Estonia, Robots, Palmyra, Queer London, Poetry


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A Sea Story

William Langewiesche | Atlantic | 8th May 2004

Classic account of the sinking of the car-ferry “Estonia”, which went down in the Baltic Sea in 1994. “It was a massive steel vessel, 510 feet long and nine decks high. It had labyrinths of cabins, a swimming pool, a cinema, a conference center, three restaurants, and three bars. In port the car deck was accessed through a bow that could be raised to allow vehicles to drive in and out. At sea that bow was supposed to remain closed and locked. In this case, however, it did not” (9,100 words)

More Like Pets Than Machines

Pete Warden | 7th May 2018

The next generation of general-purpose household robots will need to be intelligent and sensitive entities that try to understand us but are sometimes mistaken in forgivable ways that maintain our affection. “The only analogy that I can think of to what’s coming is our pets. They don’t always do what we want, but (sometimes) they learn and even when they don’t they bring so much that we’re happy to have them in our lives. This is very different from our relationship with machines” (1,220 words)

Palmyra

Charles Glass & Don McCullin | Granta | 3rd May 2018

Report from Palmyra in Syria, scene of Islamic State’s most spectacular cultural vandalism. “Last October, I went to Palmyra for the first time since 1987. Syria thirty years ago was an island of peace between Iraq and Lebanon. Palmyra’s ruins stretched over acres of a tranquil, isolated plain. On this latest visit, I went into the town to find streets clogged with war detritus, water and sewage pipes crumbled and buildings collapsed with their innards exposed to the elements” (4,200 words)

Roaring Girls

Peter Ackroyd | Longreads | 8th May 2018

Extract from Peter Ackroyd’s “Queer London”. Adult themes. “The love of woman for woman was veiled behind the acceptance of close friendships between women; the general communication of warmth and affection was considered to be normal, and many queer women were able to mask their more fervent desires. For single women to live together was accepted and acceptable in every period. There was no legal definition of lesbianism because under English law no such condition existed” (4,400 words)

An Algorithmic Investigation Of Poet Voice

Cara Giaimo | Atlas Obscura | 1st May 2018

Poets speak differently, ponderously, giving weight to their words — but often, the effect is to alienate or irritate the listener. “By comparing Poets and Talkers, researchers were able to draw two overall conclusions. First, when compared to the Talkers, the Poets tended to speak more slowly and stay within a narrower pitch range. Second, very few Talkers indulged in long pauses, but plenty of Poets — 33 percent — had no trouble leaving their listeners hanging for two seconds or more” (1,690 words)

Video of the day Principles For Success

What to expect:

Ray Dalio introduces an eight-part series explaining the need for principles, and how to develop them (3’46”)

Thought for the day

The more precise you are, in general the more likely you are to be wrong
J.L. Austin

Podcast The Miracle Apple | Planet Money

How competition made all supermarket-bought apples horrible — and then made them great again
(13m 57s)

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