Shipwrecks, Intangibles, Apollo 11, Conducting, Quantum Computing


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Shipwreck Is Everywhere

A.E. Stallings | Hudson Review | 1st November 2017

Gorgeously wide-ranging essay on the poetry and romance of shipwrecks, from the Odyssey to Pippi Longstocking by way of Lucretius, Shakespeare, Byron, and the Titanic. “If we go by literature, a sailor who has landed in a strange country could end up on an island with monsters or cannibals, could be turned into a pig or a rock or a tree, could become the captive or slave of a witch or a goddess, or, in very rare cases, could end up married to the princess and living happily ever after” (11,900 words)

Understanding The Intangible Economy

Arnold Kling | Medium | 18th December 2017

Traditional economics assumes the trading of physical goods; it maps badly to the intangible economy, where the main goods traded are information and reputation. The intangible economy requires new models and assumptions. “When you consume a loaf of bread, it costs the baker something to make another loaf available to someone else. But when you read this essay, it costs me nothing to make the essay available to someone else. Information wants to be free, but creators need to get paid” (2,960 words)

The Greatest Leap

Eric Berger | Ars Technica | 19th December 2017

How America put men on the Moon, and why America no longer feels the need to do so. “Nearly half a century later, the Moon landings still take our breath away. On July 20, 1969, NASA pulled off arguably the greatest technical achievement of the 20th century. Certainly, it has no equal yet this century. Humanity reached so far, so fast in the 1960s that even today we have yet to match their achievements in space. Truthfully, we haven’t even come close” (7,007 words)

The Art Of Conducting

Terry Teachout | Commentary | 14th December 2017

“The right hand beats time; it sets the tempo or pulse of the music. It can hold a baton. The left hand turns pages, cues instrumentalists with an invitational or pointing gesture, and generally indicates the quality of the notes. Beyond these elements, all bets are off. Boulez and Stokowski conducted with their bare hands. Bernstein and Beecham gestured extravagantly. Furtwängler and von Karajan conducted so unclearly that it is hard to see how the orchestras they led were able to follow them” (2,300 words)

How Quantum Computing Will Change The World

Philip Ball | New Statesman | 18th December 2017

I have yet to see a clear and simple explanation of how quantum computing works; however, the computers are being built, and sold, and will soon solve problems too complex for any digital computer to solve in a human lifetime. “Quantum information technology is often presented as more of the same, but better. It shouldn’t be. It represents the first major shift in how computing is done since electronic computing devices were invented in the vacuum-tube-powered, steam-punk 1940s” (3,700 words)

Video of the day Stylometry

What to expect:

How your writing style can betray your identity; and how to prevent it from doing so (5’40”)

Thought for the day

Reason demands that poets prefer rhyme to reason
Paul Valéry

Podcast of the day Brainwaves | American Scholar

Anthony Brandt and David Eagleman talk about the science of creating new things
(20'14")

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