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The Big Short

August 22, '21

Entertainment as an Entrypoint for Learning


I have always found semi-documentary or documentary movies and series to be a great way of picking up interest in new areas. For example, I first started seriously studying biology (specifically genetics) after watching the TV Series Orphan Black, which has a lot of “bio-hacking”, cloning and the use of computers in biology.

I believe those types of entertainment are interesting for a gentle introduction because they allow you to have a glimpse of the finish line, without having to actually understand all the nuance involved. This is great because it builds motivation for actual learning, which in my opinion is much more important than actually having the material to study real content from.

Nowadays, once you have the motivation to learn something, you can just Google it and get to reasonable levels of knowledge from there. You do that by finding books, reading those, finding specialists on Twitter and Reddit and discussing those topics etc. For example, with Orphan Black I could understand that it’s possible to use a computer to transform genetic code, analyze parts of it and generally write programs that interact with genetic information. For me, as a computer enthusiast since long, this was essential in building the motivation to study the “boring parts” of genetics.

The Big Short

Tonight, I finished watching the documentary The Big Short. It’s about the housing market crisis and it briefly touches in several core concepts of the financial market: bonds, stocks and generally “betting” for and against several indices. It also shows a bit of the role computer analysis plays in the area nowadays and the dynamics of teams working with money.

The financial market is no stranger to me. When studying up on OCaml, one of the first things your learn is that finance firms doing quantitative analysis, such as Jane Street use it, and naturally you also learn a bit about what they do. High-speed trading is also not a alien concept to most programmers, nor is trading in general, specially due to the rise of digital coins such as Bitcoin.

Watching it, however, added a renewed interest in the foundations of economics, specially the psychological factors involved and the use of numerical methods to predict and model markets. It’s an area where I have just the amount of knowledge to understand the general concepts but almost none in the specifics, so I feel that maybe this is the point where I should pick up a deeper book on the subject and really start transitioning that superficial knowledge plus motivation into something that actually can have some impact in (my) world.


A very dear (and old) friend is coming to visit in a couple weeks, I am actually super stoked for that, it’s probably going to be the high point of the year. I seriously have been dreaming about what I am going to cook for them and other silly things like that. It’s great to feel this excited about something in my life again.


I should be applying for an Australian work visa soon, probably still within this month. I’m not betting that it will work out, but it would be my gratest achievement to date if it does!


I am not a big fan of astrology myself, as I think the branding as an “scientific” thing is misleading (instead of more of a “game”), but lately I have been thinking about how there are several concepts in it that few people actually understand, and how solar system simulations and some linear transformations on the state of celestial bodies might be excellent tools to show what people actually mean when they say those words.


Since I bought a pull up bar after I moved, I have greatly improved what I can do in it, I’ll probably reach my goal of 15 pull ups in a couple weeks! I am also running more these days.


And finally, it turns out I’m around 7 or so centimeters higher than I thought I was my entire adult life?! Whaaaat?!

And that is it for now! Until the next time!