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"Other men get their knowledge from books, I get mine from melancholizing."
-- Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholia

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Krister Löfgren

FaceID and the demise of many, many expensive cars

1 min read

Are we going to see the oligarchs of hipsterdom crashing their expensive BMWs, Mercedes's and whatnot while unlocking their iPhone X phones with FaceID instead of, you know, looking at the road and behaving responsibly?

Search the ditches for signs of the exciting future!

Damn you, FaceID

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Internet of Jerks

1 min read

The world is full of jerks but the internet makes it seem like they live next door to you

Brian Fitzpatric

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The thermonuclear word processor

2 min read

"[...] I use emacs, which might be thought of as a thermonuclear word processor. It was created by Richard Stallman; enough said. It is written in Lisp, which is the only computer language that is beautiful. It is colossal, and yet it only edits straight ASCII text files, which is to say, no fonts, no boldface, no underlining. In other words, the engineer-hours that, in the case of Microsoft Word, were devoted to features like mail merge, and the ability to embed feature-length motion pictures in corporate memoranda, were, in the case of emacs, focused with maniacal intensity on the deceptively simple-seeming problem of editing text. If you are a professional writer—i.e., if someone else is getting paid to worry about how your words are formatted and printed— emacs outshines all other editing software in approximately the same way that the noonday sun does the stars. It is not just bigger and brighter; it simply makes everything else vanish."

Neal Stephenson , In the Beginning Was the Command Line

org-mode unicornI consider myself a VIM-guy but I use Emacs org-mode for organizing some of my self-study notes. Using Emacs is like going to a place where you suddenly can do almost everything from within your comfy little nerd cave. All the greybeards know this. But programming in Java in the editor hasn't been exactly the smooth ride IDEs like IntelliJ or NetBeans gives you, but, to be honest, I think there's a place for learning a language without the helping hand of an intelligent IDE. At least when starting out, when you're doing the groundwork. What if you only know how to program when inside an IDE, which completes everything for you, gives you templates, marks possible errors with squiggly lines, automtaically imports libraries etc?

So, I guess I believe in doing manual labor to really "internalize" the know-how.

But eclim in Emacs is intriguing, so, yeah, that'll probably happen in the near future, if for no other reason than customization is king. :)

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Coming back to mathematics

2 min read

The good Christian should beware of mathematicians and all those who make empty prophecies. The danger already exists that the mathematicians have made a covenant with the devil to darken the spirit and to confine man in the bonds of Hell

― St. Augustine

Trying to come back to mathematics many, many years after failing hard at the subject in school, is... interesting. While life in grades, say 8-9, was pure frustration and the mathematics lessons the crème de la crème of uninteresting lessons, I've lately found it to be interesting, at times almost thrilling and I enjoy catching up with all that's been lost (or never learned, to begin with).

The stumbling block I find most frustrating is the language of mathematics; to decipher the notation, the syntax and all the symbols that seemed so arcane before I actually took my time to learn about them.

The younger me would have agreed wholeheartedly with grumpy old Schopenhauer, who spat on mathematics and called arithmetic "the lowest activity of the spirit" (because even a soulless machine can perform arithmetic).

What if amazing resources like Khan Academy had been available when I was a teenager? Would it have changed things, or is learning for some individuals (like me) all about motivation (which I tend to believe), not so much the actual way it is taught? You can change tutors, the content, the pedagogical method and all that all you want but if you cannot motivate the student then all is fleeting knowledge, something never entirely understood, merely digested because some curriculum stated it as something needed.

At the moment I'm quite fond of the meditative quality the sort of simple mathematics I do has. Bertrand Russell gave words to it, and the younger me would've been shocked to know I'd write this so many, many years into the future:

Remote from human passions, remote even from the pitiful facts of nature, the generations have gradually created an ordered cosmos, where pure thought can dwell as in its natural home and where one, at least, of our nobler impulses can escape from the dreary exile of the actual world.

 

 

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“The strategic adversary is fascism… the fascism in us all, in our heads and in our everyday behavior, the fascism that causes us to love power, to desire the very thing that dominates and exploits us.”
– Michel Foucault

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Anxiety and the Invention of Classes

1 min read

One implication of the neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky’s work is that human social and political systems that are highly fluid and dynamic generate more anxiety than systems that are static. Sapolsky points out that “for 99 percent of human history” society was “most probably strikingly unhierarchical” and therefore probably less psychologically stressful than in the modern era. For hundreds of thousands of years, the standard form of human social organization was the hunter-gatherer tribe—and such tribes were, judging from what we know of the bands of hunter-gatherers that still exist today, “remarkably egalitarian.” Sapolsky goes so far as to say that the invention of agriculture, a relatively recent development in the scope of human history, “was one of the great stupid moves of all times” because it allowed for the stockpiling of food and, for the first time in history, “the stratification of society and the invention of classes.

 

--My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind, Scott Stossel

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Weltschmerz

1 min read

[World-Sadness]


A word that acknowledges that we are sometimes sad not about this or that thing,  but about the whole basis of existence. The presence of the word indicates a culture that isn’t falsely cheerful  but takes tragedy as a given. It is immensely reassuring to be able to tell a friend that one is presently lying under the duvet, suffering from Weltschmertz.

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So, I've updated to the latest version of Known. This supposedly still works?

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Finished Paranoia Agent

1 min read


So, yeah, I finally finished Satoshi Kon's Paranoia Agent (Môsô dairinin, 2004) and I'm still confused whether it's made by a genius or just mediocre weirdness. But I'm leaning to the first. It's certainly complex -- and utterly strange. It's one of those series you finish watching but which also keeps your head occupied for a long time afterwards. In my case I just had to read up on it, read the IMDB forums and try to get a grip on the storyline and what the heck it's all about. It's got the surreal quality of a dream and I tend to like that. So... I guess I liked it?

Overthinking Anime: Kawaii Culture, Superflat, and the Bomb in Paranoia Agent