Errol Morris’ What’s in a Name parts 2 and 3. It’s definitely an interesting series of essays, as people in Chinese cultures have a very different way of approaching names. While most of them never change their family name, a lot of them change their English name and Chinese first name, even at a very young age. I’ve had grade 1 students change their names very suddenly. It’s rarer to change your Chinese first name, but it happens often compared to what I’m used to.
Nice write-up in the NYT about the Color App that’s being doing badly it seems. They raised 41 million in VC capital before releasing their app, which failed miserably. It’s a stark contrast to Instagram, which started with a few employees and $500,000.
It’s pretty annoying when you’re talking someone, and then they whip out their smartphone and merely grunt assertions. It’s probably happened to many of us, but it’s extremely rude and if it happens, we shouldn’t stand for it.
“I’m fine with people stepping aside to check something, but when I’m standing in front of someone and in the middle of my conversation they whip out their phone, I’ll just stop talking to them and walk away. If they’re going to be rude, I’ll be rude right back.”
It’s not just conferences full of inforati where this happens. In places all over America (theaters, sports arenas, apartments), people gather in groups only to disperse into lone pursuits between themselves and their phones.
“Last year, for my friend’s birthday, my gift to her was to stay off my phone at her birthday dinner,” said Molly McAleer, who blogs and sends Twitter messages under the name Molls. “How embarrassing.”
When I talk to someone, I give them my full attention. If they don’t, I won’t.
In the instance of screen etiquette, sharing is not always caring, and sometimes, the bigger the screen, the larger the faux pas […]
“This is the way the world works now. We’re always connected and always on call. And some of us prefer it that way.”
MG Siegler from TechCrunch
“My personal pet peeve is people who live-tweet every interaction,” said Roxanna Asgarian, a student at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism who attended South by Southwest this year. “I prefer to experience the thing itself over the experience of telling people I’m doing the thing.”
Mobile devices do indeed make us more mobile, but that tether is also a leash, letting everyone know that they can get you at any second, most often to tell you they are late, but on their way.
And therein lies the real problem. When someone you are trying to talk to ends up getting busy on a phone, the most natural response is not to scold, but to emulate. It’s mutually assured distraction.
The third installment of The Ashtray is online over at the NYT. It’s the longest of the series, until now.
Commensurability or incommensurability is a concept in the philosophy of science. Scientific theories are described as commensurable if one can compare them to determine which is more accurate; if theories are incommensurable, there is no way in which one can compare them to each other in order to determine which is more accurate.
Pythagoras and the Pythagoreans were devoted to a higher spookiness. It is their distinction. With his vein-ruined hands describing circles in the smoky air, Pythagoras has come to believe in numbers, their unearthly harmonies and strange symmetries. ‘Number is the first principle,’ he affirmed, ‘a thing which is undefined, incomprehensible, having in itself all numbers…’ Half-mad, I suppose, and ecstatic, Pythagorean thought offers us the chance to peer downward into the deep unconscious place where mathematics has its origins, the natural numbers seen as they must have been seen for the very first time, and that is as some powerful erotic aspect of creation itself…
David Berlinski, “Infinite Ascent”
There is an anomaly — an inability to find a rational fraction that measures the diagonal of a unit-square. This is followed by a mathematical proof that shows conclusively, irrefutably that there is, that there can be, no such fraction.
It’s a very nice essay, presented in an almost academic fashion. A must for any mathematician.