The Internet isn’t from 1995. It’s from 1975. In 1995, we learned that a network beats a mainframe. Now, we’ve learned that a 2015 mainframe beats a 1975 network.
So people came up with a bunch of crap-ass languages that still had the exact same abstractions as the underlying machine: a global memory that you update by issuing statements or instructions, expressions that can be computed by the arithmetic-logic unit, conditional branching and loops, subroutines. Everything you need to be “Turing-complete”, which is equivalent to von Neumann-complete.
An argument can be made that the contemporary mainstream understanding of objects is but a pale shadow of the original idea. Further, it can be argued that the mainstream understanding of objects is, in practice, antithetical to the original intent.
A bunch of miscellaneous stuff I came across in January 2016:
- Cool archaeological stuff still happens, as seen here in this unearthing1 of a city that was “the Hong Kong of Egypt” during most of the first millennium BCE
Happened to watch this movie on Netflix and it turned out to be pretty watchable. An excerpt from a review2:
A day-in-the-life story, “A Coffee in Berlin” follows the downward-sloping fortunes of Niko, a scruffily poetic slacker who loses his girlfriend, his driver’s license and his financial support from Daddy. And that’s before night falls.
- Blogs were all the rage twenty years ago, even ten years ago. A view3 on the pointlessness of blogs today:
Hossein Derakhshan was imprisoned by the regime for his blogging. On his release, he found the internet stripped of its power to change the world and instead serving up a stream of pointless social trivia.
- A different riff4 on the same theme: we read a lot more than anyone ever before, we just read different stuff.
The abundance of texts in this zeitgeist creates a tunnel effect of amnesia. We now have access to so much information that we actually forget the specific nuances of what we read, where we read them, and who wrote them. We forget what’s available all the time because we live in an age of hyperabundant textuality. Now, when we’re lost, we’re just one click away from the answer. Even the line separating what we know and what we don’t know is blurry.
- And yet another article5 tries to answer the question: ”what is web writing in 2015?” (yes, from a year ago)
Every once in a while, an article6 gets me interested in geology again. I won’t try to summarize or paraphrase here, the title (“The 40,000-Mile Volcano”) says it all.
Apparently, the whole man-hunting-mammoth thing isn’t some recent pre-ice-age phenomenon, we were doing it as early as _45,000 years ago!_7
Old-time astronomers suffered from bad notation, but were no less curious, and Babylonian astronomers8 had even come up with a sort of primitive calculus! Also, an unsurprising meta-quote at the end of the article:
But it’s also possible the author had trouble passing on his revolutionary technique. The math might have been too abstract, while existing methods for observing the heavens worked well enough at the time. ”Perhaps his colleagues didn’t understand it.” Ossendrijver says.
The image at the top is taken from this set of photos9 in a recent article in Wired.
- The Guardian, ”Naukratis: ancient Egypt’s version of Hong Kong unearthed by British team” ↩
- The New York Times Movie Review, ”A Young Man’s Dark-Roasted Day” ↩
- The Guardian, ”Iran’s blogfather: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are killing the web” ↩
- The Daily Dot, ”How the Internet changed the way we read” ↩
- The Atlantic, ”What Blogging Has Become” ↩
- New York Times, ”The 40,000-Mile Volcano” ↩
- The Verge, ”This frozen mammoth’s injuries place humans in the Arctic 45,000 years ago” ↩
- Smithsonian, ”Babylonians Were Using Geometry Centuries Earlier Than Thought” ↩
- Wired, ”The Stunning Nature (And Industry) of Poland From Above” ↩
Can’t believe the first month of 2016 is already over.
The big highlight (for me) is that I started running again, trying to keep it once a week on Sunday mornings. The current goal is to do a 14-mile run by March. We’ll see how it goes.
The second big highlight is that I fished out the half-novel manuscript I wrote as part of NaNoWriMo last year, and edited it a bit, etc. Still have to work on a lot of rough edges, but I’d like to take it “all the way” and then forget about it (gist: a very trippy psychedelic “Alice-In-Wonderland-for-adults” sort of tale).
Miscellaneous stuff: I experimented with a New Yorker subscription for several months, then gave up and went back to the Economist, and began a trial daily habit of Lumosity and Duolingo on my phone. Tried to cut down on random internet browsing, with limited success. Planning a long (three-week) trip to India in March. Photo above taken from through a grille window on a cloudy day.
A bunch of miscellaneous stuff, in no particular order …
- Two books on deep history that I added to my far-in-the-future reading list: “On Deep History and the Brain” by Daniel Lord Smail, and “Deep History: The Architecture of Past and Present” by Andrew Shryock and Daniel Lord Smail
A bit of wasted time on Youtube followed the discovery of gameplay videos for “Urban Assault”, the one game I ****ing loved when I was younger (as with all nostalgia, I obviously think it was underrated).
Someone else pointed out that “Dead Poets Society” was an overhyped movie, and in fact a bit ridiculous.
A playlist of H. R. Giger Art if you’re into surrealism at all
More wasted time on Youtube, this time on revisiting an old album by “Enigma” (remember?!) — and then it was depressing to find out exactly how old: twenty years
Someone in Japan got up close and personal with a Giant Squid. Skip the article, watch the short video clip in the beginning.
Finally, here is something that blew me away. It’s not science fiction, this isn’t CGI rendering for some upcoming movie, this is real. This WIRED article catalogues some “retro-futuristic” architecture (public housing, by the way) built half a century ago. Separately (I’m not making this up) I came to know that one of these sites, the one whose image is at the top of the post, was a filming location for “Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2”.
(for some reason, I had saved this draft 20 days ago, but neglected to actually hit “publish”)