Solar minimum #24

Fun fact: a similar dearth of sunspots was documented during the 1645-1715 period referred to as the Maunder Minimum. During this time, crops failed and the Thames River in London froze, making “frost fairs” along its frozen shores possible. Ironically, the Maunder Minimum also began just a few decades after the dawn of the age of telescopic astronomy. During this time, the idea of “spots on the Sun” was regulated to a controversial, and almost mythical status in mainstream astronomy.

~ Fraser Cain

Does anyone else know the meme of the sound of a needle being pulled off of a record? …that “low screeching tearing rrrr r r r r rRRRRR RRRRRRRRRRRRRIP sound”?

Yeah, that’s what my brain did when I realized there was a modern era Dr Who episode about them investigating a mystery during a frost fair ON the frozen Thames.

Wait, that was actually a thing…

Violins are meant to sing. Literally sing.

Another finding suggests that Geminiani was onto something. All of the violins included in the study displayed some sonic overlap with the sung vowels. But in the 1570 Amati and the 1560 da Salo, “every violin note appears to carry some degree of human vowel character,” Tai et. al. write in the paper. “This may have been one of the … goals implemented by Amati” when he was inventing and perfecting his design: to make the violin literally sing.

I don’t know why this struck me as amazing. I mean, sure, violins sound amazing, and playing them is subtly difficult. But the idea that someone sat down — in the 1500 — and said, “How do I make an instrument that sounds like a human voice singing.” Mind blown.

That royal road to the physical and mental derangement of mankind

And here I would like to add a word of warning to those I am trying to help, for a study of the letters in which the writers tell of experiencing difficulty in understanding, show signs of having been written after a quick reading rather than a close and careful study of the subject matter. I read recently an article suggesting that people should practise reading quickly, although the habit of too quick reading in which understanding becomes dominated by speed — that royal road to the physical and mental derangement of mankind — is an only too common failing today. This is only one example of the habit of too quick reaction to stimuli in general, and to its prevalence may be traced most of the misunderstandings, misconception and misdirecrion of effort manifested by the great majority of people today in conducting matters relating to the body politic.

~ F Matthias Alexander, in the 1941 preface to new edition of “The Use of the Self”

There is nothing new under the sun.

We need to remake the Internet

I don’t believe our species can survive unless we fix this. We cannot have a society, in which, if two people wish to communicate, the only way that can happen is if it’s financed by a third person who wishes to manipulate them.

~ Jaron Lanier

Hear! Hear!

Take control of your use of the Internet — that is to say: Do not let it control you. Choose what apps, sites, etc you use. WHENEVER YOU CAN, PAY FOR SERVICES AND APPS. If something is free, then realize that YOU are product being sold to whomever is paying for the service.

Sleep smarter

The International Agency for Research on Cancer has now classified overnight shift work as a Group 2A carcinogen. This means that staying up late repeatedly, and working overnight, is a strong enough cancer-causing agent to be lumped in with lead exposure and UVA radiation. That might sound crazy, but there s now a ton of scientific data showing exactly how this happens.

~ Shawn Stevenson, pg 43 of Sleep Smarter

Shift work that involves circadian disruption? Carcinogen.

A while back I wrote a piece on Sleep. It turned into three parts and after writing it, I felt I had only scratched the surface. Then I stumbled over this book.

I read the book and it’s really good! I blasted through it agreeing all the way. If you know everything about sleep, you’ll still enjoy seeing it all laid out in an approachable fashion. If you have NOT YET MASTERED SLEEP — wait, what is wrong with you?! Sleep is the single most important thing in your life. It is the activity you spend the most aggregated time doing. Remind me why you have not spent time studying sleep and improving yours?

Is the world getting better or worse?

We will never have a perfect world, and it would be dangerous to seek one. But there’s no limit to the betterments we can obtain if we continue to apply knowledge to enhance human flourishing.

~ Steven Pinker

I feel constantly pushed to take on a myopic and biased view that the sky is falling, that this moment right now it the last chance to avoid catastrophe, that the human race has never been closer to the brink of– blah, blah, blah.

I choose to celebrate progress. I choose to shine light on the people who are making a difference. I choose to point out the positives. I choose to engage with only a tiny few of the myriad of complex issues the world faces because that’s the scale where I can make a difference. That’s the scale where each person makes a difference: Individual reasoned thinking, enlightened discourse, and responsible action.

Men without chests

If one believes in objective order and value, then the failure to feel the proper sentiment in the face of a particular stimulus cannot be justified on the basis of mere personal preference, casually categorized under the rubric of “to each their own”; rather, it must be frankly countenanced as a deficiency in one’s human make-up. As Lewis confesses, “I myself do not enjoy the society of small children: because I speak from within the Tao I recognize this as a defect in myself — just as a man may have to recognize that he is tone deaf or colour blind.”

~ Brett McKay

…from C.S. Lewis‘s, 1934 The Abolition of Man.

The more I read, the more I find I want to explore and continue learning.

Time management

The caveat is that this quadrant can be mistaken as something that shouldn’t be part of life, but that is not true. It is really important to have a balanced life between work and your personal life. You need downtime to not get burnt out and that is where quadrant four comes into the picture. The challenge is you allocate most of your time to quadrant two, with just enough of time spent in quadrant four to get by.

~ Thanh Pham

I disagree.

Everything in the UN-important half (the lower half in the diagrams) of the quadrant is the Bad Lands to be avoided. There’s no such thing as “work life balance.” I spent decades trying to fiddle with that balance. There is only life. I strive to do only important things. I strive to only do NON-urgent things by paying attention to what I should be doing. I strive for a wide variety of activities which are all necessary, important and not urgent. One might even say: “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

I have control over only two things: My thoughts and my actions.

Supply-and-demand is a model

The reason for the strange behavior of energy prices near limits is because the system is very interconnected. It is a self-organized system that gradually changes over time. New customers are added over time. These customers are often also wage-earners. They decide what to buy based on their own wages, and based on other considerations, such as the prices of competing products and whether inexpensive financing is available.

~ Gail Tverberg

Supply-and-demand is a model. There’s nothing wrong with the model. Does the model still fit reality as we approach the limits of how much energy our economy can consume? (tl;dr: it does not.)

Programming is terrible

Writing code that’s easy to debug begins with realising you won’t remember anything about the code later.

~ Tef

Most of the programming I do — if you were to watch — looks very much like me sitting and staring suspiciously at my computer. Occasionally I sip a beverage. Occasionally I will rub my chin. Sometimes I will grudgingly type some code, knowing full-well I’m building something I’m going to curse about later.