On the relevance of search results

Something darkly funny: was reading something with my daughter and came across something to do with gazelles and how they dance1, and thought, “hey, let’s look up videos of gazelles on Youtube! I’m sure we’ll find some good animal videos!”

Bad idea. Very bad idea.

In case you didn’t click through, the top results (as I see them right now) include:

“Cheetah high speed gazelle hunt”

“Springboks Antelops vs Cheetahs” (huh?)

“Cheetah chasing gazelles”

“There’s a Theory that Gazelles Style On Predators… Just Because”

“Gazelle mother trying to regain her children from eagle but can not”

“Must see! Leopard hunts gazelle on Safari tour, Masai Mara, Kenya, Africa”

“Crocodiles catch whole herd of migrating gazelle” (with two variations on this theme)

“Shaky video! Cheetah playing with baby gazelle before eating it”

“Cheetah vs gazelle | super hunting skill of of cheetah”

… and my favorite:

“Warthog attacks newborn gazelle fawn”

Further down, the only graceful gazelle to be found was Shakira’s character from Zootopia.

  1. In Louise Trapeze did not lose the juggling chickens, if you must know

Monthly Curations: May 2019

Back to Neal Stephenson ….

I think the first Neal Stephenson book I read was Snow Crash, though it was some sort of partial online copy and I didn’t finish it all the way through. This was sometime in the late 90s. I liked it, didn’t fully get it, and I forgot it.

Then I read Anathem, and it blew me away, and I still think it’s my favorite. Not so much for what happens in the story itself (in fact, I’m forgetting the ending as I write this (and I’m not sure he does a good job of endings in general, hmm …)), but more about the world in it, all the wonderful details, and how they’re revealed.

Then I read Snow Crash again, and I loved it this time, and … this “linguistic superpower meta-meme” went into my mind and embedded itself there, one of possibly only three or four others like it (the meta-meme of psychohistory being another old, deep idea, but more on that some other time).

Then I read the Baroque trilogy, and was thrilled to bits. This was on my Kindle (new at the time to me, I’m talking about a decade ago from today), and created a side-passion of etymology for me (I’d been lost in the endless link-following of Wikipedia earlier, this was the same but for word-origins …). (Also, I don’t think I would’ve been able to read them in their paper forms, which I realized when I saw a copy of The System of the World (my favorite of the three, I think) in a bookshop and realized there was no way I was going to lug that around with me.)

Anyway, I was aware of him continuing to write but hadn’t really read any fiction in many years, and while a colleague had recommended Seveneves to me last year, it had languished on my wish-list … until this week, when I started reading it again (in e-book form, if you must know).

Not much of a spoiler alert to share the very first line of the book: The moon blew up without warning and for no apparent reason. So yes, a compelling reason to keep reading. And about 7% of the way through, I’m enjoying it (small observation though: this definitely belongs in the pre-2016-age-of-innocence era when it comes to describing human beings).

When I’m done I think I’ll revisit everything else he’s been up to lately (D.o.d.o and Reamde), which means I have several months of reading pipeline filled up …

Monthly recap (May 2019)

Cut-and-pasted paper square “quilt”
Cut-and-pasted paper square “quilt”

Major updates:

  • Some backyard spruce-up: bird feeders, and my first gardening experience, a pot of badly-planted yet hardy Marigold
  • New fun activity with Tara: “quilting on paper” (more on that later)

Minor updates:

  • Rose Market opened up nearby, so more kebabs, meat 😋
  • Trying to start a protein shake morning habit, without success yet
  • First steps on my new puzzle …
  • Visited the Mountain View A la Carte and Art and Seven Seas Park, Met up with Tara’s friends there …
  • Spent a day at the Children’s Discovery Museum
  • Hike to the Stanford Dish


  • Started watching “Killing Eve” on Netflix
  • Finished listening to “The ascent of money” and started listening to “Homo Deus” on Audible

Interesting links: May 2019

Artist's rendition of prehistoric fungi http://www-news.uchicago.edu/releases/07/070423.fungus.shtml
Artist’s rendition of prehistoric fungi