Weekly Newsletter

November 29, 2015

This week, I’m going to try something a little different with the newsletter. I’m going to add 3 new categories to the newsletter: Books I’m Reading, Quotes I’ve Enjoyed, and People I’m Following. In case you’re worried about these polluting your newsletter experience, don’t worry. I’m putting these sections at the bottom after the normal newsletter content.

Links

Climate Change

What Can A Technologist Do About Climate Change?
Bret Victor, a world-class designer, uses his technical and design skills to create a compelling argument. I’ve previously stated my belief that media needs to and will become more interactive than it currently is, and this piece bolsters that belief. Even if you disagree with Victor’s argument, you can’t help but be impressed by the technology underlying this piece.

International Affairs

The World is not Falling Apart
Steven Pinker delivers an impressive rebuttal to the notion that “the world is falling apart.” Pinker systematically reviews statistics on measures of global instability and violence, illustrating a steady decrease in each case. Pinker wrote a book on how to write and it shows here.

Biology

Hydra can modify its genetic program
I’ve been fascinated by the idea of self-modification in biological and computational systems recently, and I ran into this article at just the right time. The article describes how Hydra are able to heal themselves even after having stem cells removed. Now, we need to figure out how to replicate this in a lab or in the human body.

Technology

Man 3D-Prints Working Revolver With His Name On It
Illustrates how 3D printing is moving forward as a technology.

Books I’m Reading

Sapiens by Yuval Harari
I just started this one. Harari aims to distil themes of human history and the nature of evolutionary progress. Naval Ravikant recommended this book in an interview and I’m glad I trusted his judgement.

Quotes I’ve Enjoyed

“Using the mind to watch the mind, and ultimately to change how the mind works, is known in cognitive psychology as metacognition. Beneath the poetic cultural trappings of Buddhism, what intensive meditation offers to long-term practitioners is a kind of metacognitive hack of the human operating system (a metaphor that probably crossed Jobs’ mind at some point.) Sitting zazen offered Jobs a practical technique for upgrading the motherboard in his head.

The classic Buddhist image of this hack is that thoughts are like clouds passing through a spacious blue sky. All your life, you’ve been convinced that this succession of clouds comprises a stable, enduring identity — a “self.” But Buddhists believe this self this is an illusion that causes unnecessary suffering as you inevitably face change, loss, disease, old age, and death. One aim of practice is to reveal the gaps or discontinuities — the glimpses of blue sky — between the thoughts, so you’re not so taken in by the illusion, but instead learn to identify with the panoramic awareness in which the clouds arise and disappear.” from What Kind of Buddhist was Steve Jobs, Really? I’m not a huge Steve Jobs fan, so I didn’t love this piece. The quote, however, distills the essence of meditation from a secular viewpoint.

People I’m Following

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.