nhaliday + quixotic   188

soft question - What are good non-English languages for mathematicians to know? - MathOverflow
I'm with Deane here: I think learning foreign languages is not a very mathematically productive thing to do; of course, there are lots of good reasons to learn foreign languages, but doing mathematics is not one of them. Not only are there few modern mathematics papers written in languages other than English, but the primary other language they are written (French) in is pretty easy to read without actually knowing it.

Even though I've been to France several times, my spoken French mostly consists of "merci," "si vous plait," "d'accord" and some food words; I've still skimmed 100 page long papers in French without a lot of trouble.

If nothing else, think of reading a paper in French as a good opportunity to teach Google Translate some mathematical French.
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10 weeks ago by nhaliday
Perseus Digital Library
This is actually really useful.

- Load English translation side-by-side if available.
- Click on any word and see the best guess for definition+inflection given context.
tools  reference  history  iron-age  mediterranean  the-classics  canon  foreign-lang  linguistics  database  quixotic  stoic  syntax  lexical  exocortex 
11 weeks ago by nhaliday
Why read old philosophy? | Meteuphoric
(This story would suggest that in physics students are maybe missing out on learning the styles of thought that produce progress in physics. My guess is that instead they learn them in grad school when they are doing research themselves, by emulating their supervisors, and that the helpfulness of this might partially explain why Nobel prizewinner advisors beget Nobel prizewinner students.)

The story I hear about philosophy—and I actually don’t know how much it is true—is that as bits of philosophy come to have any methodological tools other than ‘think about it’, they break off and become their own sciences. So this would explain philosophy’s lone status in studying old thinkers rather than impersonal methods—philosophy is the lone ur-discipline without impersonal methods but thinking.

This suggests a research project: try summarizing what Aristotle is doing rather than Aristotle’s views. Then write a nice short textbook about it.
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june 2018 by nhaliday
Deliberate Practice and Performance in Music, Games, Sports, Education, and Professions: A Meta-Analysis
We found that deliberate practice explained 26% of the variance in performance for games, 21% for music, 18% for sports, 4% for education, and less than 1% for professions. We conclude that deliberate practice is important, but not as important as has been argued.
pdf  study  psychology  cog-psych  social-psych  teaching  tutoring  learning  studying  stylized-facts  metabuch  career  long-term  music  games  sports  education  labor  data  list  expert-experience  ability-competence  roots  variance-components  top-n  meta-analysis  practice  quixotic 
december 2017 by nhaliday
Books 2017 | West Hunter
Arabian Sands
The Aryans
The Big Show
The Camel and the Wheel
Civil War on Western Waters
Company Commander
Double-edged Secrets
The Forgotten Soldier
Genes in Conflict
Hive Mind
The horse, the wheel, and language
The Penguin Atlas of Medieval History
Habitable Planets for Man
The genetical theory of natural selection
The Rise of the Greeks
To Lose a Battle
The Jewish War
Tropical Gangsters
The Forgotten Revolution
Egil’s Saga
Time Patrol

Russo: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/12/14/books-2017/#comment-98568
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december 2017 by nhaliday
Sources on Technical History | Salo Forum - Chic Nihilism
This is a thread where people can chip in and list some good sources for the history of technology and mechanisms (hopefully with illustrations), books on infrastructure or industrial geography, or survey books in engineering. This is a thread that remains focused on the "technical" and not historical side.

Now, on the history of technology alone if I comprehensively listed every book, paper, etc., I've read on the subject since childhood then this thread would run well over 100 pages (seriously). I'll try to compress it by dealing with entire authors, journals, and publishers even.

First, a note on preliminaries: the best single-volume primer on the physics, internal components and subsystems of military weapons (including radar, submarines) is Craig Payne's Principles of Naval Weapons Systems. Make sure to get the second edition, the first edition is useless.
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november 2017 by nhaliday
Commentaria in Aristotelem Graeca - Wikipedia
Commentaria in Aristotelem Graeca [edita consilio et auctoritate academiae litterarum Regiae Borussicae] (CAG) is the standard collection of extant ancient Greek commentaries on Aristotle. The 23 volumes in the series were released between the years 1882 and 1909 by the publisher Reimer. Many of these commentaries have since been translated into English by the Ancient commentators project.
letters  history  iron-age  mediterranean  the-classics  canon  literature  big-peeps  philosophy  wiki  reference  links  list  foreign-lang  anglo  quixotic 
november 2017 by nhaliday
Books I suggest you read so you won’t be misled as often – Gene Expression
People often ask me for history books on a very specific topics often, assuming I’ve read something on an issue because I exhibit some fluency discussing something that might seem abstruse or arcane. The thing is that I haven’t always read a monograph on a singular topic even if I know a fair amount on it. It’s just that I’ve read a larger number of history books, so the union of my knowledge set is quite wide and expansive.


In any case, what books should you read? It’s useful to read big general surveys because they allow you to frame and interpret narrower monographs.


What is my goal with providing you this list? I want you to be able to iterate through historical assertions people in the media and politics make against your internal data set. See if they are full of shit. They often are.

There are two classes of bullshit. The first class are the nakedly mendacious. This is more common in the political class, where lying is a form of art. The second class are just ignorant and don’t know any better. This is more common in the pundit class.

One trick that the pundit class pulls sincerely because they are often ignorant is that they cite a historian to buttress an assertion, even getting a quote from that historian. But quite often the historian is clearly misleading the audience…the historian may not utter a lie, but in their presentation they allow the reader to have a takeaway that aligns with the normative bias of the pundit, and the historian that has prostituted themselves to some cause. Obviously you will never master a specific area of history like an academic with a command of another language, but if you know enough you can easily smell bullshit when it’s being injected into the information stream.


other: http://gapersblock.com/airbags/archives/22_books_to_get_you_up_to_speed_on_the_entire_world_part_6_the_whole_world/
military history: https://gnxp.nofe.me/2017/06/12/books-i-suggest-you-read-so-you-wont-be-misled-as-often/#comment-2518
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june 2017 by nhaliday
Latin spelling and pronunciation - Wikipedia
From Solodow's "Latin Alive": Classical Latin (for literature as opposed to common tongue) was formed out of crucible of nativist anxieties

The earliest continuous Latin texts we have date from the late third and early second centuries B.C.E., beginning with the comedies of Plautus. The Latin in these and the other texts that follow them for the next century displays a certain amount of variety, as we might expect: a large and expressive vocabulary, some freedom with genders, declensions, and conjugations, a certain diversity in inflections and syntax. But in the first half of the first century B.C.E.;., this changed quickly and definitively. A group of men set about to find and fix a suitable form for the language. Their goal was to settle the language once and for all, and, in an important sense, they succeeded. These men, of whom the two most familiar are Caesar (100-44 B.C.E.) and Cicero (106-43 B.C.E.), did not constitute an academy of the Latin language, like those established in modern times for French and Spanish. Instead, by their own conscious practice they shaped the language into a form that seemed pure and worthy.

Their concerted effort to give the Latin language a fixed form was driven in part by the linguistic unsettledness and disorder they perceived around them. Language - actual spoken language - perhaps always appears messy to the ears and eyes of some, but at that time and place the messiness may have been very marked. Rome from its beginnings had been a city of immigrants, and the conquests abroad and other social upheavals of the preceding century had brought into the capital a swarm of people who did not speak Latin as their native language or were not familiar with the variety characteristic of the city. Some men consequently feared the disappearance of authentic, correct Latin. In his history of Roman oratory, Cicero links the deplorable linguistic situation of his day with social changes: “In those days [a century earlier] nearly everybody who had lived in this city and not been corrupted by home-bred provincialism spoke correctly. But the passage of time unquestionably changed the situation for the worse, no less at Rome than in Greece. Many people from different places who spoke a debased language poured into Athens and into this city. The language therefore needs to be purified” (Brutus 258).

Another impetus was the recognition that the linguistic situation, if grave, was not irremediable. Here the model of the Greek language played an important part. As Cicero draws a parallel between the problems at Rome and those at Athens, so he and his contemporaries looked to the latter for guidance in finding a solution. The dialect of Athens, known as Attic, which had established itself among the various Greek dialects as the one most prestigious and most suitable for refined speech and writing, had itselfpassed through a period of conscious purification; this purified Attic Greek served the Romans as an example. And at the same time that Attic offered a model to imitate, Greek rhetoricians were extolling the virtues of language that was logical, unambiguous, and otherwise clear.

Goaded by the current unhappy state of Latin and drawn by a vision of how it might be bettered, Caesar, Cicero, and others set about the task of purifying Latin. They shunned rusticitas “rusticity,” anything that smacked of the countryside. They strove for urbanitas “urbanity, refinement,” and in the sphere of language this was synonymous with Latinitas “(genuine) Latin-ness”; this equation is evident in the passage quoted from Cicero, who identifies as the genuine and desirable variety of Latin the one that had been spoken in the city of Rome by native Romans.
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june 2017 by nhaliday
The Numbers Speak: Foreign Language Requirements Are a Waste of Time and Money, Bryan Caplan | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty
25.7% of respondents speak a language other than English. Within this sample, 41.5% claim to speak the other language "very well." Within this sub-sub-sample, just 7.0% say they learned to speak this foreign language in school. If you multiply out these three percentages, you get 0.7%. The marginal product of two years of pain and suffering per high school graduate: less than one student in a hundred acquires fluency. (And that's self-assessed fluency, which people almost surely exaggerate).

If you lower the bar from "very well" to "well" the picture remains grim: merely 2.5% of GSS respondents claimed to reach this level of foreign language competence in school.

confirms my intuition

Language is Culture: https://bloodyshovel.wordpress.com/2017/08/30/language-is-culture/
First of all, LKY, peace be with him, was not a “self-taught linguist”. He’s a guy who learned some languages as an adult. That doesn’t make him a linguist. This makes him a language learner. There’s billions of those across the world. Lee Kuan Yew certainly wasn’t very good at it; the ability to learn foreign languages doesn’t correlate very strongly with IQ.

Mr. Lee held the popular idea that language was a zero-sum game? No, Mr. Lee understood the commonsensical idea that your brain has limited storage capacity. Like anything else. Your brain is made of atoms. It is not made of magic. It is not made of godly dust. It is a material thing. It is, in a sense, a container of information, and information takes space. It obviously does in computers; pray tell, NYT, why the brain should have infinite capacity? It doesn’t make sense.

Now I don’t know if LKY thought of it in these terms. I think that, as a language learner, he went by experience. I guess the more time he spent practicing Mandarin, or Hokkien, or Malay, the worse his English prose got. And that’s exactly how it works. Happens to me all the time, and happens to anyone who uses 2 or more languages regularly. The more different the languages, the less commons structures they share, the more acute the problem. Again, there is no reason why it should not be so. Information takes space. It isn’t hard.

Alas, it is true that academic linguists will not tell you this, even though they probably did in the 1950s. That is not because common sense has been “refuted”. It is because since the 1960s academia has morphed into a worldwide racket of fraud and deceit. If you read this blog you already know that; economics is bogus, climate science is bogus, psychology is bogus; even more than half of medical papers are bogus. Well, surprise surprise, linguistics is also bogus. The language learning industry is huge. There’s a lot of money in telling people that the brain is made of magic dust, that they can learn whatever they want whenever they want, as long as they give you money. 3 languages at the same time? Go for it! Kids are like sponges, they can learn anything. No, they can’t.
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april 2017 by nhaliday
Information Processing: Learn to solve every problem that has been solved
While it may be impossible to achieve Feynman's goal, I'm surprised that more people don't attempt the importance threshold-modified version. Suppose we set the importance bar really, really high: what are the most important results that everyone should try to understand? Here's a very biased partial list: basic physics and mathematics (e.g., to the level of the Feynman Lectures); quantitative theory of genetics and evolution; information, entropy and probability; basic ideas about logic and computation (Godel and Turing?); ... What else? Dynamics of markets? Complex Systems? Psychometrics? Descriptive biology? Organic chemistry?
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february 2017 by nhaliday
6.896: Essential Coding Theory
- probabilistic method and Chernoff bound for Shannon coding
- probabilistic method for asymptotically good Hamming codes (Gilbert coding)
- sparsity used for LDPC codes
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february 2017 by nhaliday
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