This is the first of what I hope will be a regular feature on this blog. Knot will link to recent things that I’ve been reading. It will include short articles as well as books and other things on the internet.
- Martin Garbus — “America’s Invisible Inferno” (NYRB)
This NYRB review of ‘Hell Is A Very Small Place’ covers the use of solitary confinement in the American prison system. It ends with unearned optimism, but nevertheless is a useful reminder of the importance of the issue.
- Mary Catherine O’Connor — “The latest weapon in the fight against illegal fishing? Artificial intelligence” (The Guardian)
Interesting short piece on the use of machine learning combined with data science competition site, Kaggle, to try to improve the efficiency and accuracy of fishing inspections. Hardly a day passes when a new initiative like this is launched, merging data science and crowdsourced solutions. I look forward to being able to contribute (one day in the hopefully-not-so-distant future).
- Meeri Kim — “How a researcher used big data to beat her own ovarian cancer” (Washington Post)
More data science, though this is more at the N=1 edge of things than the previous fishery data story. The more data we are able to access and generate, the more there will be need for ways of analysing and processing these complex interactions. A lot of money is being invested in finding ways to automate this for non-technical users, though I imagine we’re still a little way away from that utopia.
- Check Point — “More Than 1 Million Google Accounts Breached by Gooligan” (CheckPoint Blog)
I’m not quite sure why this isn’t a bigger story. I’ve long believed that anything stored by Google (in particular, emails) will at some point be leaked in a hack or by some disgruntled employee. This latest hack is pretty close to that scenario, with the caveat that we don’t know what was taken. Takeaway: move away from the Google ecosystem where possible.
- Scott Gilbertson — “HTTPS is not a magic bullet for Web security” (Ars Technica)
This is a few months old but offers a useful overview on HTTPS technology, what it can help with (and what it is less useful for). The headline is actually a bit deceptive since the article seems to make a strong case for the use of HTTPS.
- Shane Parrish — "The Simple Plan To Read More” (Farnham Street / Personal Growth)
I’ve long ago taken this advice on board, but it’s a useful reminder. I enjoy reading, and I enjoy the diversity that comes from reading widely and broadly, so keeping up the pace and seeing it more as a habit to be done most days is, to my mind, the right way of looking at it.
I read three books this past week. Jim Klopman’s Balance Is Power was my easy introduction to some of the science behind why it is useful to train balance in a focused way as a skill.
I finished the second volume in Elena Ferrante’s tetralogy, The Story of a New Name, though I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the first. I suspect I’ll have to return to it in a few weeks after the dust has settled.
Finally, I devoured Paul Kalanathi’s When Breath Becomes Air, a beautifully written exploration of death, medicine, how we go through all these things as people, how illness affects not only the body but the mind and the spirit as well. It reminded me of Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal, which covered similar themes albeit with less of an intimately tragic outcome. I highly recommend giving When Breath Becomes Air a read.