Milton, Action, Logic, Wires, Plays

The Sound And The Story

Philip Pullman | Public Domain Review | 11th December 2019

One writer’s reflections on another writer’s poetic masterpiece, John Milton’s Paradise Lost. “The experience of reading poetry aloud when you don’t fully understand it is a curious and complicated one. It’s like suddenly discovering that you can play the organ. Rolling swells and peals of sound, powerful rhythms and rich harmonies are at your command; and as you utter them you begin to realise that the sound you’re releasing from the words as you speak is part of the reason they're there (3,800 words)


Why Is Taking Action Hard?

Scott Young | 16th December 2019

A taxonomy of the reasons that we invoke, or could invoke, when not doing things that we want to do or claim to want to do. For my own procrastination, I recognise “Possibility #2: Social-Desirability Bias”, as both necessary and sufficient. “We fail to take action because the unconscious parts of our mind that drive our behaviour have decided not to take action. Sometimes inaction isn’t socially acceptable, so we need to feign taking action in order to suggest to others that we do care, even when we don’t” (1,850 words)


Best Books On Logic

Nigel Warburton | Five Books | 10th December 2019

Interview with philosopher Tom Stoneham about the fundamentals of logic, and the best books about the place of logic in philosophy. “Logic is not concerned with which sentences are true; it’s concerned with the patterns of truth. An argument is valid, logicians say, when we have one set of statements which we call the premises and if they are true, then this other statement, the conclusion, must be true. Validity is a relationship between the first set of sentences and the conclusion” (7,090 words)


About Networks

Carl Tashian | 30th January 2019

How computers talk to each other. Admirable combination of technical rigour and accessible English. “The IEEE specification for Ethernet is over 4,000 pages long. It gets into incredibly boring minutiae: design specifications for coaxial trunk cable connectors, compliance interconnect magnitude response curves, link aggregation TLV usage rules, etc. My goal here is to omit 99.9% of those details and go for the juicy 0.1% that are relevant to anyone who wants to have a mental model of networking” (2,900 words)


Speak My Language

Chris Brown | Grantland | 25th January 2013

How American football teams call plays. NFL teams use three main offensive systems: West Coast, Coryell, and Erhardt-Perkins. West Coast is the traditional system, “as old as football itself”, based on two-digit short-codes. Coryell is “built around a route tree”. The Erhardt-Perkins system uses “concepts”; every play has a name, every play is organised from the viewpoint of the quarterback. One “concept” from the New England Patriots’ playbook reads: “3 Out Slot Hat — 73 Ghost/Tosser On Set” (2,300 words)


Video: Dual Axis Illusion. Scramble your brain by trying to unscramble this year’s winner of the Neural Correlate Society’s annual contest for best optical illusion: Which is the axis of rotation? (1m 12s)

Audio: Murphy’s Law | Decoder Ring. Murphy’s Law says: “Anything can go wrong, will go wrong”. It sounds like ancient folklore. But there was a Murphy, and he worked in America in the 1940s (36m 35s)

Afterthought:
“It is better to scream. Silence is the real crime against humanity”
— Nadezhda Mandelstam


Browser Publisher Uri Bram’s new book, The Business of Big Data, co-authored with Professor Martin Schmalz of Oxford University, is out today.

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