this week i

woke up early, walked three blocks north to the harbor.  boarded a ferry with..

full-size game room

..well-stocked supermarket.  this cannot be a smart use of fuel.

docked in helsinki, another ghost town..

the prettiest block.  uninhabited

a darwin award aspirant

sun-starved psychopaths.  it's sixty degrees outside

 guess that's cool.  yeah that's cool.

what is that middle language?  simple english?

perhaps the world's oldest living ashtray

..lightly-used motorless highways.

sat loudly and proudly.

ate smoked rudolph aka pizza berlusconi.  it felt good.

picked my favorite building..

and my favorite building appendage

..before visiting the museum of architecture.

if artificial intelligence enslaves humanity, all new construction will look like this

foundations forming the sign of the cross

this one partially carved out of rock, see lalibela for the real deal

a symptom of being rich and bored

 ..anyway russians make the wildest churches, no contest.

stepped into the museum of design..

kind of like a sex swing for computer programmers

..not sure whether it's supposed to be the barstool or the sauna stool, but i can think of a third use.

sailed back to tallinn, ouch my wallet hurts.  coca-cola in finland: $6.  one hour massage in vietnam: $7.  nuh uh.

read nature's metropolis, about chicago's rise during the late 1800's.  an intensely complex web of relationships, william cronon figured it all out.

the expansion of a metropolitan economy into regions that had not previously been tightly bound to its markets, and the absorption of new peripheral areas into a capitalist orbit

chigagou, "the wild-garlic place"

without new york, the natural advantages of great lakes shipping would have meant little.  had new orleans, and not new york, been the chief entrepot between europe and north america, the evolution of western trade would surely have followed a different course

the major railroad companies imposed on north america new, "standard" times to replace the hundreds of "local" times which had previously been used to set clocks throughout the country.  before the invention of standard time, clocks were set according to the rules of astronomy; noon was the moment when the sun stood highest in the midday sky.  by this strict astronomical definition every locale had a different noon, depending on the line of longitude it occupied.  when clocks read noon in chicago, it was 11:50 a.m. in st. louis, 11:38 a.m. in st. paul, 11:27 a.m. in omaha, and 12:18 p.m. in detroit, with every possible variation in between

shippers used the railroads west of chicago to avoid using the railroads east of it, and this could only benefit chicago

as late as 1850, st. louis was still handling over twice as much wheat and flour as chicago, but within five years the younger city had far surpassed its older rival

i am satisfied that there is no institution in the state of illinois that can pile up money like the elevators in chicago

the white pine had another, less obvious, characteristic that mattered even more to the people who wanted to turn it into lumber: unlike the hardwoods that surrounded it, it floated.  in a northern landscape that still lacked railroads, only water could move so large and heavy an object as a sawlog for any great distance.  fortunately, the same climate, glaciers, and impermeable bedrocks that had created soil conditions favorable to forest growth had also left the north woods with an intricate network of lakes, rivers, and streams.  if one could only get the trunk of a pine tree to the bank of a major stream, water would do the work carrying it to mill and market

the worst fear of the men was that a few logs might become caught at a shallow or narrow place in the river, causing thousands of others to back up behind them in a nightmarish tangle known as a logjam.  logs might pile up for miles behind such an obstruction, overflowing the river's banks, destroying structures on shore, and wreaking havoc with the forward movement of the drive

wholesalers amassed this enormous fortune by acting as intermediaries between the original suppliers of lumber in the lake michigan forests and the ultimate consumers of it in the small towns and farming areas of the prairies

wind conditions on the lake often caused lumber vessels to arrive simultaneously, exacerbating the already fierce competition among them

the cowboy..far from being a loner or rugged individualist, he was a wageworker whose task was to ship meat to the cities-above all, to chicago

farmers could now count on finding a year-round market in chicago for their corn-fattened pigs-because the city's packing plants never closed.  access to the chicago market changed the agricultural calendar, spreading pork production across the entire year.  ice and rails together..helped chicago break the wheel of the seasons

public health was a convenient way of putting the best face on a deeper and more self-interested economic issue

the world must become chicago's hinterland

river travel upstream from st. louis had always been troubled by two major rapids, one 200 miles above the city near keokuk, iowa, and the other 150 miles farther upstream at rock island.  between the two, the channel was filled with submerged rocks where ridges of hard limestone crossed beneath the river, making passage tricky for much of the way.  even shallow-draught steamboats had trouble navigating this stretch of river safely, and often had to unload their cargo onto flatboats to get it through.  the result was much higher transport costs

"the ancient store boxes in the cellar," this visitor wrote, "have 'st. louis' stenciled on them; those on the pavement, 'chicago'"

the iowa farm family who raised corn for cattle purchased from wyoming and who lived in a farmhouse made of wisconsin pine clothed themselves with mississippi cotton that massachusetts factory workers had woven into fabric, worked their fields with a plow manufactured in illinois from steel produced in pennsylvania, and ended their sunday meal by drinking venezuelan coffee after enjoying an apple pie made on an ohio stove from the fruit of a backyard orchard mixed with sugar from cuba and cinnamon from ceylon

the heavily leveraged world of frontier

"the montgomery ward catalog," wrote a nebraska farmwoman, "...was a real link between us and civilization."

in coding each bankrupt for computer processing by the statistical analysis system, sas, i created variables for first and last name, court district and case number, filing status (voluntary or involuntary), date of filing, the bankrupt's county of residence, and the place of residence of the creditor who brought the proceeding if the bankruptcy was involuntary


this week i

published the barebones coding needed to analyze usaid's demographic and health surveys.

found myself in the middle of estonian lollapalooza.  first a 5k parade..

..and then the whole damn nation.  well, there are 1.3 million estonians and these festival grounds hold 100,000.  so 7.7%.

read sun tzu's the art of war.  a book of massive generalizations..

one whose upper and lower ranks have the same desires will be victorious that it's so old, but this tome of cliches fails the test of time.  the whole book might as well be: surprise your enemy.

in order to cause the enemy come of their own volition, extend some apparent profit.  in order to prevent the enemy from coming forth, show them potential harm.  thus if the enemy is rested you can tire him; if he is well fed you can make him hungry; if he is at rest you can move him.  go forth to positions to which he must race.  race forth where he does not expect it.

now the army's disposition of force is like water.  water's configuration avoids heights and races downward.  the army's disposition of force avoids the substantial and strikes the vacuous.  water configures its flow in accord with the terrain, the army controls its victory in accord with the enemy.

bestow rewards not required by law, impose exceptional governmental orders.  direct the masses of the three armies as though commanding one man.  press affairs upon them, do not explain the purpose to them.  compel them with prospects for profit, but do not inform them about the potential harm. 

when it is advantageous, move; when not advantageous, stop.

suppose that's why we read machiavelli instead.


this week i

landed by the baltic sea.  living in the museum for a few months.

have to remember to sleep.  estonian summer never sees darkness.  here's midnight..

 ..and on the results of sleep-depravity, this guy not 100% invested in the idea of wearing pants.

rented an apartment for the month..

..private balcony.

advise british people to stop saying brilliant.  mix it up, you invented the damn language.

wish the mystery science theater 3000 people would re-unite and make the world cup tolerable.  it's cool that the viewership ranks up there with moon landings, otherwise just as boring as any other sport.

know this isn't healthy, but fuck if it doesn't feel right.  in response to whatever you're thinking: "lest ye be judged"

think their keyboards are stuck.
compare tallinn to vienna, but with more vowels.  related: what do viennese call their city?  wien.

dunno.  it's nice.  possibly more buildings than people.


read champion of self-paced learning salman khan's the one world school house.  many of his ideas provide endless opportunities for responsibility abdication.  surely, educators somewhere are misapplying his guidance, squeezing more dollars out of the system under the veil of technology, justifying pay-for-performance schemes that have no place in the field of education until, at least, we can fairly implement them in the far-easier-(but still impossible)-to-measure field of medicine.  when i attended his lecture and asked his thoughts about the university of phoenix, he answered with guarded disdain.  wish he'd unequivocally denounce corporations that bastardize his life's work. notwithstanding, a hero.

youtube was for cats playing piano, not serious mathematics

if faces are so important to human beings, why exclude them from videos?  because they are a powerful distraction from the concepts being discussed.  what, after all, is more distracting than a pair of blinking human eyes, a nose that twitches, and a mouth that moves with every word?  put a face in the same frame as an equation, and the eye will bounce back and forth between the two

computer-based lessons actually allow..the classroom to become a workshop

unless you've truly understood those more elementary concepts, calculus is of no use to you.  it's this element of synthesis, of pulling it all together, that gives calculus its beauty.  at the same time, however, it's why calculus is so likely to reveal the cracks in people's math foundations

why are certain pedagogical tasks consigned to the classroom and the rigidly structured time increments of the school day, while others are pushed back into the looser hours of personal and family time?

the dominant method in our traditional classrooms is still the broadcast lecture; one of the most cited metrics in our public debates is class size.  but there's a disconnect between those things.  if a teacher's main job is lecturing, what does it really matter how many students are in the room?  whatever the class size, how customized can instruction be when kids sit passively, taking notes, and the great majority of the teacher's time and energy is devoted to lesson plans, grading papers, and paperwork?

work on things until they could get ten right answers in a row

i did have the therapeutic release of being the lead singer in a heavy metal band

the cost of wasting millions of minds is simply unacceptable

the best way to differentiate between forward-looking, twenty-first-century industries and old-school, backward-looking ones is to see what interns are doing

original math or science or engineering is neither more nor less than art by another name

genius doesn't punch a time clock

more like a hive than a chapel