Happenings

My girlfriend and I decided to go all-in on Wondrium and cancelled any other TV we used to watch; it has really paid off. We've been working through Robert Bucholz's excellent History of Western Civilization II during dinner all month and it's a delight. He's very entertaining.

Bad news in the world has made it consistently hard to focus and stay positive. Going on walks and keeping a fanatical workout routine has helped. I'm thinking of starting a news log this coming month, where I track news events, heavy "news reading days," and try to gain some perspective on it as it happens. It's also the kind of thing that may have historical value down the road--how did some random person think and feel, during these great unravelings in 2022?

One researcher I've been very inspired by is Azlen Elza, who experiments with learning technologies and AI for a design school in Canada, and often comes up with these left-field prototypes that are absolutely fascinating. This neural net art of Chinese ideograms is a fine example.

At my day job I created an internal tool using the GPT-3 API, which was fun. The tool has had an impact on my work, helping me invent clever puns for use in my lessons. I feel cybernetically-infused now, as if my brain is escaping the skull and beginning to knit, hyphae-style, with the billion parameters of GPT.

I spent the month doing a whole lot of yoga. Jessica Richburg is a real treat, definitely the best on YouTube, life-changingly good videos for free. She just released a 15 day series, so if you wish you were doing more yoga you should give her a try.

Finally, I started working at a minorly high-profile edtech startup this month. It's an afterschool program where kids play multiplayer real time strategy games, all designed and coded in-house, and cooperate with each other to figure out the rules of the game and how to win. They do so inside a Zoom-like videochat client, also designed in house (!). It's attracted exactly my kind of people: misfits from teaching / academia that want to take a stab at rethinking schools from first principles as a way to help solve the Global Challenges.

Faciliating a session with all my interfaces on multiple monitors--player and admin view of the games, videochat rooms with the children, Slack with the teacher's assistant--felt like I was ascending into neuromantic fantasy land. Finally, my multiple monitors had a practical use. Seriously f-ing awesome.

Song of the Month

24 (Full Choir Leak) by Kanye - Maximalist gospel pathos is absolutely the vibe in this Kali Yuga season.

  • MIT proposes Brazil-sized fleet of “space bubbles” to cool the Earth - I'm excited by this story because it proposes a geoengineering solution more reversible than the one discussed in Under a White Sky (that is, spraying chalky diamond dust into the upper atmosphere to reflect sunlight back into space.) In this idea, a bunch of bubbly space mirrors would hang in the equilibrium spot between the Earth and Sun's gravities, reflecting back some sunlight but also more easily disassembled.
  • Opinion | Finding Light in Darkness - After kicking myself off of Twitter, I've been spending more time reading the NYT to get my daily dose of mood-ruining news. I found this advice column helpful--some tips on keeping your head up amid the deluge of horror.
  • Chuang Tzu Cartoon - A beloved cartoon comic book by Tsai Chih Chung, a Taiwanese illustrator, has been turned into an animation, which is sweet. Definitely lo-fi, DIY vibes, but you should watch it--preferably with a bowl of cereal on a Saturday morning.

Above, Chuang Tzu sheds a tear watching the chaos of the Warring States period. Relatable.