Icosian Reflections

…a tendency to systematize and a keen sense

that we live in a broken world.

Reading Feed (January 2016)


Self: My Faults My Own | Devotional Songs -- Ten songs (by other people) about divinity that I submitted for my creative-writing workshop.


Blog: JeffTK | External filters -- "We're used to thinking of 'gatekeepers' as people who stand in your way, keeping you from reaching you goals, but they can also serve a valuable role in letting you know how good your chances are and keeping you from wasting your time."


NYT: Xerox Chief Removed Ego from Decision to Split Company -- What is is about Xerox that makes it (seem?) so outstandingly moral?


Blog: Unequally Yoked | Unfiltered isn't the Same as Authentic -- "I hold strongly to the position that artifice counts as authentic, when it's deliberately chosen...I'm getting a glimpse at what they've chosen to do with the raw stuff of [themselves]."

Blog: Vox: Dylan Matthews | Study: Bernie Sanders's single-payer plan is almost twice as expensive as he says

Blog: Malcolm.O | CFAR 3 year retrospective -- see also Slate Star Codex | Five Years and One Week of Less Wrong

Blog: A.Critch | Use a giant notepad to think better

Mid-Length: Why So Many Rich Kids Come to Enjoy the Taste of Healthier Foods -- smacks of a "just so" story; I doubt that there isn't something else at least as important going on here. (cf. Slate Star Codex | Staying Classy)

Self: My Faults My Own | Godspeed Challenger


FB: Eliezer Yudkowsky on AlphaGo -- "People occasionally ask me about signs that the remaining timeline might be short. It's very easy for nonprofessionals to take too much alarm too easily. Deep Blue beating Kasparov at chess was not such a sign. Robotic cars are not such a sign. This is. (...)"

Op-Ed: American Fascism -- "[I]n an age defined by partisan newscasting, education disparities, and social media echo chambers, this country lacks mutual understanding... [W]e deride Trump as a joke, or label all Trump supporters as idiots, and, in turn, fail to recognize the legitimate concerns of America’s ailing middle class, leaving our nation critically vulnerable to Trump's fascist campaign." See also: NinjaEconomics | This may be the most important chart for understanding politics today

Blog: GatesNotes | The Best Teacher I Never Had -- spoiler: it's Richard Feynman.

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Does Europe really have a better drinking culture for young people? -- spoiler: apparently not? Though the comments have useful insights, on the whole.

Blog: Luke.M | What are the best wireless earbuds? -- file under "product recommendations", as the post is exactly just that.


Obit: Marvin Minsky

Blog: Stephen Wolfram | Farewell, Marvin Minsky (1927–2016) -- h/t Marginal Revolution

Blog: Shtetl-Optimized | Marvin Minsky

Blog: Agenty Duck | Night Lights

Blog: Marginal Revolution | The Age of Em, by Robin Hanson -- Tyler Cowen on next-level readings of Hanson's futurism. I can't quite tell, but it seems that Robin is flattered


Blog: Meyerweb | Designing for Crisis, Design for Real Life -- By halfway through the talk, I had given up multitasking and just listened with my mouth probably slightly agape. Seriously, go watch it.

Blog: Slate Star Codex | Predictions for 2016 -- Scott Alexander makes 50 predictions each about world events and his personal life; check back in a year to see how he did.

Paper: Restoring the Harvard Yard Landscape -- On designing the tree canopy of Harvard Yard. For the arborist nerd in your life.

Interview: Twenty Questions for Donald Knuth -- "If the full range of today's eBook features and functionalities had been available when TAOCP was first published...I don't think I would have gotten very far at all. I would have had to think about doing everything in color, and with interactive figures, tables, equations, and exercises." Also: "I've come to believe that P=NP"(!)

Short: Bill Nye's Change of Heart on GMOs is in the Best Scientific Tradition -- not really news, but good reminder nonetheless.


Blog: Minding Our Way | Desperation -- typical MOW content warning: potential emotional hazard for those insufficiently committed to saving the world.

Data: Which texts are most-commonly assigned in college curricula? -- h/t Marginal Revolution; list begins Strunk&White, Plato, Marx, Campbell (Biology), Shelley/Wollstonecraft, Aristotle, Hobbes, Machiavelli, Sophocles (Oedipus), Shakespeare (Hamlet).

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Very good sentences [on politics] -- [T]the forces that are disfiguring the right are likely to spread in future years, consuming the Democrats in much the same way as they have consumed the Republicans..."

Blog: Marginal Revolution | The market for super-butlers -- The comments section actually has some useful insights, for once.

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Google Votes and liquid democracy -- Tyler asks the right question about the dynamics of running delegative democracy in "real" elections.

Self: My Faults My Own | My Most Read Posts of 2015 -- The posts I wrote with the most pageviews, and some others that I thought deserved to make the list.


Mathy: Number of legal Go positions -- spoiler: approximately 0.012*(3^19^2).


Blog: Interfaces of the Word | It's a strategic mistake to get the case for equality bound up in aesthetics

Video: vlogbrothers | Why Are Vegetarians Annoying? (An Exploration of a Cultural Rift) -- "...you can only do so much breaking with culture before you become extremely uncomfortable."

Paper: Japan’s Phillips Curve Looks Like Japan -- "Figure 1 shows the Japanese Phillips curve... Figure 3 shows a map of Japan for purposes of confirmation."

Blog: Schneier on Security | Security Trade-offs in the Longbow vs. Crossbow Decision -- Bruce: "It's nice to see my security interests intersect with my D&D interests."


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Too Good to Be True -- If there's a 1% prior that the trial is rigged, and all twelve jurors are convinced, then how likely is that conviction to be true?

Blog: Thing of Things | Ayn Rand Villainy -- on "the hatred of the good for being the good".

Data: Analyzing the Harvard Q Guide -- I looked into something like this and concluded that scraping the data was probably against the posted copyright notice. But hey, here's someone else doing it anyway.

Self: My Faults My Own | December in Review -- things I enjoyed reading in December 2015.


Blog: Marginal Revolution | How to seem telepathic -- Tyler Cowen: "This is probably one of the most useful things you will learn from MR all year."

Blog: Unequally Yoked | My Recipes for Scruffy Hospitality -- If "minimum shippable product" is your philosophy for hosting guests, here are some recipes for executing that easily.

Blog: Slate Star Codex | Side Effects May Include Anything -- bad statistics and pseudomedicine.

Blog: GatesNotes | Why the Future Is Bright for the World's Poorest Farmers -- Bill Gates on how tech changes farming.

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Claims about plastic -- In what year will there be more plastic in the ocean than fish?


Long: Building an Impossible Clock -- includes a technical description that's a real pleasure to read.

Game: The Witness, but Jonathan Blow. Based on his previous work, likely to be incredible, and 10% of sales moved through the Humble Store are being donated to the Against Malaria Foundation.

Blog: GiveWell | The importance of “gold standard” studies for consumers of research

Blog: Interfaces of the Word | Oppression is material -- I disagree in parts, but I still think Freddie has points well worth reading.

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Anti-GMO Research Under Fire

Blog: The Real Tragedy in Flint -- h/t Marginal Revolution; there's more than one way to spin this narrative, this is how the other side tells it.

Self: My Faults My Own | If I Ran the Zoo -- thoughts on the placemats kerfuffle at Harvard.


History: Letter from a Birmingham Jail -- Things I found on this year's re-read: citations to Augustine, Aquinas, Buber, and T.S. Eliot.

Blog: Thing of Things | Exercise Should Be Fun

Self: My Faults My Own | As Allies -- thoughts on allyship and comparative advantage.


Blog: Vox | Bernie Sanders has released his Medicare-for-All plan. Here’s how he pays for it. -- "It'd take the US from having an usually small government relative to its economy...to having about the same level of government spending relative to the economy as you see in the Netherlands, and more spending than you see in the UK, Germany, or Spain." Also: another take from Vox, though I can't comment further, not having read the document.

Self: My Faults My Own | [Meta] A New Face -- new theme; what do you think?


Blog: Malcolm.O | Delegating to future-you can be a suggestion, not a command

Paper: Can Robots Be Lawyers? Computers, Lawyers, and the Practice of Law -- h/t Marginal Revolution, not the answer I expected, given the title.


Blog: LessWrong: Anna Salamon | The correct response to uncertainty is not half-speed

Blog: Slate Star Codex | Lies, Damned Lies, and the Media

Blog: Status 451 | Slow Media, Local Media -- "Ultimately, both of these boil down to the idea that we don’t think enough about what we eat before we eat it... Just as we have concerns about consuming healthy food, we should have concerns about consuming healthy media."

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Can economics change your mind?

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Being drafted during the Vietnam War also hurt your descendents -- "They earn less and are less likely to have jobs, according to a draft of a report from Sarena F. Goodman, an economist with the Federal Reserve Board of Governors..."

Blog: Money Stuff | Goldman Puts Mortgages and Naked Shorts Behind It -- The correct response to this post is to be a little more confused about what, exactly, happens on Wall Street than before you read it.


Blog: Thing of Things | Lacto Bivalvegetarianism -- i.e. the diet I wish I could stick to.

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Three Words -- Any Place -- IMO, this beats Google's competitor, plus+codes. For comparison, my what3words is glare.fact.region and my plus+code is 87JC.9VCH+26; take your pick.


Blog: Unequally Yoked | Using Goodhart's Law to Find Happiness -- I read Leah's examples as mostly leaning toward "...avoiding not-finding happiness", but still worth thinking about.


Blog: Crooked Timber | Aaron Swartz died three years ago today -- "It's hard to face up to what we've lost. He wasn't just an activist, or a programmer, or an intellectual. He was a builder of bridges between many different people from many different worlds."

Short: What's It Like to Compete as Part of a Ballroom Dance Team? -- my teammate Tony describes it pretty well.

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Why is it hard to measure the value of soccer players?

Blog: Schneier on Security | IT Security and the Normalization of Deviance

Blog: Thing of Things | I Stand With Juanita Broaddrick

Blog: Popehat | Lawyering Is About Service, Not Self-Actualization

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Modeling North Korean negotiators -- "[A]n official asked, 'Why do the president and secretary of state keep saying that the United States will not allow North Korea to have nuclear weapons when in fact you are not doing much to stop us?'"


Blog: Slate Star Codex | Slow But Steady -- in which things get very visibly better, in one gif.

Blog: Vox: Dylan Matthews | It is absolutely scandalous and ridiculous that American immigrants can't become president -- "[A]t the very heart of the constitutional order, in the Office of the President, the Constitution abandons its brave experiment of forging a new society based upon principles of voluntary commitment; it instead gropes for security among ties of blood and contingencies of birth."

Blog: Thing of Things | OKCupid's New Feature Does Not Help The Polyamorous

Blog: Tesla | Summon Your Tesla from Your Phone -- "Eventually, your Tesla will be able to drive anywhere across the country to meet you, charging itself along the way."


Blog: The Nameless Virtue | Call to Arts -- for rationalists.


Blog: A.Critch | Red-circling: rolling out an experimental rationality / creativity technique -- I expect this to be useful!

Long: Stephen Hawking's New Black-Hole Paper, Translated: An Interview with Co-Author Andrew Strominger


Op-Ed: NYT: Barack Obama | Guns Are Our Shared Responsibility


Blog: Status 451 | Splain it to Me -- Maz's Razor: "Never attribute to rudeness that which is adequately explained by different social norms."

Blog: Slate Star Codex | Guns and States -- see also Slate Star Codex | Guns and States 2: Son of a Gun

Blog: Volatile and Decentralized | Academics, we need to talk.

Blog: Vox: Dylan Matthews | The UN library announced its most-checked-out book of 2015. It's kind of disturbing. -- Immunity of Heads of State and State Officials for International Crimes

Comic: PhD Comics | What have you accomplished? -- relevant to me.


Comic: SMBC | Clocks

Blog: Luke.M | Cochrane's trick


Blog: Minding Our Way | The Art of Response

Blog: Schneier on Security | De-Anonymizing Users from their Coding Styles

Blog: Thing of Things | Generalized Shame Disorder

Comic: Existential Comics | The Dancer


Fiction: Unsong, Scott Alexander, began with Prologue, and with Chapter 1 published today.

Blog: A.Critch | Break your habits: be more empirical -- "'You think too much' might be better parsed as 'You don't experiment enough.'"


Blog: Vox: Dylan Matthews | Ted Cruz really, really loves the death penalty


Blog: A.Critch | Beat the bystander effect with minimal social pressure

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Are checked bag fees for flights too high, too low, or just right?