- “The truth is paywalled but the lies are free”
- Blast-from-the-past for RPG gaming: the newer Baldur’s Gate
- Bjarne Stroustrup on various things
- Reviewing a scene in Predator (there is so much content like this these days! … best of times and the worst of times 😐)
- Early computing, always fascinating
- Riffing on interacting with computers
- Reviving 100-million year old microbes (!)
- Thinking about paradigms in science
- Octopus article of the month 🙂
- Peris on APL
- A rant on Google Cloud’s deprecation policy
- Ripping into Silicon Valley
- Ceres is … an ocean world ?!
- Strange political times: 1 2 3 4 5
- The “first man” in space
- Deep craters opening up in Siberia (pic above!)
- Interesting take on using Tinderbox
- The identity crisis of Computer Science
- After about 60 years (!) Rosatom released video of the Tsar Bomba test
- Some of the oldest monuments in the world … in the desert of Saudi Arabia
- When a surgeon had to self-operate (!) in Antarctica
- On the time needed to run a paid newsletter
- Thinking about the future of the desktop
- On how we have taken … an existentialist turn
- More speculation on ‘Oumuamua, this time as a hydrogen iceberg
- Replacing the windows on the International Space Station
- Folks have been living in the American continents about a … couple dozen millennia … longer than you thought.
- This was just so … dunno, poetic? romantic? … on “birds who never come down”
- The almost-was-but-wasn’t “soviet internet”
- Not quite the brand image I’d imagine a company wanting, but the Casio F91W is apparently the favorite watch of terrorists
- Current affairs: Stuff is happening in cities, in education, online, in media outlets, in museums
- Something about My Little Pony (heh)
- Fishing boats from space
- Great look at systems design
- (warning: niche audience) bubbling up this recommendation to use Org-mode more (and while I’m here: on *the future of Emacs, and … Eshell)
- Every once in a while, someone does a comparison between the members of the Lisp family
- Matt Taibbi moved to Substack (been a fan since his Great Recessions reporting days, more relevant than ever now)
- Z80: hardware simulation for nostalgia buffs
- On how dogs might have a sense for the magnetic field (I remember something similar about Robins earlier)
- Seeing a black hole’s corona blink (and … on the largest-scale structures we know)
- People always have opinions on … protobufs
- An investigation of “ramp models” for building the Great Pyramid
- Software/computing nostalgia: on “programming as teaching”
- On Perl6 (aka Raku)
- A speech at Mt. Rushmore
- On the shifting fortunes of “classical liberalism”
- More of “what-could-have-been” tech history: looking back at IBM’s bungling of OS/2
- Honeybees are smart as F***. Seriously.
- Water, water, everywhere.
- I have to see this giant clock once in my lifetime
- In 1984, the NYT asks, “Does everyone need to learn programming?”
- Damn, Playstations are built in an entirely automated factory
- An account of the special effects for Tron: Legacy
- The latest (and probably the last 😕) sequel to The Trip is out
- File this under “labor of love”: Dune, the “novel cut”
- A thorough review of spacecrafts in science fiction
- An overview of Fuchsia
- An interview with Curtis Yarvin (of Moldbug)
- More speculation on Oumuamua, this time … as a hydrogen iceberg (?)
- Software engineering within SpaceX
- On “becoming a hacker”
- A look at the history of Smalltalk (in response to this)
- A study in perseverance: pushing an Akka cluster to 10000 nodes
- Looking at Çatalhöyük, 8000 years ago
- An upcoming (photo-filled!) book on the N-1 rocket
- The title says it all here: Akira Kurosawa’s spectacular hand-painted storyboards
- I liked this piece in NYT on the “first discovery” of famous artists etc.
- A poetic tract on order
- Just a randomly good Python Keynote
- … followed by a random rant on Forth
- (riffing on a common theme here) Andrew Sullivan asks if there is room for debate. Peggy Noonan talks about struggle sessions. Someone tries to make a case for liberalism. Sulzberger ponders. Tekkie weighs in. On the “great unravelling”. On “narrative collapse”. Taibbi opines on the news media.
- I found Star Wars set, abandoned in the desert, somewhat cool
- … and also these people-sized Salmon (made it to the cover story!)
- Interesting, illustrated, and possibly useful, notes on “Building a second brain”
- Looking back at RMS
- Speaking of which, an interesting demo involving Guix and Guile Scheme
- The whole ARM chip space has suddenly gotten interesting (not to speak of the chip space in general)
- Tonsky rants about (Im-? Un-?) personal computers. Looking back at an older plea. Ranting about Electron.
- Comparing Python and Guile Scheme
- I realized I was unaware of a bunch of very interesting developments “dating-the-origin-of-humans-type-stuff”
- Watching old TempleOS videos is both strangely pleasurable, and sad.
- On Terence Malick’s movies
- Looking at the dominance of Java today
- On storytelling
- “Computation all the way down”
- An interesting concept in the design of public spaces and personal lives: Legibility
- On Gravity
- “The sun seen through the earth” (fascinating!)
- Looking back at the innovative B5000
- The amazing Julia Evans looks inside Sqlite.
- On using
org-mode(and some more)
- I found this explained a lot: The three tribes of programming
- Microsoft heavily advocating Rust now too (!)
- An old collection of links about Boids
- A review of Haiku, the open-source version of
- On why
CollapseOSis using Forth
- The Wolfram Physics initiative (and while we’re here, a computational pumpkin)
- Someone predicting, in 2012, how it’s only in 2020 when we’ll really be in trouble
I found these notes I’d copy-pasted from somewhere from about five years ago. I decided to track down their sources, as best I could.
From “QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter” By Richard P. Feynman
My physics students don’t understand it either. That is because I don’t understand it. Nobody does …. The theory of quantum electrodynamics describes Nature as absurd from the point of view of common sense. And it agrees fully with experiment. So I hope you can accept Nature as she is—absurd. In short, there is no way to visualize what is going on. The theory of quantum mechanics explains it perfectly, to unbelievable mathematical accuracy. And that is all you need to know.
From “The Nature of Order” by Christopher Alexander
According to this view, the evolving system of the genetic material ITSELF causes evolution to follow certain pathways, not only because of selective pressure from outside, but also by virtue of its own internal dynamical ordering tendencies. The results of evolution are then to be understood [as being] mainly formed not by Darwinian selective pressure acting from outside, but by pressures created by the geometry and dynamics of the evolving genetic system itself
From “An Essay on the Art of Building and the Nature of the Universe” by Christopher Alexander
There are…two worlds in our minds. One is the scientiﬁc world which has been pictured through a highly complex system of mechanisms. The other is the world we actually experience. These two worlds, so far, have not been connected in a meaningful fashion. Alfred North Whitehead, writing about 1920, was one of the ﬁrst philosophers to draw attention to this modern problem, which he called the bifurcation of nature. Whitehead believed that we will not have a proper grasp of the universe and our place in it, until the self, which we experience in ourselves, and the machinelike character of matter we see outside ourselves can be united in a single picture.
When I am part of the making of a building and examine my process, what is happening in me when I do it, myself, in my eﬀort, is that I ﬁnd that I am always reaching for the same thing. In some form, it is the personal nature of existence, revealed in the building, that I am searching for. It is “I,” the I-myself, lying within all things. It is that shining something which draws me on, which I feel in the bones of the world, which comes out of the earth and makes our existence luminous.
What must I do to put this self-like quality into the house, the room, the roof, the path, the tile? Often I can feel the possibility of this in a thing before I start to think, or design, or plan, or build, or before I start to paint. It is the sublime interior, the right thing. I ﬁrst feel existence shimmering in reality, and I then feel it deep enough in the thing I am looking at and trying to ake, to know that it is worth capturing in concrete and wood and tile and paint. I can feel it, nearly always, almost before I start. Or, rather, I do not let myself start until I can feel this thing.
This thing, this something, is not God, it is not nature, it is not feeling. It is some ultimate, beyond experience. When I reach for it, I try to ﬁnd—I can partly feel—the illumination of existence, a glimpse of that ultimate. It is always the same thing at root. Yet, of course, it takes an inﬁnite variety of diﬀerent forms
From “The Luminous Ground” by Christopher Alexander
I believe it is in the nature of matter, that it is soaked through with self or “I.” The essence of the argument … is that the thing we call “the self,” which lies at the core of our experience, is a real thing, existing in all matter, beyond ourselves, and that in the end we must understand it, in order to make living structure in buildings. But it is also my argument that this is the nature of matter. It is not only necessary to understand it when we wish to make living structure in buildings. It is also necessary if we wish to grasp our place in the universe, our relationship to nature.
From “Life and Mind in the Universe” by George Wald
It takes no great imagination to conceive of other possible universes, each stable and workable in itself, yet lifeless. How is it that, with so many other apparent options, we are in a universe that possesses just that peculiar nexus of properties that breeds life? It has occurred to me lately—I must confess with some shock at first to my scientific sensibilities—that both questions might be brought into some degree of congruence. This is with the assumption that mind, rather than emerging as a late outgrowth in the evolution of life, has existed always as the matrix, the source and condition of physical reality—that the stuff of which physical reality is composed is mind-stuff.
From “The Luminous Ground” by Christopher Alexander
Why is unity the same as tears? … Unity ties everything together—including joy, happiness, and laughter, but also including loss, death, and betrayal. A thing which truly has unity partakes of everything. And through that everything, there must be sadness. The making of this sadness, then, must come through a process where land, details, rooms, form an individual whole. Always trying to tie it together, to unify it, to make it disappear.
Addendum: I was curious where I got this from, and then … found it! An amazing composition of words and pictures and more, by Dick Gabriel (for some of you, yes, of worse is better …)
- A possible compact fusion reacxtor ?
- I can’t get enough of good articles on Fungi
- A game to play if you second-guess the Fed
- On Neil Postman, America, Trump; looking back at Amusing Ourselves to Death
- Investigating the physical location of memories … in worms.
- As the title puts it, on the vintage beauty of soviet control rooms (an example above)
- Leviathan in lockdown
To assume that the frontispiece to Leviathan presents a normal or idealised scene is not especially comforting. The total absence of citizens combined with the presence of protective officials gives the city an air of being under a permanent state of siege. It could almost be a depiction of David Hume’s remark, a century later, that military camps ‘are the true mothers of cities’. Attentive to the disruptive power of such shocks as war, revolution and plague, Hobbes undervalues the more insidious but still threatening proposition of a locked-down population forced to adopt a siege mentality. Fear and disillusionment do their work here, too. We may underestimate, perhaps half on purpose, the camp-like quality of our cities even in ‘normal’ times, and accept that it is sometimes necessary for cities temporarily to become camps. But bare life is not enough. We don’t just want to be preserved, we want also to live.
- A virtual tour of Pharaoh Ramesses VI’s tomb
- On burn out
- Every once in a while, someone wonders about history being like a science
- Every once in a while, someone wonders if we should go back to RSS for consuming web content
- A look at the ”mediaeval” future of management
stracedoesn’t work in Docker (another excellent piece by Julia Evans!)
- A retrospective on
- Another rant on Unix
- On the evolution of Emacs Lisp
- Old but still good: error messages in haiku
- Old but still good: Larry Wall on Perl … and post-modernism
- A paper on the history of SML
- An attempt to “backport” some of Clojure to CommonLisp
- A (free!) collection of old (mostly
BASIC) programming books
- Comparing Agents and Actors
- A nice talk by Jonathan Blow
- A nice talk by Dylan Beattie
- Looking back at Gopher
- On “Simple Haskell” … and “un-proposals” for GHC
- A history of Ninja (the build tool)
- Heh, BioShock: the collection (!)
- A 210,000-year old human skull
- On the economic impact of the coronavirus
- On how Leo Tolstoy’s children’s stories aren’t considered “safe for kids” these days
- A NYTimes article from 2006, on … an interesting geological artifact
> At the southern end of Madagascar lie four enormous wedge-shaped sediment deposits, called chevrons, that are composed of material from the ocean floor. Each covers twice the area of Manhattan with sediment as deep as the Chrysler Building is high.
- > On close inspection, the chevron deposits contain deep ocean microfossils that are fused with a medley of metals typically formed by cosmic impacts. And all of them point in the same direction – toward the middle of the Indian Ocean where a newly discovered crater, 18 miles in diameter, lies 12,500 feet below the surface.
- Once upon a time, there was planned an animated film, by Salvador Dalí & Walt Disney’s set to the Music of Pink Floyd
- On higher education as a Ponzi scheme
- On the design of escape pods from space
- Wolfram continues trying (image above) to reconcile fundamental physics (and a couple of papers)
- On Bernie Sanders dropping out (and … yet)
- ”The normal economy is never coming back”
- Rethinking the human migration story
- On how deep sea squid communicate using skin color
- On building. Building things.
- Remembering Mark Fisher
- On how a fan persuaded Ian Fleming on a tiny detail about James Bond
- John Denver and Placido Domingo, recording Perhaps Love (eh, before I was born!)
- Fascinating account of the series whose artwork inspired Star Wars: Valerian
- A catalog of various “spreadsheet-based screw-ups”
- I was shocked I’ve never heard of “the mother of Chinese computing”
- More facepalm-worthy revelations about WeWork …
- Cool anecdote about a B-52 bomber and an aircraft carrier
- On how even a slime mold can react “intelligently” to changing light:
it is already known to find the shortest way through a maze or to follow a balanced diet, without having a central nervous system. Now MPIDS researchers Karen Alim, Felix Bäuerle and Stefan Karpitschka are showing in experiments that it can also spontaneously adjust its pumping efficiency
- Discovering a 14,000-year old Canadian village (so, currently the oldest North American settlement known about)
- For fans of Blade Runner, something about its soundtrack
- A randomly interesting “throwback-to-the-90s internet-style” web page I found. And another one.
- Been on the hike a few times, but I did not know this historical background for the Stanford Dish
- Randomly interesting: hiding places within the cliffs of Galilee
- I can never let go of this one: another comparative look at “the other Space Shuttle”
- Age of Empires 2, re-released !!
- Graphic novels are good for you. Duh 😀.
- One of those cases where I just mention the headline: “A 25,000-year old building made out of 60 mammoths”
- An excellent book review by Peter Thiel (okay, more than that)
- Another thing universally felt, and then “discovered”: the polarization of reality
- The “out-of-Africa” date has been pushed back
- James Carville is not happy with the primaries. Well …
- Intriguing question about patterns on Viking’s clothes
- This is how I’d like to die if I was a musician
- The word neoliberalism is popular again, with different meanings for different people, so here’s the original “manifesto”
- Cyborg Jellyfish. Because why not.
- A look at rogue waves. Terrifying.
- Watched Free Willy with Tara, came across this story
- Surveying long-term disinformation campaigns on Twitter (in the pic above)
- Tiago Forte’s videos and notes on Notion
- “The disappearing conservative professor”
- An extract from Carl Sagan, a few decades ago … I agree with the author’s sentiment about “feeling creeped out in 2019”
- Zizek’s stance on the humanitarian crisis
- About Bernie Sanders and “young voters”
- In case you never saw the Zizek/Peterson debate
- On the subtleties skipped by the subtitles in Parasite
- Quillete on 1619 vs 1776
- Jellyfish with a little army of their own
- Amazing selection on Fermat’s Library, by Carlo Rovelli, on the disappearance of space and time
- “The rise and fall of New york city …”
- On the fractured sense of time in the 2010s
- Turns out this building near where I work is a “Silicon Valley” prop
- On how hard it is to truly forget these days
- On “neo-reaction”
- On how Youtube gives “love without the messiness”
- The earth’s hidden, deep oceans
- An analysis of Pynchon novels
- On how Krugman’s writing has become both repetitive and incoherent
- On how America is still, in many ways, in the 2000s
- Crazy fascinating look at how spiders might “use” their webs to “think” (!)
- The influence of Master of Orion on later games
- Lionel Shriver on … a passing fad
- Interesting historical bit on something that almost happened: “The Cold War Plan to Build Earth’s Largest Telescope”
- Generative Art, this time using Ant-colony optimization
- Bizarre creatures edition: Sea Cucumbuers
- My favorite recent “science read”: the forgotten mystery of Inertia
- A strange (creepy) musical instrument
- The title says it all: before the Iron Age, most iron came from … space meteorites
- The tedious, annoying, banal “crypto-grifters” on the Blockchain cruise
- There are still new Nazca lines to be discovered!
- On the extent of “trolling by bots” on Twitter
- On Trump’s strangely stable approval rating
- This one is going to be weird: me sharing someone’s sharing of something Mark Fisher once wrote, as a tribute to him
- The title says it all: The Failure at the End of History
- Someone’s ways of dealing with OCD
- AGM–114R9X … or, targeted killing with minimum collateral damage
- A prehistoric turtle had a shell nearly six feet long!