STUMP » Articles » Mornings with Meep: Happy Mothers Day! » 13 May 2018, 11:06

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.

Mornings with Meep: Happy Mothers Day!  


13 May 2018, 11:06

Here’s the video:

And here’s the direct link if you can’t watch the above.


Here’s my profile on Goodreads – feel free to follow me. I read a lot, especially audiobooks in my very long commute.

Books from the video:

To Be or Not To Be by Ryan North. Amazon blurb:

From the bestelling author of Romeo and/or Juliet and How to Invent Everything, the greatest work in English literature, now in the greatest format of English literature: a chooseable-path adventure!

As noted in the blurb, Ryan North did a different choose-your-own-adventure Shakespeare, and while I had been putting that one off (because I do not like Romeo & Juliet the play), I may buy this only because I want to see how it works in kindle.

Statistics Done Wrong:

Scientific progress depends on good research, and good research needs good statistics. But statistical analysis is tricky to get right, even for the best and brightest of us. You’d be surprised how many scientists are doing it wrong.

Statistics Done Wrong is a pithy, essential guide to statistical blunders in modern science that will show you how to keep your research blunder-free. You’ll examine embarrassing errors and omissions in recent research, learn about the misconceptions and scientific politics that allow these mistakes to happen, and begin your quest to reform the way you and your peers do statistics.

No Bullshit Guide to Math and Physics:

Often calculus and mechanics are taught as separate subjects. It shouldn’t be like that. Learning calculus without mechanics is incredibly boring. Learning mechanics without calculus is missing the point. This textbook integrates both subjects and highlights the profound connections between them.

This is the deal. Give me 350 pages of your attention, and I’ll teach you everything you need to know about functions, limits, derivatives, integrals, vectors, forces, and accelerations. This book is the only math book you’ll need for the first semester of undergraduate studies in science.

With concise, jargon-free lessons on topics in math and physics, each section covers one concept at the level required for a first-year university course. Anyone can pick up this book and become proficient in calculus and mechanics, regardless of their mathematical background.

I am skeptical of that last claim… mainly because not everybody can become proficient in calculus. If you have difficulty with algebra… there will be problems (which is why he has a little “placement test” at the beginning… one of the items is a very simple equation to be solved.)

Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life

In his most provocative and practical book yet, one of the foremost thinkers of our time redefines what it means to understand the world, succeed in a profession, contribute to a fair and just society, detect nonsense, and influence others. Citing examples ranging from Hammurabi to Seneca, Antaeus the Giant to Donald Trump, Nassim Nicholas Taleb shows how the willingness to accept one’s own risks is an essential attribute of heroes, saints, and flourishing people in all walks of life.

As always both accessible and iconoclastic, Taleb challenges long-held beliefs about the values of those who spearhead military interventions, make financial investments, and propagate religious faiths.

As I said, I will be talking more about this later – lots of the problems of public finance and public pensions is lack of skin in the game for the decision makers.

The Portable Nietzsche:

The works of Friedrich Nietzsche have fascinated readers around the world ever since the publication of his first book more than a hundred years ago. As Walter Kaufmann, one of the world’s leading authorities on Nietzsche, notes in his introduction, “Few writers in any age were so full of ideas,” and few writers have been so consistently misinterpreted. The Portable Nietzsche includes Kaufmann’s definitive translations of the complete and unabridged texts of Nietzsche’s four major works: Twilight of the Idols, The Antichrist, Nietzsche Contra Wagner and Thus Spoke Zarathustra. In addition, Kaufmann brings together selections from his other books, notes, and letters, to give a full picture of Nietzsche’s development, versatility, and inexhaustibility.

The part I’ve been through is before the unabridged books. I have just started the part on Thus Spoke Zarathustra.


I mentioned Kate Beaton, one of the illustrators on To Be or Not To Be. She has done Hark a Vagrant for a while, and here’s one of my favorite comics from here:

As far as I know, my Campbells left Scotland well before the Glencoe Massacre. … Or maybe they left soon after. There’s a lot of Campbells. I have no idea what my connection to these ones are. Here’s a YouTube video on the massacre.

I mentioned the Berkeley grad admissions discrimination study. Here is the Wikipedia article with detail.

One of the best-known examples of Simpson’s paradox is a study of gender bias among graduate school admissions to University of California, Berkeley. The admission figures for the fall of 1973 showed that men applying were more likely than women to be admitted, and the difference was so large that it was unlikely to be due to chance. [44% admission rate for men, 35% for women]

But when examining the individual departments, it appeared that six out of 85 departments were significantly biased against men, whereas only four were significantly biased against women. In fact, the pooled and corrected data showed a “small but statistically significant bias in favor of women.”16
wThe research paper by Bickel et al.16 concluded that women tended to apply to competitive departments with low rates of admission even among qualified applicants (such as in the English Department), whereas men tended to apply to less-competitive departments with high rates of admission among the qualified applicants (such as in engineering and chemistry).

I mentioned how I learned calculus.


Let me provide a timeline:

In 9th grade, I got Calculus Made Easy and Calculus the Easy Way. I did pretty well up until integrals. I understood the concept of derivatives fairly well, and limits somewhat… but integrals were tough.

In 10th grade, I took calculus in my high school. I think it was an AP Calculus AB class, so I could at least do the symbolic stuff of taking definite and indefinite integrals, and understood a little better.

In 11th grade, I went to nerd school. Took a Calculus BC class (and I realized I knew all that particular stuff), took physics and was the only one allowed to use calculus in the problems (because I knew what that was about), and I also took Calculus 3 where I learned multivariate calc.

In 12th grade, I ran out of math classes at nerd school, so I tried teaching myself differential equations. That went about as well as the first time I tried teaching myself calculus. I decided to be “clever” and develop a numerical integration technique, that I wouldn’t discover til years later that was inherently unstable. I took a physics class that was only 4 people – all of us had taken the multivariate calculus class the year before – so we were expected to use that knowledge. And amusingly, we spent most of the time trying to figure out how to do the problems by exploiting symmetry and not using calculus at all. It was quite entertaining – I don’t remember how many official teachers we had, but at least 3 of the physics teachers were in there throughout the year, with some very amusing stories about liquid nitrogen and other stuff.

In college, I majored in physics and math. I got taught multivariate calculus multiple more times (I knew it pretty well), but I finally learned how to prove why the stuff worked. Then I finally took a graduate numerical analysis class and learned why my “clever” attempt at numerical integration didn’t work.

In graduate school, I took real analysis and a bunch of other stuff, and then I learned stuff like the Cantor function. The differential equations classes there were more about proving that solutions existed than actually finding them. I had yet another numerical computation algorithm problem when my thesis work on evolving a probability distribution kept giving me negative probabilities…. and so I dropped out and joined the corporate world.

So when I went to the corporate world… I ended up helping everybody with their kids’ math homework. And some co-workers who were taking evening classes, I helped them, too.

Don’t ask me for math help. I will just send you to Khan Academy. It’s pretty good, fwiw. I do not tutor anymore, thanks. I can recommend books & sites, though.


I quoted a few favorite bits, and here are some others:

Man, in his highest and noblest capacities, is wholly nature and embodies its uncanny dual character.

And going on about the ancient Greek tradition of ostracism:

the individual who towers above the rest is eliminated so that the contest of forces may reawaken—an idea that is hostile to the “exclusiveness” of genius in the modern sense and presupposes that in the natural order of things there are always several geniuses who spur each other to action, even as they hold each other withing the limits of measure.

And here’s something that really speaks to me:

In a similarly limited way man wants the truth: he desires the agreeable life-preserving consequences of truth, but he is indifferent to pure knowledge, which has no consequences; he is even hostile to possible damaging and destructive truths.

Something that I really identify with:

To make the individual uncomfortable, that is my task.

FWIW, I once built a Camille Paglia shrine, and I see she must have been making references to Nietzsche all the time that I missed.

I have a livejournal post where I comment on Nietzsche’s thoughts on marriage.


Final link for your delectation: The Long Way Round: The Plane that Accidentally Circumnavigated the World It’s a great read. It’s about a Pan Am flight that got caught out by the Pearl Harbor bombing, and had to take a very long way around to get back to the U.S.


See y’all next week!