New York Systems

I'm David. I live in Astoria. During the day I work at a startup. Other times I visit bookstores.
This blog is my curio collection, sort of. I'll have a place of my own for essays... someday.

Anybody Else" - Everyday ChemistryThe Beatles

So, what’s the trade-off here? In general, we are safer (automation makes airline flying safer, in general) except in the long-tail: pilots are losing both tacit knowledge of flying and some of its mechanics. But in general, we, as humans, have less and less understanding of our machines—we are compartmentalized, looking at a tiny corner of a very complex system beyond our individual comprehension. Increasing numbers of our systems—from finance to electricity to cybersecurity to medical systems, are going in this direction. We are losing control and understanding which seems fine—until it’s not. We will certainly, and unfortunately, find out what this really means because sooner or later, one of these systems will fail in a way we don’t understand.
“Fail better,” Samuel Beckett commanded, a phrase that has been taken on by business executives as some kind of ersatz wisdom. They have missed the point completely. Beckett didn’t mean failure-on-the-way-to-delayed-success, which is what the FailCon crowd thinks he meant. To fail better, to fail gracefully and with composure, is so essential because there’s no such thing as success. It’s failure all the way down.

It works!

Do your worst, #HOPEX

Working is hard, but thinking about working is pretty fun. The result is the software industry.

Léon Auguste César Hodebert (1852 – 1914)
Resting (Le Repos – La nymphe de l’étang)

Link Roundup, July 5th, 2014

How about another link roundup?

Let’s lead off with an appreciation (of sorts) of Jerry Springer by Todd VanDerWerf that asserts that Jerry Springer invented the present. By which he means, of course, that the Jerry Springer Show was one stopping point on the normalization of all these heretofore marginalized subcultures of American life. One person who, had he been born a few decades later may very well have ended up on Springer’s couch was Ed Wood, a man whose lasting contribution to the film world was the abysmal (but earnest) Plan 9 From Outer Space, which the staff of The Dissolve discussed at length. He wouldn’t have made it for Plan 9, though — the gender-bending (and extremely personal) Glen or Glenda? seems much more in the Jerry mold.

Let’s read some more Errol Morris, shall we? His five-part essay in the times, The Anosognosic’s Dilemma: Something’s Wrong, But You’ll Never Know What It Is (Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5) ranges from Rumsfeldian dissembling to dumb bank robbers to Woodrow Wilson’s presidency to stroke patients to French Surrealism and back again. Over in Matter at Medium, Will Storr shares a long essay about Morgellons Disease, The Itch Nobody Can Scratch. Morgellons’ is a disease that the entire medical establishment is convinced is completely psychosomatic — that is, all in the sufferers’ heads — but try telling them that. Meanwhile, now that the Xanadu hypertext system is no longer purely in Ted Nelson’s head, read up on the history of the grand champion of vaporware products, as told by Gary Wolf in WIRED: The Curse of Xanadu. And Jon Bois abuses NBA 2K14 to the breaking point in All is Lost.

An interview with the former poet laureate of North Korea. The politics of eating Pokémon. The coming showdown between old-school and new-school wooden pallet distributors. Ted Cruz, examined. Your brain has an off switch.

Not-essays: Hope Larson is posting pages from a new project called SOLO. Gone Home made me cry at the end. The History of Rome will fill you in on everything you ever didn’t know about Roman history.

Twitter accounts to follow: @OliviaTaters, @ChristineLove, @PHP_CEO, @manymanywords.

That’s it! See you all again in two months or so, I guess?