those countries.
Despite us being in the information age, the people in those countries cannot fully benefit from it at all!
Teaching its people English should be the number one priority of any country. Without that, there can be no technological development. Everything else is secondary and can be learnt off the Internet once you know English.
And the most efficient way to do that, is that every country should create amazing free open source English learning material for their own language.
European countries are perhaps the most perfect example of how many languages destroy once powerful countries: Section "European Tower of Babel (Europe is doomed)"
The Sapir–Whorf hypothesis is bullshit outside of poetry, and the ending of Arrival (2016) makes one want to puke, where learning a language changes not only your brain, but also Ciro's precious "laws" of Physics!
Much more likely are To Serve Man/A Small Talent for War events which we have already seen countless times!
Remember that those ideas come from a person who speaks 3.5 languages in 2019, and sees absolutely no practical difference between them.
Of course, like all non-constructed languages, English is not fully optimal in terms of regularity and information density. It could be argued that other languages are better in those aspects.
For example, Ciro does believe that spoken Chinese is a better language than English overall from a purely "ease of learning from scratch point of view" as mentioned at: github.com/cirosantilli/china-dictatorship/tree/6fdeb5aa3826c69f7c058de4e6f652a6924bc08a#does-ciro-santilli-speak-chinese. Chinese writing is completely insane of course, completely out of the question.
However, Ciro just doesn't think that the difference is that great to justify replacing English which is already dominant. How much more efficient can a perfect constructed language be than English? 1.01? 1.001? Such margins don't matter. Once you have learnt it young, it's done, for good.
English-based a posteriori constructed languages that regularize English further are perhaps the only reasonable alternative, like how C++ evolved from C by creating a low cost upgrade path. Although in practice they will never take off unless a dictatorship rules the world:
One interesting anecdote is that Ciro met his wife in French, and talking to her primarily in English feels really weird, so language does matter in love.
Different languages might also good at producing interesting diverse touristic locations, with different diverse and interesting foods. Because that's what tourism is all about. The exotic. The unique. And therefore, also necessarily the inefficient.
People with similar ideas:
Video 1. English spelling - a bit mad, but perhaps the best system around by Lindybeige (2015) Source. To be taken as a semi-joke, but he does mention the interesting point that English insane spelling helps disambiguate reading, like an intermediate between Chinese characters and more regular spelled languages.
What big companies have been created in Europe after World War II, that have not been bought or utterly defeated by American or Japanese companies?
Because of all these failures, much fanfare was made as Spotify reached a $50B market capitalization in 2020. An art company, so cute!
ASML, and perhaps more maeaningfully its parent/predecessor ASM International from 1964 is perhaps the biggest exception.
The key problem is that there are so many small countries in Europe, that any startup has to deal with too many incompatible legislation and cannot easily sell to the hole of Europe and scale. So then a larger company from a more uniform country comes and eats it up!
Talent mobility is another issue:
  • people can't generally work remotely from different countries for the same company as regular employees, only as contractors. This is because of fiscal incompatibilities across countries[ref][ref], and has become an increasing problem in the 2020's with the increase in remote work possibilities during/after COVID-19.
  • it is quite rare for people to study at university in different countries than their own, because the entry examinations are in the native language and have local history knowledge components. This also means that people from different countries don't easily recognize which are the best Universities of other countries, making you take a hit if you want to search for jobs elsewhere
So why can't Europe unify its laws?
Because the countries are still essentially walled off by languages. Europe is the perfect example of why having more than one natural language is bad for the world.
There isn't true mobility of people between countries.
You just can't go study or work in any other country (except for the UK, when it was still in the EU) without putting a huge effort into learning its language first.
Without this, there isn't enough mixing to truly make cultures more uniform, and therefore allow the laws to be more uniform.
Europe can't even unify basic things like:
  • a marriage registry
  • the mail system, parcels often getting lost and require you to contact people who may not speak English
  • the train systems: www.linkedin.com/posts/hinrich-thoelken_cop26-activity-6863490595072045057-Xhlg/
    This year, I decided to travel from Berlin to #COP26 in Glasgow by train. The journey was expected to cover 4 trains from 4 different railway operators and to last 17 hours. I had planned for at least 30 minutes transfer time in Cologne, Brussels and London.
    Well, as you might have guessed, in reality the trip took 32 hours and I spent one extra night at a hotel in London.
Equally so, it can't force little fiscal paradises who effectively benefit from being in Europe like Ireland, Luxembourg, Monaco, Switzerland ("not European", but should that be allowed?) and Cyprus (the EU can't even maintain its territorial integrity, let alone fiscal) to not offer ridiculously low taxes and incentives which make them entry points for foreign companies to rape Europe.
For this reason, Europe will only continue to go downhill with the years, and the United Kingdom will continue to try and endosymbiose into a state of the United States (although at times it seems that it would rather endosymbiose with China instead).
Historically, this disunion is partly due to the European balance of power, whereby countries would form alliances with old enemies to prevent another country from taking over. Also linked are failed military unification attempts by Napoleon and Hitler, though we are likely better off without the latter succeeding!!! Though those also partly failed due to wider balance of power issues involving the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union and USA, not only due to internal balance. Of course, none of that matters anymore after World War II, where other more unified Europe-sized potencies rose, first the USA and the Soviet Union, and then China, and now European disunion is nothing but a burden.
Evidence such as those makes it clear that the European Union is a failure.
One thing must be said in favour of Europe's mess however: it favours international collaboration in huge projects as a more neutral middle ground. This can be seen more clearly in the ITER and the fiasco that was the Superconducting Super Collider that was cancelled a couple of billion dollars in partly because it failed to attract any foreign investment, compared to the Large Hadron Collider which went on to find the Higgs boson as mentioned at www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-supercollider-that-never-was/.
!!! Survivorship bias alert !!!
quoteinvestigator.com/2018/05/07/overcome/
If you want to do something, but you are afraid to do it, then that is likely what you should do.
quoteinvestigator.com/2013/11/08/not-bend/
Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.
www.goodreads.com/quotes/50458-whatever-you-re-meant-to-do-do-it-now-the-conditions
Whatever you're meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible.
For example, when Ciro Santilli was deciding what to do in university, he wanted mostly to do pure physics.
But because he was afraid he was going to die poor and unemployed because of that, he picked engineering instead.
That was a mistake.
His family was not even poor. He was young and did not have a family to support. His father even told him: "do whatever the fuck you want, we support your decision".
But he was a coward.
It was also in part because a physicist uncle which he respected suggested that as an engineer Ciro might be able to make useful contributions to tooling required by physics. When Roberto Salmeron died in 2020, Ciro's friends shared this 2013 video interview with the late professor, where he explains he first went to the University of São Paulo to study engineering (like Ciro), but then fell for his passion for physics (like Ciro?), his first task being to build a Geiger counter, thus explaining the likely origin of the uncle's theory. But who knows, maybe he was right. Maybe Ciro's OurBigBook.com will become huge and help a lot of people, and it might not have had Ciro not done engineering and learnt programming. Destiny operates in weird ways sometimes.
Furthermore, while in University, Ciro learnt about the molecular Sciences Course of the University of São Paulo, a fantastic sounding full time course that any student could transfer to called that teaches various natural sciences topics which Ciro loves (Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology) and which students from the entire university can apply to transfer to only after joining the university, with the guarantee that they can go back to their original courses if they didn't adapt to the new course.
But did Ciro do it? Nope, he remained an even larger coward.
Had he studied more sciences, he might have been happier, and might have had greater achievements later in life, in particular when he went to École Polytechnique.
Maybe not, but now this doubt will never leave his mind until the final day.
Similar thoughts crossed his mind when he started his campaign for freedom of speech in China, but this time he had learnt the lesson, and went for it, and it felt very good.
If you have a day job, but also have a dream, and want to keep the day job for a reason, try to reserve the time of the day that your brain works best before or after work for your dream.
Work a little less well for you boss, and a little better for yourself. Ross Ulbricht:
I hated working for someone else and trading my time for money with no investment in myself
Selling drugs online is not advisable however.
Even better, try to reach an official agreement with your employer to work 20% less than the standard work week. For example, you could work one day less every week, and do whatever you want on that day. It is not possible to push your passion to weekends, because your brain is too tired. "You keep all non-company-related IP you develop on that time" is a key clause obviously.
On a related note, good employers must allow employees to do whichever the fuck "crazy projects", "needed refactorings or other efficiency gains" and "learn things deeply" at least 20% of their time if employees want that: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/20%25_Project. Employees must choose if they want to do it one day a week or two hours per day. One day per month initiatives are bullshit. Another related name: genius hour.
Pursuing a dream part time can make you feel afraid and tired. But at least, you will feel alive. I did it for me, Skyler.
Maybe you will be fired, but long term, having tried, or even succeeded your dream, or a one of its side effects, will be infinitely more satisfying.
The same goes for school, and maybe even more so because your parents can still support you there. Some Gods who actually followed this advice and didn't end up living under a bridge:
  • George M. Church "[We] hope that whatever problems... contributed to your lack of success... at Duke will not keep you from a successful pursuit of a productive career." Lol, as of 2019 the dude is the most famous biotechnologist in the world, those "problems" certainly didn't keep him back.
  • Freeman Dyson proved the equivalence of the three existing versions of quantum electrodynamics theories that were around at his time, and he has always been proud of not having a PhD!
    Video 1. Freeman Dyson - Why I don't like the PhD system (95/157) by Web of Stories (2016) Source.
  • Person that Ciro met personally and shall remain anonymous for now for his privacy: once Ciro was at a bar with work colleagues casually, it was cramped, and an older dude sat next to his group.
    The dude then started a conversation with Ciro, and soon he explained that he was a mathematician and software engineer.
    As a Mathematician, he had contributed to the classification of finite simple groups, and had a short Wiki page because of that.
    He never did a PhD, and said that academia was a waste of time, and that you can get as much done by working part time a decent job and doing your research part time, since you skip all the bullshit of academia like this.
    Yet, he was still invited by collaborating professors to give classes on his research subject in one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Students would call him Doctor X., and he would correct them: Mister X.
    As a software engineer, he had done a lot of hardcore assembly level optimizations for x86 for some mathematical libraries related to his mathematics interests. He started talking microarchitecture with Ciro's colleagues.
    And he currently worked on an awesome open source project backed by a company.
    At last but not least, he said he also fathered 17 children by donating his sperm to lesbian mothers found on a local gay magazine, and that he had met most/all of those children after they were born.
    A God. Possibly the most remarkable person Ciro ever met, and his jaw was truly dropped.
Companies can help you grow because you see real problems from within them, but their end goal is to consume you as much as possible. Don't let that happen. Invest part of what you gain, in yourself. www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-adventure/paradox-going-outside/ The Paradox of Going Outside by James Somers (2012) puts it incredibly well:
I work, for instance, as a Web developer. It's a very good job. Our office is a block south of Union Square, a 12-minute commute from my apartment. We're served breakfast every morning. Our kitchen is stocked with "provisions" of organic beef jerky, coconut water, craft beers, chips, and two restaurant-class espresso machines. We have two ping pong tables and buckets of 3-star ping pong balls. (A new office manager bought "1-stars" once and some of the guys protested by crushing them.) We work on 4-cored Apple Mac computers with dual monitors. We have an unmolested hour for lunch, 10-minute breaks in the morning and afternoon, and a "do not disturb" policy past the working hours. We even have a specific email address where employees can ask for free things: genuine maple syrup, hot chocolate, a $900 chair, a new keyboard. Most of the programmers make six figures, and many of those have only three or four years of experience.
It's impossible to say so without sounding like the spokesperson for Entitlement itself but working there is still sort of soul-crushing. It's soul-crushing in the way that any job that doesn't command your full passionate attention must be. What happens is that I will be in my chair in the early afternoon and I will accidentally step out of myself and all I'll see is time passing, nine-hour parcels of healthy consciousness forever being packed away as the user experience of clerical workers or consumers or whoever gets marginally better; and I'll end up thinking that this enterprise of mine is not so much creative but bureaucratic, that what I've gotten good at is reading the instruction manuals of other people, finding my way around their insignificant warrens. And in those moments the whole business will seem to me like kind of a tragic waste.
Other quotes:
Don't be a pussy. Be a Based God
Figure 1. Dilbert "A small brain irrationally puts more weight on a small loss than on a huge opportunity" cartoon (2000) Source.
Figure 2. Jake Likes Onions "Slowly" cartoon. Source. This is what trying to reach a dream part time feels like. The cartoon reads: "The tiger pursues its prey. Slowly. The human pursues its life goals. Slowly. Very slowly.".
Video 2. Excerpt from the documentary film "Steve Jobs: Secrets of Life" (1994) Source.
When you grow up you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money. That's a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it... Once you learn that, you'll never be the same again.
Of course, survivorship bias alert!
Video 3. What Would You Do If Money Were No Object by Alan Watts. Source. Sample transcription: genius.com/Alan-watts-what-if-money-was-no-object-annotated:
What do you desire? What makes you itch? What sort of a situation would you like?
Let's suppose, I do this often in vocational guidance of students, they come to me and say, well, "we're getting out of college and we have the faintest idea what we want to do". So I always ask the question, "what would you like to do if money were no object? How would you really enjoy spending your life?"
Well, it's so amazing as a result of our kind of educational system, crowds of students say well, we'd like to be painters, we'd like to be poets, we'd like to be writers, but as everybody knows you can't earn any money that way. Or another person says well, I'd like to live an out-of-doors life and ride horses. I said you want to teach in a riding school?
Let's go through with it. What do you want to do? When we finally got down to something, which the individual says he really wants to do, I will say to him, you do that and forget the money, because, if you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you will spend your life completely wasting your time. You'll be doing things you don't like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing things you don't like doing, which is stupid. Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way.
And after all, if you do really like what you're doing, it doesn't matter what it is, you can eventually turn it - you could eventually become a master of it. It's the only way to become a master of something, to be really with it. And then you'll be able to get a good fee for whatever it is. So don't worry too much. That's everybody is - somebody is interested in everything, anything you can be interested in, you will find others will.
But it's absolutely stupid to spend your time doing things you don't like, in order to go on spending things you don't like, doing things you don't like and to teach our children to follow in the same track. See what we are doing, is we're bringing up children and educating to live the same sort of lifes we are living. In order that they may justify themselves and find satisfaction in life by bringing up their children to bring up their children to do the same thing, so it's all retch and no vomit. It never gets there. And so, therefore, it's so important to consider this question: What do I desire?
Video 4. Keep Chargin' from a Show of Hands by Victor Wooten (1996). Source.
That's the way I live my life, I give it my all. I think that a person should really make up his mind what he wants to do, and when did made up, he cannot fail at it. The basic rule to sucess I think, is when the going gets tough, that is a positive signal to keep chargin'.
Closely echoes Video 3. "What Would You Do If Money Were No Object by Alan Watts". Survivorship bias? Maybe. Beautiful? Unquestionably. So glad he was allowed to upload it officially to YouTube.
Video 5. Your Life is Your life by Charles Bukowski. Source.
Charles Bukowski is one of the most hardcore don't be a pussy people ever. It's alsmost scary. Beyond Ciro level.
thebestamericanpoetry.typepad.com/the_best_american_poetry/2008/11/the-laughing-he.html
your life is your life
don't let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can't beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the Gods wait to delight
in you.
www.goodreads.com/quotes/39207-if-you-re-going-to-try-go-all-the-way-otherwise
If you're going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don't even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery--isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you'll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you're going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the Gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It's the only good fight there is.
I have one of two choices - stay in the post office and go crazy... or stay out here and play at writer and starve. I have decided to starve.
Figure 3. Bukowski kissing his typewriter. Like Ciro Santilli and his computer!
Someone who is not a pussy.
Someone once called Ciro Santilli that: archive.is/W1ocv. It's an overstatement, considering that Ciro's parents have some money. Not infinite. But still. Changes everything. A real Based God is someone like Charles Bukowski, who had to work decades at the post office.
Ciro Santilli believes that there is a close link between the ability to create disruptive technology, and the desire to find bugs/exploits in systems.
Both of them destabilize society and enterprises.
Some examples:
  • Jobs and Wozniak's blue box
  • Robert Noyce's stealing a pig for a university party somewhat as a joke. This was actually a felony, but he got away with a compromise by paying the owner and being suspended for 6 months. The law is not blind, and thanks for that sometimes.
    Oh, and apparently he also got a university girlfriend pregnant, and she had an abortion.
  • Mark Zuckerberg's FaceMash
And yes, this sometimes leads into a fine line between legality and illegality:
Ciro feels that this resonates a lot with his OurBigBook.com.
Supercut:
The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked far more interesting.
And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on.
Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this.
None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life.
If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts.
Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backward 10 years later.
Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
Then:
You've got to find what you love.
And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers.
Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.
And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking.
Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it.
And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.
So keep looking until you find it.
Don't settle.
And:
When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right."
It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?"
And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
And then he quotes form the Whole Earth Catalog, a paper Atlas from the '70s he admired:
Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish
This is one of Ciro Santilli's most important principles.
Steve Jobs has a great quote about this. He's totally right on this one!
You've got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You can't start with the technology and try to figure out where you're going to sell it.
Video 1. Steve Jobs Insult Response excerpt from the 1997 WWDC. Source. TODO understand the context of the question a bit better. It is something to do with an OpenDoc thing and Java.
Decide your goal first, and then do whatever is needed to how to reach it.
Don't start randomly learning tech, because that means you will waste a lot of time learning useless stuff.
There is of course some level chicken-and-egg paradox in this, as highlighted by Dilbert, since choosing an achievable goal in the first place requires some level of technical understanding.
Figure 1. Dilbert cartoon about designing a nuclear power plant from user requirements (2002) Source.
This cartoon illustrates well how when doing deep tech and fighting against the laws of physics, you can't just start from user requirements, but you also have to also think "what can we actually get done at all with this new technique".
The best research engineers are able to identify what is just on the cusp of the "possible", but which has the greatest value. This is the endless dance between the tech push, and the market/need pull.
However, it is much more common that people will get way too involved in learning useless stuff and lose sight of the useful end goals.
Rather, take an iterative approach:
There is some truth to the counter argument that "but if you don't spend a lot of time learning the basics, you can never find solutions".
However, these people underestimate your brain. The brain is beautiful, and human intuition is capable of generating interest towards the things that are actually useful to reach your goal. When you feel like learning something related to your goal, by all means, give yourself the time to do so. But this still be much more efficient than just learning random things that other people tell you to learn.
Bibliography:
Or: how to learn X.
This pops up on Reddit every week.
The right question is: what is the most awesome project I can do to improve the world?
Then, once you decide to try one, if that involves programming, only then learn to program to achieve that goal. And don't stop learning what's needed until you either get the thing done, or decide that it is actually not a good idea, or not possible, or that there is something else more important to be done first.
But if doesn't involve programming, then don't learn to program, and learn whatever you actually need to reach that goal instead.
Having that goal is the only way to be motivated to do something.
This is the essence of backward design.
This term was invented by Ciro Santilli, and similar ideas certainly already exists with different names by other people. As the name suggests, it basically involves combining free education and gifted education, but with other more specific aspects crammed in that would make a precise name too long to read, as descried below.
Government must create selective, K-12 and university-level teaching institutions that are completely free.
As mentioned at pick few good bets and invest enough on thems, these do not need to be given to all students: what we have to do is to ensure that the top N-percent of the best students will get in, and that none of them will pay. Where N is as large as the budget society decides to put into this project, the larger the better. Therefore, perhaps "gifted education" is not the ideal name for this idea, as it generally implies very small N (1%?), while this project hopes for larger N, maybe 10%. But a minimal level of quality must be attained, it is pointless to dissolve the resources too much, if we only have enough for 1%, then so be it, start with 1%.
Since all the learning resources will be available online on OurBigBook.com, or through online 1-to-1 chats with mentors, it might be cheaper for students to work either from their parent's homes if their home has reasonable work conditions: a silent room with reasonable Internet access and no drug addicts in the house.
Alternatively, a public local library with free WiFi would do as well. But there would need to be a strict silence policy enforced, unlike most public libraries we see today. Ciro once saw a bird shaped noise detector that would sing if the noise went above a certain threshold, that was a good idea. Just like linting, it is easier to let machines decide deterministically on subjective questions to reduce useless arguments over who is right. Ciro has even seen libraries where the local council uses the same library open space as a citizen councelling area. What's the fucking point... these people have never done any deep work in their lives.
Then the state only needs to pay transportation and temporary accommodation to attend concentrated month-long laboratory courses and week-long conferences. In cases where the home conditions are not good enough, the state can either pay for on-demand WeWork-like offices near the student's home, of for a full on-campus accommodation as in a boarding school. What is indispensable is that all students who pass the entry criteria must have such working conditions. Students who stay home can also earn a scholarship to help pay for their rent, food and Internet access.
These institutions must start from the very first school year, and go all the way up through K-12 to the end of university. It is useless to start at university-level only otherwise only the rich students will have a chance of getting in, like Ciro Santilli saw in Brazil at the Polytechnic School of the University of São Paulo in the late 2000's: one day all students were gathered in the amphitheater, and they asked the students who had only gone through free government K-12 schools to raise their hands. Those were notably worse than the corresponding private schools, and the situation is inverted in university, where the best schools are the government ones. Out of about 500 people, at most 10 raised their hands!
These institutions should not have affirmative action entry quotas, including most importantly at the university level. Both rich and poor should be able to apply. Passing the selection criteria is all that matters. We just must ensure that the schools are widely advertised amongst disadvantaged communities, so that they will at least get their children to try to apply from an early age. This way, even if the rich always have an advantage due to better overall conditions, the poor are so much more numerous that the majority of students accepted will still be poor.
The school should follow the basic principles of how to teach, notably:
  • students must have a flexible choice of what to learn. There will be no classes, all learning will happen either OurBigBook.com or on 1-to-1 meeting with tutors, or in discussions with fellow students.
    The term "gifted education" might suggest elitism, but Ciro Santilli strongly believes that different people have different skills, and that if everyone could focus on whatever it is that they want to do in life, be it engineering or the arts, rather than just pass a bunch of useless exam, then having the 10% "best" of each interest group would already cover a huge percentage of the population.
  • Through it, students will be helped to directly achieve their greater life goals.
    There will be no teachers: each student will be assigned senior advisors, and together they will come with an individualized research proposal or business plan.
    There will be no useless mandatory institutional exams. Exams only need to be taken if a given advisor requires it to filter candidate students. But if you manage to impress them through other means, they can just accept you without the exam.
    A fundamental part of this is to fill the the missing link between basic and advanced. We want to help students to reach the state of the art of their field of interest as fast as possile.
  • group students by interest, not by age
These schools must pay mentors as much as the average good non-free schools so you actually get comparably good teachers. Mentor selection would also be highly competitive, just as that of the students.
Once admitted, students will have guaranteed access to the school resources for a few years. This way, they won't need to worry about passing useless exams every three months.
All that matters is that they are progressing in their development plan. Rather than exams, students will do regular progress report sessions with their advisors, and will get periodic reviews from other advisors with similar interests.
Such projects could be funded by much needed wealth tax or other measures to tax the rich, which the people should claim through Referendum, that would be come more common with the adoption of electronic voting. Because the politicians are simply not being able to do it.
Figure 1. On a plate by Toby Morris (2015) Source.
Figure 2. On a plate by Toby Morris (2016) - 2.
Figure 3. On a plate by Toby Morris (2016) - 3.
Figure 4. On a plate by Toby Morris (2016) - 4.
A quote by Ciro's Teacher R.:
Sometimes, even if our end goals are too far from reality, the side effects of trying to reach them can have meaningful impact.
If the goals are not ambitious enough, you risk not even having useful side effects so show in the end!
By doing the prerequisites of the impossible goal you desire, maybe the next generation will be able to achieve it.
This is basically why Ciro Santilli has contributed to Stack Overflow, which has happened while was doing his overly ambitious projects and notice that all kinds of basic pre-requisites were not well explained anywhere.
This is especially effective when you use backward design, because then you will go "down the dependency graph of prerequisites" and smoothen out any particularly inefficient points that you come across.
Going into such productive procrastination is also known informally as yak shaving.
There are of course countless examples of such events:
  • youtu.be/qrDZhAxpKrQ?t=174 Blitzscaling 11: Patrick Collison on Hiring at Stripe and the Role of a Product-Focused CEO by Greylock (2015)
The danger of this approach is of course spending too much time on stuff that will not be done enough times to be worth it, as highlighted by several xkcds:
Figure 1. xkcd 974: The general problem. Source.
Figure 2. xkcd 1205: Is it worth the time. Source.
Figure 3. xkcd 1319: Automation. Source.
These are "original" thoughts that Ciro had which at some point in the past amused him. Some would call them pieces of wisdom, others self delusion. All have likely been thought by others in the past, and some of them Ciro thinks to himself after a few years: "why did I like this back then??".
After Ciro's colleague was doing that in a project:
Chuck Norris can parse pseudocode.
On the theory vs practice of computer science:
Whereas Turing completeness is enough for mathematicians, humans need "run-on-Debian-complete".
On how human perception of media is completely unrelated to the computer's transmission mechanism:
Media for humans is not byte streams. It is magic.
On how you make the best friends in life when dealing with hardships together.
The bond between men is like the bond between two metals: it is better made under fire.
In Ciro's case, this in particular means going through high school/universities studies and work projects, though of course war would apply particularly well. Perhaps inspired by as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
This is of course just another version of one picture is worth a thousand words.
Ciro Santilli has mixed feelings about animal rights.
On one hand, his irrational side wants of course all animals to be happy.
On the other, he does not care about this enough to not kill and eat them, even though he believes that you could live off plants relatively well.
His more rational side says: humans are sacred. Either because you believe in the soul, or because your built-in empathy behaviours. If it is not a human, do whatever you want to it. Killing is already undoubtedly the greatest sin. It is not OK to kill a human painlessly is it? So if torturing it brings humans good, then do it.
Of course, this does get use close and closer to "the what is a human" question, which is more relevant than ever in the awakening of genetics: all species are after all a continuum right?
And Ciro does not have a simple solution to this problem, besides that in 99.9999% the answer is obvious to 99.9999% of the people, and for the others cases, we have to do it like the law and make flawed rules to cover the remaining 0.000099999% cases and let juries decide the rest.
The only other sensible sacredness barrier is the common vegetarian "nervous systems are sacred" one. But how can you believe that if you also follow the religion of physics, where everything is just made of atoms?
Is it evil to take one neuron and torture it? What does that even mean? It will be fun when pain and pleasure are fully understood.
And you are going to have a really hard time when mosquitoes start transmitting deadly diseases that kill your family.
Laws in most 2020 Western modern societies have converged to a hypocritical balance between not offending people too much by hiding the killing and minimizing the pain when possible at low cost. Killing animals painlessly is basically always fine if it brings any "non sadistic" pleasure to humans. And torturing animals is fine with approval e.g. to make medicines.
This has the downside of increasing costs for society. Maybe there are practical benefits besides people feeling bad about animals? Maybe we would have more serial killers if people were free to torture animals? Maybe people in butcher shops would become depressive if their bosses weren't forced to use more expensive painless killing methods? Neither of those seems like huge arguments though.
It eventually comes down to: "how much more is a human life worth than that of an animal" which brings Jesus's Matthew 6:25-34 "Do Not Worry" (archive) quote to mind:
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Non-vegetarian pets owners also baffle Ciro, as most of them basically extend the sacred human line further arbitrarily to certain other cute looking animals like dogs, cats or rabbits, but will gladly kill a cow indirectly by paying someone to pay someone to pay someone to cut it into small pieces. Or they believe that certain specific individuals are sacred. Admittedly, the latter is more rational, and looks a lot of how we treat our own families well, and can accept that other families are not doing so well.
Ciro's even more rational evil side says: the real reason why humans are sacred is a practical one: people have families that love them, and they come to kill you if you kill them, and this starts endless chains of violence that make society unbearable.
While animals feel pain when their children are killed, their memory and logic is just not good enough to fully understand that humans in general have an evil plot to it, and they don't have a method to communicate between themselves and fight back.
For similar reasons, Ciro is pro-abortion.
Futurama's S02E15 "The Problem With Popplers" episode blew Ciro's mind so much.
Ciro should stop discussing topics in which infinite argument has already been had. Sometimes he writes things down so he can stop caring the next time the subject comes up, as there's no need to say it again once it is written.
Ciro Santilli is against affirmative action university entry quotas that reserve spaces e.g. for students from discriminated races or poor families. Instead, he believes that affirmative action should take place on earlier stages of education as described at: free gifted education.
Notably, Brazil has implemented a very heavy university entry quota system after Ciro had left university there: www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-23862676
This is of course easy for a white male from a privileged background to say, and infinite debate has already been had on this matter, but here goes again.
First, in defense to the personal attack, Ciro raises the fact that he has dedicated large chunks (all?) of his life to open source software and knowledge in general, which Ciro believes is the only way to actually make the world fairer to poor countries. His money (time) is where his mouth is.
One good argument in favor of the Brazilian quota system, is that the kids who enter university because of quotas do just as well as those who don't.
Both the top end of the quota and non-quota kids are basically equally capable of doing useful stuff therefore.
Only a tiny fraction of what you learn in high school is useful for university or your career.
And possibly more importantly than knowledge, Ciro saw many of his colleagues (basically all of which were from relatively privileged backgrounds) "do badly" in university, because of lack of motivation, because they had chosen a course only to find that they were not interested in it because the existing high school educational system is crap and does not help them find what they love and because it costs you several years of your life to change your choice in most universities (long live École Polytechnique).
Maybe the fact that poor kids know that they are fucked if they fail, and so they have to succeed at any cost, might also help with motivation. Which is a terrible terrible thing, because only those who have to leeway to take risks end up taking them and making the the next big thing.
Ciro believes instead that only once kids have learnt university level stuff in their area of interest for free on the Internet should they go through selection based on that specific and much more concentrated useful knowledge.
And this competition must only be used to distribute resources which you can't learn from fucking computers:
Once this point knowledge is reached however, it starts to become unclear if a single "everyone takes the same test to avoid discrimination" test is feasible anymore, and we start entering the much more relevant (and potentially discriminatory) "I am a teacher trying to advance the state of the art, and I need a person mildly skilled in the art to do some slave labor for me", which is PhDs selection work.
If quota are in place, what will happen is that parents of the rich kids will start investing less in education, and possibly just put their kids in high schools, and do home schooling instead. This would therefore reduce the total investments the country makes in education!
Outside of the obvious technical evolution proposed, Ciro is a huge proponent of free gifted education.
Then let those kids pass exactly the same university entry exams, and watch them crush the average privileged kids.
This advice is similar to what is mentioned at: what poor countries have to do to get richer. When you don't have money to do everything, you must select a few good bets and focus on them. You can't pay a lot to every public school teacher, so you must select a few select places that need it the most. As those smart bets pay off, you start to have more and more money to expand the system further.
Video 1. Inside Westside Barbell by Vice News (2018) Source.
One sentence of this nice documentary about the notorious Westside Barbell gym where the openly pro-performance-enhancing-drug powerlifting legend leader and cult-leader-like personality Louis Simmons teaches just stuck to Ciro Santilli's mind. His top tenant and manager Tom Barry talks about Louis:
The man [Louis] lives in his own world, and he just rejects everything outside of it, it doesn't matter. Like: "what's your name"? He doesn't care. If you lift numbers, he cares about that, that's more important.
Ciro admires this level of focus, directness and meritocracy. Just don't take drugs, children. Louis' creation of a cult-like training atmosphere is another interesting aspect, see also: Section "Group students by interest, not by age".
Ciro wonders if Louis is a white supremacist though, this was asked here but is inconclusive. But being composed almost exclusively of a bunch of white bald ex-prisoners in the US makes it a bit suspicious. Racism is bad BTW.
This is one of the main reasons why Ciro Santilli invested in OurBigBook.com.
Ciro believes that the only thing students must be forced to learn is to speak read and write English and that a teacher's main job after that is to help students find their next big goals and also ties into the backward design philosophy.
Everything else, the student must choose.
This idea is generally known as self-directed learning.
This is most notable in University entry examinations of poor countries, where students often have to waste one extra year of their lives to go through preparation for the useless university entry exams. And then, surprise surprise, if they actually get in, they find that this is not what they really wanted to do, and they just go through to the end miserably because they understandably they don't want to risk another year of their lives.
Ciro saw this first hand École Polytechnique which was way freer than his university in Brazil.
Steve Jobs's university dropout stories from Steve Jobs' 2005 Stanford Commencement Address also come to mind.
Video 1. The Purpose of Education by Noam Chomsky (2012) Source.
  • 0:00 discusses education as a system of indoctrination: indoctrincation for people to comply with the Establishment and pass tests, vs the Age of Enlightenment in which education should help you achieve your own intellectual/life goals. He suggests without specific evidence that after the 60's there was explicit intervention in the US to increase the indoctrination aspect, of which debt is a part.
  • 15.45: assessment vs autonomy: exams are useless, except as a tool to help improve teaching and self assess. Tells anecdote about little girl who wanted to learn more about a subject, asked teacher how to learn more, teacher said you can't, you have to study for this useless national exam instead which will determine your future, and if I'm rehired or not.
www.nature.com/articles/081121a0. paywalled after more than 100 years, thanks Nature.
From the abstract:
Much money, his student went on to say, is spent by various Governments in attempting to discover those people whose thorough education may be expected to bring in a return of value to the State, and the question how best to discover latent genius is an eminently practical one. After cogitation, Prof. Ostwald came to the conclusion that it is those students who cannot be kept on the rails - that is, who are not contented with methodical teaching - who have within them the seeds of genius
Ciro Santilli couldn't agree more... notably students must have a flexible choice of what to learn.
This is a good initiative. It doesn't go nearly as deep as it needs to go to fix students must have a flexible choice of what to learn, but it is a start!
Since Ciro Santilli is Brazilian, this is understandably a common conversation opener.
And rightly so, since soccer in particular is truly ridiculously popular in Brazil, where "what is your local soccer team?" is just as valid a conversation starter as "Which city are you from?".
So here goes Ciro's 2020 cynic answer:
I currently root actively against Brazil.
The ironic reason is simple: maybe is Brazil loses more on this useless art, then maybe people will get tired of it, and instead invest on more useful and beautiful arts.
Notably, what Ciro really wants people to root for are:
  • the number of Brazilian Nobel Prizes, which is zero, yes, zero, as of 2020, despite a population of 210 million people. But thank God for our one Field Medal, what an epic start, even though Mathematics is useless.
  • the number of high tech companies that have a global impact, which is likely extremely low as of 2020, and must contain only a few mammoths that dominate some local commodity market and therefore got enough money from that to expand a bit of technology worldwide. But they were mostly not classic tech startups that did world innovation from the start.
  • how low your country's Gini coefficient is
Don't get Ciro wrong.
Observing professionals who do it amazingly can be beautiful.
But why the F do you have to root for a team unless your wife or children are playing in it (and even then..., how will that help?)?
What will you get from that?
Even if it is your national team, why does it matter if they win or lose?
Hooliganism just takes that uselessness to a hole new level.
Now some confessions.
A five year old Ciro will never forget when the feeling of Brazil won the 1994 World Cup on the penalties and everyone went mad that evening.
A nine year old Ciro stopped watching the 1998 World Cup Final of Brazil vs France half way during the 3-0 massacre and went to his front garden to kick his soccer ball on the metallic fence gate which represented a goal.
After that, Ciro went through puberty he guesses, and noticed that the natural sciences are just cooler than this soccer watching bullshit.
Video 1. Football, Football, Football by Mitchell and Webb. Source.
companies are getting too much power to distort regulations and destroy privacy.
Taxes pay for the physical car roads, so why shouldn't they also pay for the "online roads" of today?
The following services are obvious picks because they are so simple:
Other less simple ones that might also be feasible:
All of them should have strong privacy enabled by default: end-to-end encryption, logless, etc. Governments are not going to like this part.
And then if you ever forget a password or lose a multi-factor authentication token, you can just go to an ID center with your ID to recover it.
Ciro Santilli thinks that maybe the government does not need to provide those, but it needs to regulate the fuck out of them, notably control over censorship in those platforms: the deplatforming of Donald Trump.
Related:
Ciro Santilli is a big believer that there is value in tutorials written by beginners, because beginners are more likely to explain things in a way that other beginners can understand.
Even though they make more mistakes, this more approachable point of view can be very valuable.
And mistakes/omissions can be corrected on comments by people with more knowledge, so that the writer also ends up learning something new.
By other people:
  • jakobschwichtenberg.com/about/ from Jakob Schwichtenberg mentions quotes C. S. Lewis book "Reflections on the Psalms"[ref]:
    It often happens that two schoolboys can solve difficulties in their work for one another better than the master can. [...] The fellow-pupil can help more than the master because he knows less. The difficulty we want him to explain is one he has recently met. The expert met it so long ago he has forgotten. He sees the whole subject, by now, in a different light that he cannot conceive what is really troubling the pupil; he sees a dozen other difficulties which ought to be troubling him but aren't.
Good pious Cirists earn Cirocoins.
Cirocoins are the most valuable form of currency that exists at any point.
Cirocoins can only be issued by Ciro Santilli.
Cirocoins are strictly nominal, and cannot be traded by recipients with anyone but Ciro, i.e. they are extremely illiquid.
Cirocoins can be removed from recipients at any point if they commit non-Cirist acts.
It is not possible to give a precise number to how many Cirocoins anyone owns. This is decided on a transaction by transaction basis. Ciro can therefore only inform you if your Cirocoin balance increased or decreased, but any attached number has no value, and thus are equivalent to expressions of type "you gained/lost a Cirocoin".
The following inferior currencies come to mind:
Notable lists:
Things that are not nice such as:
And of course, 4chan just takes that to a whole new level, usually closing on the same day, and then getting deleted within a week. Why would anyone contribute non-illegal content to that king of system?!
Ridiculous, so when new information comes out, we just duplicate all the old comments on a new thread again?
The first time Ciro Santilli Googled this was when trying to repair his cell phone.
2019 cell phones are glued together with adhesive, which makes them impossible to repair them unless you have a heat gun, spend hours and hours learning and planning, and accept the risk of breaking the screen
If you take a phone less than 300 dollars to a repair shop in the first world, they will say: I've never repaired this crap, and likely for the price of the repair you should just buy a new one, and so to the trash goes the old one, polluting the planet, and in comes a new one, enriching the manufacturer further.
European Union, I need you now.
These are obviously just a manipulative lie sales practice to make you want to buy at regular price.
Shame on you.
Similarly, recurrent Internet payments that give you one year's discount, and make you put up on your calendar to call them one year later threatening to give more discounts to be as cheap as competitors or I'm out.
Ciro Santilli's website is a dump of his brain, see also: braindumping.
However it won't remain like that for long, because it will be migrated to OurBigBook.com, and therefore become a brain dump of society itself.
Video 1. Who Wants To Live Forever by Queen (1986) Source.
It is interesting to see how your own ideas shift with time, and Ciro Santilli doesn't think the following are very important anymore, so he was lazy to migrate them.
When he did the original website Ciro was in a "I must show off my skills to get a job mindset", but then after he landed a few jobs he moved to a "CV websites are useless, just do amazing projects and showcase them on your website to help them succeed" mindset.
Non-technical skills were moved to: Ciro Santilli's skills.
This has not been updated since 2016 after Ciro got a job, because it is too hard to put a number on any skill.
10 You literally have written a book.
7 - 9 Expert, go-to person on this technology.
5 - 6 Solid daily working knowledge. Highly proficient.
3 - 4 Comfortable working with this, have to check manual on some things.
1 - 2 Have worked with it previously but either not much, or rusty.
I copied this grading scale mechanism from a failed Google interview ;-)
One problem with it is that I am always very hesitant to put a 5 on anything, who can not look at the documentation?
It is also hard to scope things right. Who can claim to be a C++ or Linux kernel expert, even if you wrote a book about it, since those are such humongous topics?
As a result, I haven't updated this in a while, and things may be out of date.
If your project does something that interests me, I can what it takes to contribute. Tell me what I must know, how long I have to learn it, and I'll call you back when I've mastered it.
Grade Name Notes
4 C / C++ Cheatsheets: C, C++, POSIX C API
3 x86 assembly, ELF Cheatsheet, x86 Paging Tutorial, Bare Metal
4 Python Cheatsheet
4 Bash Cheatsheets: language, POSIX / GNU utils
4 HTML, CSS, JavaScript web technology, Node.js, CoffeScript
4 Java Cheatsheet, school projects
3 Ruby, Rails GitLab contributions, cheatsheets: Ruby, rails-cheat
3 GDB Cheatsheet
2 MySQL Tutorial
3 LaTeX, Markdown LaTeX cheatsheet, Markdown style guide, Markdown Testsuite contributions, Jekyll cheatsheet
Grade Name Notes
3 Algorithms Cheatsheet and implementations
3 Linux internals Linux Kernel Module Cheat
5 Git Tutorial
4 Buildroot Some .configs, Linux Kernel Module Cheat uses it a lot
3 OpenGL Cheatsheet and mini projects
3 Vim .vimrc + cheatsheet at end
3 Django Cheatsheet and mini project
2 Android Cheatsheet
2 OpenCL Cheatsheet
3 QEMU QEMU recipes, basic devices
1 Chef For GitLab Contributions
1 AWS, Heroku EC2, SES
1 Media formats Video, Images, FFmpeg
1 Networking Cheatsheet, basic POSIX networking
As Ciro started getting a lot of comments on his home page about China, he decided that Disqus does not scale, and that it would be more productive long term to remove it and point people to GitHub issues instead.
Upsides of removal:
  • Disqus discoverability is bad:
    • there is no decent way to search existing issues, you have to do JavaScript infinite loading + Ctrl + F. So every reply that he wrote is a waste of time, as it will never be seen again.
    • comments don't have: decent URLs, titles, metadata like tags or open / close
  • Disqus archival is bad: web.archive.org/ does not work, and no one knows how to export the issues: www.archiveteam.org/index.php?title=Disqus
  • before, there were two places where people could comment, Disqus and GitHub issues. Now there is just one.
  • Disqus has ads if you ever reach enough traffic, which unacceptable, especially if the website owner don't get paid for them! It also makes page loads slower, although that likely does not matter much.
Downsides:
  • people are more likely to comment on Disqus than to create an issue on GitHub, especially because most people use GitHub professionally. But this has the upside that there will be less shitposts as well.
  • with Disqus you can see all issues attached to a page automatically, which is nice. But for as long as Ciro is alive, he intends to just solve the issues, cross link between content and issues and tag things appropriately.
Ciro's stance towards China hasn't changed, and China comments and corrections about his website are still welcome as always.
AKA how this GitHub page gets served under the domain: cirosantilli.com
Ciro only touches this very rarely, and always forgets and go into great pain whenever a change needs to done, so it is important to document it.
The last change was of 2019-07-07, when Ciro moved from the www subdomain www.cirosantilli.com to the APEX cirosantilli.com. A redirect is setup from the www subdomain to APEX.
GoDaddy DNS entries:
Type    Name    Value                   TTL
A       @       185.199.108.153         1 Hour
A       @       185.199.109.153         1 Hour
A       @       185.199.110.153         1 Hour
A       @       185.199.111.153         1 Hour
CNAME   www     cirosantilli.github.io  1 Hour
Moved cirosantilli.com to Porkbun 2022-02, unfortunatly records were not automatically updated and domain went down for a bit, upadded to new entries for IPv6 as well which are not documented by GitHub:
TYPE 	HOST	ANSWER	TTL	PRIORITY	OPTIONS
A	cirosantilli.com	185.199.108.153	600
A	cirosantilli.com	185.199.109.153	600
A	cirosantilli.com	185.199.110.153	600
A	cirosantilli.com	185.199.111.153	600
AAAA	cirosantilli.com	2606:50c0:8000::153	600
AAAA	cirosantilli.com	2606:50c0:8001::153	600
AAAA	cirosantilli.com	2606:50c0:8002::153	600
AAAA	cirosantilli.com	2606:50c0:8003::153	600
CNAME	www.cirosantilli.com	cirosantilli.github.io	600
  • Custom domain: cirosantilli.com
  • Enforce HTTPS: checked
And the CNAME file is tracked in this repository: CNAME.
That which does not exist, cannot be broken.
True art cannot be consumed in mobile format.
KaTeX is automatically used in OurBigBook Markup.
It is true that one image is worth a thousand words, but unfortunately it is also true that one image takes up at least as much bytes as a thousand words!
Having one single page to rule them all is of course the ideal setup for a website, as you can Ctrl + F one ToC and quickly find what you want.
And, with Linux Kernel Module Cheat Ciro noticed that it is very hard to write so much intelligent prose that becomes larger than reasonable to load on a single webpage.
He then started using this technique for everything he writes, including this page and Chinese government.
However, if there are too many images on the page, the loading of the last images would take forever in case users want to view the last sections.
There are two solutions to that:
Ciro is still deciding between those two. The traditional approach works for sure but loses the one page to rule them all benefits.
The innovative approach will work for interactive viewing, but archive.org will fail to load the images for example, and there may be other unforseen consequences.
Wikimedia Commons is awesome and automatically converts and serves smaller versions of images, so always choose the smallest images size needed by the output document. Readers can then find the higher resolution versions by following the page source.
This also comes to mind: motherfuckingwebsite.com
zettelkasten.de/posts/overview/ from zettelkasten:
How many Zettelkästen should I have? The answer is, most likely, only one for the duration of your life. But there are exceptions to this rule.
Since images are large, they bring the following challenges:
  • keeping images in the main Git repository with text content makes the repository huge and slow to clone, and should not be done
  • storing and serving images could cost us, which we want to avoid
To solve those problems, the following alternatives appear to be stable enough and should be used decreasing preference:
  • for all images, use the separate GitHub repository: github.com/cirosantilli/media
    This way, the entire website is relies on a single third party: GitHub, so we have a simple single point of failure.
    We are at the mercy of GitHub's 1GB size policy: help.github.com/en/articles/what-is-my-disk-quota, but it will take a while to hit that.
    GitLab however has a 10Gb maximum size: about.gitlab.com/2015/04/08/gitlab-dot-com-storage-limit-raised-to-10gb-per-repo/ so we could move there is we ever blow up 1Gb on GitHub.
    Both GitLab and GitHub allow uploading files through the web UI, so downloading a large repo is never needed to contribute.
    GitHub does not serve videos like it does images however as of 2019.
  • Wikimedia Commons for videos if the following conditions are met:
    • in scope: "educational material in a broad sense", but not e.g. "Private image collections, e.g. private party photos, photos of yourself and your friends, your collection of holiday snaps and so on.". I don't think they will be too picky even with low quality photos.
    • allowed format, e.g. images or videos, but not ZIPs
    • allowed license: CC BY SA, but no fair use
    Since Wikimedia Commons has a higher level of curation and is an educational not-for-profit, it is the method most likely to remain available for the longest time.
    For this reason, we highly recommend uploading any acceptable files there as well as an additional backup.
    The downside is that its tooling is not as good, e.g. there are a bunch of messy unofficial tools for batch operations, and upload takes more effort.
    Another downside of Wikimedia Commons is that while we can choose the basename of files, it also adds some extra SHA crap to the beginning of URLs, making them harder to predict.
    Another serious downside is that they randomly rename images without redirects... e.g. they renamed upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/0/03/STJ_SVG_file.svg to upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/81/Superconducting_tunnel_junction.svg
    Another "downside" is that they are extremely strict about copyright compliance. This is good because you can be pretty sure that they are correct in general, but it also means that they are very conservative, and delete things where fair use would be OK. And if those fair uses have no Wikipedia page, they won't show up anywhere.
  • archive.org for anything else, e.g. videos that Wikimedia commons does not accept.
    All content will be tracked under the cirosantilli collection: archive.org/details/cirosantilli
    archive.org has a very convenient upload and lax requirements. The generated URLs are predictable (single SHA prefix for the entire collection).
    Never trust a website that is not on GitHub Pages, for-profit companies will take down everything immediately as soon as it stops making them money.
    Every external link to non-GitHub pages must be archived. And GitHub links must be forked.
    We should also backup images that Wikimedia Commons does not accept here in addition to the github.com/cirosantilli/media repository.
The following do have direct links:
First install NVM/NPM as shown at and then:
git clone https://github.com/cirosantilli/cirosantilli.github.io
cd cirosantilli.github.io
npm install
ourbigbook .
xdg-open index.html
Because when this gets converted to a OurBigBook.com page, it will be easier for people to copy paragraphs/fork and write a canonical page about Ciro.
What do you do when creating a pull request? Do you say "I", which is not true because Ciro did not say that, or do you say "John Doe thinks" bla bla?
And because his name is awesome! :-) Just kidding.
This became a micro-meme in 4chan:
Correction: cirosantilli.com is not Ciro Santili's resume. It is your life.
The website moved from AsciiDoctor to OurBigBook Markup in 2020, making this section mostly useless. But hey, history!
Ciro's website is powered by GitHub Pages and Jekyll Asciidoc.
Build locally, watch for changes and rebuild automatically, and start a local server with:
git clone --recursive https://github.com/cirosantilli/cirosantilli.github.io
cd cirosantilli.github.io
bundle install
npm install
./run
Source: ./run.
The website will be visible at: localhost:4000.
Tested on the latest Ubuntu.
Publish changes to GitHub Pages:
git add -u
git commit -m 'make yourself look sillier'
./publish
Source: ./publish.
GitHub forces us to use the master branch for the build output... so the actual source is in the branch dev.
Update the gems with:
bundle update
git add Gemfile.lock
git commit -m 'update gems'
His website was originally written in markdown, however those were deprecated in favour of AsciiDoctor when Ciro saw the light, rationale shown at: markdown-style-guide#use-asciidoc
Ciro Santilli has the power to document stuff in a way that makes using them awesome, as evidenced by his his Stack Overflow contributions (notably those in the best articles by Ciro Santillis), and other online contributions.
If your project does something awesome, hiring Ciro means that more people will be able to notice that it is actually awesome, and use it.
He likes to do this in parallel to contributing new features, quickly switching between his "developer" and "technical documentor" hats.
This means of course that he will develop new features a bit slower than others, but he feel it is more valuable if end users can actually use your project in the first place.
His technique is to provide upfront extremely interactive and reproducible getting started setups that immediately show the key value of the project to users.
He backs those setups with:
  • scripts that automate the setup much as possible to make things enjoyable and reproducible
  • a detailed description of the environment in which he tested: which OS, version of key software, etc.
  • a detailed description of what is expected to happen when you take an action, including known bugs with links to bug reports
  • theory and rationale on the sections after the initial getting started, but always finely interspersed with concrete examples
  • all docs contained in a Git-tracked repo, with the ability to render to a single HTML with one TOC
  • short sentences and paragraphs, interspersed with many headers, lists and code blocks
A prime example of kind of setup is Ciro's Linux Kernel Module Cheat.
While he create this setup, he inevitably start to notice and fix:
  • bugs
  • annoyances on the public interface of the project
  • the devs were using 50 different local scripts to do similar things, all of them semi-broken and limited. Every new hire was copying one of those local scripts, and hacking it up further.
  • your crappy build / test / version control setup
Exploiting this skill, however, requires you to trust him.
When he tells to managers that he's good at documenting, they always say: great, we need better documentation! But then, one of the following may happen:
  • managers forget that they wanted good documentation and just tell him to code new features as fast as possible
  • they don't let him own the getting started page, but rather and expect him to try and fix the existing crappy unfixable existing getting started, without stepping on anyone's pride in the process >:-)
    This makes him tired, and less likely to do a good job.
    Good documentation requires a large number of small iterative reviews, and detailed review of every line is not always feasible.
    Too many cooks.
Ciro's passion for documentation and tooling has the effect that if you have crappy documentation and tooling and don't want them to be fixed, Ciro will end up trying to fix those tools instead of doing what you tell him to do anyways, which might lead to him quitting because he can't stand the tools, or you firing him because he's not doing the job you think I should be doing. So please, don't bother hiring Ciro if you have crappy documentation and tooling.
Psychological analysis of why Ciro has this gift: How Ciro Santilli manages to write so much.
Ciro often has the following metaphor in his mind:
New discoveries are like very rough trails where you have to cut through heavy bushes (an original research paper).
After a brave explorer goes through this rough path for the first time and charts it, it does become much easier for others to follow it later on, but it still requires a lot of effort to go through them, because there are still a lot of rough bushes and some parts of the map are not very clear (reading and reproducing the research paper to further advance the state of the art).
As enough people start going through, the probability that someone with a bad memory ends up walking it increases, and that person ends up pounding the earth into a beaten track and increasing the trail clearance of the beginning of the trail at least (review paper).
There finally comes a point when even the local government starts to notice this trail is important, and pays someone to add some stone pavement and rails on the most exposed parts of the trail (post and undergrad education).
This is somewhat the centerpiece of Ciro Santilli's documentation superpowers: dumping your brain into text form, which he has been doing through Ciro Santilli's website.
This is also the closest one can get to immortality pre full blown transhumanism.
Ciro's still looking for the restore this plaintext backup on a new body though.
Related:
Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom (2014) section "Whole brain emulation" provides a reasonable setup: post mortem, take a brain, freeze it, then cut it into fine slices with a Microtome, and then inspect slices with an electron microscope after some kind of staining to determine all the synapses.
Well, mind uploading would be kind of pointless without whole brain emulation, so they are almost synonyms.
zettelkasten.de/posts/overview/ mentions one page to rule them all:
How many Zettelkästen should I have? The answer is, most likely, only one for the duration of your life. But there are exceptions to this rule.
When asked, Ciro likes to say that he speaks something between 1.5 and 3.5 languages in total, depending on how you count, because Portuguese, French and English are 99.99% the same, and Chinese is completely different but Ciro only knows about 50% of it if counted optimistically.
Ciro Santilli's energy throughout the day varies as follows:
  • morning: highest
  • 11AM: peak exercise performance
  • after lunch: brain death. Possibly due to Ciro's partial Spanish descent?
  • late afternoon and evening: can do some stuff
Ciro has low tolerance to sleep deprivation which makes him very irritable, and low ability to sleep if there is any light. It must have to do with those damned ganglion cell photoreceptors. On the other hand, Ciro Santilli's wife can sleep without any problems with some morning light! It is definitely genetic. Ciro conjectures that people from very Northern parts of the world must have a gene that allows them to sleep even if there is some light, while more equatorial people don't. Maybe: pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33049062/
Ciro has mild olfactory synesthesia for star anise (八角, bajiao), which is widely used in Chinese cuisine and makes Ciro think uncontrollably of the color blue. Ciro does not have any other known synesthesias.
Ciro is a reptilian-like being with cold hands and feet and low blood pressure. For this reason he believes that he will die of cancer or some respiratory problem. If the Chinese government doesn't get him first that is. This also partly explains why Ciro is not a big fan of swimming.
Besides Chinese food, Ciro really likes eating fruits and roasted nuts, maybe partly because he was born in Brazil, and partly because of monkey nature, see his Chinese name. At home he is known as "水果大王" (the big king of the fruits). Ciro is also a sucker for yoghurt (natural without added sugars and full fat, fat-tree yoghurt is terrible, often eaten with fruits). Ciro's "favorite drink" could be tonic water with freshly squeezed lemon. Tied with fresh fruit juices. Chocolate-wise, although not a huge fanatic, a Lindt dark chocolate with whole hazelnut pieces bar will do the job.
Ciro does not like receiving or giving gifts on expected social situations like birthdays or Christmas. Ciro believes that every day is equally precious, and can be a day to give, be it through awesome open source software contributions, or if you find something that your friend will like
Ciro has some respiratory allergies. When he was around 5, he had relatively serious asthma crisis which scared his parents to death. Throughout his life, he appears to be allergic at an intermediate level to: mold or dust mites (or whatever it is that old books/pillows have), cats (itching on touch), hay fever (in May in the UK, likely grass pollen). But even outside of hayfever season, Ciro's nose is constantly either running in the cold, or often partially blocked while sleeping throughout the year. Ciro believes however that this also gives him higher resistance to viral infections, since it has been many many years since he had a cold/flu, and when everyone in the office is going down with it, he's just fine. Ciro wonders if his active immune system will actually kill off cancers early, which he ranks as his most likely causes of death, along with respiratory and gastro-intestinal problems. Ciro has low blood pressure and cannot get fat, so cardio vascular problems seem much less likely.
Ciro is generally democrat due to his high compassion level. He believes that politics is highly genetically determined, and that just like you enter a room full of people and immediately like some and dislike others, the same goes for politics. People just vote for whoever they want to see more of because their way of speaking makes them feel good. There is not rationality involved in it at all.
Ciro self diagnoses a slight graphomania in the early 2020's. This is largely what led him to create OurBigBook.com, and contribute to Stack Overflow. Literature Nobel Prize laureate Naguib Mahfouz also suffers from the condition however, so maybe good can also come out of it:
If the urge to write should ever leave me, I want that day to be my last.
When Ciro was quite young, maybe around 7-10, when he got very angry or sad for some stupid reason (bullying perhaps? Ciro forgot), he would have a psychosomatic manifestation: his spine would become visibly curved sideways (scoliosis). While writing this paragraph, Ciro Googled it, and found e.g. medium.com/@michaelrosen_94192/the-root-cause-of-scoliosis-5c461002b634 that describes:
The Root Cause of Idiopathic Scoliosis
It is proposed that Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS) is a condition created by emotional stress. Evidence is presented that unresolved emotional stress can cause unbalanced tensions in the fascia and growing muscles that gradually deform the spinal column.
so it is a somewhat well known thing! Incredible. Can you imagine the level of the passions that lead to such physical deformations? But of course, it was all for nothing.
Ciro like to interpret this as him having "a creative personality" with the tradeoff of generally not being amazing at his well defined jobs.
Ciro is obsessed by that which is "quirky". This also often has a parallel with "naughty". He often fantasizes about an imaginary parallel between that feeling and Jobs and Wozniak's blue box.
Ciro's natural fight-or-flight response is to hide in a little corner, and try to solve the problem out. Then get distracted and start procrastinating. And then he tries to solve the unsolvable. Someone Ciro barely new once told him quite correctly:
In the event of war, you would be the type that hides away and makes the bombs.
This is also perhaps why Ciro likes prison decks in Magic: The Gathering. You just sit on your corner, making yourself safer and safer, until the opponent can't do you any harm and concedes.
There are of course infinitely many videos on the "entrepreneurial mindset" online, and it is impossible to know if they are bullshit, or if everyone just feels like that, but OK, just let Ciro feels that he is specially creative will you?
Video 1. What Predicts Academic Ability? by Jordan B Peterson (2017) Source. Good quotes:
Creative people continuously step outside of the domain of evaluation structures
and:
If you are creative and you go off on tangents all the time, there's some probability that one of those tangents is going to be exactly what is needed at the time, and you are going to become hyper-successful as a consequence
[but the probability of that being the right time and place for the idea is extraordinarily low]
The sensible thing to tell anybody is "you shouldn't do it, your probability of success is so low, that its better to just to something sensible".
But the problem with that, is that creative people can't do that, because they are creative. A creative person who isn't being creative, they just wither and die.
Which brings Here's to the crazy ones to mind.
Ciro also one heard a story, likely apocryphal, but still nonetheless resonated with him, that went something like this (TODO find source, Google wasn't helping, stuff that happened before website as usual):
The newly hired manager of some subsection of DuPont (or some other gigantic chemical company) came into the office, and found a chemical engineer, completely drunk in the middle of the day.
Outraged, the manager searched for this colleagues who explained.
Ah, don't mind John (or some other name), the guy invented Teflon (or some other substance) which accounted for 20% of our revenue last year. Even if he does not do anything else in his entire career, his salary won't make any difference compared to those gains, and we take the chance that he might invent something else later.
Ciro likes this story because although he does not drink, he feels his work mind works in a related way. Often, when there is something really hard he knows needs doing he hides, and distracts himself with less important tasks, or by watching crap on YouTube, because he knows that the hard task will hurt his mind. Then one day he wakes up and says: OK, fuck it, let's do it, and does it.
Once Ciro got a performance review from a colleague that said:
If Ciro spent as much effort on his job as he does on side projects, he'd be the most amazing worker.
This is closely related to effortless effort.
Yes, low conscientiousness, give it to me.
Ciro Santilli fantasizes that he is more compassionate than average.
He feels that this manifests itself notably through his desire/ability to create amazing documentation content and notably for free.
Also related is Ciro's worry about social inequality and how to reduce it.
In school, especially before university, Ciro felt that he always treated "the ugly/unpopular" (it is horrifying that such perception of a person exists! but true) girls really well, which led some of them to like him romantically. In part this was de to Ciro Santilli's self perceived compassionate personality and enter through the narrow gate approach to life. But was also partly Ciro's fault, he should have been clearer that he was not truly interested, but he was also lonely, curious about how it was like having girlfriend, and it feels good to have someone like you. This was a sin.
He also feels like he treated working class employees (and don't forget, this is Brazil, e.g. his building janitors in São Paulo lived in the nearby favela!) with extreme equality, sometimes even better, than other richer people.
One thing Ciro does not do however is give money to beggars on the street. Those beggars do make Ciro feel extremely bad for not giving, but he feels that they must be drug addicts to be out on the street like that, and that this money would be better invested in OurBigBook.com. But maybe this is just wrong. How fucked up the world is, how far away are we from unconditional basic income???
Once Ciro was hanging out with one of his father's on a group tourist, and she was a lesbian borderline/actually activist social reform person, and she promptly gave to a beggar without batting an eye, and that made a big impression on Ciro, making him feel even worse about himself.
It must be said that at times this compassion can be a weakness see Ciro's trip to the Municipal Market of São Paulo.
Ciro Santilli feels that all really important and productive activities come spontaneously, without being internally forced upon people.
You may say that this is because Ciro is lazy and irresponsible, but Bill thinks this isn't necessarily always bad:
I will always choose a lazy person to do a difficult job because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.
This is yet another manifestation of YAGNI.
As another way to put it, Ciro has very little "self-discipline", and acts very heavily based on small passions that take hold of him. Related: high flying bird vs gophers.
You may also say that Ciro is an idealist, because what to do when the food will run out and you have to hunt? To which Jesus replies at Matthew 6:25-34 "Do Not Worry" (archive):
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you - you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, "What shall we eat?" or "What shall we drink?" or "What shall we wear?" For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Also closely related: man shall not live by bread alone.
Ciro is also fond of the description of the work method of some writer that his father told him about, possibly Haruki Murakami 村上 春樹. TODO could not find sources, to treat as apocryphal for now. Basically something like:
Don't rush the work. Just let it happen. Every day at midnight, I would boil a teapot of tea. I would watch the steam rise, and with it feel my consciousness deepen. Everything was pure silence. When the hand was ready, it would, by itself, pick up the brush, and writing would start.
Another good one is Hemingway's work method:
Always stop while you are going good and don't think about it or worry about it until you start to write the next day. That way your subconscious will work on it all the time. But if you think about it consciously or worry about it you will kill it and your brain will be tired before you start.
Ciro generally feels that many major developments in his life happened "by miracle", beyond his control. So when he saw the quote by Carl Jung:
Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.
Ciro tends to do major decisions in his life due to uncontrollable passion rather than logic.
Ciro believes that this is linked to his self perceived creative personality, Because Ciro gives in to such uncontrollable passions, this leads him to do things which are more unusual/creative, because other more logical people would write such options off as weird.
Another type of laziness Ciro is to blame for is passionately seeking Instrumental goals rather than hard end goals, in order to reach the hard goals more effectively. This is well put in the quote apocryphallyref attribute to Abraham Lincoln:
Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe
For example, whenever joining a new company, Ciro would first try to improve any exceedingly shitty systems, like the build system or test system, rather than doing whatever random task the manager felt like doing that week. He was somewhat fired for that actually. But in the end, if your infrastructure sucks, your project will fail, so better be fired early and go work on something that might succeed than later when the enterprise goes bankrupt.
Video 1. Alan Watts' wuwei talk. Source. During this talk, Alan quotes Jesus: Matthew 18:3 "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.".
Video 2. Alan Watts' "How to turn work into play" talk. Source.
Video 3. Don't Try - The Philosophy of Charles Bukowski by Pursuit of Wonder (2019) Source. www.openculture.com/2013/02/dont_try_charles_bukowskis_concise_philosophy_of_art_and_life.html
We work too hard. We try too hard. Don’t try. Don’t work. It’s there. It’s been looking right at us, aching to kick out of the closed womb. There’s been too much direction. It’s all free, we needn’t be told. Classes? Classes are for asses. Writing a poem is as easy as beating your meat or drinking a bottle of beer.
Video 4. Charles Bukowski Scandanavian TV interviews. Source.
I think the magic moment is when you're walking around the house and you think: "Typewritter!". And I know, when I sit down, I never have any idea what I'm gonna write, there's nothing in my mind. And you walk in, you move toward it, and there it is, and things come out of it.
Just enough money to raise 3 kids in a rich country without having to work (so he can focus on whatever project he wants) and no more. Then maximize fame.
Fame is slightly convertible into money with generally little liquidity, but is more valuable if money becomes useless in a TEOTWAWKI.
Of course, in the end, one just does whatever seems cool and useful, and the Gods decide what proportion of fame/money/power they will get. Due to Ciro's love of open source software however, a higher fame percentage seems more likely than money.
Ciro Santilli's full name is quite unique and already dominated by this Ciro Santilli.
Searching just for just "Santilli" on Google does not give any Ciro Santilli hits. The name appears to be a minor variation of the much more common "Santini". Since the name is not that common, it is possible to go over all noteworthy hits. Some relevant ones are shown at: interesting members of the Santilli family.
Searching just for just "Ciro" on Google does not give any Ciro Santilli hits, mostly some smaller brands that could be beaten, this is Ciro's main initial fame metric goal. Reaching it would require doing things known much beyond the programming community however, as Ciro has done until of 2019. ciro.com is from an electromechanics consultancy as of 2019, so it's not bad, let them be.
At the next useless gamified level, an honorary OBE and more ambitiously ForMemRS from the Royal Society post nominal letters would be nice.
The ultimate dream however would be to beat Cyrus the Great himself on Google searches ("Ciro" == "Cyrus" in Portuguese), maybe becoming "Cyrus the Greater"? That one will be a bit harder though. Maybe if Falung Gong becomes the dominant religion in 2000 years like Christianism did, catapulting the Judaism benefactor Cyrus into greater fame, then there is some hope for Ciro as well.
Ciro's ideal city to live in contains the following in order of decreasing importance:
Could California be Ciro's Mecca?
Ciro Santilli has a bad memory for events that happened a medium time ago, for example in order of months/years. Especially if they are one-off things that have no relation to anything else.
For example, Ciro never remembers which places he travelled to just once, and who was in each trip! He has images of several places he travelled to in his head, and would recognize them, but he just doesn't know where they were!
The same goes for scenes from movies and passages from music, which explains why Ciro's art consumption focuses on innovative discrete "what happened" and "general gist" ideas, rather than, analog details such as colors and shapes.
Going back even further in time, Ciro starts to forget the less close friends he had, because the events start to fade away.
Paradoxically however, Ciro believes that this bad memory is one of his greatest strengths and key defining characteristics, because it leads Ciro to want to write down every interesting thing he learns, which motivated OurBigBook.com and his Stack Overflow contributions and his related Ciro Santilli's documentation superpowers.
It also somewhat leads Ciro to like physics and mathematics, because in these fields you "can deduce everything" from very few base principles, so if you forget them, it does not matter that much as you can re-deduce stuff over and over.
Ciro believes that there are two types of people, and most notably software engineers, which are basically data wranglers: those with bad memory and those with good memory.
Those with bad memory, tend to focus on automating and improving their processes a lot. They take much longer to do one-off specific deep knowledge tasks however.
The downside of the good memory ones is that sooner or later they will find tasks that no matter how much memory they have, they cannot solve without automation, and they will fail at those.
Also, good memory people don't enable others to join the project efficiently as much.
This dichotomy also explains why Ciro sucks at code reviews, but is rather the person who runs the interesting patches by himself and finds some critical problems that the more theoretical code reviewers missed.
If Ciro had become a scientist, he would without doubt be an experimentalist, just like in this reality he is a GDB/runtime person rather than a "static source analysis" person. Those who have bad memory prefer to just run experiments over and over and observe system state at runtime.
Other effects of having a bad memory include:
  • code duplication, or a constant fear of it at least, because Ciro forgets that some functionality exists already
  • meeting aversion, because everything that is not recorded will fade away
  • passion for backward design, because by the time a piece of knowledge learnt in school might be useful (and 99.99% won't), it will have been long forgotten
Related: jakobschwichtenberg.com/about/ from Jakob Schwichtenberg:
I'm a physicist and I try to write down things during my own learning process.
In some sense, one of the biggest benefits I have over other people in physics is that I'm certainly not the smartest guy! I usually can't grasp complex issues very easily. So I have to break down complex ideas into smaller chunks to understand it myself. This means, whenever I describe something to others, everyone understands, because it's broken down into such simple terms.
During his teenage years, Ciro created an innovative new dance style combining elements of the various corporal practices that he studied a bit of across the years:
  • Kung Fu/Taichi
  • Brazilian Axé and Capoeira
  • Breakdance
  • Yoga
  • Modern dance
Ciro later called this style Cirodance.
Ciro's legendary dance style was famous during his university years, when Ciro would go to parties and dance like made while mostly unsuccessfully trying to woo girls.
Ciro has always been critical of dancing conditions in University parties, where people would always be cramped up doing boring non-creative moves. Rather, Ciro would go to to the edges of the dance floor to have enough space for his amazing moves. There is a perhaps a parallel between such tendencies and Ciro's highly innovative personality. Also perhaps being cramped would have helped wooing said girls.
Ciro later quit dancing, to a large extent because it is too hard to find suitable dancing locations outside: Europe is too cold much of the year, also ground conditions have to be perfect, and no patience to book a dance room somewhere. Kid's playgrounds are ideal, but Ciro is afraid of dancing there because kids parent's would freak out.
Therefore, all evidence of Cirodance seems to have disappeared into the depths of the Internet. There used to be a notorious video on YouTube from around June 2010 entitled "A Piriguete da Poli !!" ("Poli's bitch" in Portuguese) with comment "Sem comentarios... foi a atraçao da cervejada" (No comments... was the main attraction of the beer party) dancing the Piriguete by MC Papo Brazilian Funk carioca song. But the video was removed at some point, they were likely afraid of getting sued, the URL was www.youtube.com/watch?v=T969azGjIeE as shown at www.facebook.com/cirosantilli/posts/133333123357495, but this was before Ciro noticed that every good thing on the web goes down and became an obsessive web archiver. But in any case, the title gives an idea of the amazing style of Ciro's furor poeticus Axé performance on that day. If the video owner ever reads this message, please please restore the video, or send Ciro a copy. TODO: which channel was it on? Knowing that Ciro would be able to try and contact them.
One legendary episode linked to Cirodance was when Ciro was living in Paris and jobless around 2014 (but not destitute as he leached from his girlfriend). Cirodance was his main physical activity at the time, and Place de la République, where the skateboarders hung out due to the perfect wide concrete floor and relatively close to Bastille where Ciro lived, was the perfect place for it. One cold dark winter evening, Ciro was practicing Cirodance with his headphones and crappy clothes (dirty public square floor, remember), when someone took him for a homeless person and offered him a bowl of soup! It must be said that Place de la République had many events of giving food to the poor. Ciro was a bit stunned, declined, and continued dancing. And so that was the day when a prestigious Polytechnicien was mistaken for a homeless person. And Ciro liked that.
As of 2021, Googling "cirodance" leads to www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyvv4ddL2so "Ciro Dance" in which comedian "Ciro Priello" (no Wikipedia page at the time) participates in a comedy show with a "silly dance" (TODO this likely has a name) described in the comments as:
It's a brand new Italian format. Some comedians are grouped into a room where they have full access to different kind of items and tools. Laughing means losing. Each of them can try to make the other laugh. The winner gets some money but all of them would have give that to charity.
The dancing guy, Ciro, after only 10 minutes from the start did this nonsense dance. It's silly bit fun nonetheless I guess
UK shirt size: L.
UNIQLO leggings size: L.
Shoe size 30 year old, as in 2017-04 Nike Flex Experience RN 6 Grey running shoes:
  • US: 11
  • UK: 10
  • EUR: 45
  • cm: 29
31 year old:
  • Height:
  • Weight:
  • Chest: 94cm
  • Waist: 81.5cm
  • Hip: 85.5cm
  • Inner leg: 92.0cm
  • Length of back: 71cm (from base of neck to knuckle height)
  • Collar: 38cm
  • Sitbone distance (ischial tuberosity):
  • Arm sleeve length: 61.5 cm
  • Head circumference: 58.5 cm
  • Hand circumference: 19.8 cm
  • Erect penis length: just kidding, just kidding. Ciro Santilli's wife would kill him.
  • rest heart rate: 60 BPM
Sight:
  • 32 yo:
    • R SPH -1.50, CYL -0.5, AXIS 150
    • R SPH -1.25, CYL -0.5, AXIS 3
If Achilles' had his heel, Ciro had his knee.
First during University in Brazil while trying a kick up during the development of Cirodance his knee went a bit weird for a few weeks.
Then, just after arriving in France for École Polytechnique, the boys were playing indoor soccer, and to impress the girls Ciro was playing really hard, even took off his shirt, and suddenly when he was running by himself his knee snapped, he fell and it hurt like hell.
Ciro was on crutches for a few weeks, but the inflammation went away, but then he tried to play more soccer, but the knee was not as stable as before, and once he tried to run full speed, it slipped and hurt him a bit more (less severely) and so he gave up. For some reason it was not visible on the tomography made at the hospital.
Maybe Ciro should have investigated more though, certainly an experienced doctor could have done a hand pressure exam to determine which joint was damaged manually even. That was a medical failure.
So from this day on Ciro gave up on all interesting sports, and confined himself to more repetitive stuff like gym weights and cycling: Section "Ciro Santilli's sport practice". At Polytechnique he was forced to take up swimming as his mandatory sport, that was unbearably boring.
This defect is likely genetic since a close relative had similar problems.
But oh well, his then not-even girlfriend was impressed enough by the soccer or sorry enough for the sucker to marry him, so it worked out.
Ciro Santilli has an undiagnozed condition where his upper legs and lower torso often start to itch when he runs, to the point of being extremely annoying and removing all pleasure form the activity.
If some doctor knows why this could be, please tell him!!!
The problem is a bit hard to reproduce however, and Ciro hasn't been able to determine which exact condition triggers it: temperature, nutrition, something else?
Ciro believes that this is not chiefly due to transpiration, but rather to the impact motion that running does on the muscles, as he has felt something similar on his arms some times while cycling in very rough terrain, which made his arms shake in a similar fashion. or for example if he has a water bottle on a tightly tied backpack that rubs his back, then the back itches at that point.
Also, running on a threadmill is not a problem at all. Ciro believes that this is because the threadmill is better amortized, and therefore does not cause the same mechanical stress required to create the itching as running on pavement.
Interestingly, Ciro didn't feel that at all when he played soccer enthusiastically as a child, and he was one of the fastest runners of the group for sure at that time. So he's not sure if it started when he got older, or if it is just because the difference in workloads between soccer and running.
Found: www.healthline.com/health/fitness/runners-itch which names "runner's itch".
As a Brazilian, Ciro Santilli used to really love playing soccer (but not watching it), until he hurt his knee.
Playing soccer just feels amazing, because you are constantly running around, but with a more specific goal in mind: to get that ball into that goal!
Playing soccer was specially amazing in the flat wet sand beach of Santos. weekend, the sea, feet touching the sand, the sun going down, and your school mates next to you. Nirvana.
It is also true that under those conditions, the skin of your feet will get ripped off due to running on the slightly wet and flat sand no matter how thick it has become. But it is worth it.
Teams would often be slit between "the team with shirts vs the team without shirts", who would just take off their shirts. The two best players would take turns picking players into their teams, the first one to pick would be decided by odds and evens (par ou ímpar).
A pair of Havaianas, or Havaianas rip-offs, stuck into the sand, or even just some school bags, would do as a goal posts. More organized people, especially adults, would have their own water pipe goal with a proper net and all. But doing so would spoil the fun of endless discussions if a non flat ball had gone in or not into an imaginary rectangle.
That's how soccer was meant to be played.
Ciro became however disillusioned with soccer after his injury. It is a shame.
And so after that, Ciro decided to dedicate himself to sports where you can't hurt your knee.
Ciro hates water, so swimming is out of the question. What could be more boring than going back and forth on a fixed location a million times to gain some milliseconds?
And so Ciro has been left with the gym as the only main option for a while.
Running would have been a consideration, but Ciro Santilli's legs sometimes itch when he runs.
This is until he ended up living in a place with decent roads for cycling in the late 2010's, which led to Ciro Santilli's cycling.
Video 1. Adults playing soccer in Santos, São Paulo, Brazil beach on a rainy day. Source. It is still warm though as you can see from their clothing.
At first, Ciro Santilli was just cycling to work with an extremely shitty bike he bought on a second hand shop. He knew nothing about bicycles, and the seat was way, way too low, the seller should be prosecuted for selling that to him. Ciro later understood that this was even a woman's bicycle with a low top tube! That's what you get for being so cheap.
But then at some point he bought another slightly less cheap touring bicycle, but this time from a much more trustworthy source: a colleague who was leaving the company and moving out, and this one was actually reasonable. It was the right size to start with!!! And so at some point, out of boredom, Ciro started to adventure out of town on weekends to neighbouring villages, and it just felt so good.
Ciro had started by taking his laptop-computer on his backpack, and stopping at a cafe on some nearby town where he would do some coding over the weekends. Especially during winter, drinking tea with a cake as a break during bicycle ride was the best thing ever. In one place, there was even an electric heater that you could sit in front of. But at some point, those rides start being too short, and you start doing longer real rides without your computer. And since those take more time, you generally don't feel like staying on a far place for a very long time. So you end up creating the "real ride" category and "a small ride to get somewhere nice to code" category clearly split.
He had had the "cyclists high" version of "runner's high". A light euphoria in your head, or a pulsating feeling of pleasure in your legs and lower torso. This reminded Ciro of:
except that it is not as intense, and does not destroy your life.
Like other drugs:
  • it is addictive
  • you will have some bad trips, e.g. went the wrong way on a highway and are afraid you are going to die crushed by fast cars, got flat tire on 1 hour ride and have no repair kit, destination cafe is closed and you are hungry, wind got so strong you can barely ride, half an hour in you find out that it is way colder than what you expected.
    But for every such experience you survive, you learn something to reduce the chances it will happen, and it later feels great to completely master a situation you had suffered previously with.
    Ciro has also come to crave the need to go back to every bad trip spot, with better planning and circumstances, and make it feel amazing, to get the feeling that he has mastered the spot.
  • you will have hangover after a long amazing ride
  • the high become less intense the more you ride, and turns into something you have to do to just to feel normal. And that keeps you fit forever :)
Cycling just gives you an amazing sense of freedom! Ciro likes to imagine himself as a migratory duck when he is riding his bike on cold or wet days.
The prospect of being able to reach nice new places keeps the experience fresh for a very long time.
Ciro likes to decide location on a whim on the day prior. He checks the wind to try and ride parallel to it, and then let's his mind wonder, until an image comes up, some some nice place Ciro was to once. And so the next day, he goes in that general direction again.
Each time you try to find a new cool location, and sometimes you just stumble into amazing stuff without knowing about it. Ciro likes to keep open to new experiences. Keep your eyes open, and if something looks curious, just check it out! Talking to locals for tips is also a great way to find new stuff.
One thing that Ciro often feels is rather excited on the way out, and lightly afraid of going futher at each step because of the return. And during the return, there is a greater feeling of worry and resignation, as you are more tired, you've seen what you wanted to, and you just have to get yourself homehow, often going back through paths that you know better. This reminds Ciro of the ending of the film In the Realm of the Senses (1976), in which the sex obsessed couple plays a strangling sex game, and the man says that it hurts too much when she stops strangling him, and so she strangles him to death. She also cut his penis and carried it around in a bag afterwards, but that not relevant to the cycling analogy.
It is funny, but sometimes this gives Ciro the same feeling that he had as a child playing 2D exploration RPGs such Pokemon and Final Fantasy VI as you explore the wild: Ciro can often hear the FF VI overworld soundtrack, or imagine that a Charmeleon is hidden just around the corner of this new towns he's never been to before. Because in the places you live and have walked a million times, you know there is no magic. But in a new place that you're visiting for the first time? Anything is possible there.
The main difference from video games is that the real world is much much more detailed and diverse, and the freedom is much more real. Also you can't just walk into any house or field like in the games, and there are more empty or repetitive areas that can sometimes get boring since they weren't hand designed. And if you die on a car crash there are no continues.
Another type of game that comes to mind are survival games and roguelikes, where it feels amazing to learn things that actually mean the difference between life and death, and conquering the environment. But also permadeath.
It also gives Ciro the magic feeling of awe that he had as a child when walking around his beloved hometown of Santos, São Paulo, Brazil in the sunshine. And sometimes the feeling of excitement that he had as a child before getting gifts for Christmas. Ciro then once watched a YouTube video where ex-heroin addicts describe the feeling of taking heroin (orally, TODO can't find the video anymore, I think it was this guy) exactly like that: the anticipation of getting Christmas gifts, and he instantly understood.
Ciro also likes to pick random gravel from time to time. He believes that his style of route choice reflects Ciro Santilli's self perceived creative personality: Ciro likes to go where few other people go. And he only needs to go there once to be satisfied, not master and speedrun it afterwards.
Ciro avoids riding at night of course. But when it happens and you are prepared with the safety lights and the route knowledge, it makes for some of the most memorable rides of your life.
As you start cycling, you can feel the endorphins levels rise little by little, and your mind go deeper and deeper into slumber, getting close and closer to the ground, until you reach a point where you feel like you are part of the road. Trainspotting (1996)'s overdose scene comes to mind: www.youtube.com/watch?t=66&v=_IDJpB9de3E
It is amazing how you feel much less cold and hunger when cycling, to the point of being dangerous: always carry some chocolate bars in case you hit the wall! This is especially true at the beginning of the addiction, but with increased drug tolerance and knowledge/awareness/preparation, this starts to feel more normal.
As a friend of Ciro once said: you start to become like a wolf, who knows every cyclable little road in a 30km radius around your home.
As of 2020, Ciro is at that "should I buy a more reasonable road bike" moment. Let's see how it goes. If he does, cycling trips with the bike on a plane are likely.
As a software engineer, trying to repair a mechanical system like his bike reminds Ciro very strongly of how the physical engineering is brutal. Millimetric changes can make huge differences, it is mind blowing! Good lesson to have in mind.
Another thought that often comes to Ciro's mind is that bicycles are not regular possessions because they break a lot. Rather, they must be seen as a kind of transportation tax that you have to pay to feel amazing riding them rather than feel crappy riding a bus or train.
One interesting feeling that Ciro gets from cycling is that it is an intermediate between walking and riding a car. Ciro felt this especially strongly when he lived near work, at a distance that you could either walk or cycle. When you walk, you can just see so much more of the surroundings, it is astonishing. When you cycle, you just go much faster, and you attention is much more towards the front, so you feel surroundings much less. On the other side, cycling allows you to feel different things. E.g. in wider open areas, there isn't much detail to see anyway, so you can better feel those areas on the faster speed of the bike. A similar feeling applies to how pedestrians feel like flies when you are on a bike, just like you must feel like a fly to car drivers. Ciro later learnt that a person of similar literary ability to his, Ernest Hemingway, had a famous related similar quote:
It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and can coast down them.... Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motorcar only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.
Although Ciro does not run because of his itchy legs issue, he finds it interest to contrast cycling with running, notably:
  • cycling has a much higher setup time or wearing appropriate clothes, unlocking your bike, and of course, bike maintenance
  • running allows you to go into many more small paths that are not accessible by bike, thus offering a different sense of freedom. You can't go as far however.
So maybe the ultimate sport would be to cycle to a good cross-country running location and then run over there?
Ciro's natural work-time rhythm as of 2020 in his shitty Kross bicycle (2017) was a 60/70km ride every 3 days. Or a 35/40km ride every 2 days. Or one longer 100/120km ride every 4 days. Less than 35km does not count as a ride. His average speed on anything above 70km and relatively flat is always 20km. Always. Ciro once read that that one hunt every three days was a common Paleolithic practice. Cycling is obviously a substitute for hunting.
Video 1. Running Vs. Cycling | Who Is Faster - GCN Or GTN? by GCN (2017) Source. Talks about the interesting Bingley Harriers & AC "harriers vs cyclists" race held annually in the UK, in which you can either run or cycle! The course attempts to balance rough uphill terrain where runners get an advantage, with less rough downhill where cyclists have an advantage.
Video 2. Final Fantasy VI (SNES) Overworld theme. Source. This is what cycling feels like!!! The song is known in the West as "Terra's Theme" and it was composed by Nobuo Uematsu, who composed the entire game, and other entries of the Final Fantasy series.
Sometimes, these are more than just mechanics, but also have deeper life analogues. The title of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance comes to mind. Sometimes they are just mechanics.
With more philosophical metaphors:
  • when your bike breaks, that provides an unique opportunity to learn how to fix it: try to fix your own bike before taking it to the shop
  • if the wind is blowing against you on the way out, it will likely blow behind you on the way back. But remember that the other way around also applies.
  • always take one extra clothing layer than what you think you will need in your back pocket or sport bag, especially when time is changing fast in Sprint and Autumn. The weather on the road outside of town can change very quickly!
  • if you took a turn, and it feels wrong, stop to check the map, and possibly backtrack to safety. When it feels wrong, it usually is a bad idea, e.g. roads where cars are too fast/too many. But if you take a wrong turn and it feels right, then follow it without fear and see what it leads to!
  • don't carry a speedometer on your bike. Analysis can be done afterwards on Strava. The only measurement that matters is "how awesome am I feeling right now?". Live in the moment instead of checking your speedometer every 10 seconds.
  • cycle when you body calls it out of addiction, not out a goal that you've made up that must be reached
With less philosophical metaphors:
  • learn how much water and food you need to take for a trip. Otherwise, you will bonk at some time, when you least expect, it happens very suddenly.
    And then you better hope to God that you can find a food shop nearby. Luckily this was the case for Ciro's first and only bonk so far.
    And besides bonking all out, being tired and hungry makes you make stupid decision, especially where traffic is involved!
    Food is safety. Light is safety. Time is safety. Calm is safety. Chocolate bars and candy cannot count as lunch food, only delay lunch. A sandwich with ham cheese and salad is food. A bag of M&M's with a can of soda can bring you back from the dead.
    When you are not in familiar grounds, take twice as much as you think you might possibly ever need. Hofstadter's law.
    You will also learn that, surprise surprise, carbohydrates that you ate one or two days before a ride stay stored in your liver and muscles, and also greatly affect how quickly you will bonk, thus the concept of carbohydrate loading.
    Video 1. How Not To 'Hit The Wall' Or 'Bonk' – GCN's Guide To Fuelling While Cycling by Global Cycling Network (2016) Source.
    And surprise surprise: heat can also make you bonk! Who would have thought!
  • correct saddle hight is fundamental, your legs must be almost fully stretched at the bottom position
  • it is impossible to reach the correct tire pressure with (cheap?) hand pumps, their only purpose is to fill up a flat tire so you can get home after a long ride. But a track pump.
  • clean and lube your chain. The speed benefit is instantaneous and mind blowing. It also greatly improves gear shifting.
    This also prevents the chain from rusting, because the lube takes up the place where water would stay, and the muck makes it harder for water to evaporate.
    This is the most common bike maintenance mistake you see on the streets: people with that high pitched overly dry chain noise.
    Video 2. How To Get A Perfectly Clean Chain by GCN (2016) Source.
  • when a piece on your bike breaks and has no clear name written on it, you can try to identify it Google images
  • the more you watch YouTube maintenance videos without haste, the more you end up learn random new stuff that unexpectedly saves you later
  • if you took a turn, and it feels wrong, stop to check the map, and possibly backtrack to safety. When it feels wrong, it usually is a bad idea, e.g. roads where cars are too fast/too many
  • public place with lots of people are bicycle parking Hell, because due to anonymity and the large number of distractions, it becomes exponentially more likely that someone will fuck you bike somehow, e.g. by dropping it on the ground. Always search a bit for a reasonable place to park, and avoid overcrowded parking spaces at all costs.
  • gear change matters
    • when you get on your bike to start riding, start riding slowly and gradually switch up pedal forces and gears. Things may have shifted in a weird position as it gets kicked around in parking. Ciro managed to bend his derailleur like that!
    • spin to win, AKA learn to user your gears
    • it is not shameful to ride on your lower gears on a hill. You can actually go surprisingly fast with them, and conserve energy for later. Learn when to use each gear ratio.
  • learn to identify your suppliers:
    • www.wiggle.co.uk/: in Europe, this is best place to buy clothing from, and also good for some bike parts. It is the most organized website, and contains non-generic shit which Amazon is full of.
      For bike parts Amazon is also worth looking into however. Bike parts a bit different from clothing because you have to make sure that stuff fits, so you hopefully know exactly the part name before before buying it, and therefore website organization is not as crucial.
      Wiggle is however guilty of shameless: discounts that happen more often than not
  • always take your lights off the bike into your bag when you park, anywhere, and for any amount of time, even if a quick stop. Drug addicts are everywhere, always ready love to steal and resell them.
  • sometimes you do something stupid like going into a really muddy path, and it is really fun, because you've never been there in your life. But then your bike gets really dirty, and your feet are wet and freezing, and you promise yourself you will never do something that stupid again. But then you do it again in a different location, because it was too much fun. Once more unto the breach just comes to Ciro's mind every such time. Embrace this.
  • Google Maps download offline maps. This works very reliably, you can select the area you want to download. The only downside is that Google maps can't reliably show a route offline, and it does not contain national cycle route routes. Or those features are impossible for a software engineer to get working after trying for about 2 hours.
  • OpenStreetMap on browser with cycling layer: www.openstreetmap.org/#map=5/49.582/1.934&layers=C This is the best visualization of cycling routes I've found so far, contains both National Cycle Network and National Byway and a few others, and they are shown extremely clearly. But as a website it doesn't reliably work offline
  • the OsmAnd app for Android is the best offline free-ish OpenStreetMap viewer I've found so far. You only have to pay after reaching 5 region downloads, and it is very cheap if you want to do so. The cycle route view is not amazing, the routes are not so clearly marked and mixed with very similarly colored big roads, but with a bit of effort you can make them out. No routing though
  • I've heard Komoot can keep a predefined route (possibly auto planed) reliably offline, but haven't used it myself. I was not able to see National Cycle Route clearly marked anywhere on it
Sometimes you get annoyed to death with your bike not breaking or changing gears perfectly as you would like, and the people at the bike shop never do the job well enough.
The problem with bike shops is that the employees are already swamped with work, and they don't get paid any extra for doing more work.
As a result, paradoxically, they are often happier, and respect you more if you are trying to get them to help you to fix your own bike!
Also, for the same reason, they don't have the time to go for a quick test ride after a fix to ensure that the bug was actually fixed.
So they ignore things that would obviously be huge ridability benefits (although they might not be obvious to newbie customers), for which customers would gladly pay more money for.
But you start to learn how to do stuff yourself and it feel amazing when you finally get there (after infinite trial and error).
Ciro dreams of a bike shop that actually calls you for the appointment and then teaches you how to fix the thing.
So the best strategy is to have a backup bicycle, and when your main one breaks, you just try to to the fix yourself. That means:
  • identifying the broken piece
  • watching YouTube videos of how to do the job
  • buying a replacement and any missing tools on Amazon
  • giving it a shot
Then, if you fail to do the fix, that is OK, just take it to the bike shop, with the piece you've bought, and ask them to do it for you. At least this way you did not waste a golden opportunity to learn!

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