Category Archives: ideas

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Yes, social networking technology distorts how you think of the world


And this piece tries to show how this happens: The Social-Network Illusion That Tricks Your Mind – MIT Technology Review

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The problem with colonizing other worlds…

The problems with colonizing other worlds can be read here:  Humans Will Never Colonize Mars.

It’s a bucket of ice water to dump on the head of anyone who optimistically thinks it will happen. It may happen, centuries from now.  More likely places like Mars will be colonized by robots that will do a lot of the activities we once expected humans to do.

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The decline in the arts as a bachelor degree major


Can be seen here: Has the Sharp Decline in Philosophy Majors Hit Bottom? (guest post by Eric Schwitzgebel) – Daily Nous.

It is remarkable how much majors in history and philosophy have declined. I feel we need these things more than ever. That said, my bachelor degree is with a major in computer science. I have studied much philosophy and history since then, but not in an academic setting. It would be good to find a way to study them more formally without the commitment of getting a bachelor degree.

There are so many online sites teaching computer science topics. We need more that teach philosophy and history in the same way.

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Checking in with death

If this sounds morbid and unappealing, I recommend you overcome that and give it a read: Checking in with death – Austin Kleon.

Checking in with death lets you live better. If you are into mindfulness or dealing with mental health issues or just want to appreciate life more, I recommend checking in with death.

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The case for unions


German Lopez from Vox makes it, here: America needs more unions – Vox.

As for me, many unions fall under the idea of countervailing power, which I am a strong proponent for. The countervailing power aspect is important.  The worst unions are not that.

 

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Did Rembrandt’s use mirrors for his paintings?


It’s debatable for sure, but there are a number of people who think he did. This piece (from a few years ago) titled The Mirrors Behind Rembrandt’s Self-Portraits in The New York Times  looks into one paper that argues so

In a paper published Wednesday in the Journal of Optics, Mr. O’Neill lays out a theory that Rembrandt set up flat and concave mirrors to project his subjects — including himself — onto surfaces before painting or etching them.

By tracing these projections, the 17th-century painter would have been able to achieve a higher degree of precision, Mr. O’Neill said. His research suggests that some of Rembrandt’s most prominent work may not have been done purely freehand, as many art historians believe.

He is not the first to suggest that old master painters used optics for their famous portraits.

In 2001, David Hockney, a renowned British painter, and Charles Falco, an optical sciences professor at the University of Arizona, published a book in which they argued that master painters secretly used mirrors and lenses to create hyperrealistic paintings, starting in the Renaissance.

Their theory, known as the Hockney-Falco thesis, generated controversy among scientists and art historians, some of whom took the findings as an implication that old master painters had “cheated” to produce their works.

I’ve read Hockney on this and he makes a strong case too. Not everyone agrees though. It’s worth reading the article and get a better picture, pardon the pun.

My thought is it’s likely all artists of the time would have used them to some extent. But Rembrandt is such a remarkable painter that it can only account for some of his greatness, if any.

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One of the the better reviews of WeWork and their IPO is naturally this one, by Stratechery


Stratechery is always great and this piece is no different: The WeWork IPO – Stratechery by Ben Thompson.

What makes it good is that rather than just slamming WeWork superficially, as many takes have, it delves into what could possibly justify why WeWork is a good investment.

My take is that if WeWork had a different executive, it could be a successful company. I think the comparison to AWS is somewhat valid, and in the gig economy with lots of short term work, it could become very successful. (It worked really well for a recent project I was on).

That said, I believe the executive team of WeWork will not be able to handle any drying up of capital or a recession of any length. Or investors will wake up and ask themselves why WeWork should be valued way more than IWG/Regus. Time will tell, of course.

One last thing: my understanding is that WeWork had to start from scratch in terms of buying up / leasing real estate, but AWS did not start from scratch and took advantage of existing capacity Amazon currently had.

(Image link to the original piece in the article reference)