Apr 15

Greatest comeback ever – Alexandre Dumas edition

It turns out he was of mixed race – or so says wikipedia anyway

Despite Dumas’ aristocratic background and personal success, the writer had to deal with discrimination related to his mixed-race ancestry. In 1843 he wrote a short novel, Georges, that addressed some of the issues of race and the effects of colonialism. His response to a man who insulted him about his African ancestry has become famous. Dumas said:

My father was a mulatto, my grandfather was a Negro, and my great-grandfather a monkey. You see, Sir, my family starts where yours ends.

Mar 15

Ever More Quotes of the day

Again from Slate Star Codex

The difference between “religion” and “culture” has always been pretty vague. Shinto is the best example; it’s less a coherent metaphysical narrative than a bunch of things Japanese people do and a repository for Japanese traditions and rituals. A quick look at Hinduism reveals that they have no idea what gods they believe in, it’s a bunch of different religions stuck together under one umbrella, but the point is that it’s the sort of thing Indian people do and a repository of Indian traditions. Even though Jews have a pretty coherent religion, the line between “Jewish culture” and “Jewish religion” is equally fuzzy. Religion as distinct from culture seems like a pretty Western phenomenon, the result of a triumphant Christianity colonizing cultures it never originated from, ending out with the modern conception of culture as ethnic food + silly costumes.

Mar 15

Quote of the day – David Friedman edition

From a review of David Friedman’s book the Machinery of Freedom over at Slate Star Codex

My overall conclusion is that I am delighted by this fascinating and elegant system and would very much like to see it tried somewhere very far away from me.

Mar 15

Playing Woodstock

How much did they make?  Apparently you can find out.

Mar 15

Making teaching scale to pay teachers like rockstars

Of course – it has to be doing something that scales…

IIRC this is pretty common in South Korea – I’m sort of surprised that the separation of lecturer and coach isn’t more common.

Jan 15

Favorite new selfie

Posted from WordPress for Windows Phone

Dec 14

Random insight on New Years Eve

I suppose my current consuming insight is that America is lacking in quality old people.  As my dad put it (around 2003 IIRC) foolishness used to be fatal, but now everything is seat belted, idiot-proofed, and somewhat treatable medically, thus permitting a lot of the less wise to reach old age, and bringing down the average level of wisdom in society.  We can expect young people to be reckless and impulsive, but traditionally the older generation grows out of that.  Thanks to technology, they have not been doing that lately.

Nov 14

Music quote of the moment

From this interview with James McMurty

The thing these days is to bundle as many niches as possible and call it a career

Oct 14

World Health Indicators

The prime indicator of whether the economy is in a recession is if people complain about Walmart – if more people are complaining, we are in a recovery, if people stop complaining we are in a recession.  WalMart related angst is a luxury good.

If the military spends untold billions developing fighter aircraft that are too expensive to actually use (we’ve had air superiority for generations now, no one else is close, and missiles have huge advantages of human piloted craft) then America faces no real threats in the world, and the power that be feel free to reward constituents and districts with interesting graft instead of focusing on saving the country.  Similarly, (while Peter Thiel is right, mass NSA surveillance is not a sign of competence, rather the opposite) the fact that the NSA devotes a lot of time and energy to spying on Americans by solving interesting technical puzzles instead of their legal job is a sign that there is no looming terrorist threat.

One universal truth I now recently recognize is the importance of projects to the middle aged – I’ve got my cnc machine and prediction tracking site, others have universal democracy and government health insurance, but at a certain age the projects become pillars of your worldview.  I need to flesh that idea out a bit more.

Aug 14

Quote of the day

Quote of the day

The improvement of our way of life is more important than the spreading of it,” Colonel Lindbergh told his countrymen. “If we make it satisfactory enough, it will spread automatically. If we do not, no strength of arms can permanently impose it.”