Category Archives: mood

Self-reference

Self-reference is cornerstone in Hofstadter’s Godel-Escher-Bach, a must read book for anyone interested in logic (and we shall rely logic in these days to stay sane.)

Here’s a bunch of examples of self-reference that I found interesting, curated just for you!

Barber’s paradox:

The barber is the “one who shaves all those, and those only, who do not shave themselves.” The question is, does the barber shave himself?

Self-referential figure (via xkcd):

Tupper’s formula that prints itself on a screen (via Brett Richardson) Continue reading

Quick’n’dirty

Over the years I’ve collected quotes from people who are.

I always like quotes, because they are atoms of knowledge, quick and dirty ways to understand the world we only have one life to explore. To some extent, they axioms of life in that they are true and never require an explanation (otherwise they wouldn’t be quotations.)

Here’s a bunch of quotes that I found particularly interesting, starting with my absolute favorite quote comes from the great Paul Valery:

The folly of mistaking a paradox for a discovery, a metaphor for a proof, a torrent of verbiage for a spring of capital truths, and oneself for an oracle, is inborn in us. – Paul Valery

On research — trial and error

Basic research is like shooting an arrow into the air and, where it lands, painting a target.
-Homer Burton Adkins

A thinker sees his own actions as experiments and questions–as attempts to find out something. Success and failure are for him answers above all.
– Friedrich Nietzsche
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Books I loved

With every year comes the occasion to read new books!

I’ve assembled a small collection of books that I love, so that you can discover them and share the love around! Since there are twelve months in a year, you’ll find twelve books. They are presented in no particular order, so that you can enjoy them at random, sitting in a couch sipping some wine.

martin-franck-cartier-bresson

Martine’s legs – Henri Cartier-Bresson (1967)

Ringolevio (Emmett Grogan)

Ringolevio is a sort of autobiography by Emmett Grogan, a leader of the Diggers in San Francisco just about when it was becoming cool (early 60s). It is a great book in that it is written with a punch, and has a deep sense of social awareness. It is quite fun to read Timothy Leary and other fake-prophets of the revolution getting thrashed.

Emmett wondered whether anything viable was going to come out of it: whether the powerless might for once obtain enough power to make some sort of relevant change in the society. He immediately dismissed as ridiculous the notion that everything would be all right when everyone turned on acid. It was noted that LSD was used during World War Two to solve naval tactical maneuvers, and they concluded that although the drug might facilitate understanding or the process of doing something, it offered no moral direction or imperatives.

There is no road (Antonio Machado)

This is my absolute favorite poem books. It is very short, and has the deepest thoughts ever assembled in a book. This book is a treasure, and I have offered it to people I care about. This book is often out of print, but don’t settle for a different collection, this one is really unique if you can find it, and by far the best translations I’ve found.

Between living and dreaming there is a third thing. Guess what it is
– Antonio Machado

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Soft power

During the past twelve months, I become enamored with Middle-Eastern music who now wears many clothes, from electro to Queen-esque Arabic music.
Since it’s Thanksgiving, here are some offerings!

It seems that the best way to fight against the rampant islamophobia is to emphasize the beauty of the culture, and blend it with modern tunes. Youth will follow, and eventually replace the old patriarchy that has plagues so many Muslim countries.

Never underestimate the healing power of music
– Mark Kozelek/Sun Kil Moon

Acid Arab is a French DJ band who mixes Arab tunes with electronic music. Their mix at the Sonar 2016 is an absolute masterpiece, blending fantastic rythms with melodies rarely heard in electronic music.

Mash’rou Leila is a Lebanese band, extremely popular in the Middle-East. It is very varied, and the singer Hamed Sinno has a Freddie Mercury-like persona, and brings lot of poetry. Shim El Yasmine is a song that talks about the odor of the jasmine of his partner at the time, who went on leave him to marry a woman, because society wouldn’t understand that love is love…

A week before I went to see them live at Slim’s in San Francisco, the band had been banned from el-Sisi’s Egypt, where people in the audience raised rainbow flags…

Cantique des cantique by Rudolphe Burger is my favorite song of 2017 (though it was recorded in 2014.) It is an interpretation of the Song of Songs, one of the most beautiful piece of poetry in the Judeo-Christian corpus.
The song is in French and Hebrew, and it’s absolute bliss.

Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, and thy speech is comely: thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks.

Thy neck is like the tower of David builded for an armoury, whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men.

Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins, which feed among the lilies.

Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense.

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Irma

My family, living in Saint Martin (French West Indies) was hit by the Hurricane Irma on September 5th, 2017.

Today, after ten days without communications (but news here and there), I was finally able to talk with them, and it’s quite a relief to learn that they are safe now.

Sunset over Saint Martin after the storm (unknow credit)

Sunset over Saint Martin after the storm (unknow credit)

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Energy Dominance

To say the least, the mood is not at its peak at the lab…

We have a new Secretary of Energy – Rick Perry (R), former governor of Texas –  who doesn’t seem to care much about science (e.g. he believe it’s fine to question climate change; at least there’s someone to tell him no, it’s not) and who is now on a crusade to ensure #energydominance, a concept that I try to comprehend, but really can’t.

Now see his incredible op-ed in Washington Times (the black mirror of the New York Post, I guess:), Paving the path to U.S. energy dominance:

Mr. Trump wants America to utilize our abundant domestic energy resources and technological innovations for good, both at home and abroad. […] An energy-dominant America will export to markets around the world, increasing our global leadership and influence. Becoming energy dominant means that we are getting government out of the way so that we can share our energy wealth with developing nations. For years, Washington stood in the way of our energy dominance. That changes now.

Holy cow! That is a genius strategy!
Oh wait… what strategy? Selling coal and gas that will be worthless in three years?

Here’s what previous Secretary Moniz has to say:

Moniz: […] With some colleagues, we’re starting up a small non-profit in the energy space and this was also a question that we intended to look at.

However, a review of this type also needs to look at the emerging technologies. For example, the utility in Tucson recently announced a long-term, a 20-year purchase-power agreement for solar energy plus storage at a pretty attractive—stunning, actually in my view—price. They quoted less than 4.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, including the storage.

Madrigal: Wow. [In Arizona, the average cost of electricity in March 2017 was 9.7 cents per kilowatt-hour. Electricity prices vary around the nation, but the U.S. average was 10.3 cents per kilowatt-hour in March 2017.]

Meanwhile, the office of science at the White House is now empty. zero. nicht. kaput.

It is quite incredible to hear that, while a mere six most ago it was populated by the finest people I know, like my (extended) friend Maya Shankar

imfine

Oh boy, the second half of the year starts even better than the first half.

Millenial problems – take 2

Oh silly millenial, root of all problems, look at how your parents raised you!
Well, I’m on the later end of what is called millenial (I was underage by year 2000), and all I see around me is extremely educated, extremely smart people, making giant salaries, working for the most touted companies around, and… they can barely make it. Seriously.
544189_572034149484267_855688921_n

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I’ve got millenial problems but you ain’t one

“Millenials”…

 “We’re the future. And you don’t belong in it. Because we’re beyond you, and naturally, that makes you feel kind of bad. You have this deep-down feeling that you don’t matter anymore. You should be glad, though…  Do you want your kids’ world to be a step above yours? Isn’t that what we’re all doing? So, doesn’t it follow that if you’re a good parent, and your kids evolve, and are smarter than you, they’re gonna make you feel kind of dumb? So if you feel stupid around young people, things are going good.”


(Louie CK, video via Vulture (broken)view on facebook)

against “old guard”:

There needs to be a ‘maximum wage’ vs minimum wage ; instead of paying young kids with no family obligations $200,000.00 + a year to sit at Philz Coffee all day and play the latest Candy Crush’ mind chewing gum  game with their Lucy Liu wanna be’s, at beck’n call . (SFWeekly, comments added to print)

puzzled by generational drives:

I dropped out of college when I was 18. To move to Los Angeles. To become a rock star. It’s true. […] And lo, it was glorious.

Why share all this silliness? Because there appears to be a strange parallel afoot. Because I recently found myself entranced by Nellie Bowles’ terrific profile over in California Sunday magazine, a tale of the new hordes of “lost boys” of San Francisco, all these naïve, clean-cut, mostly white teenaged computer whizzes from affluent families who are dropping out of college (and, increasingly, high school) to move to San Francisco.

They’re here to code, of course. To found companies. To singe their brains with a million lame logos. Which is to say, not for the fame, or the girls, or the fun drugs, or the free love (different era, but still).

They’re here for the money.
Attention teen dropouts racing to SF: The tech bubble is lying to you
– Mark Morford

or working for funny companies :

The Greylock partners hear a lot of pitches from companies with cute one-word names and bright logos (Meerkat, Sprig, Nextdoor, Vessel, Operator) that aim at “disrupting” some existing set of economic arrangements. At least in conversation, nobody is safe: education, health-care delivery, media, national currencies. – The Network Man (The New Yorker)

Ambiguity

Life can get difficult at times when you try not to fit the box, and I’ve learned many things navigating the Kinsey scale.

dontworry

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Great America

As a French national, my favorite US landmark has always been the Statue of Liberty. Its beacon is now waning.

I always thought these words would reverberate forever in the Husdon bay :

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

But it seems someone in his golden tower got bored and decided otherwise.

small fingers but giant mushroom clouds

small fingers but giant mushroom clouds

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