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21 April 2017



Reading this post reminded me of a conversation with a noted Social Scientist, Dr. A.B. Hollingshead, my father in law, about the use of words in social science writing. My question, to the head of Yale's Sociology Department, was "Why are academics always assigning new meanings to common words and inventing new words for everyday activities." He explained that was necessary to protect the profession from interlopers, to be a sociologist one had to learn the code works of the profession by working their way across the field and through the established academic gates. If you did not know the code works and the nuanced meanings of those code word, you could not be a professional sociologist. He offered that assigning meanings to words not commonly used was true of all professions, designed to keep the amateur and interlopers at bay. These terms and terminology are often used to vet another professional in social situations. Does this person know the code words? Ah ha, this person is a real engineer, I can speak freely with this person, using the language of my profession. Words are important, but knowing the nuanced code words is even more important.


How Algorithmic Thinking Can Help You Think Smarter

By Ali Almossawi

“What’s fascinating is that Babylonian tablets from the second millennium BCE reveal that ancient Babylonians wrote down their procedures for determining things like, say, compound interest or the width and length of a cistern given its height and volume using algorithms. And all throughout history, and in a variety of domains, one can see approaches to problems that resemble what we refer to today as algorithms.

That realization is intriguing for a number of reasons. One, it shows that this way of thinking about problems is rooted in ancient history. Two, it shows that it is domain-agnostic.

And so, if one were to consider how best to make algorithms compelling to the broadest audience, it seems only natural to strive to not sell the field short, by describing it in its narrowest form, but to rather frame it as a tool for thinking, and a general-purpose one at that. One that can be applied to everyday problems that may have nothing at all to do with computers.”

This is the kind of thinking that our schools should be teaching along with spreadsheets.


This was surprisingly good.

'Understanding Fake News'.

Scott Obermuller

SFTA - re the Ytube video. He's OK, but too young to have a proper perspective on a lot of what he talks about. We had way worse and bloodier riots in the 60's (and earlier - Haymarket) than today.
He's totally wrong about how I respond to news accounts that touch on areas of knowledge that I have. I've always felt that if they're that screwed up about that item, then they're probably wrong about everything else they write about. I actually experienced that personally in high school. He seems to blame the growing divide on the news, but the reason we are divided is quite simple and as old as the hills: Freedom or free stuff. I know this sounds harsh - he is correct about a lot of what he's experienced. Over all, I give him a B-. I do believe he'll get better.

Paul Emery

Any way you look at it George it is a serious indictment of our educational "system" in that the best we can do picking a President is to come up with Clinton and Trump as our only alternatives.


Can termites have invisible hands?

Simple rules, local knowledge. You gotta do what you gotta do.


Gregory@01:11 PM

Bad link!



was reading the paper on another device,
but that looks like what didn't work. Hmmm.

Here's the complete citation export
title = {Network-based model of the growth of termite nests},
author = {Eom, Young-Ho and Perna, Andrea and Fortunato, Santo and Darrouzet, Eric and Theraulaz, Guy and Jost, Christian},
journal = {Phys. Rev. E},
volume = {92},
issue = {6},
pages = {062810},
numpages = {9},
year = {2015},
month = {Dec},
publisher = {American Physical Society},
doi = {10.1103/PhysRevE.92.062810},
url = {}

try this

Scott Obermuller

"... Clinton and Trump as our only alternatives."
Actually, you can choose from several other candidates or even write in any of several million eligible humans.
The Dems ran a total liar and crook. A lot of other folks figured the best way to keep her out of the White House was to vote for anybody else. Trump at least recognises basic American rights such as equality before the law.
He won. Some people that don't understand how this works are unhappy.
Too bad.

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