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swearitwasntme  ·  1509 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: A new discovery about prime numbers and what it means for the future of math

The phenomenology of making art and doing math are pretty different, but the lifetime trajectories of our output in these areas might not be. In both fields, when we look in as outsiders to some particular body of work, we tend to see the semi-magical work of geniuses who we don't think we could ever be... but my experience brushing up against artists and mathematicians suggest that they both attain creative productivity through similar processes. Before producing really creative work, they have to get enough experience with their tools that they can say what they mean to without having to think much about it - they just paint, or just shuffle symbols on a page, and it gets them where they want to go. It makes sense that lots of people would only arrive at that kind of fluency later in life.

swearitwasntme  ·  1537 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The end of Big Twitter

Twitter takes the idea that "if the service is free, you're not the customer, you're the product" to the extreme. Where you might complain about reddit or facebook that they're time-wasters or that the content quality is not as good as you might like, their purpose for end users is clear enough on its own. There are Twitter users who seem to enjoy it without it occurring to them to constantly question its purpose though: they're the users who enjoy feeling plugged into... other users who want to feel plugged into users who feel plugged into... It's sort of the online informational equivalent of bland pop music and summer blockbusters that no one takes in for the artistic merit but that you can reliably make conversation about.

I'll bet there's a spectrum from reddit to facebook to twitter users that maps pretty directly to how much extraversion is a part of someone's personality. Reddit is there for those of us who want to hyper-rationally compartmentalize, analyze and dissect everything at length, while those of us that are more concenred about cultivating a presentable real-life persona can take in quick sound bites and easily stay plugged into whatever the mass media machine and popular sentiment thinks is hot on Twitter.

There's probably a kernel of human nature supporting this kind of behavior stretching into prehistory, but in the modern take on it, it's exactly what Big Data-based marketing is designed to support. If you've got a big enough database of consumer behavior to catch every trend that's too small or isolated ever to catch the eyes of the people in charge otherwise, you can have a computer do the search for you. Oh, look, RX7 exhausts and C-mags are hot right now. Maybe we can drop gaming blogs and move the company in that direction.

swearitwasntme  ·  2042 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Scully and Me: or, The X-Files, Revisited

I feel the same way actually, and can corroborate it with some guy in the front row for the premiere of the X-Files movie that yelled "I LOVE YOU SCULLY" during the titles. Still had to post the article because it was an interpretation I hadn't thought about before.

b_b  ·  2042 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I think in a lot of ways Scully actually is the hero of the show. She often narrates the episodes, and the show even starts when she is assigned to the X-Files, while Mulder has apparently already been pursuing them for several years. Mulder learns more and more about the "truth", but he is always after what he's after. The story arc is that of Scully, from green agent, to somewhat believer, to mother, etc. Obviously, it's all academic, as the show needed both characters to succeed, but I think the Mulder/Odysseus comparison is not really correct.

thenewgreen  ·  2042 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I would agree with you regarding that the focal point is from the narrative standpoint, which is Scully. However the most interesting character is by far Mulder. But that's often the case in most stories. Usually, the narrator isn't the most exciting character. I should mention that I've not watched the entire series yet, but I am inching my way through it. -it's great television.

swearitwasntme  ·  2042 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Why does the minimum wage have no discernable effect on employment? [pdf]

Yeah, but if you look at it with a small enough sample size...

swearitwasntme  ·  2042 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Why does the minimum wage have no discernable effect on employment? [pdf]

Agreed. I'm thinking maybe this was the wrong site to post this on. I'm a liberal and heavily in favor of policies that would help out the lowest earners, but I like to consider arguments that I think might convince the other side on their own terms, or at least address common objections. So I hope it wasn't too offensive to look at things from the hypothetical perspective that there could be something wrong with increasing minimum wage. I think your points about examining a the effects of raising minimum wage from a higher starting point would make for a good followup study, if one could tease out the effects of skill from differences in earnings in some other bracket.

b_b  ·  2042 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I'm not sure what would have been offensive, so I don't think you really need to worry about that.

There are some resident conservatives on here who probably have a different take, but for the most part, I think most of the regular contributors here are left leaning. Anyway, this is a conservative group, and even they conclude that the minimum wage is negligible in terms of negative effects on the economy.

swearitwasntme  ·  2042 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Why does the minimum wage have no discernable effect on employment? [pdf]

Huh. I interpreted this in exactly the opposite direction: that because raising the minimum wage doesn't decrease employment much, "raising it will just cause less hiring" is not a valid excuse not to.

kleinbl00  ·  2042 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I've never read a CEPR study that didn't make my blood boil. It's like reading Jonah Goldberg.

swearitwasntme  ·  2044 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Reading The News Is Bad For You (Not Reading Will Make You Happier)

    who do I know to vote for at all levels of government if I don't follow US politics? How do I know what to do with my money if I don't follow world finance? How do I know where to vacation and where not to vacation if I don't follow world news? Those are fundamental questions (and yes, you might respond that I could just "ask an expert" -- but come on).

A more fundamental question is what really constitutes knowledge. Haven't you ever found yourself talking to someone and quoting a news article only to find that they've got personal experience that invalidates it? Following US politics doesn't tell you much about which campaign promises will turn out to be lies, world news won't tell you how not to get mugged in your own town, and hell, the best financial forecasting in the world is still pretty close to 50/50. I believe this to be the fundamental reason why reading the news is sometimes bad for you: it can lead to a false sense of certainty about the world and then distress when that illusion is shattered.

Even an understanding of the world that comes from direct experience is sort of a statistical inference that assumes that past behavior accurately represents what will happen in the future. Trusting other peoples' interpretations of interpretations of dispatches of firsthand accounts from across the world is just an aggregation and layering of somebody else's inferences. And on that topic:

    Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful - George E. P. Box

Life is easier with fewer expectations that you know exactly how things are going to play out.

flagamuffin  ·  2044 days ago  ·  link  ·  

As to that, I agree in general, but would counter that it completely depends what you read. Photoessays from journalists on the scene in Syria are news. Articles on the state of the bitcoin from experts are news. Hard not to benefit from knowledge if you know what you're doing.

I follow US politics for many reasons, not least of which is that it makes election night very interesting when it otherwise would be confusing and pointless. But I would say that yes, having a general knowledge of politics does tell you what's going to be a lie in some cases -- various politicians have been promising to hit a budget surplus consistently for years now, and none of them have done it for very long ... now Paul Ryan wants to. Should I believe him? Nope.

World news indeed will not tell me how not to get mugged in my own town. (I'm honestly not sure why I should expect it to?) Common sense will probably help me out there, though.

The best financial forecasting in the world isn't really 50/50, either. There are plenty of ways to safely invest money longterm for a guaranteed small return -- but only not having your head in the sand and knowing a bit about economics would have told you not to invest in real estate in 2007.

    I believe this to be the fundamental reason why reading the news is sometimes bad for you: it can lead to a false sense of certainty about the world and then distress when that illusion is shattered.

This is utterly and completely a personal problem (not your personal problem; a common problem that people have when attempting to separate fact and opinion). Bad proofs can lead to a false sense of certainty about math, but we don't swear off math as a result, usually.

swearitwasntme  ·  2044 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The Bridezilla Phenomenon

I agree that this involves some simplifications. Do you think, though, that the Bridezilla cliche or trope or stereotype or whatever you want to call it describes a real trend in our culture or just a label that someone slapped on something you could find in any group of people anywhere? It seems like a real thing from the few weddings I've been involved in - it can change people in the time leading up to the event. If it's real, what else do you think figures into it?

insomniasexx  ·  2043 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Note: I'm not married, nor am I at the age where a ton of my friends are getting married.

I might guess that another root cause for the Bridezilla phenomenon is that women are expecting a huge, lavish wedding and expecting to be the center of attention and expecting everything to go perfectly. However, events like this rarely go perfectly.

I know from personal experience in non-wedding situations, the times when I get most disappointed and angry and even "psycho bitch" status is when I am expecting something and it doesn't happen. Little things like expecting to go to the beach on your one day off and instead the day gets wasted by things beyond your control. I realize that the anger is a byproduct of disappointment, however it doesn't change the anger in the moment.

Also, weddings are extremely stressful periods of time and I find that stress doesn't help you manage or deal with your emotions properly. Instead of clearly expressing what you want/need in a way that others can understand and help you, you snap at people. When I'm stressed I feel like "I don't have the time to deal with this, just fucking do it" rather than taking a moment to calmly express what needs to happen.

These two things combined are never good and probably contribute more to the bridezilla than "women are ignored except on their wedding day."

AlderaanDuran  ·  2043 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    I might guess that another root cause for the Bridezilla phenomenon is that women are expecting a huge, lavish wedding and expecting to be the center of attention and expecting everything to go perfectly. However, events like this rarely go perfectly.

I do wedding photography, and shoot like 20-30 weddings some summers... this is the conclusion I've come to as well. Women who have even slight tendencies at being overwhelmed, combined with a little bit of selfishness, ALWAYS blow up. Since I normally shoot the engagement session too before the wedding, I can almost pick which ones will be a "bridezilla" now. Then sure enough they start freaking out at their now husband shortly before the ceremony and continue getting worse throughout the day.

It's always the "princess" types. Every. Single. Time.

swearitwasntme  ·  2044 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The Divorce from Hell

I had to wonder if there was some tell going into this that it wasn't going to work out. Was it their materialism? If you had met these people and done an in-depth interview with them beforehand, could you have said that they might not be ready for marriage, or that if it did go bad they'd have it in them to drag it out like this? It's a subtle horror that the article leaves this totally unanswered.

swearitwasntme  ·  2044 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The Bridezilla Phenomenon

Did you end up developing any rules of thumb to help you figure that out?

I'm sure a lot of great unpublished sociological research is going on every day among restaurant staff.

thenewgreen  ·  2043 days ago  ·  link  ·  

No hard rules really, just surveying the situation and directing my "menu presentation" to the group and seeing who naturally takes the reigns. Then you can address that person as the head decision maker moving forward.

swearitwasntme  ·  2044 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: 3D Printing Is Here

Right, and especially with the veneer of serendipity that you get from stumbling across (or upon ) a news article, it's easy to miss that there's a common set of beliefs behind most of it. They're not all that nefarious as hidden beliefs go, but you could still easily get the impression if all you read was these sites that you were doing everything a good democratic citizen should just by reading 8th grade reading level coverage that's designed not to scare off any advertisers. There's a huge unrealized potential for a more educated populace if we could collectively move past that.

swearitwasntme  ·  2044 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Alex Cox on "Repo Man" (1984)

Pretty ironic that workplace politics almost killed this film in particular.

    Sometimes, for television and aeroplane screening, or for a film to play in prisons or at children's tea-parties, changes need to be made.

Also interesting that the director's sense of humor comes off the page about the same as it did in the movie. I wonder if this showed up in any of his other work.

swearitwasntme  ·  2044 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Virginia Postrel, "Meaning and Value in Commercial Culture"

This really gets going about 5-6 minutes in when she starts talking about what goes into our ideas of economic value.

swearitwasntme  ·  2044 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What Bitcoin teaches us about the Internet’s energy use

    It’s a stunning stat, but does this really count as a “disaster”? That’s less clear. After all, we need to consider the counterfactural: Is it possible that these computers would be used for other activities and calculations anyway, if they weren’t mining Bitcoins?

Well, sort of. If a bunch of these computers were made pre-2005 or so and were just sitting idle for the time they otherwise would've been mining bitcoins, then using them for mining is in fact a more effective use of electricity that was being used anyway. In newer systems though, substantial engineering hours have been spent making sure that just about every component or interconnect can enter a low power state if it's not currently being used. Based on the graph here a third of the way down the page you could expect Bitcoin to require at least 50% more power than platform idle, although in my experience it might be more like 80%, so this is a legitimate concern on the level of your individual power bill even if computers aren't a chart-topper for worldwide power consumption.