Quoted by Richard Rhodes, Daniel Ellsberg said of U.S. bureaucracy that it: “does not require true believers to run it. … The system consciously runs by men who — in order to stay in the game, to be close to the center of power, to have the hope that someday the moment may come when […]

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The main storytelling device in William Gibson’s novel The Peripheral is after-the-fact exposition (ATFE), which gives it the feeling of a mystery more than conventional science fiction. Rather than tell you in advance how a world or a technology works, Gibson shows you the results without context and provides the explanation later. This does well […]


In each year of my PhD, I have applied for all the summer teaching assistant (TA) positions offered in the Department of Political Science (and, after second year, in the School of the Environment too). I never heard anything back as the result of my applications, including for frequently-advertised ’emergency’ positions and jobs in statistics […]

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The often disturbing spectacle of the rise of Donald Trump as a leading Republican contendor in the presidential race prompts many emotional and analytical responses: about the long decline of America as a superpower since 1945, about the dysfunctional features of party politics and American politics in particular, and about the chasm between quality information […]


The fossil fuel divestment campaign at the University of Toronto is still dealing with the disappointment of President Gertler announcing such an uninspiring response to the social injury and financial risk associated with fossil fuel investments. One early response from the campaign was to hold a creative direct action outside Simcoe Hall, home to the […]


I got my 16 GB iPhone 4 back in February 2011 and it has mostly worked well. Now, much like my 160 GB iPod Classic, the battery life is badly depleted. I am lucky if it lasts through a 30 minute phone call, or more than an hour or so of poking around with email […]

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Princeton established the Institute for Advanced Study in 1930 as a place where some of the world’s greatest minds could pursue their research without distractions like teaching and administrative tasks. Richard Feynman famously criticized the idea, saying: When I was at Princeton in the 1940s I could see what happened to those great minds at […]



June 12, 2015

in Geek stuff, Language, Rants

English spelling is a vestigial mess: Getting Letting Betting Netting Petting Wetting Jetting Vetting Sweating

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A supposed value of the Boy Scouts is to leave every place they visit in better condition than when they arrived. ‘Better’ is the critical word here. This is not a matter of walking into the ruins of a depraved binge and bringing it to Martha Stewart’s standards. Rather, it’s about the courtesy and precaution […]


His career at the top of Canadian politics tells us more about the state of Canadian politics than anything else. That such a palpable cipher could have remained in high office for nearly a decade is a testament to many things: the thinness of the Tory front bench, the decline of cabinet, the prime minister’s […]