How did Mark Zuckerberg train himself to be a programming prodigy?

Just because Mark started Facebook doesn’t mean he is a programming prodigy. Mark’s major was Pyschology so he wasn’t at Harvard as a CompSci prodigy. Back in 2004 building a CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) application in PHP/MySQL was fairly easy. I would bet if you had more insight into what people that seem to be amazing are really capable of, you would see that they are normal people with normal skills.

Facebook’s success (like many startups) is largely due to timing, solid product/market fit and a bit of luck. Those same rules apply to successful startups today, any of which could potentially be as big as Facebook. Where Mark made the right decision was surrounding himself with smart and talented people.

China’s Brave Underground Journal

Wu is a trim sixty-three-year-old who favors denim shirts, leather jackets, and black baseball caps. He is also a cautious man, who positions himself as a just-the-facts recorder of history. “I simply write true things,” he told me, as the visitors pulled up chairs to a big wooden table, pouring themselves tea and cracking sunflower seeds. “No one says you can’t sit in your own home and do a little research in history.”

.. It’s hard to overstate how politicized history has become in China, where politics and tradition give it a mythic, taboo quality. Communism itself is based on historical determinism: one of Marx’s points was that the world was moving inexorably toward communism, an argument that regime-builders like Lenin and Mao used to justify their violent rise to power. In China, each succeeding dynasty wrote its predecessor’s history, and the dominant political ideology, Confucianism, is based on the concept that ideals for ruling are to be found in the past, with the virtuous ruler emulating them.

.. The unstated reason is that Mao isn’t just China’s Stalin—someone whom the Soviet Union could discard because it still had Lenin as a less tarnished founding father. For the Communist Party of China, Mao is Stalin and Lenin combined; attack Mao and his era and you attack the foundations of the Communist state.

.. “How can you tell a country’s condition?” he said. “By the virtue of its leaders.” Virtue, he said, means being not corrupt. If leaders are not corrupt, they are virtuous. If they are virtuous, they should be respected.

The People’s Daily editor laughed and shrugged, as if he were listening to one of his newspaper’s circular editorials. “The usual line from Chinese tradition—everyone should be respected and virtuous,” he said. “But what to do if the leaders aren’t virtuous? I guess you’re supposed to figure it out yourself.”

.. Wu and Dai’s rule of thumb, however, is that history stops in 1978, which is when Deng Xiaoping ascended to power and established the current political system of economic and social liberalism, but strict political control. That means Remembrance avoids sensitive contemporary issues such as the 1989 Tiananmen massacre—a report on it would guarantee the editors’ detention and Remembrance’s closure.

.. I asked Dai if Remembrance had a kanhao, the government-issued registration that all periodicals must obtain to be legal. “No, but we aren’t a publication,” she said. “We are just a PDF newsletter that goes out to just two hundred people.”

According to arcane rules that everyone accepts but whose origins no one knows, China’s public security classifies e-mails to fewer than two hundred people as a private distribution list; anything more is a publication, which means censorship and oversight.

Stalin, Father of Ukraine?

But there is an underappreciated aspect to this tangled history: Stalin’s rule saw the formation of a land with strong Ukrainian national consciousness. Yes, he was a murderous tyrant, but he was also a father of today’s Ukraine.

Ukraine emerged out of czarist Russia as a separate country as a result of World War I, the revolutions of 1917, German military occupation and the efforts of Ukrainian nationalists. Against the wishes of other early Soviet officials, who wanted to suppress nationalism, Stalin strongly advocated recognizing — and using — it. “Clearly, the Ukrainian nation exists and the development of its culture is a duty of Communists,” Stalin told the 10th Party Congress in March 1921. “One cannot go against history.”

Stalin knew from his Georgian homeland that national sentiment was too strong to suppress. He also knew that the Communists could use it to win loyalty and achieve economic modernization.