Sunday Links

Happy New Year! I’m really excited about what 2014 has in store, and interested to see how a consistent blogging practice might make things better.

This concludes the final week of Stanford’s winter break. I’ve been working hard to make the most of my remaining relatively-free time.1 I made an effort to read more seriously this week (mostly on more topics in economics), alongside beginning work on several projects that are important to me, including learning German, experimenting with biphasic sleep, researching possible summer work opportunities, and writing a book (post forthcoming!).

There will likely be an enormous time crunch in these first few weeks as I re-adjust to the school environment and “shop” for classes. Expect it to be quiet around here for a bit.

  • Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness is a friendly introduction to “libertarian paternalism,” the strategy of constructing choice architectures in a way that counters the harmful effects of acknowledged cognitive biases and allows individuals to better pursue their own aims. The first several chapters are absolutely worth a read.
  • The Motivation Hacker is a fantastic condensed presentation of the best points of LessWrong-style instrumental rationality: it is packed with useful “hacks” which can be used to ramp up motivation and productivity. This is not a self-help book but rather a descriptive work: an image of the most promising techniques applied successfully in a single person’s life. A great quick read without the usual condescension or absolute focus on a single method that usually comes in this self-improvement genre.
  • Russ Roberts hosts an outstanding EconTalk interview with Dallas Fed president Richard Fisher. Fisher clearly and plainly states his opinion on the Fed’s support of “too big to fail” banks and exhibits without restraint his strong disapproval of current monetary policy. I’ve listened to this three times already and will be taking notes on it as I listen again on the plane ride back to Stanford. Pure gold. (See also Mathbabe’s summary and response.)
  • Alex Gaynor gives a realist’s view of the state of Python 3, pointing out that only 2% of PyPI package downloads are for version-3 applications. He suggests that Python 3 features be backported to a 2.8 release.
  • “These New-Fangled Books Will Doom Us All!” is a fun infographic that exposes thinkers since the 15th century decrying the horrible social effects of new technologies. Critics of technology have lamented the impending destruction of society due to new media since the printing press, but we still seem to be doing okay.
  • “bunnie studios” pries open some SD cards and reveals some surprisingly insecure designs.
  • Ben Bernanke gives what may be his final speech as Fed chairman.
  • Eric Hegelson discovers that his ISP injects affiliate links into web pages.

  1. I returned to Stremor for these three weeks, so work and commuting still took up a significant portion of each day.