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Biweekly links for 04/24/2009

by Michael Nielsen on April 24, 2009
  • Kavan Modi’s quantum information blog
  • Bruce Perens – A Cyber-Attack on an American City
    • “Just after midnight on Thursday, April 9, unidentified attackers climbed down four manholes serving the Northern California city of Morgan Hill and cut eight fiber cables in what appears to have been an organized attack on the electronic infrastructure of an American city. Its implications, though startling, have gone almost un-reported.

      That attack demonstrated a severe fault in American infrastructure: its centralization. The city of Morgan Hill and parts of three counties lost 911 service, cellular mobile telephone communications, land-line telephone, DSL internet and private networks, central station fire and burglar alarms, ATMs, credit card terminals, and monitoring of critical utilities. In addition, resources that should not have failed, like the local hospital’s internal computer network, proved to be dependent on external resources, leaving the hospital with a “paper system” for the day.

      In technical terms, the area was partitioned from the surrounding internet.”

  • World Digital Library
  • Henry Ford & Event Driven Architecture
    • Nice metaphor for programming in a distributed environment.
  • …My heart’s in Accra » China’s complicated internet culture
  • Overcoming Bias: Future Incompetence
    • Good question: “[...] will those who feel that their superior minds justify their ruling the lives of others accept having their lives ruled by future folk with greatly enhanced minds? “
  • The Long Now Blog » Daniel Everett, “Endangered Languages, Lost Knowledge and the Future”
    • “The Pirahã language has no numbers or concept of counting (only terms for “relatively small” and “relatively large”); no kinship terms beyond immediate children and parents; no “left” and “right” (only “upriver” and “downriver”); no named distinction of past and future (only near time and far time); no creation stories or myths; and—most important for linguists—no recursion.

      A recursive sentence like “The boy who was fishing owned the dog” does not occur in the Pirahã language. They would say, “The boy was fishing” and “The boy owned the dog.” The eminent linguist Noam Chomsky has declared that recursion is an essential part of human language and is innate. Chomsky’s former student Everett says that the Pirahã language proves otherwise. The resultant controversy is profound.”

  • Stewart Brand – On the Waterfront – Interview – NYTimes.com
  • SAT is Not Too Easy « Gödel’s Lost Letter and P=NP
    • Good overview of some of the basic lower bounds for SAT.
  • Andrew Rosenthal – Talk to The Times – The New York Times
    • Fascinating: “Frankly, I think it is the task of bloggers to catch up to us, not the other way around… If the Times editorial board were a single person, he or she would have six Pulitzer prizes; one Emmy; [etc ...]“. If the blogosphere were a single person, it would have a half dozen or more Nobel Prizes, at least four Fields medallists, goodness knows how many Emmys, etc. He’s fighting a strange battle, arguing essentially that the median New York Times editorial is better than the median blog. But fights about quality of content are held in the tail of the best material, not in the median. And in nearly every subject, the Times now has now lost the fight in the tail.

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