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Showing posts from March, 2016

Been reading, Q1 2016

I'm back on part-time university maths, which saps most of my real reading time. There is maybe something pathological about how irritable and small I feel when not reading in quantity. But half of life is about steering one's pathologies into productive rhythm, so whatever.

1/5: No.4/5: Very good.2/5: Meh.4*/5: Amazing but one read will do..3/5: Skimmable.5?/5: A possible 5/5.3*/5: Mind candy.5/5: Encore. A life companion.


Rogues, Villains and Eccentrics (2002) by William Donaldson.

Addicting, horrible and hilarious biographies of British folly, banality and sin. A thousand years of tabloid gossip and popular madness, events too ephemeral for most serious historians: degradation, unchecked insanity and petty cruelty. But incredibly funny. The biographies are spaced out by Donaldson's wonderful little hooks, dry sentences that lead one on a wiki-walk: ears, bagfuls of dryinguniverses, privileged to be part of a team working in manydrinking 'brain damage' while c…

Highlighted passages from Bostrom's Superintelligence

Many of the points made in this book are probably wrong. It is also likely that there are considerations of critical importance that I fail to take into account, thereby invalidating some or all of my conclusions. I have gone to some length to indicate nuances and degrees of uncertainty throughout the text — encumbering it with an unsightly smudge of “possibly,” “might,” “may,” “could well,” “it seems,” “probably,” “very likely,” “almost certainly.” Each qualifier has been placed where it is carefully and deliberately. Yet these topical applications of epistemic modesty are not enough; they must be supplemented here by a systemic admission of uncertainty and fallibility. This is not false modesty: for while I believe that my book is likely to be seriously wrong and misleading, I think that the alternative views that have been presented in the literature are substantially worse - including the default view, according to which we can for the time being reasonably ignore the prospect of…