Skip to main content

What I learned this year

  • These 500 words.
  • The name (干煸四季豆) of my favourite Chinese dish, which I have been missing for years.
  • The horrifying extent of the 'access abyss' between needed and actual pain relief among the global poor.
  • Peano arithmetic can reason about Turing machines. 'Nonprogrammable' calculators are programmable.
  • That Robin Hanson reads my blog.
  • That Bohmian mechanics is a physically and philosophically plausible account of QM, passed over because it doesn't break any giant paradigms like the others do.
  • That lifting weights at home is a kind of exercise I will actually do, voluntarily and even joyously.
  • That OpenPhil have a workable, plausible algorithm for averaging over moral theories.
  • The Spark cluster processing framework, in and out.
  • That pomace oil is 1/10th the cost of olive oil and tastes about as good.
  • Quite a lot about machine learning.
  • Quite a lot about PDEs, vector calculus.
  • Quite a lot about probability theory, branching processes.
  • A bit about functional programming, via Scala.
  • "A Real Hero" by College is about a real hero, Sully.
  • I learned that a concept is a Boolean function, and that numbers are polymorphic functions.
  • Heart stents do not work for their primary use, pain relief.
  • That I have a top percentile IQ.
  • That the free to-do list app Workflowy gives me a ludicrous sense of control over my life.
  • That US property tax changes are "grandfathered", i.e. don't apply to inheritances.
  • That 45% of American students do not graduate within 7 years. This is millions of years and public money largely wasted.


  • That Śāntideva was an early consequentialist; alongside Epicurus and Mozi he is one of the few reasons to feel ok about the ancients.
  • That malaria, along with diphtheria, was a global and ancient killer, one of the great burdens on humanity from earliest times. And we have almost killed it.
  • That Catherine and Peter the Great were only great relative to the other tsars: they were still sadistic hypocritical warmongers.
  • That Woodrow Wilson had an almost unprecedently terrible effect on America and the world.
  • That Turing independently proved the Central Limit Theorem as an undergraduate.
  • That Turing independently developed Shannon's information entropy and theory.
  • That Turing independently invented sequential analysis ("Banburismus").
  • That Turing pioneered Bayesian inference: Bayes factors and an approximation of empirical Bayes.
  • That Turing designed and built the first mobile speech encipherment device.
  • That the British secretly taped the German nuclear scientists for like 4 months. That Heisenberg was not an anti-Nazi. He was amorally ambitious.
  • That Lovelace is not the first programmer.
  • That ENIAC is not unambiguously the first computer.
  • There is little evidence to suggest confidently that Turing committed suicide.
  • Being a ridiculous Whorfian time-travel cartoon, 'Arrival' misses the real point of Chiang's source story, which is about the variational principle on physics: true timelessness.
  • ....

Comments