📺 The West Wing (NBC, 1999) Season 1, Episodes 1-4

Watched The West Wing (S1, E1-4) from NBC
Created by Aaron Sorkin. With Martin Sheen, Rob Lowe, Allison Janney, John Spencer. Inside the lives of staffers in the West Wing of the White House.

It’s amazing how much has changed in politics and how much hasn’t changed…

“Five Votes Down”
“A Proportional Response”
“Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc”
“Pilot”

Watched on Netflix via Chromecast to Television

Ate Homemade pizza: BBQ chicken with grilled onions, red peppers, fresh basil, mozerella, cheddar cheese, and Parmesan; Pepperoni with mozerella, cheddar cheese, and Parmesan; and Coca-cola zero sugar

Homemade pizza: BBQ chicken with grilled onions, red peppers, fresh basil, mozerella, cheddar cheese, and Parmesan; Pepperoni with mozerella, cheddar cheese, and Parmesan; and Coca-cola zero sugar

👓 I went on a date with Aziz Ansari. It turned into the worst night of my life | Babe.net

Read I went on a date with Aziz Ansari. It turned into the worst night of my life by Katie Way (babe)
Exclusive -- A young photographer told the comedian: ‘I want to make sure you're aware so maybe the next girl doesn't have to cry on the ride home’

Reading as follow up to the provocative article I read in The Atlantic yesterday. I’m a bit more interested in the cultural differences brought up by The Atlantic author and the millennial viewpoint in this article.

I’m often struck with people’s seeming lack of ability to communicate verbally, and this seems even more apparent with the millennial generations. Also striking is “Grace’s” even more dramatic reaction to the encounter after she’d had time to discuss it more with friends. It almost reads as if she didn’t know what to think of things by herself without the filter of her friends’ comments and thoughts. I’m curious if this phenomenon is generational and what role the texting/sharing/social media environment of the past decade has or hasn’t done to impact this viewpoint.

Some thoughts about the journalistic perspective

I spent a few minutes looking into babe as a source and I’m even more curious how to take the story given the photo I found at the bottom of their article and the text from their “about page” which is given the permalink path “/manifesto”. Their top menu rail includes the topics: “news, lust, fads, looks, IRL, pop” which makes me even more suspicious.

Given these and their apparent size and exuberant youth and lack of experience, I have to wonder about their journalistic integrity a bit. While they did seemingly go to some lengths to verify Grace’s story with friends and back it up with apparent photos and texts, it almost plays as journalistic theater copying work and stories they’ve likely recently read out of The Washington Post and The New York Times. How does such a small publication get a story and choose to push it right after the Golden Globes in such a way? Are the editors or writer friends with the subject or even the subject herself? If so this should be mentioned for full disclosure in the article. Especially in the case where they may be trying to press such an article into the mainstream and thereby have some significant exposure and financial upside for themselves.

Page header on babe’s “manifesto” and found at the bottom of the story.

We publish our own voices, uncensored and unfiltered
babe started in May 2016 as an experiment by a group of editors in our early twenties. We now reach more than 3 million readers a month, and a million girls follow us on Facebook. And because we aren’t owned by a magazine empire which needs cover stars, we can say what we like.

We know our readers like we know our friends. On babe we put out the kind of media we want to read – stories and videos and memes that are as spontaneous and savage as what goes down our group chats. And then on Fridays we get drunk together.

babe is into good news reporting, trash trends, personal stories, industry-leading analysis of fuckboys and the pettiest celebrity drama.

And we’re cool with admitting that we are full of contradictions, because all girls are. We care about safe sex and access to birth control, but know sometimes you just need to pop some Plan B. Find us in the gap between our image of ourselves and how we actually behave.

Hang with us here, read our top stories here, tell us where we’ve fucked up here.

🔖 Dynamics on expanding spaces: modeling the emergence of novelties

Bookmarked [1701.00994] Dynamics on expanding spaces: modeling the emergence of novelties (arxiv.org)
Novelties are part of our daily lives. We constantly adopt new technologies, conceive new ideas, meet new people, experiment with new situations. Occasionally, we as individuals, in a complicated cognitive and sometimes fortuitous process, come up with something that is not only new to us, but to our entire society so that what is a personal novelty can turn into an innovation at a global level. Innovations occur throughout social, biological and technological systems and, though we perceive them as a very natural ingredient of our human experience, little is known about the processes determining their emergence. Still the statistical occurrence of innovations shows striking regularities that represent a starting point to get a deeper insight in the whole phenomenology. This paper represents a small step in that direction, focusing on reviewing the scientific attempts to effectively model the emergence of the new and its regularities, with an emphasis on more recent contributions: from the plain Simon's model tracing back to the 1950s, to the newest model of Polya's urn with triggering of one novelty by another. What seems to be key in the successful modelling schemes proposed so far is the idea of looking at evolution as a path in a complex space, physical, conceptual, biological, technological, whose structure and topology get continuously reshaped and expanded by the occurrence of the new. Mathematically it is very interesting to look at the consequences of the interplay between the "actual" and the "possible" and this is the aim of this short review.

Bookmarked after reading Mathematical Model Reveals the Patterns of How Innovations Arise.

When Couples Fight Over Books | WSJ

Read When Couples Fight Over Books (WSJ)
People feel possessive of books because they help form our beliefs. How couples keep, display and discard books can be the stuff of heated debate.

After bickering with her husband nonstop for a week recently, Amber Fallon made a huge sacrifice for love. Four books.

This represented an appeasement in the ongoing book battles between Ms. Fallon and her husband, John. Both are big readers. Both own many books. His are alphabetized in a floor-to-ceiling bookcase in their bedroom. Hers take up three of his shelves, fill their home office and stack precariously in a “To Be Read” pile in a corner.

When books start to spill onto tables and countertops, Mr. Fallon—who gives away many of his books once he’s read them—demands answers. Why does his wife need two copies of the same title? Why keep ones she’s already read? “She believes in some form of immortality by having books around,” says Mr. Fallon, 39, a systems technician.
Continue reading “When Couples Fight Over Books | WSJ”

Mathematical Model Reveals the Patterns of How Innovations Arise | MIT Technology Review

Read Mathematicians have discovered how the universal patterns behind innovation arise (MIT Technology Review)
A mathematical model could lead to a new approach to the study of what is possible, and how it follows from what already exists.

Continue reading “Mathematical Model Reveals the Patterns of How Innovations Arise | MIT Technology Review”

🔖 Information theory, predictability, and the emergence of complex life

Bookmarked Information theory, predictability, and the emergence of complex life (arxiv.org)
Abstract: Despite the obvious advantage of simple life forms capable of fast replication, different levels of cognitive complexity have been achieved by living systems in terms of their potential to cope with environmental uncertainty. Against the inevitable cost associated to detecting environmental cues and responding to them in adaptive ways, we conjecture that the potential for predicting the environment can overcome the expenses associated to maintaining costly, complex structures. We present a minimal formal model grounded in information theory and selection, in which successive generations of agents are mapped into transmitters and receivers of a coded message. Our agents are guessing machines and their capacity to deal with environments of different complexity defines the conditions to sustain more complex agents.

The Language Of Falconry

Read The Language of Falconry | The Use of Falconry Terms (wingspan.co.nz)

You probably don’t realise – we all talk the language of falconry!


Having such a long and rich history around the world, the practice of falconry has developed an extensive vocabulary to describe it. Over time many of these words and phrases have become part of everyday life without many of us realising the original meaning behind the term.

For example:

“I’m just so fed up with all this work.”
The term to be ‘fed up’ comes from the falconry term for when a trained hawk has eaten its fill. When a bird is ‘fed up’ it is unwilling to fly and hunt for the falconer. Hence today, to be ‘fed up’ means you are no longer interested in doing something.

“That guy is so under her thumb!”
To be under the thumb, comes from the action of a falconer holding the leash of the hawk under their thumb to maintain a tight control of the bird. Today the term under the thumb is generally used in a derogatory manner to describe a partners overbearing control over the other partners actions.

“Ha ha – he’s been hoodwinked!”
Falconers use a leather ‘hood’ to cover a hawks eyes and keep them calm. Hence the term hoodwinked came about to describe somebody being fooled or tricked into doing something.

“Noel has been working too hard – he’s looking a bit haggard!”
A haggard falcon was traditionally a bird that was caught from the wild while on migration. Typically a bird caught at this time would be thin and tired from its journey. Hence the term for somebody looking ‘haggard’ means that they look a bit rough around the edges, a bit worn out.

“She’s been waiting with bated breath all day”
Falcons, when they want to fly, bate from the block, meaning they try to fly but are held short of leaving the area around their perch by their leash. When doing this they can become short of breath – and hence are waiting for the falconer to come to release them from their tether with ‘bated breath’. The term “at the end of my tether” similarly comes from the action of a falcon, particularly an un-trained young falcon, bating from the perch and being held up by their tether – hence they are at the end of their tether i.e. extremely frustrated.

“Ok, I will cadge a lift off Tom.”
A cadge was what falconers called a portable perch. Falcons were carried to the hunting grounds on a cadge. Thus the term to ‘cadge a lift’ came about, meaning to get a free lift. Phrases based on the words cadge don’t end there. ‘Codger’ is a derivative of the word ‘cadger’. Cadgers were usually old falconers (who carried the falcons on the cadge) hence today the term has come to be used to refer to an elderly person, as in the affectionate term – ‘the old codger’. Interestingly, a caddy today is somebody who carries golf clubs for somebody – and normally the person carrying the clubs is considerably younger than the person playing the game!

“I’m off down the boozer.”
When raptors drink, it is called bowsing. A bird that drinks heavily is called a boozer. The same term is used to describe the same tendency in humans – hence a ‘boozer’ is someone who drinks a lot and the ‘boozer’ is where people that drink beer like to go for a drink (or two).

Source: Falconry | The Language of Falconry | The Use of Falconry Terms

Recap and Photos from Hopkins in Hollywood

A Johns Hopkins Alumni and Student Networking Event and Panel Discussion in Los Angeles on 1-12-17

Over 75 alumni, students, and faculty from Johns Hopkins got together on January 12, 2017 for a networking mixer and panel discussion relating to the entertainment and media business. Johns Hopkins alum and emeritus board of trustees member Don Kurz (A&S ’77) graciously hosted the event at his company Omelete in Culver City.

Just prior to the event the current students, primarily seniors and juniors who were visiting Los Angeles as part of an Intersession course within the Film and Media Studies Program, met with alum and cinematography legend Caleb Deschanel (A&S ’66) to hear about his industry experiences and ask questions. Following this there was an hour long drinks/hors d’oeuvres mixer of both students and alumni.

Host Don Kurz then thanked everyone for attending and introduced Film and Media Studies Program Director Linda DeLibero. She gave a quick overview of the program and its growth over the past few years and introduced the group of students who had traveled out from Baltimore for the class.

Don Kurz (JHU A&S ’77) welcomes everyone to Omelete while Caleb Deschanel and Linda DeLibero watch from the far left.

Following this Don moderated a panel discussion and Q&A featuring alumni Paul Boardman (A&S ’89), Jason Altman (A&S ’99), Devon Chivvis (A&S ’96), and Chris Aldrich (Engr. ’96). Panelists discussed how some of their Hopkins experiences helped to shape their subsequent careers in the entertainment and media sectors.

Panelist Paul Boardman (seated at far end) describing how his experience in breaking down films scene by scene at Hopkins helped to prepare him for a subsequent career as a screenwriter. Jason Altman and Devon Chivvis sit to his right.

After the discussion, Linda presented Don with a gift of a framed artistic print of the newly renovated Center Theatre, part of Station North and a hub for the Film and Media Studies Program. She thanked him for all of his work and effort on behalf of the program, saying she knew he’s “always got our back.”

Panelist Devon Chivvis (right) watches as Linda DeLibero presents host Don Kurz (left) with a small token of the Film and Media Studies Program’s gratitude.

Emily Hogan gave a brief overview of her work at the JHU Career Center and encouraged alumni who had job openings or internship opportunities within their companies or knew of other opportunities for students/alumni to contact her with details and help in filling them.

Following some additional networking, a portion of the crowd retired to nearby pub/restaurant Public School 310 to continue the discussion.

Alumni continue the conversation at Public School 310. Picutred left to right: Jason Somerville, Jason Altman, Paul Boardman (obscured), Devon Chivvis, Cari Ugent, Karen Swift, Mark Swift, and Kathryn Alsman.

Event Photo Gallery