Ran Prieur http://ranprieur.com/#9a417fe513f58988c3b5b1e84cfc57397194a79b 2021-07-05T17:50:48Z Ran Prieur http://ranprieur.com/ ranprieur@gmail.com July 5. http://ranprieur.com/#3887960670dd14eb9271796a5dbe45de65124fbd 2021-07-05T17:50:48Z July 5. After last week's pessimism about the internet, today I have some optimistic links about other technologies. Chemical space is big. If we consider all the ways that atoms can be put together into molecules, it's like that Borges story about a library that contains every permutation of characters:

The best guess for the number of plausible compounds up to molecular weight 500... is around 1060. That is a number that the human mind is not well equipped to handle. That collection, assembled into compound vials at, say, 10mg per vial, would exceed the amount of ordinary matter in the entire universe.

Acousto-electric devices reveal new road to miniaturizing wireless tech. A lot of the stuff that computers are now doing with electrons, could be done better with sound waves. Maybe this could save the internet, if we had to rebuild the entire information-processing infrastructure from the ground up, using sound computers, and later, quantum computers. And each rebuilding would force a re-simplification.

Simple, solar-powered water desalination "could provide more than 1.5 gallons of fresh drinking water per hour for every square meter of solar collecting area." It looks like it could also be done on a small scale, which is better politically, because everyone could desalinate their own water instead of depending on a centralized institution for their survival.

Michelin Puts Puffy Sails on Cargo Ships. "The project joins a growing fleet of wind-assisted propulsion initiatives around the world."

Even lower tech, a video about a Tree House Bicycle Elevator.

And Fluid Paint is a cool browser-based paint program.

July 2. http://ranprieur.com/#04a4ee0484cecac46841b3d81e036663f9afa836 2021-07-02T14:20:42Z July 2. For the weekend, drugs. Michael Pollan has a new book called This Is Your Mind on Plants, about three plant-based drugs: caffeine, opium, and mescaline. Greg sends this interview of Pollan by Tim Ferriss. It's loaded with good stuff, on subjects including the war on drugs, which was completely political, and the future of psychedelics after legalization, in which the original substances will be competing with proprietary substances that don't cure people but "mask symptoms or suppress symptoms for better business models." There's also a bit about how 90% of the world is currently mistaking caffeine consciousness for sobriety.

And music. The best song of 2021 is surely something I haven't heard yet, but from what I have heard, it's Kiwi Jr. - Omaha.

July 1. http://ranprieur.com/#b3c14a24bb6aa9e8499edbf5d27cfdc5726879e6 2021-07-01T13:10:21Z July 1. Continuing on the doomed internet, it's fitting that I have to link to the archive.org page of this paywalled article from the Atlantic, The Internet Is Rotting. It's mainly about broken links, but more generally it's about how the internet is not designed for long-term storage, and is really terrible at it, and yet a lot of good practices for long-term information storage have been abandoned because of the internet.

I've said this before: we are right now in a dark age, in the sense that future historians will have few surviving records from our time. Eventually, they won't even think the internet was real. They'll see it as myth or metaphor, like the Aboriginal Dreamtime, or Atlantis, or the Tower of Babel:

In ancient times, a series of tubes covered the whole world, through which anyone could talk to anyone. Great demons battled to control the tubes: the evil Google, the seductive Apple, the all-seeing Facebook, the crazy-making Twitter and the trickster god Trump. The people believed the mutterings of the Net over their own eyes, and the world fell into madness and strife.

More transitory links: Why some biologists and ecologists think social media is a risk to humanity.

The Future of Games is an Instant Flash to the past. It's about an attempt to revive browser games, which the author argues, were largely killed by Apple because they don't want us to have any fun without going through the app store.

Finally, a popular Hacker News thread, A foreign seller has hijacked my Amazon Klein bottle listing. An Amazon apologist comments that all you have to do to prevent this is pay $2000 for a USPTO trademark. The world wide web was designed for distributed bottom-up power, and it's getting to where nobody can participate except large institutions and criminals.