a thoughtful web.
Good ideas and conversation. No ads, no tracking.   Login or Take a Tour!
hogwild's profile

x 23

following: 14
followed tags: 35
followed domains: 4
badges given: 0 of 1
hubskier for: 3291 days

I'm a graduate student in machine learning / natural language processing. I like math and linguistics. I wear exciting socks, and select outfits to show them off. I am trying to learn accordion, but I'm staunchly unmusical.

Favorite instrument: Trombone

Favorite vowel: u

Favorite tea: Milk oolong

Favorite matrix norm: 2,1 operator norm

Favorite fictional dragon: Kazul from the Enchanted Forest Chronicles

Favorite spice girl: Scary Spice

recent comments, posts, and shares:
hogwild  ·  2918 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: May 25, 2016

I disappeared for a long time! It's because my hands were so broken from typing. For the last 8 months I have been unable to type, and a few months ago I finally admitted that I may never type again, and I certainly won't be using my hands for anything anytime soon. I'm in constant pain, but this week I managed to dictate (in LaTeX!) my research proposal for the next year of my PhD. I hope I can actually go through with this. Programming used to bring me so much joy. Now I do it by speech, and the frustration of it makes me want to die sometimes.

hogwild  ·  3205 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Understanding Communism

First I'll admit this is not my area of expertise.

China killed millions of people through deliberate famine campaigns and bad public policy, but it was more effective at isolating Chinese people from Western ideas. Eventually, when this isolation became untenable, China's government kept the title of "Communist" for its ruling party but quickly dismantled any policy that had exhibited anything like communist ideas. A focus on transforming the economy replaced the superficial exultation of the hardworking peasant that had been the norm since the Cultural Revolution. Remember Tiananmen Square? That was what happened when Chinese people first started being exposed to American ideas directly. The government was successful at continuing to suppress these ideas for longer, probably mostly because they were geographically isolated from the West.

Eastern Europe was always more of a focus for subversive activities and espionage from outsiders, because it's really, really hard for a white CIA agent to avoid notice in 1980's China. Because China's economy didn't have the diversity of the USSR's (read: people were poor), there was no angry middle class clamoring for sitcoms and Velvet Underground records. The USSR thought the American TV show Dallas would be safe because the villain was a wealthy capitalist, but it became one of the cultural artifacts that introduced the masses to the simple luxuries that Americans took for granted.

In short, China didn't follow the same trajectory in terms of its introduction to American ideas. By the time most Chinese people were exposed to American luxury, the government had already recognized them as aspirational and modified the economy in response.

As for "why communism", I can give a brief overview of my understanding of Marxist thought. Marx started from the premise that all value comes from labor. A person does not provide value by allowing use of their land, or of gold. Wealth and comfort acquired by access to materials is undeserved. When you see a handwoven silk tablecloth, that tablecloth is not valuable because silkworms are valuable, but because a human can make only a limited number of such artifacts in their life.

So start from this premise -- that labor is the source of all value -- and then look at the state of things during the Industrial Revolution. People were losing their livelihood and entering inferior arrangements. Artisans were losing value. Marx believed that human history started with people freely committing to creative work, but that work had been dehumanised by the rule of the wealthy and powerful. Workers were increasingly productive but only suffered as a result of it because their labor was dehumanized and they would never experience its fruits, so they were deprived of any purpose in their work. Marx considered such a system unconscionable and unsustainable.

A lot of people misunderstand what jobs are next to be automated. The service economy is safer than the support economy right now. It will be a long, long time before a robot (along with its maintenance) is cheaper than a burger-flipping high schooler.

Instead, modern automation is focused on replacing tech support helplines, teams of customer service representatives, armies of paralegals. Tech support, legal discovery specialists, and translators are made redundant by new technology. They are more expensive than burger flippers, and the tech to replace them is much cheaper than burger-flipping machines.

As it turns out, reading emails is a lot easier than folding towels.

hogwild  ·  3206 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Everything is Broken - computers are terrible and everything is hackable

I'm not interested in the content of an argument over the language that upset empty.

However, "My best friends are X" is never some trump card against "I am X". I understand that you feel empty hasn't earned the right to ask you to change your language to make them more comfortable. But this template of "my friends / family from Oppressed Group agree with me!" is generally one to be avoided.

Have you ever read an extremely misogynistic screed written by a person who insists that they get along fine with women, because their mother was one? Ever talked to someone who insists nobody reasonable could be offended by trivializing the Holocaust because their Jewish boyfriend is kind of into Nazi/prisoner roleplay? (I have encountered both scenarios.) That is how your "trump" reads to me. Mental illness in your family is a very personal connection, but it's not the most personal connection.

    But a code, any real code would have being cracked long ago.

This is thin evidence, when real ciphers have garnered extensive attention and remained secure until 2011. Wouldn't a real language show stronger relation to other known languages?

hogwild  ·  3206 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Dear hubski, when was the last time you backed up your important data?




hogwild  ·  3206 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: August 12, 2015

I want to go back to the east coast, too. I've got some regret, but not enough to cancel my impending move from the west coast to the European one.

I just miss my east coasters.

hogwild  ·  3206 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What are the topics you wish were discussed more on Hubski?

For four years I did mainly krav maga. On the side, I did Brazilian jujitsu and general groundfighting. Occasionally I did kickboxing (the cardio punch-the-air kind). About six years ago, I stopped and became sedentary, but this year I'm back on the krav maga wagon and I'm planning to pick up muay thai after I move. Feels good!

hogwild  ·  3206 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What are the topics you wish were discussed more on Hubski?

Let's talk #machinelearning please. Hell, and #statistics, #math, #linearalgebra ...

hogwild  ·  3206 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: August 12, 2015

I've developed an RSI. But I JUST KEEP TYPING. I want a cortisone injection but I'm too busy moving. Halp. Hands hurt.

hogwild  ·  3206 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What are the topics you wish were discussed more on Hubski?

Second on #martialarts! What kind do you practice?

hogwild  ·  3211 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What did you think of the debate today?

    The court has ruled, and I said we'll accept it. And guess what, I just went to a wedding of a friend of mine who happens to be gay. Because somebody doesn't think the way I do, doesn't mean that I can't care about them or can't love them. So if one of my daughters happened to be that, of course I would love them and I would accept them. Because you know what? That's what we're taught when we have strong faith.

    I had an opportunity to bring resources back to Ohio, to do what? To treat the mentally ill. Ten thousand of them sit in our prisons at $22,500 a year. I’d rather get them the medication so they can lead a decent life.

    Economic growth is the key. Economic growth is the key to everything. But once you have economic growth, it is important that we reach out to people who live in the shadows, the people who don’t seem to ever think that they get a fair deal. And that includes people in our minority community; that includes people who feel as though they don’t have a chance to move up.

Maybe it's just that he was standing next to a pack of clowns, but he seemed to be an actual adult. I was particularly surprised that anyone on that stage was willing to endorse much-needed prison reforms.

hogwild  ·  3211 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What did you think of the debate today?

Was anyone else weirded out by how reasonable all of the things Kasich said were? It's like he didn't get the memo that they were putting on a madhouse show.

Does he have some horrible beliefs that I'm missing as context for why he's in the GOP?

hogwild  ·  3211 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What did you think of the debate today?

Is this that Canadian debate that CSPAN played while everyone's drinking games were focused on Fox?

hogwild  ·  3211 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Thenewgreen is in my garage.

OH MY GOSH YOU BEAT ME TO THE SOCKS TAG. I was going to start #sockski. :(

    Suppose it turns out that Oliver lives in a region where conspiracy theories are rife or that he is under the influence of friends who are committed conspiracy theorists. Wouldn’t these be perfectly viable situational, non-character explanations of his beliefs about 9/11? Only up to a point. The fact that Oliver is easily influenced by his friends itself tells us something about his intellectual character.

Anyone who thinks they are not easily influenced by the opinions of friends is more delusional than the hypothetical Oliver. I believe strongly in global warming -- but why? I don't have a significant background in earth science beyond my limited high school science education. I have no truly well-understood argument in favor of my position. It's entirely based on my trust of scientific authority, but there are many authorities that others trust which I don't. For example, I'm very skeptical of many famous, well-regarded economists. Some of them have won Nobel prizes. This skepticism is heavily influenced by arguments I've heard from friends and from other authorities whom I've chosen to trust more.

The point is, nothing in that paragraph is remotely convincing in refuting the idea that people believe in conspiracies because of the peers they associate with. Whether you befriend conspiracy theorists may say something of your intellectual character, but there's no real evidence or compelling argument in this article in favor of the direct causal effect it's advocating for.

hogwild  ·  3211 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Any other first-year PhD students out there?  ·  

Ah yes, and my advisor gave me the following essay as reading material a while back, which I just remembered:

Ten Lessons I Wish I Had Been Taught

It's short and it's not about how to handle the start of grad school. But it is good advice in general for academic careers, and in particular for careers in math.

hogwild  ·  3211 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Any other first-year PhD students out there?

Uh oh. Many professors are like that. I'm sure you'll be very productive. ;)

hogwild  ·  3211 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Any other first-year PhD students out there?

I actually started in the US, but when my advisor moved to the UK, I took a terminal Master's. Now I'm starting a 3-year PhD in the UK. I'm pretty excited, though it was quite a curveball when my advisor announced he was leaving!

hogwild  ·  3211 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Any other first-year PhD students out there?

    My problem is that I'm already researching. I have a poster session and paper due for a conference in December.

This is common! (I had presented some posters by the time I started grad school.) But I assume that you're switching schools, in which case your research will be interrupted. This process of getting into a project that your advisor is excited about is a good opportunity to get the groundwork you're missing, because soon you'll be expected to prioritize research over coursework even more.

    Classmates will be primarily focused on coursework, which should definitely take priority over research.

At least in my field, this philosophy is pretty roundly rejected. It was even common to hear advice to first-years like, "If you're getting all As in coursework, you're not focusing enough on research."

    I'm skipping an MS and going straight to PhD.

In the US, going straight into an MS/PhD is common (at least in my field). In most European countries, students have to start with an MS, and a PhD is a three year program with no coursework at all. I went straight from undergrad into a combined MS/PhD program, but because I'm following my advisor to the UK, I'm entering a PhD program that assumes a Master's degree background and has no coursework.