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December 11th, 2017

In Technology

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Watching the AI bots on a game fight each other is like testing a data analysis model

I was researching something else and I followed a link to the game Wesnoth. I downloaded it and spent some time testing it. The game is entirely built by volunteers. The game is slow and somewhat tedious, but they did a great job with the art and they did a great job enabling a variety of scenarios.

They claim they put some time into the AI engine that lets bots play a character. I was curious about that. I set ...

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December 11th, 2017

In Philosophy

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How do you wake up in the morning when you’ve got a project running late?

This is from my book, How To Destroy A Tech Startup In Three Easy Steps:

Friday, October 9th, 2015

Because of the chronic sleep deprivation of the proceeding weeks, I developed this peculiar protocol to ensure that I actually woke up in the morning. Before I went to sleep, I brewed some coffee and poured it into a mug. I put the mug on my bedside table. Then I set two alarms: one alarm for the time I need to be up, ...

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December 11th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Brad Delong: For some 400 years the Anglo-Saxon governance model offered liberty and prosperity, but no longer

Interesting:

For some 400 years, the Anglo-Saxon governance model – exemplified by the republican semi-principality of the Netherlands, the constitutional monarchy of the United Kingdom, and the constitutional republic of the United States of America – was widely regarded as having hit the sweet spot of liberty, security, and prosperity. The greater the divergence from that model, historical experience seemed to confirm, the higher the likelihood of repression, insecurity, and poverty. So countries were frequently and strongly advised to emulate those ...

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December 11th, 2017

In Philosophy

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50 percent of women who experience harassment leave their jobs within two years of experiencing that harassment

Sad:

There is a study that was just done recently by a researcher who found that 50 percent of women who experience harassment leave their jobs within two years of experiencing that harassment. When the harassment is particularly grave, that’s 80 percent, and many of them leave their professions altogether.

We can’t imagine what the world would’ve looked like if this systemic behavior hadn’t been in place. We don’t have the buildings that were built by women or the food that was ...

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December 10th, 2017

In Philosophy

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What readers should feel when they read fiction

As a summary of the feeling to aim for, this is worth remembering:

god my absolute favorite feeling is devouring a book, when you get so into the pages and the words that you have to stop your eyes from skipping lines and force yourself to read every word, when you’re so impatient for what happens next that you can’t sit still while reading, when you have to re read whole pages because you were too busy predicting and anticipating that ...

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December 8th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Some photos of my trip to Lisbon

Below are the photos from my trip to Lisbon, Portugal, for the Web Summit, which ran from November 5th to the 9th.

( Also see my separate post about the Web Summit. )

With the street trolleys and the steep hills that go down to the water, it would be easy to confuse Lisbon with San Francisco. Both cities exist on a peninsula and have had famous earthquakes. Both cities officially have 500,000 people, and 3 million people in the surrounding area. ...

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December 8th, 2017

In Philosophy

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If women had invented economics there would be no assumption of a global optimum

I had yet another long conversation with a female friend about life and its struggles. I’ve had ten thousand such conversations previously. We spoke about the difficulties of raising children (I don’t have children, but she does).

We spoke of the task of getting children to school. I recalled that when I was a child, as early as Kindergarten, I walked to school without parental supervision. My elementary school was a bit more than a kilometer away. It was considered ...

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December 8th, 2017

In Business

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Why is LinkedIn so broken that it can’t do normal error messages?

I am constantly astonished at how broken LinkedIn is. And here is today’s reminder:

Source

December 8th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Some photos from the Web Summit

I went to the Web Summit, which started on Novebmer 5th, in Lisbon, Portugal.

( Also, see my post of photos of the city of Lisbon )

The Web Summit was very impressive for seeing what the next generation of startups will look like. I can’t think of another event, anywhere, that showcases so many early stage startups. I suppose if I got invited to Demo Day at Ycombinator than that would be better, but my invite got lost in the ...

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December 7th, 2017

In Philosophy

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How do white blood macrophages eat? Does it affect their ability to protect us?

A few questions just occurred to me, which I will try to research some time soon:

When white blood cells (macrophages) are drifting around in our blood, how do they eat? It would seem they could eat whenever they want, since our blood is full of food. But are macrophages as effective while eating? Are we vulnerable when they eat? Fasting seems to improve health, so we should assume macrophages are less effective when we eat? And alcohol seems to ...

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December 7th, 2017

In Business

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Among farmers, the suicide rate continues to go up

I think of all the women I know for whom it was an urgent life goal to escape Eastern Europe and live a free life in New York. Part of what drove them was the desire to escape farm life. The stress and loneliness and poverty of farm life is a world-wide problem. It happens everywhere, and it is getting worse in the USA:

“Farming has always been a stressful occupation because many of the factors that affect agricultural production are ...

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December 7th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Some surprising facts about the economic collapse in Oklahoma

Even with fracking, which should boost the economy, Oklahoma is in a very serious downward spiral:

A city overpass crumbles and swarms of earthquakes shake the region – the underground disposal of oil and gas industry wastes have caused the tremors. Wildfires burn out of control: cuts to state forestry services mean that out-of-state firefighting crews must be called in.

A paralyzed and mentally ill veteran is left on the floor of a county jail. Guards watch for days until the prisoner ...

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December 7th, 2017

In Philosophy

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I was in Las Vegas and it was dead: some photos

[ In this post I make no distinction between Las Vegas and Henderson. ]

My uncle and cousins live in Las Vegas, so for the last few years I’ve gone there for Thanksgiving. My and my brother go there too. My uncle is generous and puts us up in a Marriot. Very nice.

The first time I went, in 2015, I was surprised at how dead much of the city was. I assumed it was still recovering from the crisis of ...

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December 6th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Police officer feels they are being accused of something when privilege is mentioned

It is curious that the police officer has such a strong reaction. I wonder what he felt was actually being said? I’ll say on a personal note that I’ve sometimes had these wild reactions, where people react as if I said something utterly different from what I said.

Police Captain Carri Weber, apparently as sick of his ramblings as any of us watching that video, interrupted to inform him that there is, in fact, a term for that: “White male ...

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December 3rd, 2017

In Philosophy

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I know more than 12,000 people. So do you.

Human societies are at least 5 orders of magnitude larger than ape societies, but humans don’t have brains that are 5 orders of magnitude larger than ape brains, so humans must have some abilities that are not just the linear extension of abilities that apes have. And one of our abilities, that helps explain the difference between human societies and ape societies, is that humans can be aware of people who are not aware of them. I know who Angela ...

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December 3rd, 2017

In Philosophy

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We are suddenly told that Matt Lauers is an abusive psychopath

An interesting fact about this year is that a number of public figures behaved badly, and their bad behavior was well known, yet somehow any public recognition of their bad behavior was suppressed, for decades, until the very moment when their behavior was no longer suppressed, and then the details come out in an explosive manner. We’ve certainly seen that with Harvey Weinstein, who has now been accused of sexually inappropriate behavior by more than a hundred women. For many ...

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December 3rd, 2017

In Philosophy

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Trump eats bad food

For awhile, in 2016, I thought perhaps Trump was eating bad food to demonstrate how close he was to the working class. And if true, that was a brilliant tactic. But apparently these eating habits reflect his actual preferences? I wonder how this is possible? He came from a wealthy family and he was given an excellent education. It is normal, for all mammal species, for the young to start with untrained tastes and then specialize to the circumstances they ...

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December 3rd, 2017

In Philosophy

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Use viruses to treat bacterial infections

Interesting:

As phages are in a continuing red-queen evolutionary game (running as fast as you can to stay in one place) with evolving bacterial defenses and specific phages can be specific to sub-species of bacteria, there is no way of making money in this game if you have to prove “efficacy” to the FDA before you sell your specific phage for a specific sub-species of bacteria that are continually evolving.

To play this game, we will need an automated system to ...

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December 3rd, 2017

In Philosophy

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The decline of the birth rate

Lyman Stone says the birth rate is declining, and this is a bad thing. Stone doesn’t say why this is a bad thing, but a follow-up post is promised. There are comparisons to many other countries, many of which have a good standard of living (Sweden, Japan). It is tough to see what the problem is. In terms of economics or total population, every affluent country has the option to simply allow in more immigrants, which can fix most of ...

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November 28th, 2017

In Business

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The many ways to undermine a previously healthy online community

Two examples.

Here is a mistake made on Tumblr that is undermining the income for artists:

please go to “General Settings” then to “Dashboard Preferences” and turn off “Best Stuff First”. This is killing artist exposure! Please, please, PLEASE, turn it off if you really do love the artists you follow! You’d be helping us so much!

Please reblog this so that more people may know!

Artists and writers are losing a lot of exposure over this new feature. Someone recently posted ...

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November 27th, 2017

In Philosophy

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The overlap of anti-intellectualism and anti-credentialism

During the eras when I was part of a business that was doing well, and I was the one doing the hiring, I tended to ignore people’s school accomplishments, and I insisted on looking at actual projects they had done. So in that sense, I’m anti-credentialist. But I’m unwilling to declare loyalty to that movement, for reasons I’ll explain.

By way of digression, I’ll admit that some credentialists also pretend to be anti-intellectual. I’ve noticed this especially in British politics ...

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November 25th, 2017

In Technology

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That’s supposed to be an umlaut in the title

This sounds like a very serious criticism of WordPress:

Yes, I know that’s supposed to be an umlaut in the title. I just can’t persuade WordPress to do it.

As far as I know, WordPress has handled UTF8 for a long time. Does anyone know what is going on?

Source

November 25th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Why we argue

Interesting:

I could try to spin an ev-psych just-so story about tribal status, intellectual dominance hierarchies, ingroup-outgroup signaling, and whatnot, but I’m not an evolutionary psychologist, so I wouldn’t actually know what I was doing, and the details don’t matter anyway. What matters is that this urge seems to be hardware, and it probably has nothing to do with actual truth or your strategic concerns.

It seems to happen to everyone who has ideas. Social justice types get frustrated with people ...

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November 25th, 2017

In Technology

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VisualBasic could have saved Microsoft Excel

Companies are rebelling against Excel:

Finance chiefs say the ubiquitous spreadsheet software that revolutionized accounting in the 1980s hasn’t kept up with the demands of contemporary corporate finance units. Errors can bloom because data in Excel is separated from other systems and isn’t automatically updated.

Older versions of Excel don’t allow multiple users to work together in one document, hampering collaboration. There is also a limit to how much data can be pulled into a single document, which can slow down analysis.

“Excel ...

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November 19th, 2017

In Business

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The sad slow dying of IBM

IBM decided that Sam Ruby is expendable. One more nail in the coffin of a dying company. Yes, you can boost short-term profits by firing all of your best people, and yes, the uptick in profits allows a big bonus to go to the CEO, but this obviously will render IBM a corpse. If you push your best people away, what is left of the company? It’s tragic and the USA not only allows this kind of corporate sabotage, but ...

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November 18th, 2017

In Philosophy

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At what point do accusations of sexual harassment become a witch hunt?

Interesting:

“I love Louis C.K. and that was really, obviously just a fucking hard thing to see happen to somebody,” Burr said on his podcast earlier this week. “He was 100 percent wrong, he did own up to it. And I think he will definitely be back, I will say that.” Burr engaged in familiar rhetoric, a reference “witch hunts” and appealing to “due process.” “This kind of seems like it’s become…it doesn’t make a difference if it’s sexual misconduct, all ...

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November 16th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Arianna Huffington allowed sexism to thrive at HuffingtonPost

Interesting:

Huffington’s well-documented history of fostering a toxic work culture, and failing to address inappropriate behavior from a “brilliant jerk” in her own midst, calls into question the sincerity behind her pledge to help bring positive change to Uber’s culture. Most notably, her history with a former managing editor whose “transfer” to launch HuffPost India was later revealed to be result of an HR investigation into whether he had sexually harassed multiple young women in the New York office. Gizmodo recently ...

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November 15th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Has the Walking Dead always been a terrible show?

We’ve gotten used to the fact that the quality of shows is getting better. Budgets are going up. There is stuff like Mad Men and Black Sails and Girls and Veep. Big epic stuff. I vaguely had the idea that The Walking Dead was supposed to be in the same league as those other shows.

I’ve only seen 3 or 4 episodes of The Walking Dead, and that was years ago. I’m not especially into zombie movies, but some of ...

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November 13th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Can the German focus on human dignity reign in Facebook?

Interesting:

Unlike in the United States, freedom of speech is “not the most important civil right” in Germany, the digital-rights activist Markus Beckedahl told me. Article Five of the German constitution, which governs the right to freedom of expression, explicitly protects freedom of opinion, a narrower category than freedom of speech writ large. Instead, Article One of Germany’s postwar constitution instructs, “Human dignity shall be inviolable.” This notion “means you are not allowed to claim false things about me, because it ...

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November 13th, 2017

In Business

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Twentysomethings say “I hate networking”

A big issue, and the resistance to diversifying one’s social circle feeds into almost all of the other problems that the USA faces, including racism and the concentration of wealth. Maybe the problem is that when folks are in their 20s any mixed gender get together feels like a date?

When I encourage twentysomethings to ask their weak ties for favors or coffee dates, there is often a fair amount of resistance: “I hate networking” or “I want to get ...

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November 13th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Megan Fox’s ordeal in Hollywood

This is a good essay though it looks at the problem of sexism and Megan Fox in narrow American terms. What occurs to me is how unearned the USA dominance of international film is. Does America deserve to be the nation that can export it’s movies? Would the world be better off if other nations held more of the export market? I agree with the criticism in this essay, though they don’t challenge the dominance of English, which is my ...

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November 13th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Voltaire was the first in the West to see Buddha as a historic figure

Interesting:

Voltaire’s assent here to the theology of the crucifixion would seem at odds with his often rude remarks about Christianity. However, what is perhaps of greater interest is Voltaire’s prescience in his comments about the Buddha. It would not be until well into the nineteenth century that European scholars, all sons of the Enlightenment, sought to turn the founders of religions from gods into men, to separate their precepts from church doctrine. For Jesus and the Buddha, this transformation entailed ...

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November 13th, 2017

In Philosophy

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A young woman lies about her gender and age so she can write about sports

Sad for everyone she hurt (but I do get why a 13 year old was worried that they wouldn’t be taken seriously, and I’m sympathetic about the fact that being a teenager means being immature and doing things that you later regret):

Schultz’s fraud was as true to the catfish genre as can be. She told the people who discovered she was not who she said she was that she assumed the identity because she felt as if she couldn’t write ...

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November 13th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Things that mean a lot to me but I will never mention

Every relationship has an unstated list:

Source

November 13th, 2017

In Philosophy

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All governments are theocracies?

Charlie Stross writes:

Justice-as-religion implies a seat of absolute authority from which judgements may be passed—naively, a God (or goddess, or symbol) of justice. (In reality, it’s a shared human cognitive process: the natural non-human world has no justice mechanism. But human-centric processes are, well, human-centric.)

…Governments embody mechanisms for creating and enforcing laws. It follows that all governments are theocracies.

He seems to be confusing his metaphor for reality. After all, where something comes from is interesting, but doesn’t tell you where ...

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November 12th, 2017

In Philosophy

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If you’re going to have a life or a steady income, you know, you need to get out of here

Interesting:

Baxter, who once backed Obama, voted for Trump, the first time he had ever voted Republican. “I liked [Obama’s] message of hope, but he didn’t bring any jobs in … Trump said he was going to make America great. And I figured: ‘That’s what we need. We need somebody like that to change it.’”

Over at the century-old Coney Island Lunch, this once-bustling institution famous for its chilli dogs and sundowners is virtually empty. “A lot of people have left town,” ...

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November 9th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Manorialism gave us nuclear families and a push towards modern civic engagement

Interesting:

manorialism is important for at least two reasons — and probably many more that i haven’t thought about. firstly, the whole system was based on nuclear families. in the bipartite manor system, peasants or serfs or whomever (depending on time and place in western europe) lived on and managed their own farms (let out to them by the manor owner) and also worked on the manor or paid rent to the manor. extended families very much did not fit ...

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November 9th, 2017

In Philosophy

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The real meaning of disrespectful jokes about one’s spouse

Interesting:

The problem is, it’s not a joke for everyone. It’s one of those insidious things that hits some people as “ha ha, yeah, I kid about him being a manchild, but really we talk stuff out,” and hits others as “so I see, husbands are supposed to be irresponsible and you’re supposed to berate them for it.” Even though Rowdy’s brother-in-law wasn’t really coercing his wife into a major responsibility she didn’t want, he was cheerfully playing ...

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November 4th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Writers who make money from misogyny

This is really gross:

Ames also had a column called “Whore-R stories,” in which he claims he slept with sex workers and wrote about his experiences, presented as non-fictional accounts. The column was sometimes accompanied by photos of the women, details about their bodies, their performances, and their personalities. (The column is a favorite among some Men’s Rights Activists). The paper also ran club reviews written by a fictional misogynistic character, Johnny Chen, that ranked clubs based on three criteria, including ...

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November 2nd, 2017

In Technology

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Denormalization to diverse apps is the correct path forward for media companies

I am very pleased to see that the New York Times now has this cutting edge architecture, which almost certainly the right way forward at this time:

The denormalized log and Kafka’s Streams API

The Monolog is great for consumers that want a normalized view of the data. For some consumers that is not the case. For instance, in order to index data in Elasticsearch you need a denormalized view of the data, since Elasticsearch does not support many-to-many relationships between ...

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October 31st, 2017

In Technology

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Matthew Vagnoni suggests the blockchain can resolve the issue of patient consent

Back in 2015, when I worked at Rollio, we hired Matthew Vagnoni for 2 weeks to come and teach us about Natural Language Processing. Vagnoni is a fantastic person to work with: he is a true expert in his field, yet he manifests very little ego about his extraordinary skill. He was friendly and calm and also authoritative, as he walked us through the various strategies we might take, when connecting to Salesforce, using NLP.

I only recently realized that ...

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October 31st, 2017

In Business

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Amazon versus Apple: the complicated politics of ebooks

Interesting:

The convoluted interface is due to a stand-off between Apple and Amazon. When Steve Jobs was still alive, the companies competed to control ebook pricing, which led to an antitrust lawsuit between Apple and the US. Though Apple lost, it now requires vendors to fork over a 30% cut of in-app purchases of digital products like books and music. But Amazon already has to split its ebook sales with authors and book publishers, and the cost appears prohibitive to ...

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October 31st, 2017

In Business

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Twitter struggles to find a consistent policy towards abusive posts

Interesting:

As recently as Sunday night, I was the target of an unsolicited nude. A man tweeted his exposed penis directly into my mentions.

When I attempted to report the tweet, I wasn’t allowed to. There is no selection for “This guy sent me his penis and I don’t want to see it.” Instead, Twitter suggested I block him to avoid seeing his offensive tweets in the future.

This is not helpful.

Over the weekend, Donald Trump ally and confidant Roger Stone completely ...

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October 31st, 2017

In Philosophy

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Kelly Faircloth on the importance of romance

If I was feeling cynical I might start this post with something like “Regarding fiction, women only read about silly things, such as romance and relationships, stuff that isn’t part of anyone’s real life, whereas men like to read about practical subjects, such as how to single-handedly disarm three Islamic terrorists while one is handcuffed and blindfolded, or how to ambush an alien of the Kree-na race of inter-dimensional beings, despite the fact that they can see the future and ...

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October 31st, 2017

In Philosophy

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Nicole Krauss on the struggle for authority for women

Interesting:

Born into a liberal family, in a relatively liberal country, and having received an excellent education, there was still never a time as a young woman that I wrote a page (let alone spilled out 500) without the understanding that it better scale some invisible mark, proving the worth and seriousness of the mind it came from, if it was ever going to deserve to be the work of an author, with the right to increase, originate, invent or ...

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October 31st, 2017

In Technology

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XLSX2CSV in Java or Clojure

This page does not seem to rank very high on Google, which makes it difficult to find a good example of how to use Java to convert an Excel file to CSV. Last year, when I worked on this, I recall it took me many days of searching before I found this example.

Also good:

http://svn.apache.org/repos/asf/poi/trunk/src/examples/src/org/apache/poi/ss/examples/ToCSV.java

Source

October 31st, 2017

In Philosophy

No Comments

Friendly, intelligent flash cards?

I’m curious about Anki. I’m not sure why I’d ever need more than a small paper notebook, about the size of index cards? I suppose Anki is easier to carry, as it could live on my phone I guess? But writing things into the paper notebook helps me remember those things.

Source

October 31st, 2017

In Philosophy

No Comments

Adam Johnson doesn’t get statistics

Here is bizarre post by Adam Johnson in which he tries to prove that a fictional “Mary” is more likely to be a bank teller than a bank teller and a feminist. He’s trying to make a point about sets and subsets. If his intro consisted only of the first sentence I just wrote, he would be correct. But he destroys his own argument with this intro:

She is 31 years old, single, outspoken and very bright. She studied philosophy. As ...

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October 27th, 2017

In Technology

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A developer asks for help, then gets angry at those who help them

This is pretty wild. Some idiot named “Amo” asks why Supervisord is using 100% of the CPU. A fellow named Paul Calabro then gives what sounds like the correct answer. Instead of saying “Thank you” Amo then threatens to downvote Calabro. Either Amo is vicious or they completely misunderstood the answer. Either way, Amo is an idiot.

If I was Amo, I would delete the question, and thus make it private, because the whole thing is embarrassing. In case ...

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October 26th, 2017

In Philosophy

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The fascist gays

Interesting:

In all that time, he says, he’s never seen so many LGBT people “so emphatically vocal” about their conservative pride as they are now. “Many more LGBT individuals that I know are comfortable shouting their political affiliation from the rooftops.” Angelo also states that “over the course of course of 2016 and 2017 there has been a noticeable swell in grassroots support for LCR, a spike in membership, and a spike in social media followers.”

Not all gay conservatives are coming ...

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October 25th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Fine tuning gradients and Random Forests

Interesting:

It is important that the weak learners have skill but remain weak.

There are a number of ways that the trees can be constrained.

A good general heuristic is that the more constrained tree creation is, the more trees you will need in the model, and the reverse, where less constrained individual trees, the fewer trees that will be required.

Below are some constraints that can be imposed on the construction of decision trees:

Number of trees, generally adding more trees to the ...

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October 25th, 2017

In Philosophy

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The importance of text knowledge versus movie knowledge

I don’t think this is entirely correct, as it gives too much importance to book learning, but it is certainly an important thing to keep in mind:

At first, the Internet seemed to push against this trend. When it emerged towards the end of the 80s as a purely text-based medium, it was seen as a tool to pursue knowledge, not pleasure. Reason and thought were most valued in this garden—all derived from the project of Enlightenment. Universities around the ...

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October 25th, 2017

In Technology

2 Comments

Why would anyone choose Docker over fat binaries?

[ [ In this essay, I use the phrase "fat binary" to refer to a binary that has included all of its dependencies. I am not using it to refer to the whole 32 bit versus 64 bit transition. ] ]

They are blinded by love:

What I like most about Docker is how responsive and quick it is, and the instant repeatability it offers. Spinning up a new container takes literally the same time it takes to run the command ...

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October 24th, 2017

In Philosophy

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The Walking Dead only worked as a metaphor for the Great Recession

When science fiction becomes very popular, it is typically because it can be read as a metaphor for current events. The 1950s “Invasion Of The Body Snatchers” worked as a metaphor for Communism. The early 1970s Planet Of The Apes worked as a metaphor for how whites felt about race relations in the USA. In counter-point, Star Trek was an endless series of metaphors about the increasingly multicultural society that people found themselves living in.

The Walking Dead started in ...

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October 24th, 2017

In Technology

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You can set environment variables from the Supervisord config

I often tell clients to consolidate their config files, from all their various apps, inside of a folder inside of /etc (I assume Linux servers).

But an interesting alternative is to set the config in the Supervisord config, and thus consolidate all logging and config info in one place.

[program:django] environment = SITE=domain1, DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE=foo.settings.local, DB_USER=foo, DB_PASS=bar command = python manage.py command

One could simply have different entries for development, certain branches, ...

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October 24th, 2017

In Philosophy

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The revival of dead fantasy subcultures

During the 1980s I played Dungeon and Dragons and also I read comic books. I was into the X-Men especially. Both of these subcultures were dying. Comic books died completely, as a business: both Marvel and DC declared bankruptcy. Comic books had once been a thriving business, but they died out. When I was a little kid, of say 9 years old, every 7-11 and convenience store had comic books. You could buy them everywhere. They were not exactly a ...

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October 24th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Does Bernie Sanders hate women?

Strongly stated and no doubt strongly felt. This conflict, in the abstract, has not changed much during the last 100 years. Since the 1960s we’ve referred to this as a conflict between the New Left and Old Left. But the conflict goes back further. As far as I know, the first person to talk about this conflict was Max Eastman, back during the 1920s, when he was an editor at The New Masses. He pointed out that there was ...

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October 24th, 2017

In Technology

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Infinite scroll is a terrible idea 99% of the time

Pinterest introduced the modern infinite scroll, so women would keep scrolling their home page. For a while, Pinterest was the fastest growing large site in the world. Infinite scroll is useful if you’re simply encouraging people to browse over random items. It is a terrible design idea if you are trying to communicate information. As Edward Tufte says, long lists are fantastic if you are trying to communicate choices or many types of information.

So check out the Web ...

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October 23rd, 2017

In Business

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A tide of ideas had started a new cycle, flowing from academia to an industrial laboratory and back to academia

This particular virtuous cycle seems like something that the government should do more to encourage. Interesting:

The excitement of those days is captured in this quote from Douglas Comer: “Many universities contributed to UNIX. At the University of Toronto, the department acquired a 200-dot-per-inch printer/plotter and built software that used the printer to simulate a phototypesetter. At Yale University, students and computer scientists modified the UNIX shell. At Purdue University, the Electrical Engineering Department made major improvements in performance, ...

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October 23rd, 2017

In Philosophy

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We are all a bit slow to realize when we need therapy

Oddly written, but I think this is true for most of us:

That’s really weird to think about, and one of the major revelations I had with all this. It was that therapy can actually work. It sounds stupid to type it aloud right now — that’s kind of the reason I’m writing this whole damn article for you, because I’m absolutely not alone here — but I always thought therapy was for other people. Fuck, I told many, many ...

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October 23rd, 2017

In Philosophy

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Brain chemistry is craziness

Interesting:

But that’s me. Part of what I found interesting, at least now that I’m on the other side of things, is that brains are completely fucking bonkers. We know a few things, but basically everything is still hella confusing and depends a lot on your particular brain chemistry. For me, I was on the far end of melancholic depression, which means a lack of movement in mood: I was always feeling pretty down, always feeling like my feet were cement. ...

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October 23rd, 2017

In Philosophy

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Scathing review of the NYT review of romance

Interesting:

But then there’s the editorial content, written by Robert Gottlieb, former publisher at S&S and Knopf, and former editor of The New Yorker.

And honestly, it’s better for everyone if you don’t read that editorial content.

Take your glasses off, maybe. Let it be blurry, and look at the images and the names in bold.

There are so many things wrong with Mr. Gottlieb’s write up, I might run out of room on the whole entire internet accounting for them all. And if ...

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October 22nd, 2017

In Philosophy

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How to create a new drink

I love the way they just brainstormed and came up with something completely original. Interesting:

‘’What are we going to do about this bloody Irish brief?” I asked, testily, challenging my business partner Hugh to feel some pressure. I was annoyed by his ability to take things a great deal more calmly than I ever did. We’d only been in business together for a month and that alone, I thought, warranted a greater sense of urgency. We had families to support.

“What ...

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October 15th, 2017

In Technology

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The resulting passive-aggression kills productivity faster than any methodology or technology decision

These are the truest 6 paragraphs that I’ve ever read about software development ideologies:

Whether a methodology works or not depends on the criteria: team productivity, happiness, retention, conformity, predictability, accountability, communication, lines per day, man-months, code quality, artifacts produced, etc. Every methodology works if you measure the right thing. But in terms of the only measurement that really matters—satisfying requirements on time and within budget—I haven’t seen any methodology deliver consistent results.

In his 2003 thesis People and methodologies in ...

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October 15th, 2017

In Technology

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What are the benefits of the fictions that guide software development?

Very interesting and well written:

I’m not going to beat up on any of these paradigms, because what’s the point? If software methodologies didn’t exist we’d have to invent them, because how else would we work together effectively? You need these fictions in order to function at scale. It’s no coincidence that the Agile paradigm has such a quasi-religious hold over a workforce that is immensely fluid and mobile. (If you want to know what I really think about software ...

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October 15th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Fictions regarding software development

Two good comments both true:

There is an insider story about how these methodologies comes about. So there are few groups of people whose sole job is to do consulting on failed/late/over budget projects. Mind you, they don’t write code but rather they observe how things are going and then prescribe process/management improvements (McKinsey style). Once in a while, these folks bump in to terrible projects and whatever they prescribed sometime works like a charm. In that case, they take that ...

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October 11th, 2017

In Technology

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NLP challenges: word ordering reverses meaning

Another good example:

When words are used in conjunction with each other, they express an idea that is bigger or more meaningful than each word in isolation. The two clauses I’m not happy I’m working and I’m happy I’m not working contain the sames words, in close proximity, but have quite different meanings.

Source

October 8th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Mitchell Sunderland has been fired from Vice

Apparently Mitchell Sunderland was feeding stories to far-right white supremacist sites such as Brietbart. Yet Sunderland was working at a progressive site. The revelation brought up the question of whether he was being honest in his main work. He does not seem to me very well suited to his main job at Vice.

Vice has cut ties with a senior writer from its feminist vertical Broadly after a BuzzFeed report revealed that the writer pitched story ideas to then-Breitbart writer ...

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October 5th, 2017

In Technology

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AWS does not protect you from devops

Once upon a time, people made fun of Linux GUIs because they would give you a graphical way to edit a configuration file, but you still had to know everything in the configuration file, and what the settings did. People made the reasonable point that slapping a pretty graphical interface on a configuration file did not make it any easier to work with Linux.

Nowadays, the clients I interact with say things like “We want to use AWS because then ...

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September 30th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Current math notation is the enemy of civilization

Alfred North Whitehead said:

By relieving the brain of all unnecessary work, a good notation sets it free to concentrate on more advanced problems, and in effect increases the mental power of the race.

So consider that most math is completely incomprehensible unless it is accompanied with a long description, written in the vernacular. Most blocks of math look exactly the same, even though some refer to tensors, others to the complex plane, others to manifolds, others to sets or rings ...

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September 26th, 2017

In Business

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France and Italy imitate the wrong things about Germany

This is good:

Three months after his commencement, Emmanuel Macron delivered last week one of the most important, and controversial, promises of his agenda. The loi travail that will become operational in the next few weeks mostly deals employment protection, which is weakened especially for small and medium enterprises. The aim is to lift constraints for firms hiring, and thus increase employment. This first set of norms should be followed in the next weeks or months by norms aimed at ...

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September 24th, 2017

In Philosophy

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In contemporary romances, there’s still world building

I like this. The phrase “world building” is associated with fantasy stories such as Game Of Thrones, but really, all stories need world building. To think that a story doesn’t need world building because it is set in contemporary times is to give too much status to writing about contemporary times, when in fact writing about contemporary times should simply be seen as a genre like any other.

Another thing I thought was cool was how it felt like the ...

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September 23rd, 2017

In Business

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Google is demonetizing YouTube sites

This has a lot of effects for LGBTQ content:

Not only was it not communicated when or why the videos were demonetized, but it also affects Dunn and Raskin’s respective bottom lines by removing an important revenue stream, she said.

“It paid my rent and went towards paying our crew, who obviously deserve to be compensated for their labor,” Dunn said.

A Sept. 18 article in Forbes magazine calls the situation the “Adpocalypse,” because several controversies have apparently made advertisers nervous, causing some ...

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September 22nd, 2017

In Philosophy

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Shopkeepers normally refuse to say what she bought

This bit says a lot about the German emphasis on privacy:

Merkel’s home life with her second husband Joachim Sauer is also fiercely private—and has been presented as so humdrum it doesn’t merit any attention. Sauer, whom she married in 1998, is a professor of physical and theoretical chemistry who works at the Humboldt University in Berlin. Merkel likes to bake at home and is occasionally snapped in local Berlin supermarkets. Locals leave her in peace, shopkeepers normally refuse to ...

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September 22nd, 2017

In Philosophy

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Games that can never be played

It’s an interesting take on what a culture produces, when it produces games that can not be played:

The thick, black-and-white rulebook packaged with every copy of the 1979 war-game The Campaign For North Africa is full of obtuse decrees, but the tabletop community always had a special appreciation for entry 52.6 – affectionately known as the “macaroni rule.” The Italian troops in World War II were outfitted with noodle rations, and in the name of historical dogma, the player responsible ...

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September 21st, 2017

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Helping kids from poor neighborhoods understand the world of tech

This is a great project:

Maurice doesn’t mind being different, and says he’s never cared about what people think. He tells a story about how he once cut off his eyebrows to see if he could withstand the inevitable ridicule he would face–a bold stand for any teenager to take. Maurice credits his parents for passing along these admirable qualities; his mother, who passed away earlier this year, was a strong role model for him, and he says she was ...

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September 21st, 2017

In Philosophy

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Thoughts about worker democracy

I suspect that worker-owned businesses can be made to work well, if we can reject populist ideas about how a democratic organization should work. Basically, the workers need to reject the kind of rhetoric associated with Thomas Jefferson. Consider the cruelty of the world that Jefferson promoted, a world of slavery and wealthy slave owners. All of that needs to be rejected. Jefferson’s rhetoric is useful for defending the kind of freedom that allowed him to rape a 15 ...

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September 21st, 2017

In Philosophy

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In the third season of Gossip Girl, Chuck sells Blair to his uncle in exchange for ownership of a hotel

I used to date a woman who loved the early version of this show, when it was fun and when it had a heart. I watched most of the first season with her. Apparently after I stopped watching, the show took what I would describe as a dark turn, though many fans loved the new direction. What does it mean that for some people this darkness is a happy fantasy?

In the third season of Gossip Girl, Chuck sells Blair ...

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September 21st, 2017

In Business

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Monopoly power in Germany in the 1500s

An amazing bit about the politics of fighting monopoly in Germany in the 1500s. I can imagine the merchants did a lot to keep Germany fractured as it helped them. No united government to impose strict rules on them.

The end of the fifteenth century witnessed Germany’s high noon of prosperity. Old and insignificant towns like Augsburg Nuremberg and Ulm blossomed forth into wealthy and populous cities. The great merchants vied with princes and kings in magnificence and luxury. Their ...

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September 21st, 2017

In Philosophy

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Sexual selection and novelty

There is a whole lot of good books coming out about Darwin. The Times gives the longest treatment to the one that focuses on sexual selection. Richard Dawkins apparently makes an idiot of himself again. He was on the cutting edge in 1976, when he wrote The Selfish Gene. Have you read it? It’s a great book. It’s really more about game theory than genes, or perhaps I should say it is about applying game theory to genes. He’s got ...

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September 21st, 2017

In Philosophy

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Obviously pesticides are bad for the environment

My mom bought Rachel Carson’s 1962 book Silent Spring as soon as it came out, and my mom has been an ardent environmentalist ever since, so perhaps I’ve been hearing about this issue longer than most, but still, I hope this is just common sense. We create chemicals whose specific purpose is to disrupt a part of the eco-system: kill bugs. That is not a side effect, that is the intended effect. Then we produce millions of tons of the ...

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September 21st, 2017

In Philosophy

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The illness warping politics in the English speaking countries

Politics in the USA are crazy, and they are also crazy in Britain. Something terrible has happened in the English speaking countries, that the political system has broken down to this extent. The fact that the British government seems so uncertain about how to proceed with Brexit suggests a broken political coalition.

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator has issued a fresh warning that Britain must “settle the accounts” and speed up the pace of negotiations if it wants a free ...

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September 21st, 2017

In Business

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The USA government is struggling to figure out how to regulate Facebook

This is interesting:

Calls for more transparency and regulation governing the content and advertising on Facebook are suddenly coming from both the right and the left in Washington, and are likely to increase as more information emerges about how the company earns nearly all of its almost $30 billion in annual revenue. The attention has intensified since Facebook recently admitted that Russian buyers were able to purchase thousands of ads on its platform on hot-button issues like immigration and gay rights in ...

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September 20th, 2017

In Technology

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Where should a spec be defined relative to a function

This is an interesting conversation on the Clojure mailist, and this question is relevant for more than just Clojure. It touches on the main question of language design.

Didier feels it should be possible to define the spec with the function, and this functionality should be added to the Clojure core, so that this would become idiomatic Clojure:

Gary Trakhman argues that this would make the core “defn” macro too slow, and therefore everything about spec should be left to ...

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September 18th, 2017

In Business

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Is there over-investment in media simply because entrepreneurs lack knowledge of more interesting fields?

Vocativ is dead? The most recent post is from August 25th. For a news site, that is a long time ago.

In June they announced “Vocativ Announces Exclusive Focus On Video” which might have been a desperation play. Unless they post something else, I will assume they are dead.

I did a job interview there back in 2014. They were created by some guys who had just gotten their Ph.Ds in Machine Learning. That seemed like a very positive thing. ...

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September 18th, 2017

In Technology

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How to use Zach Tellman’s Clojure library Manifold

These examples are great, and I wish this was more highly ranked in Google, so I’m linking to it.

Source

September 17th, 2017

In Philosophy

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29 October 1613: the invention of white people

Interesting:

The Jacobean playwright Thomas Middleton invented the concept of ‘white people’ on 29 October 1613, the date that his play The Triumphs of Truth was first performed. The phrase was first uttered by the character of an African king who looks out upon an English audience and declares: ‘I see amazement set upon the faces/Of these white people, wond’rings and strange gazes.’ As far as I, and others, have been able to tell, Middleton’s play is the earliest printed example ...

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September 17th, 2017

In Business

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Pixable, the life and death of a New York startup

I was reading “Is The Varick Street NYU Poly Incubator The Best In NYC?” by Jay Bhatti, written on Oct. 10, 2011. I stumbled across this mention of Pixable, which I had never heard of before (an interview with Micah Kotch):

In terms of highlights, we love the story of Pixable. The Varick Street Incubator’s first graduate company, Pixable, is a great group of immigrant entrepreneurs and MIT grads who create tools to share and categorize photography within social media. ...

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September 17th, 2017

In Philosophy

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The true history of Eastern Europe does not get told

Perhaps because I dated a woman from Poland, this jumped out at me as very true. In place like Poland, what would explain people’s nostalgia for Communism, except that they have a lot of happy memories of those times?

This writer is recalling Yugoslavia:

But reading other books, and especially the highly acclaimed Tony Judt, I realized that the discomfort went further. In a deluge of literature that was written or published after the end of the Cold War, I ...

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September 17th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Human misery in adulthood

People are increasingly miserable in adulthood. Presumably this is partly the stress of raising children? It would be interesting to see the chart of people who do not want, and don’t have, children.

Overall, we think there is a great deal of evidence – though we have critics, especially among a small group of social psychologists – that humans experience a midlife psychological ‘low’. The midlife decline in wellbeing is apparently substantial and not minor (see the notes below each figure, ...

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September 17th, 2017

In Business

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Companies have replaced individuals in the area of design

Interesting. All of the old designs are attributed to an individual. All the new designs are attributed to a corporation, or the source is unknown.

Source

September 17th, 2017

In Business

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Google bias about reporting bias

How to lie with statistics which are true:

On the surface, this seems to suggest that significant gender discrimination just doesn’t show up in the data. BUT…and this is important…this example highlights the difference between doing math and doing data analysis (or, more charitably, data science)- while this conclusion may be mathematically correct, it’s basically a “garbage in, garbage out” use of econometric tools. Simply put, if you’re trying to isolate gender discrimination, you can’t just blindly control for things that ...

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September 14th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Artificial Intelligence at the NYU incubator at Varick Street

Interesting:

NYU Tandon School of Engineering is making a power play into the artificial intelligence space by doing something that no university has done before, according to dean Katepalli Sreenivasan: partner with a venture capital firm to launch an accelerator.

On Wednesday morning, at NYU Tandon’s Data Future Lab incubator on Varick Street in SoHo, Sreenivasan announced the launch of the AI NexusLab, a four-month program for AI startups. The accelerator will be jointly run by the Downtown Brooklyn-based engineering school, though ...

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September 11th, 2017

In Technology

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Niche facts that Google can’t find

Google works so well that I’m shocked when it doesn’t work. I recall reading an early RFC, from the early 1970s, when someone proposed allowing variable length bytes. I tried searching Google for this. No luck. Google only shows me the famous RFCs, not the failed experiments.

Source

September 11th, 2017

In Technology

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Why can’t modern tools match Smalltalk?

I often have the impression that Smalltalk in the late 80s and early 90s hit a peak that has yet to be matched. Great effort was instead put toward languages that are less intelligent, and which limit the computer programmer. Does this have something to do with the deskilling of computer programming, as Stanislav says?

“It amazes me just how blindly complacent programmers have been in the face of the ongoing and very successful deskilling of their profession. ...

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September 11th, 2017

In Business

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If a programmer confuses the average for the 1% they deserve to be fired

A guy at Google wrote a long rant about how there were too many diversity initiatives at Google, and it was all a waste of time, because women don’t like computers. Google fired him. Some people think Google should not have fired them, but I would ask you, do you know what business Google is in? They are in the business of fine-grained market segmentation. That’s what advertising is all about.

The guy deserved to be fired for calling his ...

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September 10th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Escaping the cool girl stereotype

Interesting:

Gone Girl (the book at least, not so much the movie), brought the “cool girl” character into the public conversation with its spot-on monologue rant of a description:

Gillian Flynn wrote, from the voice of Amy Dunn, “Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and ...

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September 10th, 2017

In Philosophy

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The unrealism of shows about the media

Interesting:

Initially, The Bold Type fell into this same trap of depicting what those working at Hearst would probably like people to think such an environment is like rather than what it truly is like. “When she took over the magazine, she shifted the focus,” social media editor Kat explains of Jacqueline to a skeptical potential interview subject in the magazine. It’s a set of lines that sounds like it was directly pulled from any one of the profiles published about ...

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September 10th, 2017

In Philosophy

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I was surprised at how slow much of Game Of Thrones is

I was sick for a week, so I finally got around to watching Game Of Thrones. I was surprised by several things.

1.) The show is very boring for a long time. Nothing of interest happens during the first 3 episodes. In episode 4, Mrs. Stark arrests Tyrion Lannister, setting off a war between the Starks and the Lannisters.

2.) The first two seasons are fairly boring. If I hadn’t been sick, I would not have stuck with the show. ...

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September 8th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Not fair to the wife?

John Washam seems like a good person and I wish him every happiness in the world. Certainly we can all hope that he has an excellent career at a job he enjoys, while also enjoying the love of those who are most dear to him. All the same, I read his blog and I am a bit amazed at the things he writes. We are of a similar age, and we’ve had similar careers, and he seems of a similar ...

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September 8th, 2017

In Technology

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The limitations of decision trees

This article has some nice setups with the visuals:

If you are going to buy a house, you will make a list of pros/cons. That much is common sense. It is also an implicit decision tree. Most of these concepts are common sense. But I am struck, yet again, and how quickly this can seem to be unimaginably complex, once you involve the abstract jargon of math:

And once again, I note the sheer awfulness of math notation. How much faster ...

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September 8th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Passport control when a child’s last name is different from a parent

An interesting story:

Siddiq was returning from a family holiday in France with her husband, Chris Percy, and their 18-month-old daughter, Azalea, when she was separated from Percy and permitted to go through the fast-track queue to board the Eurostar with her pushchair.

Though she exited French border control without any issue, Siddiq was stopped at the UK border immediately before boarding the train.

“My daughter looks quite different to me, she looks like her dad,” she said. “At the UK border the ...

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September 8th, 2017

In Technology

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Gini Impurity is quick to measure and easy to adapt to

I’m trying to convince a client that we need to match records using a Random Forest approach. They have hit the limits of what can be done with simple string matching. I like basic articles like this, for explaining things clearly, and making it obvious how easy Random Forests can be (especially compared to Neural Nets).

Which is the better split? This is a subjective question. In practice, people use different metrics for evaluating splits. The most commonly used metric ...

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September 8th, 2017

In Business

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The limit on open offices

I like this comment:

That’s the theory of why open plan is good. In practice it doesn’t pan out that way, because most 5 minute questions don’t save that much time (answer was a 2 minute search away), don’t take that much time (take much longer), and overall cost much more time (due to loss of flow). Most (if not all) programmers need a state of flow to write quality code. Achieving flow after an interruption can easily take 15 minutes or more. ...

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September 8th, 2017

In Business

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Danielle Morrill’s fascinating growth of Mattermark

This is a great story from and about Danielle Morrill, and the way she moved from one idea to the next until finally she was building Mattermark and the growth of the company was explosive.

The Research Lab Byproducts of work are a gold mine. In the process of writing articles I created hundreds of spreadsheets to research markets, compare companies, and come up with unique angles. I published raw spreadsheets in many of my posts, and received a lot of ...

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September 8th, 2017

In Technology

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Logs are the future of software

Not sure why it has taken so many decades to become obvious, but clearly a history of all events is better than a relational database for keeping track of data. There is no reason why any company should ever use a relational SQL database. The source of truth should be the log, and one’s consumers should build their own denormalized datasets — and these will often work best in a document store, rather than a relational database.

I am very ...

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September 8th, 2017

In Business

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FontForge was an evolution

I like this history of what became FontForge. It sounds like a very slow process; a side project which got out of control.

In the early ’90s I was working at a little web start-up company, called NaviSoft, which was almost immediately bought by AOL. My product was an html-editor (best known as AOLpress). As I was working to convert it to handle Unicode I became concerned about the lack of Unicode fonts. I began working on my own Unicode ...

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September 7th, 2017

In Technology

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Peter Williams on Humane Interfaces

Still caught by the nostalgia I mentioned in the 2nd previous post, I re-read Peter Williams post, linked via the same debate. I recall reading this in 2005.

Martin Fowler has posted a nice article on humane interface design (as opposed to minimal interface design). I am definitely on the side of right and good (read: humane interfaces) in this debate. Nothing takes the fun out of programming faster than having to write a bit of code that you know ...

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September 7th, 2017

In Business

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I wish there was a company that allowed me to watch all the movies that I want to watch

The movie industry is one of those markets where the interests of customers are the exact opposite of the interests of the corporations. Whereas every person would like a service that would let them watch all the good movies, in exchange for some appropriate fee, that would, by definition, mean treating movies as if they were a commodity, and this is exactly what the creators of movies hope to avoid. So we get an increasing number of streaming services.

The ...

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September 7th, 2017

In Technology

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The failure of the X Window system paved the road for the rise of the Web

This is an amazing article about the absolute failure of the X Window system. Copyright (C) 1994, so this was written just as the Web was gaining momentum, but before it was obvious that the Web would become the main way that different devices could establish a single interface. Among the many good bits, there is this:

Figuring out where a particular resource value is for a running application is much fun, as resource can have come from any of ...

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September 7th, 2017

In Business

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The rich get richer

Interesting:

This is not just another chart. The data it uses directly answers conservative attempts to claim that middle-class incomes really have grown substantially, and that the rich aren’t taking all the economic gains. The conservatives argued that the standard data used to illustrate inequality is incomplete; Saez, Piketty, and Zucman have completed it, and demonstrated that income growth has been quite low for the middle class and very unequally distributed between them and the wealthy.

The background context for the new ...

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September 7th, 2017

In Technology

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The loneliness of advanced skills

I decided to re-read The departure of the hyper-enthusiasts. I’ve linked to that essay many times before. It was formative for me, at a formative moment for the Web, so it was formative in many ways, and it captured something important about that moment, and how things were changing.

I find myself getting nostalgic. That is not interesting in and of itself. To be nostalgic for a formative time, about a formative essay, is ordinary enough.

But I had an ...

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September 7th, 2017

In Technology

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Blue or Not Blue decision trees

This is a point worth remembering:

“Before we get started I need to clarify something. Theoretical decision trees can have two or more branches protruding from a single node. However, this can be computationally expensive so most implementations of decision trees only allow binary splits.”

Source

September 7th, 2017

In Technology

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If NodeJS is so great, why are the problems so common?

Callback hell. Take a deep breath and ask yourself why this website needs to exist:

Source

August 12th, 2017

In Philosophy

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An incredibly sad day

I lived in Charlottesville, Virginia for most of the stretch from 2000 to 2009. Most of the my friends still live there. I’ve reached out to all of them hoping they are safe. It’s been a rough day for all of them. One was on the Downtown Mall and saw the Nazi terrorist when he drove his car into the crowd, murdering one person and injuring a dozen more. Another friend started the day at Church, praying for peace, then ...

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August 12th, 2017

In Technology

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Supervisord has spent 5 years discussing whether or not it should support a timing mechanism?

I’m not sure what to make of this incredible thread in the issue tracker on Github for the Supervisord repo. Someone asked, in 2012, for a way to time when various apps start, so that they could start app A, B and C in order. On April 16 of this year, 2017, someone wrote:

This issue has been open since 2012, does anyone have ownership over it? It’s clearly important to many users; is there any consensus amongst supervisor contributors?

I ...

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August 12th, 2017

In Business

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Extremely engaged readers will make or break careers

Worrisome. I suspect this will be most intense for authors of Young Adult novels, since the target demographic is just figuring out its identity, and tends to define the boundaries of that identity in vivid terms. The authors should, of course, ignore the momentary furor, and keep doing good work.

But a growing number of critics say the draggings, well-intended though they may be, are evidence of a growing dysfunction in the world of YA publishing. One author and former ...

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August 12th, 2017

In Business

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Parsely says no to $40 million, yes to $6 million, why not just get a bank loan?

It’s interesting that Parsely said yes to $6 million. They are basically profitable, but they need some money for expansion. In all previous eras, they would have applied for a bank loan. That is what profitable companies do when they want to expand. But somehow, we now have a business culture where it seems to make sense to sell equity to finance expansion, even when profitable.

I am not for or against this, I’m simply noting how much this is ...

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August 8th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Another reason I like working at small startups

Some days it is great to go to the office and talk things over, in person, with my co-workers. Other days it is important that I can be alone, focused on the computer code, the algorithm, talking to no one. On these days, it is best if I work from home.

What is the correct balance of working from home versus working from the office? It varies.

How much do medium-sized, and large-sized, corporations allow variance in attitudes towards working ...

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August 5th, 2017

In Philosophy

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The simplicity of Japanese grammar

This looks great. I’ll buy this soon.

Source

August 5th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Modern dating problems

A list of dating problems that nobody had 25 years ago. Some of these were stupid but I liked these 3:

1. Accidentally swiping left on “the one”. Your mom has probably never experienced that moment of intense regret after an unintentional slip of the finger on a photo of a guy who may or may not be Zac Efron’s secret clone. (She’s probably never accidentally matched with a total creep either, and eternally wondered whether he saw her before she ...

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August 5th, 2017

In Philosophy

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How to find the worst people in your company

Al Capone stole, bribed, tortured and killed, but was sent to prison for tax evasion. Likewise, sexual harrassement might be a clue that teaches you something about a person — they might be engaging in other criminal behavior. This is interesting:

Organizations that understand the Al Capone theory of sexual harassment have an advantage: they know that reports or rumors of sexual misconduct are a sign they need to investigate for other incidents of misconduct, sexual or otherwise. Sometimes sexual misconduct ...

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August 5th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Creativity, Psychopathology, and Emotion Processing: A Liberal Response Bias for Remembering Negative Information is Associated with Higher Creativity

Interesting:

The results of the study found that self-reported high creative achievement levels and better performance on divergent thinking tasks (indicators of a creative individual) were associated with greater sensitivity to positive words and a more liberal response bias for negative words (which indicates an even greater sensitivity to negative words). So in conclusion, more creative individuals were shown to be more sensitive to positive information and especially sensitive to negative information in comparison to less creative individuals. These results indicate ...

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August 4th, 2017

In Philosophy

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How to greet people? Handshakes versus hugs versus kisses

A long and interesting bit about gendered professional etiquette in the USA. It is curious that this should seem so hard in the USA. In Europe there is a cacophony of rules regarding kissing — in Poland they kiss twice, in France they kiss three times, in Germany people just shake hands, and everyone feels the culture of California, which encourages hugging — yet Europe seems to have muddled through to some rough consensus about how people should great ...

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August 4th, 2017

In Philosophy

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USA feminists who went to the Soviet Union

Interesting:

Julia L. Mickenberg: But the particular appeal to women is something that nobody had talked about. And the fact that all these things that were happening right after the revolution that put women on equal footing with men were something that American women—particularly American women who were interested in everything from equal rights to better employment job opportunities to more relationships based on women being on equal footing with men in relationships—were interested in. Right after the revolution, within the first ...

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August 4th, 2017

In Technology

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A pure GUI for IP/TCP, a technology with a single mandate, with no burden of also offering semantics or structure or hierarchy

Someone on Hacker News said most developers don’t “get” the Web, and I posted this in response:

My history is surprisingly similar to yours, I started in 1999, I used Notepad as my first text editor, and by 2003 I got caught up in the movement towards making markup strict, which I felt was the mark of professionalism. However, by 2006 I had mostly rejected the notion of “strictness”. There were several things that turned me against strictness. One of ...

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August 4th, 2017

In Philosophy

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The end of the era of free-market rhetoric

All of the Western nations began to shift to the right during the mid 1960s, and they’ve been shifting further and further to the right ever since. But perhaps that trend has come to an end? With the rise of Trump, and Labour again having a real Leftist for a leader, there are fewer voices arguing for free markets.

In the early years of the 21st century, the inevitability of an ever more competitive, deregulated, internationally orientated market economy, to ...

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August 4th, 2017

In Business

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The initial act of founding a company is an expression of nonconformity

I like this:

The initial act of founding a company is an expression of nonconformity. They must eventually convince others to join them, internalize that vision and will it into reality. But isn’t it counterintuitive to bring other originals—who may buck their ideas—into the fold?

“It’s true that every leader needs followers. We can’t all be nonconformists at every moment, but conformity is dangerous—especially for an entity in formation,” says Grant. “If you don’t hire originals, you run the risk of people ...

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August 4th, 2017

In Philosophy

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First desire as a betrayal

Dan Savage, talking about our first desires. Interesting:

I think that a certain sex negativity is hard-wired into the human experience. When you’re told about sex before puberty you’re just appalled: Why would anyone do such a thing? And along comes puberty and the thing that you swore when you were 7 years old you would never do, ’cause that’s so gross, and before long, you’re drafted into this army that you never wanted to serve in. And I think that ...

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August 4th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Peer review is strong

The title of this essay is “the collapse of peer review” which is a bit of an exaggeration. In the moder era, peer review is very strong.

I would argue the opposite, we live in a world where specialization continues to advance, and that specialization should open the door to polyglot behavior in creating new knowledge. There needs to be more space for researchers to publish half-done research. Personal blogs can be good for this. There needs to be a ...

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August 4th, 2017

In Philosophy

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PACZKI or PĄCZKI?

I’m struggling to learn Polish. I love this story:

This weekend my family was doing a bookstore event related to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. One of the movie’s characters, Jacob Kowalski, dreams of becoming a baker, and arrives to a bank appointment with a suitcase full of Polish confections, including pączki, a sort of Polish jelly donut. My wife wanted to serve these at the event.

The little tail on the ą in pączki is a diacritical mark called ...

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August 4th, 2017

In Business

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StackOverflow retreats from its over-ambitious Documentation project

Anyone’s who has tried to write a book about computer programming (as I have attempted and failed) can tell you that writing good code examples is very hard work. But this is interesting:

Will anything come out of this experiment?

Yes! As Shog pointed out, we’ve already learned quite a bit from doing things we couldn’t do otherwise. It’s too soon to know exactly what we’ll be able to port over to Q&A, but I’m excited about the possibilities of CommonMark, ...

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August 2nd, 2017

In Technology

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Cultural differences between Clojure and NodeJS

Right now I have to work with NodeJS, because I have a client who uses NodeJS. I am getting used to the asynchronous style of NodeJS. I notice a subtle cultural difference between Clojure and NodeJS. Most of the tutorials for NodeJS assume the person reading is a beginner, someone who may not understand big complex words like “asynchronous”. In the world of Clojure, there is the assumption that the person reading the article has some experience. With Clojure, there ...

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July 24th, 2017

In Technology

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NodeJS remains single threaded

This is a good example of the limits of NodeJS:

async.parallel([ function(callback){ setTimeout(function(){ callback(null, 'one'); }, 200); }, function(callback){ setTimeout(function(){ callback(null, 'two'); ...
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July 22nd, 2017

In Business

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The ReThink post-mortem is among the best post-mortems ever

Such an insightful post-mortem:

There is one more level of root cause analysis that we can do. Why did we pick a bad market and optimize the product for the wrong metrics?

When I was a little kid I wanted to build my own radio. I made a box out of plywood, threw some metal junk inside, and connected the box to a power cord. I had books on electronics at home, but didn’t think I needed them – I had unwavering ...

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July 19th, 2017

In Technology

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No one should ever use NodeJS, part MMCVXII

I previously wrote about a very surprising bug I discovered in NodeJS/HapiJS.

But today I face a new issue: How to parallelize work in NodeJs? I discovered this fantastic library called paralleljs. It assigns work to child processes. Fantastic idea, very similar to Python. And how do I get required libs into the child process? That is very difficult. From the issues on Github:

to make things a bit more concrete, this snippet would be representative of what I want ...

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July 18th, 2017

In Technology

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Do people love DigitalOne servers?

I’m looking to host my next web site at DigitalOne. If you have experience with them, please let me know.

Source

July 18th, 2017

In Technology

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When Nginx becomes the bottleneck

This makes me sad. I love Nginx as a reverse proxy, so long as it is invisible and I never have to think about. Realizing that it, too, can be a source of problems really is discouraging.

47,135 connections in TIME_WAIT! Moreover, ss indicates that they are all closed connections. This suggests the server is burning through a large portion of the available port range, which implies that it is allocating a new port for each connection it’s handling. Tweaking ...

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July 18th, 2017

In Technology

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Trying to explicitly enumerate everything that is true is hopeless

This is good:

Let’s take a look at some existing representations. The most famous representation is WordNet. In WordNet, the symbols are groups of words that have the same meaning, called synsets. One synset could be the set consisting of “car” and “automobile.” Each word can be in multiple synsets. For example, “bank” could be in the synset that means river bank and also in the synset that means a place where money is deposited. There are a few kinds ...

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July 18th, 2017

In Business

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More chaos in the world of Bitcoin

Apparently having a currency that is outside of the control of the government means dealing with endless bickering and petty politics. Some of these comments are very informative:

This is a fight for control of Bitcoin. It is business interests on both sides fighting for a position of authority. SegWit2x is an attempt to remove control from the core dev team, which while technically strong is full of zealots with questionable motives and terrible management skills. Bitcoin ABC and Unlimited have ...

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July 14th, 2017

In Philosophy

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An absolute regression for women in the public eye

Interesting:

This does not get round the central point of what Cooper was saying, though. She was talking about the misogyny that is aimed at women of all political persuasions. She did not, she said, want to see the severed head of Theresa May carried at demonstrations. The linking of social media abuse to actual violence is pertinent, and after the murder of Jo Cox, it’s all too real.

The online surveillance of women’s images alongside the silencing of their voices is ...

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July 8th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Venture Capitalist resigns after confessing to be creep and being accused of assault

I have to think that men who do this well don’t realize how lucky they are, and they don’t realize how much they are throwing something very important. They were trusted and admired, and they threw that away. And they had the power to do good, and yet they decided to perpetuate many of the problems that the industry has been suffering for several decades.

Dave has done a lot for many founders, and people (including me) are grateful for ...

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July 8th, 2017

In Philosophy

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A joke versus physical assault

Thinking about this more, this is really something. A joke provokes nation wide outrage, but actually beating up a woman and kicking her merely brings shrugs.

Our attitude toward Depp’s two crimes — a documented history of abuse that’s met with a shrug on one side, and a tasteless joke about assassination met with mass outrage on the other — mimics our larger cultural attitude toward domestic violence. We generally don’t consider violence against women to be a big deal until ...

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July 8th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Woman very hurt by her son’s tattoo

Interesting, as a document recording very strong emotions over something I would think of as minor:

She says, “Tell him how you feel.”

But I can’t. For a start, I know I’m being completely unreasonable. This level of grief is absurd. He’s not dying, he hasn’t killed anyone, he hasn’t volunteered to fight on behalf of a military dictatorship. But I feel as though a knife is twisting in my guts.

I get angry with myself. This is nothing but snobbery, I think ...

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July 8th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Word2Vec Evaluating Embeddings: Analogical Reasoning

The math in this article is difficult for me, but after reading it a few times I think I get the gist of how Word2Vec works:

Evaluating Embeddings: Analogical Reasoning

Embeddings are useful for a wide variety of prediction tasks in NLP. Short of training a full-blown part-of-speech model or named-entity model, one simple way to evaluate embeddings is to directly use them to predict syntactic and semantic relationships like king is to queen as father is to ?. This is ...

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July 8th, 2017

In Business

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China is investing in the USA

I don’t think this article says much more than “China is investing in the USA”. That’s about what I’d expect as growth in China slows down. Still, there hasn’t been a big surge of investment, like when Japan began buying up the USA in the 1980s.

Wages aren’t the only costs in China that are rising. The price of electricity has increased 15 percent since 2010, and industrial land is becoming more expensive too. Taxes are high as well: Dewang, ...

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July 8th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Meritocracy hasn’t helped Britain

Interesting:

Decades later, he expressed dismay that Tony Blair had adopted meritocracy as a defining philosophy of the New Labour project, writing in the Guardian: “It is good sense to appoint individual people to jobs on their merit. It is the opposite when those who are judged to have merit of a particular kind harden into a new social class without room in it for others.”

In 2017, meritocracy is still central to political conceptions of fairness and social justice. While ...

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July 8th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Is a declining birth rate a bad thing?

My mom’s mom’s mom (my great grandmother) had 16 children, mostly during the late 1800s. Nowadays women have fewer children. Is this a bad thing? I know a great many women who did not want to have kids but were pressured into it. At the same time, the government could do more to get money to those women who want to have more kids. I can’t see how the downward trend is worrisome, except where it represents a woman who ...

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July 8th, 2017

In Philosophy

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An honest novel about the fantasy life of a shy introvert

Interesting:

The novel’s “plot” goes like this: wryly observant, unconventional Selin has a deep, abiding crush on Ivan, her email pen pal and partner in philosophical and linguistic ruminations. He seems not uninterested, either: they meet in class, they write long emails soliloquizing about their own concerns, and they walk around Cambridge, and walk, and talk. He introduces her to beer, which she doesn’t like at all. Though she grows to love him deeply, he never seduces her—not at Harvard and ...

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July 8th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Kara Brown is leaving Jezebel

I also write to try to put meaning into my experiences, and to be paid to do so sounds wonderful. This sounds like a charmed life:

Like many obnoxious teenagers who will go on to procrastinate through English degrees in college, I suffered a heavy Albert Camus phase in high school after reading The Stranger. During times of upheaval and significantly less traumatic change in my life, I find myself returning to the pattern of thought found in his work. Most ...

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July 8th, 2017

In Business

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A novice can not be blamed for serious mistakes in your companies technology

Another write up of this story:

As subRedditors saw it, cscareerthrowaway567 made one mistake. The company made several. It didn’t back up the database. It had poor security procedures and a sloppily-organized system that encouraged the very error cscareerthrowaway567 made. Then, rather than taking accountability for those problems, the CTO fired the rookie who revealed them. Of all the errors this company made, that last might be the most destructive to their future success. An extensive review of employee teams at ...

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July 8th, 2017

In Technology

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A simple intro to tokenizing with OpenNLP in Clojure

A nice intro:

Finding sentences

Words (tokens) aren’t the only structures that we’re interested in, however. Another interesting and useful grammatical structure is the sentence. In this recipe, we’ll use a process similar to the one we used in the previous recipe, Tokenizing text, in order to create a function that will pull sentences from a string in the same way that tokenize pulled tokens from a string in the last recipe.

Getting ready

We’ll need to include clojure-opennlp in our project.clj file:

(defproject com.ericrochester/text-data ...

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July 8th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Women in tech in the early days of tech

My mom studied computer programming during the 1970s and her professor was female. And women getting advanced degree in computer science peaked in the USA in the late 1980s. So I’m under the impression that the industry was more open to women in its early days than it is now, especially relative to other professions such as medicine (almost 50% of new doctors are female in the USA).

Interesting:

What was it like being on campus with so few other women ...

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July 8th, 2017

In Philosophy

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President Trump is having a negative effect on children

Worrisome:

BuzzFeed has an extensively reported piece on more than 50 incidents across the country of children and teens from kindergarten through 12th grade hurling racist invective at their classmates of color—an occurrence not unique to the Trump era but increased because of it—as reported by school districts to ProPublica’s Documenting Hate project. In each of those incidents, Trump’s name was invoked, whether in the context of how his presidency will change the circumstance of the student of color—“You’re going ...

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July 8th, 2017

In Technology

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Neural Networks beat Support Vector Machine beat Random Forests

I’ve written about my experience at a startup that used NLP to translate a salesperson’s text message into an entry in Salesforce. At the time, our NLP developer used the Stanford NLP library to try to build a model, but mostly they used a lot of regex and string matching.

I’ve been thinking about how we might have done that project faster and better. I’ve recently been thinking the right approach would have been Random Forests. We were lucky ...

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July 8th, 2017

In Technology

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The struggle to find meaning in words, via word counts in matrixes

Interesting comment:

With LSA, each document is transformed into a single vector that has the length of the vocabulary. The length of the vocabulary is the number of unique words across all documents. If a word is present in a document, it is represented as a 1 in the vector and 0 if it is not. So after this transformation, the text is transformed in an D by V matrix where D is the number of documents and V is the ...

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July 8th, 2017

In Technology

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The problems with DynamoDB

Everything I’ve read suggests to me that companies are drifting towards Cassandra as the best of the NoSQL databases. But some of my clients give me directives such as “Please restrict yourself to AWS technologies”. So I was considering using DynamoDB. And then I read this.

Interesting:

When a customer does an action, it is reasonable to think that this kicks off a number of actions in your system. One action might spawn a number of events to be sent into ...

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July 3rd, 2017

In Philosophy

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Tracy Chapman’s website does not work for me in Google Chrome

If I go here:

http://www.tracychapman.com/

I see:

I’ve got both Javascript and Flash enabled. I don’t know why the site fails for me. But then, it is not my job to figure that out.

Source

July 2nd, 2017

In Philosophy

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We ate at Khe Yo and we loved it

It’s an unusual place. The food is from Laos. It’s an Asian cuisine, but a bit different. We loved it.

Source

July 2nd, 2017

In Philosophy

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The backlash against gay rights

Interesting:

The problem with many Christians in politics is that they seem to be interested only in sex: gay sex, adulterous sex, sex that results in unwanted pregnancy. If they could spend even a proportion of their time thinking about anything else in the Bible – crops, markets, usury, justice, fish – they’d be so much easier to live with.

In our own parliament, however much we might abhor the self-satisfied bigotry of the DUP, we’re far more exercised about the ...

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June 29th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Far right extremists show a surprising degree of international cooperation

Considering how much hate was directed at the Poles during the debate over Brexit, it is a bit odd that a Polish nationalist would come to Britain to work in harmony with other right wing extremists, who, in theory, hate his guts. But apparently they hate other people (muslims, non-whites, women) even more, so they work together in harmony.

Międlar was accused last year of calling Jews a “cancer” that had “swept Poland” during an address to a rally in ...

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June 29th, 2017

In Business

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Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence have limits that few have yet appreciated

This is very good:

Now consider my most viral tweet so far:

Good CS expert says: Most firms that think they want advanced AI/ML really just need linear regression on cleaned-up data.

This got almost universal agreement from those who see such issues play out behind the scenes. And by analogy with the pipe innovation case, this fact tells us something about the potential near-term economic impact of recent innovations in Machine Learning. Let me explain.

Most firms have piles of data they ...

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June 29th, 2017

In Business

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The unwillingness to acknowledge the end of “learn a new skill” as a path to growth

Probably written by someone with no experience in business, or a very large reason to distort the truth. This is very stupid and detached from reality:

It won’t be long before “skilled in machine learning” becomes the new “proficient in Excel” as a standard bullet point on your resume. The only difference? What you bring to table will be more valuable than a pivot tables or color-coded pie charts.

The day when any average Joe can train an algorithm along with ...

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June 29th, 2017

In Philosophy

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The politics of Bruce Springsteen

What sort of insane right-wing extremist do you need to be that when you listen to Bruce Springsteen sing about the working class, you decide that he is anti-American?

Like so many baby boomers drifting along as the culture has moved further and further Left in recent decades, Springsteen has become more and more liberal. The tough yet sensitive poet who played the rock and roll clubs of Asbury Park in the 1960s and 1970s, sleeping with women and dealing with ...

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June 29th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Defending people whom you dislike

Source

June 29th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Grace is the face of death

Interesting:

The people actually approaching death used more positive terms and fewer negative ones to describe their emotions than those imagining the experience. In the blog posts—all from real people who eventually died from their disease—emotions grew more positive as death approached. It’s not a perfect study—people with unspeakable regrets or fears may be less inclined to publicly chronicle their final days than those who do not. But there are a few reasons why death may be more terrifying as a ...

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June 29th, 2017

In Business

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Open Source is poorly funded

With a few exceptions, Open Source is starved for resources:

Why should open source software development require “huge sacrifices?” But why have “huge sacrifices” been necessary to produce and maintain these projects? And why are sustainable funding and resources so difficult to come by?

The answers to these questions touch upon a host of challenges related to open source software development in general: burnout, overwork generated by the tragedy of the commons, and the mistaken notion that critical open source work can be ...

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June 29th, 2017

In Philosophy

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What we think of as pirates is a reality that last maybe 20 years

When thinking of pirates, most people will think of movies like Pirates Of The Caribbean or Black Sails, which portray the Atlantic during the early 1700s. But the world has always had pirates, and even in the early modern period, pirates were a varied experience.

One reason piracy was often an act or a phase, and not a way of life, was simply because humans have not evolved to live on the sea. The sea is a hostile place, offering ...

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June 29th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Letting women speak

What does it mean that this kind of thing is still happening?

So at this point, after seeing very clearly that she was not going to be given space to speak and in fact having her own theories described to the audience by the moderator, I am in full outrage. My body is actually beginning to shake. The sexism is beyond blatant. It is happening on stage and NO ONE, not a single other physicist or panelist is stepping in to ...

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June 29th, 2017

In Philosophy

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When a leader says “I hope you can do this”

This level of dishonesty puts a strain on the liberal checks and balances of USA politics:

James Comey’s testimony before the Senate on June 8 hinged on one key phrase: “I hope you can let this go.” According to the former FBI director, US president Donald Trump used these words to request that he back off a federal investigation into former national security advisor Michael Flynn. Comey interpreted this as a directive, while Trump’s defenders argue that the president was simply expressing ...

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June 29th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Punishments for Labour MPs who keep supporting the Remain cause

It seems likely that Labour, being inclusive, will emerge as the party of Remain. But for now, they can not be too obvious about it.

The amendment attracted the support of 101 MPs across different parties, including 49 Labour politicians who defied the leadership. It called for the government not to leave the EU without a deal, to guarantee a parliamentary vote on the final outcome of negotiations, to set in place transitional arrangements, and to “set out proposals to ...

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June 29th, 2017

In Business

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The changing demographics of the USA

Since white people are old, and non-whites are young, we can expect the next wave of babies will bring a rapid end to the white majority in the USA.

Source

June 29th, 2017

In Philosophy

No Comments

Thought leaders are stupid

I love this comment:

I was recently at a conference run by a progressive political think tank. I was surprised and confused by the way some of the speakers discussed AI, “innovation”, entrepreneurship, and technology.

They basically all repeated a number of the same points.

1. AI will be amazing, and will utterly decimate jobs in the future, though it was never clear whether they understood AI technologies or even the economics of automation.

2. Everyone should be trying to become an entrepreneur. ...

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June 29th, 2017

In Philosophy

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The frailty of the British Conservative government

It is odd to watch things shake out over the last year. David Cameron called for the Brexit vote, then opposed it, then lost, then resigned. May became Prime Minister and saw Labour fall into disarray. Thinking she had a strong hand she called snap elections. She lost her majority. Desperate to stay in power she seeks a deal with the DUP, whose conservative views on abortion are detested by most political parties. This brings a strong response from the ...

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June 29th, 2017

In Philosophy

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The destructive nostalgia for a world without red tape

It’s wonderful to have efficient systems that keep process to the minimum necessary to ensure one’s goals. But much of modern talk about “red tape” is simply nostalgia for a time with less process, even when lack of process lead to outcomes that were unfair:

But red tape is also used to mean the regulation of companies, which may lead to unhelpful confusion. “Red tape is indeed used as a catch-all phrase in a sometimes unthinking manner,” agrees Gillian Tett, ...

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June 29th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Another dead Nobel Peace Prize winner

The lack of domestic and international rage is worrisome:

Beijing’s position is clear: China has no dissidents and Liu Xiaobo is a criminal. His offence was to co-author and gather signatures for a landmark call for reforms, though he did not initiate it and was seized before it was released. Though Charter 08 mostly called for the Communist party to uphold commitments made in its own constitution it was a coherent and forthright challenge to the party’s rule, calling for peaceful ...

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June 29th, 2017

In Technology

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The curse of too many dimensions

Damn, this is interesting:

The curse of dimensionality refers to various phenomena that arise when analyzing and organizing data in high-dimensional spaces (often with hundreds or thousands of dimensions) that do not occur in low-dimensional settings such as the three-dimensional physical space of everyday experience. The expression was coined by Richard E. Bellman when considering problems in dynamic optimization.

There are multiple phenomena referred to by this name in domains such as numerical analysis, sampling, combinatorics, machine learning, data mining, and ...

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June 29th, 2017

In Technology

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Morphism is the starting point of category theory

I guess I knew this, but still it is interesting to read:

In algebra, a homomorphism is a structure-preserving map between two algebraic structures of the same type (such as two groups, two rings, or two vector spaces). The word homomorphism comes from the ancient Greek language: ὁμός (homos) meaning “same” and μορφή (morphe) meaning “form” or “shape”.

Homomorphisms of vector spaces are also called linear maps, and their study is the object of linear algebra.

The concept of homomorphism has been ...

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June 29th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Police kill 17 year old when they try to shoot a dog

Another case where the police seem far too casual about using guns even when civilians are near:

Genevie Escobar, a 17-year-old best friend of Garcia-Muro, said he was at a friend’s house during the incident. She said she struggled to understand why police decided to fire at the dog.

“Why couldn’t they tase the dog? Why did they have to shoot him?” said Escobar, Barron’s daughter. “The cops should have handled this in a totally different way.”

Garcia-Muro was looking forward to graduating ...

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June 29th, 2017

In Business

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Can the leadership simply order a group to be entrepreneurs, and then expect good results?

Chris Lord on his time at Mozilla:

Unfortunately, as soon as it started to show some promise and as soon as we had freedom from carriers to actually do what we set out to do in the first place, the project was cancelled, in favour of the whole Connected Devices IoT debacle.

If there was anything that killed morale for me more than my unfortunate time on the graphics team, and more than having FirefoxOS prematurely cancelled, it would have ...

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June 29th, 2017

In Business

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WalMart bought Jet and then immediately went to war against the culture of Jet

This suggests that the WalMart leadership team did not understand what they were buying when they bought Jet, or they think they can break the culture without breaking the company. I like this comment:

I’m not going to even address whether drinking and swearing in the office should or shouldn’t be allowed – it’s irrelevant. Walmart basically decided that they wanted to buy Jet because Jet had capabilities and talent that they wanted in order to compete with companies like ...

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June 29th, 2017

In Business

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Mistakes are the currency of success

The people most comfortable making mistakes and learning from them are the ones who do the best in life:

Here’s an excerpt from Principles, a brilliant (and freely available) manifesto of Dalio’s rules for life and business:

…the popular picture of success—which is like a glossy photo of an ideal man or woman out of a Ralph Lauren catalog, with a bio attached listing all of their accomplishments like going to the best prep schools and an Ivy League college, and ...

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June 29th, 2017

In Philosophy

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What does it mean to have a President who engages in such open gender based stereotyping?

Worrisome:

On the phone with Ireland’s newly elected prime minister, Caitriona Perry caught his eye, among the Irish press corp standing by. “We have all this beautiful Irish press. Where are you from?” said the president from his seat in the oval office, pointing at Perry, Washington correspondent for Ireland’s RTE. Curling his finger with a beckoning look, he told Perry to “come on over” to his desk, and asked where she’s from. She answered respectfully, if meekly. Then, in ...

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June 29th, 2017

In Technology

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All the weird characters in Clojure explained

This is a very useful guide.

Source

June 29th, 2017

In Business

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Marissa Mayer fails upwards, and wants her friends to fail upwards

Pathetic. What justifies the regard that people have for Marissa Mayer? She was an utter failure at Yahoo. No one should take her seriously.

So it is telling that Marissa Mayer, the CEO who failed to fix Yahoo, has stepped out to defend Kalanick, telling attendees of a conference at Stanford Law School June 27 that the Uber founder probably didn’t know about the toxic culture he created. Mayer was not only forced to sell Yahoo after failing to create ...

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June 6th, 2017

In Philosophy

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The difference between societies that collapse under the weight of stupid citizens versus those who transcend them are the makeup of the non-stupid

Funny and interesting:

Law 4: Non-stupid people always underestimate the damaging power of stupid individuals. In particular non-stupid people constantly forget that at all times and places and under any circumstances to deal and/or associate with stupid people always turns out to be a costly mistake.

We underestimate the stupid, and we do so at our own peril. This brings us to the fifth and final law:

Law 5: A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person.

And its corollary:

A stupid person ...

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June 6th, 2017

In Philosophy

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The Atlas of Lie Groups

Interesting:

Adams is is the leader of a cutting-edge mathematical research project called the Atlas of Lie Groups and Representations. Lie groups are named after Norwegian mathematician Sophus Lie (rhymes with “free,” not “fry”), who studied these crucial mathematical objects. Lie groups are used to map the inner machinery of multidimensional symmetrical objects, and they’re important because symmetry underpins far-flung mathematical concepts, from a third-grade number line to many-dimensional string theory. The Atlas project is a bona fide atlas of these ...

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June 5th, 2017

In Philosophy

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In the USA, women in their 30s are having more kids than women in their 20s

The Baby Boom peaked in 1958. This was also the peak year of teen pregnancy in the USA. Young birth hit its all time peak that year, at a rate above anything known in the 1800s or early 1900s. Since then, women have been having children at older and older ages. And now this:

That’s according to the Associated Press, reporting on some preliminary new stats from the CDC which says that in 2016, it was 103 births per 100,000 ...

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June 5th, 2017

In Philosophy

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The sheer phoniness of Prime Minister May

Interesting:

Then the camera shows a middle-aged woman at a desk, sipping coffee and reading a paper. She is glimpsed from an oblique angle. Her face isn’t clear but the viewer knows her name. She is the most famous politician in the country, and the message is obvious: while you start your day she is already hard at work, safeguarding the future – strong and stable.

The woman in the video is Angela Merkel and the film is a highly effective advertisement ...

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June 5th, 2017

In Philosophy

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How does Facebook undermine the open web?

Interesting:

I’ve made exceptions a handful of times over the years, but as a general rule I refuse to link to anything on Facebook either, for the same reasons as Dave. Last week I linked to screenshots of a Facebook post to avoid linking to the original. The original post by Marc Haynes was public, which I know because I do not have a Facebook account, but here’s what it looks like for me without being a Facebook user — a ...

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June 5th, 2017

In Philosophy

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The odd politics and self-inflicted injuries of Labour

Interesting:

Each of Labour’s winners prevailed because they had established sufficient credibility with the country to make Tory attacks seem wild and silly. They put their credibility into the service of a narrative of national renewal that resonated with a critical mass of the electorate. Attlee’s compelling pitch – “now let’s win the peace” – was about building a Britain worthy of the collective sacrifices made in wartime. Wilson, updating what it meant to be on the left of the spectrum ...

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June 5th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Australia is complacent

Interesting:

Success bred complacency. The old policymaker’s adage has been proved anew: “Good times make bad policy.”

By late Howard years, ambition and rigour were lost and spending grew wanton.

Budget night came to resemble “Christmas night in the pirates’ cave” in the words of the former Treasury budget examiner Stephen Anthony, as the government lavished handouts and tax cuts in the forlorn hope that it could win the people’s gratitude.

The former Treasury secretary Ken Henry, who served Keating and Costello, ...

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June 2nd, 2017

In Philosophy

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The new kind of society writing is done by oneself, about oneself

This is an interesting example of our changing mores.

Did she wear many different looks?

Yes, she did. A Missoni turban was involved in “the perfect pool look for me to greet my guests in”; later, she wore a custom Cucculelli Shaheen emblazoned with “secret symbols, the constellations of our two astrological signs colliding together, our initials, and the date of our wedding night embroidered into it,” a customized lace robe for the after-wedding brunch, a Naeem Khan cape that was “an ...

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June 1st, 2017

In Philosophy

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A suicide letter posted to Github

Very sad:

There is a lot here to talk about, but I will start with something trivial: that he made two commits to the repo.

In the second commit, he adds a photo:

https://github.com/yeukhon/suicide/commit/eddf98b9f3f4676b114680326314d98d8a395a0f

I feel like some day sociologists and historians will write of this era, and I hope details like this are remembered. It says something about how fully we live technological lives now, that a person might make multiple commits to a suicide note.

In fact, he might have made many commits ...

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June 1st, 2017

In Philosophy

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There is no tax bill in Congress

I think the complete lack of knowing any facts is the part that history teachers will have difficulty explaining to children:

Perhaps the most telling thing President Trump said in his rambling justification of his decision to pull out of the Paris accords on climate change wasn’t about climate change at all. It was, rather, about the speedy advance of his administration’s tax bill in the United States Congress.

-@POTUS: “Our tax bill is moving along in Congress and I believe ...

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May 31st, 2017

In Technology

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Cost cutting at British Airways caused the catastrophic failure of its database service

This is obviously a lie:

BA insisted that the computer system outages that grounded hundreds of flights were not linked to ferocious cost-cutting and the outsourcing of work to contractors in its IT department.

There is absolutely no way to get a melt down of this scale unless you’ve just fired your key staff, so you’ve nobody left who knows how to bring the system back online. I’ve worked at very small startups, with just 3 people on staff, and we ...

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May 31st, 2017

In Philosophy

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Get out if you don’t like free speech!

This guy just murdered two people. Apparently that’s okay, because his right to free speech gives him the right to kill people.

As Christian walked into the courtroom he yelled out: “Free speech or die, Portland! You got no safe place. This is America. Get out if you don’t like free speech!

Standing behind glass partitions in the defendant’s area, he continued: “Death to the enemies of America. Leave this country if you hate our freedom. Death to Antifa! You call ...

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May 30th, 2017

In Philosophy

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The Book Of Joan sounds good

I’ve put this on my list of things to read: (this also makes me want to reread Dune).

Herbert’s hero, as emperor of Dune, was a godlike figure with uncanny abilities who embodied both immense capacity for destruction and a chance for renewal, if only he could overcome the temptations inherent in his powers. Although de Men in some ways exemplifies the same struggle, Joan must confront the implications of her powers as well, a reminder that our ecosystems ...

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May 30th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Cop jails black woman for passing him while driving

Sad that this still happens in the year 2017:

The incident, which took place May 20, began when Ponder found herself traveling behind a dangerous driver. Acting as any responsible driver would, Ponder signaled, maneuvered around the driver and continued traveling to her destination.

The driver—who had abruptly stopped several times, drifted in and out of lanes, and accelerated suddenly with no provocation, according to Ponder’s attorney, Lee Merritt—turned out to be Crews’ 14-year-old daughter.

Merritt explained what happened next in a Facebook ...

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May 27th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Angry man wears a Make America Great Again hat

It is curious how many people wearing hats that say “Make America Great Again” seem to assume that making America great again means establishing a society where they can do whatever the hell they way.

The apparently entitled man took an aisle seat three rows ahead of her and refused to let anyone sit next to him, she said.

In video taken by Zimmerman, the man is seen with his hands folded behind his head and his feet propped up ...

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May 27th, 2017

In Philosophy

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British humor in the face of tragedy

This is some daring humor, in the face of tragic loss:

The next day, Mariah Carey had posted a picture of Martyn in a Mariah Carey T-shirt, accompanied by a devastated quote about the death of a member of her fandom. His brother’s response was one of those jokes that makes you gasp and laugh at the same time: “I was a little dubious about Martyn’s recent bold social media move,” he deadpanned. “But it worked.”

God, the sheer balls of that. ...

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May 27th, 2017

In Business

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Trump never thinks to export cars to Germany

This is a good point. Trump wants to block German cars from coming to the USA. It doesn’t seem to occur to him that the USA and Germany might both be better off if the USA exported more cars to Germany.

But this is also true:

A more direct, and certainly effective way to reduce imbalances is to reduce the excess surplus (deficit) of domestic demand on GDP in deficit (surplus) countries. This is where more American cars in Germany would help. ...

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May 27th, 2017

In Technology

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Is Clojure dying?

Interesting.

The past week or so a lot of discussion and introspection has been happening in the Clojure community. Eric Normand responded to my one year Lambda Island post with some reflections on the size and growth of the community.

And then Zack Maril lamented on Twitter: “I’m calling it, clojure’s dying more than it is growing”. This sparked a mega-thread, which was still raging four days later. A parallel discussion thread formed on Reddit. Someone asked if their were any Clojure ...

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May 27th, 2017

In Philosophy

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There is rhetoric in my writing

I’m reading some of Precious Nonsense by Stephen Booth.

One thing that really jumps out at me is the discussion of this sentence:

We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live.

This sentence has a comma exactly where I would put it, but I know my friend, editor and co-author Natalie Sidner would remove that comma. Why?

The comma is here to indicate ...

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May 27th, 2017

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Also possibly interesting: the accumulation of so much potential and the absolute crushing of it

I’ve added this to my list to read. Interesting:

Watchful, bookish Cat and reckless, alluring Marlena have plenty of literary and pop cultural antecedents, but Buntin, through closely observed detail, makes these two her own. Their attachment is full of lovely teenage-girl things — cherry lip gloss, cut-up T-shirts, hearts drawn on the back of a hand, Joni Mitchell and Stevie Nicks songs, tossed-off but unforgotten intimacies: “She scrapes a set of fingernails against my kneecap, a small circle that opens ...

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May 27th, 2017

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A heartless book?

This review sounds scathing, although I’m actually interested in reading the book now, because the reviewer concedes it manages to stay stylish despite its flaws:

Here it is again. The voice. The single white woman in New York figuring out her s- – - and drinking too much wine voice. Confessional, casual, brash, tell-it-like-it-is, flawed-yet-familiar, ostentatiously relatable.

Sometimes I feel like we’ve all made some blood pact to call this voice original and brave 20 years since it’s been either. In fact, ...

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May 27th, 2017

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Writing as the answer to life’s problems

This is something I’ll have to think about more:

As most narratives require, soon comes the fall: Levy finds that the things she holds dear to her are not as sturdy as they seemed. Most significant, however, was learning how much you can miss when you think of writing and its process as your ultimate savior: “My job is to interpret, and to communicate my interpretation persuasively to other people,” she writes. “The idea that in life, unlike in writing, the ...

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May 27th, 2017

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The frailty of modern marriage

Interesting:

Jo Piazza’s recent book How to Be Married: What I Learned from Real Women on Five Continents About Surviving My First (Really Hard) Year of Marriage follows the Eat Pray Love method to the letter, and is animated by the author’s intense anxiety about “failing” at marriage. Piazza is a longtime travel writer, formerly at the helm of Yahoo’s travel vertical, which had her working 80-hour weeks and racking up air miles. The setting for this, her fifth book, reads ...

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May 27th, 2017

In Business

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Truckers have seen there wages shrink and automation can not be blamed

Interesting:

Trucking used to be a well-paying occupation. Here are wages of transportation and warehousing workers in today’s dollars, which have fallen by a third since the early 1970s:

Why? This is neither a trade nor a technology story. We’re not importing Chinese trucking services; robot truck drivers are a possible future, but not here yet. The article mentions workers displaced from manufacturing, but that’s a pretty thin reed. What it doesn’t mention is the obvious thing: unions.

Source

May 27th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Humans used a paint shop in Ethiopia for 4,500 years

Amazing. This must have been a huge society to support such an active paint shop, especially at the peak. We know that, during the last 2,000 years, migrant societies of Asia often numbered in the millions, but they had the advantage of horses and goats and bison. Without domesticated animals, a migrant society was probably smaller, but perhaps there might have been a few 100,000s in the area of this paint shop when it was at its peak.

45,000 years ago, ...

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May 27th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Jupiter is complicated

Interesting:

While Jupiter’s iconic red storm, stripes and girth may loom large in the skies and in our minds, surprisingly little is known about it. Among the many questions Juno set out to answer: Does the gas giant have a solid metal core? Does it have any structure beneath its banded atmosphere, or are its depths well-mixed? How much water lies within its body? And what powers its auroras and its magnetic field?

Now, data from just the first two passes ...

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May 27th, 2017

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A need for safety keeps the poor near poverty

I think we already knew this;

I’ve written before about how inequality perpetuates itself through differences in confidence: people from rich backgrounds have the chutzpah to blag good jobs for which they are unqualified, whilst those from poorer backgrounds have confidence knocked out of them. However, a new paper by David Chivers suggests there’s another mechanism which can have the same effect – differences in aspirations.

He shows that people who are just above the poverty line are scared to take risks ...

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May 27th, 2017

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If Harvard University has information to sell, why don’t other countries build more Harvard Universities?

Now that we have the Internet, information is abundant. So if something like Harvard is scarce, I think it must be selling something scarce, such as prestige, rather than information. I don’t think this last paragraph can be justified:

But after 1980 America began to lose the race between education and technology.

The expansion of American higher education slowed massively. Higher education for native-born males simply froze in its tracks. As a result, in the world in which we have worked for ...

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May 27th, 2017

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How to respond to people who lose wages because of interruptions in their career

In the West, we are lucky to face two problems that have one solution:

1.) Motherhood contributes the gender gap

2.) Middle age men lose their factory jobs to automation, and never again get as good a job

In short, any interruption in one’s career causes wages to go down, and if you are over the age of 40, there is a good chance your wages won’t catch up to where they might have been if your career had never suffered an ...

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May 27th, 2017

In Philosophy

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What forces exist to promote mutual respect and tolerance?

Interesting:

Organizations and leaders. Organizations like white supremacist clubs and their leaders make deliberate attempts to persuade outsiders to join their beliefs. Leaders make concerted and intelligent attempts to craft messages that will appeal to potential followers, deliberately cultivating the themes of hate and racism that they advocate. Young people are recruited at the street level into groups and clubs that convey hateful symbols and rhetoric. Political entrepreneurs take advantage of the persuasive power of mobilization efforts based on divisiveness ...

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May 27th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Talking with my right-wing friends

I know a couple who are fairly right-wing. I like them dearly. They are important to me. They call themselves libertarian. They did not vote for Trump, though their parents and siblings voted for Trump.

I try to avoid talking politics with them, but on the rare occasion when politics comes up, the thing that strikes me most is this: they never ask me what I think, instead, they tell me what I think.

I’m not sure what their ...

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May 27th, 2017

In Philosophy

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The strong Grandmother Hypothesis

I was never a hunter, but when I was 20 I loved to explore forests. I’d go into the forest for days, and explore areas where I thought other folks had not been in a while. I was mostly on the east coast of the USA so I did not have to worry too much about bears. When I was out West I had some close calls with bobcats, but I was lucky.

Young men typically go on adventures into ...

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May 27th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Very unpleasant people who want a racial or religious war

I’m sick that people write such disgusting things:. And for every person who says something that disgusting in public, there must be a 1,000 who think something similar in private.

The newspaper columnist Katie Hopkins became the subject of a police review after the Manchester bombing on Monday, as questions were raised about the limits the press can go to when reporting the fallout from terrorist attacks.

Hopkins, who is employed by the Mail Online and LBC, was reported to the ...

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May 27th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Kennedy barely knew his Inaugural Address

I’m watching Kennedy’s Inaugural Address. I guess it’s been many years since the last time I saw it. I love the text of this speech. And I love studying great rhetoric.

But now, watching it again, I’m astonished at how hesitant he is. He keeps looking down at his notes. Yet it’s a short speech. He could have easily memorized it. I would have memorized it. How often do you get sworn in as President of the USA? Anyone ...

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May 27th, 2017

In Philosophy

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The context that controls the reading of the Gettysburg Address

“Impregnated during a wild spree” wouldn’t sound correct, but “Conceived in Liberty” can be read that way. The context matters

This seems like an extreme dip into deconstructionism, but I think it can be a lot of fun to remember how slippery words are. The same phrase evokes different images for different people. The title of the work is “Precious Nonsense” which can only be accurate if all text is nonsense, since all text is slippery in the same way, unless ...

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May 26th, 2017

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The rising appeal of religiously motivated punishments

A similar movement is spreading across the USA, where politicians are looking to see how much anti-gay hatred they can create. It’s seems to be a worldwide movement, effecting all of the religions, that these punishments are becoming more popular. Perhaps the curious thing is why politicians feel that the strictest and most narrow interpretations of traditional beliefs might now be the most popular? There have been centuries when homosexuality was treated as a minor sin, and other centuries ...

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May 26th, 2017

In Philosophy

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The trolls are more common than ever on Hacker News

Someone reasonable asked:

Should someone pay me for not having slaves and not being able to profit from exploiting them because I am a century or two late and missed the good old time when it was not yet an unacceptable practice?

And, in the year 2017, someone wrote:

If you legally acquired them, then yes. The British experience ending slavery was far more humane than the US one.

That is already surprising, but then I wrote this, and I was promptly downvoted:

You ...

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May 9th, 2017

In Technology

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Don’t use PM2 with NodeJS

Interesting:

I don’t use any of the “node” process managers because they don’t solve the problem of starting your process at server boot. I use init scripts, or upstart, or runit or systemd like you’re supposed to for a service. Anyone using forever or pm2 likely doesn’t understand sysops.

Source

May 5th, 2017

In Technology

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Very long GC pauses when NodeJS is about to die from memory exhaustion

I sometimes see stuff like this in my logs, when my NodeJS app has reached critical:

856870 ms: Mark-sweep 5647.1 (6029.8) -> 5625.8 (6029.8) MB, 10733.9 / 0.0 ms [allocation failure] [GC in old space requested]. 867774 ms: Mark-sweep 5625.8 (6029.8) -> 5625.8 (6030.8) MB, 10903.4 / 0.0 ms [allocation failure] [GC in old space requested]. 878580 ms: Mark-sweep 5625.8 (6030.8) -> 5625.8 (5996.8) MB, 10806.3 / 0.0 ms [last resort gc]. 889353 ms: Mark-sweep ...
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May 4th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Pro-tip: it’s not a great idea to be incredibly sensitive about how someone asks a question

Someone is a bit sensitive:

Source

May 2nd, 2017

In Business

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There’s a word that unites culture and the economy: politics

Politics:

Law and Justice MEPs sit in the same group as British Conservatives. Ashley Fox, leader of the Tory group in the European Parliament, came to the new government’s defence over the criticism it has received from Western media and from the European Commission. Even though Brexit threatens Poland with a significant cut to its EU funding, and means difficulties for Poles in the UK, Kaczyński has been energised by it, seeming to believe the shock of Brexit will force Germany ...

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May 2nd, 2017

In Philosophy

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Bad ideas end with a sudden cascade

Interesting:

If one person convinces a second, says Blackford, then a third person will be far more likely to agree with the majority view. This effect exponentially increases with each person who agrees with the others. “We soon have a sociological effect whereby everyone knows that, say, a certain movie is very good or very bad, even though everyone might have ‘known’ the exact opposite if only a few early voices had been different,” says Blackford.

The cascade effect can help explain ...

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April 26th, 2017

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Part of the Great Stagnation is simply a lack of power

Literally, a lack of electricity:

In an article published in the Electricity Journal in 2015, former Lawrence Berkeley energy researcher Jonathan G. Koomey, now a consultant and a lecturer at Stanford, and Virginia Tech historian of science Richard F. Hirsch offered five hypotheses for why electricity demand had decoupled from economic growth (which I’ve paraphrased here):

State and federal efficiency standards for buildings and appliances have enabled us to get by with less electricity. Increased use of information and communications technologies have ...

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April 26th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Social purity in 1903

What an interesting image:

Now we’ve established that if you, like “A Childless Wife,” have chosen to be child-free, you are empty of soul, selfish and controlled by your basest desires. It is also likely that you are suffering an inflated sense of your value to this world. A Childless Wife also had a rather long whinge about the likelihood that she would die during delivery. She was staunchly against dying. And yes, maternal death would have been a concern ...

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April 26th, 2017

In Technology

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More NLP for Clojure

This looks fantastic:

To do its magic, postagga extracts the phrase structure of your input, and tries to find how do this structure compare to its many semantic rules and if it finds a match, where in this structure shall he extract meaningful information.

Let’s study a simple example. Look at the next sentence:

“Rafik loves apples” That is our “Natural language input”

First step in understanding this sentence is to extract some structure from it so it is easier to interpret. One common way ...

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April 26th, 2017

In Technology

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TCP can fail in many, many ways

Amazing that the world depends on a technology with so many quirks:

So, if we read that data first, and LINGER, are we good to go? Not really. The close() call really does not convey what we are trying to tell the kernel: please close the connection after sending all the data I submitted through write().

Luckily, the system call shutdown() is available, which tells the kernel exactly this. However, it alone is not enough. When shutdown() returns, we still have no indication ...

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April 26th, 2017

In Philosophy

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English is not Latin

This has always been an idiotic rule:

There is a traditional view, first set forth by the 17th-century poet and dramatist John Dryden, that it is incorrect to put a preposition at the end of a sentence, as in where do you come from? or she’s not a writer I’ve ever come across. The rule was formulated on the basis that, since in Latin a preposition cannot come after the word it governs or is linked with, the same should be ...

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April 26th, 2017

In Business

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Dick Costolo destroyed Twitter

So sad:

The roots of Twitter’s decline were actually established in the Summer of 2010–on the day the company’s board pushed Evan Williams out as CEO and replaced him with Dick Costolo, a man who looked at Twitter and saw a media company in the advertising business.

While the details of the events that led to that moment are fascinating and involve enough infighting, backstabbing, and subterfuge to make a Byzantine emperor proud, they aren’t relevant to this essay.

The abridged version is ...

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April 26th, 2017

In Business

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The crisis in retail will outlast the next few booms

Interesting:

the crisis of retail seems unstoppable for numerous reasons:

Obviously e-commerce and the rise of digital retail giants Amazon and Alibaba are said to have ‘disrupted’ retail and changed consumer expectations. It is accused of destroying the old retail models. It may be true. However when it comes to groceries, online retail still only accounts for a relatively small part (between 5% and 15% depending on the country);

Internet has brought about new business models that transform ownership into services: rather than ...

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April 23rd, 2017

In Philosophy

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See something, say something, watch the authorities overreact

This is the result of trying to find policies that force various agencies to act on auto-pilot:

Long story short: A dad returning from Mexico with his 3-year-old daughter was briefly detained on suspicion that he was engaged in sex trafficking. (And not to pile on, but it was a United flight.) Despite papa having her passport, his passport, and a notarized letter from the mom saying that she gave them her permission to travel, the authorities felt compelled to ...

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April 23rd, 2017

In Philosophy

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Jennifer Jason Leigh talks about Quentin Tarantino

This is a really interesting comment about Hollywood:

What accounts for this comeback you’ve had (1)? Was it a change of management or just good fortune?

I am well over 40. I feel like the door was closed, and I had made my peace with it and I was fine. I worried a little bit about money. “Am I going to work again … Maybe I’ll go more into writing.” But I’m very happy being a mom. I just thought I had ...

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April 23rd, 2017

In Technology

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Thinking about Concurrency, Raymond Hettinger, Python core developer

A basic overview of concurrency, most of which I knew, but he had one good line at the end: “If you add enough locks to your concurrent code, it is no longer concurrent. It is completely sequential, you’ve simply made it a lot more complicated than single threaded code.”

Source

April 23rd, 2017

In Business

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Workers reduce accidents when they point at things

Interesting:

Japan’s rail system has a well-deserved reputation for being among the very best in the world. An extensive network of tracks moving an estimated 12 billion passengers each year with an on-time performance measured in the seconds makes Japanese rail a precise, highly reliable transportation marvel.

Train conductors, drivers and station staff play an important role in the safe and efficient operation of the lines; a key aspect of which is the variety of physical gestures and vocal calls that they ...

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April 23rd, 2017

In Business

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Report a security problem to a bank and get threatened with the FBI

It is a bit frustrating that banks show so little interest in increasing their online security:

The next day, I phoned the Zecco office with message to Jeff Chamberlain, and Jeroen Veth to arrange a phone call.

During the week of 2008-01-06 I held phone conferences with Jeff Chamberlain (Fraud Prevention Manager), Jeroen Veth (Founder and CEO), Michael Raneri (then CTO, later promoted to CEO and now Managing Director – PwC), Phil (Penson Bank, their software vendor), Greg (VP of Engineering) Loren ...

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April 17th, 2017

In Business

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How to destroy a tech startup in three easy steps

I created the rough draft for this book by copying and pasting all of the relevant corporate emails and Slack messages. Then I added in much of the text I’d written for the blog post “What happens when the Board Of Directors begins to panic”. Then I wrote out a several scenes that were not covered by either of those three sources.

This gave me 100,000 words, which was far too much. Corporate email tends to be the dullest kind ...

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April 17th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Sowmya Shriraghavan on discrimination in tech

Nicole Nguyen has a piece at Recode that touches on this subject.

In this graph, female enrollment in medical school, law school, and physical sciences goes up and up, while the number of women in computer science flatlines at 1984 and continues to decrease into the 2000s. There was a serious cultural change in the ’80s that pushed women out and set the precedent for the future of engineering.

What’s bizarre about this shift is that many of computer science’s foremost pioneers ...

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April 15th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Gender ideals in sports in Germany before the Nazis

Interesting:

He completed his Ph.D. in 1925, and the following year he dashed to global fame, competing in seventy-six races, achieving four national records, three world records, and beating two reigning Olympic champions. His racing style was brash and incautious, reckless even, relying on his blistering pace on the home straight to seal victory. It mirrored his combative personality; his on-track success was accompanied by stories of frequent confrontations with coaches, teammates, opponents, and the stuffed blazers who ran German athletics ...

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April 13th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Anti-gay human rights abuse in Chechnya

Really awful:

At least once a day, Adam’s captors attached metal clamps to his fingers and toes. One of the men then cranked a handle on a machine to which the clamps were linked with wires, and sent powerful electric shocks through his body. If he managed not to scream, others would join in, beating him with wooden sticks or metal rods.

As they tortured him, the men shouted verbal abuse at him for being gay, and demanded to know the names ...

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April 13th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Jack London was his own lawyer and he won

Interesting:

Jack London advocated a different revolution, a Socialist one. The various books, articles, and speeches referred to as his Socialist writings, though now little read in the United States, sold well when first published and have been avidly read all over the world. The Iron Heel, for instance, sold over 50,000 copies in hardback, and Wikipedia lists translations of the novel into thirty-two languages (including Esperanto). According to Alex Kershaw (in his Jack London: A Life), the novel “was…passed ...

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April 13th, 2017

In Technology

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Python has greenlets

I’m sad that Python is doing so well. It gets all the attention that should go to Clojure. They are both great for AI and NLP, but Python doesn’t have as many great ideas for concurrency. Or rather, the language doesn’t, but the eco-system makes up for that with a wealth of interesting ideas — and it is sad to see so much effort go to see making Python work, rather than just starting over with something that has a ...

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April 13th, 2017

In Philosophy

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English adventurers in the Black Sea just before the First Crusade

This is sort of a precursor to the Crusades, with less of a goal, and more random adventuring:

This sequence of events appears to underlie all four of the sources mentioned above and is moreover supported by contemporary Byzantine sources too, as Jonathan Shepard has convincingly argued.(2) As to the date of this emigration of disgruntled Anglo-Saxon lords and their followers, Christine Fell makes a good case for it having taken place in the mid- to late 1070s, after the death ...

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April 13th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Sweden is a nation of introverts

Interesting:

“Swedish culture isn’t exactly known for its extroversion and mingling,” says Sophia Skinbjerg, a 25-year-old Australian-Danish marketeer, who is based in Stockholm. “Connections, whether personal or professional, are often fostered from a very young age. So as a foreign person, it’s very difficult to break through and establish your own network quickly.” Risk avoidance With one of the highest standards of living in the world and a booming start-up scene, Sweden has attracted growing numbers of expats and economic migrants in recent years, ...

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April 13th, 2017

In Business

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Doc Searls: ad tech is destructive to brands

Interesting:

The New York Times said AT&T and Johnson & Johnson were pulling their ads from YouTube, concerned that “Google is not doing enough to prevent brands from appearing next to offensive material, like hate speech.” Business Insider said “more than 250” advertisers were bailing as well. Both reports came on the heels of one Guardian story that said Audi, HSBC, Lloyds, McDonald’s, L’Oréal, Sainsbury’s, Argos, the BBC and Sky were doing the same in the UK. Another Guardian story that ...

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April 13th, 2017

In Philosophy

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When were women active in politics

Measured by how many women testified before Congress, it seems women’s political mobilization peaked in the mid 20th Century:

First, far from retreating from public life in the post-suffrage and postwar decades, women and their organizations were out in force. Working through mass membership federations, to which Theda Skocpol has called our attention, women testified collectively on a wide range of issues including but not limited to foreign policy, affordable housing, children’s well-being, military readiness, public education, tax policy, and immigration. ...

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April 13th, 2017

In Technology

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Katharine Jarmul describes the bias in Google’s Word2Vec software

Interesting:

I must warn you that parts of this post are disgusting, disturbing and awful. If you are having a rough day, feel free to save for another time. If you are already sick of seeing hateful language, this is likely not a post to read at present. That said, I feel my duty as a former journalist to look at it, expose it, and hope to spark better conversations around how we handle both implicit and explicit bias and prejudice ...

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April 13th, 2017

In Philosophy

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The alt-right has always been part of the USA political scene

Interesting:

American historians’ relationship to conservatism itself has a troubled history. Even after Ronald Reagan’s electoral-college landslide in 1980, we paid little attention to the right: The central narrative of America’s political development was still believed to be the rise of the liberal state. But as Newt Gingrich’s right-wing revolutionaries prepared to take over the House of Representatives in 1994, the scholar Alan Brinkley published an essay called “The Problem of American Conservatism” in The American Historical Review. American conservatism, ...

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April 13th, 2017

In Philosophy

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The decline of the public intellectual

Interesting:

If you were a certain sort of ideas-oriented young person coming of age in the 20th century, it was very likely you would give yourself a label and join some movement. You’d call yourself a Marxist, a neoconservative, a Freudian, an existentialist or a New Deal liberal.

There would be certain sacred writers who would explain the world to you — from Jung to Camus, Dewey or Chesterton. There’d probably be a small magazine where the doctrines of your sect ...

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April 11th, 2017

In Technology

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Why are people ignoring the problems with NodeJS?

Two weeks ago I wrote “A surprising NodeJS failure mode: deterministic code becomes probabilistic under load“. Since then I’ve been reading up on NodeJS and learning more about its substantial failure modes. I’m left feeling very surprised at the success that NodeJS is having.

Just to give you a sense of what I mean, this is how The New Stack sums up the success of NodeJS:

Ready for a Long Term Node Relationship?

In just seven short years, Node.js has gone ...

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April 8th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Manhood in the age of Trump

Interesting:

For some decades now, since I was a child, I’ve heard people talking about how our understanding of gender would need to change, and how men would need to reinterpret what it needs to be a man. But apparently, open mindedness on this issue is easier for men when they know their wages will be going up for some decades. In the USA, men were tolerant of the surge of women into the workforce during the 1930s and 1940s. In ...

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April 8th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Britain in south east Africa in 550 AD

Amazing to think that British merchants reached Tanzania in the mid 500s. If there was still so much trade going on, why did the economy collapse to completely?

Tanzania? A small number of beads have been found on the East African coast at Dar es Salaam and Kisiju, Tanzania, which have been considered to be early Anglo-Saxon in origin by a number of researchers, including Richard Hodges and Barbara Green, as was discussed in a previous post. Given their likely origin, ...

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April 8th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Octopus can kill dolphins even after the dolphin has swallowed them

Interesting:

Essentially, the octopuses’ tentacles keep fighting, blocking the dolphins’ airways, even after most of their bodies have been swallowed. It’s a terrifying way to die, but Sprogis and the researchers observe that octopuses must be such valuable prey that they are worth it. Over seven years of observation, she and her team watched 33 dolphins “handling” octopuses in ways that made them meal-ready. Typically, the encounter would start with the dolphin biting the octopus’ head off, followed by tossing the ...

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April 8th, 2017

In Philosophy

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The Vikings raided Africa and then took slaves back to Ireland

One of the great puzzles of history is why a particular region might suddenly become active and attack another region. Why was Scandinavia not a factor during Roman times but then suddenly a volcano that spewed attacks outward like a volcano throwing out lava? Why did the Vikings suddenly come onto the scene? What had they been doing previously? Why did they attack Africa, rather than the other way around? Why has there never been a time when Sub-Saharan Africa ...

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April 8th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Korzybski on linguistic relativism

Interesting:

Sapir/Whorf contemporary Alfred Korzybski was independently developing his theory of general semantics, which was aimed at using language’s influence on thinking to maximize human cognitive abilities. Korzybski’s thinking was influenced by logical philosophy such as Russell and Whitehead’s Principia Mathematica and Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.[72] Although Korzybski was not aware of Sapir and Whorf’s writings, the movement was followed by Whorf-admirer Chase, who fused Whorf’s interest in cultural-linguistic variation with Korzybski’s programme in his popular work “The Tyranny of Words”. S. ...

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April 8th, 2017

In Business

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Donovan Data Systems and the modernization of the ad business

I just stumbled on this story from 2008. It makes me sad to think that Donovan Data Systems has had a tough time dealing with the modern ad market. I knew Michael Donovan, one of the great entrepreneurs of the 20th Century. He was a friend of the father of my business partner, and the father asked him as a favor to come and advise us.

But it is tough for a company to remain agile, after a long period ...

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April 7th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Maybe naked mole rats are simply very good at fighting off cancer?

If a tumor is only a dozen cells, scientists would have difficulty finding it. Previously, researchers thought naked mole rats could not get cancer. Then they found one who got cancer but then healed. What if naked mole rats do get cancer at a normal rate, but their immune system is good about destroying all tumors before scientists can detect them? Interesting:

Dr. Delaney and her colleagues have studied lesions on naked mole rats for more than a decade, but it ...

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April 7th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Mojica was overcome, and found himself with tears in his eyes

Interesting:

But every time Mojica and his colleagues repeated the experiment, the same pattern—30 or so bases that appeared over and over again, separated by lengths of seemingly unrelated DNA—reappeared. Reading journal articles in the library, Mojica learned that a Japanese group had noticed something similar in the genome of E. coli a few years before. Despite the fact that the repetitions did not seem to be connected to H. mediterranei’s predilection for salt, he put a chapter on them at ...

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April 7th, 2017

In Philosophy

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The alternative media on the right

Interesting:

“The long, lucrative right-wing grift is blowing up in the world’s face”: “Because there was a lot of money in it for various hucksters and moguls and authors and politicians, the conservative movement spent decades building up an entire sector of the economy dedicated to scaring and lying to older white men. For millions of members of that demographic, this parallel media dedicated to lying to them has totally supplanted the ‘mainstream’ media. Now they, and we, are at the ...

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April 6th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Clean decimals are limited to primes of your base

Interesting:

Floating Point Math

Your language isn’t broken, it’s doing floating point math. Computers can only natively store integers, so they need some way of representing decimal numbers. This representation comes with some degree of inaccuracy. That’s why, more often than not, .1 + .2 != .3.

Why does this happen?

It’s actually pretty simple. When you have a base 10 system (like ours), it can only express fractions that use a prime factor of the base. The prime factors of 10 are ...

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April 5th, 2017

In Business

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Andy Grove does not understand why cancer research is so hard

Interesting:

Andy Grove: The fundamental tenet that drives us all in the semiconductor industry is a deeply felt conviction that what matters is time to market, or time to money. But you never hear an executive from a pharmaceutical company say, “Before the end of the year I’m going to have xyz drug,” the way Steve Jobs said the iPhone would be out on schedule. The heart of every high-tech executive has been, get the product into customers’ hands and ramp ...

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April 4th, 2017

In Philosophy

No Comments

Have I been shadowbanned from Hacker News?

Very strange. Check out this page on Hacker News.

None of my comments are appearing there. I wonder if I have been banned? I can’t imagine why this would happen. I believe I offer good comments that move a conversation forward.

The article asks this question:

Why do developers who could work anywhere flock to the most expensive cities?

To which I responded:

(Please forgive the side-story, I believe this comment eventually forms a cohesive story.)

Once upon a time I had ...

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April 3rd, 2017

In Business

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Sometimes consultants are cheaper and better than full time hires

Sean Hull makes this point, and I’m surprised that more CTOs don’t get this. As I make clear in my upcoming book, sometimes it is better, smarter and cheaper to hire a real expert for 2 weeks, rather than hire someone fresh out of college and allow them to thrash around for 3 months.

4. Halftime need

Smaller demand? Perhaps your capacity isn’t a full 40-hour week. Then an on-demand hire is really ideal.

Also: Is the difference between dev & ...

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April 2nd, 2017

In Philosophy

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Language is the only homeland

The only homeland. This strikes me as the only way forward for Europe, and perhaps the world, though I realize there are some groups, such as African-Americans in the USA, who might strongly disagree, as they use the language of the oppressors. But maybe if we can interpret the words broadly enough, then the idea fits everyone? Beyoncé recently sang:

My daddy Alabama, momma Louisiana You mix that negro with that Creole, make a Texas bama

So where is her homeland? What ...

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March 30th, 2017

In Technology

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A surprising NodeJS failure mode: deterministic code becomes probabilistic under load

I have a client. Let’s say they run some scripts that scrape the web for data, then they run some NLP scripts to pull out the facts they need, then they need to insert that into their MySQL database. When they gather facts, they need to know if the facts are about an organization that is already in the database. So they asked me to create an API that could take their new facts, and try to match those facts ...

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March 29th, 2017

In Business

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Svbtle was a final attempt to keep blogs alive

I find it very sad that the era of experimentation on the Web has come to an end. We won’t be seeing much like Svbtle ever again:

Dustin Curtis is a developer, designer, and blogger who has accomplished the rare feat of getting a blogging platform off the ground. Called Svbtle, it launched in early 2012 as a sort of application-required Tumblr — a few tech thought leaders using a uniform minimalist theme to publish long posts. But it’s grown ...

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March 29th, 2017

In Philosophy

No Comments

Another blow to the indie Web: the Deck ad network closes down

So sad:

LONG STRANGE TRIP

We started The Deck in 2006 and for the first couple years it struggled. By 2008, it was an OK business and by 2009, it was a pretty good business. From then through 2013, The Deck was going along just fine.

THINGS WORK, UNTIL THEY DON’T

Things change. In 2014, display advertisers started concentrating on large, walled, social networks. The indie “blogosphere” was disappearing. Mobile impressions, which produce significantly fewer clicks and engagements, began to really dominate the market. ...

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March 29th, 2017

In Technology

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Skip Lists: A Probabilistic Alternative to Balanced Trees

Interesting:

Skip lists are a data structure that can be used in place of balanced trees. Skip lists use probabilistic balancing rather than strictly enforced balancing and as a result the algorithms for insertion and deletion in skip lists are much simpler and significantly faster than equivalent algorithms for balanced trees

A node that has k forward pointers is called a level k node. If every (2i)th node has a pointer 2i nodes ahead, then levels of nodes are distributed in a simple pattern: 50% are level 1, 25% ...

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March 29th, 2017

In Technology

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Novelty seeking multi agent systems

Interesting:

This paper considers novelty-seeking multi-agent systems as a step towards more efficient generation of creative artifacts. We describe a simple multi-agent architecture where agents have limited resources and exercise self-criticism, veto power and voting to collectively regulate which artifacts are selected to the domain i.e., the cultural storage of the system. To overcome their individual resource limitations, agents have a limited access to the artifacts already in the domain which they can use to guide their search for novel artifacts. Creating geometric images called spirographs as a case study, we show ...

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March 29th, 2017

In Technology

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Bushy join trees for snowstorm queries

I am taken aback by the amount of jargon here:

Many workloads for analytical processing in commercial RDBMSs are dominated by snowstorm queries, which are characterized by references to multiple large fact tables and their associated smaller dimension tables. This paper describes a technique for bushy join tree optimization for snowstorm queries in Oracle database system. This technique generates bushy join trees containing subtrees that produce substantially reduced sets of rows and, therefore, their joins with other subtrees are generally much ...

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March 29th, 2017

In Technology

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How to combine novelty search with fitness-based evolution

I need to go back and read this whole article:

Novelty search is a state-of-the-art evolutionary approach that promotes behavioural novelty instead of pursuing a static objective. Along with a large number of successful applications, many different variants of novelty search have been proposed. It is still unclear, however, how some key parameters and algorithmic components influence the evolutionary dynamics and performance of novelty search. In this paper, we conduct a comprehensive empirical study focused on novelty search’s algorithmic components. We ...

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March 29th, 2017

In Technology

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Novelty search

Interesting:

Novelty search is a recent algorithm geared toward exploring search spaces without regard to objectives. When the presence of constraints divides a search space into feasible space and infeasible space, interesting implications arise regarding how novelty search explores such spaces. This paper elaborates on the problem of constrained novelty search and proposes two novelty search algorithms which search within both the feasible and the infeasible space. Inspired by the FI-2pop genetic algorithm, both algorithms maintain and evolve two separate populations, ...

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March 29th, 2017

In Philosophy

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The rise of neo queerbaiting

The actress, who is contractually obligated to defend the storyline that the corporation decides to advance, offers a diplomatic answer regarding her character’s possible romance with a man, versus her answer regarding her character’s possible romance with a woman:

Also

Source

March 29th, 2017

In Philosophy

No Comments

How long can sha-1 crypto survive?

Interesting:

SHA1 was meant to be a replacement for MD5. MD5 has an output space of only 128-bits, where as SHA1 has an output space of 160-bits. SHA1 is also designed differently than MD5, and is meant to not suffer the same sort of weaknesses or attacks that MD5 faces. However, over time, cryptographers have been able to severely attack SHA1, and as a result, they’ve all been warning us to get off SHA1, and move to SHA2. It should ...

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March 29th, 2017

In Philosophy

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After 121 years of terrible journalism, the DailyMail is finding ways to be worse

When every article you publish is terrible, it takes something unique to stand out from the debris and make people say “That is much worse than usual“.

The meeting presented a new low for the newspaper, its perpetually disappointed proprietor and its lickspittle columnist: as if it weren’t bad enough that women held high office and didn’t have the grace to think the same about things, they were also each in possession of not one but two legs. Who knows where ...

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March 28th, 2017

In Philosophy

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It’s absolutely true because I read it in the Daily Mail

Good lord, this song is good:

Source

March 27th, 2017

In Technology

No Comments

What every object on a network needs

There is no need to rely on the Web for these things:

The problem with operations is that we have to define, a-priori, the semantics of each individual operation. We cannot tell, unless we know beforehand, whether the operation is safe to call multiple times, whether the result of an operation will be the same every time we call it, whether the result can be cached, and if so for how long. Many years of building distributed applications have told ...

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March 27th, 2017

In Philosophy

1 Comment

Complexity emerges when a system has transitions that demand a different kind of math

Interesting:

When we observe the largest scale behaviors of a system, we simplify the mathematical description of the system because there are fewer distinguishable states, and only a limited set of possible behaviors. This also means that systems that look different on a microscopic scale may not look different at the macroscopic scale, and their mathematical descriptions become the same.

An important example of this arose in the study of phase transitions using the new mathematics of renormalization group. The transition ...

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March 27th, 2017

In Technology

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Use pseudo URIs for an id

A long article, but this is interesting:

When facing the problems above, my team at SoundCloud started exploring alternatives that would allow for us to have simple, scalar values that were still rich enough to act as good identifiers across our hundreds of microservices. Reading through decades of industry work on the matter, we found something simple that could help us: Uniform Resource Names, or URNs. URNs were a type of Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs) that, as opposed to URLs, were ...

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March 27th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Did sleep paralysis start the Salem Witch Trials?

Interesting:

Sleep paralysis researchers Brian Sharpless and Karl Dograhmji have collected 118 different terms from around the world that describe sleep paralysis-like experiences: Germans have terms for hexendrücken – witch pressing – and alpdrücken – elf pressing. Norwegian folktales include svartalfar – evil elves that shoot people with paralysing arrows before perching on their chests. The Japanese have a term, kanashibari, in reference to being magically bound by invisible metal. In parts of Switzerland people speak of tchutch-muton, an evil ...

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March 27th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Will we live in a society where everyone needs an advanced college degree?

It’s amazing that this was written back in 1903, when less than 4% of the population had a college degree:

Human nature is once for all so childish that every reality becomes a sham somewhere, and in the minds of Presidents and Trustees the Ph.D. degree is in point of fact already looked upon as a mere advertising resource, a manner of throwing dust in the Public’s eyes. “No instructor who is not a Doctor” has become a maxim in the ...

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March 27th, 2017

In Philosophy

No Comments

Do researchers have momentum?

Interesting:

Source

March 27th, 2017

In Philosophy

No Comments

Kids make people hate each other

It’s funny, but it’s also serious, how many relationships go downhill once a couple has kids.

How Not to Hate Your Husband is a book for messy reality, but I can’t shake my frustration that its twin, written for men, isn’t out there somewhere: How to Keep Your Wife From Hating You After Kids. I’m disappointed that on top of doing far more housework and childcare than men, it also falls on women to patiently and strategically negotiate the terms ...

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March 27th, 2017

In Philosophy

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The endless jargon wears me down

Microcanonical distribution? I find myself thinking I need to read something else before I read this. But then I find an article that is suppose to be more basic, and that too has jargon that makes me think I need to read something still more basic. I wonder where the starting point is?

Every time I try to get through an essay like this (almost every day) I find myself worn out dealing with the endless jargon:

Source

March 27th, 2017

In Business

No Comments

Anti-human technology

This goes beyond bad design to being actively uncomfortable for humans. Even when such a device is operating normally, there is still the fear of it being hyper active – the lack of reliability becomes a stress factor for its users.

“No… it’s a magic potty,” my daughter used to lament, age 3 or so, before refusing to use a public restroom stall with an automatic-flush toilet. As a small person, she was accustomed to the infrared sensor detecting erratic ...

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March 27th, 2017

In Technology

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Is NewSQL the next big thing?

I like the fact that Kinesis has an SQL interface:

I can see this being useful for Business Intelligence. But that seems like a niche to me. Both SQL and NoSQL solved big, universal problems.

But maybe the SQL is just window dressing? Maybe the real breakthrough is a distributed system with strong consistency guarantees? It would be a very big deal if someone found a way around the CAP Theorem. But otherwise, NewSQL is just more bad marketing for ...

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March 27th, 2017

In Technology

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Designing a neural net is really hard

Interesting:

2bitencryption says:

Designing a neural network is a thousand times harder than I imagined.

After AlphaGo, I tasked myself with creating a neural network that would use Q-Learning to play Reversi (aka Othello).

At that point, I had already utilized Q-Learning (the tabular version, not using a neural network) for some very simple and mostly proof-of-concept projects, so I understood how it worked. I read up only perceptrons, relu, the benefits/disadvantages of having more/fewer layers, etc.

Then I actually started on the project, thinking ...

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March 27th, 2017

In Philosophy

1 Comment

Facebook activated my dormant account and it won’t let me deactivate it

I am angry. I will walk you through the steps of what has happened. Here is the historical background:

1.) In late 2008, I signed up for Facebook.

2.) In early 2012 I deactivated my account.

3.) On March 14th, 2017, Facebook suddenly reactivated my account. I received this email:

I have done nothing to reactivate my account. I do not want an account on Facebook. I have been happy to live without Facebook for the last 5 years. The ...

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March 26th, 2017

In Technology

No Comments

Training a neural net

A great intro:

Training

Training is how we teach a neural network what we want it to learn. It follows a simple five step process:

1.) Create a training data set, which we will call x and load its labels as targets y

2.) Feed the x data forward through the network with the result being predictions y’

3.) Figure out the “loss” of the network, which is the difference between the predictions y’ and the correct targets y

4.) Compute the “gradient” of the loss ...

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March 26th, 2017

In Technology

No Comments

Transform real data into a tensor, that is, tensor flow

A good introduction:

Source

March 26th, 2017

In Philosophy

No Comments

What happens when there is no agreement on the sources of facts?

Interesting:

But what happens when political participants step out of bounds and violate shared norms? Is it the press’s role to defend those norms, to push back, or merely to report on what has happened?

It’s a dilemma. For one thing, no clear line separates legitimate subjects of political dispute from what is off limits or out of bounds. As circumstances change, those lines shift and warp at the margins. Collective values are always in flux. Things that were subject of dispute ...

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March 25th, 2017

In Philosophy

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Government says: Don’t Be Afraid to Racially Profile Your Friends, Neighbors and Coworkers

Worrisome:

Peterson opened his remarks with an anecdote about the San Bernardino shooters, who you’ll recall were a married couple. He noted that a neighbor failed to call the cops on the pair before the shooting, despite seeing them in their garage doing something murky. She feared being thought of as “racist,” Peterson said.

Peterson described this as an example of “political correctness run amok.” He encouraged us not to let a distaste for treating people differently based on their race ...

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March 21st, 2017

In Philosophy

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Why does anyone bother?

Interesting:

How Not to Hate Your Husband came about because Dunn and her husband Tom had fallen into a deep rut of arguments and resentment about their household distribution of labour. Tom, despite good intentions and a warm personality, left almost all of the household management and childcare to Dunn, and her resentment became explosive. (Sound familiar?) Their six-year-old daughter, Sylvie, was often witness to their conflicts, and Dunn began to worry about the negative impact that this repetitive dynamic ...

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March 20th, 2017

In Philosophy

No Comments

Maybe you should write fan fiction

This is great:

You know when professional writers say, “We’re not writing fan fiction”? My immediate reaction is almost always – well, maybe you should be.

Maybe you should be the fan writer who spends a lovingly long time getting into characters’ heads and making sure they’re internally consistent? Who cares more about interactions and dynamics than pulling the rug out from under audiences’ feet.

Maybe you should be the fan writer who chooses to show characters in love even ...

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March 20th, 2017

In Philosophy

No Comments

Telling your family that you’ve been laid off

This was from a fiction workshop I was part of. This was my effort.

Jeffery and Anthony pulled up to the curb in front of the house. Jeffery looked out the house, but he did not move.

Anthony, who was in the driver’s seat, watched his friend for a long moment, and then said, “You’ve got to tell them.”

There was no reaction from Jeffery. Perhaps he had not heard.

“You’ve got to tell them,” repeated Anthony.

Jeffery took a ...

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March 18th, 2017

In Philosophy

No Comments

The age of religion never ended

This does not strike me as new:

All this adds up to a depressing picture for those of us who aren’t ready to live in a post-truth world. Facts, it seems, are toothless. Trying to refute a bold, memorable lie with a fiddly set of facts can often serve to reinforce the myth. Important truths are often stale and dull, and it is easy to manufacture new, more engaging claims. And giving people more facts can backfire, as those facts provoke ...

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March 17th, 2017

In Philosophy

No Comments

Life in the country

This person asserts we should leave the big cities and go where life is easy:

The “horribly stacked life” card is, in my experience, most often played by people trying to get by in the overly competitive environments of large cities. I know a lot of people don’t like to hear it, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: if you don’t feel like you’re getting anywhere trying to work and live in a major city, do yourself a ...

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