Linked List: July 2014

Richard Feynman Lectures on Quantum Electrodynamics

The four lectures on which the QED book is based.

I’ve always loved Feynman’s ways of explainging things. What an incredible teacher:

And then there’s the … kind of thing which you don’t understand. Meaning “I don’t believe it, it’s crazy, it’s the kind of thing I won’t accept.” Eh. The other part well… this kind, I hope you’ll come along with me and you’ll have to accept it because it’s the way nature works. If you want to know the way nature works, we looked at it, carefully, […unsure of this bit…] that’s the way it works. You don’t like it…, go somewhere else! To another universe! Where the rules are simpler, philosophically more pleasing, more psychologically easy. I can’t help it! OK! If I’m going to tell you honestly what the world looks like to the… human beings who have struggled as hard as they can to understand it, I can only tell you what it looks like. And I cannot make it any simpler, I’m not going to do this, I’m not going to simplify it, and I’m not going to fake it. I’m not going to tell you it’s something like a ball bearing inside a spring, it isn’t. So I’m going to tell you what it really is like, and if you don’t like it, that’s too bad."


We’re in a new century now, and its hallmark is humans doing things together, mostly on screens, at scales unimaginable in earlier times.

Is the Universe a Simulation?

But there is one area of human endeavor that comes close to exemplifying the maxim “manuscripts don’t burn.” That area is mathematics. If Pythagoras had not lived, or if his work had been destroyed, someone else eventually would have discovered the same Pythagorean theorem.

Police Aggression and Coercion When Photographing by the Colosseum in Rome

I am disappointed with some elements of Rome’s Polizia Municipale e Protezione Civile. Not only did their officer assault me, they then illegally confiscated my camera and lied about what happened. Please get in touch if you have footage from the events by the Colosseum on Sunday, 27 July 2014.

Executions Should Be by Firing Squad, Federal Appeals Court Judge Says

Using drugs meant for individuals with medical needs to carry out executions is a misguided effort to mask the brutality of executions by making them look serene and beautiful — like something any one of us might experience in our final moments,” U.S. 9th Circuit Court Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote in a dissent in the Arizona death penalty case of Joseph Rudolph Wood III.

But executions are, in fact, brutal, savage events, and nothing the state tries to do can mask that reality. Nor should we. If we as a society want to carry out executions, we should be willing to face the fact that the state is committing a horrendous brutality on our behalf.”

Yes. Via John Gruber.

Miro Video Converter

Convert videos to MP4, WebM (vp8), Ogg Theora, etc. Free and open source. Donations encouraged. I just used it to convert this video into WebM and MP4 formats.

Doom Versus Windows, Hierarchy

Michael Abrash:

Gabe tells it this way. When he was at Microsoft in the early 90’s, he commissioned a survey of what was actually installed on users’ PCs. The second most widely installed software was Windows.

Number one was Id’s Doom.

The idea that a 10-person company of 20-somethings in Mesquite, Texas, could get its software on more computers than the largest software company in the world told him that something fundamental had changed about the nature of productivity. When he looked into the history of the organization, he found that hierarchical management had been invented for military purposes, where it was perfectly suited to getting 1,000 men to march over a hill to get shot at. When the Industrial Revolution came along, hierarchical management was again a good fit, since the objective was to treat each person as a component, doing exactly the same thing over and over.

Consequently, Valve has no formal management or hierarchy at all.

George Orwell Politics and the English Language

A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: What am I trying to say? What words will express it? What image or idiom will make it clearer? Is this image fresh enough to have an effect? And he will probably ask himself two more: Could I put it more shortly? Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly? But you are not obliged to go to all this trouble. You can shirk it by simply throwing your mind open and letting the ready-made phrases come crowding in. They will construct your sentences for you — even think your thoughts for you, to a certain extent — and at need they will perform the important service of partially concealing your meaning even from yourself. It is at this point that the special connection between politics and the debasement of language becomes clear.


To understand turbulence we need the intuitive perspective of art.

Sandstorm Personal Cloud Sandbox

Because you should own your data. The project is led by ex-Google-engineer Kenton Varda and is currently crowdfunding.

GitHub for Academics

Though originally developed as a way to share and merge software code, any types of files can be part of a GitHub repository, making it a great collaborative tool for academics, finds Kris Shaffer. Since any open-licensed project can be hosted on GitHub for free, it can function as a publishing platform, a peer-review system, a learning management tool, and a locus for intra- and inter-institutional collaboration.

Markx Markdown Editor for Scientific Writing

Another option for text editing happiness.

Noto Typeface for All Languages

Like Gentium.

Albert Einstein Institution

Advancing freedom through nonviolent action.

Stop The Transatlantic Trade Investor Partnership

European citizens against a global ban on left-wing politics.

George Monbiot:

The purpose of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is to remove the regulatory differences between the US and European nations. I mentioned it a couple of weeks ago(2). But I left out the most important issue: the remarkable ability it would grant big business to sue the living daylights out of governments which try to defend their citizens. It would allow a secretive panel of corporate lawyers to overrule the will of parliament and destroy our legal protections. Yet the defenders of our sovereignty say nothing.

Steve Jobs Next to the IBM Logotype

Reminds me of a friend of mine.

Osservatorio Sulla Censura Di Internet in Italia

List of censored websites in Italy.

SQlite Small, Fast, Reliable

My favorite thing about SQlite is that it is just one file. Need to do a quick backup? Drag and drop.


Very nice free typeface designed by Juan Pablo del Peral found via the Patoline website’s source code. See it also at Font Squirrel.

The Videogame That Maps The Galaxy

‘SteveWilds’ in the comments of The New Yorker’s article:

@jmr You can also explore this reconstructed galaxy in David Braben’s game. In fact the first and biggest player group in the game will be the First Great Expedition, whose goal is to travel as far into the simulation as possible, mapping and recording their discoveries as they go, as virtual scientific endeavour.

No other computer game has given people the opportunity to do this, let alone in a theoretically accurate simulation of this scale.

Can’t wait for Elite: Dangerous! I bought the Premium Beta this past weekend, so expect more about it here shortly.

Why Should We Support the Idea of an Unconditional Basic Income

It’s kind of curious isn’t it? Here we are worrying people will work less if we guarantee a basic income, and the reality of the situation is that people are presently working too much, and it is costing all of us. Combine this with the fact there’s 3 people seeking every 1 available job, and the obvious solution is that we actually want people to be able to choose to work less, to free up more positions for those seeking jobs who are currently being excluded from the labor market.

Plus, the very ability of people to not need a job, makes it that much harder for employers to exploit employees with insufficient wages and poor working conditions. The ability to actually say “No”, means the empowerment of labor on an individual level — no unions required.

Simply put, basic income makes work actually pay.

So why should you support unconditional basic income? Why should you have supported the abolition of slavery back in the late 19th century? Why should you have supported the right for people other than rich white men to vote? Why should you have supported our landing on the Moon? Why should you have supported the ending of the Vietnam war, or the beginning of LBJ’s war on poverty?

Because you want to make our world a better place. That’s why.

Education and World Peace

Beliefs, ideologies and organized religions are setting us against our neighbours; there is conflict, not only among different societies, but among groups within the same society. We must realize that as long as we identify ourselves with a country, as long as we cling to security, as long as we are conditioned by dogmas, there will be strife and misery both within ourselves and in the world.

Then there is the whole question of patriotism. When do we feel patriotic? It is obviously not an everyday emotion. But we are sedulously encouraged to be patriotic through school-books, through newspapers and other channels of propaganda, which stimulate racial egotism by praising national heroes and telling us that our own country and way of life are better than others. This patriotic spirit feeds our vanity from childhood to old age.

The constantly repeated assertion that we belong to a certain political or religious group, that we are of this nation or of that, flatters our little egos, puffs them out like sails, until we are ready to kill or be killed for our country, race or ideology. It is all so stupid and unnatural. Surely, human beings are more important than national and ideological boundaries.

The separative spirit of nationalism is spreading like fire all over the world. Patriotism is cultivated and cleverly exploited by those who are seeking further expansion, wider powers, greater enrichment; and each one of us takes part in this process, for we also desire these things. Conquering other lands and other people provides new markets for goods as well as for political and religious ideologies.

One must look at all these expressions of violence and antagonism with an unprejudiced mind, that is, with a mind that does not identify itself with any country, race or ideology, but tries to find out what is true. There is great joy in seeing a thing clearly without being influenced by the notions and instructions of others, whether they be the government, the specialists or the very learned. Once we really see that patriotism is a hindrance to human happiness, we do not have to struggle against this false emotion in ourselves, it has gone from us forever."

—Jiddu Krishnamurti in Education and the Significance of Life.

Universal Basic Income as the Foundation of Freedom

A basic income gives people the freedom to turn down unattractive work and to start cooperative ventures that are more rewarding, in the sense of more pleasant but also more in line with the goals people have set for their lives.

Migration and Human Rights

Found P.a.p.-Blog while researching in preparation to ask Muhammad Yunus some questions today. From the about page:

I blog about human rights – including political and economic rights such as the right to participate in government (democracy being a subset of human rights) and the right not to suffer poverty – from the perspective of politics, art, philosophy (hence p.a.p.), law, economics, statistics, psychology etc.

Sympathy for the Luddites

Paul Krugman on Basic Income.

Freddie King - Live in Europe 1973–4

Video no longer available :(

The Endless River

New Pink Floyd album this October.

What Is It That Comes When Nationalism Goes?

Krishnamurti: Obviously, intelligence. But I am afraid that is not the implication in this question. The implication is, what can be substituted for nationalism? Any substitution is an act which does not bring intelligence. If I leave one religion and join another, or leave one political party and later on join something else, this constant substitution indicates a state in which there is no intelligence.

How does nationalism go? Only by our understanding its full implications, by examining it, by being aware of its significance in outward and inward action. Outwardly it brings about divisions between people, classifications, wars and destruction, which is obvious to anyone who is observant. Inwardly, psychologically, this identification with the greater, with the country, with an idea, is obviously a form of self-expansion. Living in a little village or a big town or whatever it may be, I am nobody; but if I identify myself with the larger, with the country, if I call myself a Hindu, it flatters my vanity, it gives me gratification, prestige, a sense of well-being; and that identification with the larger, which is a psychological necessity for those who feel that self-expansion is essential, also creates conflict, strife, between people. Thus nationalism not only creates outward conflict but inward frustrations; when one understands nationalism, the whole process of nationalism, it falls away. The understanding of nationalism comes through intelligence, by carefully observing, by probing into the whole process of nationalism, patriotism. Out of that examination comes intelligence and then there is no substitution of something else for nationalism. The moment you substitute religion for national1sm, religion becomes another means of self-expansion, another source of psychological anxiety, a means of feeding oneself through a belief. Therefore any form of substitution, however noble, is a form of ignorance. It is like a man substituting chewing gum or betel nut or whatever it is for smoking, whereas if one really understands the whole problem of smoking, of habits, sensations, psychological demands and all the rest of it, then smoking drops away. You can understand only when there is a development of intelligence, when intelligence is functioning, and intelligence is not functioning when there is substitution. Substitution is merely a form of self-bribery, to tempt you not to do this but to do that. Nationalism, with its poison, with its misery and world strife, can disappear only when there is intelligence, and intelligence does not come merely by passing examinations and studying books. Intelligence comes into being when we understand problems as they arise. When there is understanding of the problem at its different levels, not only of the outward part but of its inward, psychological implications, then, in that process, intelligence comes into being. So when there is intelligence there is no substitution; and when there is intelligence, then nationalism, patriotism, which is a form of stupidity, disappears.


This is the sanest thing I’ve come across while researching Single Sign-On architectures for a set of applications. Will use it in a second prototype before making a decision (the first prototype used a CAS architecture which may be the preferred option as it is for a set of related websites at work).

Best Typefaces in Google Web Fonts

Gentium is there, along with very nice quotations from Seneca to Nabokov. I really like the following from Stowe Boyd’s Postnormal era (using PT-Mono):

Authoritarian/Centralized → Egalitarian/Decentralized Objective/Impartial → Subjective/Partial Hierarchy → Network Nuclear → neo-Tribal Globalism/Growth → Localism/Steady-State Nation/Province/City → Locale/Watershed/Region/World Broadcast → Participative Exploitative/Unsustainable → Restorative/Sustainable Dogmatic/Orthodox → Enigmatic/Heterodox