Saturday, September 30, 2017

Some Saturday night stuff

This is the most beautiful time of the year in the Bay Area, so it's hard to think of all the sad things that are happening in the world.

Still, life goes on, things happen.

Anyway, here's some Saturday night stuff, the typical mixture, I suppose, of wonderful and awful.

  • A First-Person Account of the Fatal Yosemite Rockfall
    Drew and I drive to the El Capitan meadow to get a better look at the rockfall. There is a helicopter idling nearby, rescue trucks line the shoulder of the road, and Yosemite park personnel are moving about. A couple of rangers keep the traffic moving and the area clear. The SAR team is debriefing beneath a tree. Our friend, Josh Huckaby, a YOSAR veteran, gives Drew a look that means one thing: bad news.
  • Anatomy of a Moral Panic
    The implication is clear: home cooks are being radicalized by the site’s recommendation algorithm to abandon their corned beef in favor of shrapnel-packed homemade bombs. And more ominously, enough people must be buying these bomb parts on Amazon for the algorithm to have noticed the correlations, and begin making its dark suggestions.

    But as a few more minutes of clicking would have shown, the only thing Channel 4 has discovered is a hobbyist community of people who mill their own black powder at home, safely and legally, for use in fireworks, model rockets, antique firearms, or to blow up the occasional stump.

  • Illustrating Group Theory: A Coloring Book
    Math is about more than just numbers. In this "book" the story of math is visual, told in shapes and patterns.
    Prior to The Atlantic, Gould was an editor at the Journal of Democracy, as well as with McKinsey & Company—where he worked with the public- and social-sector practices. A lecturer in history and politics at Yale University, he has written for the Washington Monthly, The American Prospect, The Chronicle Herald, The European Journal of Political Theory, and The Moscow Times.
  • Michael Cohen (1992-2017)
    Within those five minutes, it had become obvious that this was a freshman who I could—must—talk to like an advanced grad student or professor. Sadly for quantum computing, Michael ultimately decided to go into classical parts of theoretical computer science, such as low-rank approximation and fast algorithms for geometry and linear-algebra problems. But that didn’t stop him from later taking my graduate course on quantum complexity theory, where he sat in the front and loudly interrupted me every minute, stream-of-consciousness style, so that my “lectures” often turned into dialogues with him. Totally unforgivable—all the more so because his musings were always on point, constantly catching me in errors or unjustified claims (one of which I blogged about previously).

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