Weekly Newsletter (11-09-2014)

November 9, 2014

Questions or Comments? Contact me at stephenmalina@gmail.com or on Twitter.

Philosophy

Marathon Monks of Mt. Hiei
Disclaimer: There is New-Agey-ness within this article. For a more accurate depiction of the Marathon Monks, I recommend this documentary or this book (I intend to consume both over winter break)

Despite the above disclaimer, I included this because I mentioned the Marathon Monks to a friend yesterday. Upon doing so, I decided that their story is worthwhile to share.

Epicetus’ The Enchiridion
Reading historical works requires overcoming the conflict between the wisdom and the ignorance contained within. It is an acquired skill, as is dealing with unusual vocabulary. For these reasons, people often shy away from reading such works, myself included. However, as an exercise in Stoicism, I push myself to Run Into The Spike and read works which force me to hold conflicting ideas in my head and extract out those ideas which stand up to scrutiny. Thus, I chose to include this piece. It’s important as a foundational Stoic document by the fascinating founder of Stoicism, Epicetus.

On a related note, while I chose to read this entire piece, if you only want to read what I consider the salient points, I recommend reading passages 29, 34, and 46.

History

Almost Everything in Dr. Strangelove was true
Weaves a narrative around the attempted debunking of the claims made by Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove regarding the lack of protection from unintended nuclear war.

The Man Who Disobeyed his Boss and Opened the Berlin Wall
Narrates the story of the East / West Germany border worker who opened the Berlin Wall to protesters in East Germany.

Science

Quantum Nature of Life
Details the ways in which evolution and biology exploit quantum effects to increase efficiency and fitness. This article harps on the quantum component as the key point. I think the more interesting takeaway from this article is that systems that optimize against the correct constraints can produce wildly fascinating “technology”.

Isaac Asimov: How do people get new ideas?
Isaac Asimov, a god of science fiction, discusses the incubation and flowering of innovative ideas.

Society and the Economy

South Carolina makes Apprenticeships work
Summarizes South Carolina’s burgeoning apprenticeship programs and analyzes the feasibility of more widespread adoption.

Colorado Communities vote to provide Municipal Internet
Reports on recent votes in multiple Colorado communities to municipal-ize the provision internet service. Interesting starting point for a debate about the internet’s role in society.

Mind and Brain

A new theory of Consciousness
Kristoff Koch, a neuroscientist, promotes a new way of thinking about and measuring consciousness. This new theory attempts to quantify the metrics that make a system conscious and asserts that consciousness is more widespread than we realize.

The Terror and Bliss of Sleep Paralysis
An author discusses her journey to conquer her sleep paralysis and convert her terror into something she could control.

Other Contributions

How I reverse engineered Google Docs to play back keystrokes (Submitted by Matt, Described by Me)
Discusses the fascinating process behind this engineer / writer’s project building a playback extension for Google Docs.

A Natural Fix for A.D.H.D (Submitted by Fiona, Described by Me)
Describes the prospect of reducing the effects of A.D.H.D. by modifying an individual’s environment.

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.