A collection of essays from the web that I found interesting in the last couple of days
A fascinating and inspiring profile of Margaret Hamilton, the woman who wrote a lot of the code that was responsible for ‘a giant leap for mankind’
As a working mother in the 1960s, Hamilton was unusual; but as a spaceship programmer, Hamilton was positively radical. Hamilton would bring her daughter Lauren by the lab on weekends and evenings. While 4-year-old Lauren slept on the floor of the office overlooking the Charles River, her mother programmed away, creating routines that would ultimately be added to the Apollo’s command module computer
The original document laying out the engineering requirements of the Apollo mission didn’t even mention the word software,
Playboy made the decision to cover up the women in its magazine to allow their content to be discovered and shared on the platforms via which most people now get their light reading. Now one can read playboy for the articles and not be lying, I guess.
But times have changed. Nudity and pornography are ubiquitous on the Internet. And people are buying fewer magazines overall, choosing instead to read online. Meanwhile, those same readers increasingly come to stories through third-party platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Those platforms have their own rules, and often prohibit or limit nudity. For Playboy to survive in a platform-driven world, the pressure to conform to those standards is immense—so much so that the publication is abandoning the core of its brand’s identity.
On the one hand, that’s not as insidious as it sounds: what works in print doesn’t necessarily work on the web; what works on radio doesn’t necessarily work on television. Different media have different rules. The difference here is that, when it comes to some content at least, publishers aren’t setting the rules—they can only follow.
While Playboy has moved on to keep up with the times, some aspects of American high education haven’t
Nearly 20 years later, students are still forced to use a prohibitively expensive piece of outdated technology. It’s not because better tools aren’t available; they exist, and some of them are even free. It’s because Texas Instruments, the company that creates them, has a staggering monopoly in the field of high school mathematics
However, even if teachers wanted to be bold and bring in better technology, they would end up right back at square one because of that infamous force in American education: standardized testing.
The way Texas Instruments works with testing companies, standards boards, complicit teachers and textbook publishers is reinforcing the achievement gap between upper-middle-class students and everyone else.
An old Economist piece that was shared on Twitter (I forget by whom) about the contribution of the Arab world to distillation and alcohol. Has some good etymology fundaes
The book-burning was not entirely successful. Medieval Arab science took up the work of the Greeks, as the word alchemy itself suggests. (It is the Arabic article al- added to the ancient Greek kimia, which referred to the magical science of the black land of Kemet, which is to say Egypt.) Precisely when and by whom the distillation of alcohol was perfected is not known.
The etymology of distilling provides further proof of Arab origins. The word alcohol itself derives from the Arabic al-kohl, the antimony eyeliner of that name, being used by Arab alchemists to describe any “purified” substance (thus distinguishing “pure” spirits from khamr, the common word for fermented drinks that comes from khamira, the Arabic for yeast).
Alcohol is made in a still or alembic, which is yet another Arabic alchemical term, appropriated from the Greek ambix, a sort of crook-necked vessel
Arab caravans and dhows transported another pungent expression to the east. Arak, or more properly araq, is the Arabic word for sweat or perspiration. This does not refer to the sticky effect of quaffing too much booze. It is a literal description of the process of distillation. When a wine or mash is heated in an alembic, its araq collects inside the still’s long spout before dripping out as “raised” alcohol.
If you’ve read this far and aren’t in high spirits but bored, remember these wise words.
Boredom is the last privilege of a free mind. The currency with which you barter with folks who will sell you their “habit,” “fun” or “work” is your clear right to practice judgment, discernment and taste