Adam Georgiou

145 posts published


Leer in with an initial skepticism: the jump from trad RNNs to attention-only was not — could not be — that dramatic, right? A tired argument, I know, but I'm setting the stage. Continue on with a more formal (but still limited) criticism: induction does not produce knowledge. The pig that gets fed every day thinks nothing of the axe replacing the pail. Ninety-eight, 99, 100 (°C) and yet the temperature in the kettle does not continue. You can't always follow the trend to the next bit, and so

Silicon Founder

In the land of circuits, solder and screens, A man of ambition, with dreams and machines. He sailed the great valley, of silicon and gleams, But lost sight of the shore, his soul's fragile seams. His heart once ablaze, with visions of grandeur, Now tethered to digits, that lifeless candor. In microchips and code, he sought to find solace, But the fire of humanity, no algorithm could harness. He sculpted a world, with ones and with zeros, A digital Eden, with no room for heroes. The valley folk

HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method

This book scatters some good points around a thesis that contradicts itself. HypnoBirthing claims that the problem with modern births is intervention: doctors getting in the way of an instinctual process that nature has honed over millions of years. Dogs and cats can give birth without lessons or help, so why do humans need an entire team and toolshed? That's a pretty good question. But then the book immediately follows with several chapters of Things You Must Do instead of listening to The Do

Bullshit Jobs: A Theory by David Graeber

The author claims that proximity to a job — ranging from those that do the jobs being close and those that the assign jobs as far — is a good proxy for knowing whether a job is pointless. If the person doing a job thinks it shouldn't have to be done, then it probably shouldn't. And when those people are asked, a lot of them do think their jobs are pointless, and that if they were to stop performing them, nothing would measurably change in the world. I disagree. Do the pistons in an engine ne

The Poverty of Historicism by Karl Popper

I was introduced to Popper by David Deutsch in The Beginning of Infinity, and also somewhat through parenthetical references made by Nassim Taleb in his books. Both present Popper's ideas clearer than the man himself, in The Poverty of Historicism. Deutsch quotes Popper incessantly, and the ideas he (Deutsch) talks about are awesome. Two that struck me: 1. Most progress is incremental, and more about error correction than consistent correctness. 2. Explanations of sociological facts (lik

Good Morning, California


Will: A Memoir by Will Self

Not for me. Might be for you. After having binged a number of Will Self's lectures/debates/interviews online, and having read Tough, Tough Toys..., I wanted to know more. I love his quickness and breadth. I love his disregard for formality and propriety, and complete focus on The Empirically Lived Interesting Stuff of life. e.g., The benefits of nicotine, the state of Brexit, the map to and of creativity, the absurdity of domesticity. Politics, drugs, walking around. it's all on the table, and

Tough, Tough Toys for Tough, Tough Boys by Will Self

Spoilers Incoming The opening scenes of drug dealers and rip offs sets up an expectation that Tough, Tough... will be some dime-store thriller, Cowboys & Indians, 007 and Goldfinger. But that expectation is wonderfully, satirically subverted with the literal crack mine — a pit of crack cocaine one could harvest with a pick axe — and the drop off ending. The remaining stories are similar subversive and satirical. I kept expecting the straight-to-DVD type cliches — "And I would've gotten away wi

The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley

Rambles: The idea that collective intelligence is its own independent entity, that we can contribute to, from the bottom up. You more commonly hear about how collective centralized planning fails, and less about how trade and specialization succeed. Liked that. There's a lot of talk about how the infrastructure for sharing ideas has improved dramatically over the years — i.e. the internet — and how that allows for a new scale of prosperity, since prosperity is based on the sharing of good idea

The Sovereign Individual: Mastering the Transition to the Information Age by James Dale Davidson

Probably prescient, but a few things lose this book a star or two for me: 1. There's a skewed moral undertone: the author seems to imply that the predicted thriving of sovereign individuals is not only inevitable, but right. Which very well might be the case, but at the same time the book has no problem writing off all the "left behinds" as a calculated externality, neither right nor wrong, just part of the physics of the thing, no more good or bad than inertia. To

Arthur, My Cousin and Me

I don’t know how to detangle myself from Arthur. What follows is something like half him, half me. It’s more journal entry than elegy, but it’s what I’ve got. Remember this if and when you get to the end. To start with, what I'm thinking and feeling: I felt like I knew Arthur, up until now. Then I heard what others had to say and saw what others had to feel, and I realized I wasn't in as much of his inner circle as I thought. His death exposed the truth of my more recent position

Nothing Good Can Come from This by Kristi Coulter

This is revealing in ways the author didn't mean. It's juvenile, not heroic or enlightening. Stories about high heels, trips to Paris and Germany, being absurdly overpaid, deserving to explore love interests outside of her marriage, first class tickets, three star meals, therapeutic purchases of overpriced handbags, sex in the back seats of cars, the I'm chic for still liking grunge bands in her 40s, the burden of guilting parents who still managed to provide for all the middle class expectatio

The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann

I couldn't get through it. I thought The Magic Mountain would either be (a) an explicit exposition of pre-war and war time, mixed with some kind of class analysis; or maybe (b) an investigation of exceptional personal sickness and being surrounded by those also sick, while all together trying to come to terms with mortality and material expectations; or maybe (c) it'd be some arty analogy, painting Europe at the time in the form of a sanatarium. Perhaps I just don't have the background of the

My Struggle: Book 1 by Karl Ove Knausgård

You don't remember people's faces or what they say, but you remember all the inconsequential details of that one time you were embarrassed by work 20 years ago? You don't have the courage to do something about your grandmother sitting in her own piss for several days, as you clean the house you let her fester in for years? Your brother hasn't introduced all his children to their own blood? Your father is a worthless alcoholic, he dies, and you dedicate a whole book to describing your react

Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

Having never read any of Rilke's poetry, I was told by a friend to read this, my expectation being that it was profound and beautiful. I ended up rolling my eyes through most of it. Rilke comes off as some sniffly blowhard hipster. School is too difficult, Paris is impossible to focus in, Christmas is a drag, Italy's art is too temporally disconnected to be taken seriously. I would send you some of my work, but I'm so poor that I can't afford to; please go buy a publication, Dear Mr. Kappus. Di

A marriage ends.

He realizes all the meaning he’s taken for granted, now gone. He weeps, the image of which he immediately imagines as being sympathetic. And then, immediately after that thought (i.e. that he looks worthy of sympathy while weeping), actually during that thought, he’s disgusted. A massive loss of substance, and he’s preoccupied with his image. Reflecting further: this vanity and conceit must be why his marriage ended in the first place; what he offered was thin and presentable but not sustaining.

The Power by Naomi Alderman

Warning: this text may contain spoilers My main problem was this: if you imagine the male characters female and the females male, the story reads entirely the same, with most of the consequences of power being stereotypical, over simplified, bond-villain-style tropes of masculinity. The ending confirms the suspicion, that the premise of the book is this: power corrupts universally and simply. And for that, the book loses impact. I don't agree with the premise. People are complicated. Organizat

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe

On point, a bit ornamental, but in a white suit in winter kind of way. And subtle. It's like: you want to know what happens after and under all this acid talk. Give me some direction or deep explanation, but instead you keep getting this flowery alliterated enumerations of all the stuff the hippies are talking about. Which after a while, one realizes, it's a perfect mirror of the acid movement itself. Another subtle, subversive, satirical yet steel-manned criticism from Tom Wolfe. (Perhaps a

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

When I was a kid going to church, I got a prescription that was top down: Christ is god, Heaven is real, be good or else, believe what the books say. All other explanation was filling in the gaps below these claims. If Christ lived, what was his life like? Enter the Gospels. If God is all powerful, what exceptional work has he done? Enter the stories of the Old Testament. This was religion by deduction, with Christ being the unquestionable axiom. The literal truth of the story was all important,

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance

I'm not sure who this book was written for. It wasn't me, which is fine. Best case, this was written for other strugglers, those curious and intelligent enough to want to break out of their own binds, but who are limited without the right model of their own problems or the right example of a feasible solution. It's written at a high school level, not in the sense that it has grammar issues or is incoherent, but in that it's so simple and full of cliches and unironic tropes that only someone who

Can't Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds by David Goggins

There's good advice in this book, clouded by a lot of senseless drama. The story of how Goggins survived his childhood abuse, got through his military training, and accomplished so many athletic goals is impressive enough. The challenges he makes to the readers and the explanation of the battle in his mind, the description of what it takes to run 100 miles, that's interesting and useful. But to me, it is made much less impressive by his deciding to run on broken legs, push through kidney failu


You’ve been of age for years, but midway to the bar you still get nervous. Walking there, it’s dark out and your jacket is too thin to block the gusts. Wet, coarse asphalt, alongside the concrete, alongside chainlink guarded baseball fields and three-story apartment buildings. The occasional back-alley yellow-cab making that dopplered paper rip noise cars make as they coast past through shallow puddles. Street-lights tinting things the rarely realistic slight-sepia of city night. At the e


I’m gonna lick your heart. I’m gonna floss your fingers. I’m gonna inhale. I’m gonna read your work. I’m going to pluck your apple, honey; and press its taught skin to the inflection between my nose and upper lip. I’m gonna smell your fields, and doze absentmindedly in your radiance. You’re gonna crack the igneous shell in my head and let forgotten fragrant life seep out in relieving streams of cool viscous purification that flow over my open eyes and open mouth. We’re gonna leapfrog the