General interesting links: June 2018

Last month’s bunch of random stuff:

  • Musical selection for the month #1: an old song with many versions: “The Windmills of Your Mind”
  • Picked up an interesting graphic novel, a fictionalized account of Lovelace and Babbage
  • A playlist of classic Sci Fi audiobooks.
  • Humorous blast from the past: apparently in 1999, Trump suggested a one-time tax on the 1%:

“No one has put forward a plan to make this country entirely debt free as we enter the next millenium,” Trump said in a written statement.

“The plan I am proposing today does not involve smoke and mirrors, phony numbers, financial gimmicks, or the usual economic chicanery you usually find in Disneyland-on-the-Potomac,” Trump said.

Trump would exempt the value of an individual’s principal home from the net worth total.

“By my calculations, 1 percent of Americans, who control 90 percent of the wealth in this country, would be affected by my plan,” Trump said.

“The other 99 percent of the people would get deep reductions in their federal income taxes,” he said.

A life spent buried in video games, scraping by on meagre pay from irregular work or dependent on others, might seem empty and sad. Whether it is emptier and sadder than one spent buried in finance, accumulating points during long hours at the office while neglecting other aspects of life, is a matter of perspective.

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Programming/Math/Science roundup: June 2018

 

Taken by Lunar Orbiter 1, in Aug 1966. That’s 1966 !

 

Somehow, a lot of interesting stuff this month:

Anyway, I know what it is to look at functionality and duplicate it elsewhere.  It CAN be done.  I am not saying it can’t.  What I’m saying is that it has not been done, and it’s a crying shame.  Few people even know there ever WAS a lisp machine, and those who do are mostly not rich enough personally to invest the time to duplicate what was there. Many people spent a big chunk of their lives investing in this dream and it didn’t pan out quite as we wish.  Ok.  Sometimes other events win out–not always  even for the right reasons. Or at least for the reasons you wish.  But don’t add insult to injury to say that the losers in battles such as these had nothing to offer.

Common Lisp beat out Interlisp, and maybe for good reasons but it doesn’t mean Interlisp had nothing to offer–some very good ideas got lost in the shuffle and I don’t pretend that Common Lisp just obviously had a better way.  Java is going to beat out Smalltalk perhaps, but that doesn’t mean Java is better than Smalltalk.  We owe it to the losers in these little
skirmishes to make sure that, if nothing else, the good ideas are not lost along with the framework.  And we do not accomplish that by defining that there was nothing lost. That’s both callous to those who worked hard on these other things and short-sighted to the future, which might one
day care about the things that got lost.

General interesting links: May 2018

Last month’s bunch of random stuff:

 

The original “skywalkers” …

 

  • A look at how both Apple and Star wars have come to dominate our “tech aesthetic” in a very deep sense
  • Something about Nirvana (not the band)
  • Michael Polan (of Omnivore fame) talking about psychedelics (on NPR! this stuff is going mainstream again!)
  • File this under this month’s humor section: a 30-year old man had to be sued by his parents to get him to move out of their house
  • Ditto, but the darker variety: story of a man who remained functionally illiterate while being a high school teacher. Choice quote:

Why did I go into teaching? Looking back it was crazy that I would do that. But I’d been through high school and college without getting caught – so being a teacher seemed a good place to hide. Nobody suspects a teacher of not knowing how to read.

  • On the “Very Short Introduction …” series

(there isn’t a lot here this time, partly due to it just being a busy time, partly because I was in Australia for a good third of the month …)

Programming/Math/Science roundup: May 2018

Can you imagine paying $4900 for a calculator? In 1968 money??

On the death of Stalin

I believe I’ve just watched the funniest movie in at least a few years. Every single scene, every single interaction, is shot through with dark humor. It really doesn’t get any darker than this.

It’s the kind of material which a lesser movie might have tried to satire or (worse!) turn into a fictionalized documentary.

But no, an accurate retelling is all that works here, preserving all of the idiocy, all of the despair, all of the absurdity— and there is so much absurdity here!

My favorite movie of the year, by far.

General Interesting Links: April 2018

 

Yes, the figure at the bottom of this absurdly tall tree is a horse!

 

Bunch of random stuff that I liked this month:

In this process, which scientists call ‘ballooning’, the spider creates a sail-like web that catches the breeze, allowing it to travel distances as short as a few meters or embark on epic journeys that can take them up into the jet stream or as far as remote islands in the ocean.

  • I found some old advertisements that I liked, but I liked them so much I made the one-liner into a separate post.
  • I’ve been watching a bit of “Thomas the Train Engine” with my daughter, and have a growing unease at the back of my mind each time I do, but this person nails the reason why; will never be able to look at it the same way again (!)
  • I feel terrible that I never paid attention to this line at the beginning of The Big Lebowski, so here’s someone over-analyzing it
  • Something that doesn’t fit anywhere: about seeking, and insights (also has something to say about the Matrix, and about just doing)
  • The “canon wars” continue on (I’m very pessimistic about all this; readers who’ve seen me mention Allan Bloom in the past know which side of the fence I sit on, though)
  • Finally, the real” story of Alladin turns out to be way more obscure/interesting than I knew!

Programming/Math/Science roundup: April 2018