Friday, September 17, 2021

We are all museums of fear


We are all museums of fear
~ Charles Bukowski

I remember the old Soviet joke, where Leonid Brezhnev showed off his mansion, his country house, his limousine, and his helicopter to his mother. But instead of being impressed, she looked worried: “But Leonid, what if the communists come back?”

Willem Frederik Hermans thought the Briton’s famous book was based on his. Now one of his best works is coming out in the UK

Be Your Own Boss: More Co-op Businesses Are Returning Workers’ Power Mother Jones

Doing the heavy lifting: Australians’ obsession with a metaphor

The Americans have been doing metaphorical heavy lifting since the 1930s. Before that heavy lifting was something done by people, such as wharfies or weight lifters, or machines, such as cranes.

In a liberal capitalist society, Charlie Teo exemplifies the freedom and the potential of the entrepreneur

Does the unease about well-known neurosurgeon Charlie Teo arise from jealousy? Or is there something wrong with the wider social system?

GREAT MOMENTS IN CENTRAL PLANNING: Watch: Insane footage shows China blowing up 15 skyscrapers that had sat vacant for nearly a decade.

Flashback: 34 Unforgettable Photos Of China’s Massive, Uninhabited Ghost Cities.

Tim Roughgarden, a top-notch computer scientist (co-winner of a Gödel Prize), is teaching a class on blockchains. He’s only just begun to put up material but I liked this bit of “hype” from Lecture One.

It’s worth recognizing that we’re currently in a particular moment in time, witnessing a new area of computer science blossom before our eyes in real time. It draws on well-established parts of computer science (e.g., cryptography and distributed systems) and other fields (e.g., game theory and finance), but is developing into a fundamental and interdisciplinary area of science and engineering its own right. Future generations of computer scientists will be jealous of your opportunity to get in on the ground floor of this new area–analogous to getting into the Internet and the Web in the early 1990s. I cannot overstate the opportunities available to someone who masters the material covered in this course–current demand is much, much bigger than supply.

And perhaps this course will also serve as a partial corrective to the misguided coverage and discussion of blockchains in a typical mainstream media article or water cooler conversation, which seems bizarrely stuck in 2013 (focused almost entirely on Bitcoin, its environmental impact, the use case of payments, Silk Road, etc.). An enormous number of people, including a majority of computer science researchers and academics, have yet to grok the modern vision of blockchains: a new computing paradigm that will enable the next incarnation of the Internet and the Web, along with an entirely new generation of applications.

I share Tim’s excitement at the possibilities. Indeed, I had the pleasure of working with Tim advising a blockchain project (sadly killed by the SEC). By the way, Silvio Micali, another winner of the Godel prize, is a prime mover behind the Algorand blockchain.

Addendum: Here’s a perfect example of a mainsteam media article stuck in 2013.