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Cecily Cecily

Writing Worth Reading

A Unified Theory

Vikram Chandra, a computer programmer before he was a writer, produces “an unexpected tour de force”, Geek Sublime, which “looks deeply, and with great subtlety, into the connections and tensions between the worlds — the cultures — of technology and art”. You can write — but can you code? The book may be pigeon-holed as an update of C.P. Snow’s Two Cultures, but it is more and better than that (1,190 words)

My Carcass And Myself

Somewhat elliptical review of Marcel Theroux’s “wondrous, uncanny” novel, Strange Bodies, which takes as its theme the interplay between mind, body and identity. “The reader learns in the opening sentence that a man named Nicky Slopen has come back from death … What if a person could survive past his bodily death, to be reconstituted in another form? It no longer seems so farfetched, and it might not be pretty” (1,547 words)

Time Regained

Review of Time Reborn, by Lee Smolin. “His argument from science and history is as provocative, original, and unsettling as any I’ve read in years. It turns upside-down the now standard view of Wells, Minkowski, and Einstein. It contravenes our intellectual inheritance from Newton and, for that matter, Plato, and it will ring false to many of Smolin’s contemporaries in theoretical physics.” Sounds promising, no? (3,982 words)

Auto Crrect Ths!

“The better Autocorrect gets, the more we will rely on it. It’s happening already. People who yesterday unlearned arithmetic will soon forget how to spell. One by one we are outsourcing our mental functions to the global brain”

What Defines A Meme?

We owe the coinage to Richard Dawkins: a unit of expression that spreads. An idea, a tune, a catchphrase, an image. But are humans merely vehicles for the intellectual propagation of memes, as for the physical propagation of genes?

The Information Palace

Etymology of the word “information”, as tracked by the Oxford English Dictionary. Current definition runs to 9,400 words, “the length of a novella”. Modern usage, describing flows of data, dates from 1948

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