"Let George Do It" - The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short Works of Richard P. Feynman - Richard Phillips Feynman, Jeffrey Robbins - Google Books
<< To do high, real good physics work you do need absolutely solid lengths of time, so that when you're putting ideas together which are vague and hard to remember, it's very much like building a house of cards and each of the cards is shaky, and if you forget one of them the whole thing collapses again. . . . it needs a lot of concentration---that is, solid time to think---and if you've got a job in administrating anything like that, then you don't have the solid time. So I have invented another myth for myself---that I'm irresponsible. I tell everybody, I don't do anything. If anybody asks me to be on a committee to take care of admissions, no, I'm irresponsible, I don't give a damn about students---of course I give a damn about the students but I know that somebody else'll do it---and I take the view, "Let George do it," a view which you're not supposed to take, okay, because that's not right to do, but I do that because I like to do physics and I want to see if I can still do it, and so I'm selfish, okay? I want to do my physics.>>
richard-feynman  productivity  academia  higher-education  sociopathy  via:twitter 
13 hours ago
On the benefits and pitfalls of extending a statically typed language JIT compiler for dynamic scripting languages
<<Whenever the need to compile a new dynamically typed language arises, an appealing option is to repurpose an existing statically typed language Just-In-Time (JIT) compiler (repurposed JIT compiler). Existing repurposed JIT compilers (RJIT compilers), however, have not yet delivered the hoped-for performance boosts. The performance of JVM languages, for instance, often lags behind standard interpreter implementations. Even more customized solutions that extend the internals of a JIT compiler for the target language compete poorly with those designed specifically for dynamically typed languages. Our own Fiorano JIT compiler is an example of this problem. As a state-of-the-art, RJIT compiler for Python, the Fiorano JIT compiler outperforms two other RJIT compilers (Unladen Swallow and Jython), but still shows a noticeable performance gap compared to PyPy, today's best performing Python JIT compiler. In this paper, we discuss techniques that have proved effective in the Fiorano JIT compiler as well as limitations of our current implementation. More importantly, this work offers the first in-depth look at benefits and limitations of the repurposed JIT compiler approach. We believe the most common pitfall of existing RJIT compilers is not focusing sufficiently on specialization, an abundant optimization opportunity unique to dynamically typed languages. Unfortunately, the lack of specialization cannot be overcome by applying traditional optimizations.>>
compiler-construction  performance  programming-languages  papers  research  to-read  negative-results 
corey robin on Twitter: "White police officer assigned to wiretap Malcolm X winds up being converted to his views. Just by listening to them. https://t.co/r0OUN6CP5X"
Idea for an SF story: future dissident computer hacker subverts the algorithms assigned to spy on her with a consistent record of calm, reasoned argument in electronic media.
twitter  racism  malcolm-x  history  surveillance-state 
2 days ago
Regional Advantage: Culture and Competition in Silicon Valley and Route 128, by AnnaLee Saxenian (@Kindle)
Finished 2016-01-31. Recommended. Today we take for granted that Silicon Valley is the world's leading computer technology center but a half century ago Route 128 was more important, and even as recently as the early 1980s it was quite comparable. To this day, most people still think of the Boston metro area as the a "strong second-place" to the Bay Area in technology. But the truth is that it's quite a distant second. (The most important technology company offices near Kendall Square today are Microsoft's and Google's --- satellite offices of West Coast firms.) This is a detailed account, probably unparalleled, of the forces that enabled Silicon Valley to win. I want to write more about this and how it might be out of date (for example, it may be that Apple and to a lesser extent Google have managed to create a hybrid between the strengths of Silicon Valley's more collaborative firm organization and old, Route 128-style "autarky"), but right now I'm still digesting.
silicon-valley  technology-industry  economics  business  booklog  finished:2016  nonfiction  history 
4 days ago
Jeff Dean: I'm saddened to see AltaVista being shut down. +Danny Sullivan wrote a nice a...
Among other things, this is one of the few remaining pieces of information on the web which clearly states the relationship between DEC WRL and DEC SRC (really! try finding it anywhere else!). Given how much interesting research happened between these two labs, and the roster of luminaries who worked there (3 Turing Award winners did tenures at SRC!), this is astonishing...
computer-science  history  google  dec  silicon-valley 
4 days ago
How to Raise a Creative Child. Step One: Back Off - The New York Times
There's something to this, but yet:

<<Consider the nation’s most prestigious award for scientifically gifted high school students, the Westinghouse Science Talent Search, called the Super Bowl of science by one American president. From its inception in 1942 until 1994, the search recognized more than 2000 precocious teenagers as finalists. But just 1 percent ended up making the National Academy of Sciences, and just eight have won Nobel Prizes. For every Lisa Randall who revolutionizes theoretical physics, there are many dozens who fall far short of their potential.>>

I don't know, 1% making NAS and 0.4% winning a Nobel sounds way, way higher than the general population (particularly the latter).
child-development  creativity  research  new-york-times  dubious-sample-size 
5 days ago
git integrity
Everybody turn on these settings. *Now*.
software-development  git  security 
5 days ago
Via bret victor's twitter feed, where he quotes from the intro chapter slide 36:

D‐OA problem‐solving approach: D‐OA Rules

1. Put only enough into the model to get the answer you need.

2. Make all the approximations you can, as soon as you can, justified or not. Plow through the problem leaving behind you a wake of assumptions and approximations. You canʹt lose by trying.

3. Figure out in advance as many of the quantities as you can that you want to have in the answer, and put them into the statement of the problem as soon as possible − even into the circuit model.

4. The less work you do, the more valuable the result. control the algebra. You the algebra come out in low entropy form by applying strategic mental energy before and during the math.

5. Every problem in not unique. There are problem solving strategies that apply to almost all engineering problems.
design  electrical-engineering  via:twitter 
5 days ago
finally tests on JSCert
Ugh. How the *(&^ can you build a decent sound flow-sensitive analysis in the face of crap like this.
javascript  programming-languages  formal-semantics  is-an-illusion 
5 days ago
Networks, Crowds, and Markets: A Book by David Easley and Jon Kleinberg
<<In recent years there has been a growing public fascination with the complex "connectedness" of modern society. This connectedness is found in many incarnations: in the rapid growth of the Internet and the Web, in the ease with which global communication now takes place, and in the ability of news and information as well as epidemics and financial crises to spread around the world with surprising speed and intensity. These are phenomena that involve networks, incentives, and the aggregate behavior of groups of people; they are based on the links that connect us and the ways in which each of our decisions can have subtle consequences for the outcomes of everyone else.

Networks, Crowds, and Markets combines different scientific perspectives in its approach to understanding networks and behavior. Drawing on ideas from economics, sociology, computing and information science, and applied mathematics, it describes the emerging field of study that is growing at the interface of all these areas, addressing fundamental questions about how the social, economic, and technological worlds are connected.>>
books  computer-science  graph-theory  to-read-maybe 
9 days ago
Economics and Computation
<<This is a new book (to be published by Cambridge University Press in 2016) about economics and computation, covering topics that are motivated by the consideration of economic incentives within computational systems and by computational considerations in economic systems. Examples of these systems include electronic markets, social computing platforms, or systems for resource allocation. The primary audience is an advanced-level undergraduate or first-year graduate class in a computer science, informatics, applied mathematics or operations research department.>>
books  to-read-maybe  computer-science  game-theory  economics 
9 days ago
Velvet Vol. 2: The Secret Lives of Dead Men, by Ed Brubaker & Steve Epting (@Comixology)
Finished 2015-??-??. Enjoyable continuation of Vol. 1. Works better read all at once; the individual episodes slice the plot a bit too finely.
booklog  finished:2015  fiction  espionage-fiction  comics 
14 days ago
Rapid Development: Taming Wild Software Schedules, by Steve McConnell (@Kindle)
Finished 2016-01-21.
+ Some of this gigantic tome is fluff. For example, consider McConnell's bestiary of lifecycle development models; they all boil down to how you use your iteration cycles, and a more systematic treatment considering a smaller number of fundamental forces would be better than the butterfly collection that's presented here.
+ The book is also pitched towards developers delivering software in the context of a large corporation, where there is in theory a clear product specification that can be discovered and then delivered; it takes a little more work and selective reading to apply McConnell's insights, for example, to the exploratory, open-ended development process required in a startup or a research lab.
+ Nevertheless, there's a lot of interesting material here, presented briskly (compared to the sources; for example the chapter on productivity environments packs in nearly all the substantive material in DeMarco & Lister's _Peopleware_). Overall, almost anyone who works on high-pressure collaborative software projects will benefit from some subset of this book. Feel free to start skimming liberally when you find material that doesn't apply to your situation though.
booklog  finished:2016  software-development  nonfiction  management 
14 days ago
DeMarco & Lister, "Programmer performance and the effects of the workplace", ICSE '85.
The strongest empirical validation I can find that quiet private offices contribute to productivity in intense cognitive tasks.
research  software-development  management  productivity  built-environment 
14 days ago
Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams (3rd Edition), by Tom DeMarco & Tim Lister (@Kindle)
Finished 2016-01-21. Hugely overrated, but has some decent bits. The most significant empirically validated finding in this book is a rehash of a 1985 ICSE paper [0] by DeMarco and Lister on workspace productivity. As far as I can tell, they've been leveraging that nugget into widespread reverence for their other pronouncements (which have far less documented empirical validation) and a lucrative consulting business over the subsequent decades, without adding anything as substantial to the stock of public scientific knowledge. Still, I don't want to rag on this too hard; there is at least food for thought in the rest of this book.

[0] DeMarco and Lister, "Programmer performance and the effects of the workplace", ICSE '85.
booklog  finished:2016  software-development  nonfiction  management 
14 days ago
Ballot Prop Seeks To Have Lawmakers Wear Top Contributors' Names On Their Sleeves: SFist
I dislike ballot propositions as a matter of principle, but this one has something to it.
politics  plutocracy 
26 days ago
High Output Management, by Andrew S. Grove (@Kindle)
Finished 2015-12-??. Much food for thought here, and not just for people working in business or people who have a job title with "manager" in the name. Ultimately, this is about how to become more effective, as you become more senior and experienced in your field, by focusing your attention on higher-leverage activities that influence other people. Recommended.
booklog  nonfiction  management  finished:2015 
4 weeks ago
Reamde, by Neal Stephenson (@Kindle)
Finished 2016-01-04. Stephenson tries his hand at a straightforward technothriller. Has its moments, but ultimately bogs down in an interminable sequence of unbelievably laboriously described multi-viewpoint action scenes that feel like a huge slog.
booklog  fiction  finished:2016  espionage-fiction 
4 weeks ago
Transition, by Iain M. Banks (@Kindle)
Finished 2015-12-31. Not, despite Amazon's billing, actually a Culture book, although imagining how it could have been one is maybe more entertaining than the actual plot. I'm sure this all fit together properly somehow in Banks's head, but overall it never really delivers on all its promise. Also, the rampant sexposition and rather bald political ranting have to be written off (even to someone completely sympathetic to his politics) as aesthetic flaws.
booklog  finished:2015  fiction  science-fiction  iain-m-banks 
5 weeks ago
Federal judge: Drinking tea, shopping at a gardening store is probable cause for a SWAT raid on your home - The Washington Post
<<“While testing the specificity of the KN Reagent test kits with 42 non-marijuana substances, I observed that 70% of these tests rendered a false positive,” said Dr. Omar Bagasra, director of the Center for Biotechnology, who conducted the experiments.

That research came as part of new report, False Positives Equal False Justice, by forensics expert John Kelly in collaboration with former FBI chief scientist and narcotics officer Dr. Frederick Whitehurst. In the report, the pair uncovered “a drug testing regime of fraudulent forensics used by police, prosecutors, and judges which abrogates every American’s constitutional rights,”>>
police  a-nation-of-men-not-laws 
5 weeks ago
Urban Land-Use Regulation: Are Homevoters Overtaking the Growth Machine? - Been - 2014 - Journal of Empirical Legal Studies - Wiley Online Library
<<The leading theory about urban land-use regulation argues that city zoning officials are full partners in the business and real estate elite's “growth machine.” Suburban land-use officials, in contrast, are thought to cater to the interests of the majority of their electorate—“homevoters.” A unique database regarding over 200,000 lots that the New York City Planning Commission considered for rezoning between 2002 and 2009 allows us to test various hypotheses suggested by these competing theories of land-use regulation. Our analysis reveals that homevoters are more powerful in urban politics than scholars, policymakers, and judges have assumed.>>
housing  urbanism  plutocracy  economic-inequality  nimbys 
7 weeks ago
Files are hard
Christ. The foundations of our software systems are built on sand.
unix  operating-systems  concurrency 
7 weeks ago
Highly educated women no longer have fewer kids | VOX, CEPR’s Policy Portal
In a recent paper (Hazan and Zoabi 2015), we find, however, that while highly educated women had fewer kids than women with lesser education in the US until the 1990s, it is no longer true today. During the 2000s, highly educated women had higher fertility rates than women with intermediate levels of education. Importantly, this is a result of a substantial increase in fertility among women with advanced degrees who increased their fertility by 0.7 children, or by more than 50%. This is illustrated in Figure 1, which plots the cross-sectional relationship between fertility and women’s education in 1980 and during the period 2001-2011.
What can explain the rise of fertility among highly educated women during the period that saw the largest increase in the labour supply of highly educated women? We argue that the growing income inequality over the past three decades created both a group of women who can afford to buy services that help them raise their children and run their homes, and a group who is willing to supply these services cheaply.
plutocracy  economic-inequality  social-inequality  via:hackernews 
7 weeks ago
[1504.00680] Antisocial Behavior in Online Discussion Communities
<<We find that such users tend to concentrate their efforts in a small number of threads, are more likely to post irrelevantly, and are more successful at garnering responses from other users. Studying the evolution of these users from the moment they join a community up to when they get banned, we find that not only do they write worse than other users over time, but they also become increasingly less tolerated by the community. Further, we discover that antisocial behavior is exacerbated when community feedback is overly harsh. Our analysis also reveals distinct groups of users with different levels of antisocial behavior that can change over time. We use these insights to identify antisocial users early on, a task of high practical importance to community maintainers.>>
social-engineering  internet  culture  sociopathy 
7 weeks ago
A year without food › Dr Karl's Great Moments In Science (ABC Science)
<<Back in June of 1965, a Scotsman weighing 207 kilograms, described as "grossly obese" and hereafter known only as Mr A B, turned up at the Department of Medicine at the Royal Infirmary in Dundee.

He was sick of being fat and wanted to lose weight by eating nothing and living off his body fat. He told the hospital staff he was going to fast flat out, whatever they said, so they may as well monitor him along the way.

He ended up fasting for one year and 17 days — that's right, he ate no food at all for over a year. He lived entirely off his copious body fat, in the end losing about 125 kilograms of weight.>>
health  nutrition  research  via:marginalrevolution 
8 weeks ago
Moxie Marlinspike >> Blog >> Career Advice
starts out with some astute observations, but ends with a rather cliched endorsement of the "find yourself" type activities that occur to people seeking experiential thrill, rather than e.g. building a lasting legacy or other hard things that, for some, will add up to a more meaningful life
advice  career  work 
9 weeks ago
Why the Economic Fates of America’s Cities Diverged - The Atlantic
I find the end of this narrative fundamentally muddled and wrong in important ways, particularly when it turns to the tech industry, but it's an interesting historical survey.
economics  geography  united-states  history 
9 weeks ago
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