Generally interesting links – Mar 2021

(Note to self by Douglas Adams)

Books

Tools and practices

Misc

Systems

Programming

Generally interesting links – Feb 2021

(A short list this time)

Watching Adam Curtis

A poem that shares a title with a docu-series by Adam Curtis from 2011

The first time I watched an Adam Curtis documentary was “Century of the self” about a decade ago. After that, I have, on-and-off, tried to watch everything by him that I could get my hand on.

Not all of it felt equally good, but the good ones were very rewarding. No one else, to my knowledge, comes close to tackling these themes, hard-to-grasp and spread out over decades and involving so many threads of narrative as they are.

For the first time I looked up his filmography and found out that — I found this amazing — he has been making “this sort of thing” since before I was born (!)

Also, I realized I’d watched his work in a very haphazard, non-chronological order, jumping across decades.

I just watched the first 30min of the first episode of his latest creation after a gap of many years (I can’t get you outta my head), and it feels like one of his better ones.

I tend to watch everything slowly these days, so I imagine it will take me a while to get through it (at over eight hours), and perhaps I will mention whether or not it lived up to expectations when I am done.

But in the meantime, I can recommend these favorites of mine (I have been able to find everything on Youtube):

  • The century of the Self (2002)
  • All watched over by machines of loving grace (2011)
  • The Trap: what happened to our dream of freedom (2007)
  • Pandora’s Box (1992)

Enjoy.

Generally Interesting Links – Jan 2021

Science

While it’s true that humans and animals tend to spread the spores of the mushrooms they make off with, thus aiding mushrooms in propagating genetic offspring, I sometimes wonder who’s cultivating whom here.

Tools for thought

Thinking

Mediums

Programming

Generally interesting links – Dec 2020

Browsing “without an algorithm”

Science

  • Old teeth

    These human ancestors, who roamed different patches of Eurasia roughly 1.77 million and 800,000 years ago, respectively, share a claim to fame: Their fossilized teeth harbored the oldest surviving proteins from extinct human species — molecules more than twice as old as human DNA.

  • Geeking out over cameras and lenses
  • The Open Library Explorer

    How does one faithfully compress the entire experience of a reliable, unbiased, expansive public library and its helpful, friendly staff into a 14” computer screen?
    Some sites, like Netflix or YouTube, solve this problem with recommendation engines that populate information based on what people have previously seen or searched. Consequently, readers may unknowingly find themselves caught in a sort of “algorithmic bubble.”

Gamified life

  • On Robinhood

    … the more risk Robinhood’s customers take in their hyperactive trading accounts, the more the Silicon Valley startup profits from the whales it sells their orders to. And while Robinhood’s successful recruitment of inexperienced young traders may have inadvertently minted a few new millionaires riding the debt-fueled bull market, it is also deluding an entire generation into believing that trading options successfully is as easy as leveling up on a video game.
    … Robinhood gets paid—by the quants—58 cents per 100 shares for options contracts versus only 17 cents per 100 for equities. Options are less liquid than stocks and tend to trade at higher spreads. While the company says only 12% of its customers trade options, those trades accounted for 62% of Robinhood’s order-flow revenues in the first half of 2020.

  • Revisiting (and critiquing) Baldur’s Gate

Tools for Thought

People/World

  • On modern attitudes towards free speech (Ira Glasser reminisces)

    It wasn’t until my 30s that I began to understand free speech, that the real antagonist of speech is power

Just plain weird

  • A giant headless Buddha statue, uncovered in a residential area in China.

    The two residential buildings were constructed in 1990 after the demolition of a temple at the same site, and the sculpture was uncovered during a clearing of foliage in the area.

Programming

  • An overview of Fennel (keeping an eye on it as Lua becomes a first-class scripting language for Neovim)
  • Inside the machine

    One of the most interesting aspects of programming is the ability to inspect and modify programs while they are running. We all know debuggers, but there are lots of programs which let you interact with them directly while they are running. Some programs let you run scripts via embedded interpreters, which let you extend the program, but in some instances the programs themselves are the interpreters.

Generally interesting links – Nov 2020

An early form of typewriter art

Computing

Programming languages/tools

Movies/TV/Music

People/world

Science

Generally interesting links – Oct 2020

Solzhenitsyn at Harvard, 1978

Computing

Programming languages

The web

People

The world

Science

Misc

Generally interesting links – Sep 2020

Generally interesting links – Aug 2020

Crater formed after methane build-up in thawing permafrost (people shown for scale)

Generally Interesting Links – July 2020

New Planet, Konstantin Yuon (1921)