Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Here Comes the Sun

Five years of video from NASA's Goddard Solar Observatory. Glorious.
(via boingboing)


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Giordano Bruno on Prudence

Prudence is the state of things that leads a person to happiness and bliss in their life, and maintains them there, and ultimately returns great value. In this, children and fools differ from a man, and there are many who, regardless of their age, would reach the end of their course of days without having taken the counsel of maturity; these decrepit old men who have become worn out and unfit with age are the same ones who once tamed and subdued bulls and lions and bears. A prudent man is he who has proper regard for the things that must be done, who meditates upon the present, recollects the past, and provides for the future with forethought; it is not only that which is observable to the eyes which prudence considers, not judging only by what the eyes see or what the ears hear, but thinking over what possibilities and contingencies may truly happen in the future. He comes always by the correct path of nature and the divine, never by the broad path to Perdition, but travelling by the true ways of the past, by that called the hard, steep road by the Pythagoreans, diverting neither to the left or the right. He is prudent, wise and rational, who takes his seat in the stern of his soul, takes his counsel of the Almighty, in which he is preserved, exalts in the good he is able to do for others, and does not fear the murmuring of the fearful, insidious and wicked.

-Lullian Combinatoric Lamps
Section II, Chapter II, Member II 
 
 
From the first English edition of Bruno's commentaries on the works of Ramon Llull, coming out later this month.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Links for Later 2-1-15

  1. The Parable of the Talents: How much should we think about how smart we are?
  2. Tim Ferriss interviews Arnold Schwarzenegger.
  3. Andrew Gelman on cognitive/behavioral economics.
  4. Paul Krugman: I See Very Serious Dead People.
  5. Xi Jinping's choices for reforming China & the Communist Party.
  6. Psychedlics are back as therapeutic tools.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

How to Decrease Inequality

The President's proposal to raise the capital gains tax rate to 28% is a good first step on the road to reversing some inequality-favoring policies. Cutting capital gains was meant to increase business investment, but what it's done instead is to provide convenient tax shelter for extremely wealthy individuals and an incentive to take one's compensation in the form of dividends. Here's a good summary of Danny Yagan's paper on the 2003 cap gains tax cut, Paul Krugman on the same. We should not, as a function of government, care how you make your money, so ideally, you would pay one set of progressive rates on the whole of your income, whether you got it as an hourly or annual wage, interest, dividend, or what have you.

Second, there needs to be an ongoing focus on deconcentrating industries generally and inhibitng large scale mergers & acquisitions among market leaders in particular. Why? Because these mergers have a hollowing out effect on the industry so that only very large scale companies remain. They also inhibit competition and internal investment, making inorganic growth more attractive. Access to public capital markets should be fostered instead, making public offerings simpler and less costly.

Third, intellectual property reform needs to move in the direction of weaker IP protection, with tighter restrictions on the length, breadth, and permissible categories of protection. Business process patents should be eliminated entirely, and safe harbor exceptions should be broad and automatically available. There exists a point at which additional protection actually decreases IP value, and I think it's clear we're well past that point. Some good signs are showing up in the new EU draft proposal in this area, but the current round of proposed trade agreements, starting with TPP, are unfortunately steps in the wrong direction.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Lullian Combinatoric Lamps - Giordano Bruno

Chapter VI
Member III

The width of the scale permits many ways of examination: | first, the extension of the meanings of the terms (of which more is said later), that is to say that goodness not only extends to its physical meaning but also to its ethical one (similarly applicable to greatness and the others); second by duplication of them in their concrete and abstract forms, so to speak, goodness and good, greatness and great; third by distinctions of -ivi, -abilis, and -are, for example, bonificativum [the capacity of goodness or to do good], bonificabile [the capacity to receive goodness or to be improvable], bonificare [to improve, reclaim, restore], where ivum signifies the active principal part, abile the passive principal part, and are the copulative principal part, or ivum the principal effective or communicative part, abile the principal receptive or participatory part, and are the principal connective or actual part; fourth, by distinctions of affirmative and negative, additive and subtractive, thus to the extent that one can be said to be taken affirmatively, the other is take negatively, where one is excessive, the other is deficient; fifth, by distinctions of explicit and implicit, because they are in terms not solely contained in their system, but also everything that can be said and imagined through absolute predicates, as is made clear in the Tract Regarding the Multiplication of the Terms; sixth by distinction of proper and appropriated, insofar as some of these have a natural convenience, some by and from themselves [per se & a se, instrinsically], others extrinsically and from others, some I say are from natural substance, some from infusion, some from acquisition.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Magnetic Memory Podcast

Anthony Metivier was good enough to interview me over at Magnetic Memory Method Podcast. We talked about Giordano Bruno, memory palaces, and how you can improve your techniques for learning and memory.

So, if you've enjoyed seeing me burble on in print, now you can get the definitive audio experience as well. Hope you enjoy.