Random Thoughts

Anesthesia Works on Plants Too, and We Don’t Know Why
medium.com/@lukehollomon/anesthesia… 
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Humans have been using anesthesia for almost 175 years, but we’re still not sure how it works. Researchers have come at the problem from…

What Is Life?
berthub.eu/articles/posts/what-is-l… 

What is life? This question keeps many people awake at night and has led to rafts of definitions, some involving features (procreation, metabolism and so forth), some involving chemistry, entropy or energy flux and some are of a more philosophical bent. A BBC article noted there are over 100 definitions of life and it claims all are wrong. And indeed it does appear to be quite a challenge - every hard and fast rule is violated somewhere in biology.

The Life in 'The Simpsons' Is No Longer Attainable
theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/… 
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The most famous dysfunctional family of 1990s television enjoyed, by today’s standards, an almost dreamily secure existence.

Why You Should Hate Your Job
iai.tv/articles/why-you-should-hate… 
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Do you like your job? Maybe you do, but I think you should reevaluate. At the very least, I think you should be uncomfortable with the fact that you live in a system that compels you to have a job, particularly if that job is neither necessary for your own well-being nor the well-being of others. Thanks to advances in robotics and AI, we may be close to building a society in which work, as we currently know it, is no longer necessary for either of these things.

Why No One Answers Their Phone Anymore
theatlantic.com/technology/archive/… 

The telephone swept into Americans’ lives in the first decades of the 20th century. At first, no one knew exactly how to telephone. Alexander Graham Bell wanted people to start conversations by saying, “Ahoy-hoy!” AT&T tried to prevent people from saying “hello,” arguing in Telephone Engineer magazine that it was rude.

Why software ends up complex
alexgaynor.net/2020/nov/30/why-soft… 

Complexity in software, whether it’s a programming languages, an API, or a user interface, is generally regarded as a vice. And yet complexity is exceptionally common, even though no one ever sets out to build something complex. For people interested in building easy to use software, understanding the causes of complexity is critical. Fortunately, I believe there is a straightforward explanation.

I miss working from the office
roguelazer.com/2020/11/i-miss-worki… 
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I went into my office yesterday for the first time in a few months to pick some stuff up. We got notified a couple of days ago to get any personal property out of the office before Thanksgiving or else it'd be thrown out, so I guess we're moving out of the office. It was a pretty eerie place to be; even now, 8 months later, most people haven't been back and it kind of looks like the entire office was abducted by aliens in early March.

Why don’t banana-flavored candies taste like bananas?
massivesci.com/articles/banana-flav… 

They do, they just taste like your great-grandfather’s banana (or a pear, depending on who you ask)

A 50-year Downward Spiral
dennissanders.medium.com/a-50-year-… 
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While many might believe the Republican Party has always been indifferent if not hostile to African Americans, that was not always the case.

Bittersweet Symphony: 2020 in Retrospect
dennissanders.medium.com/bitterswee… 
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A few years I was back in my hometown of Flint, Michigan. As I drove down Dort Highway on the east side of town a memory came back to me. The memory was from the 1970s when I was in grade school.

Brentano, who taught Freud and Husserl, is a lesson to us all – John A Goldsmith
aeon.co/essays/brentano-who-taught-… 
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Franz Brentano, philosopher and psychologist, was an iconic teacher eclipsed by his students, Freud and Husserl among them

Why can't OS catch ransomware in the act?

Ransomware is a major risk, and it keeps evolving to avoid detection from antivirus tools or operating systems.

Up And Then Down
newyorker.com/magazine/2008/04/21/u… 
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In 1999, Nicholas White got stuck in the elevator of the McGraw-Hill Building for forty-one hours.

Are we losing our ability to remember?
st.im/are-we-losing-our-ability-to-… 
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Is the Internet, and more generally, the computer, fundamentally impacting how our memory and brain function? In this post I explore the basic function of memory, and how some apps can help us build a second brain.

Dual-flush toilets 'wasting more water than they save'
theguardian.com/environment/2020/se… 
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Thames Water says design is more likely to leak as Waterwise warns 400m litres are being lost from UK toilets a day

What Is Math?
smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/w… 
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A teenager asked that age-old question on TikTok, creating a viral backlash, and then, a thoughtful scientific debate

You Really Don’t Need To Work So Much
newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/yo… 
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The irony of the American economy is that the people at the top are often as unhappy and overworked as those at the bottom.