Monday, December 31, 2018

New Year's Eve Links

  • With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch, They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch; They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings; So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things. [Kipling]
  • If Metcalfe's Law were true, then two networks ought to interconnect regardless of their relative sizes. But in the real world of business and networks, only companies of roughly equal size are ever eager to interconnect. In most cases, the larger network believes it is helping the smaller one far more than it itself is being helped. Typically in such cases, the larger network demands some additional compensation before interconnecting. Our n log(n) assessment of value is consistent with this real-world behavior of networking companies; Metcalfe's n2 is not. [IEEE]
  • Whatever you love to do, you will be able to do longer by avoiding frailty. For my money (and my life) I am betting on vigorous exercise with weight, cutting carbohydrate intake dramatically and intermittent fasting. [Roger Nusbaum]
  • On LSD food tastes spectacularly fucking good. A piece of chocolate on acid is a symphony of the best taste imaginable. It is actually a shame to not eat it. Once I do, I relapse. On an unrelated note, it is a miracle that LSD is not addictive. [Serge Faguet]
  • I think the fact that LSD is illegal, while extremely dangerous and harmful drugs like alcohol or opioid painkillers are legal, significantly damages the moral authority and credibility of legal systems. Why would anyone trust a system that takes arbitrary points of view and sticks to them for decades despite overwhelming scientific evidence that the point of view is wrong? [Serge Faguet]
  • A clear sign we are stupid is if we do not read new books, take poor care of our health, rarely have deep conversations with friends, do not learn new skills. Because we are “too busy.” [Serge Faguet]
  • Technically, the word "bug" applies only to the order Hemiptera, also known as true bugs, species that have tubelike mouths for piercing and sucking — and there are as many as 80,000 named varieties of those.) The ones we think we do know well, we don't: There are 12,000 types of ants, nearly 20,000 varieties of bees, almost 400,000 species of beetles, so many that the geneticist J.B.S. Haldane reportedly quipped that God must have an inordinate fondness for them. A bit of healthy soil a foot square and two inches deep might easily be home to 200 unique species of mites, each, presumably, with a subtly different job to do. And yet entomologists estimate that all this amazing, absurd and understudied variety represents perhaps only 20 percent of the actual diversity of insects on our planet — that there are millions and millions of species that are entirely unknown to science. [NY Times]
  • In China, the memory of the Old Summer Palace's destruction remains vivid—and intentionally so. The site has been kept as ruins, the better to "stir feelings of national humiliation and patriotism," as one Chinese academic put it. Perhaps it was only a matter of time before those feelings transformed into action. [GQ]
  • After the Tōhoku tsunami in 2011, one of the most ominous details revealed about the coast where it struck, for those of us not familiar with the region, was that a series of warning stones stand there overlooking the sea, carved with sayings such as, "Do not build your homes below this point!" [Geoff Manaugh]
  • There are two main containment systems in use today: Moss and membrane. The Moss system was developed in the 1970s and uses free standing insulated spherical tanks supported at the equator by a continuous cylindrical skirt. The tank and the hull of the vessel are two separate structures. [link]
  • So when I hear sophisticated investors or financial commentators say, for example, that it makes no sense how energy stocks keep going lower, I know that energy stocks have a lot lower to go. Because all those investors are on the wrong side of the trade, in denial, probably doubling down on their original decision to buy energy stocks. Eventually they will throw in the towel and have to sell those energy stocks, driving prices lower still. [link]
  • Each hill appeared to be the final one—until we got to the top of it and saw another one waiting there. Then it happened all over again: what appeared to be the final hill was actually just obstructing our view of the next one, and the next one, and the next one, and, next thing we knew, there were something like seven or eight different individual upward hikes, each hidden from view by the one leading up to it. [Geoff Manaugh]
  • Stretching west from Juniper Flats, where Ewasko's car was spotted, is an old, unpaved road that begins with little promise of an eventful hike; chilling winds whip down from the flanks of Quail Mountain, and the park’s famous boulder fields are nowhere near. But as the dirt road continues, hikers are confronted by cascading decision points — places where the trail diverges at junctions with other trails or where it crosses a wash or dry streambed. As they compound over time, these minor decisions give rise to radically different situations: an exposed cliff instead of a secluded valley, say, or a rattlesnake-filled canyon instead of a quiet plain. [NY Times]
  • It's always struck me as a little odd that in all the searching that's been done by all the searchers, no one's ever come across any of Bill's empty water bottles. He could have just dropped them by the wayside or placed the empties on top of a rock as markers. It makes no sense to carry along empty bottles...unless one has plans to refill them. And Smith Water is the only place to do that. I am quite confident Bill was never lost. Bill was very familiar with Joshua Tree, and from the upper areas of Quail Mountain the entire vicinity is quite visible. And Bill never exhibited any typical lost-person behavior, such as always heading downhill. If he had, he would have been found by now. I think Bill was smart, fit, capable and had a plan. But it was a plan that no one else could ever guess about. And Bill could have no way of knowing how bad the descent into Smith Water can be. I think Bill is going to be eventually found on the southerly slopes of Smith Water Canyon, or just above them, towards the easterly portion of the canyon. It will be in rocky terrain probably with visibility towards the sky limited. [Tom Mahood]
  • With the completion of the Iteris consultant services agreement for timing and coordination of City traffic signals in mid-September, the final phase of full implementation of the TMC has been accomplished.  This coordination project included 45 traffic signals, covering 11 miles of the City’s most significant arterials (Katella, East and West Chapman, Main Street and Tustin).  The final results from the signal coordination report are dramatic. The timing project will reduce delay on the coordinated arterials by 479,000 hours per year.  That equates to about 3 ½ hours for every man, woman and child in the City of Orange. [Tom Mahood]
  • Various examples (and lists of examples) of unintended behaviors in AI systems have appeared in recent years. One interesting type of unintended behavior is finding a way to game the specified objective: generating a solution that literally satisfies the stated objective but fails to solve the problem according to the human designer’s intent. This occurs when the objective is poorly specified, and includes reinforcement learning agents hacking the reward function, evolutionary algorithms gaming the fitness function, etc. [link]
  • Macadam is a type of road construction, pioneered by Scottish engineer John Loudon McAdam around 1820, in which single-sized crushed stone layers of small angular stones are placed in shallow lifts and compacted thoroughly. A binding layer of stone dust (crushed stone from the original material) may form; it may also, after rolling, be covered with a binder to keep dust and stones together. The method simplified what had been considered state of the art at that point. [Wiki]
  • While animals appear to have a lifetime number of heartbeats, perhaps more significantly they have appear to have a lifetime energy potential of 60,000 litres of oxygen per kilogram. [Oxygen]
  • In July 1988, during at a lecture at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, oceanographer John Martin stood up and said in his best Dr. Strangelove accent, "Give me a half tanker of iron, and I will give you an ice age." [NASA]
  • Ridgelines become maps, veins of the mountains. They form the base physiognomy that make ranges so eminently photographable. They are delightfully subversive. Ridgelines rob summits of some of their majesty. For, those of us who often walk know rigelines are the blue-collar, working parts of the mountain, the bits beaten down by thousands of years of human stomping in service to gettin' places, and many more millennia in aid of boars and deers and monkeys and bears. [Craig Mod]
  • Part of what made Facebook a breath of fresh air ten years ago was its relative minimalism compared to MySpace, etc. Now it's a full-blown space shuttle interface. Repeat for Messenger. And, now, repeat once again for Instagram. Instagram will only get more complex, less knowable, more algorithmic, more engagement-hungry in 2019. [Craig Mod]
  • Tokyo night walks are especially alluring and evocative, seemingly a societal miracle — a city nearly devoid of violent crime, almost no back alley or poorly lit path is off limits. It's one of the few, true, metropolitan spaces where the right to a safe walk is a nearly universal, indiscriminate, day or night, red light or financial district alike. [Craig Mod]
  • This past week was unlike any other walk I've done. You are almost never alone. There are walkers everywhere. A train of walkers. In some parts, it feels like a Magic Kingdom of walks. It can be hard to stop to take a photo since the folks behind you are on your heels. Every few kilometers is another village, cafe, food truck, vending machine, another chance for coffee, beer, tortilla, water, chocolate... it's a well stocked walk, an old walk. One that had died out (clocking only about 2,400 completions in 1986) and then saw a resurgence (300,000 in 2017!), as all of these kinds of activities have. [Craig Mod]
  • I made a Google Map — The Best of Kumano Kodo. It's the best Kumano stuff I've found. I love Google Maps. I think Google Maps may very well be the most unintentionally additive, positive, high-signal social network in the world, with no dreadful dark pattern attention hooks. My review of Pit begins "Let me ask you this: Are you prepared to give your life for Omelet Curry?" [Craig Mod]
  • In an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it. [Wiki]
  • Trump campaigned on the argument that the Fed was creating an artificial bubble in stocks through low interest rates. Then he took full credit for the stock market rally for the past two years. Now he is attacking the Fed for raising interest rates and causing markets to fall. It seems to me that the future mainstream narrative will read that a spoiled Trump caused the crash, blamed the "innocent" central bank that was only attempting to "normalize" the economy, and in the process made the situation even worse. [link]
  • At some point in 2015 or 2016 Elon started talking outrageous stuff in the domain of AI, a domain of my own expertise, which I could tell right away was total bullshit. And then I began looking at all this stuff in detail. Doing some math here and there. Reading various opinions. As a result, my opinion on Musk and many of his ideas has changed somewhat substantially. At this point, I can pretty much say with confidence that 90% of his stuff is utter BS, and the remaining 10% is perhaps impressive but still questionable. [Piekniewski]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nassim Taleb is done here: