The Owl of Minerva


I need to care about and be touched by what I read. I can’t care about a book that has nothing to contribute to the wisdom project.
Susan Sontag


Different nations speak of the many possible relationships to money when they speak: The French “gain” money (gagner), the English “earn” it, the Americans “make” it, the Russian “works” for it (работать), and in my mother tongue, we “look for” it (keres).
Ernö Rubik, Cubed: The Puzzle of Us All


SUSO33 Figure Outline Mural, Madrid This mural by SUSO33 “is a concentration of slightly outlined figures which are persecuted by their shadows, but if the viewer, instead of focusing on details, looks at the entire picture, what he sees is another figure.”


Reflections on Trusting Trust by Ken Thompson (1984) and a variation that played out in real life. Diverse Double-Compiling: proposed as a practical way around this “root of trust” problem. However, I do wonder when the need for a ‘trusted’ compiler will become too-strong of a requirement. Maybe time to build the Noah’s Ark of trusted software?

I wasn’t sure why anyone should be so eager to hand the keys to society over to people whose primary qualification was curiosity.
— Anna Wiener, Uncanny Valley: A Memoir


After Minimalism, a counter point on minimalistic (architectural) design. Destructive Minimalism, “when removal is mistaken for reduction.”

“I just think that sometimes it’s cheaper to pay.”
“I don’t care whether it’s cheap, but whether it’s just.”
“Justice can be expensive.”
“And injustice as well.”
— Meša Selimović, Death and the Dervish (1966)


A Crucial Estimate Relived (1964), Sheman Kent’s post-mortem analysis of “his greatest mistake”, the prediction three weeks before the Cuban missile crisis that Russia would be unlikely to station missiles in Cuba that could reach the US. A great introduction to intelligence analysis as well as a good example of how to analyse and think through a failure.

You must be prepared to act on your dreams, just in case they do come true.
Bill Strickland


I think that comedy is the quintessential human reaction to the fear of death.
Umberto Eco (2008)




Welcome to Minerva, my attempt at collecting things that catches my interest, that makes me think (a link blog, dare I say?), after a long break.

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No guarantees on update frequency. Quality over quantity. No comments either.


(…) die Eule der Minerva beginnt erst mit der einbrechenden Dämmerung ihren Flug.
— Georg Friedrich Hegel (1972)

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