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Notes from an old Kindle

Quotes and notes from books I read on my Kindle before changing e-readers. Almost three years of reading and highlighting.

With most e-readers, you can highlight text and even add a notes to those sections. You can then browse your notes from the perspective of a particular book or simply look through them all and see which books they related to.

I found a file of my old Kindle notes while checking that I'd replaced all my Amazon e-books with newer, DRM-free versions... of course. ;) I've transcribed those notes here.

The entries run in date order, from oldest to newest. You'll notice that some notes were written to be tweeted directly from the Kindle, while other entries were reminders or to-dos.

Pattern Recognition (William Gibson)

Saturday, October 23, 2010, 06:32 PM

“He took a duck in the face at two hundred and fifty knots,”

Note: Wonder where this quote is from. @greatdismal #patternrecognition

Sunday, October 24, 2010, 10:40 AM

Margot thinks that Cayce has weaned herself from materialism, is preternaturally adult, requiring no external tokens of self.

Sunday, October 24, 2010, 12:08 PM

under a sky like a gray-scale Cibachrome of a Turner print, too powerfully back-lit.

Note: Classic Gibson description from #PatterRecognition -

Monday, October 25, 2010, 05:41 PM

“Systema,” Bigend says. “What?” “Those three. The Russian martial art, formerly forbidden to all but Spetsnaz and KGB bodyguards. It has its formal basis in Cossack dancing. Quite unlike anything Eastern.”

Halting State (Charles Stross)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010, 08:46 PM

Tobler’s manual of sword-fighting

Note: Look this up.

Saturday, November 13, 2010, 12:59 AM

‘We work till it gets too much, and then... juggling elder gods just seems to help with the stress, you know?’

Note: Cthulhu references invariably help any literary genre, but are numerous in the cyberpunk ouvre.

Monday, November 15, 2010, 01:06 AM

‘On the high plateau of Leng. That’s where the Pabodie expedition came adrift: there should be some Old Ones hereabouts if the rampaging hordes of Antarctic explorers haven’t been through since they last reset the shard. They’re guarding some loot I need to get my hands on.’

Not: Ah, the very thought of a Cthulhu MMORPG sends shivers up my spine. #cthulhu #lovecraft

Spook Country (William Gibson)

Saturday, December 04, 2010, 02:29 AM

The world we walk around in would be channels.’ She cocked her head at him. ‘Channels?’ ‘Yes. And given what broadcast television wound up being, that doesn’t sound so good. But think about blogs, how each one is actually trying to describe reality.’ ‘They are?’ ‘In theory.’ ‘Okay.’ ‘But when you look at blogs, where you’re most likely to find the real info is in the links. It’s contextual, and not only who the blog’s linked to, but who’s linked to the blog.’

Note: @greatdismal has a skill for describing technology in such beautiful and clear ways. #artist

ReWork (Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson)

Sunday, December 05, 2010, 05:33 PM

Leonard Koren, author of a book on wabi-sabi, gives this advice: Pare down to the essence, but don’t remove the poetry. Keep things clean and unencumbered but don’t sterilize.

Note: Good advice from the Japanese principle of 'wabi-sabi'.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010, 08:09 AM

Culture is the by-product of consistent behavior.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010, 08:11 AM

Optimize for now and worry about the future later.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010, 08:12 AM

The ability to change course is one of the big advantages of being small. Compared with larger competitors, you’re way more capable of making quick, sweeping changes. Big companies just can’t move that fast.

Green Zone (Rajiv Chandrasekaran)

Wednesday, December 08, 2010, 06:57 PM

After a moment, he turned to me, his face grave, and said, “I’m a neoconservative who’s been mugged by reality.”

Note: The reaction of someone who'd seen what the US did in Iraq after invading.

Occupational Hazards (Rory Stewart)

Monday, December 13, 2010, 05:50 PM

The people always desire two things: the first is to avenge themselves against those who were the cause of their being enslaved; the other is to regain their freedom . . . a small part of them desire to be free in order to command; but all the others, the countless majority, desire liberty in order to live in security. Machiavelli, Discourses, Book 1, Chapter 16

Wednesday, December 15, 2010, 08:45 AM

Men never do good except through necessity; but when they have the freedom to choose and can do as they please, everything immediately becomes confused and disorderly. Machiavelli, Discourses, Book 1, Chapter 3

Spook Country (William Gibson)

Thursday, December 30, 2010, 03:44 PM

Milgrim always enjoyed this part; it had an appealing vintage sci-fi campiness to it, staccato and exciting, with grainy monochrome Eurocommie star-spawn in tweed jackets and knit ties, breeding like Starbucks.

Note "...breeding like Starbucks." Gotta love the descriptions

Selected Essays on Technology, Creativity, Copyright and the Future of the Future (Cory Doctorow)

Thursday, January 06, 2011, 07:00 PM

Information is not a thing. It isn't an object. It isn't something that, when you sell it or have it stolen, ceases to remain in your possession. It doesn't have a market value that can be objectively determined.

Note: Thank you for stating this much more concisely than I ever could -

Instapaper (Instapaper)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011, 08:44 AM

And in any case physics is based on a non-science. All of science is based on mathematics which is a non-science. Because it’s not observational. And so we’ve got this epistemological peculiarity, something at bottom which cannot be proved through observation. Mathematics is simply a consistent self-referential description.

Note: Scientist picks a fight with scientists

Friday, January 28, 2011, 08:34 AM

Without an audience, you can do and say pretty much whatever you want with no issues. The larger your audience becomes, the more scrutiny your words are going to receive.

Note: True for any work that involves people -

CONTENT: Selected Essays on Technology, Creativity, Copyright and the Future of the Future (Cory Doctorow)

Tuesday, February 01, 2011, 08:08 AM

If there's one thing we can be sure of, it's that an information economy will increase the technological literacy of its participants.

Note: I don't think this has happened. Abstraction layers have appeared between users and information -

Tuesday, February 01, 2011, 08:16 AM

Founder Jeff Bezos (who is a friend of mine) even wrote, "when someone buys a book, they are also buying the right to resell that book, to loan it out, or to even give it away if they want. Everyone understands this."

Note: How times have changed. Eh, Jeff? Not so easy for book buyers to lend and resell Kindle books -

Instapaper (Instapaper)

Wednesday, February 02, 2011, 08:41 PM

Freedom won’t look after itself. Freedom without law is the wild west but Law without freedom is tyranny

Note: Regarding the internet and freedom -

Glasshouse (Charles Stross)

Thursday, February 10, 2011, 06:24 PM

Chopped-up magnesium from a block the hiking shop sold me, mixed with deliberately rusted iron filings in a candle-wax base – a crude thermite charge.

Kraken (China Miéville)

Monday, February 21, 2011, 05:47 PM

In practice of course it was staffed by and kept watch on all those with questionable talents. FSRC computers were loaded with occult hexware and abgrades (Geas 2.0, iScry).

Note: Love it! -

Thursday, February 24, 2011, 05:14 PM

Ornerily, it was not the fantasies that inspired most knackers, not Buffy, Angel, American Gothic or Supernatural. It was the science fiction. Time travel was out, the universe not having fixed lines, but sorcerer fans of Dr. Who made untraditional wands, disdaining willow for carefully lathed metal and calling them sonic screwdrivers. Soothsayer admirers of Blake’s 7 called themselves Children of Orac. London’s fourth-best shapeshifter changed her name by deed-poll to Maya, and her surname to Space1999.

Note: @popplestone you may like this...

Lord of the Rings, The (J. R. R. Tolkien)

Thursday, March 10, 2011, 06:38 PM

Some who have read the book, or at any rate have reviewed it, have found it boring, absurd, or contemptible; and I have no cause to complain, since I have similar opinions of their works, or of the kinds of writing that they evidently prefer.

Note: Tolkien didn't stand for any shit, did he.

Thursday, March 10, 2011, 06:46 PM

But I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence. I much prefer history, true or feigned, with its varied applicability to the thought and experience of readers. I think that many confuse ‘applicability’ with ‘allegory’; but the one resides in the freedom of the reader, and the other in the purposed domination of the author.

Note: A wise insight from Tolkien regarding the use of allegory (hint: he don't like it)

A Feast for Crows (George R. R. Martin)

Saturday, April 30, 2011, 11:54 PM

Only the soldier pines and sentinels still showed green; the broadleaf trees had donned mantles of russet and gold, or else uncloaked themselves to scratch against the sky with branches brown and bare.

Note: The changing seasons in Westeros are a big deal, when each can last for decades.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011, 07:23 AM

“I prefer my history dead. Dead history is writ in ink, the living sort in blood.”

Note: Quote of the day from my morning reading:

Instapaper (Instapaper)

Friday, May 20, 2011, 08:22 AM

Paul Brodeur has written, “Statistics are human beings with the tears wiped off”.

Surface Detail (Iain M. Banks)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011, 05:25 PM

As she swept her arm across the view, Lededje caught brief glimpses of what she guessed were other virtual worlds within or alongside this one: great gleaming cities, a mountain range at night criss-crossed with a tangle of tubes and lights, a vast ship or mobile city sailing on a creamy white sea beneath a cerulean sky, a limitless-looking vista of nothing but air full of vast striped trees like green-blue curlicues, and views and structures that she saw but could hardly have described, which she guessed were possible in a virtual reality but impractical in what Sensia blithely called the Real.

CONTENT: Selected Essays on Technology, Creativity, Copyright and the Future of the Future (Cory Doctorow)

Monday, June 13, 2011, 08:09 AM

Sure, networks generally follow Metcalfe's Law: "the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of users of the system." This law is best understood through the analogy of the fax machine: a world with one fax machine has no use for faxes, but every time you add a fax, you square the number of possible send/receive combinations (Alice can fax Bob or Carol or Don; Bob can fax Alice, Carol and Don; Carol can fax Alice, Bob and Don, etc). But Metcalfe's law presumes that creating more communications pathways increases the value of the system, and that's not always true (see Brook's Law: "Adding manpower to a late softer project makes it later").

Monday, June 13, 2011, 08:39 AM

DRM has exacted a punishing toll wherever it has come into play, costing us innovation, free speech, research and the public's rights in copyright. And likewise, DRM has not stopped infringement: today, infringement is more widespread than ever.

The Jennifer Morgue (Charles Stross)

Thursday, June 16, 2011, 05:57 PM

“The Caribbean sea hides many secrets. This field of silt covers a deep layer rich in methane hydrates. When some force destabilizes the deposits they bubble up from the depths – like the carbon dioxide discharge from the stagnant waters of Lake Nyos in the Cameroon. But unlike Lake Nyos, the gas isn’t confined by terrain so it dissipates after it surfaces. It’s not an asphyxiation threat, but if you’re on a ship that’s caught above a hydrate release, then the sea under your keel turns to gas and you’re going straight down to Davy Jones’s locker.”

Note: This is a really interesting topic that demonstrates the power of nature

Monday, June 20, 2011, 07:37 PM

He stabs at the mouse mat with one finger and I wince, but instead of fat purple sparks and a hideous soul-sucking manifestation, it simply wakes up his Windows box. (Not that there’s much difference.)

Note: Tee-hee. Any excuse for a Windows jibe.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011, 07:52 AM

Give me a bottle of Mountain Dew, an MP3 player hammering out something by VNV Nation, and a crate of Pringles: that’s like being at home. Give me root access on a hostile necromancer’s server farm, and I am at home.

Note: Geek mantra.

Thursday, June 23, 2011, 07:50 AM

We’ll need more power sockets.” Pete’s eyes are taking on a distant, glazed look and his fingers twitch mousily: “We’ll need casemods, need overclocked CPUs, need fuck-off huge screens, double-headed Radeon X1600 video cards.” He begins to shake. “Nerf guns, Twinkies, LAN party—” “Pete! Snap out of it!” I grab his shoulders and shake him.

Note: We're gonna need more power sockets.

Lord of the Rings, The (J. R. R. Tolkien)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011, 01:52 PM

Now, Pippin my lad, don’t forget Gildor’s saying – the one Sam used to quote: Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.’

Note: Ah, I always thought this was from The Hobbit, not LOTR.

Zero History (William Gibson)

Wednesday, October 05, 2011, 09:24 AM

“Stability’s the beginning of the end. We only walk by continually beginning to fall forward.

Note: Well, that describes life so beautifully.

Instapaper (Instapaper)

Monday, October 17, 2011, 08:11 AM

Which services will the social backbone provide? We can extract these from those provided by today’s web and social software applications: Identity — authenticating you as a user, and storing information about you Sharing — access rights over content Notification — informing users of changes to content or contacts’ content Annotation — commenting on content Communication — direct interaction among members of the system

The Last Man (Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011, 05:18 PM

But in truth, neither the lonely meditations of the hermit, nor the tumultuous raptures of the reveller, are capable of satisfying man's heart.

Reamde (Neal Stephenson)

Friday, October 28, 2011, 09:15 AM

One of which had been the Welsh terrorist Abdallah Jones, who was of particular interest to Olivia because he had once blown up Olivia’s great-aunt’s bridge partner on a bus in Cardiff.

Note: Okay @nealstephenson I'll go along with the Welsh terrorist thing for now ;)

Friday, November 18, 2011, 08:22 AM

There was a common saying in the biz/tech world that “As hire As, and Bs hire Cs,” the point being that as long as you continued to recruit only the very best people, they would attract others, but as soon as you let your standards slip, the second-raters would begin to seine up third-raters to act as their minions and advance their agendas.

Note: Sounds about right for the tech industry.

Walking with Cthulhu

Friday, December 02, 2011, 05:48 PM

“It is possible, just dimly possible, that the real pattern and scheme of life is not in the least apparent on the outward surface of things, which is the world of common sense and rationalism and reasoned deductions; but rather lurks, half-hidden, only apparent in certain rare lights, and then only to the prepared eye; a secret pattern, an ornament which seems to have but little relation or none at all to the obvious scheme of the universe.” — The London Adventure .

Friday, December 02, 2011, 05:49 PM

I began now to appreciate the fact that if you set out, without a map, from your house at 36 Great Russell Street and walk for half an hour eastward or northward you are in fact in an unknown region, a new world” — Things Near and Far.

Friday, December 02, 2011, 05:49 PM

“I didn’t buy a map; that would have spoilt it, somehow; to see everything plotted out, and named, and measured. What I wanted was to feel that I was going where nobody had been before” — A Fragment of Life.

Friday, December 02, 2011, 05:51 PM

“Before me was the long suburban street, its dreary distance marked by rows of twinkling lamps, and the air was poisoned by the faint, sickly smell of burning bricks; it was not a cheerful prospect by any means, and I had to walk through nine miles of such streets, deserted as those of Pompeii. I knew pretty well what direction to take, so I set out wearily, looking at the stretch of lamps vanishing in perspective: and as I walked street after street branched off to right and left, some far reaching, to distances that seemed endless, communicating with other systems of thoroughfare, and some mere protoplasmic streets, and ending suddenly in waste, and pits, and rubbish heaps, and fields whence the magic had departed. I have spoken of systems of thoroughfare, and I assure you that walking alone through these silent places I felt fantasy growing on me, and some glamour of the infinite.” — Novel of the Iron Maid (1890).

Monday, December 05, 2011, 05:01 PM

“The fantastic is the contradiction that appears in the real.”

Fingerprints Of The Gods (Graham Hancock)

Monday, December 19, 2011, 11:19 PM

Let their sight reach only to that which is near; let them see only a little of the face of the earth … Then the Heart of Heaven blew mist into their eyes which clouded their sight as when a mirror is breathed upon. Their eyes were covered and they could only see what was close, only that was clear to them … In this way the wisdom and all the knowledge of the First Men were destroyed.

Monday, December 19, 2011, 11:52 PM

For example, archaeo-astronomers making use of the latest star-mapping computer programmes had recently demonstrated that the three world-famous pyramids on Egypt’s Giza plateau formed an exact terrestrial diagram of the three belt stars in the constellation of Orion.14 Nor was this the limit of the celestial map the Ancient Egyptian priests had created in the sands on the west bank of the Nile. Included in their overall vision, as we shall see in Parts VI and VII, there was a natural feature – the river Nile – which was exactly where it should be had it been designed to represent the Milky Way.

Walden (Henry David Thoreau)

Monday, January 02, 2012, 11:17 PM

No way of thinking or doing, however ancient, can be trusted without proof.

Monday, January 02, 2012, 11:17 PM

What old people say you cannot do, you try and find that you can. Old deeds for old people, and new deeds for new. Old people did not know enough once, perchance, to fetch fresh fuel to keep the fire a-going; new people put a little dry wood under a pot, and are whirled round the globe with the speed of birds,

Monday, January 02, 2012, 11:23 PM

One farmer says to me, "You cannot live on vegetable food solely, for it furnishes nothing to make bones with"; and so he religiously devotes a part of his day to supplying his system with the raw material of bones; walking all the while he talks behind his oxen, which, with vegetable-made bones, jerk him and his lumbering plow along in spite of every obstacle.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012, 12:10 AM

Not long since, a strolling Indian went to sell baskets at the house of a well-known lawyer in my neighborhood. "Do you wish to buy any baskets?" he asked. "No, we do not want any," was the reply. "What!" exclaimed the Indian as he went out the gate, "do you mean to starve us?" Having seen his industrious white neighbors so well off—that the lawyer had only to weave arguments, and, by some magic, wealth and standing followed—he had said to himself: I will go into business; I will weave baskets; it is a thing which I can do. Thinking that when he had made the baskets he would have done his part, and then it would be the white man's to buy them. He had not discovered that it was necessary for him to make it worth the other's while to buy them, or at least make him think that it was so, or to make something else which it would be worth his while to buy. I too had woven a kind of basket of a delicate texture, but I had not made it worth any one's while to buy them.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012, 12:19 AM

I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes. If there is not a new man, how can the new clothes be made to fit?

Tuesday, January 03, 2012, 12:25 AM

The head monkey at Paris puts on a traveller's cap, and all the monkeys in America do the same.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012, 12:29 AM

I cannot believe that our factory system is the best mode by which men may get clothing. The condition of the operatives is becoming every day more like that of the English; and it cannot be wondered at, since, as far as I have heard or observed, the principal object is, not that mankind may be well and honestly clad, but, unquestionably, that corporations may be enriched.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012, 12:38 AM

though the birds of the air have their nests, and the foxes their holes, and the savages their wigwams, in modern civilized society not more than one half the families own a shelter.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012, 12:47 AM

While civilization has been improving our houses, it has not equally improved the men who are to inhabit them. It has created palaces, but it was not so easy to create noblemen and kings.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012, 12:50 AM

Most men appear never to have considered what a house is, and are actually though needlessly poor all their lives because they think that they must have such a one as their neighbors have.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012, 12:54 AM

I had three pieces of limestone on my desk, but I was terrified to find that they required to be dusted daily, when the furniture of my mind was all undusted still, and threw them out the window in disgust. How, then, could I have a furnished house? I would rather sit in the open air, for no dust gathers on the grass, unless where man has broken ground.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012, 04:38 PM

A man is not a good man to me because he will feed me if I should be starving, or warm me if I should be freezing, or pull me out of a ditch if I should ever fall into one. I can find you a Newfoundland dog that will do as much.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012, 04:46 PM

Do not stay to be an overseer of the poor, but endeavor to become one of the worthies of the world.

Thursday, January 05, 2012, 07:39 AM

When we are unhurried and wise, we perceive that only great and worthy things have any permanent and absolute existence, that petty fears and petty pleasures are but the shadow of the reality.

Thursday, January 05, 2012, 07:40 AM

By closing the eyes and slumbering, and consenting to be deceived by shows, men establish and confirm their daily life of routine and habit everywhere, which still is built on purely illusory foundations.

Thursday, January 05, 2012, 07:43 AM

Let us spend one day as deliberately as Nature, and not be thrown off the track by every nutshell and mosquito's wing that falls on the rails. Let us rise early and fast, or break fast, gently and without perturbation; let company come and let company go, let the bells ring and the children cry—determined to make a day of it.

Instapaper (Instapaper)

Friday, January 06, 2012, 04:44 PM

While burial, cremation and other - to us - conventional forms of body disposal are not unknown in the Culture, the most common form of funeral involves the deceased - usually surrounded by friends - being visited by a Displacement Drone, which - using the technique of near-instantaneous transmission of a remotely induced singularity via hyperspace - removes the corpse from its last resting place and deposits it in the core of the relevant system’s sun, from where the component particles of the cadaver start a million-year migration to the star’s surface, to shine - possibly - long after the Culture itself is history.

Monday, January 23, 2012, 08:09 AM

Companies that get themselves on a feedback footing will dominate their industries, building better things faster for less money. Those that don’t are already the walking dead, and will soon be little more than case studies and colorful anecdotes.

Monday, January 23, 2012, 08:10 AM

We’re moving beyond an information economy. Information on its own isn’t an advantage, anyway. Instead, this is the era of the feedback economy,

Get Out While You Can - Escape The Rat Race (George Marshall)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012, 05:23 PM

Whoever coined the phrase "property porn" hit the nail firmly on the head. I know plenty of people in Spain, for example, who now rue the day that they ever watched A Place In The Sun.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012, 05:24 PM

If you think of money as water, a wage slave's income trickles out of one tap in a house with low water pressure.

Thursday, January 26, 2012, 07:58 AM

As Albert Einstein said, "It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education."

Thursday, January 26, 2012, 08:00 AM

According to figures delivered to Parliament in November, 2009, by Jim Knight, the Minister of State for Employment and Welfare Reform, 300,000 households receive £20,000 a year or more in benefit payments. At the same time, 40% of all those in work earn less than £18,000 a year - and that's before income tax and national insurance contributions are deducted.

Friday, January 27, 2012, 08:05 AM

but then again a fifth of the world's population doesn't even have access to clean drinking water let alone a computer screen.

Instapaper: Tuesday, Feb. 7 (Instapaper)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012, 07:07 AM

I fell in love with the universe. I wasn’t just “in” the universe. I was part of it. It hit me that because of evolution, I was physically related not just to every other human, but to every other animal on earth. And not just to every other animal, but to every plant. The atoms that composed me were the products of stars that had gone supernova and spilled their rich guts across time and space. I realized that I was, quite literally, “made of stars”. How remarkable! And how true.

The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World: from Marathon to Waterloo (Sir Edward Shepherd Creasy)

Friday, February 17, 2012, 07:47 AM

All republics that acquire supremacy over other nations, rule them selfishly and oppressively. There is no exception to this in either ancient or modern times. Carthage, Rome, Venice, Genoa, Florence, Pisa, Holland, and Republican France, all tyrannized over every province and subject state where they gained authority.

Friday, February 17, 2012, 07:48 AM

They appealed to what they called "the eternal law of nature, that the weak should be coerced by the strong." [THUC. i. 77.] Sometimes they stated, and not without some truth, that the unjust hatred of Sparta against themselves forced them to be unjust to others in self-defence. To be safe they must be powerful; and to be powerful they must plunder and coerce their neighbours.

Rule 34 (Charles Stross)

Monday, March 05, 2012, 08:19 AM

So much for telecommuting. Policing is one of those jobs that will always revolve around a meatspace hub, if only because you can’t build a cellblock in cyberspace.

Monday, March 05, 2012, 04:44 PM

He doesn’t have much time for ICIU—especially after the time he dropped round when you weren’t in, and Moxie showed him the Goatsedance video followed by a brisk webtour of the shocksites of Lothian and Borders, culminating in the infamous penile degloving accident fansite (which apparently left him with PTSD and permanent scarring on the insides of his eyelids). Ever since, he’s been more than happy to leave you alone to run your little fiefdom as you see fit.

Monday, March 05, 2012, 05:14 PM

she’s so far out of her tree that the squirrels are sending out search parties:

Facts are Sacred: The power of data (Guardian Shorts) (Simon Rogers)

Wednesday, March 07, 2012, 07:57 AM

“At all times such information it contains is valuable; because without knowing… the best opinions which can be formed of the condition and future progress of society must be necessarily incorrect.”

Wednesday, March 07, 2012, 08:40 AM

“Modern technology allows us to be more open. This Government has ambitious plans to increase transparency at every stage to allow everyone to see what is happening better and how the system works.”

Wednesday, March 07, 2012, 05:33 PM

It showed that, contrary to popular belief, there was no correlation between economic status or educational levels and propensity to riot. Nor had the riots been the work of recent immigrants from the south. The main grievances were police brutality, overcrowded living conditions, poor housing and lack of jobs.

God is not Great (Christopher Hitchens)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012, 07:34 AM

Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum. (To such heights of evil are men driven by religion.) —Lucretius, De Rerum Natura

Tuesday, March 13, 2012, 07:39 AM

but it’s less of a surprise to find the church applying sterner laws to the poor, or offering indulgences to the rich.)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012, 04:24 PM

For some reason, many religions force themselves to think of the birth canal as a one-way street,

Tuesday, March 13, 2012, 04:49 PM

The true believer cannot rest until the whole world bows the knee.

Monday, March 19, 2012, 07:36 AM

If one must have faith in order to believe something, or believe in something, then the likelihood of that something having any truth or value is considerably diminished.

Monday, March 19, 2012, 07:41 AM

(An astrologer of a London tabloid was once fired by means of a letter from his editor which began, “As you will no doubt have foreseen.”)

Monday, March 19, 2012, 07:46 AM

William Cobbett once pointed out that the English themselves colluded in this servile absurdity by referring to “The Royal Mint” but “The National Debt.”

Monday, March 19, 2012, 04:17 PM

Even what was first known about the comparatively consoling symmetry of the solar system, with its nonetheless evident tendency to instability and entropy, upset Sir Isaac Newton enough to make him propose that god intervened every now and then to put the orbits back on an even keel. This exposed him to teasing from Leibniz, who asked why god couldn’t have got it working right the first time around.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012, 05:37 PM

that these books are spurious, and that Moses is not the author of them; and still further, that they were not written in the time of Moses, nor till several hundred years afterwards, that they are an attempted history of the life of Moses, and of the times in which he is said to have lived; and also of the times prior thereto, written by some very ignorant and stupid pretenders several hundred years after the death of Moses; as men now write histories of things that happened, or are supposed to have happened, several hundred or several thousand years ago.

Planning for Big Data (Edd Dumbill)

Friday, March 23, 2012, 07:44 AM

To clarify matters, the three Vs of volume, velocity and variety are commonly used to characterize different aspects of big data.

Friday, March 23, 2012, 07:47 AM

There are times when you simply won’t be able to wait for a report to run or a Hadoop job to complete. Industry terminology for such fast-moving data tends to be either “streaming data,” or “complex event processing.” This latter term was more established in product categories before streaming processing data gained more widespread relevance, and seems likely to diminish in favor of streaming.

Friday, March 23, 2012, 08:00 AM

A common use of big data processing is to take unstructured data and extract ordered meaning, for consumption either by humans or as a structured input to an application. One such example is entity resolution, the process of determining exactly what a name refers to. Is this city London, England, or London, Texas? By the time your business logic gets to it, you don’t want to be guessing.

Friday, March 23, 2012, 04:43 PM

Let’s remind ourselves of the definition of big data: “Big data is data that exceeds the processing capacity of conventional database systems. The data is too big, moves too fast, or doesn’t fit the strictures of your database architectures. To gain value from this data, you must choose an alternative way to process it.”

Instapaper: Tuesday, Mar. 27 (Instapaper)

Monday, April 02, 2012, 08:22 AM

A “teacher” should be someone who does everything within his or her power to create rigorous learning experiences that engage, motivate, and allow students to be creative.

Rule 34 (Charles Stross)

Wednesday, April 04, 2012, 08:10 AM

The wildest conspiracies are the quietest.

Code Simplicity (Max Kanat-Alexander) Tuesday, April 10, 2012, 04:23 PM

Usually, a science is discovered and proven through the scientific method, which involves observation of the physical universe, making a theory about how the universe works, performing experiments to verify your theory, and showing that the same experiment works everywhere to demonstrate that the theory is a general truth and not just a coincidence or something that worked just for you.

God is not Great (Christopher Hitchens)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012, 04:41 PM

What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.

Instapaper: Wednesday, May. 2 (Instapaper)

Thursday, May 03, 2012, 07:33 AM

thanks to Moore’s Law, the electronics sector is trapped in a permanent deflationary cycle.

Friday, May 04, 2012, 08:15 AM

We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time.

Gutenberg the Geek (Kindle Single) (Jeff Jarvis)

Friday, May 04, 2012, 04:15 PM

As with good software, functionality comes first; beauty is a feature.

The Mongoliad: Book One (The Foreworld Saga) (Greg Bear, Neal Stephenson, Mark Teppo, Erik Bear, Joseph Brassey, Cooper Moo and E.D. deBirmingham)

Friday, May 11, 2012, 05:04 PM

“That forest is a wild place, happier without us. The chapter house will fall quiet. The dead will sleep more soundly, their bones not shivering ever so slightly at the presence of warriors. The deer will return, not to be hunted by such as us. The air will not ring with steel, nor sing and echo with the high voices of whelps and the gutturals of old hounds, all eager for the scrap and the hunt. The wind will blow, the trees will sough, and we now set out to relieve the burdens of others.

Instapaper: Thursday, May. 17 (Instapaper)

Friday, May 18, 2012, 07:21 AM

Today, it all seems too late. The iPhone is the most popular camera on Flickr, but the feeling isn’t mutual. Flickr isn’t even among the top 50 free photography apps in iTunes. It’s just below an Instagram clone in 64th place. By way of comparison, an app that adds cats with laser eyes to your photos is 23rd. If you can’t beat laser cat, you probably deserve to die.

Friday, May 18, 2012, 07:43 AM

A well-written program begets a world far richer and more alive than its constituent letters and numbers and brackets suggest. We can see Prufrock trembling before his fruit, despite the brevity of T.S. Eliot’s poem. Similarly, small batches of humble code, carefully constructed, have give birth to radical new capabilities.

Friday, May 18, 2012, 07:45 AM

Indeed, for each programmer and each project, a certain language might fit better than another.

Instapaper: Monday, May. 21 (Instapaper)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012, 07:11 AM

Google insiders, and A/B enthusiasts more generally, have a derisive term to describe a decision-making system that fails to put data at its heart: HiPPO — “highest-paid person’s opinion”.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012, 07:16 AM

Paraphrasing a famous Henry Ford maxim — “If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse” — Huffman adds, “If you rely too much on the data, you never branch out. You just keep making better buggy whips.”

Tuesday, May 22, 2012, 07:19 AM

Yes, Google built its empire by listening to data, but we reserve our awe for the sort of vision that Steve Jobs brought to Apple. When asked how much market testing he did for the iPad, he said, “None… It’s not the consumers’ job to know what they want.”

Tuesday, May 22, 2012, 07:19 AM

It’s a false dichotomy, of course, to pose vision against data, lofty genius against experimentation, as if companies are forced to choose between the two. Google doesn’t test at random but relies on intuition and vision to narrow down the infinite possible changes to a finite group of testable candidates.

On War (Carl von Clausewitz)

Thursday, May 24, 2012, 08:03 AM

Instead of living yonder on poor necessity, it revels here in the wealth of possibilities; animated thereby, courage then takes wings to itself, and daring and danger make the element into which it launches itself as a fearless swimmer plunges into the stream.

Thursday, May 24, 2012, 08:07 AM

We see, therefore, that War is not merely a political act, but also a real political instrument, a continuation of political commerce, a carrying out of the same by other means.

Thursday, May 24, 2012, 08:08 AM

for the political view is the object, War is the means, and the means must always include the object in our conception.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012, 06:55 AM

As War is no act of blind passion, but is dominated by the political object, therefore the value of that object determines the measure of the sacrifices by which it is to be purchased.

The Small House Book (Jay Shafer)

Friday, June 01, 2012, 08:02 AM

The happiness we really seek cannot be found by purchasing more space or more stuff. Those who do not recognize what is enough will never have enough.

Friday, June 01, 2012, 04:43 PM

This separation has simultaneously brought about an increase in the perceived need for ultra-autonomous houses.

Friday, June 01, 2012, 04:44 PM

The resources currently required to support several million personal outposts cannot be sustained.

Friday, June 01, 2012, 04:50 PM

Magazines, television and billboards incessantly insist that the cure for what ails us will be revealed by earning and spending more and increasing square footage. But the security and connectedness we seek are unobtainable so long as we continue to surround ourselves with these symbols of security and connectedness. Our desire for that which pretends to be success and our fear of not having it bar us from feeling genuinely fulfilled. Happiness lies in understanding what is truly necessary to our happiness and getting the rest out of the way.

Friday, June 01, 2012, 04:52 PM

Simplicity is the means to understanding our world and ourselves more clearly. We are reminded of this every time we pass by a modest little home. Occasionally, between the billboards, a tiny structure reveals a life that is unfettered by all of the excesses. Such uncomplicated dwellings serve to remind us of what we can be when our striving and fear are abandoned. Each person who chooses to live so simply inadvertently teaches the virtue of simplicity.

The Mongoliad: Book One (The Foreworld Saga) (Greg Bear, Neal Stephenson, Mark Teppo, Erik Bear, Joseph Brassey, Cooper Moo and E.D. deBirmingham)

Monday, June 18, 2012, 07:31 AM

Joseph Brassey lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and two cats. He teaches medieval fighting techniques to members of the armed forces. The Mongoliad is his first published fiction.

Note: Wow. Joseph Brassey has a hell of a bio in The Mongiliad

Rule 34 (Charles Stross)

Tuesday, July 03, 2012, 04:15 PM

He’s bald on top, with a round head, stubby nose, and tiny, angryish eyes. With his tattered denim overalls and grubby coat, he looks like a member of the chorus from Deliverance: The Musical.

Instapaper: Monday, Jul. 9 (Instapaper)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012, 07:07 AM

I was in that category last year. I had a part-time job, but I earned more money through the Mac App Store and various freelance economist gigs than I did from my job.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012, 07:13 AM

Because there are no agency costs associated with self-employment, demand and supply shocks are not amplified among the self-employed. Employment is fragile; self-employment is robust.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012, 07:14 AM

We should expect that a self-employed economy would not be as susceptible to long recessions as an employed one.

Distrust that Particular Flavor (William Gibson)

Friday, July 13, 2012, 05:03 PM

The Japanese seem to the rest of us to live several measurable clicks down the timeline. The Japanese are the ultimate Early Adaptors, and the sort of fiction I write behooves me to pay serious heed to that. If you believe, as I do, that all cultural change is essentially technologically driven, you pay attention to the Japanese. They’ve been doing it for more than a century now, and they really do have a head start on the rest of us, if only in terms of what we used to call “future shock” (but which is now simply the one constant in all our lives).

Monday, July 16, 2012, 04:41 PM

Something akin to Sartre’s dictum that hell is other people was dawning on me, and part of the cloud of constant secret terror I inhabited was some conviction that my neighbors, confined in what I imagined as the stifling darkness of a Civil Defense fallout shelter, would prove to be my own personal Morlocks.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012, 07:29 AM

Interface evolves toward transparency. The one you have to devote the least conscious effort to, survives, prospers.

The Fuller Memorandum (Laundry 3) (Charles Stross)

Friday, July 20, 2012, 07:26 AM

You can truck it to a special hazardous waste certified recycling site in Wales, where they have a very special degaussing coil for exactly this purpose.

Note: One of the ways to exorcise a haunted jet, according to @cstross.

Friday, July 20, 2012, 07:32 AM

Beauty may be skin-deep, but horror goes all the way down

The Apocalypse Codex (The Laundry Files) (Charles Stross)

Monday, August 13, 2012, 04:39 PM

Even though it is a JesusPhone, and all JesusPhone users eventually wind up crouched in a dank, lightless cave, fondling it and crooning ‘preciousss …’)

Thursday, August 16, 2012, 06:25 PM

There is a role for bureaucracy; it’s very useful for certain tasks. In particular, it facilitates standardization and interchangeability. Bureaucracies excel at performing tasks that must be done consistently whether the people assigned to them are brilliant performers or bumbling fools. You can’t always count on having Albert Einstein in the patent office, so you design its procedures to work even if you hire Mr. Bean by mistake.’

Thursday, August 16, 2012, 06:28 PM

Bureaucracies are inefficient by design. Inefficiency is the twin sister of redundancy, of overcapacity, of the ability to plow through a swamp by brute force alone.

Thursday, August 16, 2012, 07:22 PM

Which still wouldn’t be a problem except that some of the readers think the books are an instruction manual rather than a set of educational parables, a blueprint instead of a metaphor.

Monday, August 20, 2012, 05:06 PM

‘Gene police! You! Out of the pool, now!’

Monday, August 20, 2012, 05:09 PM

Harriet has been having problems with her email system and asked my advice; I don’t know quite what went wrong, but she ended up blowing five days of the departmental training budget attending a course on sendmail configuration. Took her three weeks to stop twitching every time somebody mentioned rules.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012, 07:35 AM

hair that looks like you could wrap it in insulation and run the national grid through it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012, 07:10 AM

tap dancing on the edge of the abyss

Wednesday, August 29, 2012, 07:40 AM

the brain was revealed for what it is – a mass of fleshy endocrine cells squirting their neurotransmitter messages at one another in promiscuous abandon.

Turing's Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe (George Dyson)

Thursday, August 30, 2012, 08:04 AM

According to Thorstein Veblen, the United States had entered the war, belatedly, only to ensure that the transnational interests of the industrialists would be protected against any social upheavals that peace in Europe might unleash.

Blood of Elves (Andrzej Sapkowski)

Friday, August 31, 2012, 05:04 PM

Magic is a talent granted to only a chosen few. Others, deprived of talent, can only look at the results of the artists’ works with admiration and envy, can admire the finished work while feeling that without these creations and without this talent the world would be a poorer place.

Turing's Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe (George Dyson)

Thursday, September 06, 2012, 04:11 PM

The results to the individual and to society are left to take care of themselves.”28 Flexner believed that knowledge, not profit, must be the goal of research. “As a matter of history, the scientific discoveries that have ultimately inured to the benefit of society either financially or socially have been made by men like Faraday and Clerk Maxwell who never gave a thought to the possible financial profit of their work,” he wrote to the editors of Science in 1933, protesting against universities that were beginning to file for patents on their research.

Thursday, September 06, 2012, 04:56 PM

Klári von Neumann, “for the gallantry of its men, the beauty of its women, and last, but not least, for its hopelessly unhappy and unlucky history.”1 When the towns of Buda and Pest, on opposite sides of the Danube, were amalgamated in 1873, the new Hungarian capital, now rivaling Vienna as the cultural and economic center of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, became the fastest-growing city in Europe. There were more than six hundred coffeehouses, three of the world’s most rigorous high schools, and the first subway system on the European continent in young Neumann János’s Budapest.

Friday, September 07, 2012, 07:44 AM

Von Neumann, who believed that mathematics grew best when nourished by “a certain contact with the strivings and problems of the world,” became a great friend of the weaponeers.

Instapaper: Sunday, Sep. 9 (Instapaper)

Monday, September 10, 2012, 07:43 AM

“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.”

Thursday, September 13, 2012, 07:04 AM

What has risen may sink, and what has sunk may rise. Loathsomeness waits and dreams in the deep, and decay spreads over the tottering cities of men.

Instapaper: Monday, Oct. 1 (Instapaper)

Wednesday, October 03, 2012, 04:34 PM

It is, arguably, in the elevation of this profoundly mechanistic (and in that sense perversely innocent) system to a position above all other moral, philosophical and political values and considerations that humankind displays most convincingly both its present intellectual [immaturity and] - through grossly pursued selfishness rather than the applied hatred of others - a kind of synthetic evil.

The Hydrogen Sonata (Culture 10) (Iain M. Banks)

Monday, October 15, 2012, 04:14 PM

“Hmm,” Berdle had said. It had tried turning the android off and on again a few times since, but to no avail.

Turing's Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe (George Dyson)

Monday, November 12, 2012, 08:18 AM

At a meeting of the School of Mathematics called to discuss the proposal, the strongest dissenting voice was Albert Einstein, who, the minutes record, “emphasizes the dangers of secret war work” and “fears the emphasis on such projects will further ideas of ‘preventive’ wars.”

Tuesday, November 13, 2012, 07:23 AM

Anticipating Gödel and Turing, Leibniz promised that through digital computing “the human race will have a new kind of instrument which will increase the power of the mind much more than optical lenses strengthen the eyes. … Reason will be right beyond all doubt only when it is everywhere as clear and certain as only arithmetic has been until now.”

The Thief's Gamble (Juliet E. McKenna)

Friday, November 23, 2012, 11:21 PM

Bodies in varying stages of decay swayed in the breeze, cages frustrating birds looking for a meal.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012, 07:56 AM

Geris had told me the Aldabreshi reckon no one is truly dead until the last person who knew them is dead as well.

Kill Screen #0 - Maturity (Kill Screen)

Thursday, January 10, 2013, 05:04 PM

Damian Isla, who was until recently the lead AI programmer at Bungie Studios, said the issue was one of “risk aversion.” “I think you’ve got a lot of set designs out there that we know work,” Isla said. “And you’ve got an industry that’s become big-budget driven, with hundreds of millions of dollars. No one right now is too interested in the experimental. It’s the same thing we’ve seen with Hollywood: it’s a natural reaction when so much money is at stake. The studios will say, ‘We’re not sure these games are going to work, so we’re not going to back them.’”

Instapaper: Thursday, Jan. 17 (Instapaper)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013, 04:36 PM

Papo & Yo, despite all its imperfections, serves as a harrowing look into the world of a boy living with an abusive alcoholic father. The Binding of Isaac explores the world of a boy enduring religious abuse. Dear Esther let’s us explore the memories of a man who lost his wife, Amnesia: The Dark Descent gives us a view to another’s dark past and latent fears, and To the Moon gives us a glimpse into the romantic difficulties of people with Asperger’s syndrome.

Perdido Street Station (China Miéville)

Thursday, January 24, 2013, 04:18 PM

The winds of this city are a more melancholy breed. They explore like lost souls, looking in at dusty gaslit windows. We are brethren, the city-winds and I. We wander together. We have found sleeping beggars that clutch each other and congeal for warmth like lower creatures, forced back down evolutionary strata by their poverty.

Friday, January 25, 2013, 07:08 AM

Isaac felt in his pocket for Runagate Rampant. It was dangerous even to hold a copy. He patted it, mentally thumbing his nose to the north-east, at Parliament, at Mayor Bentham Rudgutter and the parties squabbling over how to slice up the cake amongst themselves. The Fat Sun and Three Quills parties; Diverse Tendency, whom Lin called ‘comprador scum’; the liars and seducers of the Finally We Can See party; the whole pompous bickering brood like all-powerful six-year-olds in a sandpit.

Monday, January 28, 2013, 04:40 PM

Tar and Canker spread like legs / City wonders where her Lover went / Cos now she’s being Ravished blind / by the Prick that is the Government!

Friday, February 08, 2013, 07:08 AM

A sense of wrongness, of fraught unease, as if long nails scraped the surface of the moon, raising the hackles of the soul.

Friday, February 08, 2013, 04:43 PM

The water’s sibilant murmur muffled the night-sounds.

Monday, February 18, 2013, 07:42 AM

The window of our shack is fringed with ragged stubs of glass. At dawn, they snag ineffectually at the sunlight.

Monday, February 18, 2013, 08:01 AM

… YOU PEACH YOU PLUMB THE ONE THE DEAD-NAKED AS WAS ASKED LITTLE FOURLIMBED WEAVER THAT YOU MIGHT BE … it said in a continuous lilting monologue … RIVER AND DAWN IT DAWNS ON ME THE NEWS IS NUDES ABOB …