Monday 8 May, 2023

Coronation News!

Quote of the Day

” Archimedes will be remembered when Aeschylus is forgotten, because languages die and mathematical ideas do not. ‘Immortality’ may be a silly word, but probably a mathematician has the best chance of whatever it may mean.”

  • G. H. Hardy in A Mathematician’s Apology.

It was one of my favourite books when I was a teenager. C.P. Snow described it as “a passionate lament for creative powers that used to be and that will never come again”, which is a bit harsh. I found it a delightful read.

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

Little Village | She Runs Hot


Long Read of the Day

 King Peter Pan III

Snarky but perceptive piece by Tanya Gold, who took the trouble to visit the new King’s idea of heaven.

If you want to understand King Charles—who became king in September, when his mother died, and today is being formally invested with his monarchical duties—you need to understand something about the town he created. It’s called Nansledan, and it sits on a hill above the sea in Cornwall, a duchy in the far west of Britain, where Charles was duke before he became king. (It has now passed to his son Prince William. The Duchy of Cornwall always belongs to the heir to the throne.)

Nansledan is Charles’s vision, built on his land to his exact specifications. I spent three days there in January…

I’m glad you’ve bought an electric vehicle. But…

My column in yesterday’s Observer:

So you’ve finally taken the plunge and bought an electric vehicle (EV)? Me too. You’re basking in the warm glow that comes from doing one’s bit to save the planet, right? And now you know that smug feeling when you are stuck in a motorway tailback behind a hideous diesel SUV that’s pumping out particulates and noxious gases, but you’re sitting there in peace and quiet and emitting none of the above. And when the traffic finally starts to move again you notice that the fast lane is clear and you want to get ahead of that dratted SUV. So you put your foot down and – whoosh! – you get that pressure in the small of your back that only owners of Porsche 911s used to get. Life’s good, n’est-ce pas?

Er, up to a point…

Do read the whole thing

Hypocrisy on stilts

From Michal Sapka

OpenAI, a company that is neither open nor actually about any intelligence, made its entire business model about violating as many licenses as possible. Even though they refuse to release info about where the data they use is gathered from, it seems clear now that they used everything they got their hands on, ignoring any license limitations. With their current net worth, any lawsuit can result in a marginal fine.

Now they are threatening an open source developer for creating a tool that bypasses their fees by combining results from different, free APIs which use GPT4 underneath.

Not that I am even surprised, but still: OpenAI is suing a guy for doing exactly what they are doing to everyone else.

Books, etc.

I’m reading (and really enjoying) Cory’s new book. Proper review coming later, but in the meantime this characteristically perceptive essay by Henry Farrell does a great job of putting the book into context.

My commonplace booklet

What drones are good at

Safely filming an avalanche, for example.

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