Quoting David Foster Wallace

Because here’s something else that’s true. In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And an outstanding reason for choosing some sort of God or spiritual-type thing to worship-be it J.C. or Allah, be it Yahweh or the Wiccan mother-goddess or the Four Noble Truths or some infrangible set of ethical principles-is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. »

How multifactor authentication is breached

Dan Goodin at Ars Tecnica, on multifactor authentication (2FA/MFA): Multifactor authentication (MFA) is a core defense that is among the most effective at preventing account takeovers. In addition to requiring that users provide a username and password, MFA ensures they must also use an additional factor—be it a fingerprint, physical security key, or one-time password—before they can access an account. Nothing in this article should be construed as saying MFA isn’t anything other than essential. »

Three Days Well Spent

A few weeks ago, Giulia turned eighteen. As a birthday gift, she asked for a skiing weekend with me. Our family’s precious little thing has traditionally been spending the Christmas week skiing in the Alps. We haven’t gone as much as we’d like in recent years, so I was pleasantly surprised and thrilled that she wanted to celebrate adulthood at our special place with her dad. We left home Friday at five in the morning. »

Endurance: Shackleton's lost ship found in Antarctic

A few months ago I started my review of Lansing’s Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage with these words: Of all the stories of maritime adventures I’ve read, that of the Endurance, masterfully told by Alfred Lansing in this book, is the most incredible and shocking. And I meant that. As the book’s title suggests, that story is simply unbelievable, yet true. Imagine my astonishment this morning at the news that the Endurance was found in the depths of the Antarctic. »

Trusting third-party services with your data, a cautionary tale

Quoting Nelson’s weblog: Goodreads lost my entire account last week. Nine years as a user, some 600 books and 250 carefully written reviews all deleted and unrecoverable. Their support has not been helpful. In 35 years of being online I’ve never encountered a company with such callous disregard for their users’ data. Ouch. A lesson learned the hard way: My plan now is to host my own blog-like collection of all my reading notes like Tom does. »

Book Review: Thinking Fast and Slow

This book stands up to its fame. It’s chock-full of precious insights on our decision-making and behavioral processes and how and why we humans are often capable of making informed yet awful decisions. The bad news is that we can hardly avoid most of these biases, no matter how hard we try and even if we know about them. So-called experts in the field are subject to these same biases: their short-term estimates and predictions can even be pretty good, but they will fail miserably in the long term, like any other man or woman. »

You're probably using the wrong dictionary

In 2014, James Somers sat down to write a beautiful, entertaining lament about the state of today’s dictionaries and an argument in favor of the adoption of Noah Webster’s 1913 edition. I don’t want you to conclude that it’s just a matter of aesthetics. Yes, Webster’s definitions are prettier. But they are also better. They’re so much better that to use another dictionary is to keep yourself forever at arm’s length from the actual language. »

What Ukraine flag signifies

What the Ukraine flag signifies. A golden field of grain (Ukraine is the world’s 4th largest exporter of barley and corn, and the 5th largest exporter of wheat) beneath clear blue skies. Sky above grain, or freedom above bread (source1.) Subscribe to the newsletter, the RSS feed, or follow @nicolaiarocci on Twitter The story of Ukraine’s flag is rich and controversial. It appears to be true, however, that “blue sky over sunflowers” forms Ukrainians’ conception of their flag. »

Author image Nicola Iarocci on #ukraine,

Parameter null-checking added to C# 11 Preview

The first preview of C# 11 is out, and well, I think I like what I see. I dig the new List patterns and am a fan of allowing newlines in the “holes” of interpolated strings. Parameter null-checking is a bit contentious, and it’s good that they are releasing it in preview one and asking for feedback. In a nutshell, they want to spare us a lot of boilerplate. Code like this: »

Book Review: Eichmann in Jerusalem. A Report on the Banality of Evil

This book is not about the famous, daring, and in some ways fortunate capture of Eichmann in Buenos Aires in 1960, nor about the covert transfer of the Nazi officer to Israel. Instead, the volume recounts the 1961 trial in Jerusalem, which ended with the defendant being sentenced to death. Hannah Arendt followed the trial as a correspondent for The New Yorker. She took notes, studied the papers, and reconstructed the many witnesses’ personal stories. »

Jonny Greenwood pretended to play the keyboard when he first joined Radiohead

Kottke reports this juicy excerpt from Jonny Greenwood’s interview at npr: Thom [Yorke]’s band had a keyboard player — [whom] I think they didn’t get on with because he played his keyboard so loud. And so when I got the chance to play with them, the first thing I did was make sure my keyboard was turned off … I must have done months of rehearsals with them with this keyboard, and they didn’t know that I’d already turned it off. »

How recycling pee could help save the world

Chelsea Wald in Nature: Scientists say that urine diversion would have huge environmental and public-health benefits if deployed on a large scale around the world. That’s in part because urine is rich in nutrients that, instead of polluting water bodies, could go towards fertilizing crops or feed into industrial processes. According to Simha’s estimates, humans produce enough urine to replace about one-quarter of current nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers worldwide; it also contains potassium and many micronutrients (see ‘What’s in urine’). »

Google Search is Dying

Reddit is currently the most popular search engine. The only people who don’t know that are the team at Reddit, who can’t be bothered to build a decent search interface. So instead we resort to using Google, and appending the word “reddit” to the end of our queries. […] Why are people searching Reddit specifically? The short answer is that Google search results are clearly dying. The long answer is that most of the web has become too inauthentic to trust. »

Work in progress on Eve 2.0

I’ve been back at the forge working on Eve 2.0. Version 2 will support Python 3.7+ and drop Python 2.7, 3.5 and 3.6. It will bring support for PyMongo 4+ as well, along with several other minor fixes and improvements (changelog). It would be nice if you guys and gals, users of Eve, would give it a spin before the release. I know. I recently stated that Eve was in maintenance mode. »

The curious origins of Bluetooth's name

When Giulia came home from school today, she was anxious to tell me what she learned about a Viking King and his legacy. She told me the story of King Harald Gormsson, who ruled Denmark and Norway from c. 958 to c. 986. Harald is mainly known for introducing Christianity to Denmark and consolidating his rule over most Jutland and Zealand. However, what sparked my interest is that Harald was nicknamed “Bluetooth”, and, in 1997, the Bluetooth wireless specification design was named after him. »

Modulations - History of Electronic Music

I stumbled upon Modulations, a documentary on “the evolution of electronic music and its many genres. How the wide range of styles and scenes formed through experimentations on sound formation.” This short film (75 minutes) is packed with guest stars of all calibers1, some of them genuinely pivotal to the evolution of electronic music. Indeed, the uninitiated mind gets to know a lot of details and amenities on the first decade or so of electronic music. »

A historian perspective on blockchain technology

One of my recent discoveries is A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry by Bret Devereaux, an historian who’s been posting great content over the years. His Fireside Fridays, for example, provide intriguing musings on varied topics. In this week instalment, professor Devereaux takes on the different applications of blockchain technology as seen from a historian’s perspective. Really, this is less about the technologies themselves and more about the nature of states. »

A Passage To Parenthood

A very touching Akhil Sharma in The New Yorker: Not long after we began dating, my now wife, Christine, and I started making up stories about the child we might have. We named the child—or, in the stories we told about him, he named himself—Suzuki Noguchi. Among the things we liked about him was that he was cheerfully indifferent to us. He did not wish to be either Irish (like Christine) or Indian (like me). »

Author image Nicola Iarocci on #links,

Lay Back and Keep Smiling

Tomorrow we’re releasing a major project on which we’ve been working non-stop for two and a half years. No matter how many years in the trenches, release day always makes me a bit nervous. Experience does help. I know there will be problems, and we will solve them. Some customers will complain, and those will be the most vocal. The vast majority of them will appreciate the effort, enjoy the features, and stay silent. »

Is Old Music Killing New Music?

I had a hunch that old songs were taking over music streaming platforms—but even I was shocked when I saw the most recent numbers. According to MRC Data, old songs now represent 70% of the US music market. Those who make a living from new music—especially that endangered species known as the working musician—have to look at these figures with fear and trembling. But the news gets worse. I can’t say I can relate as my kids of ages 21, 18, and 16 do their best to stay clear from the music I like, but anyways, Ted Gioia’s latest piece on recent music trends is super-interesting. »