## Philosophy

January 17th, 2018

# Sometimes The Onion is exactly correct, part XXXVII, Honey Boo Boo

When Jane Austen was 17 years old she visited some cousins, who had some old copies of the Spectator. Since she recognized the name, she started to read the famous magazine. She was horrified. The vulgar language, the sexual terms, the gross metaphors invoking shit and maggots and eating babies — everything disgusted her. She said that she could form no liking of an era that had tolerated such coarseness.

The Onion reminds us that we will surely someday have ...

January 16th, 2018

# The continuing power of tradition, as it effects gender

An interesting bit from Barbara Kingsolver (I am a fan of her novel The Poisonwood Bible):

Most progressives wouldn’t hesitate to attend a football game, or to praise the enlightened new pope – the one who says he’s sorry, but women still can’t lead his church, or control our reproduction. In heterosexual weddings, religious or secular, the patriarch routinely “gives” his daughter to the groom, after which she’s presented to the audience as “Mrs New Patriarch,” to joyous applause. We ...

January 9th, 2018

# A child struck by a car

I’d been praying that maybe it wasn’t as bad as it looked, that maybe he would be OK. I remember just leaning over and crying, and then trying very hard to get hold of myself.

The police agreed to let me wait in one of the neighbour’s houses. She was so kind. She had a daughter just a few years younger than me and I think she knew that her daughter could just as easily have been the perpetrator, ...

January 7th, 2018

# Why do social media designers think we want to see posts out of chronological order?

Interesting:

Source

January 7th, 2018

# The best argument for mandatory education

I had not thought about this carefully enough, but as soon as you stop requiring education, you weaken the rest of this chain reasoning. The question then is how to extend this reasoning to college.

Source

January 7th, 2018

# The current changes to the Labour Party are likely to be long lasting

Interesting:

This is a transformation of Labour as dramatic as anything that happened under Tony Blair in the 1990s. Arguably, it is much more significant. During his time as leader, Mr Blair did not put in much organisational effort to ensure that his ideological shift was a permanent one. New Labourites just assumed – how wrong they turned out to be – that the hard left had lost the arguments so comprehensively that it could not revive. New Labour never attempted ...

January 7th, 2018

# A few random thoughts about how a country gets to a constitutional crisis

What is the difference between heart disease and a heart attack? One is a long-term condition whose risks can be managed with careful effort, the other is a short-term crisis that demands immediate attention. It is somewhat uncommon to have a heart attack, without first having heart disease. Likewise, what is the difference between a constitutional malaise and a constitutional crisis? Again, one is a long-term condition whose risks can be managed with careful effort, the other is a short-term ...

January 6th, 2018

# The influence of the MeToo movement

Interesting:

Yesterday, one of these men asked jinni if he could share her table. The other tables were taken, so she said ‘of course’. He tried to chat her up but she simply responded monosyllabically, and returned to her book. He stared at her openly for about twenty minutes. Finally, she decided to leave (mostly because he also had a hacking cough). When she put her book in her bag, he again tried to kick up conversation with her, this time ...

January 4th, 2018

# The importance of bridges

After so many years of crumbling infrastructure, I’d like to think the USA is finally going to invest in itself again. I’m encouraged to realize that something like this can be popular with the young crowd that hangs out on Tumblr.

Source

January 4th, 2018

# Why is the USA press so relentless on the issue of Israel?

I pray for peace in the MidEast. I don’t think we can get there by arresting a bunch of 15 year old girls.

Source

January 3rd, 2018

# God should have made girls lethal when he made monsters of men

Interesting:

“God should have made girls lethal/when he made monsters of men” reads a line by poet Elisabeth Hewer. The line has stuck with me since I stumbled upon it in another book, not just because it’s striking, but because I resent its truth. I’m bored with dissecting my own victimhood but I also feel choked by it, held in place by its reality.

…I’ve had many men (and it’s only been men) tell me that the Weinstein fallout is a watershed ...

January 3rd, 2018

# The total number of fatal knife stabbings in London in 2017 rises to 80

This is a large amount of knife murder:

The new year attacks – three on 31 December and a fourth on 1 January – pushed the total number of fatal stabbings in London in 2017 to 80. The incidents occurred within a 15-hour period at locations in north, east and south London.

The region of New York City is a good 50% more populous than London, and they had 286 murders last year, mostly from guns.

Source

January 3rd, 2018

# Cosmetics as self care

n 1908 guards stormed into a cell in Milan, tearing away bed sheets, flipping over mattresses, and yanking off pillowcases for a piece of contraband that had left the warden mystified for the preceding couple of weeks. The prisoner stood to the side, patiently watching her cell get turned inside out, her cheeks painted in cheerful red circles like a ballerina.

They were after her blush like it was a brick of cocaine.

No ...

January 2nd, 2018

# A Tory has no friends, and brags about it

What a blind thing to do. Toby Young got married, and very few friends showed up for his stag party. He is a vile person with vile politics, so it makes sense that no one likes him. But he decided that most people aren’t loyal. And he wrote an article about it. You’d think he’d be embarrassed that so few people like him, but he apparently doesn’t realize how his readers are likely to see him.

It was on my ...

January 2nd, 2018

# The company’s male administrators deleted her most virulent speech from the first production

I have wondered about this. The speech, which calls out gender injustice, sounds like it was written in 2018. I can hardly imagine how it sounded in the year 1784.

When the play finally reached the Comédie-Française, the leading French theater found further problems with it. The ardently feminist character of Marceline (who was to become Marcellina in the opera) so disconcerted the company’s male administrators that they deleted her most virulent speech from the first production, declaring that no actress ...

January 1st, 2018

In terms of the content of the Daily Mail, I think this songs sums up the situation:

.

However, I admired the design of the site. They combine hard news with celebrity news in a clever way, but above all, the page is very long and packed with hundreds, perhaps thousands of stories. They make the assumption that their audience is actually interested in their content, and wants to see more. They don’t rely on Javascript-infinite-scroll, the design appears to be hard-coded ...

January 1st, 2018

# The case to end the British monarchy

From 2015:

Elizabethan will mean whatever you want: certainly vanishing empire and influence, her colonies and dependencies now no more than an archipelago of tax havens. She has reigned over nearly twice as many Conservative years as Labour. Whatever social progress that marks her era came mainly from those Labour punctuations – abolition of capital punishment, Race Relations Act, abortion and homosexual law reform, equal pay and sex discrimination acts, civil partnerships, minimum wage, Sure Start, devolution, human rights, nursery ...

January 1st, 2018

# A reminder of the horrible abuse that was allowed at Catholic schools

My grand-father was deeply Catholic and committed to the Church, so he demanded that my dad go to Catholic school. My dad hated the school. I once asked him why and he said the nuns were absolute sadists who looked for any excuse cane the students. That was in New York City in the late 1930s and early 1940s. My dad committed himself to science and I grew up in a secular household.

Things were even worse in Britain, where ...

January 1st, 2018

# Education teaches us to argue better

Interesting:

The same effect has also been captured in relation to the myth that the healthcare reform bill empowered government “death panels.” According to research by Dartmouth political scientist Brendan Nyhan, Republicans who thought they knew more about the Obama healthcare plan were “paradoxically more likely to endorse the misperception than those who did not.” Well-informed Democrats were the opposite—quite certain there were no “death panels” in the bill.

The Democrats also happened to be right, by the way.

The idealistic, liberal, ...

January 1st, 2018

# Why didn’t Hypatia have a husband?

Just thinking out loud here.

Let’s take a moment to explore the issue of why Hypatia did not have a husband.

Since she didn’t have a husband, is there a chance that she had girlfriend? I don’t mean to bulldoze the option that she was ace, but let’s consider the girlfriend angle for a minute. Maybe she ended up dating Asclepigenia? If she was in love with Asclepigenia, it would explain why she didn’t want to marry a man. ...

December 31st, 2017

# Richard Feynman believed in failing fast

Feynman concluded: “for my money Fermat’s theorem is true”. This is of course not very formal from a mathematical standpoint and is far from the real 110 pages long proof of FLT that took A.Wiles years to put together, notwithstanding it’s a really good example of Feynman’s scientific approach and genius. As Feynman used to say:

the main job of theoretical physics is to prove yourself wrong as soon as possible.

This is another way of stating the ...

December 31st, 2017

# Why be political?

Things have to be going really well in your life before you can think of political activity as a choice. If you are doing very well, you might like to believe that the current structure of the world is a natural one, and not amenable to political action. That is a self-gratifying belief. But unless you are lucky, you often have politics pushed upon you, often with very little choice on your part.

I like the way “Raquel” sums up ...

December 30th, 2017

# Are things getting worse for women?

Interesting article in the Guardian about Joan Wallach Scott.

Given the rise of Trump, and especially the rise of outfits such as Wikileaks, I’ve been rethinking a lot of what I thought I knew about the era since 1960.

Organizations such as Wikileaks uses the language of progressives (expose the facts, speak truth to power, attack the elites, shake up the government) while in fact working as a propaganda outfit for an authoritarian regime (Russia). Yet people are drawn to Wikileaks ...

December 30th, 2017

# The rising divorce rate in rural areas

Interesting:

Source

December 28th, 2017

# The only appropriate death tax is 100%

(Posted in response to a conversation on Hacker News)

The only appropriate death tax is 100%. The goal is not to raise money for the government, the goal is to protect society from oligarchy. Most oligarchs come from wealthy families — that kind of vast wealth accumulates over the course of generations.

So as to allow minor things, such as a house, to pass from parents to children, a low level exemption is reasonable, so the tax does not touch the poor ...

December 27th, 2017

# Rick Webb: an apology for Utopian idealism regarding the Internet

Interesting:

Silicon Valley likes to think of itself as a bastion of rationality. But if you think about it, Silicon Valley, like virtually every other organization or entity, has a set of core beliefs at the bottom of its philosophical pyramid that are just that: core beliefs. They extend beyond rationality. “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” our declaration of independence begins. Every good philosophical treatise starts with these. Every debate starts with the polite agreement about defintions.

What if Silicon ...

December 27th, 2017

# Anna North: sexual harassment is not sex, it is abuse of power at work

Interesting:

Melissa Gira Grant puts it well at the New York Review of Books: “Sexual harassment is a form of discipline, and it has already led to so many women being cast out from their work and the attention that is rightfully theirs. When men use sex to push women into inferior, undervalued, and invisible roles, that isn’t sex; that’s punishment.”

It’s become common, as #MeToo matures, to ask what we should do about behaviors that fall short of violent sexual assault. ...

December 27th, 2017

# The problem with dating apps

I’m currently writing a comedy about a guy who is launching a new dating app. To that end, I’m reading endless Tumblr. It’s comedy gold. I have to be careful not to slip into plagiarism.

Source

December 26th, 2017

# The Baby Boomers are uniquely awful

Back in 1996 I made this case on the maillist of Left Business Observer. I said that the Baby Boomers were uniquely awful and they’d been terrible to the country. Doug Henwood gave me a hard time about this. I thought about what he said and decided that generational conflict is never progressive — in every generation there is a working class that is struggling for its fair share, and there are marginalized people struggling for justice. So I’ve never ...

December 26th, 2017

# Do men become warlike if they do not have women?

The Economist has an article with the title “The link between polygamy and war“:

Wherever it is widely practised, polygamy (specifically polygyny, the taking of multiple wives) destabilises society, largely because it is a form of inequality which creates an urgent distress in the hearts, and loins, of young men. If a rich man has a Lamborghini, that does not mean that a poor man has to walk, for the supply of cars is not fixed. By contrast, every time a ...

December 25th, 2017

# This was the one and only time in the last 300 million years that the wood-rotting ability evolved

Interesting:

Here is the crux of our problem: lignin made the lycopod trees a little too successful. Because their leaves were lofted above many herbivores and their trunks were made inedible by lignin, lycopods were virtually impervious to harm. They grew and died in vast quantities, and their trunks piled up in swamps, eventually becoming submerged and locking huge quantities of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere for good in the form of coal. Without any decomposition to recycle this carbon, ...

December 25th, 2017

# 12 year old girl attempted murder, gets 25 year sentence

Keep in mind that the charge is attempted murder, not murder, and that the girl was 12 years old at the time. How do you end up with a 25 year sentence, given those facts? The majority of all murderers don’t get sentences that long (I’m using the word “murder” in the legal USA sense, so you should avoid thinking about first degree murder, which is rare.)

From the article:

If medical professionals and the jury have deemed Alyssa Weier not ...

December 24th, 2017

# All our generation wants is a small apartment and a spouse that loves them back

The incredible thing is that this now seems so unlikely, so hard to achieve, so distant. We’ve come a long way from 1958 (the best year of the ratio of average wage to average rent).

Source

December 22nd, 2017

# The casting couch in Hollywood, as depicted by Hollywood

Interesting:

Then I read the original reviews of the movie and began to doubt my understanding of what I’d seen. To critics at outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Christian Science Monitor, this was not a story of women subjected to predatory men. Many of the reviews don’t even mention the producer, focusing instead on the rivalry between Rogers and Hepburn, the remarkable dialogue, and the superiority to the play. When Menjou comes up, it ...

December 21st, 2017

# People really love Tumblr

People worry about the death of Tumblr, and their worry arises from love. I would be very proud if I had created something like Tumblr (myself and my business partners spent 6 years trying). I feel real rage when I consider how incredibly incompetent the management at Yahoo has been. Yahoo buys startups, and then kills them. This has happened over and over again. No one can believe in the efficiency of our economic system, if they know the history ...

December 21st, 2017

I was too young to have any encounters with the feminist militancy of the 1970s. I caught the fading light from that scene in the late 1980s. I worked at Macks Apples and the apple pickers there had a long tradition of hiring one of their own to be the full time cook, because if we each tried to make our own meals, the kitchen would be destroyed in chaos. It was best if we all kicked in $25 a ... Read More Source December 20th, 2017 No Comments # Children playing with Barbie Interesting: When my female friends recount playing with Barbie they also mention how much sex was in their play, which tends to get left out of the television commercials. Source December 18th, 2017 No Comments # How to sell Clojure Apparently there is need for starter kits, and starter code. This gives me an idea for my next book. Source December 18th, 2017 No Comments # Caryn Vainio‏: my friend died, but I didn’t know, because algorithms Interesting and sad: For those of you who work in social media, I need to share the story of my friend who died, and I didn’t know because algorithms. A friend I’ve known mostly online for 15+ years died this weekend. Our friendship started on an old gaming forum, but continued on Facebook. He was part of a group of friends, and we’ve all stayed connected via Facebook. He didn’t post much, but he liked and commented a lot. I met him once years ... Read More Source December 16th, 2017 No Comments # What makes the Sims franchise so go So legit. Source December 16th, 2017 No Comments # When a job interview goes bad Sometimes I go to a job interview, and they are looking for specialists in some area of computer programming that I know nothing of. And then I end up sounding like Matthew Peterson. Source December 13th, 2017 No Comments # White women voted for Roy Moore Somewhat surprising? The gender and race breakdown of Alabama’s senate election was reminiscent of last year’s presidential election, where black women overwhelmingly voted for Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton. The majority of non-college educated black women (95%) voted for Clinton, compared with 34% of white women. The numbers were just as stark among college educated women, with 91% of college educated black women voting for Clinton, compared with 51% of white women with college experience. Source December 12th, 2017 No Comments # An invitation to play (Tonight I’m dumping some of my notes, from my riffs.txt, onto my blog. Not sure why I kept these for years without publishing. I was probably waiting for a moment when I could write a longer essay about them.) Why I hate books about Design Patterns Imagine two girls, both nine years old, decide to play tea. They put on nice dresses and bonnets. The one goes over to the other’s house. “Mrs. Worthington, it is so nice to see you,” says the ... Read More Source December 11th, 2017 No Comments # How do you wake up in the morning when you’ve got a project running late? Personally, if a project is running late, and I’m working till 4 AM, and waking up at 9 or 10, then I need coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. Feel free to post your own story in the comments. This is from How To Destroy A Tech Startup In Three Easy Steps: Friday, October 9th, 2015 Because of the chronic sleep deprivation of the proceeding weeks, I developed this peculiar protocol to ensure that I actually woke up in the morning. Before ... Read More Source December 11th, 2017 No Comments # Brad Delong: For some 400 years the Anglo-Saxon governance model offered liberty and prosperity, but no longer Interesting: For some 400 years, the Anglo-Saxon governance model – exemplified by the republican semi-principality of the Netherlands, the constitutional monarchy of the United Kingdom, and the constitutional republic of the United States of America – was widely regarded as having hit the sweet spot of liberty, security, and prosperity. The greater the divergence from that model, historical experience seemed to confirm, the higher the likelihood of repression, insecurity, and poverty. So countries were frequently and strongly advised to emulate those ... Read More Source December 11th, 2017 No Comments # 50 percent of women who experience harassment leave their jobs within two years of experiencing that harassment Sad: There is a study that was just done recently by a researcher who found that 50 percent of women who experience harassment leave their jobs within two years of experiencing that harassment. When the harassment is particularly grave, that’s 80 percent, and many of them leave their professions altogether. We can’t imagine what the world would’ve looked like if this systemic behavior hadn’t been in place. We don’t have the buildings that were built by women or the food that was ... Read More Source December 10th, 2017 No Comments # What readers should feel when they read fiction As a summary of the feeling to aim for, this is worth remembering: god my absolute favorite feeling is devouring a book, when you get so into the pages and the words that you have to stop your eyes from skipping lines and force yourself to read every word, when you’re so impatient for what happens next that you can’t sit still while reading, when you have to re read whole pages because you were too busy predicting and anticipating that ... Read More Source December 8th, 2017 No Comments # Some photos of my trip to Lisbon Below are the photos from my trip to Lisbon, Portugal, for the Web Summit, which ran from November 5th to the 9th. ( Also see my separate post about the Web Summit. ) With the street trolleys and the steep hills that go down to the water, it would be easy to confuse Lisbon with San Francisco. Both cities exist on a peninsula and have had famous earthquakes. Both cities officially have 500,000 people, and 3 million people in the surrounding area. ... Read More Source December 8th, 2017 No Comments # Would there be an assumption of a global optimum if women had invented economics? I had yet another long conversation with a female friend about life and its struggles. I’ve had ten thousand such conversations previously. We spoke about the difficulties of raising children (I don’t have children, but she does). We spoke of the task of getting children to school. I recalled that when I was a child, as early as Kindergarten, I walked to school without parental supervision. My elementary school was a bit more than a kilometer away. It was considered ... Read More Source December 8th, 2017 No Comments # Some photos from the Web Summit I went to the Web Summit, which started on Novebmer 5th, in Lisbon, Portugal. ( Also, see my post of photos of the city of Lisbon ) The Web Summit was very impressive for seeing what the next generation of startups will look like. I can’t think of another event, anywhere, that showcases so many early stage startups. I suppose if I got invited to Demo Day at Ycombinator than that would be better, but my invite got lost in the ... Read More Source December 7th, 2017 No Comments # How do white blood macrophages eat? Does it affect their ability to protect us? A few questions just occurred to me, which I will try to research some time soon: When white blood cells (macrophages) are drifting around in our blood, how do they eat? It would seem they could eat whenever they want, since our blood is full of food. But are macrophages as effective while eating? Are we vulnerable when they eat? Fasting seems to improve health, so we should assume macrophages are less effective when we eat? And alcohol seems to ... Read More Source December 7th, 2017 No Comments # Some surprising facts about the economic collapse in Oklahoma Even with fracking, which should boost the economy, Oklahoma is in a very serious downward spiral: A city overpass crumbles and swarms of earthquakes shake the region – the underground disposal of oil and gas industry wastes have caused the tremors. Wildfires burn out of control: cuts to state forestry services mean that out-of-state firefighting crews must be called in. A paralyzed and mentally ill veteran is left on the floor of a county jail. Guards watch for days until the prisoner ... Read More Source December 7th, 2017 No Comments # I was in Las Vegas and it was dead: some photos [ In this post I make no distinction between Las Vegas and Henderson. ] My uncle and cousins live in Las Vegas, so for the last few years I’ve gone there for Thanksgiving. My and my brother go there too. My uncle is generous and puts us up in a Marriot. Very nice. The first time I went, in 2015, I was surprised at how dead much of the city was. I assumed it was still recovering from the crisis of ... Read More Source December 6th, 2017 No Comments # Police officer feels they are being accused of something when privilege is mentioned It is curious that the police officer has such a strong reaction. I wonder what he felt was actually being said? I’ll say on a personal note that I’ve sometimes had these wild reactions, where people react as if I said something utterly different from what I said. Police Captain Carri Weber, apparently as sick of his ramblings as any of us watching that video, interrupted to inform him that there is, in fact, a term for that: “White male ... Read More Source December 3rd, 2017 1 Comment # I know more than 12,000 people. So do you. Human societies are at least 5 orders of magnitude larger than ape societies, but humans don’t have brains that are 5 orders of magnitude larger than ape brains, so humans must have some abilities that are not just the linear extension of abilities that apes have. And one of our abilities, that helps explain the difference between human societies and ape societies, is that humans can be aware of people who are not aware of them. I know who Angela ... Read More Source December 3rd, 2017 No Comments # We are suddenly told that Matt Lauers is an abusive psychopath An interesting fact about this year is that a number of public figures behaved badly, and their bad behavior was well known, yet somehow any public recognition of their bad behavior was suppressed, for decades, until the very moment when their behavior was no longer suppressed, and then the details come out in an explosive manner. We’ve certainly seen that with Harvey Weinstein, who has now been accused of sexually inappropriate behavior by more than a hundred women. For many ... Read More Source December 3rd, 2017 No Comments # Trump eats bad food For awhile, in 2016, I thought perhaps Trump was eating bad food to demonstrate how close he was to the working class. And if true, that was a brilliant tactic. But apparently these eating habits reflect his actual preferences? I wonder how this is possible? He came from a wealthy family and he was given an excellent education. It is normal, for all mammal species, for the young to start with untrained tastes and then specialize to the circumstances they ... Read More Source December 3rd, 2017 No Comments # Use viruses to treat bacterial infections Interesting: As phages are in a continuing red-queen evolutionary game (running as fast as you can to stay in one place) with evolving bacterial defenses and specific phages can be specific to sub-species of bacteria, there is no way of making money in this game if you have to prove “efficacy” to the FDA before you sell your specific phage for a specific sub-species of bacteria that are continually evolving. To play this game, we will need an automated system to ... Read More Source December 3rd, 2017 No Comments # The decline of the birth rate Lyman Stone says the birth rate is declining, and this is a bad thing. Stone doesn’t say why this is a bad thing, but a follow-up post is promised. There are comparisons to many other countries, many of which have a good standard of living (Sweden, Japan). It is tough to see what the problem is. In terms of economics or total population, every affluent country has the option to simply allow in more immigrants, which can fix most of ... Read More Source December 2nd, 2017 No Comments # The way the genders misunderstand one another So funny! Source November 27th, 2017 No Comments # The overlap of anti-intellectualism and anti-credentialism During the eras when I was part of a business that was doing well, and I was the one doing the hiring, I tended to ignore people’s school accomplishments, and I insisted on looking at actual projects they had done. So in that sense, I’m anti-credentialist. But I’m unwilling to declare loyalty to that movement, for reasons I’ll explain. By way of digression, I’ll admit that some credentialists also pretend to be anti-intellectual. I’ve noticed this especially in British politics ... Read More Source November 25th, 2017 No Comments # Why we argue Interesting: I could try to spin an ev-psych just-so story about tribal status, intellectual dominance hierarchies, ingroup-outgroup signaling, and whatnot, but I’m not an evolutionary psychologist, so I wouldn’t actually know what I was doing, and the details don’t matter anyway. What matters is that this urge seems to be hardware, and it probably has nothing to do with actual truth or your strategic concerns. It seems to happen to everyone who has ideas. Social justice types get frustrated with people ... Read More Source November 18th, 2017 No Comments # At what point do accusations of sexual harassment become a witch hunt? Interesting: “I love Louis C.K. and that was really, obviously just a fucking hard thing to see happen to somebody,” Burr said on his podcast earlier this week. “He was 100 percent wrong, he did own up to it. And I think he will definitely be back, I will say that.” Burr engaged in familiar rhetoric, a reference “witch hunts” and appealing to “due process.” “This kind of seems like it’s become…it doesn’t make a difference if it’s sexual misconduct, all ... Read More Source November 16th, 2017 No Comments # Arianna Huffington allowed sexism to thrive at HuffingtonPost Interesting: Huffington’s well-documented history of fostering a toxic work culture, and failing to address inappropriate behavior from a “brilliant jerk” in her own midst, calls into question the sincerity behind her pledge to help bring positive change to Uber’s culture. Most notably, her history with a former managing editor whose “transfer” to launch HuffPost India was later revealed to be result of an HR investigation into whether he had sexually harassed multiple young women in the New York office. Gizmodo recently ... Read More Source November 15th, 2017 No Comments # Has the Walking Dead always been a terrible show? We’ve gotten used to the fact that the quality of shows is getting better. Budgets are going up. There is stuff like Mad Men and Black Sails and Girls and Veep. Big epic stuff. I vaguely had the idea that The Walking Dead was supposed to be in the same league as those other shows. I’ve only seen 3 or 4 episodes of The Walking Dead, and that was years ago. I’m not especially into zombie movies, but some of ... Read More Source November 13th, 2017 No Comments # Can the German focus on human dignity reign in Facebook? Interesting: Unlike in the United States, freedom of speech is “not the most important civil right” in Germany, the digital-rights activist Markus Beckedahl told me. Article Five of the German constitution, which governs the right to freedom of expression, explicitly protects freedom of opinion, a narrower category than freedom of speech writ large. Instead, Article One of Germany’s postwar constitution instructs, “Human dignity shall be inviolable.” This notion “means you are not allowed to claim false things about me, because it ... Read More Source November 13th, 2017 No Comments # Megan Fox’s ordeal in Hollywood This is a good essay though it looks at the problem of sexism and Megan Fox in narrow American terms. What occurs to me is how unearned the USA dominance of international film is. Does America deserve to be the nation that can export it’s movies? Would the world be better off if other nations held more of the export market? I agree with the criticism in this essay, though they don’t challenge the dominance of English, which is my ... Read More Source November 13th, 2017 No Comments # Voltaire was the first in the West to see Buddha as a historic figure Interesting: Voltaire’s assent here to the theology of the crucifixion would seem at odds with his often rude remarks about Christianity. However, what is perhaps of greater interest is Voltaire’s prescience in his comments about the Buddha. It would not be until well into the nineteenth century that European scholars, all sons of the Enlightenment, sought to turn the founders of religions from gods into men, to separate their precepts from church doctrine. For Jesus and the Buddha, this transformation entailed ... Read More Source November 13th, 2017 No Comments # A young woman lies about her gender and age so she can write about sports Sad for everyone she hurt (but I do get why a 13 year old was worried that they wouldn’t be taken seriously, and I’m sympathetic about the fact that being a teenager means being immature and doing things that you later regret): Schultz’s fraud was as true to the catfish genre as can be. She told the people who discovered she was not who she said she was that she assumed the identity because she felt as if she couldn’t write ... Read More Source November 13th, 2017 No Comments # Things that mean a lot to me but I will never mention Every relationship has an unstated list: Source November 13th, 2017 No Comments # All governments are theocracies? Charlie Stross writes: Justice-as-religion implies a seat of absolute authority from which judgements may be passed—naively, a God (or goddess, or symbol) of justice. (In reality, it’s a shared human cognitive process: the natural non-human world has no justice mechanism. But human-centric processes are, well, human-centric.) …Governments embody mechanisms for creating and enforcing laws. It follows that all governments are theocracies. He seems to be confusing his metaphor for reality. After all, where something comes from is interesting, but doesn’t tell you where ... Read More Source November 12th, 2017 No Comments # If you’re going to have a life or a steady income, you know, you need to get out of here Interesting: Baxter, who once backed Obama, voted for Trump, the first time he had ever voted Republican. “I liked [Obama’s] message of hope, but he didn’t bring any jobs in … Trump said he was going to make America great. And I figured: ‘That’s what we need. We need somebody like that to change it.’” Over at the century-old Coney Island Lunch, this once-bustling institution famous for its chilli dogs and sundowners is virtually empty. “A lot of people have left town,” ... Read More Source November 9th, 2017 No Comments # Manorialism gave us nuclear families and a push towards modern civic engagement Interesting: manorialism is important for at least two reasons — and probably many more that i haven’t thought about. firstly, the whole system was based on nuclear families. in the bipartite manor system, peasants or serfs or whomever (depending on time and place in western europe) lived on and managed their own farms (let out to them by the manor owner) and also worked on the manor or paid rent to the manor. extended families very much did not fit ... Read More Source November 9th, 2017 No Comments # The real meaning of disrespectful jokes about one’s spouse Interesting: The problem is, it’s not a joke for everyone. It’s one of those insidious things that hits some people as “ha ha, yeah, I kid about him being a manchild, but really we talk stuff out,” and hits others as “so I see, husbands are supposed to be irresponsible and you’re supposed to berate them for it.” Even though Rowdy’s brother-in-law wasn’t really coercing his wife into a major responsibility she didn’t want, he was cheerfully playing ... Read More Source November 4th, 2017 No Comments # Writers who make money from misogyny This is really gross: Ames also had a column called “Whore-R stories,” in which he claims he slept with sex workers and wrote about his experiences, presented as non-fictional accounts. The column was sometimes accompanied by photos of the women, details about their bodies, their performances, and their personalities. (The column is a favorite among some Men’s Rights Activists). The paper also ran club reviews written by a fictional misogynistic character, Johnny Chen, that ranked clubs based on three criteria, including ... Read More Source October 31st, 2017 No Comments # Kelly Faircloth on the importance of romance If I was feeling cynical I might start this post with something like “Regarding fiction, women only read about silly things, such as romance and relationships, stuff that isn’t part of anyone’s real life, whereas men like to read about practical subjects, such as how to single-handedly disarm three Islamic terrorists while one is handcuffed and blindfolded, or how to ambush an alien of the Kree-na race of inter-dimensional beings, despite the fact that they can see the future and ... Read More Source October 31st, 2017 No Comments # Nicole Krauss on the struggle for authority for women Interesting: Born into a liberal family, in a relatively liberal country, and having received an excellent education, there was still never a time as a young woman that I wrote a page (let alone spilled out 500) without the understanding that it better scale some invisible mark, proving the worth and seriousness of the mind it came from, if it was ever going to deserve to be the work of an author, with the right to increase, originate, invent or ... Read More Source October 31st, 2017 No Comments # Friendly, intelligent flash cards? I’m curious about Anki. I’m not sure why I’d ever need more than a small paper notebook, about the size of index cards? I suppose Anki is easier to carry, as it could live on my phone I guess? But writing things into the paper notebook helps me remember those things. Source October 31st, 2017 No Comments # Adam Johnson doesn’t get statistics Here is bizarre post by Adam Johnson in which he tries to prove that a fictional “Mary” is more likely to be a bank teller than a bank teller and a feminist. He’s trying to make a point about sets and subsets. If his intro consisted only of the first sentence I just wrote, he would be correct. But he destroys his own argument with this intro: She is 31 years old, single, outspoken and very bright. She studied philosophy. As ... Read More Source October 26th, 2017 No Comments # The fascist gays Interesting: In all that time, he says, he’s never seen so many LGBT people “so emphatically vocal” about their conservative pride as they are now. “Many more LGBT individuals that I know are comfortable shouting their political affiliation from the rooftops.” Angelo also states that “over the course of course of 2016 and 2017 there has been a noticeable swell in grassroots support for LCR, a spike in membership, and a spike in social media followers.” Not all gay conservatives are coming ... Read More Source October 25th, 2017 No Comments # Fine tuning gradients and Random Forests Interesting: It is important that the weak learners have skill but remain weak. There are a number of ways that the trees can be constrained. A good general heuristic is that the more constrained tree creation is, the more trees you will need in the model, and the reverse, where less constrained individual trees, the fewer trees that will be required. Below are some constraints that can be imposed on the construction of decision trees: Number of trees, generally adding more trees to the ... Read More Source October 25th, 2017 No Comments # The importance of text knowledge versus movie knowledge I don’t think this is entirely correct, as it gives too much importance to book learning, but it is certainly an important thing to keep in mind: At first, the Internet seemed to push against this trend. When it emerged towards the end of the 80s as a purely text-based medium, it was seen as a tool to pursue knowledge, not pleasure. Reason and thought were most valued in this garden—all derived from the project of Enlightenment. Universities around the ... Read More Source October 24th, 2017 No Comments # The Walking Dead only worked as a metaphor for the Great Recession When science fiction becomes very popular, it is typically because it can be read as a metaphor for current events. The 1950s “Invasion Of The Body Snatchers” worked as a metaphor for Communism. The early 1970s Planet Of The Apes worked as a metaphor for how whites felt about race relations in the USA. In counter-point, Star Trek was an endless series of metaphors about the increasingly multicultural society that people found themselves living in. The Walking Dead started in ... Read More Source October 24th, 2017 No Comments # The revival of dead fantasy subcultures During the 1980s I played Dungeon and Dragons and also I read comic books. I was into the X-Men especially. Both of these subcultures were dying. Comic books died completely, as a business: both Marvel and DC declared bankruptcy. Comic books had once been a thriving business, but they died out. When I was a little kid, of say 9 years old, every 7-11 and convenience store had comic books. You could buy them everywhere. They were not exactly a ... Read More Source October 24th, 2017 No Comments # Does Bernie Sanders hate women? Strongly stated and no doubt strongly felt. This conflict, in the abstract, has not changed much during the last 100 years. Since the 1960s we’ve referred to this as a conflict between the New Left and Old Left. But the conflict goes back further. As far as I know, the first person to talk about this conflict was Max Eastman, back during the 1920s, when he was an editor at The New Masses. He pointed out that there was ... Read More Source October 23rd, 2017 No Comments # We are all a bit slow to realize when we need therapy Oddly written, but I think this is true for most of us: That’s really weird to think about, and one of the major revelations I had with all this. It was that therapy can actually work. It sounds stupid to type it aloud right now — that’s kind of the reason I’m writing this whole damn article for you, because I’m absolutely not alone here — but I always thought therapy was for other people. Fuck, I told many, many ... Read More Source October 23rd, 2017 No Comments # Brain chemistry is craziness Interesting: But that’s me. Part of what I found interesting, at least now that I’m on the other side of things, is that brains are completely fucking bonkers. We know a few things, but basically everything is still hella confusing and depends a lot on your particular brain chemistry. For me, I was on the far end of melancholic depression, which means a lack of movement in mood: I was always feeling pretty down, always feeling like my feet were cement. ... Read More Source October 23rd, 2017 No Comments # Scathing review of the NYT review of romance Interesting: But then there’s the editorial content, written by Robert Gottlieb, former publisher at S&S and Knopf, and former editor of The New Yorker. And honestly, it’s better for everyone if you don’t read that editorial content. Take your glasses off, maybe. Let it be blurry, and look at the images and the names in bold. There are so many things wrong with Mr. Gottlieb’s write up, I might run out of room on the whole entire internet accounting for them all. And if ... Read More Source October 22nd, 2017 No Comments # How to create a new drink I love the way they just brainstormed and came up with something completely original. Interesting: ‘’What are we going to do about this bloody Irish brief?” I asked, testily, challenging my business partner Hugh to feel some pressure. I was annoyed by his ability to take things a great deal more calmly than I ever did. We’d only been in business together for a month and that alone, I thought, warranted a greater sense of urgency. We had families to support. “What ... Read More Source October 15th, 2017 No Comments # Fictions regarding software development Two good comments both true: There is an insider story about how these methodologies comes about. So there are few groups of people whose sole job is to do consulting on failed/late/over budget projects. Mind you, they don’t write code but rather they observe how things are going and then prescribe process/management improvements (McKinsey style). Once in a while, these folks bump in to terrible projects and whatever they prescribed sometime works like a charm. In that case, they take that ... Read More Source October 8th, 2017 No Comments # Mitchell Sunderland has been fired from Vice Apparently Mitchell Sunderland was feeding stories to far-right white supremacist sites such as Brietbart. Yet Sunderland was working at a progressive site. The revelation brought up the question of whether he was being honest in his main work. He does not seem to me very well suited to his main job at Vice. Vice has cut ties with a senior writer from its feminist vertical Broadly after a BuzzFeed report revealed that the writer pitched story ideas to then-Breitbart writer ... Read More Source September 30th, 2017 No Comments # Current math notation is the enemy of civilization Alfred North Whitehead said: By relieving the brain of all unnecessary work, a good notation sets it free to concentrate on more advanced problems, and in effect increases the mental power of the race. So consider that most math is completely incomprehensible unless it is accompanied with a long description, written in the vernacular. Most blocks of math look exactly the same, even though some refer to tensors, others to the complex plane, others to manifolds, others to sets or rings ... Read More Source September 24th, 2017 No Comments # In contemporary romances, there’s still world building I like this. The phrase “world building” is associated with fantasy stories such as Game Of Thrones, but really, all stories need world building. To think that a story doesn’t need world building because it is set in contemporary times is to give too much status to writing about contemporary times, when in fact writing about contemporary times should simply be seen as a genre like any other. Another thing I thought was cool was how it felt like the ... Read More Source September 22nd, 2017 No Comments # Shopkeepers normally refuse to say what she bought This bit says a lot about the German emphasis on privacy: Merkel’s home life with her second husband Joachim Sauer is also fiercely private—and has been presented as so humdrum it doesn’t merit any attention. Sauer, whom she married in 1998, is a professor of physical and theoretical chemistry who works at the Humboldt University in Berlin. Merkel likes to bake at home and is occasionally snapped in local Berlin supermarkets. Locals leave her in peace, shopkeepers normally refuse to ... Read More Source September 22nd, 2017 No Comments # Games that can never be played It’s an interesting take on what a culture produces, when it produces games that can not be played: The thick, black-and-white rulebook packaged with every copy of the 1979 war-game The Campaign For North Africa is full of obtuse decrees, but the tabletop community always had a special appreciation for entry 52.6 – affectionately known as the “macaroni rule.” The Italian troops in World War II were outfitted with noodle rations, and in the name of historical dogma, the player responsible ... Read More Source September 21st, 2017 No Comments # Thoughts about worker democracy I suspect that worker-owned businesses can be made to work well, if we can reject populist ideas about how a democratic organization should work. Basically, the workers need to reject the kind of rhetoric associated with Thomas Jefferson. Consider the cruelty of the world that Jefferson promoted, a world of slavery and wealthy slave owners. All of that needs to be rejected. Jefferson’s rhetoric is useful for defending the kind of freedom that allowed him to rape a 15 ... Read More Source September 21st, 2017 No Comments # In the third season of Gossip Girl, Chuck sells Blair to his uncle in exchange for ownership of a hotel I used to date a woman who loved the early version of this show, when it was fun and when it had a heart. I watched most of the first season with her. Apparently after I stopped watching, the show took what I would describe as a dark turn, though many fans loved the new direction. In the third season of Gossip Girl, Chuck sells Blair to his uncle in exchange for ownership of a hotel. The exchange is explicit ... Read More Source September 21st, 2017 No Comments # Sexual selection and novelty There is a whole lot of good books coming out about Darwin. The Times gives the longest treatment to the one that focuses on sexual selection. Richard Dawkins apparently makes an idiot of himself again. He was on the cutting edge in 1976, when he wrote The Selfish Gene. Have you read it? It’s a great book. It’s really more about game theory than genes, or perhaps I should say it is about applying game theory to genes. He’s got ... Read More Source September 21st, 2017 No Comments # Obviously pesticides are bad for the environment My mom bought Rachel Carson’s 1962 book Silent Spring as soon as it came out, and my mom has been an ardent environmentalist ever since, so perhaps I’ve been hearing about this issue longer than most, but still, I hope this is just common sense. We create chemicals whose specific purpose is to disrupt a part of the eco-system: kill bugs. That is not a side effect, that is the intended effect. Then we produce millions of tons of the ... Read More Source September 21st, 2017 No Comments # The illness warping politics in the English speaking countries Politics in the USA are crazy, and they are also crazy in Britain. Something terrible has happened in the English speaking countries, that the political system has broken down to this extent. The fact that the British government seems so uncertain about how to proceed with Brexit suggests a broken political coalition. The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator has issued a fresh warning that Britain must “settle the accounts” and speed up the pace of negotiations if it wants a free ... Read More Source September 17th, 2017 No Comments # 29 October 1613: the invention of white people Interesting: The Jacobean playwright Thomas Middleton invented the concept of ‘white people’ on 29 October 1613, the date that his play The Triumphs of Truth was first performed. The phrase was first uttered by the character of an African king who looks out upon an English audience and declares: ‘I see amazement set upon the faces/Of these white people, wond’rings and strange gazes.’ As far as I, and others, have been able to tell, Middleton’s play is the earliest printed example ... Read More Source September 17th, 2017 No Comments # The true history of Eastern Europe does not get told Perhaps because I dated a woman from Poland, this jumped out at me as very true. In place like Poland, what would explain people’s nostalgia for Communism, except that they have a lot of happy memories of those times? This writer is recalling Yugoslavia: But reading other books, and especially the highly acclaimed Tony Judt, I realized that the discomfort went further. In a deluge of literature that was written or published after the end of the Cold War, I ... Read More Source September 17th, 2017 No Comments # Human misery in adulthood People are increasingly miserable in adulthood. Presumably this is partly the stress of raising children? It would be interesting to see the chart of people who do not want, and don’t have, children. Overall, we think there is a great deal of evidence – though we have critics, especially among a small group of social psychologists – that humans experience a midlife psychological ‘low’. The midlife decline in wellbeing is apparently substantial and not minor (see the notes below each figure, ... Read More Source September 14th, 2017 No Comments # Artificial Intelligence at the NYU incubator at Varick Street Interesting: NYU Tandon School of Engineering is making a power play into the artificial intelligence space by doing something that no university has done before, according to dean Katepalli Sreenivasan: partner with a venture capital firm to launch an accelerator. On Wednesday morning, at NYU Tandon’s Data Future Lab incubator on Varick Street in SoHo, Sreenivasan announced the launch of the AI NexusLab, a four-month program for AI startups. The accelerator will be jointly run by the Downtown Brooklyn-based engineering school, though ... Read More Source September 10th, 2017 No Comments # Escaping the cool girl stereotype Interesting: Gone Girl (the book at least, not so much the movie), brought the “cool girl” character into the public conversation with its spot-on monologue rant of a description: Gillian Flynn wrote, from the voice of Amy Dunn, “Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and ... Read More Source September 10th, 2017 No Comments # The unrealism of shows about the media Interesting: Initially, The Bold Type fell into this same trap of depicting what those working at Hearst would probably like people to think such an environment is like rather than what it truly is like. “When she took over the magazine, she shifted the focus,” social media editor Kat explains of Jacqueline to a skeptical potential interview subject in the magazine. It’s a set of lines that sounds like it was directly pulled from any one of the profiles published about ... Read More Source September 10th, 2017 No Comments # I was surprised at how slow much of Game Of Thrones is I was sick for a week, so I finally got around to watching Game Of Thrones. I was surprised by several things. 1.) The show is very boring for a long time. Nothing of interest happens during the first 3 episodes. In episode 4, Mrs. Stark arrests Tyrion Lannister, setting off a war between the Starks and the Lannisters. 2.) The first two seasons are fairly boring. If I hadn’t been sick, I would not have stuck with the show. ... Read More Source September 8th, 2017 No Comments # Not fair to the wife? John Washam seems like a good person and I wish him every happiness in the world. Certainly we can all hope that he has an excellent career at a job he enjoys, while also enjoying the love of those who are most dear to him. All the same, I read his blog and I am a bit amazed at the things he writes. We are of a similar age, and we’ve had similar careers, and he seems of a similar ... Read More Source September 8th, 2017 No Comments # Passport control when a child’s last name is different from a parent An interesting story: Siddiq was returning from a family holiday in France with her husband, Chris Percy, and their 18-month-old daughter, Azalea, when she was separated from Percy and permitted to go through the fast-track queue to board the Eurostar with her pushchair. Though she exited French border control without any issue, Siddiq was stopped at the UK border immediately before boarding the train. “My daughter looks quite different to me, she looks like her dad,” she said. “At the UK border the ... Read More Source August 12th, 2017 No Comments # An incredibly sad day I lived in Charlottesville, Virginia for most of the stretch from 2000 to 2009. Most of the my friends still live there. I’ve reached out to all of them hoping they are safe. It’s been a rough day for all of them. One was on the Downtown Mall and saw the Nazi terrorist when he drove his car into the crowd, murdering one person and injuring a dozen more. Another friend started the day at Church, praying for peace, then ... Read More Source August 8th, 2017 No Comments # Another reason I like working at small startups Some days it is great to go to the office and talk things over, in person, with my co-workers. Other days it is important that I can be alone, focused on the computer code, the algorithm, talking to no one. On these days, it is best if I work from home. What is the correct balance of working from home versus working from the office? It varies. How much do medium-sized, and large-sized, corporations allow variance in attitudes towards working ... Read More Source August 5th, 2017 No Comments # The simplicity of Japanese grammar This looks great. I’ll buy this soon. Source August 5th, 2017 No Comments # Modern dating problems A list of dating problems that nobody had 25 years ago. Some of these were stupid but I liked these 3: 1. Accidentally swiping left on “the one”. Your mom has probably never experienced that moment of intense regret after an unintentional slip of the finger on a photo of a guy who may or may not be Zac Efron’s secret clone. (She’s probably never accidentally matched with a total creep either, and eternally wondered whether he saw her before she ... Read More Source August 5th, 2017 No Comments # How to find the worst people in your company Al Capone stole, bribed, tortured and killed, but was sent to prison for tax evasion. Likewise, sexual harrassement might be a clue that teaches you something about a person — they might be engaging in other criminal behavior. This is interesting: Organizations that understand the Al Capone theory of sexual harassment have an advantage: they know that reports or rumors of sexual misconduct are a sign they need to investigate for other incidents of misconduct, sexual or otherwise. Sometimes sexual misconduct ... Read More Source August 5th, 2017 No Comments # Creativity, Psychopathology, and Emotion Processing: A Liberal Response Bias for Remembering Negative Information is Associated with Higher Creativity Interesting: The results of the study found that self-reported high creative achievement levels and better performance on divergent thinking tasks (indicators of a creative individual) were associated with greater sensitivity to positive words and a more liberal response bias for negative words (which indicates an even greater sensitivity to negative words). So in conclusion, more creative individuals were shown to be more sensitive to positive information and especially sensitive to negative information in comparison to less creative individuals. These results indicate ... Read More Source August 4th, 2017 No Comments # How to greet people? Handshakes versus hugs versus kisses A long and interesting bit about gendered professional etiquette in the USA. It is curious that this should seem so hard in the USA. In Europe there is a cacophony of rules regarding kissing — in Poland they kiss twice, in France they kiss three times, in Germany people just shake hands, and everyone feels the culture of California, which encourages hugging — yet Europe seems to have muddled through to some rough consensus about how people should great ... Read More Source August 4th, 2017 No Comments # USA feminists who went to the Soviet Union Interesting: Julia L. Mickenberg: But the particular appeal to women is something that nobody had talked about. And the fact that all these things that were happening right after the revolution that put women on equal footing with men were something that American women—particularly American women who were interested in everything from equal rights to better employment job opportunities to more relationships based on women being on equal footing with men in relationships—were interested in. Right after the revolution, within the first ... Read More Source August 4th, 2017 No Comments # The end of the era of free-market rhetoric All of the Western nations began to shift to the right during the mid 1960s, and they’ve been shifting further and further to the right ever since. But perhaps that trend has come to an end? With the rise of Trump, and Labour again having a real Leftist for a leader, there are fewer voices arguing for free markets. In the early years of the 21st century, the inevitability of an ever more competitive, deregulated, internationally orientated market economy, to ... Read More Source August 4th, 2017 No Comments # First desire as a betrayal Dan Savage, talking about our first desires. Interesting: I think that a certain sex negativity is hard-wired into the human experience. When you’re told about sex before puberty you’re just appalled: Why would anyone do such a thing? And along comes puberty and the thing that you swore when you were 7 years old you would never do, ’cause that’s so gross, and before long, you’re drafted into this army that you never wanted to serve in. And I think that ... Read More Source August 4th, 2017 No Comments # Peer review is strong The title of this essay is “the collapse of peer review” which is a bit of an exaggeration. In the moder era, peer review is very strong. I would argue the opposite, we live in a world where specialization continues to advance, and that specialization should open the door to polyglot behavior in creating new knowledge. There needs to be more space for researchers to publish half-done research. Personal blogs can be good for this. There needs to be a ... Read More Source August 4th, 2017 No Comments # PACZKI or PĄCZKI? I’m struggling to learn Polish. I love this story: This weekend my family was doing a bookstore event related to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. One of the movie’s characters, Jacob Kowalski, dreams of becoming a baker, and arrives to a bank appointment with a suitcase full of Polish confections, including pączki, a sort of Polish jelly donut. My wife wanted to serve these at the event. The little tail on the ą in pączki is a diacritical mark called ... Read More Source July 14th, 2017 No Comments # An absolute regression for women in the public eye Interesting: This does not get round the central point of what Cooper was saying, though. She was talking about the misogyny that is aimed at women of all political persuasions. She did not, she said, want to see the severed head of Theresa May carried at demonstrations. The linking of social media abuse to actual violence is pertinent, and after the murder of Jo Cox, it’s all too real. The online surveillance of women’s images alongside the silencing of their voices is ... Read More Source July 8th, 2017 No Comments # Venture Capitalist resigns after confessing to be creep and being accused of assault I have to think that men who do this well don’t realize how lucky they are, and they don’t realize how much they are throwing something very important. They were trusted and admired, and they threw that away. And they had the power to do good, and yet they decided to perpetuate many of the problems that the industry has been suffering for several decades. Dave has done a lot for many founders, and people (including me) are grateful for ... Read More Source July 8th, 2017 No Comments # A joke versus physical assault Thinking about this more, this is really something. A joke provokes nation wide outrage, but actually beating up a woman and kicking her merely brings shrugs. Our attitude toward Depp’s two crimes — a documented history of abuse that’s met with a shrug on one side, and a tasteless joke about assassination met with mass outrage on the other — mimics our larger cultural attitude toward domestic violence. We generally don’t consider violence against women to be a big deal until ... Read More Source July 8th, 2017 No Comments # Woman very hurt by her son’s tattoo Interesting, as a document recording very strong emotions over something I would think of as minor: She says, “Tell him how you feel.” But I can’t. For a start, I know I’m being completely unreasonable. This level of grief is absurd. He’s not dying, he hasn’t killed anyone, he hasn’t volunteered to fight on behalf of a military dictatorship. But I feel as though a knife is twisting in my guts. I get angry with myself. This is nothing but snobbery, I think ... Read More Source July 8th, 2017 No Comments # Word2Vec Evaluating Embeddings: Analogical Reasoning The math in this article is difficult for me, but after reading it a few times I think I get the gist of how Word2Vec works: Evaluating Embeddings: Analogical Reasoning Embeddings are useful for a wide variety of prediction tasks in NLP. Short of training a full-blown part-of-speech model or named-entity model, one simple way to evaluate embeddings is to directly use them to predict syntactic and semantic relationships like king is to queen as father is to ?. This is ... Read More Source July 8th, 2017 No Comments # Meritocracy hasn’t helped Britain Interesting: Decades later, he expressed dismay that Tony Blair had adopted meritocracy as a defining philosophy of the New Labour project, writing in the Guardian: “It is good sense to appoint individual people to jobs on their merit. It is the opposite when those who are judged to have merit of a particular kind harden into a new social class without room in it for others.” In 2017, meritocracy is still central to political conceptions of fairness and social justice. While ... Read More Source July 8th, 2017 No Comments # Is a declining birth rate a bad thing? My mom’s mom’s mom (my great grandmother) had 16 children, mostly during the late 1800s. Nowadays women have fewer children. Is this a bad thing? I know a great many women who did not want to have kids but were pressured into it. At the same time, the government could do more to get money to those women who want to have more kids. I can’t see how the downward trend is worrisome, except where it represents a woman who ... Read More Source July 8th, 2017 No Comments # An honest novel about the fantasy life of a shy introvert Interesting: The novel’s “plot” goes like this: wryly observant, unconventional Selin has a deep, abiding crush on Ivan, her email pen pal and partner in philosophical and linguistic ruminations. He seems not uninterested, either: they meet in class, they write long emails soliloquizing about their own concerns, and they walk around Cambridge, and walk, and talk. He introduces her to beer, which she doesn’t like at all. Though she grows to love him deeply, he never seduces her—not at Harvard and ... Read More Source July 8th, 2017 No Comments # Kara Brown is leaving Jezebel I also write to try to put meaning into my experiences, and to be paid to do so sounds wonderful. This sounds like a charmed life: Like many obnoxious teenagers who will go on to procrastinate through English degrees in college, I suffered a heavy Albert Camus phase in high school after reading The Stranger. During times of upheaval and significantly less traumatic change in my life, I find myself returning to the pattern of thought found in his work. Most ... Read More Source July 8th, 2017 No Comments # Women in tech in the early days of tech My mom studied computer programming during the 1970s and her professor was female. And women getting advanced degree in computer science peaked in the USA in the late 1980s. So I’m under the impression that the industry was more open to women in its early days than it is now, especially relative to other professions such as medicine (almost 50% of new doctors are female in the USA). Interesting: What was it like being on campus with so few other women ... Read More Source July 8th, 2017 No Comments # President Trump is having a negative effect on children Worrisome: BuzzFeed has an extensively reported piece on more than 50 incidents across the country of children and teens from kindergarten through 12th grade hurling racist invective at their classmates of color—an occurrence not unique to the Trump era but increased because of it—as reported by school districts to ProPublica’s Documenting Hate project. In each of those incidents, Trump’s name was invoked, whether in the context of how his presidency will change the circumstance of the student of color—“You’re going ... Read More Source July 3rd, 2017 No Comments # Tracy Chapman’s website does not work for me in Google Chrome If I go here: http://www.tracychapman.com/ I see: I’ve got both Javascript and Flash enabled. I don’t know why the site fails for me. But then, it is not my job to figure that out. Source July 2nd, 2017 No Comments # We ate at Khe Yo and we loved it It’s an unusual place. The food is from Laos. It’s an Asian cuisine, but a bit different. We loved it. Source July 2nd, 2017 No Comments # The backlash against gay rights Interesting: The problem with many Christians in politics is that they seem to be interested only in sex: gay sex, adulterous sex, sex that results in unwanted pregnancy. If they could spend even a proportion of their time thinking about anything else in the Bible – crops, markets, usury, justice, fish – they’d be so much easier to live with. In our own parliament, however much we might abhor the self-satisfied bigotry of the DUP, we’re far more exercised about the ... Read More Source June 29th, 2017 No Comments # Far right extremists show a surprising degree of international cooperation Considering how much hate was directed at the Poles during the debate over Brexit, it is a bit odd that a Polish nationalist would come to Britain to work in harmony with other right wing extremists, who, in theory, hate his guts. But apparently they hate other people (muslims, non-whites, women) even more, so they work together in harmony. Międlar was accused last year of calling Jews a “cancer” that had “swept Poland” during an address to a rally in ... Read More Source June 29th, 2017 No Comments # The politics of Bruce Springsteen What sort of insane right-wing extremist do you need to be that when you listen to Bruce Springsteen sing about the working class, you decide that he is anti-American? Like so many baby boomers drifting along as the culture has moved further and further Left in recent decades, Springsteen has become more and more liberal. The tough yet sensitive poet who played the rock and roll clubs of Asbury Park in the 1960s and 1970s, sleeping with women and dealing with ... Read More Source June 29th, 2017 No Comments # Defending people whom you dislike Source June 29th, 2017 No Comments # Grace is the face of death Interesting: The people actually approaching death used more positive terms and fewer negative ones to describe their emotions than those imagining the experience. In the blog posts—all from real people who eventually died from their disease—emotions grew more positive as death approached. It’s not a perfect study—people with unspeakable regrets or fears may be less inclined to publicly chronicle their final days than those who do not. But there are a few reasons why death may be more terrifying as a ... Read More Source June 29th, 2017 No Comments # What we think of as pirates is a reality that last maybe 20 years When thinking of pirates, most people will think of movies like Pirates Of The Caribbean or Black Sails, which portray the Atlantic during the early 1700s. But the world has always had pirates, and even in the early modern period, pirates were a varied experience. One reason piracy was often an act or a phase, and not a way of life, was simply because humans have not evolved to live on the sea. The sea is a hostile place, offering ... Read More Source June 29th, 2017 No Comments # Letting women speak What does it mean that this kind of thing is still happening? So at this point, after seeing very clearly that she was not going to be given space to speak and in fact having her own theories described to the audience by the moderator, I am in full outrage. My body is actually beginning to shake. The sexism is beyond blatant. It is happening on stage and NO ONE, not a single other physicist or panelist is stepping in to ... Read More Source June 29th, 2017 No Comments # When a leader says “I hope you can do this” This level of dishonesty puts a strain on the liberal checks and balances of USA politics: James Comey’s testimony before the Senate on June 8 hinged on one key phrase: “I hope you can let this go.” According to the former FBI director, US president Donald Trump used these words to request that he back off a federal investigation into former national security advisor Michael Flynn. Comey interpreted this as a directive, while Trump’s defenders argue that the president was simply expressing ... Read More Source June 29th, 2017 No Comments # Punishments for Labour MPs who keep supporting the Remain cause It seems likely that Labour, being inclusive, will emerge as the party of Remain. But for now, they can not be too obvious about it. The amendment attracted the support of 101 MPs across different parties, including 49 Labour politicians who defied the leadership. It called for the government not to leave the EU without a deal, to guarantee a parliamentary vote on the final outcome of negotiations, to set in place transitional arrangements, and to “set out proposals to ... Read More Source June 29th, 2017 No Comments # Thought leaders are stupid I love this comment: I was recently at a conference run by a progressive political think tank. I was surprised and confused by the way some of the speakers discussed AI, “innovation”, entrepreneurship, and technology. They basically all repeated a number of the same points. 1. AI will be amazing, and will utterly decimate jobs in the future, though it was never clear whether they understood AI technologies or even the economics of automation. 2. Everyone should be trying to become an entrepreneur. ... Read More Source June 29th, 2017 No Comments # The frailty of the British Conservative government It is odd to watch things shake out over the last year. David Cameron called for the Brexit vote, then opposed it, then lost, then resigned. May became Prime Minister and saw Labour fall into disarray. Thinking she had a strong hand she called snap elections. She lost her majority. Desperate to stay in power she seeks a deal with the DUP, whose conservative views on abortion are detested by most political parties. This brings a strong response from the ... Read More Source June 29th, 2017 No Comments # The destructive nostalgia for a world without red tape It’s wonderful to have efficient systems that keep process to the minimum necessary to ensure one’s goals. But much of modern talk about “red tape” is simply nostalgia for a time with less process, even when lack of process lead to outcomes that were unfair: But red tape is also used to mean the regulation of companies, which may lead to unhelpful confusion. “Red tape is indeed used as a catch-all phrase in a sometimes unthinking manner,” agrees Gillian Tett, ... Read More Source June 29th, 2017 No Comments # Another dead Nobel Peace Prize winner The lack of domestic and international rage is worrisome: Beijing’s position is clear: China has no dissidents and Liu Xiaobo is a criminal. His offence was to co-author and gather signatures for a landmark call for reforms, though he did not initiate it and was seized before it was released. Though Charter 08 mostly called for the Communist party to uphold commitments made in its own constitution it was a coherent and forthright challenge to the party’s rule, calling for peaceful ... Read More Source June 29th, 2017 No Comments # Police kill 17 year old when they try to shoot a dog Another case where the police seem far too casual about using guns even when civilians are near: Genevie Escobar, a 17-year-old best friend of Garcia-Muro, said he was at a friend’s house during the incident. She said she struggled to understand why police decided to fire at the dog. “Why couldn’t they tase the dog? Why did they have to shoot him?” said Escobar, Barron’s daughter. “The cops should have handled this in a totally different way.” Garcia-Muro was looking forward to graduating ... Read More Source June 29th, 2017 No Comments # What does it mean to have a President who engages in such open gender based stereotyping? Worrisome: On the phone with Ireland’s newly elected prime minister, Caitriona Perry caught his eye, among the Irish press corp standing by. “We have all this beautiful Irish press. Where are you from?” said the president from his seat in the oval office, pointing at Perry, Washington correspondent for Ireland’s RTE. Curling his finger with a beckoning look, he told Perry to “come on over” to his desk, and asked where she’s from. She answered respectfully, if meekly. Then, in ... Read More Source June 6th, 2017 No Comments # The difference between societies that collapse under the weight of stupid citizens versus those who transcend them are the makeup of the non-stupid Funny and interesting: Law 4: Non-stupid people always underestimate the damaging power of stupid individuals. In particular non-stupid people constantly forget that at all times and places and under any circumstances to deal and/or associate with stupid people always turns out to be a costly mistake. We underestimate the stupid, and we do so at our own peril. This brings us to the fifth and final law: Law 5: A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person. And its corollary: A stupid person ... Read More Source June 6th, 2017 No Comments # The Atlas of Lie Groups Interesting: Adams is is the leader of a cutting-edge mathematical research project called the Atlas of Lie Groups and Representations. Lie groups are named after Norwegian mathematician Sophus Lie (rhymes with “free,” not “fry”), who studied these crucial mathematical objects. Lie groups are used to map the inner machinery of multidimensional symmetrical objects, and they’re important because symmetry underpins far-flung mathematical concepts, from a third-grade number line to many-dimensional string theory. The Atlas project is a bona fide atlas of these ... Read More Source June 5th, 2017 No Comments # In the USA, women in their 30s are having more kids than women in their 20s The Baby Boom peaked in 1958. This was also the peak year of teen pregnancy in the USA. Young birth hit its all time peak that year, at a rate above anything known in the 1800s or early 1900s. Since then, women have been having children at older and older ages. And now this: That’s according to the Associated Press, reporting on some preliminary new stats from the CDC which says that in 2016, it was 103 births per 100,000 ... Read More Source June 5th, 2017 No Comments # The sheer phoniness of Prime Minister May Interesting: Then the camera shows a middle-aged woman at a desk, sipping coffee and reading a paper. She is glimpsed from an oblique angle. Her face isn’t clear but the viewer knows her name. She is the most famous politician in the country, and the message is obvious: while you start your day she is already hard at work, safeguarding the future – strong and stable. The woman in the video is Angela Merkel and the film is a highly effective advertisement ... Read More Source June 5th, 2017 No Comments # How does Facebook undermine the open web? Interesting: I’ve made exceptions a handful of times over the years, but as a general rule I refuse to link to anything on Facebook either, for the same reasons as Dave. Last week I linked to screenshots of a Facebook post to avoid linking to the original. The original post by Marc Haynes was public, which I know because I do not have a Facebook account, but here’s what it looks like for me without being a Facebook user — a ... Read More Source June 5th, 2017 No Comments # The odd politics and self-inflicted injuries of Labour Interesting: Each of Labour’s winners prevailed because they had established sufficient credibility with the country to make Tory attacks seem wild and silly. They put their credibility into the service of a narrative of national renewal that resonated with a critical mass of the electorate. Attlee’s compelling pitch – “now let’s win the peace” – was about building a Britain worthy of the collective sacrifices made in wartime. Wilson, updating what it meant to be on the left of the spectrum ... Read More Source June 5th, 2017 No Comments # Australia is complacent Interesting: Success bred complacency. The old policymaker’s adage has been proved anew: “Good times make bad policy.” By late Howard years, ambition and rigour were lost and spending grew wanton. Budget night came to resemble “Christmas night in the pirates’ cave” in the words of the former Treasury budget examiner Stephen Anthony, as the government lavished handouts and tax cuts in the forlorn hope that it could win the people’s gratitude. The former Treasury secretary Ken Henry, who served Keating and Costello, ... Read More Source June 2nd, 2017 No Comments # The new kind of society writing is done by oneself, about oneself This is an interesting example of our changing mores. Did she wear many different looks? Yes, she did. A Missoni turban was involved in “the perfect pool look for me to greet my guests in”; later, she wore a custom Cucculelli Shaheen emblazoned with “secret symbols, the constellations of our two astrological signs colliding together, our initials, and the date of our wedding night embroidered into it,” a customized lace robe for the after-wedding brunch, a Naeem Khan cape that was “an ... Read More Source June 1st, 2017 No Comments # A suicide letter posted to Github Very sad: There is a lot here to talk about, but I will start with something trivial: that he made two commits to the repo. In the second commit, he adds a photo: https://github.com/yeukhon/suicide/commit/eddf98b9f3f4676b114680326314d98d8a395a0f I feel like some day sociologists and historians will write of this era, and I hope details like this are remembered. It says something about how fully we live technological lives now, that a person might make multiple commits to a suicide note. In fact, he might have made many commits ... Read More Source June 1st, 2017 No Comments # There is no tax bill in Congress I think the complete lack of knowing any facts is the part that history teachers will have difficulty explaining to children: Perhaps the most telling thing President Trump said in his rambling justification of his decision to pull out of the Paris accords on climate change wasn’t about climate change at all. It was, rather, about the speedy advance of his administration’s tax bill in the United States Congress. -@POTUS: “Our tax bill is moving along in Congress and I believe ... Read More Source May 31st, 2017 No Comments # Get out if you don’t like free speech! This guy just murdered two people. Apparently that’s okay, because his right to free speech gives him the right to kill people. As Christian walked into the courtroom he yelled out: “Free speech or die, Portland! You got no safe place. This is America. Get out if you don’t like free speech! Standing behind glass partitions in the defendant’s area, he continued: “Death to the enemies of America. Leave this country if you hate our freedom. Death to Antifa! You call ... Read More Source May 30th, 2017 No Comments # The Book Of Joan sounds good I’ve put this on my list of things to read: (this also makes me want to reread Dune). Herbert’s hero, as emperor of Dune, was a godlike figure with uncanny abilities who embodied both immense capacity for destruction and a chance for renewal, if only he could overcome the temptations inherent in his powers. Although de Men in some ways exemplifies the same struggle, Joan must confront the implications of her powers as well, a reminder that our ecosystems ... Read More Source May 30th, 2017 No Comments # Cop jails black woman for passing him while driving Sad that this still happens in the year 2017: The incident, which took place May 20, began when Ponder found herself traveling behind a dangerous driver. Acting as any responsible driver would, Ponder signaled, maneuvered around the driver and continued traveling to her destination. The driver—who had abruptly stopped several times, drifted in and out of lanes, and accelerated suddenly with no provocation, according to Ponder’s attorney, Lee Merritt—turned out to be Crews’ 14-year-old daughter. Merritt explained what happened next in a Facebook ... Read More Source May 27th, 2017 No Comments # Angry man wears a Make America Great Again hat It is curious how many people wearing hats that say “Make America Great Again” seem to assume that making America great again means establishing a society where they can do whatever the hell they way. The apparently entitled man took an aisle seat three rows ahead of her and refused to let anyone sit next to him, she said. In video taken by Zimmerman, the man is seen with his hands folded behind his head and his feet propped up ... Read More Source May 27th, 2017 No Comments # British humor in the face of tragedy This is some daring humor, in the face of tragic loss: The next day, Mariah Carey had posted a picture of Martyn in a Mariah Carey T-shirt, accompanied by a devastated quote about the death of a member of her fandom. His brother’s response was one of those jokes that makes you gasp and laugh at the same time: “I was a little dubious about Martyn’s recent bold social media move,” he deadpanned. “But it worked.” God, the sheer balls of that. ... Read More Source May 27th, 2017 No Comments # There is rhetoric in my writing I’m reading some of Precious Nonsense by Stephen Booth. One thing that really jumps out at me is the discussion of this sentence: We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. This sentence has a comma exactly where I would put it, but I know my friend, editor and co-author Natalie Sidner would remove that comma. Why? The comma is here to indicate ... Read More Source May 27th, 2017 No Comments # Also possibly interesting: the accumulation of so much potential and the absolute crushing of it I’ve added this to my list to read. Interesting: Watchful, bookish Cat and reckless, alluring Marlena have plenty of literary and pop cultural antecedents, but Buntin, through closely observed detail, makes these two her own. Their attachment is full of lovely teenage-girl things — cherry lip gloss, cut-up T-shirts, hearts drawn on the back of a hand, Joni Mitchell and Stevie Nicks songs, tossed-off but unforgotten intimacies: “She scrapes a set of fingernails against my kneecap, a small circle that opens ... Read More Source May 27th, 2017 No Comments # A heartless book? This review sounds scathing, although I’m actually interested in reading the book now, because the reviewer concedes it manages to stay stylish despite its flaws: Here it is again. The voice. The single white woman in New York figuring out her s- – - and drinking too much wine voice. Confessional, casual, brash, tell-it-like-it-is, flawed-yet-familiar, ostentatiously relatable. Sometimes I feel like we’ve all made some blood pact to call this voice original and brave 20 years since it’s been either. In fact, ... Read More Source May 27th, 2017 No Comments # Writing as the answer to life’s problems This is something I’ll have to think about more: As most narratives require, soon comes the fall: Levy finds that the things she holds dear to her are not as sturdy as they seemed. Most significant, however, was learning how much you can miss when you think of writing and its process as your ultimate savior: “My job is to interpret, and to communicate my interpretation persuasively to other people,” she writes. “The idea that in life, unlike in writing, the ... Read More Source May 27th, 2017 No Comments # The frailty of modern marriage Interesting: Jo Piazza’s recent book How to Be Married: What I Learned from Real Women on Five Continents About Surviving My First (Really Hard) Year of Marriage follows the Eat Pray Love method to the letter, and is animated by the author’s intense anxiety about “failing” at marriage. Piazza is a longtime travel writer, formerly at the helm of Yahoo’s travel vertical, which had her working 80-hour weeks and racking up air miles. The setting for this, her fifth book, reads ... Read More Source May 27th, 2017 No Comments # Humans used a paint shop in Ethiopia for 4,500 years Amazing. This must have been a huge society to support such an active paint shop, especially at the peak. We know that, during the last 2,000 years, migrant societies of Asia often numbered in the millions, but they had the advantage of horses and goats and bison. Without domesticated animals, a migrant society was probably smaller, but perhaps there might have been a few 100,000s in the area of this paint shop when it was at its peak. 45,000 years ago, ... Read More Source May 27th, 2017 No Comments # Jupiter is complicated Interesting: While Jupiter’s iconic red storm, stripes and girth may loom large in the skies and in our minds, surprisingly little is known about it. Among the many questions Juno set out to answer: Does the gas giant have a solid metal core? Does it have any structure beneath its banded atmosphere, or are its depths well-mixed? How much water lies within its body? And what powers its auroras and its magnetic field? Now, data from just the first two passes ... Read More Source May 27th, 2017 No Comments # A need for safety keeps the poor near poverty I think we already knew this; I’ve written before about how inequality perpetuates itself through differences in confidence: people from rich backgrounds have the chutzpah to blag good jobs for which they are unqualified, whilst those from poorer backgrounds have confidence knocked out of them. However, a new paper by David Chivers suggests there’s another mechanism which can have the same effect – differences in aspirations. He shows that people who are just above the poverty line are scared to take risks ... Read More Source May 27th, 2017 No Comments # What forces exist to promote mutual respect and tolerance? Interesting: Organizations and leaders. Organizations like white supremacist clubs and their leaders make deliberate attempts to persuade outsiders to join their beliefs. Leaders make concerted and intelligent attempts to craft messages that will appeal to potential followers, deliberately cultivating the themes of hate and racism that they advocate. Young people are recruited at the street level into groups and clubs that convey hateful symbols and rhetoric. Political entrepreneurs take advantage of the persuasive power of mobilization efforts based on divisiveness ... Read More Source May 27th, 2017 No Comments # Talking with my right-wing friends I know a couple who are fairly right-wing. I like them dearly. They are important to me. They call themselves libertarian. They did not vote for Trump, though their parents and siblings voted for Trump. I try to avoid talking politics with them, but on the rare occasion when politics comes up, the thing that strikes me most is this: they never ask me what I think, instead, they tell me what I think. I’m not sure what their ... Read More Source May 27th, 2017 No Comments # The strong Grandmother Hypothesis I was never a hunter, but when I was 20 I loved to explore forests. I’d go into the forest for days, and explore areas where I thought other folks had not been in a while. I was mostly on the east coast of the USA so I did not have to worry too much about bears. When I was out West I had some close calls with bobcats, but I was lucky. Young men typically go on adventures into ... Read More Source May 27th, 2017 No Comments # Very unpleasant people who want a racial or religious war I’m sick that people write such disgusting things:. And for every person who says something that disgusting in public, there must be a 1,000 who think something similar in private. The newspaper columnist Katie Hopkins became the subject of a police review after the Manchester bombing on Monday, as questions were raised about the limits the press can go to when reporting the fallout from terrorist attacks. Hopkins, who is employed by the Mail Online and LBC, was reported to the ... Read More Source May 27th, 2017 No Comments # Kennedy barely knew his Inaugural Address I’m watching Kennedy’s Inaugural Address. I guess it’s been many years since the last time I saw it. I love the text of this speech. And I love studying great rhetoric. But now, watching it again, I’m astonished at how hesitant he is. He keeps looking down at his notes. Yet it’s a short speech. He could have easily memorized it. I would have memorized it. How often do you get sworn in as President of the USA? Anyone ... Read More Source May 27th, 2017 No Comments # The context that controls the reading of the Gettysburg Address “Impregnated during a wild spree” wouldn’t sound correct, but “Conceived in Liberty” can be read that way. The context matters This seems like an extreme dip into deconstructionism, but I think it can be a lot of fun to remember how slippery words are. The same phrase evokes different images for different people. The title of the work is “Precious Nonsense” which can only be accurate if all text is nonsense, since all text is slippery in the same way, unless ... Read More Source May 26th, 2017 No Comments # The rising appeal of religiously motivated punishments A similar movement is spreading across the USA, where politicians are looking to see how much anti-gay hatred they can create. It’s seems to be a worldwide movement, effecting all of the religions, that these punishments are becoming more popular. Perhaps the curious thing is why politicians feel that the strictest and most narrow interpretations of traditional beliefs might now be the most popular? There have been centuries when homosexuality was treated as a minor sin, and other centuries ... Read More Source May 26th, 2017 No Comments # The trolls are more common than ever on Hacker News Someone reasonable asked: Should someone pay me for not having slaves and not being able to profit from exploiting them because I am a century or two late and missed the good old time when it was not yet an unacceptable practice? And, in the year 2017, someone wrote: If you legally acquired them, then yes. The British experience ending slavery was far more humane than the US one. That is already surprising, but then I wrote this, and I was promptly downvoted: You ... Read More Source May 4th, 2017 No Comments # Pro-tip: it’s not a great idea to be incredibly sensitive about how someone asks a question Someone is a bit sensitive: Source May 2nd, 2017 No Comments # Bad ideas end with a sudden cascade Interesting: If one person convinces a second, says Blackford, then a third person will be far more likely to agree with the majority view. This effect exponentially increases with each person who agrees with the others. “We soon have a sociological effect whereby everyone knows that, say, a certain movie is very good or very bad, even though everyone might have ‘known’ the exact opposite if only a few early voices had been different,” says Blackford. The cascade effect can help explain ... Read More Source April 26th, 2017 No Comments # Social purity in 1903 What an interesting image: Now we’ve established that if you, like “A Childless Wife,” have chosen to be child-free, you are empty of soul, selfish and controlled by your basest desires. It is also likely that you are suffering an inflated sense of your value to this world. A Childless Wife also had a rather long whinge about the likelihood that she would die during delivery. She was staunchly against dying. And yes, maternal death would have been a concern ... Read More Source April 26th, 2017 No Comments # English is not Latin This has always been an idiotic rule: There is a traditional view, first set forth by the 17th-century poet and dramatist John Dryden, that it is incorrect to put a preposition at the end of a sentence, as in where do you come from? or she’s not a writer I’ve ever come across. The rule was formulated on the basis that, since in Latin a preposition cannot come after the word it governs or is linked with, the same should be ... Read More Source April 23rd, 2017 No Comments # See something, say something, watch the authorities overreact This is the result of trying to find policies that force various agencies to act on auto-pilot: Long story short: A dad returning from Mexico with his 3-year-old daughter was briefly detained on suspicion that he was engaged in sex trafficking. (And not to pile on, but it was a United flight.) Despite papa having her passport, his passport, and a notarized letter from the mom saying that she gave them her permission to travel, the authorities felt compelled to ... Read More Source April 23rd, 2017 No Comments # Jennifer Jason Leigh talks about Quentin Tarantino This is a really interesting comment about Hollywood: What accounts for this comeback you’ve had (1)? Was it a change of management or just good fortune? I am well over 40. I feel like the door was closed, and I had made my peace with it and I was fine. I worried a little bit about money. “Am I going to work again … Maybe I’ll go more into writing.” But I’m very happy being a mom. I just thought I had ... Read More Source April 17th, 2017 No Comments # Sowmya Shriraghavan on discrimination in tech Nicole Nguyen has a piece at Recode that touches on this subject. In this graph, female enrollment in medical school, law school, and physical sciences goes up and up, while the number of women in computer science flatlines at 1984 and continues to decrease into the 2000s. There was a serious cultural change in the ’80s that pushed women out and set the precedent for the future of engineering. What’s bizarre about this shift is that many of computer science’s foremost pioneers ... Read More Source April 15th, 2017 No Comments # Gender ideals in sports in Germany before the Nazis Interesting: He completed his Ph.D. in 1925, and the following year he dashed to global fame, competing in seventy-six races, achieving four national records, three world records, and beating two reigning Olympic champions. His racing style was brash and incautious, reckless even, relying on his blistering pace on the home straight to seal victory. It mirrored his combative personality; his on-track success was accompanied by stories of frequent confrontations with coaches, teammates, opponents, and the stuffed blazers who ran German athletics ... Read More Source April 13th, 2017 No Comments # Anti-gay human rights abuse in Chechnya Really awful: At least once a day, Adam’s captors attached metal clamps to his fingers and toes. One of the men then cranked a handle on a machine to which the clamps were linked with wires, and sent powerful electric shocks through his body. If he managed not to scream, others would join in, beating him with wooden sticks or metal rods. As they tortured him, the men shouted verbal abuse at him for being gay, and demanded to know the names ... Read More Source April 13th, 2017 No Comments # Jack London was his own lawyer and he won Interesting: Jack London advocated a different revolution, a Socialist one. The various books, articles, and speeches referred to as his Socialist writings, though now little read in the United States, sold well when first published and have been avidly read all over the world. The Iron Heel, for instance, sold over 50,000 copies in hardback, and Wikipedia lists translations of the novel into thirty-two languages (including Esperanto). According to Alex Kershaw (in his Jack London: A Life), the novel “was…passed ... Read More Source April 13th, 2017 No Comments # English adventurers in the Black Sea just before the First Crusade This is sort of a precursor to the Crusades, with less of a goal, and more random adventuring: This sequence of events appears to underlie all four of the sources mentioned above and is moreover supported by contemporary Byzantine sources too, as Jonathan Shepard has convincingly argued.(2) As to the date of this emigration of disgruntled Anglo-Saxon lords and their followers, Christine Fell makes a good case for it having taken place in the mid- to late 1070s, after the death ... Read More Source April 13th, 2017 No Comments # Sweden is a nation of introverts Interesting: “Swedish culture isn’t exactly known for its extroversion and mingling,” says Sophia Skinbjerg, a 25-year-old Australian-Danish marketeer, who is based in Stockholm. “Connections, whether personal or professional, are often fostered from a very young age. So as a foreign person, it’s very difficult to break through and establish your own network quickly.” Risk avoidance With one of the highest standards of living in the world and a booming start-up scene, Sweden has attracted growing numbers of expats and economic migrants in recent years, ... Read More Source April 13th, 2017 No Comments # When were women active in politics Measured by how many women testified before Congress, it seems women’s political mobilization peaked in the mid 20th Century: First, far from retreating from public life in the post-suffrage and postwar decades, women and their organizations were out in force. Working through mass membership federations, to which Theda Skocpol has called our attention, women testified collectively on a wide range of issues including but not limited to foreign policy, affordable housing, children’s well-being, military readiness, public education, tax policy, and immigration. ... Read More Source April 13th, 2017 No Comments # The alt-right has always been part of the USA political scene Interesting: American historians’ relationship to conservatism itself has a troubled history. Even after Ronald Reagan’s electoral-college landslide in 1980, we paid little attention to the right: The central narrative of America’s political development was still believed to be the rise of the liberal state. But as Newt Gingrich’s right-wing revolutionaries prepared to take over the House of Representatives in 1994, the scholar Alan Brinkley published an essay called “The Problem of American Conservatism” in The American Historical Review. American conservatism, ... Read More Source April 13th, 2017 No Comments # The decline of the public intellectual Interesting: If you were a certain sort of ideas-oriented young person coming of age in the 20th century, it was very likely you would give yourself a label and join some movement. You’d call yourself a Marxist, a neoconservative, a Freudian, an existentialist or a New Deal liberal. There would be certain sacred writers who would explain the world to you — from Jung to Camus, Dewey or Chesterton. There’d probably be a small magazine where the doctrines of your sect ... Read More Source April 8th, 2017 No Comments # Manhood in the age of Trump Interesting: For some decades now, since I was a child, I’ve heard people talking about how our understanding of gender would need to change, and how men would need to reinterpret what it needs to be a man. But apparently, open mindedness on this issue is easier for men when they know their wages will be going up for some decades. In the USA, men were tolerant of the surge of women into the workforce during the 1930s and 1940s. In ... Read More Source April 8th, 2017 No Comments # Britain in south east Africa in 550 AD Amazing to think that British merchants reached Tanzania in the mid 500s. If there was still so much trade going on, why did the economy collapse to completely? Tanzania? A small number of beads have been found on the East African coast at Dar es Salaam and Kisiju, Tanzania, which have been considered to be early Anglo-Saxon in origin by a number of researchers, including Richard Hodges and Barbara Green, as was discussed in a previous post. Given their likely origin, ... Read More Source April 8th, 2017 No Comments # Octopus can kill dolphins even after the dolphin has swallowed them Interesting: Essentially, the octopuses’ tentacles keep fighting, blocking the dolphins’ airways, even after most of their bodies have been swallowed. It’s a terrifying way to die, but Sprogis and the researchers observe that octopuses must be such valuable prey that they are worth it. Over seven years of observation, she and her team watched 33 dolphins “handling” octopuses in ways that made them meal-ready. Typically, the encounter would start with the dolphin biting the octopus’ head off, followed by tossing the ... Read More Source April 8th, 2017 No Comments # The Vikings raided Africa and then took slaves back to Ireland One of the great puzzles of history is why a particular region might suddenly become active and attack another region. Why was Scandinavia not a factor during Roman times but then suddenly a volcano that spewed attacks outward like a volcano throwing out lava? Why did the Vikings suddenly come onto the scene? What had they been doing previously? Why did they attack Africa, rather than the other way around? Why has there never been a time when Sub-Saharan Africa ... Read More Source April 8th, 2017 No Comments # Korzybski on linguistic relativism Interesting: Sapir/Whorf contemporary Alfred Korzybski was independently developing his theory of general semantics, which was aimed at using language’s influence on thinking to maximize human cognitive abilities. Korzybski’s thinking was influenced by logical philosophy such as Russell and Whitehead’s Principia Mathematica and Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.[72] Although Korzybski was not aware of Sapir and Whorf’s writings, the movement was followed by Whorf-admirer Chase, who fused Whorf’s interest in cultural-linguistic variation with Korzybski’s programme in his popular work “The Tyranny of Words”. S. ... Read More Source April 7th, 2017 No Comments # Maybe naked mole rats are simply very good at fighting off cancer? If a tumor is only a dozen cells, scientists would have difficulty finding it. Previously, researchers thought naked mole rats could not get cancer. Then they found one who got cancer but then healed. What if naked mole rats do get cancer at a normal rate, but their immune system is good about destroying all tumors before scientists can detect them? Interesting: Dr. Delaney and her colleagues have studied lesions on naked mole rats for more than a decade, but it ... Read More Source April 7th, 2017 No Comments # Mojica was overcome, and found himself with tears in his eyes Interesting: But every time Mojica and his colleagues repeated the experiment, the same pattern—30 or so bases that appeared over and over again, separated by lengths of seemingly unrelated DNA—reappeared. Reading journal articles in the library, Mojica learned that a Japanese group had noticed something similar in the genome of E. coli a few years before. Despite the fact that the repetitions did not seem to be connected to H. mediterranei’s predilection for salt, he put a chapter on them at ... Read More Source April 7th, 2017 No Comments # The alternative media on the right Interesting: “The long, lucrative right-wing grift is blowing up in the world’s face”: “Because there was a lot of money in it for various hucksters and moguls and authors and politicians, the conservative movement spent decades building up an entire sector of the economy dedicated to scaring and lying to older white men. For millions of members of that demographic, this parallel media dedicated to lying to them has totally supplanted the ‘mainstream’ media. Now they, and we, are at the ... Read More Source April 6th, 2017 No Comments # Clean decimals are limited to primes of your base Interesting: Floating Point Math Your language isn’t broken, it’s doing floating point math. Computers can only natively store integers, so they need some way of representing decimal numbers. This representation comes with some degree of inaccuracy. That’s why, more often than not, .1 + .2 != .3. Why does this happen? It’s actually pretty simple. When you have a base 10 system (like ours), it can only express fractions that use a prime factor of the base. The prime factors of 10 are ... Read More Source April 4th, 2017 No Comments # Have I been shadowbanned from Hacker News? Very strange. Check out this page on Hacker News. None of my comments are appearing there. I wonder if I have been banned? I can’t imagine why this would happen. I believe I offer good comments that move a conversation forward. The article asks this question: Why do developers who could work anywhere flock to the most expensive cities? To which I responded: (Please forgive the side-story, I believe this comment eventually forms a cohesive story.) Once upon a time I had ... Read More Source April 2nd, 2017 No Comments # Language is the only homeland The only homeland. This strikes me as the only way forward for Europe, and perhaps the world, though I realize there are some groups, such as African-Americans in the USA, who might strongly disagree, as they use the language of the oppressors. But maybe if we can interpret the words broadly enough, then the idea fits everyone? Beyoncé recently sang: My daddy Alabama, momma Louisiana You mix that negro with that Creole, make a Texas bama So where is her homeland? What ... Read More Source March 29th, 2017 No Comments # Another blow to the indie Web: the Deck ad network closes down So sad: LONG STRANGE TRIP We started The Deck in 2006 and for the first couple years it struggled. By 2008, it was an OK business and by 2009, it was a pretty good business. From then through 2013, The Deck was going along just fine. THINGS WORK, UNTIL THEY DON’T Things change. In 2014, display advertisers started concentrating on large, walled, social networks. The indie “blogosphere” was disappearing. Mobile impressions, which produce significantly fewer clicks and engagements, began to really dominate the market. ... Read More Source March 29th, 2017 No Comments # The rise of neo queerbaiting The actress, who is contractually obligated to defend the storyline that the corporation decides to advance, offers a diplomatic answer regarding her character’s possible romance with a man, versus her answer regarding her character’s possible romance with a woman: Also Source March 29th, 2017 No Comments # How long can sha-1 crypto survive? Interesting: SHA1 was meant to be a replacement for MD5. MD5 has an output space of only 128-bits, where as SHA1 has an output space of 160-bits. SHA1 is also designed differently than MD5, and is meant to not suffer the same sort of weaknesses or attacks that MD5 faces. However, over time, cryptographers have been able to severely attack SHA1, and as a result, they’ve all been warning us to get off SHA1, and move to SHA2. It should ... Read More Source March 29th, 2017 No Comments # After 121 years of terrible journalism, the DailyMail is finding ways to be worse When every article you publish is terrible, it takes something unique to stand out from the debris and make people say “That is much worse than usual“. The meeting presented a new low for the newspaper, its perpetually disappointed proprietor and its lickspittle columnist: as if it weren’t bad enough that women held high office and didn’t have the grace to think the same about things, they were also each in possession of not one but two legs. Who knows where ... Read More Source March 28th, 2017 No Comments # It’s absolutely true because I read it in the Daily Mail Good lord, as a parody, this song is good: Source March 27th, 2017 1 Comment # Complexity emerges when a system has transitions that demand a different kind of math Interesting: When we observe the largest scale behaviors of a system, we simplify the mathematical description of the system because there are fewer distinguishable states, and only a limited set of possible behaviors. This also means that systems that look different on a microscopic scale may not look different at the macroscopic scale, and their mathematical descriptions become the same. An important example of this arose in the study of phase transitions using the new mathematics of renormalization group. The transition ... Read More Source March 27th, 2017 No Comments # Did sleep paralysis start the Salem Witch Trials? Interesting: Sleep paralysis researchers Brian Sharpless and Karl Dograhmji have collected 118 different terms from around the world that describe sleep paralysis-like experiences: Germans have terms for hexendrücken – witch pressing – and alpdrücken – elf pressing. Norwegian folktales include svartalfar – evil elves that shoot people with paralysing arrows before perching on their chests. The Japanese have a term, kanashibari, in reference to being magically bound by invisible metal. In parts of Switzerland people speak of tchutch-muton, an evil ... Read More Source March 27th, 2017 No Comments # Will we live in a society where everyone needs an advanced college degree? It’s amazing that this was written back in 1903, when less than 4% of the population had a college degree: Human nature is once for all so childish that every reality becomes a sham somewhere, and in the minds of Presidents and Trustees the Ph.D. degree is in point of fact already looked upon as a mere advertising resource, a manner of throwing dust in the Public’s eyes. “No instructor who is not a Doctor” has become a maxim in the ... Read More Source March 27th, 2017 No Comments # Do researchers have momentum? Interesting: Source March 27th, 2017 No Comments # Kids make people hate each other It’s funny, but it’s also serious, how many relationships go downhill once a couple has kids. How Not to Hate Your Husband is a book for messy reality, but I can’t shake my frustration that its twin, written for men, isn’t out there somewhere: How to Keep Your Wife From Hating You After Kids. I’m disappointed that on top of doing far more housework and childcare than men, it also falls on women to patiently and strategically negotiate the terms ... Read More Source March 27th, 2017 No Comments # The endless jargon wears me down Microcanonical distribution? I find myself thinking I need to read something else before I read this. But then I find an article that is suppose to be more basic, and that too has jargon that makes me think I need to read something still more basic. I wonder where the starting point is? Every time I try to get through an essay like this (almost every day) I find myself worn out dealing with the endless jargon: Source March 27th, 2017 1 Comment # Facebook activated my dormant account and it won’t let me deactivate it I am angry. I will walk you through the steps of what has happened. Here is the historical background: 1.) In late 2008, I signed up for Facebook. 2.) In early 2012 I deactivated my account. 3.) On March 14th, 2017, Facebook suddenly reactivated my account. I received this email: I have done nothing to reactivate my account. I do not want an account on Facebook. I have been happy to live without Facebook for the last 5 years. The ... Read More Source March 26th, 2017 No Comments # What happens when there is no agreement on the sources of facts? Interesting: But what happens when political participants step out of bounds and violate shared norms? Is it the press’s role to defend those norms, to push back, or merely to report on what has happened? It’s a dilemma. For one thing, no clear line separates legitimate subjects of political dispute from what is off limits or out of bounds. As circumstances change, those lines shift and warp at the margins. Collective values are always in flux. Things that were subject of dispute ... Read More Source March 25th, 2017 No Comments # Government says: Don’t Be Afraid to Racially Profile Your Friends, Neighbors and Coworkers Worrisome: Peterson opened his remarks with an anecdote about the San Bernardino shooters, who you’ll recall were a married couple. He noted that a neighbor failed to call the cops on the pair before the shooting, despite seeing them in their garage doing something murky. She feared being thought of as “racist,” Peterson said. Peterson described this as an example of “political correctness run amok.” He encouraged us not to let a distaste for treating people differently based on their race ... Read More Source March 21st, 2017 No Comments # Why does anyone bother? Interesting: How Not to Hate Your Husband came about because Dunn and her husband Tom had fallen into a deep rut of arguments and resentment about their household distribution of labour. Tom, despite good intentions and a warm personality, left almost all of the household management and childcare to Dunn, and her resentment became explosive. (Sound familiar?) Their six-year-old daughter, Sylvie, was often witness to their conflicts, and Dunn began to worry about the negative impact that this repetitive dynamic ... Read More Source March 20th, 2017 No Comments # Maybe you should write fan fiction This is great: You know when professional writers say, “We’re not writing fan fiction”? My immediate reaction is almost always – well, maybe you should be. Maybe you should be the fan writer who spends a lovingly long time getting into characters’ heads and making sure they’re internally consistent? Who cares more about interactions and dynamics than pulling the rug out from under audiences’ feet. Maybe you should be the fan writer who chooses to show characters in love even ... Read More Source March 20th, 2017 No Comments # Telling your family that you’ve been laid off This was from a fiction workshop I was part of. This was my effort. Jeffery and Anthony pulled up to the curb in front of the house. Jeffery looked out the house, but he did not move. Anthony, who was in the driver’s seat, watched his friend for a long moment, and then said, “You’ve got to tell them.” There was no reaction from Jeffery. Perhaps he had not heard. “You’ve got to tell them,” repeated Anthony. Jeffery took a ... Read More Source March 18th, 2017 No Comments # The age of religion never ended This does not strike me as new: All this adds up to a depressing picture for those of us who aren’t ready to live in a post-truth world. Facts, it seems, are toothless. Trying to refute a bold, memorable lie with a fiddly set of facts can often serve to reinforce the myth. Important truths are often stale and dull, and it is easy to manufacture new, more engaging claims. And giving people more facts can backfire, as those facts provoke ... Read More Source March 17th, 2017 No Comments # Life in the country This person asserts we should leave the big cities and go where life is easy: The “horribly stacked life” card is, in my experience, most often played by people trying to get by in the overly competitive environments of large cities. I know a lot of people don’t like to hear it, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: if you don’t feel like you’re getting anywhere trying to work and live in a major city, do yourself a ... Read More Source March 17th, 2017 No Comments # Authoritarianism: certain constellations of personality traits seem to travel together It’s interesting that certain constellations of personality traits seem to travel together, even in different cultures, and in different centuries. The cult-of-personality goes with the authoritarianism, which goes with the desire to delegitimate all criticism, which goes with particular ideas about sex, and the relations between men and women. So again, in 2017, we see the revival of the same united set of personality attributes that are described from the 1930s: His vainglorious sexual boasting (‘They say I’ve got the most ... Read More Source March 17th, 2017 No Comments # The quiet damage of gaming addiction Very interesting: It is not always clear when gaming is the refuge of the trapped and when it is the trap. Ashley, aged 37, is certain that gaming is not the source of his problems. He played video games in his youth, but not obsessively; like other teenagers he made plenty of time for football and skateboarding. The games took on a different cast in his 20s, when he spent time abroad teaching English: he played heavily as a way to ... Read More Source March 16th, 2017 No Comments # Computer programming is now treated as a career for the young I wish I knew why this was. Unlike other white collar professions, computer programming is treated more like being an athlete, something that becomes increasingly untenable after the age of 40. The problem is that our industry, unlike every other single industry except acting and modeling (and note neither are known for “intelligence”) worship at the altar of youth. I don’t know the number of people I’ve encountered who tell me that by being older, my experience is worthless since all ... Read More Source March 16th, 2017 No Comments # Compare and despair Interesting: When we scroll through our feed we want to see something that’s either aspirational or motivating. We go on Instagram to escape from our problems or worries and to upload the best parts of our lives so that when we look back on our feed we think, “Wow, what a great few months I’ve had.” I guess it’s like looking back at our own gratitude list and I love social media for that, for allowing us to curate a ... Read More Source March 16th, 2017 No Comments # Dealing with long-term illness Interesting: My experience of feeling unwell for years before I got a diagnosis turned out to be typical. According to aarda, it takes an average of nearly five years (and five doctors) for a sufferer to be given a diagnosis. Patients can end up consulting different specialists for different symptoms: a dermatologist, an endocrinologist, an immunologist, a neurologist, a rheumatologist. A lot of people with autoimmune diseases would like to see the establishment of clinical autoimmune centers, where a single doctor ... Read More Source March 14th, 2017 No Comments # How to discover one’s voice as a writer I also like this: So I went back and was looking at some of your clips and thought, oh man, I remember these pieces, just not that you had written them. And what I think is interesting about that book is how much I can see how your voice and your style has changed. You can see the trajectory. When you look at that book—and that book is very much a product of where you were at then and the pieces ... Read More Source March 14th, 2017 No Comments # Nobody ever gets everything they want I like this: Yeah, or like… Now that I’m through the other end of the grief, I’m really happy with my life, and I’m really grateful for a lot of things that came out of that—like the humbling that losing most everything that mattered in a deep way, except for my friendships and my writing and my family. I think I have much less of the delusion of control now than I used to, and I’m grateful for that. I ... Read More Source March 14th, 2017 No Comments # Downvoted on Hacker News I’ve been following Hacker News for 8 years now, and over the last 2 or 3 years I’ve noticed the commenters there have become more political and right-wing. I try not to post comments there, but when I do, more and more, I find myself getting downvoted for saying things that are obviously true. So, for instance, recently the actor Shia Labeouf had an art project to promote the anti-Trump message “He will not divide us” and some right-wingers were ... Read More Source March 12th, 2017 No Comments # Having black children One woman’s account: My half-black son was born Sept 5th, here in Kansas City, while those protests raged across the state. Because the AA communities in StL and KC are so intertwined I actually am friends with one of Micheal Brown’s cousins, and not thru my husband. I have been with my husband since 2009, and experienced firsthand racism and bigotry with him and without him, but I never lost that thread of stupid-suburbanite optimism until I was 37 weeks pregnant ... Read More Source March 9th, 2017 No Comments # Google’s Featured Snippets are often drawn from fringe sites peddling crazy ideas Interesting: Google needs to invest in human experts who can judge what type of queries should produce a direct answer like this, Shulman said. “Or, at least in this case, not send an algorithm in search of an answer that isn’t simply ‘There is no evidence any American president has been a member of the Klan.’ It’d be great if instead of highlighting a bogus answer, it provided links to accessible, peer-reviewed scholarship.” …What about a system that thinks Barack Obama is ... Read More Source March 9th, 2017 No Comments # Truman was racist Interesting: Even his reverential biographer, Merle Miller, admitted in the Truman biography “Plain Speaking” that later in life “privately Mr. Truman always said ‘nigger’; at least he always did when I talked to him.” He also often privately referred to Jews as “kikes.” Truman’s racism and anti-Semitism may surprise many Americans because he has been sanctified in recent years by hagiographic biographers such as David McCullough and by Democrats and Republicans who admire his leadership during the Cold War. As the country ... Read More Source March 8th, 2017 No Comments # Health care is complicated Funny opening: President Trump, long at the forefront of intellectual discovery, last week came up with a major finding: Health-care reform is hard. “Unbelievably complex,” in fact. “Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated,” the president said. Actually, we all knew. That’s why Republicans’ successor plan to Obamacare, “repeal and replace,” became repeal and delay. That’s why House Republicans kept their draft legislation under guard in a secret, GOP-only “reading room” in the Capitol, so copies wouldn’t leak. That’s why ... Read More Source March 8th, 2017 No Comments # Academic romance Interesting: Philosophy has long had a reputation as a work environment inhospitable to women, even though there have certainly been significant improvements on this front over the past few years. Did you face gender-specific obstacles as a woman trying to make a career in a male-dominated discipline? Well of course in those days every discipline was inhospitable to women. There was only one tenured woman in the whole of Harvard when I arrived there, the classicist Emily Vermeule, and she was ... Read More Source March 6th, 2017 No Comments # The distance is commonly very great between actual performances and speculative possibility Interesting: The distance is commonly very great between actual performances and speculative possibility, It is natural to suppose that as much as has been done today may be done tomorrow: but on the morrow some difficulty emerges, or some external impediment obstructs. Indolence, interruption, business, and pleasure, all take their turns of retardation; and every long work is lengthened by a thousand causes that can, and ten thousand that cannot, be recounted. Perhaps no extensive and multifarious performance was ever effected ... Read More Source March 3rd, 2017 No Comments # The economics of intentional communities Interesting: But even with the best organisational acumen, intentional communities are often heavily criticised for the backward progress they tend to symbolise. Bronson Alcott (the father of Louisa May Alcott, the author of Little Women) was characterised by the essayist Thomas Carlyle as a ‘man bent on saving the world by a return to acorns’. In 1843, Alcott founded Fruitlands, an experimental community in Harvard, Massachusetts. An agrarian commune influenced by transcendentalist thought, and built on renouncing the ‘civilised’ world, Fruitlands ... Read More Source March 1st, 2017 No Comments # Has there ever been so great a gulf in USA politics? One thing that seems unique about the current moment in USA politics is how decent most of the national Democrats are, and how loathsome the national Republicans are. I don’t think there’s ever been a time where one party was so full of honest and decent people, while the other party was so devoid of any. This bit with Gabby Giffords is the extreme case: According to the Washington Post, Louis Gohmert [R-Texas] released a statement earlier this week clarifying his decision ... Read More Source March 1st, 2017 No Comments # Can you imagine having 2 duplexes in New York and not throwing a party every night? I would throw a party every night, if I had that much space in New York. These two were definitely depressed. After my success in Blue Denim I expected to be working again immediately, since my agent could now get me into most producers’ offices. I auditioned for every upcoming Broadway show, but to my great disappointment, I wasn’t cast in any of them. I longed to be given a chance to play high-strung, defiant young women. Instead I would appear ... Read More Source March 1st, 2017 No Comments # We never escape loneliness This is wonderfully written: Her son had recently died, and she said she did not know what to do now. She had so much time on her hands, she was so bored and weary and sorrowful that she was ready to die. She had brought him up with loving care and intelligence, and he had gone to one of the best schools and to college. She had not spoiled him, though he had had everything that was necessary. She had ... Read More Source March 1st, 2017 No Comments # The increasingly forgotten class war of the 40s and 50s What a bizarre thing to write: Not surprisingly given McAdam’s long history in the social movements research field, McAdam and Kloos argue that social movements are commonly relevant to electoral and party politics; they suggest that the period of relatively high consensus around the moderate middle (1940s and 1950s) was exceptional precisely because of the absence of powerful social movements during these decades. But during more typical periods, national electoral politics are influenced by both political parties and diffuse social movements; ... Read More Source March 1st, 2017 No Comments # Madeleine Davies talks to Jessa Crispin Interesting: Why do you think so many current self-proclaimed feminists feel the need to distance themselves from the second wave definition of feminism and, even more so, second wave radicals like Andrea Dworkin or Catharine McKinnon? Once assimilation became a possibility—and I feel like this happens with pretty much every marginalized group that’s fighting for equality—once assimilation becomes a possibility, you kind of abandon your principles because it’s much easier to just enter the system than destroy it. The more radical thinkers ... Read More Source March 1st, 2017 No Comments # Dangerous extensions to copyright Interesting: One dangerous idea that rightsholders continue to push for is a “notice and staydown” system. This sounds like a minor edit to notice and takedown, but in reality it would amount to mandatory filtering of the Internet for the purpose of policing copyright. Last summer we noted many of the general reasons why this idea is both dangerous and impractical. In our most recent comments, we focus more specifically on the direct threat such a system would pose to the ... Read More Source March 1st, 2017 No Comments # Kellyanne Conway puts her feet on the couch while she’s wearing shoes This seems like the pose of a child. I am not sure how to understand this level of informality at the White House: Source February 28th, 2017 No Comments # American politics has gotten really weird What used to be the paranoid fringe is now elected to leadership positions in the government: Source February 28th, 2017 No Comments # The dictatorship of the myths of intelligence This essay is too long, but there are some bits that are good. Interesting: Plato’s novel idea fell on the eager ears of the intellectuals, including those of his pupil Aristotle. Aristotle was always the more practical, taxonomic kind of thinker. He took the notion of the primacy of reason and used it to establish what he believed was a natural social hierarchy. In his book The Politics, he explains: ‘[T]hat some should rule and others be ruled is a ... Read More Source February 28th, 2017 No Comments # Twitter’s lack of context keeps me away The lack of context is exactly what keeps me away from Twitter. I want more context, not less. Last week I had coffee with Hunter Walk who said he deleted his Twitter data and now auto-deletes Tweets regularly, so it becomes a transient outlet instead of permanent. As an experiment I downloaded my entire archive and randomly started poking through it. Without context, without the situation at hand, I wanted to punch the avatar of myself that came across in ... Read More Source February 23rd, 2017 No Comments # It’s not self-care if someone else is doing your hair This is obviously wrong, but it is a great reminder of the other issues involved: It’s not self-care if someone else is doing your hair. Obviously it is self-care. But right, there is someone there who also has needs. Source February 23rd, 2017 No Comments # Bad Wikipedia pages: French Romance Novels I get used to information being found in Wikipedia, so I am surprised when I find a page an anemic as this: You would expect them to list thousands of books, instead of 2 dozen. They don’t have the one I’m looking for, from the 1700s. Source February 20th, 2017 No Comments # Women without kids I used to think that Vox was the most boring site on the Web, but lately I’ve been reading the site often. This is from Sweden: “I am an archaeologist,” I told the gynecologist with the relative calm of someone answering an emotionally loaded question with a rehearsed response. “I don’t know if I’ll be living in a country where abortion will be available to me should I become pregnant.” This was no exaggeration. I still lived in Sweden, where I ... Read More Source February 20th, 2017 No Comments # Polycystic ovarian syndrome. Anyone know how to say that in German? Interesting: That morning, my boyfriend had to go to work, but a decision on what to do had to be made quickly. So he stuffed a wad of Euros into my hand and put me on a train to the Netherlands, the closest neighboring country where the pill can be bought over the counter. The need for women to cross borders, and spend beyond their budget, just to receive reproductive health care is nothing new. Northern Ireland—which, let’s not forget, is in ... Read More Source February 16th, 2017 No Comments # It’s never too late to become a computer programmer Interesting: BECOME A SOFTWARE DEVELOPER AT 35 Aimee Morgan, a former Stanford University Libraries archivist, enrolled in an online course to learn Python programming language at the age of 35. She fell in love with programming so much that she decided to start Hackbright Academy, a coding boot camp that teaches software development to women. Her skills led her to become a software engineer on the backend team at Flixster (an American community where users watch and rate movies, this company ... Read More Source February 16th, 2017 No Comments # The drift of the Republican party Interesting: The drift of the Republican party from being liberal to illiberal, from being secular to Christian, from being environmentally aware to climate change deniers, from supporting minorities to attacking ‘welfare queens’, did not happen all at once but has been a steady process. Of course there were key moments in that process, such as Nixon’s ‘southern strategy’, Reagan’s adoption of tax cuts for the rich that would ‘pay for themselves’ and neoliberalism more generally, to the Tea Party most recently. ... Read More Source February 16th, 2017 No Comments # Reasons to have beer with smart people Funny: This seems a good moment to revisit “He seems like he’d be a good guy to have a beer with,” the shorthand explanation for the rank anti-intellectualism that put George W. Bush in the White House 17 years ago and later flowered, in our somehow even dumber present, into “Uh actually stupid idiots are good” and made Donald Trump, a boiled bologna condom stuffed with Viagra, the most powerful person in the world. … Dolts are not good for having a beer ... Read More Source February 15th, 2017 No Comments # Insane work schedules and coffee Interesting: From nappy: Balzac drove himself relentlessly as a writer, motivated by enormous literary ambition as well as a never-ending string of creditors and endless cups of coffee; as Herbert J. Hunt has written, he engaged in “orgies of work punctuated by orgies of relaxation and pleasure.” When Balzac was working, his working schedule was brutal: He ate a light dinner at 6:00 P.M., then went to bed. At 1:00 A.M. he rose and sat down at his writing table for ... Read More Source February 14th, 2017 No Comments # What is this woman thinking? I love this photo, taken by my friend Natalie Sidner. I love the mystery of the situation. I find myself wondering what has this woman so intrigued. Source February 11th, 2017 No Comments # Dan Nainan’s passive aggressive act The worrisome thing is how aggressive Nainan behaves, even though he claims he is not being aggressive. His need to lie is enough to put everyone else on guard. The fact that he lies about his age, claiming to be 35 when he is 55, suggests he is fundamentally dishonest. I just received the initial deposit for a corporate show in Dubai that’s coming up in a couple of weeks. The show pays$8000, yes, that’s right, EIGHT THOUSAND US ...

February 11th, 2017

# The end of sexual ambiguity

The era of trying to define one’s sexuality in exact terms is surely a temporary outcome of contemporary political struggles? Interesting:

All five of Edward and Minnie Benson’s adult offspring distinguished themselves in public life. Arthur Benson served as the master of Magdalene College at Cambridge University, wrote the lyrics to Edward Elgar’s hymn “Land of Hope and Glory,” and was entrusted with the delicate task of co-editing Queen Victoria’s letters for publication. His brother Fred was a best-selling writer, well ...

February 11th, 2017

# The world would be a better place if Nicholas Sparks had never been born

I’d be embarrassed if I made a living off of fictional dead women. But I do get how a young teen could find these stories intensely moving.

The skin tones don’t even match up! How could you possibly be upset by that? Of course, it gave Landon the opportunity to reveal himself as a “good guy.” It probably wasn’t great for my emotional and sexual development to believe that some asshole teen boy might come around and be nice ...

February 10th, 2017

# Immigration in the USA

The main benefit of the rule of law is suppose to be an absence of arbitrary enforcement, but that is not what is happening now:

“Almost everyone is a deportation priority,” William Stock, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, told me of the guidelines, which are a strict departure from the Obama administration’s stated focus on removing criminals, undocumented immigrants in the country less than two years, and individuals caught while crossing the border. Trump’s order, by comparison, includes a ...

February 9th, 2017

# The purity test

“He also shamefully ignored the interests of African Americans and interned Japanese Americans during WWII.”

This sounds exactly like a purity test based on race, so these 2 paragraphs make no coherent sense together:

The reformist left was a big tent. It included people who thought of themselves as communists and socialist as well as moderate left-of-center Democrats. What united them was a devotion to pragmatic reform; there were no purity tests, no totalizing calls for revolution, as was common among ...

February 9th, 2017

# The confidence, or overconfidence, of the rich

Interesting:

Many of us, though, wouldn’t even have tried the hurdle. If I’d had Ms Sands otherwise decent CV, I’d have looked at that job spec and ruled myself out as unqualified. Ms Sands, obviously, did not.

In this, she’s following many others. Tristram Hunt has become head of the V&A despite no experience of curating or of running large organizations. David Cameron wanted to become PM because he thought he’d be “rather good” at it – a judgment which now looks ...

February 8th, 2017

# How to message on Tinder

Interesting:

Before I met my current girlfriend, I decided to master Tinder. I know Tinder is not a game. I didn’t necessarily want to win Tinder, but I did want to be good at it. And the reason was simple: I was terrible at dating. And the reason for that was simple, too: at the age when everyone else was learning how to date, I was extremely closeted.

I came out at the very end of college, and I struggled. I didn’t ...

February 8th, 2017

# Princess Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz to head Vogue Arabia

Interesting:

So it’s no surprise that she’d already appeared in New York’s fashion-on-the-streets Look Book section prior to this profile (there, she copped to loving Jessica Simpson’s lip gloss). The writer, Larocca, describes meeting Abdulaziz in front of Barneys New York in 2004: She was well dressed but normally so for the neighborhood, an uptown woman out for a stroll in expensive but quiet versions of things: a Prada T-shirt, Miu Miu shoes, an Hermès bag. I was scouting for a photo ...

February 8th, 2017

# The strength of conservative grassroots

Interesting:

I grew up in the far-right evangelical conservative (Christofascist) movement; specifically, I was homeschooled and my parents were part of a subculture called Quiverfull, whose aim is to outbreed everyone for Jesus. I spent my teen years being a political activist. I was taught by every pastor I encountered that it was our job as Christians to outbreed the secularists (anyone not a far-right evangelical Protestant) and take over the government through sheer numbers. I was part of TeenPact, Generation ...

February 8th, 2017

# Gayzing

Funny:

This year, like many years before it, we as a human race have continued evolving, getting ever-so-much-closer to a utopia in which everybody is gay. 2016 was a banner year for Coming Out, in which a multitude of folks all across the fame spectrum proudly declared their allegiance to my favorite lifestyle choice and Kristen Stewart publicly admitted that she had a girlfriend. (Kristen Stewart was on last year’s list though, not this year’s, because she has been coming out ...

February 8th, 2017

# Charles Erwin Wilson hated research?

I am puzzled by this Wilson character, who seems to hate research:

The term dynamic programming was originally used in the 1940s by Richard Bellman to describe the process of solving problems where one needs to find the best decisions one after another. By 1953, he refined this to the modern meaning, referring specifically to nesting smaller decision problems inside larger decisions,[15] and the field was thereafter recognized by the IEEE as a systems analysis and engineering topic. Bellman’s contribution is ...

February 8th, 2017

# The end of reassuring stories

Interesting:

The final story, which continues on both the left and right, is that Trump and his team are inexperienced buffoons who will quickly make fools of themselves, and will be brought to heel by the checks and balances of the US constitutional system. Its too early to tell, but the signs so far do not look good. Take the holocaust statement. According to this story, leaving out any mention of Jews or anti-Semitism from the Holocaust Day statement was perhaps ...

February 8th, 2017

# India is run by criminals

There was the old saying, in places like Italy, “When the state is weak, the mafia takes over.” This is now happening in India, with the formal endorsement of the electoral system. Very worrisome:

Sadly, this is not a book about some small, shady corner of Indian politics: 34% of the members of parliament (MPs) in the Lok Sabha (lower house) have criminal charges filed against them; and the figure is rising (see chart). Some of the raps are peccadillos, such ...

February 1st, 2017

# Syrian family deported

Nothing ever changes. No matter how many books get written about fascism, the same kinds of people keep voting for it (in particular, those with doctors, lawyers and engineers, who seem to reliably back authoritarian governments on the assumption that the authoritarian government won’t come after them).

Source

February 1st, 2017

# End of the neoliberal consensus

Interesting:

For a few decades we thought the end of history had arrived and political battles in most OECD countries were between centre-right and centre-left parties arguing in a narrow political spectrum, but largely agreeing on issues such as free trade, the benefits of immigration, the need for flexible efficient markets, and the positive role of global finance. This consensus was reinforced by international institutions such as the IMF, World Bank, and OECD, and the Davos political and business elite.

In ...

January 31st, 2017

# Bibi Bourelly – “Sally”

It’s the right attitude for everyone trying to keep our fighting spirits and remember the good people.

Source

January 30th, 2017

# What will happen to the USA?

It’s hard to know how we bounce back from here.

Source

January 29th, 2017

# Imagine two countries

Imagine these two countries:

In the first, the government has a tradition of due process and liberal rights for most adults, all adults have right to vote, and elections are free and fair, yet the country has been stripped of all of its labor unions.

In the second, the government is authoritarian, there are no free elections, but the people have managed to organize a vast labor union, noted for its militancy and enjoying great popular support.

What happens next?

We know ...

January 28th, 2017

# The kind of testimonial that a social media site should dream of

Back in 1968 Joan Didion wrote an essay about why she left New York. Maybe that was the first of the “Why I am leaving the city” genre. Or maybe the genre existed earlier, but she is certainly the most famous representative. These essays are typically written by women between the ages of 27 and 40 who have decided it’s time to stop partying and start having children.

In our more recent era, over the last 20 years, there has ...

January 28th, 2017

# Children are scientists

Interesting:

There is a theory in psychology called the theory theory. It’s a theory about theories. While this might sound obvious, the theory theory leads to counterintuitive conclusions. A quarter-century ago, psychologists began to point out important links between the development of scientific theories and how everyday thinking, including children’s thinking, works. According to theory theorists, a child learns by constructing a theory of the world and testing it against experience. In this sense, children are little scientists – they ...

January 28th, 2017

# Actually understanding the problem you face is better than vague statistics about the problem

The battle of Thermopylae (the tale of the three hundred) and the clash between the Greeks and the mighty army of Xerxes has echoed throughout history as a lesson in the force multiplier effect of landscape. Themistocles devised a strategy whereby the Athenian navy would block the straits of Artemisium forcing the Persians along the coastal road into the narrow ...

January 28th, 2017

# Tribal indentity in politics is stronger than people realize

This bit is interesting:

It is little appreciated how much liberal democracy depends on strong parties, and a revitalized, re-understood liberalism adequate to the moment will have to overcome a traditional distaste for partisan politics.

…I suggested in my previous essay that “voting patterns didn’t change enough between 2012 and 2016 to justify big claims about new national moods or about Trump’s distinctive appeal. I believe the consequences of this election will be deeply abnormal. But the voting behavior that brought ...

January 27th, 2017

# Birtherism from Melania

If the past is any indication, Melania is no passive victim. Recently a 2011 interview with Melania on the Joy Behar Show went viral on Twitter. In the interview, Melania defends her husband’s adamant commitment to the birther conspiracy born of the Tea Party—his belief that President Obama is not an American citizen, that he was born in Kenya and that his Hawaii-issued birth certificate was, in fact, a forgery. “Do you want to see President Obama’s birth certificate or ...

January 27th, 2017

# Is this appropriate for a psychologist?

Very worrisome that this would come from a psychologist who works with families:

Dathan Paterno, a school board member in the Chicago suburb of Park Ridge, called the marchers “vagina screechers,” as the Chicago Tribune reports, part of a string of good tweets about women:

The tweet read: “Most of these vagina screechers didn’t vote, but they mean business. Riiiiiiiight. What a farce.” The remark followed a few other provocative posts last week about the march, including one that referred to it ...

January 27th, 2017

# A bias that never fades is best thought of as a religious conviction

I’ve largely given up having conversations with people on the political right, mostly on the same grounds that I no longer try to debate religion with people. We all must take certain assumptions about reality as a starting point for our understanding of the world, and if someone’s most fundamental assumptions are sufficiently different from mine, we simply don’t have enough common ground to have a meaningful conversation. If someone believes that Jesus is their personal Savior, I won’t try ...

January 27th, 2017

# Jason Brennan has no respect for ignorant voters

Interesting and funny:

I think this illustrates what gets Lehmann’s goat. Perhaps Lehmann views the right to vote as a kind of honorific. And she’s right that it is. In most modern societies, people use the right to vote as a kind of public affirmation of who matters and who doesn’t. We load suffrage with all sorts of expressive value. Getting the right to vote is like getting a gold star and a pat on the back. Being denied suffrage is ...

January 27th, 2017

# The sun is much bigger than the planets

This is a great story about the moment when we humans first learned that the planets were small, and the sun was very big:

Gassendi’s most important observation was made when Mercury passed in front of the sun on November 7, 1631. Only Mercury and Venus can be observed from the earth during their solar transit. Similar passages took place in the months of May and November, around the 7th and the 9th of the month. For Mercury, one could expect ...

January 27th, 2017

# Who supports a policy can sometimes tell you whether you should support it

This is good:

I’m prompted to say this by the fact that at least one decent Leaver thinks May’s Brexit strategy is wrong. Pete North calls it “unhinged lunacy” and a “clueless gamble.”

Some of us, though, had an inkling of this months ago. This wasn’t because we had greater powers of foresight. Instead, what strengthened my antipathy to Brexit was simply that many of the people who supported it were racists and charlatans. Of course, not all Leavers were by any ...

January 27th, 2017

# Where does reality come from?

Interesting:

The best-known and most thoroughgoing exponent of active mechanisms was Gottfried Leibniz. Convinced that the closed mechanical systems described by Boyle and Newton could not explain motion or change, Leibniz posited a vis viva, a living or vital force. It was a “principle underlying all material events.” Instead of impenetrable, indivisible, insentient atoms, Leibniz proposed that the fundamental units of matter were a species of metaphysical points, with, as Riskin remarks, “something vital” about them.17 These were the monads, elementary ...

January 27th, 2017

# Stanislav Datskovskiy: Employers much prefer that workers be fungible, rather than maximally productive

Where Lisp Fails: at Turning People into Fungible Cogs.

A favorite conundrum of many Lisp aficionados is why the language appears to languish in disuse. Talk of cultural problems, “the library question” (which usually boils down to nonsensical circular reasoning), too many parentheses, and other absurdities simply dances around the blindingly obvious explanation – one which is able to make sense not only of the obscurity of Lisp, but of ...

January 27th, 2017

# God, computers, and complexity theory

How do we measure complexity? Is Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem just another way of stating Turing’s Halting Problem? A very interesting combination of ideas:

For Leibniz, a law must be expressed by a simple equation. An equation that is forte composée is meaningless. There is always one loitering about. This kind of theoretical criterion does not apply to individual cases. We are trying to understand what it means to say there is a law governing these points. That does not mean we ...

January 26th, 2017

# Security at the White House

Funny and also pathetic:

Source

January 26th, 2017

# Six days with a new President

Worrisome:

As of this very moment—and this is an incomplete list—the Trump administration has ordered a freeze on most federal hiring, reinstated the Global Gag Rule, helped kick off an Obamacare repeal, invented a universe of “alternative facts,” moved forward on the Dakota Access and Keystone pipelines, manifested a voter fraud crisis and promised a “major investigation” into it, appeared to plagiarize a Batman villain, prepared an order that would enact “at least a 40 percent overall decrease” in U.S. ...

January 26th, 2017

# 1962 was not 1955

I disagree with this:

Once upon a time, way back in the middle of the twentieth century, America was all about tomorrow. Consider the Jetsons, which premiered in 1962, just a few years after the launch of Sputnik opened the Space Age. Matt Novak positions the television cartoon within the golden age of American Futurism: “The Jetsons” was the distillation of every Space Age promise Americans could muster,” he says. “It had everything our hearts could desire: jetpacks, flying cars, ...

January 26th, 2017

# Constance Wu goes after Casey Affleck

It’s interesting how often this is happening now, with people in Hollywood calling out other people in Hollywood:

In a series of tweets (that she has not deleted, by the way) she sounded off on allegations that the actor sexually harassed and physically intimidated women several years ago, writing:

Men who sexually harass women 4 OSCAR! Bc good acting performance matters more than humanity, human integrity! Bc poor kid rly needs the help! Boys! BUY ur way out of trouble by settling ...

January 26th, 2017

# Hollywood gives a lot of second chances to certain stars

Worrisome:

Affleck’s turn has already garnered rave reviews, as well as magazine profiles that are usually reserved for Oscar favorites. A few of these stories—like October’s Variety cover story on Affleck—feature an aberrant footnote. Nearly 2,000 words into the profile, there’s a brief mention of sexual harassment. Asked to comment on two sexual-harassment suits (here and here) that were brought against him by women who worked on I’m Still Here, Affleck responds, “People say whatever they want. Sometimes it doesn’t matter ...

January 18th, 2017

# Olympia Snowe speaks about the Senate

From 2012. Interesting:

Some people were surprised by my conclusion, yet I have spoken on the floor of the Senate for years about the dysfunction and political polarization in the institution. Simply put, the Senate is not living up to what the Founding Fathers envisioned.

During the Federal Convention of 1787, James Madison wrote in his Notes of Debates that “the use of the Senate is to consist in its proceedings with more coolness, with more system, and with more wisdom, ...

January 14th, 2017

# President Tyler has grand-children who are still alive

Interesting:

Consider: He conceived so many kids and kept making babies for so long that two of his grandchildren are still alive. You read that right: two grandchildren of a man born in 1790, a few weeks after George Washington gave America’s inaugural state of the union address, a guy whose dad roomed with Thomas Jefferson at William and Mary, has two living grandchildren. No greats. Grandchildren.

Here’s how that works:

Tyler had eight children with his first wife, Letitia Christian.

A mere six ...

January 10th, 2017

# The advantage of centralized government

I saw this interesting bit on Hacker News: by bhups:

The United States is a federation of self-governing states within which there are open borders and free trade…just like the European Union. The United States has a population of 320 million people, while the EU has a population of a similar order of magnitude: around 500 million. To many voters, the idea of enacting broad social welfare programs in the United States sounds just as infeasible as enacting similar programs ...

January 10th, 2017

# How to solve the problem of gerrymandering

All of the problems with gerrymandering can be solved by eliminating districts and holding all elections at the national level.

As a thought experiment, assume a society that is ruled by a legislature of 29 people. Each year, society votes and elects a single individual, who then serves for 29 years. One person elected per year for 29 years gives you a legislature of 29 people. If all local, city, and regional voting districts are abolished (the districts still exist, but ...

January 8th, 2017

# The zeta function

If only all of math could be taught with essays as beautifully done as this one:

This builds up to an explanation of the Riemann Hypothesis

Source

Check out my book:

January 11, 2018 8:51 am

"the great kathy sierra has covered one aspect of this in one of her posts : http://headrush.typepad.com/creat..."

January 7, 2018 8:12 pm

"A good article here: https://hbr.org/2014/03/why-good-managers-are-so-rare If great managers seem scarce..."

January 7, 2018 5:14 pm

January 5, 2018 4:49 pm

"Also worth reading is this article which reminds me how many terrible managers there are. If you run a large c..."

January 3, 2018 5:50 pm

"Rodrigo Dias, thank you for writing. I should have emphasized the bit about the French going to dinner. I agre..."

January 3, 2018 4:52 am

"I agree with management through O3 (I've written about it here..."

January 1, 2018 12:14 pm

"This is too much witch hunt. If you have a one on one just so you can figure out who to blame for a problem th..."

December 30, 2017 8:25 pm

"Will Pemble, I agree. The key issue is delegation. To be productive at the personal level, we must learn to de..."

December 29, 2017 12:29 pm

"Lawrence, Your recount of a marketing meeting is a great example of circular conversation. Busy people rarely..."

December 28, 2017 7:59 pm

"I suppose we should round that to $1.356 trillion...." December 28, 2017 7:15 pm "Apparently,$1,355,610,000,000 = \$1,355 trillion...."

December 28, 2017 12:51 pm

""By Just A Programmer", thank you for writing. I think we agree that top level programmers should be focused o..."

December 28, 2017 12:39 pm

"I've observed exactly the opposite dysfunction at many companies. The programmers are used as general workers..."

December 28, 2017 11:00 am

"Ian, thank you for writing. You ask "And who are you to educate them?" Presumably that is my job, if I have be..."

December 28, 2017 4:23 am

"And who are you to educate them? How do can you find yourself the power to decide if someone in your team is b..."