weekly reel November 12, 2017

ATTENTION Benjamin derrière toi c'est affreux. Aaaaand music: fucking awesome Irreversible Entanglements, a "free jazz collective formed in early 2015 by saxophonist Keir Neuringer, poet Camae Ayewa (a.k.a. Moor Mother) and bassist Luke Stewart, who came together to perform at a Musicians Against Police Brutality event organized after the slaying of Akai Gurley by the NYPD", 👌 Bertrand. Also, Ben Frost.

Irreversible Entanglements by Irreversible Entanglements

Irreversible Entanglements by Irreversible Entanglements (bandcamp.com)

The Centre Cannot Hold by Ben Frost

The Centre Cannot Hold by Ben Frost (bandcamp.com)

News:

  • Big data meets Big Brother as China moves to rate its citizens, already mentioned here but reposting as this thing is pure batshit crazy.
  • Atlantic: The booming Japanese rent-a-friend business, via waxy.
  • Scott Alexander:
    • Concept-shaped holes can be impossible to notice.

      Maybe there are fields doing the intellectual equivalent of gaslighting, insisting they have really profound points when they’re just vapor. But err on the side of caution here. Most of us have some hard-won battles, like mine understanding atomization. Where after a lot of intellectual work, a concept that seemed stupid suddenly opens up and becomes important. Sometimes it’s about anarchism, or reactionary philosophy, or privilege, or religion as benevolent community-building institution. Erring too hard on the side of “that’s dumb, they’re probably just gaslighting” closes off those areas to you forever.

    • Does age bring wisdom? , wherein Scott turns 33 and asks good questions about society ↔ personal change ↔ conformism ↔ conservatism.

      All these seem like convincing insights. But most of them are in the direction of elite opinion. There’s an innocent explanation for this: intellectual elites are pretty wise, so as I grow wiser I converge to their position. But the non-innocent explanation is that I’m not getting wiser, I’m just getting better socialized. Maybe in medieval Europe, the older I grew, the more I would realize that the Pope was right about everything.

    • ... which taught me about Chesterton's fence:

      Chesterton's fence is the principle that reforms should not be made until the reasoning behind the existing state of affairs is understood. The quotation is from Chesterton’s 1929 book The Thing: Why I am a Catholic, in the chapter, "The Drift from Domesticity":

      « In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road.

      The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, "I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away". To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: "If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it". »

    • Ars Longa, Vita Brevis, good story.
  • Paradise Papers: Dear Tim Cook, open letter on tax evasion. Via HN. Different angle: Fortune - To understand the benefits of tax reform, start by understanding Apple's taxes.
  • Cory Doctorow: How to do everything (lifehacking considered harmful): "Optimization is a form of calcification."
  • [fr] Anne Archet : Banalités de base sur le fascisme découpées en bouchées faciles à mastiquer, mais malgré tout parfaitement indigestes.
  • A garden path sentence is "a grammatically correct sentence that starts in such a way that a reader's most likely interpretation will be incorrect; the reader is lured into a parse that turns out to be a dead end or yields a clearly unintended meaning".
    • "The old man the boat."
    • "The complex houses married and single soldiers and their families."
    • [fr] Et tristement, les exemples sont difficiles à trouver en français, où les mots à la fois nom et verbe sont rares.
  • Half bakery is "a communal database of original, fictitious inventions & ideas, edited by its users. It was created by people who like to speculate, both as a form of satire and as a form of creative expression". Via HN.
  • Tech:
    • Computer Science courses that don't exist, but should (HN). Lovely:

      CSCI 2100: Unlearning Object-Oriented Programming
      Discover how to create and use variables that aren't inside of an object hierarchy. Learn about "functions," which are like methods but more generally useful. Prerequisite: Any course that used the term "abstract base class."

      CSCI 3300: Classical Software Studies
      Discuss and dissect historically significant products, including VisiCalc, AppleWorks, Robot Odyssey, Zork, and MacPaint. Emphases are on user interface and creativity fostered by hardware limitations.

      CSCI 4020: Writing Fast Code in Slow Languages
      Analyze performance at a high level, writing interpreted Python that matches or beats typical C++ code while being less fragile and more fun to work with.

      CSCI 2170: User Experience of Command Line Tools
      An introduction to UX principles as applied to command line programs designed as class projects. Core focus is on output relevance, readability, and minimization. UNIX "ls" tool is a case study in excessive command line switches.

      PSYC 4410: Obsessions of the Programmer Mind
      Identify and understand tangential topics that software developers frequently fixate on: code formatting, taxonomy, type systems, splitting projects into too many files. Includes detailed study of knee-jerk criticism when exposed to unfamiliar systems.

    • jwz: Ashamed to work in Silicon Valley: how techies became the new bankers (HN), and Facebook shadow profiles with jwz linking to Schneier's congressional testimony on Equifax. 👍.
Comments and feedback welcome @ronjouch or by email.