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Allen Knutson
Works at Cornell Mathematics
Attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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Allen Knutson

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A basic technique I teach people visiting my hometown, New York City, is how to ask questions of strangers. The principle (location-independent) is that any such transaction requires some boilerplate indicating that a question will be asked, then once this (not literal) handshaking is achieved, one can ask the question.

I gather that in the Midwest the boilerplate consists of "Excuse me... I was wondering... if I could ask you a question..." Whereas in NYC, the boilerplate consists of asking your fucking question. In neither case will this result in your question being answered (except in very rare cases); you must then state your question a first time / again. If there's any difference, it's that in the second case the New Yorker knows what they're getting into. Stick to this framework, and New Yorkers are extremely helpful!

Many other illustrated tips and tricks for NYC linked below.
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Chris Collins-Wooley's profile photoAllen Knutson's profile photoSheng Ho's profile photoPatrick Honner's profile photo
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No, but perhaps I've misrepresented the strategy a bit.  I say "Pardon me", confirm that I have the person's attention (usually via eye contact, and it usually happens quickly, at New York speed), and then directly ask the question.  
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Allen Knutson

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Another great kottke find. (2.5min) It seems a stretch to call a ~1mm^2 magnet a "robot", when all its motive power comes from the magnetic circuit board it's traveling on, but if they can pick up and transfer building materials (and execute precision maneuvers at 19Hz!) I guess it's a good name?
Reminiscent of an Amazon warehouse, scaled down 1000x. A Day in the Life of a Kiva Robot
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It is my professional opinion that those are robots...Of course, I've been a manager for the last 10 years or so, so what do I know?
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Allen Knutson

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TIL about a historical event known as the Auspicious Incident. (The actual incident isn't as interesting as the name.) What other great names should I be throwing around, like the Defenestration of Prague and the incomparable Diet of Worms?
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It's just struck me that all three would be fitting Culture GSV names, if they aren't already
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Allen Knutson

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I liked most the first bit of this: have one group of kids practice throwing balls into a bucket 3 feet way, another into buckets 2 and 4 feet away. After a few weeks, who's better at the 3 foot test? The second group.
Contrary to what the bestselling author would tell you, obsessive practice isn't the key to success. Here's why
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I think there is a vast distinction between learning a correct physical movement by practicing it thousands of hours versus learning a mental process with thousands of hours of study.

It's pretty clear you can only learn so much at once, because everything jams itself into short term memory by definition.  You have to wait for it to ooze into long term memory.

But physical repetition is a different story.  When you practice a physical activity (I'm talking dance, martial arts, race car driving, playing a musical instrument) it's vital that the body execute a particular action or series of actions as soon as the thought occurs -- no intervening analysis or cognition is involved.  You're chunking many smaller activities (individual fingerings for a note) into one big activity (an 8 bar solo) so that you only need to think about the big picture.

The surgery example seems to contradict what I'm saying, but I'd argue a few hours of practice is insufficient to produce the results I'm talking about.  There is no way to play a musical instrument at an accomplished level without thousands of hours of dull mechanical repetition (which, granted, are usually interspersed with other forms of learning).
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Have him in circles
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Allen Knutson

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#1 is planning to run his first D&D campaign. To illustrate the pitfalls, I directed him to the absolutely epic DM of the Rings, a masterpiece of fair use, in which our long-suffering dungeon master deals with hilariously annoying and immature players. Even if you've never played D&D, give it at least until the brilliant Balrog scene. It is a treasure of the Internet age.
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I have built up a mild immunity to this particular time sink, having read through DM of the Rings at least twice.
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Doxxing as a tool of modern warfare. Truly, we are living in the future.
Ukraine says these photographs show that the men who have taken over government buildings in eastern Ukraine are Russian combatants.
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The Kremlin and the opposition in Russia have been playing this game for a while ("Hell the hacker" publishing Navalny's mailbox, slivmail.ru leaking the correspondence of several Nashi leaders).
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"...Another study argued that eliminating coal pollution in northern China would raise average life expectancy there by nearly five years. (By contrast, wiping out all cancer would increase US life expectancy by just three years.)" Wow.
Most of the rest of the article is about the numerics showing that coal is here to stay.
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Whale oil is here to stay.
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This is indeed awesome and hilarious.
 
This is awesome and hilarious.
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Holger K. von Jouanne-Diedrich's profile photoDrew Armstrong's profile photokearth reynolds's profile photoShreevatsa R's profile photo
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So very many thoughts occurred to me while watching this thing.

1) I plan to yell LOCAL MINIMA every time one of my children falls on her face.

2) I wonder if they factored in surface grip (i.e. whether they are walking on ice or dirt, etc)

3) Evolutionarily speaking humans have apparently adapted to very, very light meteor strikes.

4) The giant Monty Python foot really needs to be modeled in here somehow.

5) It would be cool to pit several thousand walkers and several thousand generations of evolution against each other ... taking HUNGER into account.
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In this rather amazing comment we learn how to maintain fortresses suffering from overpopulation by cats or dwarves. (The actual article is crap, touching barely a thousandth of the glory of Dwarf Fortress.)
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I found it refreshing that they focused on other parts of the game than just the fortress management for once. I wonder how many people are even aware there's more to the game than that. 
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Have him in circles
5,584 people
Richard Green's profile photo
Greg Warrington's profile photo
Work
Occupation
Math
Employment
  • Cornell Mathematics
    Professor, present
  • UCSD
    Professor
  • UC Berkeley
    Asst/Assoc Professor
Basic Information
Gender
Male
Story
Tagline
Juggler, math professor, father of two (in that chronological order)
Bragging rights
World record for passing balls between two people, 1990-1995 (12 balls for 68 catches; with David Morton and +Greg Warrington); plenary speaker at the Largest. Math conference. EVAR.
Education
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Math, 1995 - 1996
  • Princeton University
    Math
  • University of California, Santa Cruz
    Math
  • California Institute of Technology
    Math
  • Budapest Semesters in Mathematics
    Math
  • New York University
    Witchcraft
  • Stuyvesant
    Dungeons and Dragons
  • Bank Street College of Education
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