## Philosophy

August 28th, 2015

# Police caught on tape talking about a woman

I agree with this:

Olivarius-McAllister didn’t, at first, hear the latter portion of the message, figuring it was just dead air. She forwarded it to her city editor, though, who did listen to the whole thing.

“He turned around the office and said, ‘These people are very opinionated about your body,’” Olivarius-McAllister said in an interview. “I thought he was joking. I listened to it and felt just utterly appalled.”

The Durango Herald was instrumental in helping current La Plata Sheriff Sean ...

August 27th, 2015

# The personal responsibility to build a durable ego

Interesting:

I do not suggest, of course, that all men lack these skills, but I am suggesting that many do, and that it manifests itself in various, troublesome ways. It seems to me that we must do a better job of teaching our children, especially our sons, that your ego does not own you and the world does not owe you. That a woman has the right to not be interested. That you might get fired. That your ex-wife might ...

August 27th, 2015

# Good writing is difficult

I don’t understand this. Sit at one’s typewriter, no matter the result, because writers are the same on all days? That is not even coherent. If the results vary day by day, then clearly the writer has different ability to deliver on different days.

“All writers know that on some golden mornings they are touched by the wand — are on intimate terms with poetry and cosmic truth. I have experienced those moments myself. Their lesson is simple: It’s a ...

August 26th, 2015

# Zach Tellman: the heuristics of the government fail and the heuristics of software fail

Zach Tellman gives a speech that almost compares urban planning to writing software. He never exactly states his idea, but he is often on the brink. He compares the state and the nomad and suggests that the state is attempting to force reality to conform to a simplified version of itself, so as to make it tractable. He never exactly says “All of your attempts to write software are doomed” but that is implied by his implied criticism of the ...

August 26th, 2015

# Men cite their own work more than women cite their own work

Interesting:

But the new study (while confirming the 2013 work) is much larger and crosses many disciplines. This one is based on an analysis of 1.6 million papers written from 1950 to the present in the scholarly database JSTOR. While some first names are not gender exclusive, the study looked at first names that correspond with either men or women, but not both, at least 95 percent of the time, according to various public records. Papers written by people with names ...

August 23rd, 2015

# Pretty in kindergarten

Life is complicated:

And yet, here we are in the actual world as it is, are we not? Just this morning I was getting my five-year-old daughter dressed for kindergarten. She wanted to wear a new dress we hadn’t really tried on at the store; I’d just held up to her quickly to size it up and move along. Putting it on, I realized it was kind of big. It looked nothing like the cute little Jackie-O style number I’d ...

August 22nd, 2015

# Influences in 進撃の巨人 (Attack On Titan)

I watched the first 5 episodes of 進撃の巨人. I thought I could pick out a few dozen influences that get recycled in this animae. Some are old Japanese obsessions, such as invasion by powerful outsiders. Some seemed more international.

It starts with humans living behind walls. They live in a village that is of Franco-Germanic design, and the people dress in a similar fashion. The people and the village are straight out of Bruegal painting.

The people are cut off ...

August 22nd, 2015

# A good society is safe for children

I think this image is meant sarcastically, but I find that I 100% support all of the slogans:

Traffic safety is an important issue. In the USA, most homes open directly onto a street, or they have a yard, which touches upon a street. This is insane. There should be 100 meters between any house and any car. We should not be telling children “Don’t play in traffic”, we should, instead, redirect traffic so it never comes close to any ...

August 11th, 2015

# Alexis Neiers: I wasn’t wearing Louboutins

Alexis Neiers Phone Call (Full Scene) by tbhuratchet

Source

August 11th, 2015

# What poor and uneducated brilliance looks like

There must be a lot of this now, and it must have been much worse in the past, people of intelligence who lived without education, and died in poverty:

Unlike all of Havard’s other correspondents Virginie wrote almost entirely in the local langue d’oïl dialect, Gallo. This may have been a daily language of communication in the region but there was almost nothing in print available at the time. In effect Virginie had to invent her own orthography and ...

August 8th, 2015

# Dogmatism Skepticism Eclecticism

Interesting:

In a paper delivered to the Aristotelian Society on 12 March 1956,[1] Walter Bryce Gallie (1912–1998) introduced the term essentially contested concept to facilitate an understanding of the different applications or interpretations of the sorts of abstract, qualitative, and evaluative notions[2]—such as “art” and “social justice”—used in the domains of aesthetics, political philosophy, philosophy of history, and philosophy of religion. Garver (1978) describes their use as follows:

The term essentially contested concepts gives a name to a problematic situation that many people ...

August 2nd, 2015

# Ultra-Orthodox Jewish man recently released from prison kills at Gay Pride in Israel

I suppose hate never goes away, it just finds different subjects to focus on, during different eras.

Sixteen-year-old Shira Banki died on Sunday, a spokeswoman for the Hadassah Medical Center said. Her organs will be donated.

Six people were wounded Thursday by Yishai Schlissel, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man recently released from prison. Haaretz reports that Schlissel had been serving a 10-year sentence after comitting a similar attack at the 2005 pride parade, when he stabbed three people.

Source

July 31st, 2015

# Fatherhood circa 2015

Regarding Millenial Men Aren’t the Dads They Thought They’d Be.

Short-term waves ride on top of long-term waves, but if we want an accurate picture of reality, we need to simultaneously remember the short-term and long-term waves. The trough of one wave can mitigate the peak of another wave, should their frequency be off in such a way that they interfere with each other. Likewise, with social trends. Any article about what men think about marriage and fatherhood should be juxtaposed ...

July 24th, 2015

# Advice columns still survive in newspapers

I am surprised that advice columns are still surviving in newspapers. Of course, I’m also surprised that newspapers still exist. Carolyn Hax offers relationship advice at the Washington Post:

You probably don’t want to hear it, and I certainly don’t like saying it to someone who is engaged, but you don’t sound terribly well suited to each other. All relationships involve some accommodation, but not so much that you feel like you have to draw and hold awkward lines just because ...

July 21st, 2015

# Men who lose at video games are the most likely to harass women

Interesting:

That should sound a whole lot like a lot of other, frequently sexist online spaces: Think Twitter. Or Reddit. Or 4chan.

In each of these environments, Kasumovic suggests, a recent influx of female participants has disrupted a pre-existing social hierarchy. That’s okay for the guys at the top — but for the guys at the bottom, who stand to lose more status, that’s very threatening. (It’s also in keeping with the evolutionary framework on anti-lady hostility, which suggests sexism is ...

July 19th, 2015

# When is it ethical to out someone?

Interesting:

Everyone’s feeling very proud of themselves today for being grossed out by a Gawker post containing the text and email exchanges between a male escort and a well-connected, married executive who was trying to procure said escort’s services. The issue at hand, according to everyone who’s outraged, is that this is the outing of a gay man who would otherwise have been living a closeted life with his wife and three kids, harming no one. Because he is not ...

July 15th, 2015

# Sydney Leroux’s fake eyelashes

Interesting:

Everywhere I go, people are talking trash about Sydney Leroux’s fake eyelashes. To be fair, I’ve been in Canada, where she’s particularly reviled. I get it, she turned her back on you, Canada. You’re hurt. But through the pain, I beg you, do not bring her eyelashes into this. Because let’s be real: those eyelashes are amazing.

Female soccer players have long balanced their athleticism and femininity. And at least in the United States, they’ve long balanced it the same way, ...

July 2nd, 2015

# Ronda Rousey Fights Like An A Very Unusual Human

Interesting:

The story below was written before Saturday night’s fight in Rio de Janeiro, in which Ronda Rousey knocked out Bethe Correia in 34 seconds. That means Rousey is 12-0, and 6-0 in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the biggest promotion company. Rousey has now won nine of her fights by armbar submission and three fights by KO/TKO, and remains the best pound-for-pound female MMA fighter in the world.

——–

Ronda Rousey is the rare athlete who dominates her sport while transcending ...

May 28th, 2015

# Natasha Vargas-Cooper and Kelly Faircloth on romance novels

Natasha Vargas-Cooper and Kelly Faircloth are talking about the use of the word “alpha” as it relates to men and as the concept is used in romance novels. :

I here quote some of Faircloth’s remarks, but the whole thing is interesting.

KF: So, alphadom in romance is, in my opinion, often fundamentally about taking care of the heroine and nurturing her. It’s about all that confidence and capability being focused on the heroine and working on her behalf. Now, it ...

May 27th, 2015

# Niki Tisza writes about burnout

Interesting:

I read a lot and I found lots of interesting articles. Reading more and more it became clear to me I was experiencing a job burnout. I got nearly all the symptoms, even I wasn’t even 30 at that time. These were my warning signs:

Fatigue Frustration or decreased level of patience Stress Lack of motivation Feeling of being overwhelmed, trapped, helplessness Losing sleep Getting sick from all the sudden Going to your previously beloved workplace because you have to, not because you want to After spending a ...

May 26th, 2015

# We get trapped by our virtues more than our vices

I like this:

Qualities That Keep You in a Sick System

Loyalty Patience A strong work ethic Optimism Self-sacrifice A need to be useful to others Forgiveness Farsightedness Trust Hope

You don’t need to lose these qualities to get out. But if you’re stuck and trying to figure out what’s keeping you in, remember that people rarely get stuck because of their vices. They’re usually caught by their virtues.

Source

May 24th, 2015

# The effect of blind auditions on orchestras

Interesting:

But there are many different moments when I look back and think, gosh, how could I have been so optimistic? For example, Cecilia Rouse and I decided that we would study the effect of orchestras switching to blind auditions. [In a 2000 paper in the American Economic Review, Goldin and Rouse found that the practice of having musicians audition behind a screen significantly increased the proportion of women in symphony orchestras.] Many orchestras did not know they had records on ...

May 18th, 2015

# The life of single moms

Interesting:

In our culture, we want mothers to be everything: good wives, strong role models, educators, friends, and empathetic listeners. We want mothers to shed their former selves in order to carry on the role of inspiring their children to be something. We want mothers to be intelligent but compassionate; generous but self-aware; at work but at home, all at once. That responsibility is difficult enough to bear when there is another warm body willing to step into a parental role ...

May 18th, 2015

# GamerGate losers continue the argument on Wikipedia

Very, very pathetic, but the argument over GamerGate continues on the Wikipedia talk page.

Chrisrus continues to raise legalistic objections to those editors who are trying to be reasonable:

@Gamaliel: What new accounts? What does your closing and hiding of this thread have to do with new accounts editing the article? The thread had nothing to do with new accounts editing the article or not editing it. We were talking about how people respond to reader feedback on the talk ...

May 18th, 2015

# Starve yourself

Interesting:

It’s calorie intake that is really fueling the obesity epidemic. But it’s not just the number of calories we’re eating as how we’re getting them. The sugar calories are particularly bad. Stanford University researcher Sanjay Basu recently led an analysis of 175 countries that evaluated the amount of sugar in each nation’s food supply. As sugar availability increased by 150 calories per person per day (the equivalent of a can of cola), there was a 1.1 percent rise in the ...

May 10th, 2015

# “Habits” by To Love

A friend of mine in Stockholm sent me this link about Swedish singer To Love, who I had never heard of, but now I’ve spent an hour watching her videos on YouTube and I like her.

Source

May 8th, 2015

# Can you defend your relationship?

This is a cute list:

No relationship comes without its obvious detractions: the counterargument against your imaginary defense. If you’re old enough to have had a relationship, you’re old enough to have had a nagging thought about it. One of my first boyfriends was great and everything—if it weren’t for the fact that he always smelled like hot dogs. Another one seemed really into me, but he was also really into “doing donuts” in his Camaro. Here are some other assorted ...

May 8th, 2015

# The public no longer thinks of GLBT celebrities as being scandalous

Once upon a time, not that long ago, this would have been a big story:

Miley Cyrus… revealed to the AP that “not all her past relationships were ‘straight, heterosexual’ ones.” The piece continues, “She did not elaborate.”

Miley says she already spent a lot of time struggling with traditional gender expectations—and being resentful that she was a girl. “I didn’t want to be a boy,” she clarifies. “I kind of wanted to be nothing. I don’t relate to what people ...

May 4th, 2015

# “My daughter came home one day crying and said, ‘Mommy, somebody told me you made a lot of money …’ “

Interesting:

WITHERSPOON: My daughter came home one day crying and said, “Mommy, somebody told me you made a lot of money …” and I was like, “Why are you crying? … I worked hard for that. You should never feel embarrassed about a woman doing well in this world.”

Source

May 3rd, 2015

# Poland is the most Slavic nation in the world?

I did not know this, but this map shows Poland as having the highest percentage of Slavic heritage:

Source

April 21st, 2015

# What happened to Ani DiFranco?

What happened to Ani DiFranco? In 1993 I dated a woman who introduced me to Ani DiFranco. For the next 12 years, a lot of my female friends were in love with Ani DiFranco. She was a huge icon to a particular demographic. danah boyd maintained a page of Ani DiFranco lyrics. (I also liked DiFranco very much.)

Over the last 10 years, DiFranco has vanished. I am not aware of any of my female friends who still follow her. ...

April 12th, 2015

# Evening, by Susan Minot

In the early 1990s Susan Minot published some articles in Esquire magazine and I liked her stuff so I’ve been meaning to read some of her books. I was busy for the last 25 years, but I just finally got to reading her novel Evening.

Her focus is with the white upper-middle class of New England in the mid to late 20th Century, so she is covering ground also covered by writers such as John Updike and James Salter.

The ...

April 10th, 2015

# Zed Shaw’s legacy

I love this:

Once again, Zed Shaw preaches the truth.

The worst thing about the era of the Internet is how often I (and I think all of us) read something that effects my thinking forever, and then that thing vanishes, and no one can ever read it, and no one can ever hope to understand what shaped my thinking on a particular subject. 100 years ago, if I read a good book, there was a good chance some copy of ...

March 31st, 2015

# Jodhaa Akbar

I recently watched the movie Jodhaa Akbar. Watching it I realized how strange it was that Richard Attenborough’s version of Ghandi was so entirely secular. Jodhaa Akbar shows Akbar experiencing the mystical wonders of Allah and Jodhaa experiencing the mystical wonders of Krishna. But Gandhi is not shown experiencing any mystical wonders, even though he was a great spiritual leader. Attenborough’s version of Gandhi is very Western and secular.

Source

March 23rd, 2015

# The most important election in the history of Israel

Interesting:

I’m not interested in debating the normative side of the election, or various peace plans, right now. What I find striking is how unready many critics are to confront what has happened, not just in the “Plan B” sense but also rhetorically. The possibility that civil rights progress, peace progress, and self-governance and democratic progress simply have stopped, and won’t be back any time soon, is before us. If anything, matters might become worse yet, especially once ...

March 23rd, 2015

# You can’t take my pretty adjectives, damn you

In Strunk and White’s book Elements Of Style we are told that adjectives are bad. But here’s a book that says they are all liars:

http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=18345

They also say that we should not start sentences with “but”. But I look them straight in the eye and say “Make me.”

Source

March 16th, 2015

# The cost of failure

I was sick from 1994 to 2000, so I can relate to this:

Back when I made comics, I lived in a forest. I was poor. I had few options in life. I avoided the topic of college because I didn’t know what I wanted to “do with the rest of my life,” and I didn’t have the money to pay for it. It was much easier to tell myself I wanted to “do what I love, make comics for ...

March 14th, 2015

# Teaching yourself computer programming is morally correct

Interesting:

I have come to learning Haskell in an unusual way. I have a master’s degree in linguistics and some background in logic (due to a BA in philosophy). I have no background in either math or computer programming. At all. I was persuaded, somehow, to learn Haskell by a friend with a notable fervor for Haskell advocacy, and because he got me sort of excited about natural language processing, I decided to give it a whirl. He is a person ...

March 13th, 2015

# Kate Heddleston on argument culture

Interesting:

In a perfect world, people win arguments through the use of logic, facts, and better information. In reality, most people are pretty terrible at using logic, facts, and information. People make decisions from a place of emotion. We know this because if the emotional centers of a person’s brain are damaged, they become incapable of making even the most basic decisions [4]. Arguments are inherently emotional interactions where the goal is winning, and if we have learned anything from ...

March 13th, 2015

# Tardigrades can not be destroyed

Interesting:

If you go into outer space without protection, you’ll die.

The lack of pressure would force the air in your lungs to rush out. Gases dissolved in your body fluids would expand, pushing the skin apart and forcing it to inflate like a balloon. Your eardrums and capillaries would rupture, and your blood would start to bubble and boil. Even if you survived all that, ionising radiation would rip apart the DNA in your cells. Mercifully, you would be unconscious in ...

March 12th, 2015

# Women’s drinking peaks at age 40

Basically, women drink more and more every year until the worries about age-related health begin to influence their behavior. Interesting:

Source

March 12th, 2015

# Bad female boss suddenly understand mothers now that she has a kid

Interesting:

I secretly rolled my eyes at a mother who couldn’t make it to last minute drinks with me and my team. I questioned her “commitment” even though she arrived two hours earlier to work than me and my hungover colleagues the next day.

I didn’t disagree when another female editor said we should hurry up and fire another woman before she “got pregnant.”

...

March 9th, 2015

# If you measure something intermediate, be sure it also contributes to your end goals

Interesting:

In 1962, what’s now known as the Perry Preschool Study started in Ypsplanti, a blue-collar town near Detroit. It was a randomized trial, resulting in students getting either no preschool or two years of free preschool. After two years, students in the preschool group showed a 15 point bump in IQ scores; other early education studies showed similar results.

In the 60s, these promising early results spurred the creation of Head Start, a large scale preschool program designed to help economically ...

March 6th, 2015

# Women stealing happiness from women

Interesting:

“You know Weil hired Lauren? She just got her letter yesterday.”

It was Emma, smiling at me as though there was no one else she’d rather see.

“I guess they’re less fixated on first-year grades than they pretend,” she said, “because Lauren’s first year grades were”–here she made a soft clicking noise that made me want to strangle her.

“Incoming,” hissed Emma’s best friend, another girl who was notable mostly because her parents owned one of New York’s most expensive restaurants. And ...

March 6th, 2015

# The professionalization of childhood sports is child abuse

Interesting:

“It’s definitely child abuse,” Dohrmann said in an interview with ThinkProgress.

Dohrmann said that LeBron James Jr. might be an example of a rare kid with the support system that will allow him to survive the maw of youth basketball. He has a father who understands the system, is used to the attention and doesn’t need the money. He’s likely to get a coach who understands the game and even if he doesn’t he has his dad, one of the greatest ...

March 3rd, 2015

# I don’t get the zombie craze

All the zombie movies — I am not clear why this genre is so popular now. Typically when Sci-Fi has some popular breakthrough its because of events happening elsewhere in society. Invasion of the Body Snatchers was a hit when Anti-Communist hysteria was at its peak. Star Trek was a hit when the USA government was actually trying to get to the moon. Planet Of The Apes was a hit when white America no longer felt free to speak openly ...

March 3rd, 2015

# Europe has seen a surge in voluntary childlessness

Interesting:

Europe has also seen a surge in “child-free” adults—voluntary childlessness. The proportion of childless 40-something women is one in five for Sweden and Switzerland, and one in four for Italy. In Berlin and in the German city-state of Hamburg, it’s nearly one in three, and rising swiftly. Europe’s most rapidly growing family type is the one-person household: the home not only child-free, but partner- and relative-free as well. In Western Europe, nearly one home in three (32%) is already a ...

March 1st, 2015

# What makes Buzzfeed good?

Interesting:

Where the Buzzfeed crew distinguish themselves from older media organizations, and even many of their contemporary online competitors, is in their lack of quality control, which borders on an actual rejection of the notion that “quality” ought to be an important factor in determining whether or not to publish something.

That’s Buzzfeed’s crucial differentiating factor. Combine it with their killer CMS (which encourages the rapid creation of exactly the sort of content we imagine when we think of lazy Buzzfeed ...

March 1st, 2015

# The short version of Kino Haruki Murakama

I think this story has too many words. This is my version, with less words:

Kino remembered the first time the man had come to his bar. His appearance had immediately caught Kino’s eye—the bluish shaved head, the thin build yet broad shoulders, the keen glint in his eye, the prominent cheekbones and wide forehead. He looked to be in his early thirties, and he wore a long gray raincoat, though it wasn’t raining.

The man sat in the back ...

March 1st, 2015

# Lying is good for you

Lying is an important social skill:

The ability to lie is adaptive. When kids start lying when they’re younger, they’re essentially supposed to. It’s a good developmental sign their brain is working correctly when they become aware both that you actually can’t see everything they do and also that you can’t read their minds. Sure, they may not be that good at lying yet by our standards—my 4 year old recently insisted she was turning flips right in front of ...

March 1st, 2015

# How can anyone remember where they saw a movie 25 years ago?

I am confused how anyone can remember these details:

My first time with James Cameron’s sci-fi war movie was a great filmgoing experience. I saw “Aliens” at the NorthPark 1 and 2 theater at NorthPark Mall in my hometown of Dallas, with a high school classmate who was, at that time, my regular action movie-watching buddy: Gabe Michaels. We drove to NorthPark to catch the 11 a.m. show on opening day and got in line a couple of hours early. ...

February 26th, 2015

Interesting:

July 28th, 2014

# 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, ...

July 28th, 2014

# 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, ...

July 28th, 2014

# 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 ...

July 26th, 2014

# 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 ...

July 21st, 2014

# 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 ...

July 20th, 2014

# 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 ...

June 26th, 2014

# 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 ...

June 24th, 2014

# 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 ...

June 24th, 2014

# 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 ...

June 16th, 2014

# 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. ...

June 10th, 2014

# 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, ...

June 9th, 2014

# 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 ...

June 3rd, 2014

# 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 ...

May 31st, 2014

# 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 ...

May 20th, 2014

# 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 ...

May 20th, 2014

# 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 ...

May 20th, 2014

# 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 ...

May 12th, 2014

# 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 ...

May 12th, 2014

# 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 ...

May 4th, 2014

# 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 ...

May 4th, 2014

# 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 ...

May 3rd, 2014

# 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

# 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 ...

May 2nd, 2014

# 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, ...

May 2nd, 2014

# 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 ...

April 28th, 2014

# 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

# Drowning: the game of life

I like how this game is so simple.

Source

April 25th, 2014

# 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. ...

April 24th, 2014

# 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, ...

April 21st, 2014

# The decline of teen births

I am very curious what drove the surge in teen births in the late 80s.

Source

April 18th, 2014

# 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 ...

April 10th, 2014

# 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 ...

April 6th, 2014

# 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

# 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

# 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 ...

April 4th, 2014

# 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 ...

April 4th, 2014

# The war on science

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 ...

April 4th, 2014

# 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 ...

April 4th, 2014

# 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 ...

April 1st, 2014

# 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 ...

March 31st, 2014

# 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 ...

March 30th, 2014

# 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 ...

March 28th, 2014

# 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 ...

March 20th, 2014

# 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 ...

March 1st, 2014

# 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 ...

February 9th, 2014

# 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 ...

February 1st, 2014

# 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 ...

January 29th, 2014

# 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 ...

January 25th, 2014

# 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. ...

January 23rd, 2014

# 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, ...

January 17th, 2014

# 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 ...

January 17th, 2014

# 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 ...

January 16th, 2014

# 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 ...

January 14th, 2014

# 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

# 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 ...

January 12th, 2014

# 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 ...

January 11th, 2014

# 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 ...

January 10th, 2014

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 ...

January 9th, 2014

# 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 ...

January 9th, 2014

# 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 ...

January 9th, 2014

# 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

# 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 ...

January 8th, 2014

# 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 ...

January 8th, 2014

# 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 ...

January 7th, 2014

# 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,” ...

January 6th, 2014

# 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 ...

January 2nd, 2014

# 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 ...

December 25th, 2013

# 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 ...

December 3rd, 2013

# 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, ...

November 29th, 2013

# 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

# 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 ...

November 20th, 2013

# 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 ...

November 20th, 2013

# 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.

The word “because,” in ...

November 19th, 2013

# 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 ...

November 15th, 2013

# 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 ...

November 14th, 2013

# 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 ...

November 14th, 2013

# 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 ...

November 14th, 2013

# 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 ...

November 7th, 2013

# 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 ...

November 7th, 2013

# 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 ...

October 31st, 2013

# 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 ...

October 23rd, 2013

# 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 ...

October 20th, 2013

# 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 ...

October 19th, 2013

# 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 ...

October 17th, 2013

# 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 ...

October 16th, 2013

# 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 ...

October 16th, 2013

# The Catholic injustice in Ireland

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 ...

October 16th, 2013

# The limits of human knowing

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, ...

October 16th, 2013

# 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 ...

October 16th, 2013

# “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 ...

October 15th, 2013

# 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 ...

October 15th, 2013

# 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 ...

October 9th, 2013

# No man is clever enough to know all the evil he does

So true.

Source

October 7th, 2013

# 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, ...

October 4th, 2013

# 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 ...

September 30th, 2013

# 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, ...

September 26th, 2013

# 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 ...

September 22nd, 2013

# 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 ...

September 19th, 2013

# 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 ...

September 15th, 2013

# 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 ...

September 15th, 2013

# 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’ ...

September 13th, 2013

# 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 ...

September 11th, 2013

# 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 ...

September 10th, 2013

# 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 ...

August 26th, 2013

# 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 ...

August 24th, 2013

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 ...

August 24th, 2013

# 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 ...

August 22nd, 2013

# 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 ...

August 22nd, 2013

# 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 ...

August 20th, 2013

# Groklaw closes down over concerns of NSA spying

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 ...

August 15th, 2013

# 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 ...