I think that we should make a bigger deal of the ability to predict the future in politics. Feedback is important to learning One of the most valuable things when learning is regular personal feedback - answering questions, and getting some of them marked as right and others marked as wrong and being told the … Continue reading In praise of haruspocracy
Conjecture As the population grows in the future, it will become even harder to make a living as an author, but easier to become rich as one. Reasoning To a very rough approximation ignoring a bunch of factors, (total income of authors) = (number of people speaking language) x (money spent on books per capita) … Continue reading Making a living vs making a fortune as an author
Some thoughts on the current political crisis: What people are angry about is not what they say they are angry about My suspicion is that what we're seeing is almost entirely anti-Brexit and anti-Boris protests, some of which find complaints against prorogation a useful line of attack. I think the number of people who care … Continue reading No, it’s not a coup, but it’s still regrettable.
This is hopefully going to be the first in a series of posts in which I try and explain some mathematical ideas I think are fun, aimed at non-mathematicians. Introduction One of the most famous unsolved problems in mathematics is the question of determining whether or not P (short for "polynomial time") is equal … Continue reading Pop maths 1: P vs NP
Context Recently, on a comedy programme on the BBC, Jo Brand said “Certain unpleasant characters are being thrown to the fore and they’re very, very easy to hate and I’m kind of thinking, why bother with a milkshake when you could get some battery acid” A lot of people, including me, thought that this was … Continue reading Two points to highlight about Jo Brand’s “apology”.
Background "Rocketman" is a recently released biopic of Sir Elton John. John is gay, and in its original version the film contains a number of scenes of gay sex. But Russia has laws against "homosexual propaganda", and to comply with those laws a censored version of the film, with five minutes of sex scenes cut, … Continue reading Why the censored version of Rocketman should not have been made.
I think of businesses as being like sheep. They produce wool - in the form of employment and opportunities to buy things - and meat - in the form of taxes. When you shear a sheep for wool you get both the wool and the sheep you started with, which goes on producing more wool; … Continue reading Centre-left economic theory illustrated using sheep.
Should you donate to Notre Dame? No years, one month, and one day ago to–day, the Parisians awoke to the sound of all the bells in the triple circuit of the city, the university, and the town ringing a full peal, or at least they would have done if modern fire engines didn't have decent … Continue reading Cathedrals, beggars and ineffective altruism
Getting from “Nice” to “Good” The simplest moral system recognisable as such that I can imagine is “be nice”. Don't do things that will hurt people; try and do nice things to them. This system doesn't distinguish between different people and different forms of niceness; it treats hitting a murderer to stop them murdering … Continue reading Morality, Tribalism, and Markov processes
Something I've noticed several times (most recently in the context of this Vox article about a company (voluntarily) employing workers in foreign prisons) is that when explanations of why something is bad hinge on the word "exploitation", I tend to disagree with them. For example I don't know enough of the details around the Vox article, but … Continue reading Against “it’s exploitative” as a criticism.