Assorted Links & Commentary #5
The Crown Season 5, Beat boxing, Arturia & Synths, Jivamukti Yoga, AI as “The Third Magic”, Humans on Mars, Xi Jinping, Ken Burns and Stephen Wolfram
Hello friends and new subscribers! I'm David Gasca and this is Mystical Silicon, a weekly newsletter on mindfulness, how to make the world more alive, and a variety of other things I find interesting.
This week is another installment of Assorted Links & Commentary where I do the latter - sharing things I’ve found interesting. Without further ado:
1 of 10: Since the last Assorted Links, here are some of the posts I’ve published on Mystical Silicon:
"This is my favorite thing ever!": A homespun mindfulness mantra
My favorite 10 posts from 2022: Mystical Silicon Year in Review
January Redux: Remembering Micro-exercising and Mindful Eating
Treasure Hunting: OK Go, The Beatles and exploring the adjacent possible in the pursuit of greatness
2 of 10: The Crown Season 5: wow. This season might have been the best one yet. I left every episode just in awe of the production - Diana and the Queen’s acting, the dialogue (and how they portray Prince Phillip), the 90s attire - all superb. I particularly like Episode 2 which follows “Mou Mou” Al Fayed from Cairo to his meeting with Princess Diana at the horse races... 10/10
3 of 10: Beat boxing: I’ve been playing around with learning how to beat-box (I was taking care of two sick kids in December and this was a great escape). It’s fun and there’s so much great youtube content on this. Here’s a great intro:
4 of 10: Arturia and Magpie melodies: I’ve also been playing around with an Arturia Minilab midi-keyboard learning how to make digital music. It’s a whole new world to me. It’s also really fun to use it with my kids – making sounds via synthesizer is way more approachable and satisfying than playing one key at a time on a piano. MagpieMelodies on YouTube has various tutorials and recreates songs using the Arturia and Ableton Live (the recording software). It’s really awesome. Here is an example:
5 of 10: Jivamukti Yoga: I was able to sneak in some more yoga classes at the end of the year and it rekindled my interest in jivamukti yoga - a more spiritually connected form of yoga vs. your typical aerobic-yoga. It's rare to find Jivamukti teachers since it’s so different from vinyasa or typical flow yoga but I’m going to try to lean into this more this year… If you’re in New York it seems there’s a lot more of it there so check it out!
6 of 10: Noah Smith on AI as the “Third Magic”: this post was definitely thought-provoking and provocative. Is AI an entirely new form of knowledge akin to the invention of science and history?
“It’s impossible to know, just yet, how powerful this new technique will be. Perhaps AI will be a niche application, or perhaps it will revolutionize all the fields of endeavor where traditional science has run into diminishing returns. Just as none of the scientists in the 1600s knew how many wonders their theories would eventually produce, we have no idea how far the third magic will take us. People may look back on this post in half a century and laugh at how I dared to frame AI as an epistemological successor to history and science. Or perhaps AI will lead to a leap in human power and flourishing comparable to those in the two graphs above.”
7 of 10: Post on why we shouldn’t send humans to Mars: This is a great in-depth post that changed my mind about space exploration. TLDR: don’t send humans. Lean into sending robots around the galaxy instead:
“One path forward would be to build on the technological revolution of the past fifty years and go explore the hell out of space with robots. This future is available to us right now. Simply redirecting the $11.6 billion budget for human space flight would be enough to staff up the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and go from launching one major project per decade to multiple planetary probes and telescopes a year. It would be the start of the greatest era of discovery in history.”
8 of 10: The bookshelf of Xi Jinping: this post walking through every book on Xi Jinping’s bookshelf was fascinating. He has way more non-Chinese history books than I would have expected and it’s a more diverse, ambitious and intellectual bookshelf than I imagine you’d see on most Presidential bookshelves.
9 of 10: Ken Burns podcast in Conversations with Tyler: I am less familiar with all of Ken Burns’ films but I found this conversation really inspiring. In particular I was fascinated by how Ken Burns (the famous American documentary filmmaker) has shaped his life and environment to enable him to pursue artistic freedom and focus fully on his work - he lives in a barn in New Hampshire away from most distractions… It makes me want to watch his films and read his books!
10 of 10: Tim Ferris podcast with Stephen Wolfram (from Wolfram Alpha): I only made it part-way through this podcast but it was a fascinating glimpse into a completely different mind. The way that Stephen Wolfram approaches complex concepts is humbling - just another level of analytical reasoning... Fascinating to listen to…
And that’s it. If any of these links inspired more thoughts or links you think I should know about, comment below!
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