Hi, I'm Britt Crawford

Articles I liked from the week of March 27th, 2016.

  1. No-Brainers, Deal-Killers and Anomienomics 101The concept of anomie , popularized by the French sociologist Émile Durkheim in 1897 (a time very like ours), should be in everybody's mental models today. It…
    Decision making in the modern world is hard. In an environment of low uncertainty, like the baby boomers grew up in, there were few alternatives but it was easy to choose between good and bad moves. Now there are many options and it's hard to tell which is which. So, instead of picking the best of few options we must eliminate the obviously bad choices and muddle through as best we can.

  1. Follow the money: Apple vs. the FBI - Charlie's DiaryA lot of people are watching the spectacle of Apple vs. the FBI and the Homeland Security Theatre and rubbing their eyes, wondering why Apple (in the person of…
    Charlie Stross argues that Apple is fighting FBI because it wants to become a bank. What else are they going to do with their massive cash stockpile? Installing a backdoor on every iphone as the FBI is requesting would undermine customers' trust in them as a bank, and rightly so. I think that is an interesting but dubious theory. The kernel of it may be correct though. I don't know if they want to become a bank but they are a payments processor. A universal backdoor would make me much less likely to trust them with my payment information.

  1. reactjs/react-basicReact - Basic Theoretical Concepts This document is my attempt to formally explain my mental model of React. The intention is to describe this in terms of…

  1. Genius-annotated version of “How to Shoot a Suspect in the Back, Reasonably”Beyond the racial prejudice of juries and district attorneys, a major—and frequently ignored—factor as to why county prosecutors fail to indict cops who maim…
    Several Supreme Court cases established standards for determining what is a reasonable use of force by a police officer. These standards are extrememly forgiving. While it seems reasonable to offer a police officer the benefit of the doubt when making what is potentially a life or death decision, the standard set is so loose that it is almost impossible to convict a cop of excessive use of force. Worse, since those cases police have been trained how to report their use of force to make it seem as though they are in danger.

  1. My Heroic and Lazy Stand Against IFTTT (Pinboard Blog)Imagine if your sewer pipe started demanding that you make major changes in your diet. Now imagine that it got a lawyer and started asking you to sign things.…
    I understand the utility of having people build to you but as a provider of glue code it seems to degrade your value a bit. Also, these terms of service are absolutely nuts.
  2. The moon thought to play a major role in maintaining Earth's magnetic fieldThe gravitational effects associated with the presence of the Moon and Sun cause cyclical deformation of the Earth's mantle and wobbles in its rotation axis.…
    The gravitational force of the moon effectively spins the Earth's core keeping it from cooling and maintaining the Earth's magnetic field. Cool!
  3. Incorrect Maps and Broken TerritoriesToday is April 1st, and you're probably getting some really good practice telling pranks apart from real things in our increasingly absurd world. It's a good…
    The map is not the territory. Maps are extraordinarily useful for mental compression of information but can blind you. The worst blindness is not where your map is wrong but the aspects it does not even consider and cannot accommodate. One interpretation of Fingerspitzengefuhl, finger tip feeling, is an intuitive understanding of breaks in your own and others maps. With it you can see the breaks in others maps. This jives with my own belief that you get a lot of advantage by paying attention and being observant. Many people seem to navigate by maps only. They also don't seem to pay enough attention to actually notice when their map is wrong. Try talking to an accountant about how your business is doing. You'll see what I mean.

  1. Nakatomi SpacesSo why do I mention all this in the context of Die Hard? The majority of that film’s interest, I’d suggest, comes precisely through its depiction of architectural space: John McClane, a New York cop on his Christmas vacation, moves through a Los Angeles high-rise in basically every conceivable way but passing through its doors and hallways. McClane explores the tower—called Nakatomi Plaza—via elevator shafts and air ducts, crashing through windows from the outside-in and shooting open the locks of rooftop doorways. If there is not a corridor, he makes one; if there is not an opening, there will be soon.
    A great essay that I've read many times. It presents one of the best explanations of smooth vs. striated space (Deleuze & Guattari). Think of the way a taxi driver drives, ignoring lanes, cutting through parking lots, making right turns from the left lane. Most drivers see the road as a divided group of lanes with rules and restrictions. The cabbie sees it as it is, a single piece of smooth asphalt, and treats it as such.
  2. In Newly Created Life-Form, a Major Mystery | Quanta MagazineIn Newly Created Life-Form, a Major Mystery. Peel away the layers of a house — the plastered walls, the slate roof, the hardwood floors — and you’re left with a frame, the skeletal form. Scientists have created a synthetic organism that possesses only the genes it needs to survive. But they have no idea what roughly a third of those genes do.
  3. Human-Complete ProblemsOccasionally, I manage to be clever when I am not even trying to be clever, which isn’t often. In a recent conversation about the new class of doomsday…
    Human complete problems are the hard problems for humans like finding meaning, earning a living, life the universe and everything. Human complete problems are infinite games. Some of them contain sets of finite games. Fulfilling Life = <Make a living, Do interesting work, Raise happy children, Learn> ... or something like that. This provides an interesting way to classify AI, potentially more interesting than the Turing test. An AI is a general purpose AI (AGI) if it can play human complete infinite games. Can AlphaGo make a living as AlphaGo? Can the Google car get fired from being a self-driving car and retrain itself as a piece of mining equipment, quit Google and start a job as a party bus. There's a lot more packed into this post than that but it's a start.