Philosophy

October 25th, 2014

The multiplicity of truth during the era of the Internet

Andrew Montalenti seems to think that truth is possible in the era of the Internet:

I believe that in the Internet Era, we don’t have a weakened notion of truth, but we just have a messier view of how the sausage is actually made. We have public debate leading to consensus on some issues, and more contention on others. When the debate doesn’t end in a way that is satisfactory for a big enough group of passionate people, they may ...

October 25th, 2014

The tactics used by the GamerGate crowd are worrisome and effective:

That Day’s fears were so swiftly proven right is the most obvious story here, and the headline writes itself: “Felicia Day Says She’s Afraid of Gamergate, Immediately Gets Doxxed.” But the fears themselves are noteworthy for reasons other than the dispiriting, seemingly inevitable attack that came in the wake of their expression.

Day’s post left me feeling incredibly sad. It resonated with me on a couple of different levels: That ...

October 23rd, 2014

The end of consensus

Clay Shirky, who is always good, writes about the end of consensus:

The post-fact literature is built in part on nostalgia for the world before people like Bigfoot showed up in the public sphere, for the days when Newsweek reflected moderately liberal consensus without also providing a platform for orthographically-challenged wingnuts to rant about the President. People who want those days back tell themselves (and anyone else who will listen) that they don’t want to impose their views on anybody. They ...

October 22nd, 2014

Gombe Chimpanzee War

Interesting:

The Gombe Chimpanzee War (also known as the “Four-Year War” of Gombe), lasting from 1974 to 1978, was a violent conflict between two communities of chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, in Tanzania. The belligerent groups were the Kasakela and the Kahama, which occupied territories in the northern and southern areas of the park, respectively. The two had previously been a single, unified community, but by 1974 researcher Jane Goodall, who had been observing the community, first noticed the chimps ...

October 22nd, 2014

The Great Stagnation really started in 1970

The stagnation in the number of new scientists is an obvious prelude to the onset of the Great Stagnation:

Although hardly anyone noticed the change at the time, it is difficult to imagine a more dramatic contrast than the decades just before 1970, and the decades since then. Those were the years in which science underwent an irreversible transformation into an entirely new regime. Let’s look back at what has happened in those years in light of this historic transition.

The ...

October 22nd, 2014

GamerGate dudes are very, very nasty people

This comment gets at an important part of this story:

I don’t think even Orwell predicted the Newspeak-y confusion over censorship that has become so ubiquitous — “my freedom of speech is infringed upon unless people with views I dislike are made to remain silent; it is censorship when others express certain views”.

But of course, threats of physical violence are an attempt at censorship — that is the whole point of the threat, to get someone to shut up.

The people ...

October 19th, 2014

The emotional need to troll

Back in the 1990s I was sick, and for emotional support, I hung out in a chat room that was full of people who shared my illness. And occasionally trolls would come by. They would say stuff like “I hope you all die horrible, painful deaths” and also “None of you are really sick, its just all in your head.” I wondered what sort of person got enjoyment from tormenting sick people? I am still curious about that.

This is ...

October 19th, 2014

Urban raccoons are smarter than rural raccoons

City raccoons are smart. I wonder if something similar happens to humans? Does this explain why technological advance sped up after the first cities were formed?

Unlike many animals, raccoons “flourished rather than receded in the face of human expansion,” Pettit points out in an article for the American Psychological Association.1 Part of the reason for their success may be that the urban environment has contributed to their intelligence. In humans, the effect is well known. Educational psychologist Walkiria Fontes has ...

October 19th, 2014

How do we know what correct English sounds like?

A person might say:

“Nobody ever goes to that restaurant any more.”

but not:

“Everyone never goes to that restaurant any more.”

How is a foreigner, new to the language, suppose to know which is correct? How is that I know which is correct?

I dated a woman from another country. She had trouble knowing when to use “the”. For me, this comes naturally. I know it is incorrect to say:

“I posted a tweet on the Twitter.”

And yet I know that “the” is ...

October 18th, 2014

Electronically-dissociated antisocial personality disorder

Very true:

To me, what’s really interesting — and depressing — about the article is not just how easy it is for a mob to get whipped up by a dedicated troll, but by the (alleged) identity behind the trolling.

We’re used to thinking of trolls as teenaged or twentysomething male denziens of 4chan, reddit or Anonymous’ IRCs, and yet this article suggests that behind a troll who (again, allegedly) whipped up a hate-mob against a 14-year-old girl could lie a seemingly ...

October 18th, 2014

Spoiled versus invincible youth

Funny:

Two bright young women dominated headlines late last week. On the same day that Malala Yousafzai, 17, won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, Bristol Palin, 23, was cited in an Alaska police report for getting drunk at a party and punching her host “multiple times.”

Bristol Palin’s “heavily intoxicated” behavior had already prompted her famous mother to release a statement describing her daughter as “one of the strongest young women you’ll ever meet.” Sarah Palin went on to praise Bristol’s “work ...

October 18th, 2014

How should people argue?

I like this:

So if, for example, somebody discussing my views on monetary policy refers to me as “Enron consultant Paul Krugman”, that’s ad hominem. But if I say that inflationistas have been

bobbing and weaving, refusing to acknowledge having said what they said, being completely unwilling to admit mistakes.

that’s really not ad hominem; I’m attacking how these people argue, not their personal attributes.

What about the lexicon we’ve developed over the course of the past few years — zombies, cockroaches, confidence fairies, ...

October 9th, 2014

The women defending Kurdistan

Interesting:

Several of the women, like General Zelal, 33, (pictured below) one of the leaders of YPJ, expanded upon the idea of the independence the group brings women of the region: “I don’t want to get married or have children or be in the house all day. I want to be free. If I couldn’t be a YPJ I think my spirit would die. Being a YPJ soldier means being free—this is what it means to truly be free.”

“There ...

October 6th, 2014

Lena Dunham’s book

An interesting review:

I didn’t read Not This Kind of Girl seeking insight. I’m not much into relatability: I already find myself a bit outsize for comfort, and part of why I avoided Dunham’s oeuvre is that I spend too much time looking in mirrors as it is. But two parts of her memoir did that juice-cleanse thing she was wanting.

First, the chapter called “I Didn’t Fuck Them, but They Yelled At Me,” which is an unsentimental indictment of the ...

October 2nd, 2014

Telegony is real

Interesting:

Dr Crean said her team were shocked when their experiments revealed they had discovered a new form of non-genetic inheritance.

“We did a lot of follow-up studies to check our results,” she said.

First proposed in ancient Greece, the idea that offspring can inherit characteristics from their mother’s previous mate – known as telegony – was discredited when scientists established more than a century ago that genes were the dominant way traits passed from parent to offspring.

“Before we discovered genetics it was ...

September 29th, 2014

Public meltdowns, in the era of the Internet, are forever

Over the centuries, lots of people have fallen into depression, and then recovered, and some have even gone on to do great things, great art, great politics, etc. Winston Churchill suffered some epic episodes of depression, but he kept coming back and fighting.

The Internet changes things. Nowadays people often make the mistake of saying in public would have in the past only been said in private. The British aristocracy had the saying “No man is a hero to his ...

September 22nd, 2014

Is depression honest?

Interesting:

Depressed Rand is weird. Don’t get me wrong, regular Rand is weird, too. But depressed Rand magnifies the bad 10X and minimizes the good. He refuses to even acknowledge good news and, because he’s a pretty smart guy, he can usually argue for why that good news is actually just temporary and will turn to shit any minute. The weird part is, I think depressed Rand is actually a very authentic version of myself. When I felt depressed, I upheld ...

September 22nd, 2014

More celebrity photos leaked

I’m left thinking that the Cloud is not ready to be used for consumer services. Developers such as myself know the risks, but the average consumer does not.

Gabrielle Union has been hit in the latest string of hacked, stolen, and leaked nude photos of female celebrities, and her legal team will be contacting the FBI regarding the matter. She and her new husband Dwyane Wade have released a joint statement, highlighting the callous treatment of women, particularly women ...

September 22nd, 2014

Getting famous with criminal pranks

The trend toward outrageous pranks is disturbing. The latest cause for concern is a guy grabbing women’s asses and recording their reactions — and making money via YouTube with this. Hopefully the women can press charges. There is plenty of video evidence.

Sam Pepper is a successful YouTube prank star. His videos frequently have over one million views and he’s well known in the community for being outrageous. Yesterday he posted a video where he went around to young women ...

September 9th, 2014

Women who defend their abusers

Source

September 9th, 2014

Vladimir Voevodsky grounds mathematics on Homotopy Type Theory

Interesting:

Voevodsky, a professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, wants to bring together two streams of development of today’s mathematics. ETH has invited him to present his ideas in Zurich as a speaker of the 2014 Paul Bernays Lectures in September. Giovanni Felder, the director of the ETH Institute for Theoretical Studies (ITS), will introduce his research to the lecture audience at ETH. He says: “Voevodsky is developing a new theory which places mathematics on a new foundation. ...

September 8th, 2014

Cat scratch fever can be transmitted by ticks

It is incredible to consider how much evil ticks do. Apparently “cat scratch fever” is only sometimes from cats, it is technically Bartonella infection, which commonly comes from tick bites.

Source

September 8th, 2014

Interesting:

I tried a secret Facebook group with an online class over the summer—we didn’t have to be Facebook friends, which was a relief, and far from creepy, it reinforced for me that it’s during these informal interactions outside the classroom where actual learning happens.

Some professors do see value in the emailed lecture notes, holding class conversations on Twitter. To do any of this means long syllabi with explanations and tutorials on technology to get everyone up to snuff. Some students ...

September 8th, 2014

Prosecutors show no regrets about jailing innocent men

Disgusting:

Last week, two men were released after spending 30 years in prison in North Carolina. They were falsely convicted of rape and murder in 1983. They were both exonerated by DNA evidence. The man who prosecuted them is, proudly, no pussy.

Henry Lee McCollum (pictured) and Leon Brown are both mentally disabled. It now appears that their confessions to the crime were coerced, and the details in their confessions the product of prompting by the police. McCollum was sent to ...

September 7th, 2014

The many lives a woman might live

Interesting project:

Things I love about this project? It’s whimsical and transformative, and manages to both reflect the way the quality of a woman’s life can be the direct result of the man she ends up with or doesn’t, for better or for worse, and whether or not she has kids and how many — while also subverting that notion. She’s an everywoman while also highly individual. Though she’s partnered in every photo, her income and class and taste are ...

September 6th, 2014

More awful news about racist police

In one message, Officer Elsbury — whose patrol included the area around the historically black Southern University — wrote that blacks are “nothing but a bunch of monkeys,” and that the “only reason they have this job is the nigger, nigger in them.” It is unclear what “job” he is referring to.

In another text, he wrote that “I wish someone would pull a Ferguson on them and take them out. I hate looking at those African monkeys at work…I ...

September 4th, 2014

Tortoise survives 32 years in an attic

Amazing story:

Back in 1982, the Almeida Family was saddened to learn that their beloved pet, Manuela, a young red-footed tortoise, had gone missing. Their house was under renovation at the time, so the family just assumed that the slow-moving animal had slipped out through a gate left open by the construction crew — disappearing into the forest near their home in Realengo, Brazil. But they couldn’t have been more wrong.

The true fate of their lost pet remained a mystery for ...

September 4th, 2014

An exaggerated sense of entitlement regarding celebrity photos

People’s reactions to the leaked celebrity photos are pretty gross. Jezebel has a nice response to the hatred being expressed at the celebrities:

These women got themselves into this situation by owning their bodies and their sexuality. Doesn’t that mean everyone on Reddit should own those things too? As one redditor pointed out (and I am paraphrasing here because I’m not going back there), “we only know them as bodies, so this isn’t that different.”

Stealing private photos and posting them ...

September 3rd, 2014

What would a Pelagian version of math look like?

Nicely said:

The world does not suffer from an oversupply of clarity and understanding (to put it mildly). How and whether specific mathematics might lead to improving the world (whatever that means) is usually impossible to tease out, but mathematics collectively is extremely important.

I think of mathematics as having a large component of psychology, because of its strong dependence on human minds. Dehumanized mathematics would be more like computer code, which is very different. Mathematical ideas, even simple ideas, are often ...

September 2nd, 2014

Your 9 year old can use guns but can’t play in a park

It’s just the sad state of affairs in which we find ourselves, after a 9-year-old New Jersey girl accidentally shot and killed her instructor at a firing range in Arizona. The girl’s parents paid for her to fire a fully automatic machine gun, but she lost control of the weapon and shot her instructor, Charles Vacca, killing the military veteran.

The chilling ordeal was caught on tape, courtesy of the girl’s parents, but Arizona police officials have said no charges ...

August 30th, 2014

Big Data solves cancer

Interesting:

IN MAY last year, a supercomputer in San Jose, California, read 100,000 research papers in 2 hours. It found completely new biology hidden in the data. Called KnIT, the computer is one of a handful of systems pushing back the frontiers of knowledge without human help.

KnIT didn’t read the papers like a scientist – that would have taken a lifetime. Instead, it scanned for information on a protein called p53, and a class of enzymes that can interact with it, ...

August 30th, 2014

Independent women under Communism

Interesting:

The East German woman had a job, was economically independent, self-confident, and divorce-happy; at a time when only 50 percent of West German women made their own money, 90 percent of women in East Germany were employed.

…the East German woman didn’t consider her male partner an enemy but rather a partner who, economically speaking, had little or nothig on her. Indeed, the average East German man, unless he had managed to gin a foothold in the regime’s upper ...

August 30th, 2014

The end of the quiet era

Interesting:

Having flipped the global chessboard with his annexation of the Crimea and an undeclared war against Ukraine, Putin effectively ended the most recent period of interregnum and inaugurated a new era in global politics. However, no one yet knows what this era will bring. The global community is still reeling in shock, when it isn’t trying to pretend that nothing extraordinary has in fact occurred. This denial of the fact that the Kremlin has dealt a blow to conventional ...

August 30th, 2014

American Exceptionalism

Interesting:

I’m not surprised some conservatives are upset about the AP American History test. But I am bemused by the strength of the axiom Stanley Kurtz would oblige us to adopt, to keep things from getting politicized: “America is freer and more democratic than any other nation.” (Although, grant the axiom, and postulates about military strength, and theorem 1 – “[the US is] a model, vindicator, and at times the chief defender of ordered liberty and self-government in the world” – ...

August 30th, 2014

When the ice melts

Frightening predictions of the future from National Geographic:

Source

August 30th, 2014

The anti-patterns of email conversations

This is funny:

Some patterns are very simple. For example, this is the “take it to private email” pattern. This pattern can be thread-killed on sight; if you’re feeling generous, read the last two messages in the thread.

bob +-> Foo fred +-> bob +-> fred +-> bob +-> fred ...

August 29th, 2014

Does the Universe have any concept of scale?

Interesting:

Though galaxies look larger than atoms and elephants appear to outweigh ants, some physicists have begun to suspect that size differences are illusory. Perhaps the fundamental description of the universe does not include the concepts of “mass” and “length,” implying that at its core, nature lacks a sense of scale.

This little-explored idea, known as scale symmetry, constitutes a radical departure from long-standing assumptions about how elementary particles acquire their properties. But it has recently emerged as a common theme of ...

August 27th, 2014

The bugs on your face evolved to live there

Interesting:

Here is what we do know: Demodex mites are microscopic arachnids (relatives of spiders and ticks) that live in and on the skin of mammals – including humans. They have been found on every mammal species where we’ve looked for them, except the platypus and their odd egg-laying relatives.

Often mammals appear to host more than one species, with some poor field mouse species housing four mite species on its face alone. Generally, these mites live out a benign coexistence with ...

August 27th, 2014

I am frustrated that Wikipedia hides old version pages from search engines

A few months ago, I read about “gynaikonomos” on Wikipedia and I thought it was an interesting word, with an interesting story behind it, and last night I mentioned it to a friend, who asked me to send them the URL, but now I find the page that talked about gynaikonomos has been erased from Wikipedia. I got to that page from a link on the page about the Plague of Athens.

The link has been erased from the page. ...

August 27th, 2014

This is the most American headline ever written:

9-Year-Old Girl Accidentally Kills Her Shooting Instructor With an Uzi

The only thing that could make this headline more American is if she used an M-16 instead of an Uzi. Otherwise, this headline is perfect, it tells you exactly what kind of country the USA is: the kind of country where people think it is important that 9 year olds learn how to use an Uzi. For freedom.

Source

August 20th, 2014

The Lost World of Tarnów

This is a book I would like to get:

The photos are really impressive. Although their photographers are mostly unknown, many of them are worthy counterparts of Menachem Kipnis’, Alter Kacyzne’s or Roman Vishniac’s famous series. This also indicates how many more pictures may still be hiding depicting this world, which only twenty years ago was widely considered to have passed almost without a trace. And the book’s great merit is that, apart from the images, it also helps to ...

August 20th, 2014

Blatant sexual harassment at tech conferences

This is disturbing:

Charming! He made sure to include a link to his About.me profile, a touch that wasn’t lost on Haas. Her story was brought to my attention by two other women in the east coast tech community, Amy Vernon and Allyson Kapin, who wished to go on the record and spread Haas’ story. Haas, on her end, had shared a couple of posts about the experience with women she’s close with, but hadn’t gone fully public with the experience ...

August 20th, 2014

Strict parenting in Roman times

Augustus was willing to banish his own daughter:

Lex Iulia de Maritandis Ordinibus (18 BC): Limiting marriage across social class boundaries (and thus seen as an indirect foundation of concubinage, later regulated by Justinian, see also below). Lex Iulia de Adulteriis Coercendis (17 BC): This law punished adultery with banishment.[1] The two guilty parties were sent to different islands (“dummodo in diversas insulas relegentur”), and part of their property was confiscated.[1] Fathers were permitted to kill daughters and their partners in ...

August 19th, 2014

Police intimidation of journalists is a political statement

Interesting and disturbing:

On Sunday night, three days after citizens of Ferguson marched alongside Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson, in gratitude for Johnson taking over the heavy-handed police presence, and mere hours after Johnson gave an emotional speech apologizing for the police violence and promising its end, the savior of Ferguson ordered three journalists arrested for witnessing an apparently unprompted police crackdown on protesters.

Shortly after police in Ferguson lobbed tear gas and fired high-tech noise cannons at protesters, three reporters ...

August 19th, 2014

Police want too much discretion

Interesting:. Cop says we should do whatever a cop says:

Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you. Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say I’m a racist pig, don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge. Don’t ...

August 19th, 2014

Women’s soccer is violent

I’ve seen violence in women’s soccer that would never be allowed in men’s soccer. I wonder if there is a cultural bias here, thinking that girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice, and so they can’t really be violent? It’s worth noting that at least a 25% of female athletes have levels of testosterone higher than the average male, so they’ve got plenty of hormone for aggression. Check this out:

Source

August 17th, 2014

Living organisms communicate with RNA

I’ve read several articles over the years suggesting that RNA is used as a tool of communication. I have the sense that this is something huge, that this is going to change the world. If RNA can be used as a general communication tool, not only as cypher, with a limited set of symbols whose meanings are pre-determined, but in a manner that allows new meanings to be created by different arrangements, then that suggests that RNA encodes a notation ...

August 17th, 2014

Heterosexuals do not understand bisexuality

Funny and interesting:

It was not jealousy I felt, not in the least. It was exclusion. Invisibility. Irrelevance. What did she mean? What had Stephanie said? What the hell was this? To make matters worse, when we got home that night Stephanie passed out in the elevator and, annoyed, I carried her into my apartment and put her to bed on the coffee table. I figured in the morning she’d forget the whole thing, and, should she need a female fix ...

August 17th, 2014

Unboxing mania

Interesting:

And so, the concerned parent researches. It didn’t take long to learn that DisneyCollector is actually working within an enormous growing culture for opening newly purchased items on camera. According to data from Social Blade, a YouTube data-analysis site, DisneyCollector could be raking in between $2 million and$13 million a year in advertising. She is very likely the most successful auteur of unboxing videos, a type of clip — part Consumer Reports and part Christmas morning — that has ...

August 12th, 2014

Gender, romance and looking desperate

Interesting story:

It’s a perfectly sweet boy-and-girl-meet-cute story. Moreau had been in Spain for a few months traveling and she was happy to be sitting next to an English speaker, she said. Kelly was immediately smitten. For whatever reason, they did not exchange phone numbers on the flight, perhaps because they expected to keep chatting after customs.

Dude really put in the work to find her, too:

He asked the airline for information on his seatmate, but for privacy reasons, they couldn’t help. ...

August 6th, 2014

What if your husband is secretly an abusive online troll?

A woman discovers her husband’s secret online life:

He left the browser open on our laptop after he went to work this morning. I go to work after, so I usually hop on and do my own things on my real account….I was disgusted at what I found. My husband is a troll. A really fucking nasty troll. He leaves horribly mean comments to all kinds of people. They’re filled with racist slurs, awful insults, he tears into fat people, ugly ...

August 6th, 2014

Pandering and popularity

Interesting:

I grew up on the wrong side of the tracks in a crappy town in the middle of nowhere and like anyone who lives in rural America, social relationships are nothing if not an intensely interlocked microcosm of social jockeying. I had a pack of friends and when times were good, we’d have slumber parties in the tent of our front yard, play stiff as a board and light as a feather and listen to the GoGos and the Human ...

August 6th, 2014

Life online allows people to hate strangers

An interesting side effect of moving one’s social life online is that now it is possible for people on the other side of the world (people who in another era would have never known of your existence) can now hate you, because they don’t like what they read or hear about you. I think we know this in the abstract, but the specific cases are always surprising and sad to read about. In this case a bunch of women were ...

August 5th, 2014

Mental performance in men and women, improvements linked to national development

Interesting

That performance was determined using tests for episodic memory (the retention of words in memory), category fluency (naming examples of, say, animals) and numeracy. Women are expected to outperform men in episodic memory and men do better in numeracy. Neither sex is thought dominant in category fluency.

Episodic memory matters because it is linked to emotion. The brain remembers unconnected words by linking them to a memory or imagined situation. It is the emotion of the memory that supposedly helps the ...

August 5th, 2014

What makes people attractive to one another?

What makes people attractive to one another? This seems to change over time, depending on what people lack. A hundred years ago, in the USA, it was reasonable to summarize dating advice as “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” but that was before the economy had shifted to a service economy, so one could not buy services such as good food, one had to instead rely on women. Nowadays such advice is ridiculous, we get food ...

August 5th, 2014

Will it ever be immoral to have children?

Once upon a time it was considered moral to own slaves. The Bible justifies slavery and says that slaves should be loyal the their masters. Most of the great men of history owned slaves: the Roman Emperors, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, etc. The practice was universally accepted. Now it is considered deeply immoral to own slaves. This raises the question, are there any other activities that are now universally accepted, and which will someday be regarded as immoral? My first ...

August 5th, 2014

Multi-cellular creatures live on intimate terms with bacteria

There is the large question of why the Cambrian revolution started 540 million years ago. Life apparently began on earth almost 4 billion years ago, so it was around doing not much for 3.5 billion years and then, suddenly, boom, everything changed. But what circumstances built up at a slow pace to allow circumstances to finally move at a fast pace? One imagines a vast language of chemical signals must have been built up, eventually complex enough to allow the ...

August 5th, 2014

Kim Kardashian understands how money works

I am afraid of the kind of economy that Kim Kardashian makes her money from, where illusions are profitable but manufacturing physical products is unprofitable. Nevertheless, I recognize that she has a genius for operating in this current environment, and I try to follow her, because I realize that I have a lot to learn from her.

That said, perhaps the woman on the $20 should fit a similar mold — the modern embodiment of how pursuit of success at all ... Read More Source July 28th, 2014 No Comments OKCupid experiments on its users again Manipulations done by OKCupid. Remember, if a service is free, then you are the product. But by comparing Love Is Blind Day to a normal Tuesday, we learned some very interesting things. In those 7 hours without photos… And it wasn’t that “looks weren’t important” to the users who’d chosen to stick around. When the photos were restored at 4PM, 2,200 people were in the middle of conversations that had started “blind”. Those conversations melted away. The goodness was gone, ... Read More Source July 28th, 2014 No Comments Why is the solar system stable? I am fascinated with the question of smart people thinking dumb things. Or rather, things that now strike me as stupid, partly because I grew up knowing the answer. One of the smartest people who ever lived was Isaac Newton. And for a long time, he was convinced that the sun had a repulsive force that was pushing the planets away. Robert Hooke had to expend considerable effort to convince Newton that the sun had an attractive force. And then, ... Read More Source July 28th, 2014 No Comments Why a woman becomes a social worker A powerful story about why one woman wanted to become a social worker: She’s a pacifist, she doesn’t believe in killing or maiming. Hitting either, I suppose. “Not even to save a life?” I ask. “Only if it was very clear-cut.” “What if you knew of a person who had tortured and killed several women, and you had the ability to stop them?” “I would call the police,” she says. Fuck, if only I could be that innocent, to think I could just call the cops ... Read More Source July 26th, 2014 No Comments The Perseus Cluster is huge and strange Interesting: Together with a team of more than a half-dozen colleagues, Bulbul has been using Chandra to explore the Perseus Cluster, a swarm of galaxies approximately 250 million light years from Earth. Imagine a cloud of gas in which each atom is a whole galaxy—that’s a bit what the Perseus cluster is like. It is one of the most massive known objects in the Universe. The cluster itself is immersed in an enormous ‘atmosphere’ of superheated plasma—and it is ... Read More Source July 21st, 2014 No Comments Learning a new language boosts your memory Interesting: In the last few years, unable to hold a list of just four grocery items in my head, I’d begun to fret a bit over my literal state of mind. So to reassure myself that nothing was amiss, just before tackling French I took a cognitive assessment called CNS Vital Signs, recommended by a psychologist friend. The results were anything but reassuring: I scored below average for my age group in nearly all of the categories, notably landing in the ... Read More Source July 20th, 2014 No Comments Shame and politics During the 4 years that I was sick, 1995-1999, my personal politics swung sharply to the right. I’ve always had trouble describing why. However, this essay does a good job describing many of the emotions involved. Very interesting: Even though we didn’t take the food stamps, we lived in the warm embrace of the federal government with subsidized housing and utilities, courtesy of Uncle Sam [Lyngar, at the time, was in the Army]. Yet I blamed all of my considerable problems ... Read More Source June 26th, 2014 No Comments What allows a marriage to last? Interesting: Gottman wanted to know more about how the masters created that culture of love and intimacy, and how the disasters squashed it. In a follow-up study in 1990, he designed a lab on the University of Washington campus to look like a beautiful bed and breakfast retreat. He invited 130 newlywed couples to spend the day at this retreat and watched them as they did what couples normally do on vacation: cook, clean, listen to music, eat, chat, and hang ... Read More Source June 24th, 2014 No Comments The emergence of the jaw, in the late Cambrian, was one of the big breakthroughs for life on earth Interesting: Fossilized fish specimens from the Canadian Rockies, known as Metaspriggina, dates from the Cambrian period (around 505 million years ago), shows pairs of exceptionally well-preserved arches near the front of its body. The first of these pairs, closest to the head, eventually led to the evolution of jaws in vertebrates, the first time this feature has been seen so early in the fossil record. Fish fossils from the Cambrian period are very rare and usually poorly preserved. This new discovery ... Read More Source June 24th, 2014 No Comments Ellen Chisa on gender and technology This is interesting: I was vehemently against the Society of Women in Engineering (SWE). I thought anything that called attention to being female hurt me. That it would make people think I’d gotten my role for being “female” instead of for being excellent. I felt degraded. I felt like “those women” were making me less likely to succeed. They couldn’t compete on excellence, so they made shit up about how the playing field wasn’t level. They just weren’t good enough. Other ... Read More Source June 16th, 2014 No Comments Breaking into your boyfriend’s email to find if he is cheating on you This is from Slashdot, from perhaps 2002 or 2003. I tried to find this using Google, but Google failed me: Posted by CmdrTaco From the it-happened-again dept. SyD writes: “Apparently there is a major security hole on Hotmail that could allow crackers to read your e-mail. A hacking group known as root core discovered the hole and reported it to Microsoft.“ This isn’t the first time that the folks who are gonna give us a internet wide universal login system had a hole. ... Read More Source June 10th, 2014 No Comments Tumour necrosis factors have not changed in 550 million years Interesting: There are many ways of triggering apoptosis, and one route involves two large groups of proteins: the tumour necrosis factors (TNFs), and the receptors that they stick to. When they meet, they set off a chain reaction inside the cell. A large network of proteins is recruited, united, and activated, until the cell eventually dies. Think of TNF as a key twisting in the lock of a door, triggering a Rube-Goldberg machine that ends with the entire room catching fire. Now, ... Read More Source June 9th, 2014 No Comments Fasting helps bring back your stem cells Fascinating article: In both mice and a Phase 1 human clinical trial, long periods of not eating significantly lowered white blood cell counts. In mice, fasting cycles then “flipped a regenerative switch,” changing the signaling pathways for hematopoietic stem cells, which are responsible for the generation of blood and immune systems, the research showed. The study has major implications for healthier aging, in which immune system decline contributes to increased susceptibility to disease as people age. By outlining how prolonged fasting cycles ... Read More Source June 3rd, 2014 No Comments 800 dead babies in Ireland Years ago, the Irish government apologized for the horrific sexual torture and human rights abuses that were inflicted on Irish girls who were considered wayward, and some monetary damages have been paid to surviving victims, but so far the Catholic Church has not fully apologized for the atrocities that were committed in institutions which it was running. In case anyone might forget how extensive the neglect and abuse was, here is a reminder: Police are investigating the discovery of 800 ... Read More Source May 31st, 2014 No Comments Math education in the USA Very interesting post about math education: When did we brainwash kids into thinking that math was about getting an answer? My students truly believe for some reason that math is about combining whatever numbers you can in whatever method that seems about right to get one “answer” and then call it a day. They rarely think about what they are doing as long as at the end of the day their answer is “correct”. Today they were ... Read More Source May 20th, 2014 No Comments Who is responsible for dinner? I like cooking large dinners for friends. I used to do a breakfast, once a month, at my apartment where I would simply invite everyone I knew in New York City, and I would feed whoever showed up. People are busy so I never got more than 15 people at my place, but I was always glad for whoever showed up. I have fond memories of the conversations. If someone else cooks dinner, I would have to be asked to ... Read More Source May 20th, 2014 No Comments How should we handle unlimited leisure? Interesting: To Keynes, the coming age of abundance, while welcome, would pose a new and in some ways even bigger challenge. With so little need for labor, people would have to figure out what to do with themselves: “For the first time since his creation man will be faced with his real, his permanent problem—how to use his freedom from pressing economic cares, how to occupy the leisure, which science and compound interest will have won.” The example offered by the ... Read More Source May 20th, 2014 No Comments What a dictionary is for This is good: Noah Webster is not the best-known of the Founding Fathers but he has been called “the father of American scholarship and education.” There’s actually this great history of how he almost singlehandedly invented the very idea of American English, defining the native tongue of the new republic, “rescuing” it from “the clamour of pedantry” imposed by the Brits. He developed a book, the Blue Backed Speller, which was meant to be something of a complete linguistic education for young ... Read More Source May 12th, 2014 No Comments The USA medical system needs to be more aggressive in treating pain Interesting: In those not-so-old days when Jeffrey was born, as a preemie, many doctors mistakenly believed that babies’ nervous systems were too immature to process pain and that, therefore, babies didn’t feel pain at all. Or, doctors rationalized, if babies did somehow feel pain, it was no big deal because they probably wouldn’t remember it. Besides, since nobody knew for sure how dangerous anesthesia drugs might be in tiny babies, doctors figured that if surgery was necessary to save ... Read More Source May 12th, 2014 No Comments Bro culture on a rampage This essay argues that the rise of bro culture is a panic response to the rise of gay culture: The repressive, hypermasculine bro that stalks your local watering hole and pisses in the street is a modern, anxious manifestation of homosexual panic, an allergic reaction to the mainstreaming of gay culture (and, by extension, a loss of cultural power and sexual stability). The modern definition of manhood came about in strict domination over the feminine, both sexually and behaviorally. “Male-male relations ... Read More Source May 4th, 2014 No Comments Are there any new ideas? It’s possible that there have been no new ideas during the Great Stagnation, but it is worth noting that some ideas, such as agent based simulations, have made some progress. The big ideas: The deluge of changes that shook Europe around 1800 — the making of the modern world — brought with them an explosion of big new ideas, new ways of framing the social, historical, and natural world which we inhabit. Darwin, Freud, Marx, Walras, Carnot, Poincaré, Einstein — each ... Read More Source May 4th, 2014 No Comments Young blood reverses aging in old mice This is an interesting study: Two teams of scientists published studies on Sunday showing that blood from young mice reverses aging in old mice, rejuvenating their muscles and brains. As ghoulish as the research may sound, experts said that it could lead to treatments for disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease. “I am extremely excited,” said Rudolph Tanzi, a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, who was not involved in the research. “These findings could be a game changer.” The ... Read More Source May 3rd, 2014 No Comments The culture that is Japanese Of course when girls take off their underwear, the underwear then transforms into a weapon that the girls can use to kill demons. Can you think of anything more Japanese than that? Source May 2nd, 2014 No Comments What do you do, Mr. Gable? Interesting: He was so naive about the industry that he entertained hopes he would be writing for the famous movie star Mickey Mouse. But the folks at Metro informed him, No, Mickey lives at another studio out in the Valley—we want you for a Wallace Beery picture. “Who’s he?” Faulkner asked. The more he learned, the more frightened he became. “The truth is that I was scared,” Faulkner disclosed in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “I was scared ... Read More Source May 2nd, 2014 No Comments Piketty Interesting: With his book Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty has lobbed a truth bomb that has blown up several decades’ worth of received opinion about the way the economy works in capitalist societies. He makes a powerful, meticulously-argued, data-driven case that inequality is a feature of capitalist economies, not a bug. Let to its own devices, wealth tends to become highly concentrated. The only events likely to prevent our society from plunging into a dystopian spiral of inequity are, ... Read More Source May 2nd, 2014 No Comments Uptalk among men Interesting: This process is known as “uptalk” or “valleygirl speak” and has in the past been associated with young females, typically from California or Australia. But now a team says that this way of speaking is becoming more frequent among men. The findings were presented at the Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America in California. “We found use of uptalk in all of our speakers, despite their diverse backgrounds in socioeconomic status, ethnicity, bilingualism and gender,” said Amanda Ritchart, a linguist at ... Read More Source April 28th, 2014 No Comments 39% survival rate for this guy’s kids This is a lot of dead children: In 1832, he married Varvara Alexeyevna Moiseyeva. They had a large number of children (eighteen according to his son’s memoirs, while only seven apparently survived into adulthood). Source April 26th, 2014 No Comments Drowning: the game of life I like how this game is so simple. Source April 25th, 2014 No Comments Urban male hipsters love old men and Ruby programming I was thinking about Ruby On Rails and male hipsters and wondering if there was a cultural affinity that brought male hipsters to Ruby in particular (out of all the possible computer programming languages). I decided there was. I notice a lot of male hipsters are into the idea of the old master, the old man who is great at some skill: A great tailor, a great leather worker, a great wood carver, a great painter, a great sculptor, etc. ... Read More Source April 24th, 2014 No Comments Women’s reactions to behavior in the tech industry This is very long, but its an interesting group of responses from the women: When I was a grad student at Princeton in CS, before CS nerds ran most of the women out, I was leading a study session for some younger grad students when I saw some amazing international sexism on display. A woman, who would later have a pretty good position at Google, was explaining a homework problem about which there was some controversy. Every guy in the room, ... Read More Source April 21st, 2014 No Comments The decline of teen births I am very curious what drove the surge in teen births in the late 80s. Source April 18th, 2014 No Comments The Healthy Hazda do not have the “healthy” bacteria in their gut Interesting: Researchers have known for decades that the biota in our gut vary depending on what we eat. But the Hadza microbiome still turned out to be surprisingly different. To study the difference between the ancient and modern gut, researchers analyzed stool samples from 16 Italian urbanites and 27 Hadza foragers, of both genders. The Italians’ gut flora was generally what they expected in Western diets, with some Mediterranean influences. The Hadza’s poop, however, was like stepping into a lost continent of microbe ... Read More Source April 10th, 2014 No Comments Hacker School bans competitive feigned surprise regarding your ignorance This is great: If you have ability and a strong work ethic, people will notice. You will learn a lot from their reaction. If they react by treating with you with respect, they have strong character. If they react by taking every opportunity to belittle and undermine you, they perceive you as a threat to them. If you aren’t prone to petty jealousy and spiteful thinking, it will be difficult to empathize with people who are. Sadly, you must handle these ... Read More Source April 6th, 2014 No Comments You don’t have to run faster than the bear You just need to run faster than the guy next to you. Source April 4th, 2014 No Comments Zero is a function Is zero a number or a function? Probably a function: I also wish to re-state zero is a function. It separates positive and negative numbers, real and imaginary numbers. So if smart people wish to argue 0^0 = 1 or NOT then same said people should arguably disagree that 1^(1/2) =1 … Or NOT Because -1 x -1 = 1 Source April 4th, 2014 No Comments Germany versus America Written by a German who has been living in America for a long time: The German system gives more power to the parties, since they decide which candidates to place on the list from which the parliamentarians will later be drawn. Parties finance the election campaigns; the candidates themselves do not need to raise substantial amounts of money. In return, there is a very high party loyalty in the German parliament. Parliamentarians vote their conscience only on rare, very important ... Read More Source April 4th, 2014 No Comments Low expectations for sitcoms I agree with “low expectations”. Sitcoms are slowly dying out: in 2000 there were 36 in prime time major networks, by 2013 there were only 16. They are being replaced by reality shows. Sitcoms were invented to fill time while being low-cost, but reality shows are even cheaper and can draw just as much audience. The rise of unscripted reality shows (when they are unscripted, which is rare) suggests that Keith Johnstone might have been correct when he suggested that ... Read More Source April 4th, 2014 No Comments The war on science Interesting and sad: Doesn’t the Entire Earth Have the Same Climate? Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) demonstrated his inability to grasp the idea that the world’s climate varies across different regions (which, in fairness, is a sensible line of questioning—if we were living on the forest moon of Endor): Rohrabacher: Do you believe that tornadoes and hurricanes today are more ferocious and more frequent than they were in the past? Holdren: There is no evidence relating to tornadoes. None of all. And I don’t know any ... Read More Source April 4th, 2014 No Comments Work should be fun Interesting: It’s also quite scary when you consider that we’re entering an era of technological unemployment. More and more jobs are being automated: they aren’t going to provide money, social validation, or occupation for anyone any longer. We saw this first with agriculture and the internal combustion engine and artificial fertilizers, which reduced the rural workforce from around 90% of the population in the 17th-18th century to around 1% today in the developed world. We’ve seen it in steel, coal, and ... Read More Source April 4th, 2014 No Comments Woman takes a grant, is then called a hypocrite for criticizing university If true, then this is a worrisome attitude for someone who offers scholarships to college students. Shouldn’t college kids be encouraged to make thoughtful dissents against the institutions they find themselves in? Even more damningly, the administration seems to conflate “promoting civility” with “quashing dissent.” Over email, the current Coastal student told me, “I’ve been reluctant to write in the school newspaper and [be] critical thereof because students have warned me they’ve been called in by administration after publishing op-ed ... Read More Source April 1st, 2014 No Comments The impact on gender relations of unpaid labor in open source? Interesting: A note on meritocracy It’s difficult to go much further without mentioning the undercurrent belief in meritocracy that is particularly pervasive in open source communities, especially around participation in GitHub. Meritocracy is the belief that those with merit float to the top – that they should be given more opportunities and be paid higher. We prize the idea of meritocracy and weigh merit on contribution to OSS. Those who contribute the most, goes the general belief, have the most merit and are ... Read More Source March 31st, 2014 No Comments A genuinely new thought about the history of human expansion I thought I knew every theory of possible human expansion, but this was entirely new for me: Dr. Guidon remains defiant about her findings. At her home on the grounds of a museum she founded to focus on the discoveries in Serra da Capivara, she said she believed that humans had reached these plateaus even earlier, around 100,000 years ago, and might have come not overland from Asia but by boat from Africa. Humans traveled by boat from Africa to South America ... Read More Source March 30th, 2014 No Comments Debtors prisons raise the risk of corruption in the USA The problem with putting people in jail for debts is that the courts themselves get corrupted by the confluence of money and power. This is a step down a dark road: In the spring of 2009, Burdette was doing well. For a year she had worked at the Piggly Wiggly in Childersburg, where nearly a quarter of the 5,200 citizens live in poverty. Burdette’s cashier job didn’t pay much, but it helped her get by. One May afternoon, she was ringing up ... Read More Source March 28th, 2014 No Comments Sensitivity training: I have a knife and you have a gun I am curious what Frances Hocutt believes sensitivity training can achieve? Is it an appropriate tool for changing a culture? I wanted to lead a research team and solve pressing problems in medicine, energy, or the environment while treating my employees fairly. I thought about being able to hire people like my incredibly competent but PhD-less co-worker into management roles. I thought about instituting management and diversity training for PhD-level chemists. I thought about inviting some of the women ... Read More Source March 20th, 2014 No Comments To what extent can artists be political? An interesting bit, suggesting an unresolveable divide between art and politics: What gets in the way of artists’ making substantive political contributions? The collection’s title essay proposes that artists’ class position opposes their interests to those of typical protesters, even when both are concerned with economic survival. Because artists, unlike wage laborers, have a direct stake in what they produce and face no workplace discipline other than what they impose on themselves, their political attitudes are structurally different from those ... Read More Source March 1st, 2014 No Comments Russia mobilizes troops to occupy parts of the Ukraine Russia mobilizes troops to occupy parts of the Ukraine. I am speculating. What could Putin really hope to accomplish? And at what expense? I am looking at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukraine Ethnic groups (2001) 77.8% Ukrainians 17.3% Russians 4.9% others / unspecified The Russians are concentrated in the eastern-most provinces, and also in the Crimea. Russia has 145 million people, the Ukraine has 46 million people, so in terms of the ratio of people, Russia invading the Ukraine would be a bit like the USA invading Mexico. Russia also has a ... Read More Source February 9th, 2014 No Comments The culture of girls and computers Interesting: It Really Is about Girls (and Boys) Twelve-year-old girls today don’t generally get to have the experiences that I did. Parents are warned to keep kids off the computer lest they get lured away by child molesters or worse—become fat! That goes doubly for girls, who then grow up to be liberal arts majors. Then, in their late teens or early twenties, someone who feels the gender skew in technology communities is a problem drags them to a LUG meeting ... Read More Source February 1st, 2014 No Comments Why government spying matters Interesting: I live in a country generally assumed to be a dictatorship. One of the Arab spring countries. I have lived through curfews and have seen the outcomes of the sort of surveillance now being revealed in the US. People here talking about curfews aren’t realizing what that actually FEELS like. It isn’t about having to go inside, and the practicality of that. It’s about creating the feeling that everyone, everything is watching. A few points: 1) the purpose of this surveillance ... Read More Source January 29th, 2014 No Comments Nothing but a false accusation based upon ignorance of Evidence Based Management Interesting: This argument would be stronger if it had something to say about those cases where there is no known best practice. We all know there are some demographic segments are poorly served by the current medical industry. If a middle aged woman with mild but painful neurological symptoms goes to see her doctor, there is little the doctor can do for her and she will be lucky if the doctor takes her seriously. The reality is there are many ... Read More Source January 25th, 2014 No Comments Black business owner framed by the police What a shocking story. The police used an informant who went in and planted crack cocaine in the store to frame a business owner. Thankfully the business owner had video that showed the whole thing was a frame-up. The prosecutor was aware that the video exonerated the accused, and yet the prosecutor never stopped pursuing the accused. Andrews opened up Dabb City Smoke Shop in Scotia, New York last January. By April he was arrested for selling crack cocaine. ... Read More Source January 23rd, 2014 No Comments Marriage does not cure poverty Interesting: The case for marriage promotion begins with some perfectly real correlations. Across a variety of measures — household income, self-reported life satisfaction, childrearing outcomes — married couples seem to do better than pairs of singles (and much better than single parents), particularly in populations towards the lower end of the socioeconomic ladder. So it is natural to imagine that, if somehow poor people could be persuaded to marry more, they too would enjoy those improvements in household income, life satisfaction, ... Read More Source January 17th, 2014 No Comments 50 years of social change for women Interesting: Megan Mullally: I had a lot of boyfriends and a lot of flings. I think flings are great. That’s something women should investigate a little more thoroughly. The trick is, you have to not care. I was in my late 30s when I first started having successful flings and didn’t get emotionally attached to the guy. But you have to be at a point in your life when you’re not needy, when you’re not looking for a husband or a long-term ... Read More Source January 17th, 2014 No Comments The rising power of the far-right in Greece Interesting: Yanis Varoufakis: We are talking about the greatest diminution of human life prospects since the 1930′s during the Peacetime. It’s inescapable. Wherever you turn your eyes and ears towards, you see and hear signs of a country that has fallen into a hole. I can give you several rather sad examples. You walk around Athens at night and you can’t fail to notice that there are several apartments that are not lit, but where people live ... Read More Source January 16th, 2014 No Comments What makes a great tutor? Interesting: Naturally, Lepper went to work building a team of researchers, and they ran studies and wrote papers on tutoring for the next decade. All the research had the same basic plan. First, they would pick a topic in basic math. Say, fractions. They’d find kids in need of remedial tutoring in that topic and tutors with experience teaching it. They’d pre-test the kids for both math skills and motivation. The tutoring sessions would be videotaped. And they’d test the kids ... Read More Source January 14th, 2014 No Comments Girls get math I was in Barnes and Noble and I saw this book. I wondered what would make a math book specific to girls so I opened it up and found that it was full of pep talks. I am curious if a similar approach would work for boys? Most boys are scared away from math because they assume it is too hard for them. Source January 12th, 2014 No Comments Impostor Syndrome in science Interesting: A person can have experiences that directly lead her to feel like an impostor, such as repeated remarks about her age, probing questions into her expertise despite a strong technical background, or jokes about a woman’s science capabilities. She can be reminded that she is no more than an object to some, by reading about studies showing women’s bodies are interpreted as objects but men’s as people. And a person can internalize these experiences and feel less competent, such ... Read More Source January 12th, 2014 No Comments Old Viking game This was an interesting write up about an old Viking game. Viking warriors storm into the torch-lit camp of a rival clan. Outnumbered, the ambushed Norsemen are far from their boats. Their one goal: flee to a nearby castle while keeping their king alive. At first glance, Hnefatafl (prounounced “nef-ah-tah-fel”) might just look like a knock-off version of chess with Norse helms and impressive beards, but the game is at least 600 years older—already well-known by 400 A.D.—and is perhaps a ... Read More Source January 11th, 2014 No Comments What is wrong with Virginia Republicans? Politicians doing stupid things is a fairly universal story, but this one is so extreme I had to link to it: Virginia Republican Wants to Outlaw Oral Sex Between Teenagers. How can anyone be this stupid? You’d think that, after Ken Cuccinelli and his batshit insane “outlaw oral and anal sex” platform lost the governor’s race, conservatives would have realized that any enemy of BJs, etc. is an enemy of freedom. But, sigh, no — Virginia state legislator Thomas ... Read More Source January 10th, 2014 No Comments Head of government is not head of state In France the head of government is not the head of state so he can argue that he has a right to privacy: “It’s a real passion that has … turned their lives upside down and makes them take insane risks,” the magazine wrote. The report in Closer, which angered many in Britain for publishing topless pictures the Duchess of Cambridge in 2012, sparked a furious rebuke from the president, who, however, failed to deny the liaison. A source close to the president ... Read More Source January 9th, 2014 No Comments Sexual harassment on the Internet Interesting: “Ignore the barrage of violent threats and harassing messages that confront you online every day.” That’s what women are told. But these relentless messages are an assault on women’s careers, their psychological bandwidth, and their freedom to live online. We have been thinking about Internet harassment all wrong. I was 12 hours into a summer vacation in Palm Springs when my phone hummed to life, buzzing twice next to me in the dark of my hotel room. I squinted at the ... Read More Source January 9th, 2014 No Comments When do we learn to remember? Interesting: Bauer and Larkina uncovered a paradox – at ages 5 to 7, the children remembered over 60 per cent of the events they’d chatted about at age 3. However, their recall for these events was immature in the sense of containing few evaluative comments and few mentions of time and place. In contrast, children aged 8 and 9 recalled fewer than 40 per cent of the events they’d discussed at age 3, but those memories they did recall were more ... Read More Source January 9th, 2014 No Comments Megan McArdle knows who she is The most ironic book ever written has just been published. Megan McArdle has long embodied the sad fact that some people fail upwards: they screw up every job they get and then they are promoted. And now she has just written a book called The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success. At least she is, for once, writing about a subject she knows well. Source January 8th, 2014 No Comments Scandinavian culture respects women Interesting: “This year my colleague did something really bitchy to us: she got pregnant” says the guy sitting across the dinner table in my French New Year’s Eve 2014. I almost choked on my slice of camembert. I’ve been living in Norway for 4 years and never have I ever heard such negative comments associated with pregnancy. “She left for 3 months on maternity leave. I mean seriously! And then you wonder why employers don’t want to hire women in their ... Read More Source January 8th, 2014 No Comments The oldest known vertebrate animal with a jaw Interesting: Scientists say they have discovered a fossil of the oldest known vertebrate animal with a jaw — a strange chimera of a fish that could unseat the shark as a representative of extremely “primitive” jawed fishes and turn our evolutionary understanding of humans’ ocean-dwelling ancestors on its head. The new fossil described in the journal Nature, called Entelognathus primordialis, is a 419-million-year-old armored fish from the end of the Silurian period, right before the start of the Devonian, known as the ... Read More Source January 8th, 2014 No Comments Slow evolution in sharks Interesting: For the first time, researchers have fully sequenced the genome of a cartilaginous fish and the study could potentially give brand new information on the evolution of bony vertebrates. To be published Thursday, the study examined an elephant shark genome, which was relatively small. The genome contained just shy of a billion DNA base pairs, whereas a human genome contains about three billion. The study also marks the first time a cartilaginous fish, which include sharks, rays and skates, had its entire ... Read More Source January 7th, 2014 No Comments What drives wage differentials among the genders? Interesting: As women have increased their productivity enhancing characteristics and as they “look” more like men, the human capital part of the wage difference has been squeezed out. What remains is largely how firms reward individuals who differ in their desire for various amenities. These amenities are various aspects of workplace flexibility. Workplace flexibility is a complicated, multidimensional concept. The term includes the number of hours to be worked and also the need to work particular hours, to be “on call,” ... Read More Source January 6th, 2014 No Comments Why do women go to college and choose poor paying careers? The convergence of college majors, between men and women, is most notable during the 1970s and ended in the mid 1980s. Changes in divorce law were among the driving forces for the changes in women’s behavior. Interesting: Why do women today invest in a college education at much higher rates than men, whereas fifty years ago men graduated more frequently? And given their high college attendance rates today, why do women continue to select disproportionately into lower-paying majors? The main objective ... Read More Source January 2nd, 2014 No Comments A girl can wait and if she is attractive good things may happen to her It is interesting to note how many brilliant men can write with great insight on the technical subjects which they have mastered, yet when it comes to the subject of women, the depth of their analysis is reduced to naive assumptions. So, for instance, via Hacker News I discovered this essay by John McCarthy. I don’t see a date on this essay, but I am assuming it was written in the 1960s? It has many assumptions that sound 60sish. This is true: “A ... Read More Source December 25th, 2013 No Comments The axiom of choice Interesting that this was controversial: Informally put, the axiom of choice says that given any collection of bins, each containing at least one object, it is possible to make a selection of exactly one object from each bin. In many cases such a selection can be made without invoking the axiom of choice; this is in particular the case if the number of bins is finite, or if a selection rule is available: a distinguishing property that happens to hold ... Read More Source December 3rd, 2013 No Comments Edsger Dijkstra on the fear of radical novelties This is truly outstanding. Edsger Dijkstra speech from 1988, “On the cruelty of really teaching computing science” needs to be more widely read. The usual way in which we plan today for tomorrow is in yesterday’s vocabulary. We do so, because we try to get away with the concepts we are familiar with and that have acquired their meanings in our past experience. Of course, the words and the concepts don’t quite fit because our future differs from our past, ... Read More Source November 29th, 2013 No Comments Sex and hazing I got a laugh out of this comment: I have no hard numbers/data to back this up, but in my estimation the incidence of homosexuality in fraternities is much higher than in the male population at large. Probably true. Source November 25th, 2013 No Comments More about texting changing English Texting is changing the English language. And the other day there was news of the new predicate “because”. Say you find yourself limping to the finish of a wearing workday. You text your girlfriend: “I know we made a reservation for your bday tonight but wouldn’t it be more romantic if we ate in instead?” If she replies, we could do that Then you can ring up Papa John’s and order something special. But if she replies, we could do that. Then you ... Read More Source November 20th, 2013 No Comments The unchanging tone of race relations in the USA Interesting: An “outright Marxist!” That’s what Rafael Cruz, Senator Ted Cruz’s father, declared of President Obama on the campaign trail in April 2013. His accusation is common on the right. Google “Obama Marxist” and you will get about 4.95 million results. “Obama communist” yields 40 million. It’s a strange charge against a man who vigorously supported the bail-out of Wall Street banks as a Senator, and expanded it to other major firms as President. Yet ... Read More Source November 20th, 2013 No Comments Small innovations in English miss the big ones Interesting, but more is needed. The thing I hate most about Indo-European languages are the need to emphasize whether something are singular or plural. Why not make everything plural? Why are these something so important that they need to be mandatory in every single sentence? If we defaulted to all plural, all the time, these would fade away, just like gender faded out of the language during the 1300s. Let’s start with the dull stuff, because pragmatism. The word “because,” in ... Read More Source November 19th, 2013 No Comments How does a frontier society have slavery? I am confused by this: “The land was thinly peopled by recent immigrants who could move again.” If this is true, then how can this region have serfs, or slavery, or a nobility that easily dominates society? Why can’t people just run away, if they find their conditions difficult. Elsewhere I read that 50 years later the nobles began to emigrate further east, to Kuban, which was the new frontier. But why couldn’t the serfs run away in the same manner? It ... Read More Source November 15th, 2013 No Comments Humans can outrun anything There is no animal on the planet that can match a humans ability to run long distances. Four villagers in north-east Kenya have chased down and captured two cheetahs which were killing their goats. The owner of the goats told the BBC that the cheetahs had been picking off his animals one by one, day by day. The men waited until the hottest part of the day before launching the chase over a distance of four miles (6.4km). The cheetahs got so ... Read More Source November 14th, 2013 No Comments Remembering World War I I am impressed by this speech by the former Prime Minister, The Hon. P.J. Keating MP: We do not know this Australian’s name and we never will. We do not know his rank or his battalion. We do not know where he was born, nor precisely how and when he died. We do not know where in Australia he had made his home or when he left it for the battlefields of Europe. We do not know his age or ... Read More Source November 14th, 2013 No Comments You can not understand another person’s sorrow My father died in 2007. I miss him very much and I think about him every day. This is very true: A colleague who lost his teenage son due to a traffic accident 3 years ago, told us about the ‘black halo’ which remains above his head, and which only others who have lost a child are able to see. I do not doubt for a second that this is the case – that people who have not lost a ... Read More Source November 14th, 2013 No Comments Richard Cohen talks about a white man married to a black woman Very strange. Richard Cohen says “Today’s GOP is not racist” but then he says “People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York — a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children”. This is the year 2013. What does the word “racist” mean? Iowa not only is a serious obstacle for Christie and other Republican moderates, it also suggests something more ominous: the Dixiecrats of old. Officially the ... Read More Source November 7th, 2013 No Comments Political factors for alcoholism This is interesting, but potentially reverses cause and effect: A further obstacle to AA’s growth in Russia is something more philosophical: At a basic level, its premise of sobriety through mutual support just doesn’t make sense to a lot of Russians. In the past, this has taken the form of anti-Western suspicion—“What are the Americans trying to get out of this?” is a question Moseeva used to hear regularly. But more fundamentally, the group-therapy dynamic collides with a skepticism about ... Read More Source November 7th, 2013 No Comments Russian nationalist nostalgia Interesting: Sergey had the old tsarist imperial flag hanging on his wall, the white-gold-black tricolour that nationalists have taken as their banner. ‘I believe Russia is a great empire that other powers want to tear away parts from. We need to restore our power, retake our lost lands,’ he would say. Then in the same breath: ‘I want a Russia for Russians, all these churki from the Caucasus and Central Asia need to go home.’ This has always been the paradox ... Read More Source October 31st, 2013 No Comments What a story is really about Interesting: There’s a short story by Tom Godwin, famous in science fiction circles, called “The Cold Equations.” It’s about the pilot of a spaceship carrying medicine to a remote planet. The ship has just enough fuel to arrive at that particular destination, where its cargo will save six lives. En route, the pilot discovers a stowaway, an adolescent girl, and knowing that her additional weight will make completing the trip impossible, the agonized man informs her that she will have to ... Read More Source October 23rd, 2013 No Comments Did Pericles influence Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address? This I did not know: “If we look to the laws, they afford equal justice to all in their private differences…if a man is able to serve the state, he is not hindered by the obscurity of his condition. The freedom we enjoy in our government extends also to our ordinary life. There, far from exercising a jealous surveillance over each other, we do not feel called upon to be angry with our neighbour for doing what he likes…”[13] These lines ... Read More Source October 20th, 2013 No Comments Conformity in America Interesting: On coming to America I had the same hopes as have most European immigrants and the same disillusionment, though the latter affected me more keenly and more deeply. The immigrant without money and without connections is not permitted to cherish the comforting illusion that America is a benevolent uncle who assumes a tender and impartial guardianship of nephews and nieces. I soon learned that in a republic there are myriad ways by which the strong, the cunning, the rich can ... Read More Source October 19th, 2013 No Comments The fall of party bosses gave rise to the era of money politics Interesting: Through the next decade, reformers tried to get control over money. Though they had gotten rid of the bosses, getting money out of politics proved daunting. This put power in the hands of business, which by hook or crook, Citizens United or not, was going to pursue its interests through the political system. But in general its interests were fairly narrow and were not particularly ideological. Where before business gave to party bosses, it now donated to candidates and political ... Read More Source October 17th, 2013 No Comments Happy rats avoid drug addiction Interesting: We all learned this in DARE class. About the rats in a cage who can self-administer morphine who get addicted to the stuff, and then just hit that lever until they die. A seemingly keystone argument in the war against drugs. Professor Avram Goldstein, the creator of that study, has said: “A rat addicted to heroin is not rebelling against society, is not a victim of socioeconomic circumstances, is not a product of a dysfunctional family, and is not a ... Read More Source October 16th, 2013 No Comments We would be smarter if we forgot more This is very clever: Then tell me what’s so wonderful about having fifty sets of marriage and divorce laws? In 1752, Great Britain and her colonies (some two centuries later than Catholic Europe) abandoned the Julian calendar and adopted the astronomically more cor rect Gregorian calendar (see Chapter 1). Nearly half a century later, Pike was still giving rules for solving com plex calendar-based problems for the Julian calendar as well as for the Gregorian. Isn’t it nice to have forgotten ... Read More Source October 16th, 2013 No Comments The Catholic injustice in Ireland This is sad to read about: These women where trapped in a Church run, state approved system of slave labor and sexual that continued until 1996. Woman were not paid, and their children, alleged to have been conceived during their time in the laundries, were taken from them and given up for adoption. While most of the more than 10,000 woman detailed in the 1,000 page report are now dead, buried in unmarked and forgotten graves, the children of these woman ... Read More Source October 16th, 2013 No Comments The limits of human knowing On Hacker News, someone linked to the article about Two Cultures. In reply I wrote: Much has been written about this article. For instance: —————- http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/5273453/Fifty-years-on… Such was the intensity of debate that it might be supposed that these were age-old themes: but in fact, the idea of separating academic disciplines into groups known as science and humanities was no older than the 19th century. The term “scientist” was only coined in 1833, and it was not until 1882 that another Rede Lecturer, ... Read More Source October 16th, 2013 No Comments Can humans ever be rational? Interesting: McRaney spends several thousand words explaining the “backfire effect,” which he nicely summarized in one sentence: “When your deepest convictions are challenged by contradictory evidence, your beliefs get stronger.” As I detailed in a recent column, the backfire effect makes it difficult for the press to effectively debunk misinformation. We present facts and evidence, and it often does nothing to change people’s minds. In fact, it can make people dig in even more. Humans also engage in motivated reasoning, a tendency ... Read More Source October 16th, 2013 No Comments “Equality of opportunity” echoes another famous phrase in American politics, “separate but equal” Interesting: But if you are a utilitarian, the case for social mobility is incoherent even on theoretical grounds. Under ordinary assumptions of diminishing marginal utility and a social welfare function that aggregates individual utilities, for any distribution of wealth, overall welfare is maximized when each individual knows her place with perfect certainty from the start. A person who expects to land on the bottom of the distribution might prefer that some uncertainty be added into the mix, but that benefit will ... Read More Source October 15th, 2013 No Comments Humans are not robots Interesting: Part of John Stuart Mill’s argument for freedom urges us to strive to elevate ourselves far above the level of these lesser robots. He never uses the word “robot,” since that word only entered the English language in 1923, in the English translation of a 1920 Czech play by Karel Capek. But John did use the word “automaton,” in exactly the sense I just defined. Here is what he has to say in On Liberty, chapter III, “Of Individuality, as ... Read More Source October 15th, 2013 No Comments Assume a can opener Economics is a false science, full of glib assumptions, whereas physics is a real science, based on hard facts. Or maybe that is false. Maybe people explaining interesting engineering or physics puzzles engage in simplifying assumptions just as much as economists do? I decided to idealize the problem like this: the slinky is an ideal spring with mass distributed uniformly throughout. It is also a spring that can pass through itself. These assumptions make analyzing the problem easier. Assume a can ... Read More Source October 9th, 2013 No Comments No man is clever enough to know all the evil he does So true. Source October 7th, 2013 No Comments When can intuition succeed? Interesting: How big is this upper bound? Mathematicians have often made errors in proofs. But it’s rarer for ideas to be accepted for a long time and then rejected. But we can divide errors into 2 basic cases corresponding to type I and type II errors: Mistakes where the theorem is still true, but the proof was incorrect (type I) Mistakes where the theorem was false, and the proof was also necessarily incorrect (type II) Before someone comes up with a final answer, ... Read More Source October 4th, 2013 No Comments Acid in the oceans is a great danger Interesting: In the starkest warning yet of the threat to ocean health, the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) said: “This [acidification] is unprecedented in the Earth’s known history. We are entering an unknown territory of marine ecosystem change, and exposing organisms to intolerable evolutionary pressure. The next mass extinction may have already begun.” It published its findings in the State of the Oceans report, collated every two years from global monitoring and other research studies. Alex Rogers, professor ... Read More Source September 30th, 2013 No Comments Old male writers write bad sex scenes This is a funny parody: Even I am not immune to the trend. You see, I’ve written a Fond Memories of Vagina of my own. I don’t have a lot of experience having sex with women, but I do know tech support. That’s all sex is, right? Fluid mechanics, carnal physics, the movement of hot bodies through sexy space. In closing, I give you a sex scene from my erectnological thriller, The Webmaster: He inserted his male attachment into the female adapter, ... Read More Source September 26th, 2013 No Comments Genius or LSD? I seem to recall some friend of mine tripping on acid one time and saying stuff that sort of sounded like this: As a by-product of this same view, I received a telephone call one day at the graduate college at Princeton from Professor Wheeler, in which he said, “Feynman, I know why all electrons have the same charge and the same mass” “Why?” “Because, they are all the same electron!” And, then he explained on the telephone, “suppose that the ... Read More Source September 22nd, 2013 No Comments Education in the USA is strangely focused on sports Interesting: “I’ve been in hundreds of classrooms,” says Singleton, who has spent 15 years as a principal and helped turn around other struggling schools. “This was the worst I’ve seen in my career. The kids were in control. The language was filthy. The teachers were not prepared.” By suspending sports, Singleton realized, he could save$150,000 in one year. A third of this amount was being paid to teachers as coaching stipends, on top of the smaller costs: $27,000 for ... Read More Source September 19th, 2013 No Comments Gaofen dineng: high scores but low ability Gaofen dineng is a good description of Obama administration, full of high IQ people who are well education and who make catastrophically bad decisions. In the USA there has been a move to inflict more school work on children. There is a feeling that when children play, time is being wasted. If the lack of play leads to less creative thinking, then surely we are creating a future catastrophe, raising a generation whose thinking is limited and rigid? This is ... Read More Source September 15th, 2013 No Comments The usual visual grammar was in place Russel Brand sounds surprisingly intelligent: It must have been a while since I’ve attended a fancy, glitzy event, because as soon as I got to the GQ awards I felt like something was up. The usual visual grammar was in place – a carpet in the street, people in paddocks awaiting a brush with something glamorous, blokes with earpieces, birds in frocks of colliding colours that if sighted in nature would indicate the presence of poison. I’m not trying to pass ... Read More Source September 15th, 2013 No Comments Police shoot up neighborhood In the good old days, there was the rule that the safety of bystanders mattered more than anything. Nowadays neighborhoods exist for target practice. NEW YORK (AP) – Two police officers fired on a man who was acting erratically and dodging cars on a busy Manhattan street Saturday night, wounding two bystanders and sending people running for cover, authorities said. Police said the man made movements suggesting he had a weapon, though he turned out to be unarmed. The officers’ ... Read More Source September 13th, 2013 No Comments Does social media re-invent the old forces of conformity? Very well said. I am beginning to think the era of outrage is a permanent one. And that’s just in the last few months. Going back further one can find the same story playing out over and over where an unpopular comment draws popular outrage, leading the offender’s employer to (quite rationally) seek to disassociate itself as quickly as possible. What’s odd about these sorts of incidents is that, while a single offhand comment can ruin a person’s career, professional pundits ... Read More Source September 11th, 2013 No Comments Sex crimes in Asia These numbers are horrifying if true: The survey questioned 10,000 men from six different Asian countries. In order to foster honest responses, participants were able to register their answers on hand held computers after researchers left them alone in a room. And of course, the survey didn’t just come out and ask men “Hey, do any cool rapes lately?”; it asked questions about whether the men had ever had sex with a woman even though they knew she didn’t want to ... Read More Source September 10th, 2013 No Comments Girl treated badly in high school programming class This sounds awful: My daughter traveled with me to DrupalCon in Denver for “spring break”, attended the expo at OSCON 2012, and even attended and watched me moderate a panel at the first Women in Advanced Computing (WiAC ’12) conference at USENIX Federated Conferences Week. Thanks to my career, my daughter’s Facebook friends list includes Linux conference organizers, an ARM developer and Linux kernel contributor, open source advocates, and other tech journalists. My daughter is bright, confident, independent, tech saavy, and ... Read More Source August 26th, 2013 No Comments The government controls the Internet The utopian era on the Internet is over. I like this essay because it attacks the innocence that created that earlier utopianism. The government always had the power to control the Internet, and as the Internet has become more important to society, the government caught up and brought the Wild West under control. The technocracy, hoisted by its own petard – out-technocracied! We’ve been lionizing the Internet full-time for two decades (with good reason, of course) while clucking at the ... Read More Source August 24th, 2013 No Comments Loneliness Is Deadly Interesting: Feeling uncertain, I began to research loneliness and came across several alarming recent studies. Loneliness is not just making us sick, it is killing us. Loneliness is a serious health risk. Studies of elderly people and social isolation concluded that those without adequate social interaction were twice as likely to die prematurely. The increased mortality risk is comparable to that from smoking. And loneliness is about twice as dangerous as obesity. Social isolation impairs immune function and boosts inflammation, which can lead ... Read More Source August 24th, 2013 No Comments Why are the Democrats vispy? Interesting: For the purposes of argument, I will accept Rao’s assessment of the structures of the two parties. The question then arises: Why? After all, basic stereotypes would suggest that Republicans, not Democrats, would be the stodgy ones. One story is that the Democrats are working on “maintaining the ’90s status-quo” (in Rao’s words). But I think it goes back earlier than that. After all, Reagan was an extremist for his time, whereas Clinton was always a moderate. My theory (which maybe ... Read More Source August 22nd, 2013 No Comments The TSA pointlessly harasses people This story describes agents of the government acting with a discretion that can not be reconciled with the rule of law: I got in line for security at the airport and handed the agent my ID. Another agent came over and handed me a paper slip, which he said was being used to track the length of the security lines. He said, “just hand this to someone when your stuff goes through the x-ray machines, and we’ll know how long you ... Read More Source August 22nd, 2013 No Comments The problems with Evolutionary Psychology Evolutionary psychology starts with the premise that human behavior is determined by human evolution — supposedly everything we do should increase our chances of reproducing our genes. This is a reasonable hypothesis to start with, but EvPysch then fails to explain the edge cases: 1.) Why are some people gay? How does that increase reproduction of their genes? 2.) Why do some people adopt other people’s children? How does that increase reproduction of the adoptive parent’s genes? 3.) Why do some people choose ... Read More Source August 20th, 2013 No Comments Groklaw closes down over concerns of NSA spying This is extremely sad: Privacy is vital to being human, which is why one of the worst punishments there is is total surveillance: One way of beginning to understand privacy is by looking at what happens to people in extreme situations where it is absent. Recalling his time in Auschwitz, Primo Levi observed that “solitude in a Camp is more precious and rare than bread.” Solitude is one state of privacy, and even amidst the overwhelming death, starvation, and horror of the ... Read More Source August 15th, 2013 No Comments Life as a wage slave grinds you up Interesting: In 1969, publisher John Martin offered to pay Charles Bukowski$100 each and every month for the rest of his life, on one condition: that he quit his job at the post office and become a writer. 49-year-old Bukowski did just that, and in 1971 his first novel, Post Office, was published by Martin’s Black Sparrow Press.

15 years later, Bukowski wrote the following letter to Martin and spoke of his joy at having escaped full time employment.

(Source: Reach for the ...

August 9th, 2013

Does the USA have a constitutional obligation to protect journalism?

I am worried that Congress can simply define “journalism” however it likes, such that all constitutional protections of a free press are disposed of.

But onto the “who’s really a journalist” argument. Some elected officials feel the language in the bill isn’t specific enough. One in particular, Dianne Feinstein, repeated the stupid but inevitable phrase that always accompanies discussions related to shield laws: Feinstein suggested that the definition comprise only journalists who make salaries, saying it should be applied just to ...

August 9th, 2013

Muriel’s Wedding is the anti-romcom

I don’t usually like movies in the “Rom-Com” genre, but friends told me that Muriel’s Wedding was good, so I got it from Netflix. This movie is not really a rom-com, it’s more a sober examination of longing and desperation. Muriel hates herself and lies to everyone, even her best friend. She lies to create the illusion that she is the person she wants to be. Her father is a politician and her father also lies a great deal. Her ...

August 9th, 2013

Boredom at work

Interesting:

The work was interesting at first. We coded until the sun came up, and pushed the limits of our abilities. We solved hard problems and learned tons. We had passionate discussions on the direction of the company and how to get there. There were ups and downs, fulfilling work and crap work, but it was always interesting.

Eventually, those discussions stopped. Shots were called in private meetings and passed down. Ideas from the rest of the org chart didn’t surface ...

August 9th, 2013

Women regret quitting their careers

Interesting:

One woman featured in the Times story in 2003 — who was also interviewed for 60 Minutes — is now divorced from her primary-earning husband and is working part time to support herself while she lives in an apartment that looks out onto a parking lot. Others felt bored and unfulfilled with their full-time momhood and gradually threw themselves into volunteering (which is exactly like working except you don’t earn money). One grew to resent her husband’s expectation that she ...

August 5th, 2013

The earth is warming back to where it was 50 million years ago

My sense is that, to the extent that global warming is harmful, it is harmful because of the speed at which it is happening. In the past, the Earth was much warmer. Given time, the flora and fauna of Earth can adapt. But if the warming happens in 1,000 years, then the flora and fauna have no chance to adapt.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, paleobiologist Richard Norris and colleagues show that the ancient greenhouse world had few ...

August 4th, 2013

Hugo Schwyzer tried to murder one of his girlfriends

Many years ago, when the blogosphere was a much smaller place, Hugo Schwyzer responded to something I wrote about relationships, and he accused me of not understanding the bliss of community and monogamous, loving relationships. I’ve always regarded the guy as extremely strange, like most of what he wrote was an attempt to convince himself, rather than the rest of the world. I’m reminded of how Hemingway often wrote about how great monogamy was, even as he worked his way ...

August 3rd, 2013

Brad Delong is shockingly stupid where Larry Summers is concerned

For me, this ends my willingness to read Brad Delong. I became aware of him back in 1996 when we both participated in the discussions on The Left Business Observer run by Doug Henwood. Some people on that list accused him of being a right-winger, but when Delong got all huffy and quit because someone said something mean, I think Henwood summed it up pretty well by saying “Delong is an elite social democrat.” When Delong first got a weblog ...

August 2nd, 2013

The Strange Kathy Sierra Saga

Online threats seem very common. We should all work against online threats, but we should all remember they are very common. I have never understood why the Kathy Sierra incident was seen as unique and unusual. I suppose she did a good job of advertising it, as she had an extremely popular blog:

I have been trying to determine how to continue talking about the Kathy Sierra incident without whipping a dead horse and without adding to an already ...

August 2nd, 2013

Online dating in 1880

Interesting:

In the Victorian era, telegraph operators were the first people to live with virtual reality.

Here’s how the 1880 novel Wired Love: A Romance of Dots and Dashes — the story of Nattie Rogers, a young telegraph operator — begins:

Miss Nattie Rogers, telegraph operator, lived, as it were, in two worlds. The one her office, dingy and curtailed as to proportions, but from whence she could wander away through the medium of that slender telegraph wire, on a sort of electric ...

July 27th, 2013

Who offers mercy

I think its safe to say that the Nazi’s never offered such compassionate mercy:

Somehow Schmeling rose on the count of nine, and Baer went in for the finish. Weary and defenseless, the German dropped his gloves and swayed slowly on his heels. Baer could have thrown another right and knocked Schmeling out. Instead he turned pleadingly toward referee Arthur Donovan to stop the fight. Baer didn’t want to kill Schmeling, just embarrass the Nazis. Donovan stepped between the two ...

July 10th, 2013

It is a rare group that does not establish some informal networks of communication through the friends that are made in it

I’m reading Jo Freeman again and again being impressed with how exactly correct she got everything back in 1971.

During the years in which the women’s liberation movement has been taking shape, a great emphasis has been placed on what are called leaderless, structureless groups as the main — if not sole — organizational form of the movement. The source of this idea was a natural reaction against the over-structured society in which most of us found ourselves, and the ...

July 5th, 2013

Dr. Curran said there was no apparent danger to nonhomosexuals from contagion

Kind of epic how wrong Dr. Curran was, yes?

The cause of the outbreak is unknown, and there is as yet no evidence of contagion. But the doctors who have made the diagnoses, mostly in New York City and the San Francisco Bay area, are alerting other physicians who treat large numbers of homosexual men to the problem in an effort to help identify more cases and to reduce the delay in offering chemotherapy treatment.

The sudden appearance of the cancer, called ...

July 4th, 2013

Katy Perry is Abercrombie & Fitch turned into music

Have you ever watched a Katy Perry video? I think if Abercrombie & Fitch was a music group, instead of a clothing retailer, then Katy Perry is what Abercrombie & Fitch would sound like. I don’t think she believes in anything she sings, I have the sense she’s some kind genius marketer who writes songs that are suppose to trigger the various fantasies that a 15 year old white girl, who is growing up in a very wealthy, all white ...

July 3rd, 2013

Profile pictures with spouse and children?

I see a whole lot of profile pictures that show a person with their spouse or child.

Source

June 17th, 2013

82 year old Catholic nun protests nuclear power so she must be a terrorist

Interesting:

On Thursday August 2, Rice, Boertje-Obed, and Walli appeared in court for a pretrial bail hearing. The government asked that all three be detained. One prosecutor called them a potential “danger to the community” and asked that all three be kept in jail until their trial. The US Magistrate allowed them to be released.

Sr. Megan Rice walked out of the jail and promptly admitted to gathered media that the three had indeed gone onto the property and ...

June 17th, 2013

The wealth of the world now concentrates into fewer cities

Interesting:

Two mournful friends dropped by our flat in Paris last Sunday. They are a well-paid couple from the caste known in Paris as “bobos”: people with bourgeois incomes and bohemian tastes. In the popular narrative, bobos have invaded Paris, driving out pure bohemians and the working class. But my bobo friends had a new story: they themselves were being driven out of Paris. To get enough space for their kids, they were leaving for the suburbs. When they’d told the ...

June 13th, 2013

You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide

by danah boyd:

People often feel immune from state surveillance because they’ve done nothing wrong. This rhetoric is perpetuated on American TV. And yet the same media who tells them they have nothing to fear will turn on them if they happen to be in close contact with someone who is of interest to – or if they themselves are the subject of – state interest. And it’s not just about now, but it’s about always.

And here’s where the implications ...

May 10th, 2013

This is great.

And that’s the most frustrating thing about depression. It isn’t always something you can fight back against with hope. It isn’t even something — it’s nothing. And you can’t combat nothing. You can’t fill it up. You can’t cover it. It’s just there, pulling the meaning out of everything. That being the case, all the hopeful, proactive solutions start to sound completely insane in contrast to the scope of the problem.

It would be like having a bunch ...

May 8th, 2013

Category bias in Wikipedia

Is Wikipedia objective?

I recall taking a class on journalism and we argued about whether or not true objectivity could ever exist. Some people pointed out that it was possible to write an article that consisted only of factual statements, and therefore such an article proved that objectivity was possible.

There were several counter-arguments: what about the factual statements that were not included? You could factually say “The nation of x invaded the nation of y and slaughtered 10,000 innocents.” That makes ...

May 1st, 2013

Why President Obama limits decisions

I think this is the only way to stay sane when you are in a fast-changing environment. Develop sane defaults and stick to them. You can not re-think every decision every day. No one has that kind of omni-directional brain power.

After reading this article in Vanity Fair on Obama, there was one piece that stuck out to me. As the author interviewed the president, he said “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down ...

April 26th, 2013

George W Bush was a genius — who cares?

What is the point of intelligence? Why should anyone want to be intelligent? Is there anything useful in intelligence? I am confused by an essay that argues that George W Bush was very intelligent. If he was, then we can conclude that intelligence is not important in a leader, and there must be some other quality that we associate with great leaders.

For more than six years it was my job to help educate President Bush about complex economic policy ...

April 25th, 2013

Do intellectuals have any influence?

Paul Krugman writes:

But will any of this make a difference? The story of the past three years, after all, is not that Alesina and Ardagna used a bad measure of fiscal policy, or that Reinhart and Rogoff mishandled their data. It is that important people’s will to believe trumped the already ample evidence that austerity would be a terrible mistake; A-A and R-R were just riders on the wave.

The cynic in me therefore says that after a brief period of ...

April 23rd, 2013

Why does danah boyd face more criticism than Paul Krugman when writing about personal topics?

Nothing in this post should be read as a criticism of either Paul Krugman or danah boyd. They are both writers that I admire. They both maintain blogs that I have been following for 7 or 8 years. They are both politically of the left, progressive and committed to humane values. And they both sometimes write informally academic things on their blogs, and other times personal things on their blogs. And I have the impression that danah boyd faces much ...

April 21st, 2013

Sex and technology

Yet another reminder of how much sex and technology now overlap:

Source

April 17th, 2013

No one can pay attention to everyone

Therefore we must screen who we listen to. I would like a service that let me white list what other blogs could post pingbacks to my blog. I used to think that comments were very important on a blog, but now I feel that ownership must be taken for any words spoken, and therefore it would be better if everyone had their own blog and could simply ping each other.

This is good:

When was the last time you stopped scrolling ...

April 9th, 2013

Ars longa, vita brevis, occasio praeceps, experimentum periculosum, iudicium difficile

I have a new motto

Ars longa, vita brevis, occasio praeceps, experimentum periculosum, iudicium difficile

Life is short, [the] craft long, opportunity fleeting, experiment treacherous, judgment difficult.

Source

April 8th, 2013

Gender ignorance at a tech conference

Interesting

I’m not a lady easily upset by the silly things that happen in male-dominated cultures. When I went on stage to speak at DEFCON 19 a series of events escalated to a portion of the audience shouting for me to take my shirt off. While I was a little sad that conference security had no idea how to de-escalate that (I sure hope they teach them now) and I had to do it myself, it isn’t fair to hold a ...

April 5th, 2013

The street kids of San Francisco

Interesting:

Whenever Haight Street tourists or bar hoppers crowd the neighborhood, street kids panhandle (hold a palm out for money – resembling a pan handle) and spange (“Spare change?”). An average day of spanging brings in about \$40. But with some luck and creative tactics (jumping out of trash cans to scare a group of teenagers, or telling tourists how to take the perfect picture of the Haight and Ashbury street signs), a day’s haul can break into triple digits.

This struck ...

March 18th, 2013

Heart disease was common in the ancient past

Interesting:

There are many fallacies that undergird alternative medicine, which evolved into “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM), and for which the preferred term among its advocates is now “integrative medicine,” meant to imply the “best of both worlds.” If I had to pick one fallacy that rules above all among proponents of CAM/IM, it would have to be either the naturalistic fallacy (i.e., that if it’s natural—whatever that means—it must be better) or the fallacy of antiquity (i.e., that if it’s ...

February 19th, 2013

Where does this man live?

Look at the screen shot. See the bit about cancer? Isn’t it sad that you can guess with great confidence what nation this man’s brother lives in? Even aside from the FMLA comment, there are not many nations where the lack of health insurance is so much of an issue.

Source

February 18th, 2013