These are a bunch of newsletters I’ve been writing every month to track what I’ve been reading and thinking about that month. It’s usually a mix of physics and the sort of things I talk about on the blog. I normally start off feeling quite self-conscious about the output, which is more speculative and exploratory than my blog posts, but this seems to wear off over time, so I figured I may as well put the 2018 ones on here where anyone can read them.
I originally got the idea from The Monthly Newsletter as Thinking Tool
by moridinamael, and mainly find it useful for the same reasons as he does: it provides a bit of healthy pressure to get something finished every month, it gets me to take better notes on what I’ve been doing, and most importantly it gets me to actually think new thoughts instead of just rolling the same old ones around my head again and again. As he puts it:
Your thinking on a given topic will “advance” in a way that it otherwise wouldn’t. You’re forced to finish and polish the stubs of thought processes that you may have thrown in. (A lot of this finishing and processing is happening subconsciously throughout the month. If you know you’re going to have to share it at the end of the month, your brain will give you something worth sharing. Without that pressure, your thoughts just tend to continue on, going in circles for years without ever resulting in anything useful to even yourself. Or at least, mine do.)
I’ve cannibalised these newsletters pretty heavily for blog posts, so there is a fair bit of overlap between the two, but also a lot of extra fragments that didn’t make it to the blog.
If you’re interested in signing up for these, email me at bossdrucket[at]gmail[dot]com or fill out my contact form.
Mermin on Bell’s theorem. A weirdly similar pair of quotes from William Empson and Phil Agre. Lots of end-of-year navel-gazing about the newsletter, learning physics, etc.
Vladimir Tasić’s Mathematics and the Roots of Postmodern Thought. The Radon transform. More than two types of mathematician.
Long rambling braindump on Empson, Derrida, the New Critics, and baroque music. The Cognitive Reflection Test.
Pretty much what it says. A few other links at the end.
Derrida, Rousseau, Rameau. Wave momentum. Miscellaneous links.
Website testers wanted. Donald Schön’s The Reflective Practitioner. Huw Price’s Time’s Arrow and Archimedes’ Point.
Apples and sheep. Para-academia. Dreyfus, Heidegger, Eddington.
Quantum mechanics on phase space. Time-frequency analysis and musical notation. Arcane Wigner function lore. Matthew Crawford’s The World Beyond Your Head. SimCity. Some links.
Cognitive decoupling followup. Popper, Deutsch and critical rationalism.
The Thing Structure of Clusterspace and the symbol grounding problem. The Spekkens toy model and an interesting extension. Rényi entropy.
Initial test newsletter. Negative probability and Merleau-Ponty.