I said it was an inside job all the way and that the reported number of escapees,would go up. Right on both counts, according to a BBC followup story. The Taliban says of their men got out, and of those were high-ranking officers.
Economics, stale memes, and distraction from productive activity Wednesday, August 21, A few words about math One more unhinged rant before I turn the blog over to the Not Quite Noahpinion super-team. When I was 15, I had an epiphany that changed my life. I had always been pretty good at math, but I found it boring.
Who cared about all these abstract numbers? There was no pleasure in it for me. Even when you calculated the area of a back yard that could be enclosed by a certain length of fence, or whatever, it just seemed like an analogy, designed to make a boring pointless subject more interesting by relating it to something "real".
Despite teachers' entreaties, I never joined the math team in high school. Then I took my first physics class. Flipping through the book, I groaned. There was so much boring math! But when I sighed and finally sat down to read the first chapter, the author told me an amazing thing.
Math, he wrote, was the "language of nature". It could be used to represent reality.
Those abstract numbers on the page weren't just something we made up; they were real things. At first I didn't even quite get what he was saying.
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Then I worked an example, using projectile motion to calculate the range of a cannonball. I suddenly imagined that I was a Turkish gunner, lobbing iron balls at the walls of Constantinople yes, even then I was a history geek.
Not realizing that gunners actually found their range by trial and error until the 19th century, or that the conquest of Constantinople came well before Galileo and Newton, I suddenly thought: But if I did the math wrong, I'd miss!
Math could predict the future. Of course, later we confirmed the model's usefulness by predicting - very accurately! But I was already sold on the concept, because I trusted that the real-world effectiveness of the math had been verified by people in the gunnery business.
From then on I steadily began to enjoy math more. Eventually I discovered the abstract "beauty" that mathematicians talk about, especially when it came to proofs.
But when I did physics math, there was always a special thrill that other math never held for me. It was the idea that I was mastering the real Universe with my abstract mind. Fast-forward a few years later, and I had left physics behind despite enjoying it and being good at it.
When I entered econ grad school, I expected - naively, it turned out - that the math that people did would be like the math I had done in physics.
I expected that economists' models would largely be reliable, well-tested tools for predicting the future, just like I had predicted the cannonball with high school algebra.
And actually, some of the econ math seemed to qualify. Game theory only annoyed me slightly. Though its assumptions weren't often satisfied in the real world, seemed like it would work if we could get the incentives right and in fact, it very often does, in experiments.
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