Interesting links: December 2021

Old step-well in India

(Apology: I usually structure these into sections, but didn’t have time to do that this month)

(focussing on Sublime Text and BBEdit)

The consideration should be efficiency and not a nebulous quality like “Mac-like design.”

I have to revert to what I wrote in the last article:

“The best text editor is the one you know how to use.”

If you are happy with the text editor you are using, keep typing. Spare me the assertions about what is “Mac-like design” and what isn’t.

  • On “Roam books” and “Roam newsletters”
  • On telling apart different forms of “note-taking systems”
  • In support of “ubiquitous linking
    • We affirm that the ability to copy a link to a resource is as important for cognitive productivity as the ability to copy other types of information. This applies to all persistent digital information.
    • To help people benefit from the information they process with software, we advocate ubiquitous support for linking of information resources. This would help realize the potential of hypermedia that was envisioned by information technology pioneers such as Ted Nelson and Douglas Englebart.
    • Some discussion here
  • In defense of Socrates and the Great Books
    • Many academics attack the very idea of a Western canon as chauvinistic, while the general public increasingly doubts the value of the humanities. In Rescuing Socrates, Dominican-born American academic Roosevelt Montás tells the story of how a liberal education transformed his life, and offers an intimate account of the relevance of the Great Books today, especially to members of historically marginalized communities.
  • Squid Game, the Mr. Beast version
    • The viral success of MrBeast’s “$456,000 Squid Game in Real Life!” video means that many viewers, like some of my students, have come to associate Squid Games through MrBeast’s version rather than through its original series, thereby removing its original context and meaning. As NBC tech journalist Kat Tenbarge succinctly tweeted: “Now what if — bear with me here — the stakes of this game were life and death, painting a grim portrait of capitalism.”
    • By celebrating the creation of new content devoid of original meaning and context, we’re praising a system of ahistorical, non-relational entertainment over substance and critique. Or, as Stan Cross sarcastically responds to the fan account: “in the future creator economy, there will be so few gatekeepers, MrBeast will be able to operate at such speed he’ll rack up millions of views parodying shows before they’ve even been conceived, and then they won’t need to be made. A win for all of culture.”
  • Bizarre, but somebody’s using this, GreaterWrong, “a way to browse LessWrong”
  • Case study: implementing a log-based relational database in Common Lisp
  • Exploring distributed consensus in Wolfram Mathematica
  • The “Tao of Programming
    • This is a book about what goes on in the minds of programmers. Most programming books are about the mechanics of programming. These are essential, yet they can leave novices confused and bored. Tao Te Programming tries to get at the spirit of programming, to expose the ways of thinking that make programming challenging and fulfilling rather than too hard and grinding.
    • Good programming is often about effective compromise. You can go too far in a good direction. That is why many chapters have opponents — an indication of forces you need to try to balance. Chapters can also have allies that point in a similar direction.
  • Remembering an old smart-watch
  • Terry Eagleton on Richard Dawkins: https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v28/n20/terry-eagleton/lunging-flailing-mispunching
  • Was playing “Poop Bingo”, and noticed that Wombat poop is cubic, and turns out the reason for that was just discovered this year! Wombats Poop Cubes, and Scientists Finally Got to the Bottom of It
  • James Robertson on the basics of Pharo | by Richard Kenneth Eng | Medium(https://richardeng.medium.com/james-robertson-on-the-basics-of-pharo-2bccec77c743)

from a long-time Smalltalker who passed away seven years ago

  • Modern concrete construction might last 100 years with maintenance, but some Roman structures have survived for 1,000 years or more essentially unassisted
  • “You can’t see it as a tourist, but the reason the Colosseum is still standing is because of its incredibly robust concrete foundation,” said Jackson. That concrete foundation is packed with dense, heavy lava rock aggregate and is a full 12m thick, she added. Without such a strong, long-lasting material at its foundation, the Colosseum would have been reduced entirely to rubble by the region’s earthquakes.
  • Inside the Pantheon’s rotunda, the distance from the floor to the very top of the dome is virtually identical to the dome’s 43m diameter, inviting anyone inside to imagine the huge, perfect sphere that could be housed within its interior. When trying to appreciate the Pantheon’s dome, “unreinforced” is really the key word.

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