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Saturday 16th September, 2023 - Wonderfull and Strange Nerdy Discussions (Issue #132)
Everyone’s having weird conversations and it’s great! AI religions to Harry Potter to prime numbers, through to debasing everything, the internet sucking, philanthropy, and good/bad Typescript.
Hello and welcome to my newsletter!
Another season 2 instalment…
I wrote 3 blog posts this week, maybe sone of you will like them:
Where might the Vision Pro make a big impact? - I make the case for why the really exciting opportunities for the Vision Pro might not be as a consumer media watching device but as an information welding mask for those working in science and engineering. https://markjgsmith.com/blog/2023/09/13/where-might-the-vision-pro-make-a-big-impact
The Mental Health Deception - How we view mental health issues has changed a lot in my lifetime. We didn’t really even have non-derogatory ways of talking about it. It’s a lot better these days but I think we still need to evolve our understanding of the topic. https://markjgsmith.com/blog/2023/09/13/the-myental-health-deception
Last Man Standing Tech - It seems like powerful AI could become a bigger part in mediating how we interact with each other. What might this look like? https://markjgsmith.com/blog/2023/09/13/last-man-standing-tech
I made some good progress on my static site generator. It was really tough going. It’s written and shipped and the change is the tinniest change in the universe, but I think it’s an important one. I’m happy with it. I celebrated with an economical packet of biscuits, and did my best to ignore the Tsunami from the universe that predictably ensued. It’s everything-is-your-fault interleaved with have-something-nice, impossible to differentiate between them. One causes the other. The DX for me at the minute is the worst.
I’ll feel better once I’ve eaten something. Hopefully that’s still possible, I don’t know. Can you eat Typescript? Maybe I should have written this issue in Typescript? Do I get less gang stalker sleep depravation if I write everything in Typescript? Do the bullies stop if I use Typescript? Do I get breakfast if I use Typescript?
I’m going to keep the intro short this week. Quite low energy today.
Doomed to discuss AI (Changelog & Friends Podcast) - Fabulously strange episode full of wonderful strangeness and oddities. Programmers talking about odd things from artic code vaults to Egyptian pyramid conspiracies to AI doom culture to AI religions to software based universes, and lots lots more. https://changelog.com/friends/13
Rich Cohen Ep#1697 (Keen On Podcast) - To understand america you need to understand basketball, and to do that you need to understand the 1987-1988 NBA season, the greatest season of all time. This brought back memories because back in those days I was really into basketball. I played competitively all through middle school. So of course watched quite a lot of NBA from that period. https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9hamtlZW4ubGlic3luLmNvbS9yc3M/episode/ZDViMzk3NDAtNGYyZC0xMWVlLTliZjctOTc5YjQyMjI0NzNm?sa=X&ved=0CAUQkfYCahcKEwjosb2jgq6BAxUAAAAAHQAAAAAQNg
The Real Harry Potter: Magic, Empire & Beastly Bullies Ep#367 (Rest is History Podcast) - In truth the episode is more about the history of the british schooling system, but seen through a lens that highlights the historical through lines to Harry Potter. A great way to understand Britishness. I am of course british myself, though I grew up outside the UK, so I very much enjoyed this episode. Perfect compliment to having watched Grange Hill in my youth. For me going to university in the UK was a little bit like being in the Potter universe, only with yards of ale and electron microscopes. https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9yc3MuYWNhc3QuY29tL3RoZS1yZXN0LWlzLWhpc3RvcnktcG9kY2FzdA/episode/Mzg3OWEzYzAtNTAxOC0xMWVlLWJhYzctOGY5ZTQ4NDFlZTAw?sa=X&ved=0CAYQkfYCahgKEwjosb2jgq6BAxUAAAAAHQAAAAAQlgQ
Solving the Unsolvable Problems with Michael Dunworth (What Bitcoin Did Podcast) - Starts with a delightfully weird practical experiment of sending bitcoin into the future, the conversation then goes totally off the sanity rails covering encryption, numbers as the fundamental language of the universe, worm holes, prime numbers as gold, prime numbers as an alien flex, prime numbers as modern day pyramids, numbers as the canvas of the universe, E=mc2, C=piR2, is science made up stuff mapped onto math problems? Very far out episode. Sshh all your Australia cup of teas belong to us, apparently. https://www.whatbitcoindid.com/podcast/solving-the-unsolvable-problems
Fiat Ruins Everything with Bitcoin Developer Jimmy Song (Bitcoin Fundamentals Podcast) - Clear headed look at the many aspects of society that fiat money makes worse, including useless rent-seeking activities that provide no value, break down of societies, undermining and debasing of work, ruining of incentives, crazy VC environment, the Frankfurt conundrum and historical context, impact on family values, and impact on modern culture.
Get In, We Are Taking Back the Internet (Have a Nice Future Podcast) - Interview with Cory Doctorow about his new books, covering the tech industry, aliens birthing industry leaders, monopolies, the internet kind of sucks now, it’s all become horrid. Also coffee addiction compared to internet addiction. Tech intermediating our lives. Interoperability. Switching costs. Politics. Network affects. How to make it better. https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9mZWVkcy5tZWdhcGhvbmUuZm0vZ2V0LXdpcmVk/episode/MGNiZjQ0YjItNTFhNi0xMWVlLWIxMzYtMDdjNzc5ZDE1OWY2?sa=X&ved=0CAYQkfYCahgKEwjosb2jgq6BAxUAAAAAHQAAAAAQnAc
Orange Pilling Through Sport with Steven Nelkovski & Patrick O’Sullivan (What Bitcoin Did Podcast) - To be honest this was a bit bitter sweet for me. I spent a large amount of my youth playing baseball and basketball competitively, but I ended up going down a different path, I chose having friendships over hobbies, so it brought back lots of memories. It’s super cool that people are combining bitcoin with sports, but I couldn’t help but feel like it’s another great thing that I ended up missing out on. I’m happy they are happy though, and that the world is a better place because of the work they are doing. https://www.whatbitcoindid.com/podcast/orange-pilling-through-sport
Natalie Cargill: How to Solve The World’s Biggest Problems (TED Talks Daily) - Natalie makes the case for why we could solve a huge amount of the words problems through philanthropy, and highlights similar seemingly insurmountable tasks in the post war periods that did exactly that. Waiting on governments will take too long, they aren’t designed to be able to make the radical changes that would be necessary. https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9vcGVuLmZpcnN0b3J5Lm1lL3Jzcy91c2VyL2NqemR4emY3dmJ6dmowNzU4NzJrYW5vaWI/episode/ZW4uYXVkaW8udGFsay50ZWQuY29tOjExNzcyMA?sa=X&ved=0CAIQuIEEahgKEwjosb2jgq6BAxUAAAAAHQAAAAAQ8gY
Dear Duolingo: Are any words the same in all languages? - Absolutely fascinating post about culture and history and language and travel. I've never used Duolingo myself but I've heard lots of good things about their app. You know a company is really into their core mission when they write a blog post like this. Just brilliant. I wonder if they have a podcast? https://blog.duolingo.com/words-shared-in-all-languages
Nasa says distant exoplanet could have rare water ocean and possible hint of life - The planet is 9 times the size of earth, might have oceans, and they have detected some hints of molecules that on Earth are emmitted by phytoplankton. The discovery was made by the James Webb telescope, which was able to capture light from the planet's star that had passed through it's atmosphere. And that all happened 120 light years away. Mindblowing. Some other cool examples of JWT detections listed at the end of the article. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2023/sep/11/nasa-planet-ocean-life-james-webb-telescope
Physicists Observe ‘Unobservable’ Quantum Phase Transition - Scientists have been able to not only entangle constellations of many particles simultaneously, but by measuring their state in a clever way, stochastically, use the measuring as a way to have some control over the entanglement, since measurement causes entanglement collapse. And by doing that they were able to explore the entire entanglement space. Similar to how many materials go through phase transitions, say from liquid water to solid ice, there appears to be phase transitions in the quantum world. The weird thing is that it's not a material per se it's literally a phase transition in information, where the information shared between two things undergoes an abrupt change. As well as cool science, it's a tale of multiple reasearch groups discovering each other and combining forces. The story mixes in quantum computers, entanglement entropy and even time crystals in what is defo one of the best science writeups I've read this year. https://www.quantamagazine.org/physicists-observe-unobservable-quantum-phase-transition-20230911
Lots more links on the daily linkblog, and they often include extra context links which there isn’t an easy way to include in substack. Please check them out:
Typescript makes community programming more difficult - One aspect that I think Typescript devs are very hypocritical about is the extra cognitive load and tooling complexity Typescript adds. It's like now that they have mastered JS and Typescript, they are pulling up the ladders so to speak, making it significantly harder to learn the language. I'm not saying Typescript is bad, but you should not require people building sheds to have to use skyscraper building tools. There's clearly a huge conflict of interest that they fail to disclose. Typescript is really an elitist extension that is only for people with space and time to learn, who are not immersed in chaos. By imposing Typescript early you are effectively shutting out a huge swoth of humans who's lives are not as afluent.
But it's not really that important. What's important is having a language that is easy to learn and experiment with. If anything, we need to make it easier to learn, not harder. https://markjgsmith.com/notes/2023/09/15/125700-markjgsmith.com
This is a new section that I’m testing out this week. These are extracts from some of the notes I wrote this past week. Please check out the rest of them:
That’s all from me…
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Have a great weekend and a fantastic next week!