Media Summary: September 2017

foucault-and-stoneman-n-death-valley
Foucault and Michael Stoneman in Death Valley.

Some interesting links for the month:

  • This right here is just … one of those things I can’t believe I hadn’t seen yet: a “breaking the fourth wall” sketch on Saturday Night Live about “The last voyage of the Starship Enterprise” (filmed in May 1976).
  • This long article was less about millennials and perhaps more about pop culture, but certainly caused the phrase “premium mediocre” to stick in my head.
  • If I had the time, I would be playing Uncharted. The latest one, ”The Lost Legacy” is out, and is apparently both eye-catching and a well-told story.
  • Speaking of things I haven’t watched for lack of time, the new ”Twin Peaks” has got good reviews.
  • In City Journal, someone muses about “Silicon Valley vs Gotham” (missing the latter).
  • A biography of Alex Honnold, the chap who climbed El Capitan with no tools (seems surprisingly normal).
  • An interview with someone who accompanied Michel Foucault on his trip through California and Death Valley.
  • I’m going to leave this title here without comment: ”Why is linguistics such a magnet for dilettantes and crackpots?”
  • Andrew Sullivan asks: Can our democracy survive tribalism?
  • You either get very excited about stuff like this, or you don’t: a bunch of papyrus was discovered from during the time the great pyramids were being constructed! (so, mundane “normal life” stuff, along with mundane details of the build, but … isn’t that cool?)
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The bug count also rises

This is amazingly funny, so I just had to reproduce it. Highlighted my favorite bits … enjoy!

In the fall of that year the rains fell as usual and washed the leaves of the dust and dripped from the leaves onto the ground. The shuttles drove through the rainy streets and took the people to meetings, then later brought them back, their tires spraying the mist into the air.

Many days he stood for a long time and watched the rain and the shuttles and drank his double-tall mochas. With the mochas he was strong.

Hernando who worked down the hall and who was large with microbrews came to him and told him that the ship day was upon them but the bugs were not yet out. The bugs which were always there even when you were in Cafes late at night sipping a Redhook or a double-tall mocha and you thought you were safe but they were there and although Enrico kept the floor swept clean and the mochas were hot the bugs were there and they ate at you.

When Hernando told him this he asked how many bugs. “The RAID is huge with bugs,” Hernando said. “The bugs are infinite.”

“Why do you ask me? You know I cannot do this thing anymore with the bugs.”

“Once you were great with the bugs,” Hernando said. “No one was greater,” he said again. “Even Prado.”

“Prado? What of Prado? Let Prado fix the bugs.”

Hernando shrugged. “Prado is finished. He was gored by three Sev 2’s on Chicago. All he does now is drink herb tea and play with his screensavers.”

“Herb tea?”

“It is true, my friend.” Hernando shrugged again. Later he went to his office and sat in the dark for a long time. Then he sent e-mail to Michaels.

Michaels came to him while he was sipping a mocha. They sat silently for awhile, then he asked Michaels, “I need you to triage for me.”

Michaels looked down. “I don’t do that anymore,” he said.

“This is different. The bugs are enormous. There are an infinity of bugs.”

“I’m finished with that,” Michaels said again. “I just want to live quietly.”

“Have you heard Prado is finished? He was badly gored. Now he can only drink herb tea.”

“Herb tea?” Michaels said.

“It is true,” he said sorrowfully.

Michaels stood up. “Then I will do it, my friend,” he said formally. “I will do it for Prado, who was once great with the bugs. I will do it for the time we filled Prado’s office with bouncy balls, and for the time Prado wore his nerf weapons in the marketing hall and slew all of them with no fear and only a great joy at the combat. I will do it for all the pizza we ate and the bottles of Coke we drank.”

Together they walked slowly back, knowing it would be good. As they walked the rain dripped softly from the leaves, and the shuttles carried the bodies back from the meetings.

 

Credits here.

Sci/Math/Prog Summary: September 2017

Fun stuff from the past month …

The 59 digits of the Babylonian number system used in ancient Mesopotamia.
The 59 digits of the Babylonian number system used in ancient Mesopotamia.
  • Blast from the past: a “Unix logo contest”, twenty years ago, that was in turn celebration thirty years of Unix.
  • A “less massive” black hole right next to the supermassive one at the Milky Way’s center.
  • An excellent talk by Bryan Cantrill: the Oral Tradition in Software Engineering
  • This, from almost twenty years ago, is the result of an internal Microsoft satire competition. I feel like copy-pasting the whole damn thing here, but maybe I’ll make a separate post for it, it’s that good.
  • “How does a database work?”: an excellent series of posts re-inventing a simple SQLite clone
  • Might have posted this before, but so what, it’s a classic: Gerald Sussman (the talk is six years ago now) on We really don’t know how to compute
  • 2048 ruined many hours of many people’s time, so someone went and did a detailed combinatoric analysis.
  • I wish I understood this better, for now I’ve just shelved it on my “to-read” list: one of those “how is everything really connected” pieces. I’ve stalked blog posts by John Shutt for a long time now, love all the insights in the past.
  • I’ve started and stopped reading The Elements of Programming a few times, but here’s someone who’s demonstrating the concepts (pun intended) in there.
  • Connecting programming language design to architecture.
  • I just don’t have time these days, but I do want to watch “The Orville”; here’s Seth McFarlane discussing it, and the possibilities for science fiction today.
  • I don’t always read Hacker News, but when I do, it’s for Alan Kay’s comments.
  • Urbit has been (IMHO) a strange thing, either crap or the holy grail, nothing in between, and it seems to have shifted over to Ethereum, so we’ll see how that goes.
  • Finally, (weekend casual reading!) a Scientific American article on The joy of sexagesimal floating-point arithmetic (related image on top).

Media Summary: August 2017

 

Image 9-14-17
Freaky cloud, over a town in Brazil.

Some interesting links for this month:

I’m not saying that many of these tools, apps, and other technologies are not hugely convenient. But in a sense, they run counter to who we are as human beings.

Sci/Math/Prog Summary: August 2017

Random list of interesting stuff this month:

Media Summary: July 2017

Some interesting links from the last month:

Sci/Math/Prog summary: July 2017

Random list of interesting stuff this month:

Sun and Netscape are announcing a new version of Java that is intended to make programming more accessible to non-computer experts. The version is known as a scripting language, Javascript, and is based on a simple programming language already developed by Netscape. The idea is to make program development possible by people who are experienced computer users but not programmers.

… there is no business case anymore for a truly open platform based on custom-designed hardware, since people refuse to spend extra money for tweakability, freedom, and security.

  • I had always heard about the “hammer and feather” experiment on the moon; now, thanks to Youtube, I can see it.
  • Yep, Datomic is awesome and I wish I had more time or reason to play around with it. One day, one day.
  • Evan Miller seems to think Perl 6 is worth learning.
  • Herb Sutter put out a real teaser about upcoming metaprogramming abilities in C++
  • Finally, a short but important article reminds us that regardless of the machine underneath, we program in metaphors, and there’s no point trying to deny that.

You must master the art of metaphor selection, of meaning amplification. You must know when to add and when to subtract. You will learn to revise and rewrite code as a writer does. Once there’s nothing else to add or remove, you have finished your work. The problem you started with is now the solution. Is that the meaning you intended to convey in the first place?