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The best things and stuff of 2013 (fogus.me)
259 points by platz on Dec 27, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 29 comments

For the politically inclined - the GQ interview with Kim Jong-Il's sushi chef is brilliant (and will probably become a movie someday because the arc is so crazy).

Excerpt: "The chef's name, an alias, is Kenji Fujimoto, and for eleven years he was Kim Jong-il's personal chef, court jester, and sidekick. He had seen the palaces, ridden the white stallions, smoked the Cuban cigars, and watched as, one by one, the people around him disappeared. It was part of Fujimoto's job to fly North Korean jets around the world to procure dinner-party ingredients—to Iran for caviar, Tokyo for fish, or Denmark for beer. It was Fujimoto who flew to France to supply the Dear Leader's yearly $700,000 cognac habit. And when the Dear Leader craved McDonald's, it was Fujimoto who was dispatched to Beijing for an order of Big Macs to go."

Fogus, thanks for sharing this in your list: http://www.gq.com/news-politics/newsmakers/201306/kim-jong-i...

Interesting in that Air Koryo is banned from EU operations.

This was taking place in the 80s/90s. They flew Koryo to China, then somewhere eastern Europe where they apparently even had private jets stashed back then.

Hi Mike, the movie you ask about in your footnote #3 (the one with the force bubbles powered on a 9v battery) is "Explorers"[1] - which stars River Phoenix and Ethan Hawke in their screen debuts.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Explorers_(film)

This movie blew my young mind at the time. A-team meets NASA.

The amount of books you're able to get through in a year is amazing! According to Goodreads, you're also able to do this consistently, which is even more incredible. How many hours do you spend reading in a typical week?

It varies week-to-week, but I try to hit 30 minutes a day, minimum. I wrote more about these things at http://blog.fogus.me/2012/05/23/extreme-reading/

All those books and he still hasn't read A Fire upon the Deep! I recommend anyone with even a passing interest in science fiction reads it.

Curious about this too. I've always had to sort of verbalise in my head when I read, I think because of the way I was taught in primary school. This is extremely slow though.

I can however read code without verbalising, and with sheet music I can sort of directly execute the notes with thinking explicitly about the notes I'm seeing.

I can imagine some people can read prose in a similar manner, and I'd love to know how.

I've tried to sort of 'relax' my brain while reading, but then it seems nothing has actually registered!

I tried a number of things over the years, and the technique that finally worked for me was counting in my head as I read. By occupying the verbalising part of my mind I found I was able to train myself to read without it, and with a little practice I started to be able to read tat way without counting.

Interesting idea. May I ask where you found that technique please?

I'm afraid I don't remember. I read somewhere that when asked to count in their minds, people count in one of two ways. It's my understanding that the majority do so verbally, sounding out the words in their minds. But some people count visually, by visualising the numbers, picturing them scroll past on a tape, for example.

Those that verbalise couldn't simultaneously do another verbal task, while the visualisers couldn't do another visual task, suggesting that separate parts of the brain were involved, and occupied by counting.

Now that I knew visual counting was an option (I was a verbaliser) I trained myself to do it. Unfortunately I'm yet to find an situation were the ability to choose between visual and verbal counting has been useful.

"Surely you're joking mr Feynman" is where most of us read about it.

One of the things riding on the train does for me is give me two 20 minute segments to read. Which is I really enjoy but I was surprised at how much more stuff I got around to reading doing this. Something about the daily routine I guess.

Great list! My two favourites were "Internal Reprogrammability" which reminded me of Steve Yegge's "Pinocchio Problem" [1] article and "Ruins of Forgotten Empires" which made me want to learn more about APL languages.

[1]: http://steve-yegge.blogspot.ca/2007/01/pinocchio-problem.htm...

I didn't expect to see Sean Ross' excellent Haggis design diary on your list. But you are right, it is a great read.


A simpler description of the rules of Cannon http://www.pyromythgames.com/products/cannon/Cannonrules.htm (from the same site as the PDF linked by Fogus)

The Autobiography of Malcolm X is indeed an excellent read. The three phases of his adult life were completely and radically different from one another. It's amazing how committed he was to holding himself up to the standards demanded by his current beliefs, even when it meant renouncing all that he had previously stood for; and he did so, twice. I think this is the great lesson from his life and something the public should be aware of, more so than his "By any means necessary" vs King's "I have a dream".

I read that a long time ago and remember being inspired by Malik's commitment to educate himself after he was overcome with dread due to the realization that he had basically wasted his life up until then.

Like Malik, I too felt I was behind on my reading and picked up a lot of non-fiction that year because I did not want to waste time on reading fiction (I don't believe reading fiction is not useful, just stating how I felt at the time).

-1 for disabling pinchzoom

For what it's worth, pinch zoom works for me on a Windows 8.1 tablet.

Downvoter must be a pinchzoom hater

I think I've collected about a year's worth of content from that blog post and its links. So much for 2014!

The Carver Mead interview is more than a decade old (and honestly I'd never knew about it before) -- great find and read. Is his characterization of Bohr and the statistical thinking (a remnant of poor tools) still believed?

I liked the inclusion of PG Wodehouse - can never get enough of it.

Cool list, will definitely check out when I have some free time. I really loved the lispy newsletter, looking forward to future editions.

Thanks for this. There's a broken link from "newsletter" to www.readevalprintlove.org

Interesting list. Will check out later.

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