Sunday, March 08, 2020

Cold River: Walter Bagehot, the Literary Banker

It took me a long time to understand that God is not the enemy of my enemies. God is not even the enemy of God's enemies.
Martin Niemöller, who died in 1984 

Cities are much more than collections of buildings; they are places where people gather for art, culture and commerce.  Cultural places are places we often visit alone but where we don’t feel alone.  We share what we see and experience with others, and we feel a sense of belonging and connection, even if we don’t know or don’t talk to the others participating in the cultural event.  Cultural places fulfil a need to gather, to share, to learn and to experience something unexpected, or beautiful, or challenging.

The joyousness of dogs. We love them and they love us, as no small measure of philosophical material bears out Dogs 

Here’s What a Googol-to-One Gear Ratio Looks Like

'Like fine wine': The Pussycat Dolls revel in noughties nostalgia

The pop icons, recently reunited after a decade-long split, are touring Australia next month.

Top Economists Study What Happens When You Stop Using Facebook Cal Newport

Walter Bagehot, the Literary Banker National Review

MIT Technology Review: “In the unprecedented outbreak of a new coronavirus sweeping the world, the germ’s genetic material may ultimately tell the story not just of where it came from, but of how it spread and how efforts to contain it failed


Lunch with Freeman  Dyson. The notoriously contrarian polymath, who died last week, was a slow eater. He did nearly all of the talking Dyson  

“And I told you: no works of art, no 
language, no words, no thought, nothing.
Nothing except a sort of incomprehensible 
and totally erect stance in the midst of 
everything in the mind. And don’t expect
me to tell you what all this is called, and
how many parts it can be divided into; 
don’t expect me to tell you its weight; 
or to get back in step and start 
discussing all this so that I may, 
without even realizing it, 
start THINKING.”
Antonin Artaud (translated by David Rattray)

What We Know About Deja Vu

Scientists do have some hypotheses for what brings déjà vu to the surface of consciousness – from the idea that it might be a built-in processing glitch in the brain, or an indication of healthy memory, to the slightly more puzzling notion that it’s part of quantum entanglement. – Aeon

It’s OK to feed wild birds – here are some tips for doing it the right way 

The Conversation – “Millions of Americans enjoy feeding and watching backyard birds. Many people make a point of putting food out in winter, when birds needs extra energy, and spring, when many species build nests and raise young. As a wildlife ecologist and a birder, I know it’s important to understand how humans influence bird populations, whether feeding poses risks to wild birds, and how to engage with birds in sustainable ways. There is still much to learn about the risks and benefits of feeding birds, particularly through large integrated national citizen science networks like Project FeederWatch. But we now have enough information to promote healthy interactions that can inspire future generations to care about conservation…”

Algorithms and Contract Law

Scholz, Lauren, Algorithms and Contract Law (August 1, 2019). Cambridge Handbook of the Law of Algorithms, 2019. Available at SSRN: – “Generalist confusion about the technology behind complex algorithms has led to inconsistent case law for algorithmic contracts. Case law explicitly grounded in the principle that algorithms are constructive agents for the companies they serve would provide a clear basis for enforceability of algorithmic contracts that is both principled from a technological perspective and is readily intelligible and able to be applied by generalists.”

Play Catch

Catch?  Yeah, a simple

game of catch.

Get a softball, tennis

ball, football, doesn’t

matter, any kind.

Ask him

out to the street, into

the back yard.

Start easy
with that first toss,

increase the distance

you – until
the space is just

right.  Back,
forth, easy.

Find the rhythm
between you.

Have some fun, back
and forth.

You’ll learn something,
so will he.

I don’t know, that’s

why you have
to play catch with

your Dad.

Final Cromwell novel holds eerie torch to the truth, so how much is fiction?

Hillary Mantel's rich fictional world matches what the sources say with uncanny precision, finds historian Thomas Penn.