kmt + people   283

The Curious Wavefunction: Victor Weisskopf and the many joys of scientific insight
"During the 1960s I tried to recall my emotions of those days for the students who came to me during the protests against the Vietnam War. This, and other political issues, preoccupied them, and they told me that they found it impossible to concentrate on problems of theoretical physics when so much was at stake for the country and for humanity. I tried to convince them - not too successfully - that especially in difficult times it was important to remain aware of the great enduring achievements in science and in other fields in order to remain sane and preserve a belief in the future. Apart from these great contributions to civilization, humankind offers rather little to support that faith."
methodology  science  people  history 
4 weeks ago by kmt
The day Volkswagen briefly conquered the world | FT Alphaville
In midst of the great financial crisis, something odd happened. Volkswagen, the German carmaker, became the biggest company in the world. For one, brief day.

Looking back a decade, as many have recently, you'd be forgiven for thinking the worst asset to own was a US investment bank or mortgage originator. But it was nothing compared to being short the Wolfsburg-based business.

Exactly 10 years (and 48 hours) later, here's how it happened.
finance  economics  capitalism  business  people  history  germany 
5 weeks ago by kmt
Interview with Thierry Volpiatto, maintainer of Emacs Helm –
Helm follows the same philosophy as Emacs: at first sight, it might be difficult to see how Helm could benefit you, but like Emacs, Helm will fully mold to your needs to find files, search in data and navigate. Nearly 200 packages on MELPA are based on Helm package.
interview  people  emacs  library 
5 weeks ago by kmt
Philosophy Has Made Plenty of Progress - Scientific American Blog Network
Do you ever regret having become a philosopher? Like maybe when someone like me asks you questions like this?

No, never. It is not really possible to regret being a philosopher if you have a theoretical (rather than practical or experiential) orientation to the world, because there are no boundaries to the theoretical scope of philosophy. For all X, there is a philosophy of X, which involves the theoretical investigation into the nature of X. There is philosophy of mind, philosophy of literature, of sport, of race, of ethics, of mathematics, of science in general, of specific sciences such as physics, chemistry and biology; there is logic and ethics and aesthetics and philosophy of history and history of philosophy. I can read Plato and Aristotle and Galileo and Newton and Leibniz and Darwin and Einstein and John Bell and just be doing my job. I could get fed up with all that and read Eco and Foucault and Aristophanes and Shakespeare for a change and still do perfectly good philosophy.
interview  philosophy  people 
6 weeks ago by kmt
Science Is Full of Mavericks Like My Grandfather. But Was His Physics Theory Right? - The Atlantic
But his increasingly agitated letters are met with more confusion. “Your ideas are certainly novel—and correspondingly difficult to grasp,” writes Bell himself, he of the 1964 theorem, in longhand scrawl on a single sheet of paper from Geneva. Another rejection of another version of the paper arrives in the mail. “A vague essay … I can find no substantial relation to Bell’s Theorem,” one reviewer writes. And yet it is clear that Francis thinks this paper has something profound to say.
physics  philosophy  philosophy-of-science  people  history 
6 weeks ago by kmt
Who Is J.D. Scholten, Steve King’s Iowa Challenger? – Rolling Stone
Scholten has plenty of his own ideas. Health care dominates the conversation at his events and town halls, and he supports a public option and eventually Medicare-for-all. He gets into the weeds talking about tariffs, agriculture policy, antitrust reform and putting more money into the pockets of Iowa farmers. Yet in this deep-red district, Scholten says he connects with independent and Republican voters on the issue of the corrupting effect of money in politics.

“I start off every town hall by telling folks this stat: the average person in Congress is 58 years old with a net worth of a million dollars,” Scholten says. “I’m different. I’m 20 years younger, and I’m about a million dollars short of that average.”
politics  americana  journalism  interview  people 
6 weeks ago by kmt
What It's Like to be a Philosopher: Michelle Catalano | Blog of the APA
The APA blog is working with Cliff Sosis of What is it Like to Be a Philosopher? in publishing advance excerpts from Cliff’s long-form interviews with philosophers.

The following is an edited excerpt from the forthcoming interview with Michelle Catalano which will be released in full next week.
philosophy  people  interview 
6 weeks ago by kmt
ShamiWitness: When Bellingcat & Neocons Collaborated With The Most Influential ISIS Propagandist On Twitter - By Mark Ames - The eXiled
Who remembers @ShamiWitness? At the peak of ISIS’s power, @ShamiWitness stood out as the genocidal militia group’s “most influential Twitter account” according to a Channel 4 exposé and a Kings College report. The @ShamiWitness account was followed by some two-thirds of foreign jihadis. But it went further than propogandizing Islamic State’s massacres and rapes: @Shamiwitness also actively recruited foreign jihadis and helped lead them through the ratlines in Turkey, into the ISIS killing fields in Syria and Iraq, as a George Washington University report revealed this year.

But I want to talk about the western “experts” in Washington and London who cozied up to @ShamiWitness — especially since all of them are still around, many of them bigger and more influential in our political discourse than ever. They’re the ones who built up @ShamiWitness’s social media capital, making his account so popular, and so effective, in recruiting ISIS murderers.
politics  propaganda  reference  people  twitter  media  journalism 
6 weeks ago by kmt
Chapter 6
The Emacs Commune
The AI Lab of the 1970s was by all accounts a special place. Cutting-edge projects and top-flight researchers gave it an esteemed position in the world of computer science. The internal hacker culture and its anarchic policies lent a rebellious mystique as well. Only later, when many of the lab's scientists and software superstars had departed, would hackers fully realize the unique and ephemeral world they had once inhabited.
"It was a bit like the Garden of Eden," says Stallman, summing up the lab and its software-sharing ethos in a 1998 Forbes article. "It hadn't occurred to us not to cooperate."1

Such mythological descriptions, while extreme, underline an important fact. The ninth floor of 545 Tech Square was more than a workplace for many. For hackers such as Stallman, it was home.

The word "home" is a weighted term in the Stallman lexicon. In a pointed swipe at his parents, Stallman, to this day, refuses to acknowledge any home before Currier House, the dorm he lived in during his days at Harvard. He has also been known to describe leaving that home in tragicomic terms. Once, while describing his years at Harvard, Stallman said his only regret was getting kicked out. It wasn't until I asked Stallman what precipitated his ouster, that I realized I had walked into a classic Stallman setup line.

"At Harvard they have this policy where if you pass too many classes they ask you to leave," Stallman says.

With no dorm and no desire to return to New York, Stallman followed a path blazed by Greenblatt, Gosper, Sussman, and the many other hackers before him. Enrolling at MIT as a grad student, Stallman rented an apartment in nearby Cambridge but soon viewed the AI Lab itself as his de facto home. In a 1986 speech, Stallman recalled his memories of the AI Lab during this period:
emacs  history  people 
6 weeks ago by kmt
My wishlist for the hotel room of the future | Financial Times
Created by British company Simba, it can be adjusted into various shapes, including “zero gravity mode”, where, according to the sales literature, “the recumbent’s legs are raised above the level of the heart for improved circulation, and to relieve pressure on the lower back”.

I have had my own lower back issues but, as I sleep on my stomach, I am not sure that raised legs, and an upwardly arched spine, would be optimal. I get a back twinge just thinking about it.
design  technology  people 
6 weeks ago by kmt
Lectures on the Philosophy of Mathematics, Oxford, Michaelmas 2018 | Joel David Hamkins
This will be a series of lectures on the philosophy of mathematics, given at Oxford University, Michaelmas term 2018. The lectures are mainly intended for undergraduate students preparing for exam paper 122, although all interested parties are welcome.

My approach to the philosophy of mathematics tends to be grounded in mathematical arguments and ideas, treating philosophical issues as they arise organically. The lectures will accordingly be organized around mathematical themes, in such a way that naturally brings various philosophical issues to light.
philosophy  course  people  sources  reference 
6 weeks ago by kmt
Tesla CEO Elon Musk: extreme micromanager
In conversations with 35 current and former Tesla employees, CEO Elon Musk is described as a polarizing figure who inspires but micromanages to an extreme.
Musk has been known to approve expensive, high-tech projects against the advice of his own direct reports.
Employees also say Tesla relies on disconnected custom apps that make it hard to keep track of project budgets and parts.
capitalism  management  people  finance 
7 weeks ago by kmt
This site is developed and maintained by John Walker, founder of Autodesk, Inc. and co-author of AutoCAD. A variety of documents, images, software for various machines, and interactive Web resources are available here; click on entries in the frame to the left to display a table of contents for that topic. Items which span more than one category are listed in all.

A comprehensive (and large) list of all items on the site is available as a frame- and graphics-free Site Map.

Except for a few clearly-marked exceptions, all the material on this site is in the public domain and may be used in any manner without permission, restriction, attribution, or compensation. Back links to this site are welcome.
computing  history  people  esoteric 
7 weeks ago by kmt
The Anthony Bourdain Interview
Anthony Bourdain had started smoking again, was the first thing I noticed as he sat down with me last February. He was a bit hung over from a recent working trip to south Louisiana for Cajun Mardi Gras; “Harder partying than I’m used to, I gotta say,” he said, laughing. Despite his great height his leonine head seemed just huge, and a little fleshier than I’d imagined; there was this slight dissipation to him.

But no—who could be troubled about the wellbeing of Anthony Bourdain? Just look at him, so debonair, so completely at ease. A veritable prince of savoir vivre. Sixty-one, and still very elegant in his looks; the word sexy came to mind. Almost an old-fashioned word now. The sort of person who seems to think with his hips, his hands. He was in love, he would later admit; he and his new girlfriend, Asia Argento, had started smoking again together. He was a little rueful about the smoking, had the air of someone who meant to quit soon.
people  food  interview 
8 weeks ago by kmt
Why The Term ‘Continental Philosophy’ Is An Insult » IAI TV
One of the youngest philosophy professors in Germany, Markus Gabriel teaches in 16 languages, dreads metaphysics and thinks that the philosophy of mind needs to tighten up, and understand the problem with focusing on the English-specific term 'mind'  (in German, 'geist' has no connection to the brain). Author of ‘I Am Not A Brain’ and ‘Why The World Does Not Exist’, in the interview below, Gabriel discusses the link between Brexit, breakfast and the analytic/continental split, and how the language we speak shapes and limits our answer to what he considers philosophy's key question – what it means to be human. 
"So given that it’s not a helpful distinction, why stick to it? On the other hand, who ever said what analytic philosophy is? If anyone should be considered an analytic philosopher, that’s Timothy Williamson and he, in The Philosophy of Philosophy, rejects the label saying there’s no specific meaning to the term. " <- good point
philosophy  people  argument  interview 
8 weeks ago by kmt
Angry management: The dark side of Santander’s new boss - Financial News
When Andrea Orcel was named as CEO-in-waiting at Santander last month, it was the crowning moment of a stellar six-year spell running UBS’s investment bank. Orcel, renowned as a consummate dealmaker, proved he was also a skilled operator with a knack for streamlining the business. His elevation to the top of the Spanish bank, Europe’s second largest lender, was just reward for a job well done.

But a Financial News investigation, which included interviews with a dozen current and former UBS executives, reveals another side to Orcel’s tenure at the Swiss bank, one marked by his volatile temper and a series of angry clashes with other senior staff, according to several people who worked closely with him.

Some of those who have worked with Orcel say that despite his success, his aggressive management style makes him an odd choice to lead Santander. The Spanish lender is mostly focused on retail and commercial banking, businesses where the culture is more sedate than in investment banking. Orcel is “incredibly talented — but singularly unsuited to the CEO role,” a former colleague said.
people  business  finance 
8 weeks ago by kmt
Unpublished and Untenured, a Philosopher Inspired a Cult Following - The New York Times
To his admirers, Kimhi is a hidden giant, a profound thinker who, because of a personality at once madly undisciplined and obsessively perfectionistic, has been unable to commit his ideas to paper. As a result, he has not been able to share his insights — about logic, language, metaphysics, theology, psychoanalysis, aesthetics and literature — with the wider academic world.

This type of character, though unusual, is not unheard-of in philosophy. Unlike, say, history or sociology, philosophy has long reserved a place for the occasional talent who struggles or declines to publish. The tradition dates back to Socrates, who not only didn’t write but also disparaged writing as too rigid a medium to capture “the living, breathing discourse of the man who knows.” (Plato’s words, of course.) Even as recently as the second half of the 20th century, many philosophy departments still employed a resident Socratic figure — a nonpublishing legend like Sidney Morgenbesser of Columbia or Rogers Albritton of Harvard — as if to provide a daily reminder that the discipline’s founding virtues of intellectual spontaneity, dialectical responsiveness and lack of dogmatism did not lend themselves naturally to the settled view of a treatise.
philosophy  people 
8 weeks ago by kmt
Quant Investor Cliff Asness Hasn’t Smashed His Screen This Year—Yet - Bloomberg
The billionaire chief of AQR Capital Management is having a lousy 2018 with the $226 billion he's running. He says factor-based strategies can still prevail.
finance  economics  politics  people  interview 
8 weeks ago by kmt
The Secret Garden
The oral history of how a scientist found a rainforest on top of a mountain, then led a team of 28 scientists, logistics experts, climbers, and others to a place where humans had not set foot for a century or more.
history  africa  geology  people 
10 weeks ago by kmt
Buddhism and Levinas - 3:AM Magazine
William Edelglass teaches philosophy, environmental studies, and Buddhist studies. He has published widely in Indian and Tibetan Buddhist philosophy, environmental philosophy, and 20th-century European thought. William has taught in diverse settings including the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, a federal prison in New York, and a Tibetan refugee settlement in Nepal. For many years he served as a wilderness guide at Outward Bound, and between 2000 and 2003 he taught Western philosophy to Tibetan monks at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics in Dharamsala, India. Here he discusses philosophical ideas in Buddhism, both its diversity and shared commitments, the metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and hermeneutics of Buddhists, impermanence and selflessness, dependent origination, what it means to say that all things are empty, why it isn’t nihilism, the Buddhist use of language in a philosophical approach that values linguistically inexpressible truths, why Buddhist moral pluralism doesn’t lead to relativism, skepticism and the undermining of moral obligations, contrasts between Western and Buddhist approaches to moral pluralism, environmental philosophy, Levinas, whether Buddhism conflicts with his environmentalism, and the relationship between western and non-western philosophy.
philosophy  buddhism  esoteric  interview  people 
11 weeks ago by kmt
Death By Database
When I work with clients to build software, I take the usual steps of understanding their needs, gathering requirements, learning about their customers, and so on. At this point I have a model on paper of roughly what the software is intended to do, so they get surprised when I immediately turn to database design.

"Who care about database design? What about mockups? What about workflows?"
database  design  development  people  work 
11 weeks ago by kmt
The last polymath
Historian David Cahan copes confidently with these complexities in his monumental new biography. The result of almost three decades of scholarly work, Helmholtz is a comprehensive and timely account. In recent years, historians of science have published several studies devoted to isolated aspects of Helmholtz’s work — his contributions to neurophysiology and hydrodynamics, as well as his epistemology and aesthetics.

However, anyone interested in the complete picture was forced to go back more than 100 years, to a bulky biography by German mathematician Leo Königsberger. In no fewer than three volumes published in 1902–03, Königsberger, a friend of the Helmholtz family, depicted the German scholar as a lonesome genius whose scientific success was the result of unusual giftedness combined with extremely hard work.

Helmholtz is an impressive corrective to such partial or simplistic treatments. The book not only accounts for the German scholar’s voluminous publications (his Lectures on Theoretical Physics alone comprise six volumes, posthumously published between 1897 and 1907), but also encompasses an uncounted number of manuscripts and letters dispersed in archives all over the world. The result is as compelling as it is convincing.
books  review  science  people  methodology 
september 2018 by kmt
Nine days in North Korea - Honi Soit
On the 24th of July I arrived in Pyongyang in a travelling party with five others, including Dr Tim Anderson, lecturer in Political Economy at USyd. At the jet bridge we were greeted by Tammam Suleiman, who used to be the Syrian Ambassador to Australia, but who now serves as the Syrian Ambassador to DPR Korea.

What follows is not an academic account that takes into consideration every aspect of the country, but simply what I saw in a thousand words.
asia  sources  diplomacy  people  politics 
september 2018 by kmt
Anki Tips: What I Learned Making 10,000 Flashcards -
This month, I created my ten thousandth virtual flashcard. When I started using Anki, I worried that I’d do the wrong thing, but decided that the only way to acquire Anki expertise was to make a lot of mistakes.

Here’s how my Anki usage has evolved.
memory  advice  learning  people  blog  anki 
august 2018 by kmt
Public Thinker: Matthew Engelke on Thinking Like an Anthropologist | Public Books
Thinking in public demands knowledge, eloquence, and courage. In this new interview series, we hear from public scholars about how they found their path and how they communicate to a wide audience.
books  anthropology  methodology  writing  interview  people 
august 2018 by kmt
The war over supercooled water
The procedure the Berkeley team used to initialize the molecular dynamics simulations was unorthodox—it involved randomly selecting a pair of molecules and then swapping their velocities. Palmer and company discovered that the technique produced sample configurations that seemed to flout basic laws of statistical mechanics: The energies deviated from the expected equilibrium values, governed by the Boltzmann distribution, and the molecules’ rotational and translational temperatures didn’t match up. Perhaps most important, the molecules behaved as if they were tens of degrees hotter than their assigned temperature.

Suddenly it made sense that the Berkeley researchers hadn’t seen a second liquid phase; they were effectively running their simulations at temperatures well above the critical point. The moment the Princeton group swapped out the unorthodox sampling scheme with a standard one, the discrepancy went away.
physics  chemistry  methodology  science  people 
august 2018 by kmt
The Curious Wavefunction: Physicist Leo Kadanoff on reductionism and models: "Don't model bulldozers with quarks."
"1. Use the right level of description to catch the phenomena of interest. Don't model bulldozers with quarks.

2. Every good model starts from a question. The modeler should aways pick the right level of detail to answer the question."
models  argument  reference  people  sources  methodology  science  physics  finance 
august 2018 by kmt
History of Symbolics lisp machines
Richard Stallman has been telling a story about the origins of the Lisp machine companies, and the effects on the M.I.T. Artificial Intelligence Lab, for many years. He has published it in a book, and in a widely-referenced paper, which you can find at

His account is highly biased, and in many places just plain wrong. Here’s my own perspective on what really happened.

Richard Greenblatt’s proposal for a Lisp machine company had two premises. First, there should be no outside investment. This would have been totally unrealistic: a company manufacturing computer hardware needs capital. Second, Greenblatt himself would be the CEO. The other members of the Lisp machine project were extremely dubious of Greenblatt’s ability to run a company. So Greenblatt and the others went their separate ways and set up two companies.

Stallman’s characterization of this as “backstabbing”, and that Symbolics decided not “not have scruples”, is pure hogwash. There was no backstabbing whatsoever. Symbolics was extremely scrupulous. Stallman’s characterization of Symbolics as “looking for ways to destroy” LMI is pure fantasy.
lisp  history  computing  people  argument  AI 
august 2018 by kmt
Kurt Gödel: A Contradiction in the U.S. Constitution?
The story of Gödel's citizenship hearing had been much repeated over the years. What was known was that on 5 December 1947, Kurt Gödel went to his citizenship hearing in Trenton, New Jersey. The examiner was Judge Philip Forman. As his witnesses, Gödel brought his two closest friends, Oskar Morgenstern and Albert Einstein. Gödel was granted citizenship, and took his oath on 2 April 1948. Those were the reliably established facts.

Afterwards, Morgenstern told many people that he and Einstein had had their hands full preventing the brilliant, but politically naive, Gödel from derailing his citizenship chances. No account directly from Morgenstern or anyone else at the hearing had survived, but hearsay versions circulated widely. The hearsay versions show considerable variation, but their burden is something like the following:

Gödel, in his usual manner, had read extensively in preparing for the hearing. In the course of his studies, Gödel decided that he had discovered a flaw in the U.S. Constitution -- a contradiction which would allow the U.S. to be turned into a dictatorship. Gödel, usually quite reticent, seemed to feel a need to make this known. Morgenstern and Einstein warned Gödel that it would be a disaster to confront his citizenship examiner with visions of a Constitutional flaw leading to an American dictatorship.

Arriving in Princeton, the trio had no idea who the examiner would be. They happened to run into Judge Forman. Forman was a friend of Einstein's -- when Einstein became a citizen, Forman had administered the oath. How lucky this was became apparent almost immediately during the questioning. Forman happened to remark how fortunate it was that the US was not a dictatorship, which Gödel took as a cue to explain his discovery. A surprised Forman exchanged glances with Einstein and Morgenstern, cut Gödel off, and forced-marched the hearing through to a successful conclusion.
logic  history  people 
august 2018 by kmt
Rafael Irizarry is a Professor of Applied Statistics at Harvard and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. His research focuses on Genomics and he teaches several Data Science courses.

This page provides information on his research and teaching activities. Blog posts are available at Simply Statistics.

The best way to keep up with the latest news is to follow @rafalab.
stats  people 
august 2018 by kmt
Miért is transzzsidó? |
Habár nekem nem ez a „nyelvem”, nem queeringelek és social justice warriorkodom, pontosan emlékszem arra az élményre, amikor olvastam a Zsidniland című tanulmányt. Dióhéjban arról szól a szöveg, hogy a közép- és kelet-európai társadalmak megfeleltek azoknak a piaci nyomásoknak, felismerték a rést és a vállalható morális álláspontot, ami a zsidó múlt megidézésének keretet ad. Alapvetően az történik, hogy eljátszatják a kijelölt utcákkal, városrészekkel az autentikus, jellegzetes világot, ahonnan embereket kényszerrel és kegyetlenséggel elhurcoltak. A hiteles tér berendezését és körbeünneplését a tanulmány jól leírja, alapvetően színpadépítés és dramaturgiaírás történik. Mindez visszatükrözi az elvárt (szórakoztatóiparnak kiszolgáltatott és arra kalibrált) múltat, egy megidézése annak, a szenvedéstörténetek stilizáltan, fogyaszthatóan vannak tálalva, miközben nem kell szembenézni – sem a múltbéli, sem a mai – rendszerszintű aljasságokkal, amik rajtunk keresztül (is) működnek.
magyar  argument  interview  people  sociology 
august 2018 by kmt
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