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"The disposable academic"

The Economist :: The disposable academic

You know you are a graduate student, goes one quip, when your office is better decorated than your home and you have a favourite flavour of instant noodle.

Chad Hagen's "Nonsensical Infographic No. 1"
Chad Hagen's "Nonsensical Infographic No. 1"
True. And true.

Although the first has more to do with my wife and I having diverging opinons about contemporary art. I think Jared Tarbell prints and John Maeda quotes are great things to put on the wall. My wife... feels otherwise.

As to the second, my preference from among the widely-distributed brands is Maruchan Roast Chicken, but most varieties are good with a little extra curry powder, some sriracha, a bit of cilantro or spring onion, and a squeeze of lime.

(Side note: If you want to branch out on your ramen choices, check out Ramenbox.)

Even graduates who find work outside universities may not fare all that well. PhD courses are so specialised that university careers offices struggle to assist graduates looking for jobs, and supervisors tend to have little interest in students who are leaving academia.

That part is true sans caveats. My advisor is supportive of me leaving academia, but neither he now anyone else knows how to help me look for non-academic jobs. There's plenty of support if I wanted to stay in academia, and a fair amount if I wanted to be at a place like Sandia or MSR. But for the types of positions I want, I'm on my own.

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Reading List for 2 Apr 2013

Alan Winfield's Web Log :: Extreme debugging — a tale of microcode and an oven

"Components on the CPU circuit board were melting, but still it didn't crash. So that's how I debugged code with an oven."

If that's not a closing line that gets you to click through, I don't know what is.

Forbes :: Tomio Geron :: Quantopian Brings Algorithmic Trading To The Masses

Why didn't this exist five years ago? I would have had *so* much fun. But no, it can't get invented until I'm up to my ears in dissertation and have already adopted half a dozen new hobbies in the last two years. (Via the Lab49 Blog)

Marginal Revolution :: Alex Tabarrok :: Cognitive Democracy: Condorcet with Competence

More generally, if the voter competences levels are \{p_1, p_2, p_3\} then the cognitively most efficient voting scheme gives each voter a weight of \log \left(p_i/(1-p_i)\right) the result is remarkable for a being such a simple formula of the voter’s own competence level.

There are a ton of links between voting, structured finance, and machine learning ensembles. For example, the logit equation Tabarrok gives is also used to weight members of Bayesian Model Combination ensembles, and is closely related to the weighting scheme used in AdaBoost.

I have every intention of writing about the overlaps between these topics one day, but until that day...

Thomas C. Leonard's review of Nudge [pdf]

Leonard's critique is brilliant in its simplicity. RTWT.

Very briefly: if it is in fact so simple to "nudge" people between sets of preferences, how can you even claim they have real preferences? If people's preferences for apples or cookies is all an artifact of which comes first in the cafeteria line then central planners aren't allowing people to act on their low discount rate preferences instead of their high discount rate preferences, they're creating those preferences. David Henderson has a more in depth summary, but do read the original.

chrmoe :: LED Cube 8x8x8 running on an Arduino

Now that I've got a Raspberry Pi up and running I need to dive into Arduino.

I'm going to build one of these to cut my teeth, then before you know it I'll be giving Leo Villareal a run for his money 😉

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Roman Mars

The latest episode of Bullseye includes a great interview with radio producer and podcaster Roman Mars.

99percent-invisible-logoMars is the man behind the wonderful podcast 99% Invisible. (No relation to OWS.) 99% Invisible is about the design and architecture of both the extremely weird (Kowloon Walled City, Razzle Camoflage) to the entirely prosaic (broken Metro escalators, check cashing stores, culs-de-sac) to the outright awesome (The Feltron Annual Report, Trappist ales).

I had always thought Mars had a background in architecture. Turns out he actually went to grad school to study genetics. A lot of what he said about studying and learning and why he went to grad school really resonated with me, which is why I'm writing this post. (Besides wanting to evangelize 99% Invisible, which I couldn't recommend more.)

The only complaint I have with the interview came when Mars said that if you simply read a list of his podcast topics without listening to the show you'd think they were the most boring things in the world.

I couldn't disagree more. The topics he chooses are exactly the sort of thing that lead people like me to descend into hour-long Wikipedia spelunking expeditions. (Except his investigations of them have way higher production value and are told much more artfully than the Wikipedia writing-by-committee process produces.) Don't you want to learn about how Gallaudet University designed buildings suitable for the deaf? Or how audio engineers sound-design the Olympics? Yes. Yes you do.

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