this was 2017

No, this is not another lame attempt to predict the future (although it worked out remarkably well). Instead it is about my personal challenge for 2017, following in the footsteps of Mark Zuckerberg.
But I am not as smart as he is, so my goals for 2017 are much more modest: Read 12 books, write 12 computer programs (*), work through 12 physics papers.
I will probably report on my progress throughout the year on this blog, but there is one problem with books: I would like to read good books, but how do I know a good one before I read it?
Perhaps I may pick one from Bloomberg's list of five books to change a conservative's mind, because I am actually worried of becoming too conservative.
But I am also counting on you! Please let me know of any good book you think I should read.


I think I am all set for the beginning of the New Year now.

January book: Masters of Doom
program: Use PhoneGap to make a simple iPhone app.
physics: The instability of AdS and the formation of naked singularities.

February book: Thinking, Fast and Slow
program: Install h2o in R and write a script using randomForest.
physics: A new test of Lorentz invariance.

March book: A Man for All Markets
program: Write a python script using astroPy.
physics: Naturalness of asymptotically safe Higgs.

(*) I am writing programs at work, currently mostly C++, R and python, which I do not include here. And I am reading more books and papers than listed here.

other books to read:
The Maisky Diaries
Hit Makers
The Internet is Not the answer
Deep Work
The Making of the President

serious repudiation

"The election of Trump is therefore a serious repudiation of media “experts.” Pundits like those at Vox position themselves as “explainers” of reality, disguising the fact that they are making an awful lot of things up in order to cover gaps in their knowledge. [...]
Thus, going forward, we need to have far less confidence in the power of existing empirical data to predict and explain the world. There needs to be a complete reevaluation, not of techniques for estimating probability, but of the meaning and importance that is attributed to probabilities. The truth is that the world is far more unknowable than we think. [...]
Could this all have been avoided? It’s worth saying that in retrospect, running Hillary Clinton for president was never a very good idea. [...]
Let’s learn an important lesson here: do not run a widely-despised ruling-class candidate who has open contempt for the white working class. That is a recipe for electoral catastrophe. [...]
Let’s never again have a campaign in which people were constantly having to defend the indefensible."
Current Affairs via SlateStarCodex

This was one of the few articles about the election that made some sense to me. But so far I don't see that Democrats or the media learned all that much from this debacle - at least not yet.


"This post sketches a hypothetical curriculum for developing ... meta-systematic capabilities. It’s preliminary ...
According to this framework, there is also a stage 4.5, in which you lose the quasi-religious belief in systems, but haven’t yet developed the meta-systematic understanding that can replace blind faith. Stage 4.5 leaves you vulnerable to nihilism, including ontological despair (nothing seems true), epistemological anxiety (nothing seems knowable), and existential depression (nothing seems meaningful). It’s common to get stuck at 4.5, which is awful."
Meaningness via Cosma

I admit that I am indeed stuck at stage 4.5 and I'm not sure those "meta-systematic capabilities" will really help, but I am glad somebody is trying.

stage 4.6: The dance of nebulosity and pattern.