The Owl of Minerva

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The last one of this year!

You write what you see and what you hear with tiny letters squeezed together, squeezed together like ants, which go from your heart to your honorable right side.

The Arabs, they have letters that lie down, get on their knees and rise up completely straight, like spears: it’s a writing that coils and unfurls like the mirage, which is clever as time and proud as combat.

And their writing travels from their honorable right side to their left, because everything ends there: at the heart.

Our own writing, in the Ahaggar, is a writing of nomads, because it is all made up of dashes which are the legs of all the herds. Legs of men, legs of meharis, of zebus, of gazelles, everything that traverses the desert.

And then the crosses determine whether you go to the right or to the left, and the periods, you see, there are a lot of periods. They are the stars that steer us through the night, because we, the Saharans, we don’t know the way, the way that is guided, in turns, by the sun and then the stars.

And we set out from our heart, and we make bigger and bigger circles around it, to enlace the other hearts in a circle of life, like the horizon around your herd and around yourself.
Dassine Oult Yemma


If matter were prone to birthing monsters of this kind, Schwarzschild asked with a trembling voice, were there correlations with the human psyche? Could a sufficient concentration of human will — millions of people exploited for a single end with their minds compressed into the same psychic space — unleash something comparable to the singularity? Schwarzschild was convinced that such a thing was not only possible, but was actually taking place in the Fatherland.
When We Cease to Understand the World, Benjamin Labatut


Robin Sloan’s Notes on Web3 “I do not think Web3 is a desirable or even tolerable path forward for this web right here, but I take its lesson well. “Code wins arguments”, and so do clubs, and cults; time remains to build all three.” The Non-Innovation of Cryptocurrency, straight talk - “There are indeed a lot of fools in this world, but to presume an infinite chain of them as the core of an investment thesis is beyond absurd.”

topher fixed it - “parody alternate endings to beloved but problematic children’s literature”, featuring the fixed ending of The Giving Tree

Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to continually be part of unanimity.
Christopher Morley


Fainali, xen, aafte sam 20 iers of orxogrefkl riform, wi wud hev a lojikl, kohirnt speling in ius xrewawt xe Ingliy-spiking werld. Haweve, sins xe Wely, xe Airiy, and xe Skots du not spik Ingliy, xei wud hev to hev a speling siutd tu xer oun lengwij. Xei kud, haweve, orlweiz lern Ingliy az a sekond lengwij at skuul!
Progress, M.J. Shields

Some thoughts on writing Why I write and why I won’t and Write 5x more but write 5x less


Even the dogs may eat of the crumbs which fall from the rich man’s table: and in these days, when the rich in knowledge eat such specialised food at such separate tables, only the dogs have a chance of a balanced diet.
Sir Geoffrey Vickers



Securing Artificial Intelligence: Problem Statement and Securing Artificial Intelligence: Mitigation Strategy Report, two reports from ETSI provide another good introduction to the work on securing AI.

“(…) I die at every instant, and I am reborn, new and without memories: live and whole, no longer inside myself, but in every thing outside.”
Luigi Pirandello. One, No One and One Hundred Thousand


“I guess, I’ve always believed that nothing is withheld from us what we have conceived to do. Most people think the opposite – that all things are withheld from them which they have conceived to do and they end up doing nothing.”
Russell Kirsch


On the 100th anniversary of publication of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico Philosophicus: The World Is All That Is the Case – “Tractatus is less the greatest philosophical work of the 20th century than it is one of the most immaculate volumes of modernist poetry written in the past hundred years” and Ludwig Wittgenstein: a mind on fire – “My propositions serve as elucidations in the following way: anyone who understands me eventually recognises them as nonsensical, when he has used them – as steps – to climb up beyond them. (He must, so to speak, throw away the ladder after he has climbed up it.)”

My belief is there is a mirror-image of the long tail that is equally important to those wanting to understand the process of innovation. It states that the bulk of innovation behind the latest “wow” moment (…) is also low amplitude and takes place over a long period—but well before the “new” idea has become generally known, much less reached the tipping point.
To my mind, at least, those who can shorten the nose by 10% to 20% make at least as great a contribution as those who had the initial idea. And if nothing else, long noses are great for sniffing out those great ideas sitting there neglected, just waiting to be exploited.
“The Long Nose of Innovation”, Bill Buxton

Any ordinary Joe or Ananda
would be ridiculed for insisting yes
and no in the same breath,
but not Vishnu.

All gods may contradict themselves
without flaw,
say men,
who always give their God
the benefit of a doubt
in any argument.
“Until the Sacred Cows Come Home” by Jim Culleny


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