The Basement Nightmares

Curious, heavy with dread, I decided to walk down to the basement. There I found the presence of an evil that was concentrated and coldly alien. It was not an animal hiding in the dark with red eyes and sharp teeth. It wasn’t satanic, or anything like the demon in the famous Amityville house. It was not one thing, nor was it many things. I could not see it. But it had a smell. The closer I got to it, the more musky and musty it became. The evil was by a few sacks of rotten potatoes, and beneath me, and behind me.

[…]

And this no-thing is the ultimate horror. I understood then what it is we fear most about death. It is the ultimate paradox. You can know death, but death can never know you. You can think about death, but death cannot think about life. What this means is: In death, you never existed at all. The nothing in death fuses with the nothing before life. And nothing becomes all there ever was. To exist is only to exist. To not exist is never to have existed.

Charles Mudede

My Brother's Passing, God, and the Origins of Life

In the normal universe, “to be” is annihilated by “not to be.” But for reasons that are still a mystery to even the deepest math of physics, a bit of matter in a billion or so is not obliterated, it has no antimatter partner. It becomes a drop of experience. But why is the universe not symmetrical, not a perfectly smooth spread of photons, the particles of light? What’s behind this break in symmetry? Why do some quarks (the stuff of particles in the nucleus of an atom) escape what’s called the “primordial annihilation”? This question was on Nelson’s mind for much of her life.

As for me? The mystery of cosmic asymmetry will always be the point at which an imaginary conversation with my brother about God would begin. We are on one of those docks on Lake Washington. The stars are in the sky. Bellevue shimmers in the distance and is reflected by the water. I turn to my brother and say: “I have never, ever said this to you before, but I will tonight. If there is a God, Kudzai, He can only be a break in symmetry. Not creation, but violation.”

Charles Mudede

Telegram and the Cypherpunk Rebellion Against the Libra Empire

And even with less users, Telegram has one major advantage: Most Facebook users wouldn’t know a Bitcoin from an Alf Pog while Telegram has a vibrant, technically savvy community, including most of the world’s crypto-faithful who host their user groups and do their day-to-day business there.
That means when TON drops a bunch of coins in its Telegram attached wallet, a bigger percentage of those users will know how to spend, save and send that money, while Facebook’s users will start ringing the support lines wondering how to reset the password on their private key.

Daniel Jeffries

Better Encrypted Group Chat

Broadly, an end-to-end encrypted messaging protocol is one that ensures that only the participants in a conversation, and no intermediate servers, routers, or relay systems, can read and write messages. An end-to-end encrypted group messaging protocol is one that ensures this for all participants in a conversation of three or more people.

End-to-end encrypted group messaging is a necessary problem to solve. Whether it be for limiting liability, providing verifiable client-side security, or removing a single point of failure, there are good reasons for a group messaging host to use an end-to-end encrypted protocol.

Michael Rosenberg

Goals and Rewards Redraw the Brain’s Map of the World

Typically, experiments designed to study grid cell activity involve an animal foraging randomly in a box or similar artificial environment. But Lisa Giocomo, a neurobiologist at Stanford University, was curious about whether something different might happen in the wild, where animals search for food more strategically, with specific goals and motivations in mind. There, for instance, they might use information from previous experiences to guide their search. Could these factors influence that “GPS” signal in the entorhinal cortex and connect it to something more than position alone?

Jordana Cepelewicz

Quote of the Day

The best programs are written so that computing machines can perform them quickly and so that human beings can understand them clearly. A programmer is ideally an essayist who works with traditional aesthetic and literary forms as well as mathematical concepts, to communicate the way that an algorithm works and to convince a reader that the results will be correct.

Donald Ervin Knuth

Life ≠ alive

On a sofa in the corner of the room, a cat is purring. It seems obvious that the cat is an example of life, whereas the sofa itself is not. But should we trust our intuition? Consider this: Isaac Newton assumed a universal time flowing without external influence, and relative time measured by clocks – just as our perception tells us.

Michael Lachmann

Quote of the Day

Those who read the press of their group and listen to the radio of their group are constantly reinforced in their allegiance. They learn more and more that their group is right, that its actions are justified; thus their beliefs are strengthened. At the same time, such propaganda contains elements of criticism and refutation of other groups, which will never be read or heard by a member of another group…Thus we see before our eyes how a world of closed minds establishes itself, a world in which everybody talks to himself, everybody constantly views his own certainty about himself and the wrongs done him by the Others - a world in which nobody listens to anybody else.

Jacques Ellul

A Family Portrait: Brothers, Sisters, Strangers

It was never a secret in my house that I was conceived with the help of an anonymous sperm donor. For a majority of my childhood, I never really thought about him. But when I was around 11, I went through a period of having questions.

Eli Baden-Lasar

Quote of the Day

The capitalist and consumerist ethics are two sides of the same coin, a merger of two commandments. The supreme commandment of the rich is ‘Invest!’ The supreme commandment of the rest of us is ‘Buy!’ The capitalist–consumerist ethic is revolutionary in another respect. Most previous ethical systems presented people with a pretty tough deal. They were promised paradise, but only if they cultivated compassion and tolerance, overcame craving and anger, and restrained their selfish interests. This was too tough for most.

The history of ethics is a sad tale of wonderful ideals that nobody can live up to. Most Christians did not imitate Christ, most Buddhists failed to follow Buddha, and most Confucians would have caused Confucius a temper tantrum. In contrast, most people today successfully live up to the capitalist–consumerist ideal. The new ethic promises paradise on condition that the rich remain greedy and spend their time making more money and that the masses give free reign to their cravings and passions and buy more and more. This is the first religion in history whose followers actually do what they are asked to do. How though do we know that we’ll really get paradise in return? We’ve seen it on television.

Yuval Noah Harari