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what’s wrong with the modern world

Jonathan Franzen, The Guardian, Jonathan Franzen: what’s  wrong with the modern world, here. Franzen is entertaining, and informative, but he’s thinking too hard; Mountain Lion lets you stop a process on the command line natively with kill -9.  Even Kraus would want that. Everyone makes mistakes.  Nevertheless depending on Mountain Lion will end in tears. Nothing you can do about it. It’ll be like the ending of Aguirre, The Wrath of God but all your files, music, and videos will be on that raft going down the Amazon to El Dorado. Sry so not cool. I see Franzen’s Justin Long and raise him a … Klaus Kinski.

This suggests a more contemporary version of Kraus’s dichotomy: Mac versus PC. Isn’t the essence of the Apple product that you achieve coolness simply by virtue of owning it? It doesn’t even matter what you’re creating on your Mac Air. Simply using a Mac Air, experiencing the elegant design of its hardware and software, is a pleasure in itself, like walking down a street in Paris. Whereas, when you’re working on some clunky, utilitarian PC, the only thing to enjoy is the quality of your work itself. As Kraus says of Germanic life, the PC “sobers” what you’re doing; it allows you to see it unadorned. This was especially true in the years of DOS operating systems and early Windows.

He was a sophisticate, and this is one reason Die Fackel has a bloglike feel. Kraus spent a lot of time reading stuff he hated, so as to be able to hate it with authority.

“Believe me, you color-happy people, in cultures where every blockhead has individuality, individuality becomes a thing for blockheads.”

Aaronson, Shtetl-Optimized, The Unitarihedron: The Jewel at the Heart of Quantum Computing, here. Woit’s link is really good.

Many readers of this blog probably already saw Natalie Wolchover’s Quanta article “A Jewel at the Heart of Quantum Physics,” which discusses the “amplituhedron”: a mathematical structure that IAS physicist Nima Arkami-Hamed and his collaborators have recently been investigating.  (See also here for Slashdot commentary,here for Lubos’s take, here for Peter Woit’s, here for a Physics StackExchange thread, here for Q&A with Pacific Standard, and here for an earlier but closely-related 154-page paper.)


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