🎧 “General Chapman's Last Stand” Season 3 Episode 5 | Revisionist History

Listened “General Chapman's Last Stand” Season 3 Episode 5 by Malcolm Gladwell from Revisionist History

"Good fences make good neighbors. Or maybe not."

General Leonard Chapman guided the Marines Corp through some of the most difficult years in its history. He was brilliant, organized, decisive and indefatigable. Then he turned his attention to the America’s immigration crisis. You think you want effective leadership? Be careful what you wish for.

A piece of history I was surprised to not have heard about with relation to current immigration policy. Also a great example of how policy makers need to be able to think 20 steps into the potential futures to realize the ramifications of what they’re doing an the effects it will have on future generations.

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🔖 Theory Of Self Reproducing Automata by John Von Neumann, Arthur W. Burks (Editor) | 9780252727337

Bookmarked Theory Of Self Reproducing Automata by John von Neumann (University of Illinois Press)

Waiting for the price of some of these to drop.

Digital copy available on Archive.org.

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📖 Read pages 93-112 of 288 of Linked: The New Science Of Networks by Albert-László Barabási

📖 Read pages 93-112 of 288 of Linked: The New Science Of Networks by Albert-László Barabási

An interesting overlap of Bose condensation mathematics and physics into network theory.

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📖 Read pages 13-79 of 288 of Linked: The New Science Of Networks by Albert-László Barabási

📖 Read pages 13-79 of 288 of Linked: The New Science Of Networks by Albert-László Barabási

It’s an interesting overview of the subject of network science and complexity. Potentially good if you know nothing of the area at all, or if you’re about to delve heavily into the topic. I’m breezing through it quickly with an eye toward reading his more technical level networks textbook that came out two years ago as well as some of his papers in the area.

Some of the pieces so far are relatively overwritten given that it’s now more than 15 years later… but the general audience then probably needed the extra back story. The only math so far is at the level of simple logarithms and the few equations are buried in the footnotes.

There are some useful rules of thumb he’s introduced for the generalists and engineers in the crowd like the idea of things that fall into an 80/20 Pareto rule are very likely power law models.

He’s repeated some common stories about Paul Erdős and Alfréd Rényi. I hadn’t heard the story about Erdős saying there were too many plus signs on the Notre Dame campus–that was kind of cute. I did enjoy that he’d dug at least an additional layer deeper to pull up Frigyes Karinthy’s short story “Chains” to introduce the original(?) conceptualization of the idea of Six Degrees of Separation.

I’ll circle back later for additional highlights and annotations.

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📖 Read through page 13 of 288 of Linked: The New Science Of Networks by Albert-László Barabási

📖 Read through page 13 of 288 of Linked: The New Science Of Networks by Albert-László Barabási

So far a very facile opening. Somewhat surprised to see a reference to Jesus and Paul here, but interestingly apropos.

Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia

Introduction

…the high barriers to becoming a Christian had to be abolished. Circumcision and the strict food laws had to be relaxed.

Highlight (yellow) – 1. Introduction > page 4

Naturally, if you make it easier to be a Christian, then it will be easier to create links and grow the network

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👓 The Narrow Passage of Gortahig | Dan Cohen

Read The Narrow Passage of Gortahig by Dan Cohen (Dan Cohen)

You don’t see it until you’re right there, and even then, you remain confused. Did you miss a turn in the road, or misread the map? You are now driving through someone’s yard, or maybe even their house. You slow to a stop.

On rural road R575, also known as the Ring of Beara and more recently rebranded as part of the Wild Atlantic Way, you are making your way along the northern coast of the Beara Peninsula in far southwestern Ireland. You are in the hamlet of Gortahig, between Eyeries, a multicolored strip of connected houses on the bay, and Allihies, where the copper mines once flourished. The road, like the landscape, is raw, and it is disconcertingly narrow, often too narrow for two cars to pass one another.

An interesting example of how small local decisions can have complex and interesting ramifications in the future.

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👓 The End of History? | Francis Fukuyama

Read The End of History? by Francis FukuyamaFrancis Fukuyama (The National Interest | No. 16 (Summer 1989), pp. 3-18)

IN WATCHING the flow of events over the past decade or so, it is hard to avoid the feeling that something very fundamental has happened in world history. The past year has seen a flood of articles commemorating the end of the Cold War, and the fact that "peace" seems to be breaking out in many regions of the world. Most of these analyses lack any larger conceptual framework for distinguishing between what is essential and what is contingent or accidental in world history, and are predictably superficial. If Mr. Gorbachev were ousted from the Kremlin or a new Ayatollah proclaimed the millennium from a desolate Middle Eastern capital, these same commentators would scramble to announce the rebirth of a new era of conflict.

And yet, all of these people sense dimly that there is some larger process at work, a process that gives coherence and order to the daily headlines. The twentieth century saw the developed world descend into a paroxysm of ideological violence, as liberalism contended first with the remnants of absolutism, then bolshevism and fascism, and finally an updated Marxism that threatened to lead to the ultimate apocalypse of nuclear war. But the century that began full of self-confidence in the ultimate triumph of Western liberal democracy seems at its close to be returning full circle to where it started: not to an "end of ideology" or a convergence between capitalism and socialism, as earlier predicted, but to an unabashed victory of economic and political liberalism.

In general, while I’ve been reading Stuart Kauffmann’s At Home in the Universe, I can’t help but thinking about the cascading extinctions he describes and wonder if political extinctions of ideas like Communism or other forms of government or even economies might follow the same types of outcomes described there?   
August 29, 2018 at 09:37AM

Building on this, could we create a list of governments and empires and rank them in order of the length of their spans? There may be subtleties in changes of regimes in some eras, but generally things are probably reasonably well laid out. I wonder if the length of life of particular governments follows a power law? One would suspect it might.   
August 29, 2018 at 09:43AM

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

The triumph of the West, of the Western idea, is evident first of all in the total exhaustion of viable systematic alternatives to Western liberalism.  

Total exhaustion?
August 29, 2018 at 08:53AM

What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of postwar history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.  

What if, in fact, we’ve only just found a local maximum? What if in the changing landscape there are other places we could potentially get to competitively that supply greater maxima? And possibly worse, what if we need to lose value to get from here to unlock even more value there?
August 29, 2018 at 08:56AM

Hegel believed that history culminated in an absolute moment – a moment in which a final, rational form of society and state became victorious.  

and probably not a bad outcome in an earlier era that thought of things in terms of clockwork and lacked the ideas of quantum theory and its attendant uncertainties.
August 29, 2018 at 08:59AM

Believing that there was no more work for philosophers as well, since Hegel (correctly understood) had already achieved absolute knowledge, Kojève left teaching after the war and spent the remainder of his life working as a bureaucrat in the European Economic Community, until his death in 1968.  

This is depressing on so many levels.
August 29, 2018 at 09:05AM

Paul Kennedy’s hugely successful “The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers”, which ascribes the decline of great powers to simple economic overextension.  

Curious how this may relate to the more recent “The End of Power” by Moisés Naím. It doesn’t escape one that the title of the book somewhat echoes the title of this particular essay.
August 29, 2018 at 09:18AM

But whether a highly productive modern industrial society chooses to spend 3 or 7 percent of its GNP on defense rather than consumption is entirely a matter of that society’s political priorities, which are in turn determined in the realm of consciousness.  

It’s not so much the percentage on produced defense goods, but how quickly could a society ramp up production of goods, services, and people to defend itself compared to the militaries of its potential aggressors.

In particular, most of the effort should go to the innovation side of war materiel. The innovation of the atomic bomb is a particularly nice example in that as a result of conceptualizing and then executing on it it allowed the US to win the war in the Pacific and hasten the end of war in Europe. Even if we otherwise had massive stockpiles of people or other weapons, our enemies could potentially have equaled them and dragged the war on interminably. It was the unknown unknown via innovation that unseated Japan and could potentially do the same to us based on innovation coming out of almost any country in the modern age.
August 29, 2018 at 09:24AM

Weber notes that according to any economic theory that posited man as a rational profit-maximizer, raising the piece-work rate should increase labor productivity. But in fact, in many traditional peasant communities, raising the piece-work rate actually had the opposite effect of lowering labor productivity: at the higher rate, a peasant accustomed to earning two and one-half marks per day found he could earn the same amount by working less, and did so because he valued leisure more than income. The choices of leisure over income, or of the militaristic life of the Spartan hoplite over the wealth of the Athenian trader, or even the ascetic life of the early capitalist entrepreneur over that of a traditional leisured aristocrat, cannot possibly be explained by the impersonal working of material forces,  

Science could learn something from this. Science is too far focused on the idealized positive outcomes that it isn’t paying attention to the negative outcomes and using that to better define its outline or overall shape. We need to define a scientific opportunity cost and apply it to the negative side of research to better understand and define what we’re searching for.

Of course, how can we define a new scientific method (or amend/extend it) to better take into account negative results–particularly in an age when so many results aren’t even reproducible?
August 29, 2018 at 09:32AM

FAILURE to understand that the roots of economic behavior lie in the realm of consciousness and culture leads to the common mistake of attributing material causes to phenomena that are essentially ideal in nature.  

August 29, 2018 at 09:44AM

“Protestant” life of wealth and risk over the “Catholic” path of poverty and security.[8]   

Is this simply a restatement of the idea that most of “the interesting things” happen at the border or edge of chaos? The Catholic ethic is firmly inside the stable arena while that of the Protestant ethic is pushing the boundaries.
August 29, 2018 at 09:47AM

Hence it did not matter to Kojève that the consciousness of the postwar generation of Europeans had not been universalized throughout the world; if ideological development had in fact ended, the homogenous state would eventually become victorious throughout the material world.  

This presupposes that homeostasis could ever be achieved.

One thinks of phrases like “The future is here, it just isn’t evenly distributed.” But everything we know about systems and evolving systems often indicates that homeostasis isn’t necessarily a good thing. In many cases, it means eventual “death” instead of evolving towards a longer term lifespan. Again, here Kauffmann’s ideas about co-evolving systems and evolving landscapes may provide some guidance. What if we’re just at a temporary local maximum, but changes in the landscape modify that fact? What then? Shouldn’t we be looking for other potential distant maxima as well?
August 29, 2018 at 09:52AM

But that state of consciousness that permits the growth of liberalism seems to stabilize in the way one would expect at the end of history if it is underwritten by the abundance of a modern free market economy.  

Writers spend an awful lot of time focused too carefully on the free market economy, but don’t acknowledge a lot of the major benefits of the non-free market parts which are undertaken and executed often by governments and regulatory environments. (Hacker & Pierson, 2016)
\August 29, 2018 at 10:02AM

Are there, in other words, any fundamental “contradictions” in human life that cannot be resolved in the context of modern liberalism, that would be resolvable by an alternative political-economic structure?  

Churchill famously said “…democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time…”

Even within this quote it is implicit that there are many others. In some sense he’s admitting that we might possibly be at a local maximum but we’ve just not explored the spaces beyond the adjacent possible.
August 29, 2018 at 10:08AM

For our purposes, it matters very little what strange thoughts occur to people in Albania or Burkina Faso, for we are interested in what one could in some sense call the common ideological heritage of mankind.  

While this seems solid on it’s face, we don’t know what the future landscape will look like. What if climate change brings about massive destruction of homo sapiens? We need to be careful about how and why we explore both the adjacent possible as well as the distant possible. One day we may need them and our current local maximum may not serve us well.
August 29, 2018 at 10:10AM

anomie  

I feel like this word captures very well the exact era of Trumpian Republicanism in which we find ourselves living.
August 29, 2018 at 10:37AM

After the war, it seemed to most people that German fascism as well as its other European and Asian variants were bound to self-destruct. There was no material reason why new fascist movements could not have sprung up again after the war in other locales, but for the fact that expansionist ultranationalism, with its promise of unending conflict leading to disastrous military defeat, had completely lost its appeal. The ruins of the Reich chancellery as well as the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed this ideology on the level of consciousness as well as materially, and all of the pro-fascist movements spawned by the German and Japanese examples like the Peronist movement in Argentina or Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army withered after the war.  

And yet somehow we see these movements anew in America and around the world. What is the difference between then and now?
August 29, 2018 at 11:46AM

This is not to say that there are not rich people and poor people in the United States, or that the gap between them has not grown in recent years. But the root causes of economic inequality do not have to do with the underlying legal and social structure of our society, which remains fundamentally egalitarian and moderately redistributionist, so much as with the cultural and social characteristics of the groups that make it up, which are in turn the historical legacy of premodern conditions.  

August 29, 2018 at 11:47AM

But those who believe that the future must inevitably be socialist tend to be very old, or very marginal to the real political discourse of their societies.  

and then there are the millennials…
August 29, 2018 at 11:51AM

Beginning with the famous third plenum of the Tenth Central Committee in 1978, the Chinese Communist party set about decollectivizing agriculture for the 800 million Chinese who still lived in the countryside. The role of the state in agriculture was reduced to that of a tax collector, while production of consumer goods was sharply increased in order to give peasants a taste of the universal homogenous state and thereby an incentive to work. The reform doubled Chinese grain output in only five years, and in the process created for Deng Xiaoping a solid political base from which he was able to extend the reform to other parts of the economy. Economic Statistics do not begin to describe the dynamism, initiative, and openness evident in China since the reform began.  

August 29, 2018 at 11:58AM

At present, no more than 20 percent of its economy has been marketized, and most importantly it continues to be ruled by a self-appointed Communist party which has given no hint of wanting to devolve power.  

If Facebook were to continue to evolve at it’s current rate and with it’s potential power as well as political influence, I could see it attempting to work the way China does in a new political regime.
August 29, 2018 at 12:04PM

IF WE ADMIT for the moment that the fascist and communist challenges to liberalism are dead, are there any other ideological competitors left? Or put another way, are there contradictions in liberal society beyond that of class that are not resolvable? Two possibilities suggest themselves, those of religion and nationalism.  

August 29, 2018 at 12:19PM

This school in effect applies a Hobbesian view of politics to international relations, and assumes that aggression and insecurity are universal characteristics of human societies rather than the product of specific historical circumstances.  

August 29, 2018 at 12:30PM

But whatever the particular ideological basis, every “developed” country believed in the acceptability of higher civilizations ruling lower ones  

August 29, 2018 at 12:37PM

Perhaps this very prospect of centuries of boredom at the end of history will serve to get history started once again.  

Has it started again with nationalism, racism, and Trump?
August 29, 2018 at 12:48PM

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🔖 The building blocks of economic complexity | César A. Hidalgo and Ricardo Hausmann| PNAS

Bookmarked The building blocks of economic complexity by César A. Hidalgo and Ricardo Hausmann (PNAS)
For Adam Smith, wealth was related to the division of labor. As people and firms specialize in different activities, economic efficiency increases, suggesting that development is associated with an increase in the number of individual activities and with the complexity that emerges from the interactions between them. Here we develop a view of economic growth and development that gives a central role to the complexity of a country's economy by interpreting trade data as a bipartite network in which countries are connected to the products they export, and show that it is possible to quantify the complexity of a country's economy by characterizing the structure of this network. Furthermore, we show that the measures of complexity we derive are correlated with a country's level of income, and that deviations from this relationship are predictive of future growth. This suggests that countries tend to converge to the level of income dictated by the complexity of their productive structures, indicating that development efforts should focus on generating the conditions that would allow complexity to emerge to generate sustained growth and prosperity.

h/t Disconnected, fragmented, or united? a trans-disciplinary review of network science by César A. Hidalgo (Applied Network Science | SpringerLink)

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🔖 A Dynamic Network Approach for the Study of Human Phenotypes | PLOS Computational Biology

Bookmarked A Dynamic Network Approach for the Study of Human Phenotypes by César A. Hidalgo , Nicholas Blumm, Albert-László Barabási, Nicholas A. Christakis (PLOS Computational Biology)
Author Summary: To help the understanding of physiological failures, diseases are defined as specific sets of phenotypes affecting one or several physiological systems. Yet, the complexity of biological systems implies that our working definitions of diseases are careful discretizations of a complex phenotypic space. To reconcile the discrete nature of diseases with the complexity of biological organisms, we need to understand how diseases are connected, as connections between these different discrete categories can be informative about the mechanisms causing physiological failures. Here we introduce the Phenotypic Disease Network (PDN) as a map summarizing phenotypic connections between diseases and show that diseases progress preferentially along the links of this map. Furthermore, we show that this progression is different for patients with different genders and racial backgrounds and that patients affected by diseases that are connected to many other diseases in the PDN tend to die sooner than those affected by less connected diseases. Additionally, we have created a queryable online database (http://hudine.neu.edu/) of the 18 different datasets generated from the more than 31 million patients in this study. The disease associations can be explored online or downloaded in bulk.

h/t Disconnected, fragmented, or united? a trans-disciplinary review of network science by César A. Hidalgo (Applied Network Science | SpringerLink)

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🔖 Statistical mechanics of complex networks | Rev. Mod. Phys. 74, 47 (2002)

Bookmarked Statistical mechanics of complex networks by Réka Albert and Albert-László Barabási (Reviews of Modern Physics 74, 47 (2002))
Complex networks describe a wide range of systems in nature and society. Frequently cited examples include the cell, a network of chemicals linked by chemical reactions, and the Internet, a network of routers and computers connected by physical links. While traditionally these systems have been modeled as random graphs, it is increasingly recognized that the topology and evolution of real networks are governed by robust organizing principles. This article reviews the recent advances in the field of complex networks, focusing on the statistical mechanics of network topology and dynamics. After reviewing the empirical data that motivated the recent interest in networks, the authors discuss the main models and analytical tools, covering random graphs, small-world and scale-free networks, the emerging theory of evolving networks, and the interplay between topology and the network's robustness against failures and attacks.

h/t Disconnected, fragmented, or united? a trans-disciplinary review of network science by César A. Hidalgo (Applied Network Science | SpringerLink)

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🔖 Emergence of Scaling in Random Networks by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi and Reka Albert | Science

Bookmarked Emergence of Scaling in Random Networks by Albert-László Barabási, Réka Albert (Science)
Systems as diverse as genetic networks or the World Wide Web are best described as networks with complex topology. A common property of many large networks is that the vertex connectivities follow a scale-free power-law distribution. This feature was found to be a consequence of two generic mechanisms: (i) networks expand continuously by the addition of new vertices, and (ii) new vertices attach preferentially to sites that are already well connected. A model based on these two ingredients reproduces the observed stationary scale-free distributions, which indicates that the development of large networks is governed by robust self-organizing phenomena that go beyond the particulars of the individual systems.

h/t Disconnected, fragmented, or united? a trans-disciplinary review of network science by César A. Hidalgo (Applied Network Science | SpringerLink)

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🔖 Some Statistics of Evolution and Geographical Distribution in Plants and Animals, and their Significance by J.C. Willis & Udny Yule | Nature

Bookmarked Some Statistics of Evolution and Geographical Distribution in Plants and Animals, and their Significance by J. C. Willis and G. Udny Yule (Nature volume 109, pages 177–179)
Abstract
IN a paper read at the Linnean Society under the above title on February 2, the statistical methods long employed in “Age and Area” were pushed to their final conclusion. Age and area (review in Ann. of Bot., October, 1921, p. 493) is the name given to a principle gradually discovered in many years of work upon the flora of Ceylon, which, in brief, affirms that if one take groups of not less than ten allied species and compare them with similar groups allied to the first, the relative total areas occupied in a given country, or in the world, will be more or less proportional (whether directly or not we do not yet know) to their relative total ages, within that country or absolutely, as the case may be. The longer a group has existed the more area will it occupy. Tens are compared in order to eliminate chance differences as much as possible, and allied groups to avoid as far as may be the complications introduced by different ecological habit, etc. Herbs, for example, probably spread much more rapidly than trees, but both will obey Age and Area. It is of course obvious that age of itself cannot effect dispersal, but inasmuch as predictions as to distribution of species, occurrence of endemics, etc., can be successfully made upon the basis of age alone, it is clear that the average rate of spreading of a given species, and still more of a group of allied species, is very uniform, and therefore affords a measure of age. The result of the work is to show that in general the species (and genera) of smallest areas are the youngest, and are descended from the more widespread species that usually occur beside them.

h/t Disconnected, fragmented, or united? a trans-disciplinary review of network science by César A. Hidalgo (Applied Network Science | SpringerLink)

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🔖 Trust: The Social Virtues and The Creation of Prosperity by Francis Fukuyama

Bookmarked Trust: The Social Virtues and The Creation of Prosperity by Francis Fukuyama (Free Press)
In his bestselling The End of History and the Last Man, Francis Fukuyama argued that the end of the Cold War would also mean the beginning of a struggle for position in the rapidly emerging order of 21st-century capitalism. In Trust, a penetrating assessment of the emerging global economic order "after History," he explains the social principles of economic life and tells us what we need to know to win the coming struggle for world dominance. Challenging orthodoxies of both the left and right, Fukuyama examines a wide range of national cultures in order to divine the underlying principles that foster social and economic prosperity. Insisting that we cannot divorce economic life from cultural life, he contends that in an era when social capital may be as important as physical capital, only those societies with a high degree of social trust will be able to create the flexible, large-scale business organizations that are needed to compete in the new global economy. A brilliant study of the interconnectedness of economic life with cultural life, Trust is also an essential antidote to the increasing drift of American culture into extreme forms of individualism, which, if unchecked, will have dire consequences for the nation's economic health.

h/t Disconnected, fragmented, or united? a trans-disciplinary review of network science by César A. Hidalgo (Applied Network Science | SpringerLink)

Given the large number of “Trust” and “Truth” related books being released this year, most in reference to Donald J. Trump’s administration, this might be an interesting read which takes him out of the equation and potentially better underlines the bigger problem we’re seeing in a growing anti-scientific leaning America?

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🔖 Economic Action and Social Structure: The Problem of Embeddedness | Mark Granovetter | American Journal of Sociology: Vol 91, No 3

Bookmarked Economic Action and Social Structure: The Problem of Embeddedness by Mark Granovetter (American Journal of Sociology)
How behavior and institutions are affected by social relations is one of the classic questions of social theory. This paper concerns the extent to which economic action is embedded in structures of social relations, in modern industrial society. Although the usual neoclasical accounts provide an "undersocialized" or atomized-actor explanation of such action, reformist economists who attempt to bring social structure back in do so in the "oversocialized" way criticized by Dennis Wrong. Under-and oversocialized accounts are paradoxically similar in their neglect of ongoing structures of social relations, and a sophisticated account of economic action must consider its embeddedness in such structures. The argument in illustrated by a critique of Oliver Williamson's "markets and hierarchies" research program.

h/t Disconnected, fragmented, or united? a trans-disciplinary review of network science by César A. Hidalgo (Applied Network Science | SpringerLink)

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