Plays and movies

It took me a while to get into The Castle by Kafka. It can definitely be a boring book, but it doesn’t have to be. What finally got me into the book was this: I stopped imagining the scenery of the story as if it were a movie or a television show: an entire world playing out in front of a camera. Instead, I now imagine it as a theatrical production, as if I’m watching a play of The Castle, with a limited set and props, actors in the background doing whatever, the spotlight following the current thread of the narrative. Imagining K.’s world in this way helps me understand the story being told, I guess because The Castle is a “theatrical” novel?

I recently read The Name of the Wind, a modern fantasy novel which was very much written like a movie, and not like a play. It was easier to imagine Kvothe’s world as a series of movie scenes, with the camera focusing on different things for effect, cut scenes to explain a back story, and so on.

Maybe I’m becoming a better reader? Maybe I have an over-active imagination?

The Principle of Charity

First off, there is really only one thing to keep in mind when reading a philosophical text, and it’s the thing that seems to be the most lacking in new readers: The Principle of Charity. It asks that you read a text in the strongest, most persuasive way possible, regardless of whether you agree with the content. This is extremely important for reading philosophical texts, because many of them will challenge your ideals. Some might even say that is the entire point of reading philosophy, so if you fail in the Principle of Charity, you fail at reading philosophy entirely.
How to study philosophy as an amateur – Existential Comics

SQL Database Design with Yesod and Persistent

If you’ve ever designed a database from scratch, or worked with a database migrations, then you know how important it is to get the data schema right the first time. If you get them wrong, then when you (inevitably) have to fix it, you must do a major overhaul of your code just to fit the updated schema. In Rails, this means re-implementing potentially dozens of objects. In Haskell, it’s not as bad because the compiler handles most error checking (with Persistent, anyhow), but it’s still not a trivial exercise.

So how do you design a database with Persistent? You begin with database normalization (DN) in mind.

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The Austrians and the Swan: Birds of a Different Feather by Mark Spitznagel

From The Austrians and the Swan: Birds of a Different Feather by Mark Spitznagel:

To the Austrians, the [economic] process is decidedly non-random, but operates (though in a non-deterministic way, of course) under the incentives of entrepreneurial “error-correction” in the economy. In a never ending series of steps, entrepreneurs homeostatically correct natural market “maladjustments” (as well as distinctly unnatural ones) back to what the Austrians call the evenly rotating economy.

Spitznagel is making the case that the Austrian economists treat the economy as a dynamical system. Rather than a wild beast to be mechanically broken and tamed, it is a quasicyclical system like an ecosystem. This system has attractor states, one of which is runaway inflation. Continue reading