Weekly Newsletter

August 9, 2015

Future of Food

The $200 Hydroponic Greenhouse You Control With a Smartphone
Reports on a new product that promises to automate the process of hydroponic gardening such that individuals will be able to grow vegetables in their home with minimal effort and maximal control. This type of product, while different from Soylent, illustrates another viable direction for the future of food that focuses more on the decentralization and automation of food production. I’m just as excited about this direction as I am about the Soylent direction. I see no reason why the two directions need be mutually exclusive.

Soylent’s Real Plan: Replace Food With Algae
Discusses the founder of Soylent’s plans to gradually transition out of the product’s current nutritional source to algae. I agree with the author of this piece’s assertion that Rhinehart’s recent behavior appears cultish, but I’m still fairly optimistic about Soylent’s future. Furthermore, I agree with Rhinehart that peoples’ strong reactions against Soylent often lack substance.

Biotech and Medicine

Can we reverse the ageing process by putting young blood into older people?
Covers the scientists and their experiments that indicate the potential power of young blood to rejuvenate the elderly. I’ve already made my views on aging pretty clear in the past so I’ll refrain from proselytizing on this one.

Technology and Software

How I Failed, Failed, and Finally Succeeded at Learning How to Code
A journalist discusses his experience learning to code using Project Euler, a tool that gives small problems to users that gradually increase in difficulty. This article fits well with the other articles I’ve included about competency-based learning and illustrates the reason why I, and hundreds of thousands of others, initially took to coding.

How Bold Entrepreneurs Are Breaking $1 Million In One-Person Businesses
Profiles entrepreneurs who manage one-person businesses that gross over $1 million dollars in revenue. I’m particularly interested in the potential for technology to allow individuals to run successful businesses on their own. While I understand the downsides of the increasingly technology-driven and contract-based economy, I view the independence and agility afforded to individuals as a result of it as outweighing the downsides.

Stocks and Culture

Mystery Man Moving Japan Made More Than 1 Million Trades
Profiles a mysterious Japanese day trader named CIS, who’s managed to make millions of dollars day trading on the Japanese stock exchange, all from the comfort of his home. I found the discussion of what cultural aspects of Japan led to the proliferation of day traders more interesting than the discussion of CIS. I never thought of day trading as a game before but the connection now seems obvious.

Psychology and cognition

Deconcentration of Attention
Warnings: This is a fairly long and technical read.
This piece discusses the phenomenon and application of attention deconcentration in the field of software development. Attention deconcentration can be described from a few different perspectives, but I view it as the perception of the Gestalt rather than the individual pieces. The author of this article proposes that attention deconcentration has a particularly broad, important application in the field of software development. His thesis boils down to the assertion that attention deconcentration precedes and allows for the “AHA!” moments scientists, creatives, and software developers describe. I included this article and found it so intriguing because, as some of you know, I’ve been practicing meditation consistently for a few years now. However, I’ve never been completely satisfied with my experience of meditation or the frameworks individuals in the meditation community use to describe meditative experiences. The author, in approaching inner experience from a cognitive, algorithmic perspective, has given me a framework for thinking about meditation that I believe will prove very useful. I’ve already played around with the exercises he recommends and intend to further explore them, and the attention deconcentration exercises described in this article. My hope is that one or two of you will read this article and let me know what you think.

Other Contributions

Jon Stewart, Patron Saint of Liberal Smugness (Will Baird)
Will provided me with this description along with the article itself:

“There’s been a lot of hagiography of Stewart since he signed off The Daily Show, so it was nice to see something (in the Times, no less) more critical of him, and the cultural phenomenon he represents, on his own terms.”

Discussion, links, and tweets

I'm a software developer currently working at UberEats. I keep a low social media presence, but, if you enjoy what I have to say or want to rant at me, you should email me at stephenmalina@gmail.com. If you're interested in what I'm currently programming, check out my Github. I occasionally rant on Twitter as well.