vague, but exciting

the porous city



email me



Chroma is a database for embeddings
Chroma is FOSS with a hosted model on the way. Works with LangChain and llama-index.

A pragmatic guide to programming with LLMs

Are shrinking populations really a problem?

"Have you heard about 'the polycrisis,' yet?"
Is it even a concept?

"It’s not clear if the polycrisis is an objective description of the material state of the world or a subjective description of psychological states, a kind of vibe."

Visualizing California's water storage

Everything's gonna be different I promise

“Remember, mindfulness is a relational activity. It’s how we are with what we’re experiencing that’s most important. So if you’re feeling the warmth of a tea cup, it’s simply that.” - Sharon Salzberg

“It doesn’t matter to what you don’t cling. Which means that we don’t have to be waiting to develop a certain experience in order not to cling to it. Might was well not cling to whatever’s happening now, whatever it is, because that’s the essence of the practice. It’s not about the experience.” - Joseph Goldstein

Favorite part of this talk is when they didn’t edit out the walking meditation, so there’s just twenty minutes or so of silence.

Traktor + Scarlett 4i4
Having trouble getting headphone cueing working with a Scarlet 4i4 + Traktor? Open Focusrite Control, for Line Outputs 3-4 choose Custom Mix -> DAW -> Playback 3-4.

The island
For one stranded in the middle of the lake,
in the flood of great danger—birth—
overwhelmed with aging & death,
 Kappa, I will tell you the island.

Having nothing, free
of clinging:
 That is the island,
 there is no other.

Kappa's question

"Well, let smiles buy me! have you more to spend?"
"Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what's a heaven for?"

Andrea del Sarto, by Robert Browning

Hey look, finally an effective altruist arguing for epistemic humility
Why computational complexity means longtermism isn't action-guiding

Someone makes a brilliant point in the comments: "Loved this post - reminds me a lot of intractability critiques of central economic planning, except now applied to consequentialism writ large."

from this thread on philosophical critiques of EA/longtermism

Riding a bike across the Manhattan Bridge in a light rain, subway cars thundering along next to me, heading into the city.

Technical/scientific progress is linear, not exponential

If this is right, innovation hasn't slowed, it just looks like it.

Thinking about the stuff I've posted here that would have blown my mind 20 years ago, and the expectation I had that this stuff would create amazing new worlds. What did create amazing new worlds, rather than just fun things, or (not to slight them) new tools?

  • social networks

... and maybe that's it. Everything that created a new world was in some sense a social network.

  • FB, Twitter, etc
  • Github
  • Forums
  • MMOs
  • I'm sure I'm leaving a lot out here ...

Well, okay. Maybe it's not so clear-cut. Electronic music is a new world that, yeah, had a physical world substrate, but largely it was a shared imaginative space enabled by new tools. You could call the social network here labels / clubs / magazines but that's a much looser more porous sort of network than the very explicit networks in the first list. That network already existed, dance music wasn't new ... but new tools enabled a whole new world within it.

music is just a big machine that you can play with

Use a better, more futuristic computer: a 68k Mac emulated in your browser.

Progress is a myth. KPT Bryce 4ever

"The Buddha’s teaching is aimed at liberation from suffering – the way out is through complete abandonment of clinging. Basic remedy is to pause – this is just an organic system operating, there’s nothing wrong with you. It’s not personal. Don’t follow the message of mind consciousness, follow the direct experience of the body."
  • Ajahn Sucitto with one of my very favorite concise summaries of the dharma.

The Khanda, me and Existence

Notes for a discussion on near-term climate change adaptation
  • Near-term iin climate science usually refers to the next 1-10 (sometimes 1-20) years.
  • Over the course of a single decade normal variation can overwhelm anthropogenic impacts.
  • What impacts have we seen so far?
    • From 1901-2020 global average temp rose 1° C
    • Longer, more intensive heat waves (heat wave in France in 2003 killed >15,000 people) - partially due to changes in jet stream
    • More natural disasters and extreme conditions - wildfires, hurricanes, droughts
    • Impact on water supply
    • Potential impact on power generation
    • Changes in animal populations / ecosystems, which can impact food supply
  • 5-20 years out
    • Massive increases in migration
    • Political instability
    • A more uncertain world
  • What can we do?
    • Better ways to get information out during extreme events
    • Reality-based information provided to people
    • Market-based solutions - change incentives - eg insurance
    • Mitigation - France had another heat wave in 2019 that hit ~115F / 46C, but <1,500 people died this time - better education, planning for vulnerable populations ...

Nat Geo, NY Times, NOAA

Corruption and cynicism (in action) are two sides of the same coin.

totally ripping this off
simon freund's super minimal site

Put a poem up on the wall, cross off one word a day.

just in case you need to rotate a 4d cube

Ideal format for long blog posts

I. Title
II. Whatever you would put in your tweet thread about the post (previous civilizations called this an introduction)
III. Poast

Timeline of the human condition

Pre-industrial workers had a shorter workweek than today's

Probable Futures
Probable Futures

"We started asking climate scientists practical questions about what climate change would look and feel like in different places around the world. We found the answers to be useful, intuitive, and profound. We created Probable Futures to share them with you."

We are not living in a simulation

Wet bulb temperatures and danger to human beings
The wet bulb temperature is the temperature of a bulb of mercury inside a damp cloth, in the shade. Basically, what's the temperature taking evaporative cooling into account? When the wet bulb temperature is too high, that's dangerous for human beings, since we depend on evaporative cooling - we're essentially wet bulbs. If the wet bulb temperature and the dry bulb temperature are the same, you're not getting any benefit from evaporative cooling.

chart of wet bulb temps for given temp and relative humidity

Statistics about sexual assault
  • Less than 1% of rapes and attempted rapes end in a felony conviction
  • Less than a third of rapes are reported to the police
  • Between 2 and 8% of reported sexual assaults are false (does not include rapes that were not reported)

Washington Post article from 2018

Saving this because literally every victim going public leads to "we have the courts for a reason" and "but what about false rape claims".

Penda's Fen (1974)
"Manichaeism ... heresy ..."

"The belt moves on regardless of the needs of men. It gets at a man's heart. The whole rhythm of his life is chained to the machine. It's called productivity, Stephen. I've seen it. All day long the ambulances here are never still."

"No ... no! I am nothing pure. Nothing pure ... my race is mixed, my sex is mixed. I am woman and man! Light with darkness! Mixed! Mixed ... I am nothing special, nothing pure. I am mud and flame!"

A photo of a boy looking into the water of a fen, not seeing the angel standing near him, watching him.

Beautiful, readable text online

TextBundle, an open format for text-based notes
The TextBundle file format aims to provide a more seamless user experience when exchanging plain text files, like Markdown or Fountain, between sandboxed applications.

Sandboxing is required for all apps available on the Mac and iOS app store, in order to grant users a high level of data security. Sandboxed apps are only permitted access to files explicitly provided by the user - for example Markdown text files. When working with different Markdown applications, sandboxing can cause inconveniences for the user.

An example: Markdown files may contain references to external images. When sending such a file from a Markdown editor to a previewer, users will have to explicitly permit access to every single image file.

This is where TextBundle comes in. TextBundle brings convenience back - by bundling the Markdown text and all referenced images into a single file. Supporting applications can just exchange TextBundles without asking for additional permissions. Beyond being a simple container, TextBundle includes a standard to transfer additional information - to open up new possibilites for future integration.


Shooting for the stars: the only rational choice
Recognize that in an uncertain contest against Nature your instinct is wrong. Bigger potential rewards are not correlated with more risk. If you are pursuing a truly uncertain endeavor, like a startup, there is no way of knowing if the larger or smaller possible outcome is more likely to succeed, so the only rational course is to pursue the biggest possible outcome you can imagine.

Uncertain decision-making and the maxi-max criterion

Of course there are other reasons you might want to not pursue "the biggest possible outcome you can imagine" ... maybe you want to pursue the best outcome you can imagine, not just the biggest; maybe you have other constraints, like resources or your desired lifestyle.

Still an important insight - more ambitious goals are not necessarily correlated with more risk.

Zero data apps

AFAICT these are webapps that work with localStorage or can sync with your cloud storage service.

Probability that I already posted this link ~51%.

Life of King Alfred
Asser's Life of King Alfred
"... he was so harassed by daily and nightly sadness that he complained and made moan to the Lord, and to all who were admitted to his familiarity and affection, that Almighty God had made him ignorant of divine wisdom and of the liberal arts ..."

In Asser's account Alfred is obsessed with learning, despite (?) not learning to read until after being crowned. Interesting given Alfred's position in English history, and with this essay on oral vs written culture banging around my head.

Killing time, and goblins
Fighting Fantasy project
I would have loved these back in my D&D days. Choose Your Own Adventure + dice combat.

On Percy Bysshe Shelley
West Wind, 8
The young, tall English poet–soon to die, soon to sail on his small boat into the blue haze and then the storm and then under the gray waves’ spinning threshold–went over to Pisa to meet a friend; met him; spent with him a sunny afternoon. I love this poet, which means nothing here or there, but is like a garden in my heart. So my love is a gift to myself. And I think of him, on that July afternoon in Pisa, while his friend Hunt told him stories pithy and humorous, of their friends in England, so that he began to laugh, so that his tall, lean body shook, and his long legs couldn’t hold him, and he had to lean up against the building, seized with laughter, abundant and unstoppable; and so he leaned in the wild sun, against the stones of the building, with the tears flying from his eyes–full of foolishness, howling, hanging on to the stones, crawling with laughter, clasping his own body as it began to fly apart in the nonsense, the sweetness, the intelligence, the bright happiness falling, like tiny gold flowers, like the sunlight itself, the lilt of Hunt’s voice, on this simple afternoon, with a friend, in Pisa.

  • Mary Oliver


Living in the dark place
Because you are human beings you are going to meet failure. You are going to meet disappointment, injustice, betrayal, and irreparable loss. You will find you're weak where you thought yourself strong. You'll work for possessions and then find they possess you. You will find yourself - as I know you already have - in dark places, alone, and afraid.

What I hope for you, for all my sisters and daughters, brothers and sons, is that you will be able to live there, in the dark place. To live in the place that our rationalizing culture of success denies, calling it a place of exile, uninhabitable, foreign.
A Left-Handed Commencement Address by Ursula K. LeGuin

The wildfires didn't have to be this bad
  • Cities founded in the fire-prone frontier by anti-government types that didn't want to be told how to build (proper infrastructure, firebreaks etc.)
  • Real estate has been the main wealth generator for a while, "Selling out to a developer was the only retirement plan most farmers knew."
  • "What was once sparse is now densely packed with pine, fir, cedar, and manzanita. A forest that supported 64 trees an acre in pre-settlement times now boasted 160 trees an acre ... 'I don't think we could have managed the forests any worse.'"
  • "as Wilson and his staff studied the fires more closely, he could see that their oddly linear pattern of ignition clusters corresponded to major electrical power lines."
  • “These weren’t outlier events,” Wilson said. “These same spots had a history of fire. They had burned before and were destined to burn again. If you charted it out, we weren’t having far more wildfires than in the past. But the wildfires we were experiencing were far more deadly and destructive, and that had to do with mismanaging the forest and building communities in the wildland-urban interface. The state’s population was exploding in the very areas most susceptible to wildfires.”
  • Forestry management and fire prevention - prescribed burns, reducing fuel load - curtailed in favor of military-style firefighting.
  • "To justify its high costs, [Cal Fire] had to figure out a way to make itself essential throughout the year. This was how it evolved into a 24/7 provider of emergency services to the sprawling mountain communities ... instead of trying to slow down the suburbanization of forestlands, Wilson said, the department served the growth — to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year in funding."
  • "In their filings, each attorney traced the historic blazes to a culture of mismanagement, corruption, and cover-up that had taken hold inside PG&E decades before. A pattern of venality, they argued, began in the company’s early years and became more recalcitrant in the 1980s and 1990s, when PG&E, with the connivance of the California Public Utilities Commission, its watchdog, made a decision to place profits and bonuses to top executives — and dividends to shareholders — over safety."
  • "It was fiction that the California Public Utilities Commission exercised any watchdog role over PG&E, he said. “They don’t have the resources, they don’t have the trained personnel or mindset, to monitor and audit PG&E’s compliance with safety regulations. PG&E can literally get away with murder.”"

Techno and its history
Awesome reading list with special focus on techno as black music.

See also this talk from DeForrest Brown Jr.

The Great Pan is Dead
EVERYONE HAS ONCE READ, for it comes up many times in literature, of that pilot in the reign of Tiberius, who, as he was sailing along in the Aegean on a quiet evening, heard a loud voice announcing that "Great Pan was dead." This engaging myth was interpreted in two contradictory ways.

Part of a larger work that locates creation myths with a change about 6,500 years ago when the position of the sun during the equinoxes stopped lining up with the Milky Way.

The rest of the site ... lotta wild stuff there.

Infinity Window - Artificial Midnight

Manage the DOM with vanilla JS

Mellow Mix From Mr. Weatherall

Good all-in-one guide to preparing for coronavirus

MacOS, Energy, Social, Audio, Shopping, Net, Product Management, Medical, WRX, s60, Storage, Data, Android, RSS, Security, Collaboration, Automobile, AI, Wearables, Open, a11y, Hardware, OS, Web, Crowdsourcing, Mobile, Web analytics, Visual, Javascript, Development, Business, PIM, barcamp

Geography, Travel, Activism, Boston, Law, Podcasts, Video, Games, CrowdFlower, Quizzes, Transportation, Clothes, California, Statistics, San Francisco, NYC, Politik, History, Friday, Personal care, Berlin, Sports, Feminism, Surfing, Minnesota, Toys, Food & Drink, L.A., Housing, Bicycling, Life hacks, Agriculture

Lyrics, L.A., Reviews, Labels, Mailing lists, Musicians, Mp3s, Business, Events, Good tracks, Hip-hop, Mixes, Videos, Boston, Shopping, House, History, Booking, Making, Streams

Life hacks, Me, ADD, Friends, Heroes, Health, Meditation, Weblogs, MOTAS, Gossip, Vocations, Subcultures, Working with, Family, Enemies, Stories, Exercise, Languages

Spoken Word, Events, Desktop wallpaper bait, Rhetoric, Humor, Outlets, Burning Man, Poetry, Movies, Sculpture, Literature, iPad bait, Visual, Animation, Comix

Non-profit, Real Estate, Macroeconomics, Web, Personal finance, Marketing and CRM, IP Law, Management consulting, Insurance, Taxes, Shopping, International Development, Microfinance, Investing, Personal services

Presentations, Data visualization, User experience, Web, Algorithmic, Cool, Furniture, IA, Architecture, Type, Process, Tools

Environment, Statistics and Data, Psychology, Zoology, Networks, Physics

Vagabond '08, Uganda, Kenya, Kingdom of Siam

Photos I Wish I'd Taken, Moblog, Friends



Internet classic

One Acre Fund

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