Technology is magic
“The soul of wit may become the very body of untruth. However elegant and memorable, brevity can never, in the nature of things, do justice to all the facts of a complex situation. On such a theme one can be brief only by omission and simplification. Omission and simplification help us to understand - but help us, in many cases, to understand the wrong thing; for our comprehension may be only of the abbreviator’s neatly formulated notions, not of the vast, ramifying reality from which these notions have been so arbitrarily abstracted” ― Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited
You’re home late after a grueling day at the office. The light of the sun has given way to the orange common of street light. No one wanders the streets except those few young souls for whom the night is when their soul comes alive. You envy them their energy, and would wish them a good time tonight were your mind not entirely enveloped by the hunger consuming your thoughts. You need to eat something, immediately. Your stomach commands you. You drop your backpack near the entrance and rush towards the kitchen. You’re too tired to make dinner, and too hungry to be choosy about what to eat. If there’s something, anything, that looks even remotely edible that’ll be the dinner for tonight. You open the refrigerator door, and praise the gods and all the luck they shower upon you, there’s some chilli con carne left over, your favorite. Saliva floods your mouth as you grab the container and pour the earthly brown sludge on a plate with some leftover rice. You splash both with copious amounts of hot sauce.
You’re about to dive in when a pang of guilt hits you. You have nothing against eating cold food, and you’re certainly hungry enough to send all decorum to hell, but the microwave is right there in front of you, staring at you, judging you for the slob you’re about to show you are if you do not heat your almost frozen food.
You pull the silver door of the microwave open in resignation, and put the plate inside. You close the door and push the button enough times for the microwave to make your food sizzle in its own heat. The light turns on; the plate begins to spin. With nothing to do now but wait, the heaviness of your eyelids starts making itself felt. It too wants its voice heard in the court of your mind. Images of your bed, with you in it, flash through your mind. To sleep and to eat, those are the two directives that now rule your actions, all the complexity of what it means to be a human being simplified into a binary choice.
You’re standing in front of the microwave with your forehead glued to the tempered glass of the microwave watching as little pockets of steam start bubbling towards the surface of the chilli’s sauce. You can almost feel the heat coming out of the food.
Beep… beep… beep…
The light turns off, and the microwave’s shrill announcement wakes you out from your sleepy stupor. That’s when it hits you:
You’ve just seen magic happen.
Memory Is Not About The Past
We spend a large part of our lives reminiscing about the past.
Few activities are as quintessentially human as being on the cusp of falling asleep and suddenly be assaulted by a memory that has us relive an embarrassing episode that we thought long forgotten. Yet this ability to store and recall the past didn’t emerge so that we could cringe at our past ineptness. We use our memories all the time, from remembering where we parked our car, to cook today’s dinner, or to try and put a name to the face of the person who’s now talking to us as if we’d met before, even though we could swear up and down to never have seen that person before.
Our memory is a crucial aspect of our cognition, and we often bemoan when it fails us. Ask the student who failed an exam, or the husband who forgot to buy his wife a gift for her birthday and now finds himself having to sleep on the couch in repentance.
Why You Should Use Twitter, and How Not To Go Insane in the Process
What if there was a place where people with the same interests as you hang out and talk about the things which you are so passionate about? What if there was a place on the Internet where you had free and easy access to the most insightful writers, the smartest researchers, and the most talented artists from all over the world?
This place exists. It’s called Twitter.
How To Read (Almost) All Scientific Papers for Free
Learning is exhilarating, and science is one of the greatest accomplishments of modern civilization.
While these are not terribly exciting points to make, it is curious how much of a barrier there is between the public and the scientific papers which are the products of science.
Or rather, how much of a barrier there was.
Whatever obstacles there were in place, the Internet has burned them to the ground and fundamentally changed the informational inequalities that the old system promoted.
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