Sunday Link List for May 16th, 2021


Welcome to this week’s edition of our Quality Linkage column. Please enjoy this week’s collection of interesting and entertaining links. Brew a fresh cup of coffee, find a comfortable place, and relax.

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🐷: Author Jeff Goins shared a great post on Instagram about the difference between a good life and an interesting one. The emoji above will make more sense once you’ve clicked the link.

😌⌨️: Last month, Craig Mod published a meditation on the healing power of programming on WIRED, and it’s special:

Code soothes because it can provide control in moments when the world seems to spiral. Reductively, programming consists of little puzzles to be solved. Not just inert jigsaws on living room tables, but puzzles that breathe with an uncanny life force. Puzzles that make things happen, that get things done, that automate tedium or allow for the publishing of words across the world.


[A] habit of reaching for code is not only healing for the self, but a trick to transmute a sense of dread into something: A function that seems to add, however trivially, a small bit of value to the greater whole in a troubling moment.


You feel like an alchemist. And you are. You type esoteric words— near gibberish—into a line-by-line text interface, and with a rush not unlike pulling Excalibur from the stone you’ve just scaffolded a simple application that can instantly be accessed by a vast number of humans worldwide.

Phew. I’ll be going back to reread this one a few times.

For subscribers of his Roden newsletter, he offers a peek behind the scenes of the essay’s formation and publication.

👥💬🚫: James Yu created a “fun” little AI project called “things are a little crazy right now” that, for those of us who had the misfortune of becoming adults, strikes a little too close for comfort and might actually cause anxiety if you watch it for more than a minute:

This piece simulates scheduling hell by generating infinite & unique combinations of meeting conflicts between two friends. Using GPT-3, a roster of fictional people was created with name, age, occupation, and interests. From these people, the AI generated banal conflicts that arise in their lives. Click on the piece for sound.

🤖: Something about this 3D printer that literally creates its own ways of manipulating other objects it prints is…insane? to me??

I feel like I’ve witnessed the birth of self-replicating machines. Sure, it’s innocuous now, but give it a few years…

  + More info about the project in this research paper.

😩: By now you may have already seen this one linked everywhere online — I wouldn’t know, I haven’t been using social media in any normal sense for like a month now and thus have no clue what’s happening in the world, but it sure seems like the kind of thing that would’ve been talked about a lot — but here’s a real wake-up call from Adam Grant, writing for the New York Times:

Languishing is the neglected middle child of mental health. It’s the void between depression and flourishing — the absence of well-being. You don’t have symptoms of mental illness, but you’re not the picture of mental health either. You’re not functioning at full capacity. Languishing dulls your motivation, disrupts your ability to focus, and triples the odds that you’ll cut back on work. It appears to be more common than major depression — and in some ways it may be a bigger risk factor for mental illness.


Part of the danger is that when you’re languishing, you might not notice the dulling of delight or the dwindling of drive. You don’t catch yourself slipping slowly into solitude; you’re indifferent to your indifference. When you can’t see your own suffering, you don’t seek help or even do much to help yourself.

Ouch, man. I didn’t need to be attacked like that right after forcing myself to roll slowly out of bed this morning and feel nothing as I plod through my usual routine.

🌍🛰👀: Google engineer James Darpinian built a neat website called “See a Satellite Tonight” that uses your location to help you spot when satellites and space stations will drift through the night sky above you, hopefully visible to the naked eye (barring issues with light pollution and such).

📺⚙️⛓: English engineer and cartoonist Tim Hunkin, who some may remember from The Secret Life of Machines TV series from the late ’80s and early ’90s, has self-produced a spiritual successor to that show called The Secret Life of Components, which he describes as “a series of Youtube guides for designers and makers, made during the Covid lockdown.”

Its impossible to teach ‘experience’. I obviously have the experience to make complicated machines but I don’t know exactly what it is that I know. So much of it is non verbal or ‘tacit’. I work with my hands and at times they just seem to take over.

In the past, when people asked me how to learn practical skills, I’ve told them they just have to make things badly to start with but to keep going and they will improve. I made things badly for the first half of my life. However, I now learn a lot from watching practical youtube videos and realise that they can teach the sort of informal tips that used to be part of traditional apprenticeships. So I’m delighted to be contributing to this wonderful new learning resource! I hope my videos, each about 45 minutes long, are entertaining enough to be fun for beginners, but also detailed enough to be useful for pros.

The episodes, each of which focuses on a specific kind of machine component, are as follows:

🌬☀️: As Bill McKibben reports for the New Yorker, renewable energy has become startlingly cheap, with solar and wind currently capable of meeting more than 100 times (!) global energy demand. We just have to get our leaders to actually do something with that information, like, yesterday.

📖🧘: The guy behind the excellent “find calm” and “Best Unintentional ASMR” YouTube channels has put together a free little ebook called 7 Habits of Calm & Happy People, which he describes as “70 pages of condensed, hands-on ideas and habits for a better, calmer life.”

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