Alles wat Jan bezig houdt, interesseert en irriteert... en ook een beetje onzin...

vrijdag, december 30, 2022

In 2023, Let’s Rediscover Wrongness

In 2023, I hope we can rediscover wrongness. Mere wrongness. Wrongness untethered from other accusations. Not everything that is wrong is dangerous or evil or bigoted. Sometimes people are just wrong. A big part of human life is arguing over who is wrong and attempting to nudge this whole ungainly human enterprise toward rightness, a few painstaking microns at a time. It's harder to do that when the pitch of everything is so shrill.

woensdag, december 28, 2022

"Why we sleep"

Dang of HN fame :

"Why We Sleep" Is Riddled with Scientific and Factual Errors - - April 2021 (151 comments)

Why We Sleep: A Tale of Institutional Failure - - April 2020 (52 comments)

"Why We Sleep" Is Riddled with Scientific and Factual Errors - - Feb 2020 (34 comments)

"Why We Sleep" Is Riddled with Scientific and Factual Errors - - Nov 2019 (58 comments)

Why We Sleep, and Why We Often Can't - - Jan 2019 (80 comments)

Productive on six hours of sleep? You're deluding yourself, expert says - - Oct 2017 (295 comments)

Sleep deprivation is increasing our risk of serious illness - - Sept 2017 (77 comments)

Some of the books I've read in 2022

  • Surely you are joking Mr Feynman. - Feynman and Leighton.
    • Dirty old man, but forgiven because witty and funny and also helped built atomic bomb. 
  • A canticle for Leibowitz - Walter M Miller Jr.
    • Catholic order fighting humanity's decline after world war 3 
  • Exhalations - Ted Chiang
    • Short stories. Most pretty good. Time traveler in 9th century Arabic world was excellent. Machines "living" on air pressure also pretty good. Lady with alternative universe mirror also excellent. 
  • The Aegean Broze age - A short introduction
    • I never realised the siege of Troy/Illium was at the very end of the Bronze Age, beginning of Iron Age and  was done by "Mycenaeans" (earliest "Greeks").
    • Really, did I not know this??
  • Cryptonomicon - Neil Stephenson
    • Nazi gold is hidden. Found and used to sponsor internet currency, to prevent another Shoah/holocaust. Very funny, witty and insightful. Gives a peak into "hacker" culture. 
  • Picnic on Nearside - John Varley
    • Short stories. A bit rambling. The one about a police officer in New Berlin (on the moon) who disarms an atomic bomb was good. 
  • The Secret of the Hittites: The Discovery of an Ancient Empire - C.W. Ceram
    • Dit oude volk uit Turkije wordt ten onrechte "Hethieten" genoemd. Hoe zichzelf genoemd hebben is onduidelijk.
  • Juli '22. Guards! Guards! Terry Pratchett.
    • De watch, 4 man sterk, moeten een draak in Ank-Morpork stoppen.
  • Augustus '22. Geld, Schuld & Banken - Ewoud Jansen 
    • Geld is wat we er van maken, het is een ruilmiddel en een claim op elkaar. 
  • September '22. Dark Matter van Blake Crouch. 
    • Heel spannend boek over een geleerde die een manier vindt om naar parallel universa te springen. 
  • September '22. Bryson, B: Bill Bryson's African Diary. 
    • Kort verslag van het humanitaire werk dat in Afrika gebeurt. Grappig geschreven op zijn Bryson's.
  • Oktober '22. Michael Lewis. The Undoing Project. 
    • Levensverhaal van o.a. Daniel Kahneman  (de auteur van " thinking, fast and slow" 
  • November '22. Greg Bear. Darwin's Radio. 
    • Boek over ons DNA. Er zitten restanten van oude virussen in verstopt. Wanneer dat DNA weer 'aan' springt leidt dit tot een enge ziekte. Het boek eindigde een beetje lauwtjes maar was wel spannend. 
  • December '22. Project Hail Mary van Andy Weir. Zelfde schrijver als "the martian" (goeie film).
    • Heel spannend en nerdy boek over een bacterie die langzaam de zon aan het opeten is en waar een oplossing voor moet worden gevonden door een eenzame astronaut. 

dinsdag, december 27, 2022

Get Uncomfortable

In 1914, Thomas A. Edison's vast plant in New Jersey caught fire which burned down equipment, wiped out ten buildings, and undid a lot of progress.

According to a 1961 Reader's Digest article by Edison's son Charles, Edison calmly walked over to him as he watched the fire destroy his dad's work. In a childlike voice, Edison told his 24-year-old son, "Go get your mother and all her friends. They'll never see a fire like this again." When Charles objected, Edison said, "It's all right. We've just got rid of a lot of rubbish."

How do you develop a cheery and positive outlook on life like Thomas Edison? One key ingredient is the willingness to take bets and fail, live a life of deliberate discomfort.

vrijdag, december 23, 2022

Why the super rich are inevitable

Why do super rich people exist in a society?

Many of us assume it's because some people make better financial decisions. But what if this isn't true? What if the economy – our economy – is designed to create a few super rich people? 

That's what mathematicians argue in something called the Yard-sale model.

The Matthew effect - Wikipedia

The Matthew effect of accumulated advantageMatthew principle, or Matthew effect, is the tendency of individuals to accrue social or economic success in proportion to their initial level of popularity, friends, wealth, etc. It is sometimes summarized by the adage "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer".[1][2] The term was coined by sociologists Robert K. Merton and Harriet Zuckerman[3] in 1968[4] and takes its name from the Parable of the Talents in the biblical Gospel of Matthew.

The Matthew effect may largely be explained by preferential attachment, whereby wealth or credit is distributed among individuals according to how much they already have. This has the net effect of making it increasingly difficult for low ranked individuals to increase their totals because they have fewer resources to risk over time, and increasingly easy for high rank individuals to preserve a large total because they have a large amount to risk.[5]

What Happens When a Group of 12-Year-Olds Is Left with No Supervision for Five Days?

  • Individual kids can be smart, clever, and kind but a group of them often is not. I believe this often applies to adults as well.
  • Both good and bad actions are contagious within groups like this, but bad actions are easier to do and their results more difficult to undo. Like, it's much easier to squirt ketchup all over the carpet than it is to clean it up.

vrijdag, december 16, 2022

Let’s just call everyone “hoss”


Let's just call everyone "hoss", as in "Hey hoss, can you get this stupid machine to stop pitching a fit out about the bag I'm just trying to load my scanned groceries in to?". It's pretty solid! If they mishear you, they'll think you said "boss", and who is that going to offend?1

However, while "hoss" is an absolutely hilarious way to refer to anyone, its roots are in the word "horse". That seems unfortunate at best for a catch-all term. I also rejected Amy's next idea, "dollface", which was equally hilarious but even more problematic. Next, I spent some time considering "buddy". I wish it could work, but it just sounds far too informal to my ear.

donderdag, december 15, 2022

The rise and fall of peer review - by Adam Mastroianni

Why don't reviewers catch basic errors and blatant fraud? One reason is that they almost never look at the data behind the papers they review, which is exactly where the errors and fraud are most likely to be. In fact, most journals don't require you to make your data public at all. You're supposed to provide them "on request," but most people don't. That's how we've ended up in sitcom-esque situations like ~20% of genetics papers having totally useless data because Excel autocorrected the names of genes into months and years.

(When one editor started asking authors to add their raw data after they submitted a paper to his journal, half of them declined and retracted their submissions. This suggests, in the editor's words, "a possibility that the raw data did not exist from the beginning.")

The invention of peer review may have even encouraged bad research.

Cambridge PhD student solves 2,500-year-old Sanskrit problem - BBC News

Sanskrit, although not widely spoken, is the sacred language of Hinduism and has been used in India's science, philosophy, poetry and other secular literature over the centuries.

Panini's grammar, known as the Astadhyayi, relied on a system that functioned like an algorithm to turn the base and suffix of a word into grammatically correct words and sentences.

However, two or more of Panini's rules often apply simultaneously, resulting in conflicts.

Panini taught a "metarule", which is traditionally interpreted by scholars as meaning "in the event of a conflict between two rules of equal strength, the rule that comes later in the grammar's serial order wins".

However, this often led to grammatically incorrect results.

Mr Rajpopat rejected the traditional interpretation of the metarule. Instead, he argued that Panini meant that between rules applicable to the left and right sides of a word respectively, Panini wanted us to choose the rule applicable to the right side.

Employing this interpretation, he found the Panini's "language machine" produced grammatically correct words with almost no exceptions.

Approximately 39 percent of all Americans are convinced that we are living in the “end times” right now…

Needless to say, a lot of people out there are quite wary of any moves toward a cashless society because they believe that it is part of the "end times" scenario described in the Bible.  According to one recent survey, approximately 39 percent of all Americans are convinced that we are living in the "end times" right now

Nearly two in five Americans, including half of self-identified Christians and a quarter of the religiously unaffiliated, agree "we are living in the End Times," a new study has found.

That's about 39% of Americans who believe we are living in the End Times, according to Pew Research, highlighted by Lifeway Research.

Other surveys have come up with similar results.

This shouldn't come as a surprise to any of us, because global events have definitely started to spin out of control in recent years.  At this point, even secular websites are publishing articles about the surging popularity of "apocalyptic scenarios"

woensdag, december 14, 2022

When worse-is-better – housing construction

The balloon frame can trace its origin to Chicago in the 1830s. Accounts vary, but the most common story is that it was first built by George Snow, a lumber magnate, as the framing for a warehouse in 1832. At the time, Chicago was on the cusp of a huge population boom - it would go from 300 residents in the early 1830s to nearly 30,000 in the 1850s, and to nearly a million in the 1890s. Heavy timber, and the labor needed to work and assemble it, was becoming difficult to find.

Timber frames are a labor-intensive building system, especially in the absence of any sort of construction machinery. The timbers themselves are heavy and require a lot of effort to move into position. And the mortise-and-tenon joints that connected them took a great deal of time and skill to create.

maandag, december 12, 2022

Globalization Is Dead and No One Is Listening

Amidst all the pomp and circumstance was a short, but powerful and sobering speech by Morris Chang, the now-91-years-old founder of TSMC. He shared his dream of building a fab in the US, the hard-earned lessons from TSMC's first time building a fab in America 25 years ago, his perspective that globalization and free trade is almost dead, and why this event is just the "end of the beginning".

It was the only speech that gave a real sense of what America's semiconductor future would reallylook like. Yet no one listened. No American, or any Western media outlet for that matter, bothered to cover this speech. Only Nikkei and a handful of Taiwanese outlets wrote about it. Not even C-Span c

Here are some of my top takeaways from this speech.

zondag, december 11, 2022

Yale’s 367-year-old water bond still pays interest (2015)

While most of the Beinecke's archival holdings are by their nature dead — their original purpose being fulfilled — the water bond lives on. It still pays annual interest more than 367 years after it was issued.

Timothy Young, the library's curator of Modern Books and Manuscripts, has travelled to Amsterdam this week to visit Stichtse Rijnlanden, a Dutch water authority, and collect 12 years of interest on the bond. Collecting the back interest maintains the bond's status as a functioning artifact from the Golden Age of Dutch finance. The water authority paid Young 136.20 euros in interest, the equivalent of $153.

"This is a teaching moment because the financial industry changes so rapidly but here we have something very old and constant," says Young, who curates the Beinecke's Collection of Financial History in partnership with the International Center for Finance at the Yale School of Management.

According the water authority, Yale's bond is one of five known to exist. The bonds were issued by the Hoogheemraadschap Lekdijk Bovendams, a water board composed of landowners and leading citizens that managed dikes, canals, and a 20-mile stretch of the lower Rhine in Holland called the Lek. (Stichtse Rijnlanden is a successor organization to Lekdijk Bovendams.)

zaterdag, december 10, 2022

The price of ‘sugar free’: are sweeteners as harmless as we thought?

Contrary to the claims so often made for them, the researchers found consistent evidence that consuming a lot of sweeteners was associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes (as well as higher risk of heart disease). Similarly, when it came to weight, they found that people who consumed a lot of sweeteners were more likely to gain weight over the long term (though the report also noted that short-term studies, lasting three months or less, showed that switching from sugary drinks to artificially sweetened ones resulted in modest weight loss of 0.71kg).

Even with dental health, the researchers found that the supposed benefits of sweeteners were not conclusive. A couple of studies suggested that daily use of a sweetener called stevia could reduce a child's risk of getting tooth decay, but in another study, children who consumed more than 250ml of artificially sweetened drinks a day were even more likely to suffer from toothache than those who drank sugary soft drinks or energy drinks, even after adjusting for levels of tooth brushing and economic privilege.

zaterdag, december 03, 2022

Why 50% of MIT students get the bat and ball problem wrong

1. The Bat and Ball Problem


  • A bat and a ball cost $1.10.
  • The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball.
  • How much does the ball cost?

First Reaction:

Nearly all people have a first reaction of 10 cents which is wrong. The correct answer is 5 cents.

In a study of 3,428 university students, 50% of participants across Harvard, MIT and Princeton gave the incorrect intuitive response and did not actively check their response. A failure to check is instructive because it requires such minimal mental effort.

donderdag, november 24, 2022

Credit Suisse Craters To Record Low After Revealing Staggering $88 Billion Bank Run | ZeroHedge

Credit Suisse Craters To Record Low After Revealing Staggering $88 Billion Bank Run | ZeroHedge

  • FTX was hit with record bank run, and filed for bankruptcy in days, with no central bank to bail it out. 
  • Credit Suisse hit with record bank run, and both the SNB and Fed rushed to bail it out.

One wonders which system is a better representation of what true capitalism should be. 

Rebuilding after the replication crisis

A Dutch psychology professor, Diederik Stapel, was found to have faked dozens of studies across many years, and nobody had noticed, in part because barely anyone had tried to replicate his work (and in part because it's really awkward to ask your boss if he's made up all his data). Psychologists published a provocative paper that showed that they could find essentially any result they wished by using statistics in biased ways — ways that were almost certainly routinely used in the field. And one of those hen's-teeth replication attempts found that a famous study from "social priming," the same social psychology genre as the cardboard box study — in which merely seeing words relating to old people made participants walk more slowly out of the lab — might have been an illusion. Similar stories followed.

woensdag, november 23, 2022

Are tech stocks now good value?

They are always on the minds of investors. "Whether we're talking about socks or stocks, I like buying quality merchandise when it is marked down," Warren Buffett, a celebrated investor, once joked. Most share prices have fallen this year—the s&p 500 index of American stocks has shed more than a fifth of its value—but the prices of technology stocks have plunged most precipitously. The tech-heavy nasdaq is down by almost a third, after poor third-quarter earnings precipitated yet another sell-off. Amazon, Netflix and Meta have this year shed a whopping 48%, 58% and 70% of their value. Such discounts mean tech stocks are certainly on sale. But are they a good deal?

Bullshit Software Projects

Bullshit Jobs: A Theory is a 2018 book by David Graeber investigating the strange phenomenon of pointless jobs. Graeber's book even features interviews with some software developers. Once I started reading it, I felt compelled to test out his theory of BS jobs by asking around1: Did any software developers I knew, or on Lobsters, or Hacker News, have bullshit jobs?

And sure enough, it didn't take me long to hear from people who found their jobs to be pointless, and for the majority of them, it wasn't a specific task, like mopping an already mopped floor, that was useless but an entire software development project. The world is apparently rife with pointless programming projects.

How to explain the KGB's success identifying CIA agents in the field

What Totrov came up with were 26 unchanging indicators as a model for identifying U.S. intelligence officers overseas. Other indicators of a more trivial nature could be detected in the field by a vigilant foreign counterintelligence operative but not uniformly so: the fact that CIA officers replacing one another tended to take on the same post within the embassy hierarchy, drive the same make of vehicle, rent the same apartment and so on. Why? Because the personnel office in Langley shuffled and dealt overseas postings with as little effort as required.

As soon becomes evident on reading, the fact that Totrov was able to produce telephone book-size volumes of CIA and other intelligence officers for KGB chief Yuri Andropov testified to the structural defects within the U.S. government in the relationship between its key operational departments in the sphere of foreign policy. All Totrov did, once apprised of this crucial flaw, was follow through schematically and draw out the pattern. This was human intelligence of the highest order and an acute embarrassment, once known, to those responsible for the conduct of U.S. foreign intelligence.

Jonathan Haslam is the author of "Near and Distant Neighbors: A New History of Soviet Intelligence," which was just published.

UV Devices Could Keep Indoor Air Free of Viruses

Far UV is an emerging form of germicidal UV (GUV) irradiation, a well-established disinfection technology and growing resource in the battle against the virus SARS-CoV-2 and other pathogens that can spread easily through the air in enclosed spaces.

How not to think about cells

dinsdag, november 22, 2022

The Rise of the Non-Working Class

From 1965 to today, the proportion of men who have dropped out of the workforce has more than tripled since 1965. If you look at that proportion over time, it's almost a straight line. You can't tell when the recessions occurred or when there were boom times. You can't tell when China entered the World Trade Organization to disrupt trade. You can't tell about our fascinating little disruptive devices like iPhones. It almost looks like a geological force. There are, obviously, some big, powerful dynamics at work that account for all of this, and they're not entirely well explained by our regular economic received wisdom.

zaterdag, november 19, 2022

The Enigma of John Donne

There is the famous line "No man is an island, entire of itself." A good quote; hard to imagine it being put to bad use. The line comes from Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, 23 meditations that Donne wrote on what he thought was his deathbed. (There's another line further down in the paragraph that's also famous, though only because Hemingway used it for the title of his novel For Whom the Bell Tolls.)

Webb Space Telescope Image Resources

Website met prachtige foto's van de nieuwe James Webb Space Telescope:

woensdag, november 16, 2022

Companies ran an experiment: Pay workers their full salary to work fewer days

> From the moment the five-day week was adopted as the industry standard, about a century ago, we've been talking about spending less time at work. John Maynard Keynes declared in the early 1930s that technological advancement would bring the work week down to 15 hours within a century. A U.S. Senate subcommittee doubled down on this in 1965, predicting we'd only be working 14 hours by the year 2000.

dinsdag, november 15, 2022

Newton's Philosophy

As a matter of historical fact, the category of the scientist—along with that word in English—is a nineteenth-century invention. Specifically, at a meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in June of 1833, the Cambridge philosopher William Whewell coined the word "scientist". Whewell said that just as the practitioners of art are called "artists", the practitioners of science ought to be called "scientists", indicating that they should no longer be called philosophers.

John Swartzwelder, Sage of “The Simpsons” | The New Yorker

Were you responsible for the use of the word "meh" on the show?

I do claim credit for that. I originally heard the word from Howie Krakow, my creative director at Hurvis, Binzer & Churchill, in 1970 or 1971. He said it was the funniest word in the world. I don't know when it was invented, or by who, but I got the impression it was already very old when Howie told it to me.

vrijdag, november 11, 2022

The Email Caste's Last Stand

Dit artikel is smullen:

They are, of course, right to worry. One of the biggest and least-talked-about social questions in the West is how to economically provide for our own modern version of France's impecunious nobles: that is, how to prop up high-status people who can't really do much economically productive work.

In my own country, Sweden, the state picks up a lot of the slack. Here, small municipalities hire dozens or hundreds of communicators, consultants, and other plainly nonproductive personnel, and attempts to do something about it run into a very simple question: Where else are these people supposed to work? Who else would hire them? Though few will say it openly, the city of Uppsala's nearly 100 communicators have nothing to do with communication, and everything to do with preserving social stability. It is, in essence, just part of a massive jobs program.

donderdag, november 10, 2022

Leaderless Teams

In the research, groups of soldiers without an appointed leader were given a "set" problem. However, the "real" problem unbeknownst to participants was their ability to balance their desire to do well with the need to work with and support other members of the group. Observers assessed, documented and ultimately coached this capacity. 

What emerged from this exercise is that social class, education, gender and athletic ability were less important for leadership than the capacity for an individual to attend to others in the group.

zaterdag, oktober 22, 2022

A global house-price slump is coming? (

It's sickening that this [slump in housing prices] is always marketed as bad news, even though we've been in a bubble for the past 20 years. The bad news is that we decided that owning a house is a retirement plan instead of giving people proper retirement plans. Somehow every non-homeowner has to be a policy slave to the passive income of some wealthy person. And we defend it by claiming that old people who are worth enough money not to work are not wealthy, as if we care about old people. We only care about old people as model "savers" who can be used to morally justify policies that directly and overwhelmingly benefit the very wealthy to the obscenely wealthy.

And also, there's a problem with revolving credit (i.e. a 2-year mortgage), such as Australia or Britain, or anything that is floating along with some interest rate. But these are a) intentional problems that the people making the loans hope will make them rich, and b) problems with pricing, because people are expected to take decades longer to pay off a house than it would take for them to build it alone with their own hands in their spare time.

maandag, augustus 15, 2022

WFH guide: How to keep out distractions

If you are Working From Home (WFH) from time to time, you might've realized that Home really isn't a great place to Work from. 

A loud neighbor utilizing a leaf blower? The dog next door doing his imitation of the five seasons in one barking session? Those Tax statements that you wanted to look at? When was the last time anyone vacuumed the floor? Before you know it, it's 12:45, and you haven't done any work-related-work except maybe turn your laptops VPN on. 

So I've found that the best place to WFH is in fact not home, but the neighborhood's library

  1. They usually have air conditioning, so in summer it's just a better indoor climate here than at home.
  2. There are quality chairs and quality desks to work from. 
  3. Ample power outlets abound (although my M1 works longer on a day's charge than I do). 
  4. Although the internet has more information, the information density of an old-fashioned dead-tree (book) is still not surpassed. And you have a ton of those very handy nearby, just in case you, as a young urban professional "information worker" actually need some information.
  5. Free Wifi.
  6. Catering is usually pretty good too.
Are there no downsides to working from home library?

There is one I can think of:
  1. Other People
Yes, other people. They walk around. They cough. Not only that, but they talk. This should be forbidden but isn't (yet): they bring their little kids into the library where they talk, laugh, run, cry and make a general ruckus 😱

So, in lieu of the proper Regulations and Law's that will fix this long term, how can we work here without being distracted All. The. Time? 

Get yourself:
  1. In-ear custom made sound dampeners, and plug these in
  2. Next, were the 3M™ PELTOR™ Optime™ III ear muffs over your ears. (Added advantage is that people can see that you are not hearing them, which will discourage them from talking to you).
The combination of these two will block about 95% of all sounds. Other tips to minimize distractions:
  1. Choose a spot where there is no direct sunlight (to prevent glare on your screen).
  2. Sit with your back to people.
And that's it, lovely people. It is possible to work almost without distractions from a comfortable environment ☺️

zaterdag, juli 16, 2022

Learning The Elite Class - by Aella - Knowingless

Everyone here does seem more… mentally together. Conscientious, maybe? It seems like they're probably working way more hours than I am. I don't understand how they do it, and I can't tell if I or they are the weird ones. People here are directors of strategy or vice presidents or head tech coordinators or editors at magazines. I don't think I could do any of that even if I had all of it handed to me.