Icosian Reflections

…a tendency to systematize and a keen sense

that we live in a broken world.

Reading Feed (March 2015)


Comic: ZenPencils Margaret Knight: "It is only following out nature"

Blog: Schneier on Security | Brute-Forcing iPhone PINs -- Even "delete my data after 10 incorrect passcodes" may not save you.

Self: Notes: Parallel Proofs for Parallel Programs -- Notes from a talk by Zac Kinkaid, U. Toronto, on method for correctness-proving multi-threaded programs.

Self: Xerox -- Thoughts after reading John Brooks's history of Xerox.


Blog: Unequally Yoked | Preparing for Holy Week [Radio Readings] -- Leah's expositions of Catholicism are endlessly fascinating to me, and her blogging this Lenten season has been no exception.

Neat Things: The Met makes 422 art books downloadable for free

Humor: Marginal Revolution | Every TV News Report on the Economy Ever


Self: Notes: Building a Better Web Browser -- Notes from a talk by the hilarious James Mickens.

Essay: Tyler Cowen: A Comment on Elizabeth Anderson's Tanner Lecture -- "I won't summarize her views, but I will pull out one sentence to indicate her stance: 'Here most of us are, toiling under the authority of communist dictators, and we don't see the reality for what it is.' These communist dictators are, in her account, private business firms. That description may be deliberately hyperbolic, but nonetheless it reflects her attitude that capitalist companies exercise a kind of unaccountable, non-democratic power over the lives of their workers, in a manner which she thinks is deserving of moral outrage."

NYT: The Upshot | There's Just One Problem with Photos on Food Stamp Cards -- I find it fascinating that the NYT has tagged this one "identity politics". I...do not think that means what you think it means, Times.

Crimson: SEAS and Design School Plan Joint Master’s Program


Self: 25 Quotable Things -- Peter Flom's 25 favorite quotes.

Blog: Slate Star Codex | Extremism in Thought Experiment is No Vice -- "...let me use whatever credibility I have as a guy with a philosophy degree to confirm that Phil Robertson is doing moral philosophy exactly right."

News: Yale Launches Expansion of the Departmnt of Computer Science -- also Harvard's CS50 comes to Yale.

News: An ex-NBA player who made $66 million is now a Columbia student with a 3.8 GPA -- "For me it was: I'm going to prove I can beat this guy. I'm going to shut him down or outscore him or outrebound him," Murphy told the Times. "Now, you have these professors who are some of the best, and you want to test yourself. You want to prove you can get an A in the class."

Crimson: UHS Study Found No Impact of Exercise Encouragement on Mental Health -- I defy the data.

Comic: SMBC does Evo-Devo -- and does it well.


Self: Ted Cruz is Having a Bad Second Day -- or, "Ted Cruz's Campaign Logo is an Upside-Down, Burning American Flag".

Self: Three Modest Proposals, Instead of Divesting...

Blog: Slate Star Codex | Is Everything a Religion? -- Scott Alexander notes that common arguments for "[X] is a religion!" tend to almost-universalize; it follows that "[X] is a religion." is a practically-useless observation, since it fails to constrain expectation.


NYT: Manhattan Area Codes Multiply, but 212 is Still Coveted

Blog: Schneier on Security | Reforming the FISA Court -- "The Brennan Center has a long report on what's wrong with the FISA Court and how to fix it."

Blog: Marginal Revolution | New Arguments on a Carbon Tax -- Could lowering the barrier to entry on the American market for renewables make it harder to get China et al. on board in the long run? Would that be worth it?

Neat Things: Hex Codes for every major league sports team

Neat Things: OKCupid Bullshit2English filter


Blog: Thing of Things | In Praise of Ineffective Altruism -- I think Ozy's got an interesting point, though I'm not sure that I'd characterize all of the things she holds up as "ineffective". Certainly, I think there's utility in differentiating between attempts to be inter-intervention-area comparatively-effective against merely intra-area comparatively-effective.

Blog: Marginal Revolution | Tradeable Pollution Permits -- A fantastic video explanation of how tradeable pollution permits decreases total pollution, compared to uniform regulation.

Blog: Marginal Revolution | How nepotistic are we? -- "How much more likely is an American male to be an [X] if his father was one?" for [X] = {NBA player, Academy Award winner, Army general, famous CEO, senator...}


NYT: Health Care Systems Try to Cut Costs By Aiding the Poor and Troubled


Blog: Thing of Things | The Problem with "Creep" -- Ozy on the potential kyriarchy of 'creep', resulting scrupulosity traps, and escape vectors.

LessWrong: Rationality: From AI to Zombies online reading group -- starting April 15, covering Elizer Yudkowsky's new book.


Blog: Thing of Things | On The Murder Of Disabled Babies -- Ozy Frantz delivers the most coherent critique of voluntary eugenics I've heard, taking care that their position proves neither too little nor too much.

News: Ravens Lineman John Urschel Loves Math More Than You Love Anything -- Q: Why did the topologist's marriage fail? A: Because he thought arbitrary unions were open! -- also see the fantastic John Urschel: Why I Still Play Football.

Long: How a San Francisco Architect Reframes Design for the Blind


Data: Laughing All the Way to the Crash -- graphs over time of the number of instances of "[Laughter]" recorded in Fed meeting transcripts.


News: Alzheimer's cured in mice -- As one psychiatrist writes, "Human trials to begin in 20-something something who cares THEY'RE ONE WEEK LATE! A WEEK! WHY COULDN'T YOU HAVE JUST CURED ALZHEIMERS ONE WEEK EARLIER!"

Blog: Fredrik deBoer | Fighting the Tide -- On academic freedom, freedom of speech, and soft censorship in the academy.

Blog: Marginal Revolution | When is Uber Cheaper than a Taxi?


Neat Things: Ben Kuhn | Two Open-Source Music Books -- free music for singing parties with friends!

News: Silicon Valley Is the World's Innovation Capital Because of a Technicality -- Bloomberg argues that non-enforcement of non-competes plays a substantial role in attracting talent to California.


Blog: Fredrik deBoer | Self-Defensive Pre-Emption -- Very serious things to think about.

Blog: Fredrik deBoer | The Basic Logic of Bigotry

NYT: Decoding the Rules of Conversation -- "Zinger culture" in France, irony culture in Britain, and how both compare to the US.

Essay: Leah Libresco: What Adds Up to Citizenship? -- Leah reviews If...A Mind-Bending New Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers by David J. Smith, with some thoughts about numeracy as an crucial underpinning of the social sciences.


Self: What did you learn in school today? -- I have thoughts on the summary expulsion of two members of ΣAE at Oklahoma University.

Blog: Answer to Job -- Quoth Firefly: Book: "What are we up to, sweetheart?" / River: "Fixing your Bible." / Book: "I, um...what?"

Self: A Bag Full of Books, a Cache Full of Blogs -- My packing list for a cruise where I'll be *gasp* without Wi-Fi.

Self: Why So Few Male Feminists? -- also Coda On (Male) Feminists

Self: Words for Social Justice -- Obama's remarks on the 50th anniversary of the Selma march, relevant today

Self: News I Don't Want to Read {Today, Ever} -- Dzhokhar Tsarnaev goes to trial, and it's all over the news, and I'd rather it wasn't.