Last week my friend and I, both being Canadians who work for an American company, had Thursday and Friday off for U.S. Thanksgiving. We took the opportunity to visit Salt Spring Island, staying for two nights in an Airbnb that turned out to be part of a lakeside resort. It was wonderful:
Aside from a few frosty jaunts around the island, I mainly curled up by the fire and read William Finnegan’s memoir, Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life. I picked it up after seeing Paul Graham’s rather extreme endorsement of it. So far I can’t give that same endorsement, but it is a compelling portrait of an obsession. Check it out if you’re into that kind of thing. The guy really, really likes to surf.
// made by me
5 minutes | me | 2019
I wish writing covers were considered totally normal. I'm not talking about adaptations, like Joyce's Ulysses (an adaptation of The Odyssey, set in 20th century Dublin), although I would love to see more of those too. By "covers", I mean high-fidelity recreations of other people's written works—comprehensive paraphrases.
// recently read
40 minutes | Gwern Branwen | 2018
An encyclopedic collection of examples and reflections on the economic concept of complementary goods. If you run Spotify, you want headphones to become cheaper and better. If you manufacture headphones, you want music streaming services to become cheaper and better. This phenomenon can explain a lot of company behaviors that would otherwise seem odd.
5 minutes | Paul Valéry | 1928
A prescient piece from 1928. Here’s an excerpt:
Works of art will acquire a kind of ubiquity. We shall only have to summon them and there they will be, either in their living actuality or restored from the past. They will not merely exist in themselves but will exist wherever someone with a certain apparatus happens to be. A work of art will cease to be anything more than a kind of source or point of origin whose benefit will be available and quite fully so, wherever we wish. Just as water, gas, and electricity are brought into our houses from far off to satisfy our needs in response to a minimal effort, so we shall be supplied with visual- or auditory images, which will appear and disappear at a simple movement of the hand, hardly more than a sign.
40 minutes | Venkatesh Rao | 2014
You may have heard the maxim, “strong views, weakly held.” What about the converse–“weak views, strongly held”? Venkatesh Rao, in his signature 2x2 style, explores this question in the context of Isaiah Berlin’s cognitive archetypes of the hedgehog and the fox.
5 minutes | Byron Wien | 2013
I had never heard of Byron Wien before I came across this article, but I found his life lessons thought-provoking. Here is one:
When meeting someone new, try to find out what formative experience occurred in their lives before they were seventeen. It is my belief that some important event in everyone’s youth has an influence on everything that occurs afterwards.
// top tweets
michael_nielsen@michael_nielsen@eriktorenberg It's amusing to think about what a journal article is: often, scientists rushing very quickly to disclose to their peers what they know, with the result that other people can build on it. This isn't a natural state of affairs; it was very painstakingly constructed.
Have a great week!
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