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Topics - Agrul

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Agrulian Archives / Electricity & Magnetism (undergrad student level)
« on: December 11, 2013, 09:37:52 PM »
Brief Subject Overview: the study of electricity, magnetism and --- on realizing their intimate connection --- electromagnetism, is a very old area of classical physics, and one of the most successful, as judged by the limited need for changes to it in light of new evidence. In fact, Maxwell's equations, which (together with Newton's laws) determine the behavior of electromagnetic systems, were a central part of Einstein's inspiration in generating relativistic mechanics, and in my dim understanding essentially needed no revision because of their key role in this development. Anyway, electromagnetism is the study of precisely what it sounds like, primarily on length and speed scales that are within the realm of classical mechanics. An interesting feature, to me, of electromagnetcs is its tireless, creative use of the vector calculus; although gradients always seemed to me to have an obvious interpretation, one often doesn't hear very lucid explanations for the intuition behind vector operations like the curl and divergence. Here we see exactly that, as those operators are fundamental to the models handled.

Text(s): Purcell & Morin's "Electricity and Magnetism".

Assigned problems:

7,29,10,17,25 from Ch 1
26, 14, 12, 28, 7, 1, 17, 16 from Ch 2

Replies will contain worked solutions, discussion, etc.

Agrulian Archives / Statistical Mechanics (undergrad student level)
« on: December 11, 2013, 09:31:46 PM »
Brief Subject Overview: statistical mechanics is the branch of physics that deals with many-particle systems, and with the properties of matter and physical experience that arise from the statistical, average properties of many individual particles interacting. In a sense statistical mechanics is not a "true" foundational area of physics, in that it is in principle derivable entirely from the laws of classical, quantum, electromagnetic, and relativistic mechanics. Of course, in practice nobody can solve the systems of equations that would result from attempting such a reduction, and so in practice statistical mechanics stands on its own as the study of such properties as pressure, heat, phase transition in matter, etc., that arise fundamentally from the interactions of many particles, typically on the order of Avogrado's constant, about 623.

Text(s): Mandl's "Statistical Physics", Kittel & Kroemer's "Thermal Physics", Penrose's "Foundations of Stat Mech". Not really sure which of these books I like best so far; Mandl seems too terse, and assumes a lot of prior physics background. Currently focusing on K&K; jury's still out on how that'll work out. Penrose from what I recall is clear and satisfyingly deductive but assumes familiarity with the Hamiltonian formulation of classical mechanics, which I don't have yet; may return to his book once I work through that chapter in Class Mech.

Assigned problems:

2,5 from Ch 1 (Levin)
TBA (Penrose)

Replies will contain worked solutions, discussion, etc.

Agrulian Archives / Quantum Mechanics (undergrad student level)
« on: December 11, 2013, 09:24:55 PM »
Brief Subject Overview: quantum mechanics is the physics of the very small, on the order of Planck's constant, or about 6.62 x 10-34 (squared meter)-kilograms per second. When this number doesn't seem negligibly small in comparison to the lengths of the things with which you're working, then quantum effects will probably start to become important. Quantum physics contains a number of major deviations from classical physics; most texts seem to begin by explaining particle-wave duality, particularly as applied to light, and motivated by a sequence of experiments with a pedigree of several hundred years, maybe the most iconic of which is the two-slit experiment.

Text(s): Levin's "An Introduction to Quantum Theory" & Griffith's "An Intro to Quantum Mech". Was originally working out of Levin, but later read Griffiths and find him, at least thus far, both clearer and more concise, so using Griffiths as the primary text now.

Assigned problems:

7,8,13,15,19 from quantum Ch1 (Levin)
TBA (Griffiths)

Replies will contain worked solutions, discussion, etc.

Agrulian Archives / Classical Mechanics (undergrad student level)
« on: December 11, 2013, 09:17:42 PM »
Brief Subject Overview: classical mechanics is, in my understanding, the foundation upon which most of a typical physics education is built. It is Newton's physics of motion, or Lagrange's, or Hamilton's --- all equivalent formulations of the same set of physical laws. They describe motion (position, velocity, acceleration, etc) with great fidelity for nearly all sorts of physical things over a very broad range of masses, sizes, and speeds. For the very small and the very quickly moving classical mechanics breaks down and gives way to quantum mechanics and (special/general) relativistic mechanics, but for most everyday ranges it works as an exceedingly successful approximation. Moreover, these other subject areas tend to explain themselves by contrast with and through examples familiar from classical mechanics; so, classical mechanics is important for understanding physics generally. This applies equally well to other areas of physics: for example, Maxwell's laws and the theory of electromagnetism describe the behavior of electromagnetic forces, but nevertheless obey Newton's three laws (in the realm of classical approximation), and one could hardly make practical use of Coloumb's Law, which gives the force exerted by one electric non-moving charge on another, without knowing, for example, that F=ma, from classical mechanics.

Text(s): Taylor's "Classical Mechanics".

Assigned problems: (NOTE -- odds only bc Taylor only has odd solutions)

10,24,43,44 from ClassMech Ch1
1,9,19,25,39,49,50,53 from Ch2
5,7,21 from Ch3
27,31,45 from Ch4
11,41,45 from Ch5

Replies will contain worked solutions, discussion, etc.

Agrulian Archives / Vibrations and Waves (high school level)
« on: December 11, 2013, 09:05:43 PM »
Brief Subject Overview: vibrations and waves is about the physics, and to some extent the mathematics, of waves that move in various media---light waves, sound waves, etc.

Text(s): King's "Vibrations and Waves".

Assigned problems:

8,9,10 from Ch 1

Replies will contain worked solutions, discussion, etc.

Agrulian Archives / i dont know how to sticky threads (fffffuuuuuu level)
« on: December 11, 2013, 08:54:53 PM »

Agrulian Archives / Copulas (grad student level)
« on: December 11, 2013, 04:55:44 PM »
Brief Subject Overview: in probability theory, multivariate probability distributions or density functions describe the probability that vectors of, say, N variables, will occur together; i.e., the probabiltiy that variable 1 will have value x at the same time that variable 2 will have value y at the same time that variable 3 will have value z, and so on. In general knowledge of the value of one variable may tell us something about the likely values of another variable; that is, the probability distribution may contain a dependence between its variables. Copulas are a standard way of expressing and analyzing this dependence structure. They have become widely used in, for example, quantitative finance, as a result of which the Gaussian copula (which is just a single, widely used kind of copula) and its limitations became the focus of at least one scathing article in the wake of the financial crisis.

Text(s): Nelsen's "An Introduction to Copulas".

Assigned problems:

Text contains no problems! Will assign theorems/propositions/examples to be worked out in detail instead.

Replies will contain worked solutions, discussion, etc.

Brief Subject Overview: differential topology and the theory of (differentiable) manifolds is mostly concerned with studying topological or differentiable 'manifolds.' Topological manifolds are structures that look locally like Euclidean N-space in the sense that, for each point of the manifold and some neighborhood around that point, there is a continuous bijection with continuous inverse (a homeomorphism) between that neighborhood and some open ball in Euclidean N-space. Differentiable manifolds are topological manifolds with an extra property: if a homeomorphism f and the inverse of another homeomorphism g, as defined above, happen to have overlapping domains (as they often will in practice), then taking f(g^{-1}()) gives us a map from R^N -> R^N and we can impose the condition that this map be differentiable (one, two, etc times, as desired). This kind of differentiability condition on a manifold gives it a great deal of extra structure, and essentially lets us "do calculus" in any space that "looks smooth like R^N" if you get close enough to it.


Introduction to Topological Manifolds by Lee (Lee1).
Introduction to Topological Manifolds by Schutz.
Introduction to Smooth Manifolds by Lee (Lee2).

Assigned problems:

4,14,19 from Lee1, Ch1
Ex. 2.1 from Schutz

Appendices (topol-alg-calc) proofs of statements/theorems/exercises, p. 540-596, Lee2
Ex. 1.1-1.6 from Lee2, (middle of) Ch 1
1,3,4,5,9 from Lee2, (end of) Ch1

Replies will contain worked solutions, discussion, etc.

Agrulian Archives / Measure Theory (grad student level)
« on: December 11, 2013, 04:38:54 PM »
Brief Subject Overview: meaure theory studies, as the name suggests, the construction and properties of "measures." Measures are a generalization of probability distributions, and measure theory helps to place probability theory on a clear basis theoretically (it was rather informal prior to the theory of measures, I believe). Measure theory also helps us to define more general notions of integration than the basic Riemann integration; by partitioning the range rather than the domain of a function before performing the finite summations that form the basis for our infinite summation (which is all integration is), we become capable of integrating over even very badly behaved functions like the Dirichlet function, which has the value 1 on all rational numbers and 0 on all irrational numbers, and so is ugly as shit because it oscillates very wildly between 1 and 0---doing so infinitely often within any arbtirarily small intervl, and in fact uncountably often there---and is  effectively impossible to visualize or graph properly. Measure theory is also a pretty rich source of examples with interesting and theoretically useful behavior, such as the Cantor function (which itself forms a key illustration in the theory of fractals) or the "non-measurable" sets that we know must exist, such as Vitali's sets. As an aside, my adviser---who is a bayesian statistician by training---has emphasized to me that he thinks measure theory is mostly used by probabilists to make their work more intimidating and impenetrable, and not because it actually helps them get anything extra done. I don't really know enough to weigh in one way or the other on that, but I think it's certainly true, for the time being and on net, of some areas that I've studied.

Text(s): Adams & Guillemin's "Measure Theory & Probability".

Assigned problems:

Sec. 1.1 # 16, 8, 11, 12, 19
Sec. 1.2 # 5, 8, 9, 13
Sec. 1.3 # 1, 5, 10, 20
Sec. 1.4 # 4, 6, 8, 14, 16
Sec 2.1 # 1, 6, 9, 10
Sec 2.2 # 2, 3, 6, 7, 12
Sec 2.3 # 1, 2, 12, 13, 14
Sec 2.4 # 1, 2, 3, 6
Sec 2.5 # 3, 7, 9, 11, 12
Sec 2.6 # 7, 8, 9, 10
Sec 2.7 # 2, 6, 7
Sec 2.8 # 1, 2, 3
Sec 3.1 # 1, 5, 7, 8
Sec 3.2 # 3, 6, 8
Sec 3.3 # 1, 4, 5, 8, 11
Sec 3.4 # 3, 5, 6, 7, 9
Sec 3.5 # 3, 5, 9, 12, 14
Sec 3.6 # 2, 6, 8, 9
Sec 3.7 # 3, 5, 6, 8, 9
Sec 3.8 # (write out proof of CLT in detail)

Replies will contain worked solutions, discussion, etc.

Brief Subject Overview: computational complexity theory is the studied of computational problems, particularly those expressible in the binary language of digital computers. Complexity theory is concerned primarily with classifying tasks according to their difficulty (and, of course, solving those that can be solved); to achieve this, it assigns problems to complexity classes, such as the famous classes P and NP. There are many more classes as well: PLS, co-NP, PPAD, FIXP, etc. Defining new classes is often the first step in a complexity theorist's attempt to understand how hard a problem is to solve. Generally, problems in P are efficiently solvable; problems in NP are not. There also exist easier problem classes than P, and harder ones than NP; the most extreme example of the latter is the class of "intractable" problems, which cannot be solved by any computer, even in principle, with an arbitrarily large amount of time and space in which to compute, etc. Recently complexity theory has also been applied to problems outside of standard computer science, such as the complexity of finding solution concepts in game theory and economics, with the basic idea being that problems without efficient solutions are not good solution concepts, since nobody could be expected to find them in practice. A curious feature of computational complexity theory is that it is the source of many unsolved conjectures which are nevertheless strongly believed to be true; i.e., nobody has shown but most theorists strongly believe that P does not equal NP, and likewise that NP does not equal co-NP.

Text(s): Rich's "Automata, Computability, and Complexity".

Assigned problems:


Replies will contain worked solutions, discussion, etc.

Agrulian Archives / Chaos Theory (undergrad student level)
« on: December 11, 2013, 04:15:39 PM »
Brief Subject Overview: 'chaos' is a phenomenon found in discrete-time and continuous-time, deterministic and stochastic dynamical systems, i.e., systems that update their state from time period to time period according to some predetermined rule (with the rule defining a probability of moving from each state to another in stochastic systems), either in time periods 1,2,3,4... or in time periods indexed by all time points in an interval, such as [0,∞). Intuitively, chaos is a situation in which the deterministic behavior of the system leads to seemingly random, unpredictable behavior in the large; formally, chaos has a number of different (and not all equivalent) definitions. Most of these definitions have as their centerpiece some kind of "topological mixing;" i.e., chaos requires that all solutions starting in some open set eventually end up in any other open set, given enough time. Another common, better known condition is that solutions starting arbitrarily close together should separate from one another exponentially fast in time (up to some limit, at least, if the state space itself is bounded in size). Chaos theory is about defining and proving the existence of chaos in formal systems, understanding its determinants and behavior, undertanding what limitations chaos does or doesn't imply for predictability, and identifying chaos in practice in real-world systems. It also concerns the formulation of various definitions of chaos, and studying whether and when they are or aren't equivalent. The text I use is on the low end of technical difficulty in this subject area, primarily because it deals with discrete-time systems; this makes it accessible and easy to get into, which is nice; also, the author provides exercises to work, which most authors on continuous-time chaos seem not to do for some reason.

Text(s): Elaydi's "Discrete Chaos".

Assigned problems:

3,6,11 from Chaos 1.1-1.3
1,2,4 from 1.4-1.5
4,12,14 from 1.6
4,8,13 from 1.7
5,6,16 from 1.8
1,2 from 1.9
2,3,15 from 2.1-2.2
3,6,15 from 2.3-2.4
5,6,7 from 2.5
1,2,3 from 2.6
1,15,18 from 3.1-3.2
3,5 from 3.3
10,14 from 3.4
1,3,11 from 3.5
6,7,10 from 3.6
1,14,15 from 3.7
1,2,6 from 4.1-4.2
1,3,4 from 4.3-4.4
8,10,12 from 4.5-4.7
8,13,15 from 4.8
2,13,14 from 4.9-4.10
2,6,7 from 4.11
1,4,6 from 5.1
2,9,13 from 5.2
5,8,9 from 5.3
1,5,9 from 5.4-5.5
10,15,16 from 6.1-6.2
3,7,15 from 6.3
1,5,10 from 6.4
8,11 from 7.1-7.2
4,7,9 from7.3-7.4
8,9 from 7.5
4,9 from 7.6

Replies will contain worked solutions, discussion, etc.

Agrulian Archives / Topology (grad student level)
« on: December 11, 2013, 03:40:18 PM »
Brief Subject Overview: topology is the study of open sets, independent of any concrete notion of distance; its starting point is in identifying some properties of open sets in familiar settings like real/Euclidean N-space and defining open sets in more general spaces as any collection of sets that have those properties. Topology allows us to talk about, for example, continuity of functions or the number of holes in very abstract settings and spaces, where a familiar notion of distance may not be available, and artificially imposing one may be awkward. In short topology helps us to identify properties that depend only on the structure imposed on a space by its open sets, so that we do not need to worry about unimportant, extraneous detail in describing these properties.

Text(s): Munkres "Topology".

Assigned problems:

1,3,7 p. 83
4,5,7,9 p. 91-92
5,7,11,12,18 p. 100-102
1,3,8,11,12 p. 111-112
2,4,8,10 p. 118
6,7,9,10,11 p. 126-129
2,4,6,9,12 p. 133-136
1,3,5,6 p. 144-145
1,3,4,7 p. 145-146 (supp: topol groups)

2,4,5,11 p. 152
5,8,10,12 p. 157-159
1,6,7,8,9 p. 162-163
7,9,10,11,13 p. 170-172
1,3,4,6 p. 177-178
3,4,5,7 p. 181-182
4,7,8,11 p. 186
1,4,5,10 p. 187-188 (supp: nets)

1,3,11,13,15 p. 194-195
1,5,7 p. 199-200
4,5,6,10 p. 205-207
1,2,3,7,10 p. 212-214
1,3,4,6 p. 218
1,3,5,7,8 p. 223-224
1,3,4 p. 227
1,3,4,7 p. 228-229 (supp: basics review)

1,2,4 p. 235-237
3,4,5,9 p. 241-242

2,5,6 p. 248
1,4,8 p. 260-261
2 p. 262

2,3,7 p. 270-271
1,2,3 p. 274-275
3,4,5,7,8 p. 280-281
2,4,6,9 p. 288-290
2,3 p. 292-293

5,9,10,11,12 p. 298-300
1,2 p. 304
1,3,7 p. 315-316
3,7,8 p. 316-318

Ch9~ (Algebraic Topology)
1,2,3 p. 330
1,2,6 p. 334-335
3,4,5 p. 341
1,4,7,8 p. 347-348
1,2,4 p. 353
1,2, p. 356
1,2,4 p. 359
1,4,5,9 p. 366-367
2,3,4 p. 370
3,4,5 p. 375

1,2 p. 380-381
2,3,4,5,6 p. 384-385
1,2,3 p. 393-394
1 p. 398
1,2 p. 406

1,2,5,6 p. 411-412
2,3,4 p. 421
1,3,4 p. 425
1,2,3 p. 433
1,2,4,5 p. 438
1,2,3 p. 441
1,3,4 p. 445

2,3,4,5 p. 453-454
1,2,4 p. 457
1,2 p. 462
1,2,4 p. 470-471
2,4,5 p. 476

3,5,6,7 p. 483-484
1 p. 487
1,2,6 p. 492-494
2 p. 499
1,3 p. 499-500 (supp: topol props and pi_1)

1,2 p. 505-506
2,3 p. 513
1,2,3 p. 515

Replies will contain worked solutions, discussion, etc.

Agrulian Archives / 'Light' Textbook Walkthroughs of Tough Subjects
« on: December 11, 2013, 03:21:11 PM »
It is often the case that, for a tough, formal subject, textbooks come in at least two flavors: the dense, encyclopedic, painful, rewarding-if-engaged kind, and a lighter kind, with a style dealing in more prose and somewhat less math, and particularly less of a rigid theorem-lemma-proof format. I often find it is helpful to have both kinds of books, since the dense ones are tough to simply read and it can be easy to get lost in their swamp of details if you are not tremendously on top of your game; while the dense tomes are the only path to full understanding of a subject, the lighter froo-froo texts can be awesome for getting a bird's-eye view of the landscape and a quick, often exceedingly useful intuition about a discipline and its tools. Of course these categories are somewhat fuzzy, but I think it is usually clear enough where a text falls.

In short the emphasis in the 'light/Type 2' books is on developing a key nugget of intuition and some appreciation for the most important or main results of a subject, while in the former 'dense/Type 1' books it is on rigorous, exhaustive understanding. Please note that this thread is not for 'popular' books on a subject, which might be called books of Type 3; Type 2 books are still textbooks, and still engage with the material in a rigorous, formal way, albeit less so than Type 1 books. With those descriptions & caveats in mind, this thread is devoted to the latter kind of textbook, in whatever subject, because they can be somewhat hard to find.

Here's a list of 'light/Type 2' texts, all much more accessible than the standard in their literature:

Abstract Algebra :
A Book of Abstract Algebra by Pinter

Differentiable Topology/Manifolds :
Geometrical Methods of Mathematical Physics by Schutz
Differential Topology with a View to Applications* by Chillingworth

Stochastic Calculus :
An Introduction to the Mathematics of Financial Derivatives

Vector Calculus :
Div, Grad, Curl, and All That (I think this fits; haven't read it, AD may correct me)

Quantum Physics :
Understanding Quantum Physics by Morrison and Its Sequel

Number Theory :
Excursions into Number Theory by Ogilvy

Logic :
Godel's Proof by Newman & Nagel

Computational Complexity:
Computers & Intractability* by Garey & Johnson

Derivatives Theory:
Derivatives by Wilmott (note: broader coverage than typical of Type 2, but same style)

Linear Algebra:
Introduction to Linear Algebra by Strang

Might follow-up later with summaries/comments, not sure. Lemme know if you have anything you'd like to add to this list.

* denotes a book that is also widely cited in the literature. Always find it weird when a 'classic' just so happens to be eminently accessible & readable too.

Agrulian Archives / Set Valued Analysis (grad student level)
« on: December 11, 2013, 03:08:30 PM »
Brief Subject Overview: analysis is the "theory of calculus," and set valued analysis concerns the generalization of this theory from the standard calculus, which focuses on functions mapping elements of a set S to individual real numbers, to a broader setting in which functions map a single element of a set S to multiple elements in some other set T. More general definitions are given in set valued analysis for their corresponding notions in the more usual "real-valued" analysis/calculus, such as for limits (two different notions of limit that are equivalent in real-valued analysis turn out to be non-equivalent in set-valued analysis) of sequences, functions, etc. Set valued analysis is the proper area in which proofs of Kakutani's Fixed Point Theorem emerges, which is used in many settings, and in particular in game theory, to show that a problem has a solution.

Text(s): Aubin & Frankowska's "Set Valued Analysis".

Assigned problems:

Text doesn't contain any problems! Will assign theorems to work through in detail.

Replies will contain worked solutions, discussion, etc.

Agrulian Archives / Functional Analysis (grad student level)
« on: December 11, 2013, 03:04:25 PM »
Brief Subject Overview: functional analysis is concerned with limiting operations---the first example of which anybody who's taken Calculus 1 has met---and their behavior in very general spaces. Functional analysis takes as its starting point the consideration of spaces in which every limit of a sequence of elements in the space converges to another element in the space, so-called "complete spaces." The real numbers and integers are both complete in this sense, for example, but the rationals are not. Problems in functional analysis often deal with *function spaces* and *sequence spaces*, in which the elements of the space are not individual numbers, but functions; this step-up in abstraction can be challenging to come to grips with, but starts to feel familiar as you work through more problems and theorems.

Text(s): Kreyszig's "Introductory Functional Analysis with Applications".

Assigned problems:

7,8 from FuncAnal, Ch 1.1
3,8,11 from 1.2
3,12,14 from 1.3
1,2 from 1.4
1,11,12,15 from 1.5
5,11,13,15 from 1.6
8,12,14,15 from 2.1
6,7,9,13,15 from 2.2
2,4,6,15 from 2.3
1,5,7,8 from 2.4
1,3,5,9 from 2.5
4,8,12,14 from 2.6
1,6,8 from 2.7
2,3,10,14,15 from 2.8
4,5,6,7,8 from 2.9
8,9,10,13,15 from 2.10

Replies will contain worked solutions, discussion, etc.

Agrulian Archives / Fourier Analysis (grad student level)
« on: December 11, 2013, 03:02:56 PM »
Brief Subject Overview: fourier analysis is concerned with finding conditions under which a function f(.) can be decomposed and expressed as an infinite sum of the simplest trigonmetric functions, sin(.) and cos(.).

Text(s): Stein & Shakarchi's "Fourier Analysis".

Assigned problems:

1,9 from Ch1

Replies will contain worked solutions, discussion, etc.

Agrulian Archives / Vector Calculus (undergrad student level)
« on: December 11, 2013, 03:01:29 PM »
Brief Subject Overview: vector calculus is the generalization of the differential (calculus 1) and integral calculus (calc 2) beyond just multiple variables (calculus 3) and on into vector spaces. Some of the most interesting and useful theorems in vector calculus concern the generalization of integrals from "infinite sums over intervals" to "infinite sums over curves;" that is, we can define path integrals, surface integrals, etc., which use integration to sum over a function defined on a curvy path or surface of some sort. The primary theorems of vector calculus generalize those of basic calculus to this broader setting, and often enable us to calculate complex curve/path/surface integrals in terms of simpler, standard integrals more familiar from basic multivariate calculus.

Text(s): Stewart's Calculus. Emphasis on ch. 17.

Assigned problems: TBA

Replies will contain worked solutions, discussion, etc.

Agrulian Archives / Forum Purpose:
« on: December 10, 2013, 11:27:00 PM »
The point of this forum is, interpreted narrowly, to work on problems, meaning the analysis of formal models, whether math problems, physics problems, chemistry problems, finance problems, etc etc. Yours, mine, whoever's. This is the primary point of the forum in my mind, and I'll be using it to organize my self-study (in the obvious thread), sharing/posting problems as I go, and occasionally posting commentaries on/summaries of the books/problems. (Although I might carve the posted problems up into other threads by topic so they're easy to find.) More broadly than problems, the forum's also about studying in general. Whether what you have to do for school or self-initiated, and whether it's formal models you're solving or something else -- learning a language, taking careful notes on a dense text, learning a new programming language, outlining a careful empirical analysis, ranting about your research bullshit, glancing over a research article, & so on. All well within the scope of what I have in mind.

That said I'm not mod'ing shit so post whatever you want or nothin' at all.

Brief video behind the link. What he says verbatim is 'I think you have to connect with women on an emotional level."

As Republican candidates figure out how to best win over women voters, Iowa GOP Senate candidate Mark Jacobs thinks he has the answer: appeal to their emotions.

In an interview Sunday with WHO-TV in Des Moines, host Dave Price asked Jacobs what the "biggest difference between men and women" is, in terms of reaching out to them as voters.

"I think you have to connect with women on an emotional level," said Jacobs. "And with a wife of 25 years and an 18-year-old daughter, I've had a lot of coaching on that."

Last week, Politico reported that the National Republican Congressional Committee and House Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) office are "meeting with top aides of sitting Republicans to teach them what to say -- or not to say -- on the trail, especially when their boss is running against a woman."

"[We're] trying to get them to be a little more sensitive," Boehner said of fellow Republicans at a press conference on Thursday. "You know, you look around the Congress, there are a lot more females in the Democratic caucus than there are in the Republican conference. And some of our members just aren't as sensitive as they ought to be."

Jennifer Lawless, the director of the Women and Politics Institute at American University, told The Huffington Post that like men, women voters want to know their candidates are "competent, can lead and have a sense of empathy and integrity."

"Certainly, there can be gender gaps on issue salience -- women, for example, might be more concerned than men about issues affecting women, families, and children," she said. "But it’s the attention candidates spend on those issues and their ability to demonstrate that they understand challenges women face that matter.

"It’s not about talking to the female electorate as though you are their husband or father," she added. "In fact, doing so plays into damaging stereotypes and reinforces the notion that women need to be treated in a way that is somehow less serious and cerebral."

Neither Jacobs' office nor the Republicans' Senate campaign arm -- the National Republican Senatorial Committee -- returned a request for comment.

Jacobs, a former energy CEO, is one of seven Republicans running for the seat being vacated by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) is running on the Democratic side.

In the 2012 elections, Republican Senate candidates often attracted attention for their inability to reach women's voters, with former Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), then running against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), famously saying he believed women were able to stop themselves from getting pregnant after a "legitimate rape."

Obama won 55 percent of the female vote in 2012.

"GOP Senate Candidate Mark Jacobs, Rep. Boehner and the whole Republican Party know from experience that it is not a good election strategy to demean woman voters -- and yet they seem committed to continuing to do that," said Nita Chaudhary, co-founder of UltraViolet, which advocates for women's rights through online activism. "The way to talk to women is to treat them with respect and understand that we are adults. For some reason, the GOP has a hard time doing that."

"Ultimately, when it comes to winning votes, actions speak louder than words," she added. "So we are eager to hear Mark Jacobs' plan for ensuring women earn equal pay for equal work and guaranteeing women have the ability to control their own health care decisions.”

General Discussion / We Say We Like Creativity, But Really We Don't
« on: December 09, 2013, 09:40:45 PM »
In the United States we are raised to appreciate the accomplishments of inventors and thinkers—creative people whose ideas have transformed our world. We celebrate the famously imaginative, the greatest artists and innovators from Van Gogh to Steve Jobs. Viewing the world creatively is supposed to be an asset, even a virtue. Online job boards burst with ads recruiting “idea people” and “out of the box” thinkers. We are taught that our own creativity will be celebrated as well, and that if we have good ideas, we will succeed.

It’s all a lie. This is the thing about creativity that is rarely acknowledged: Most people don’t actually like it. Studies confirm what many creative people have suspected all along: People are biased against creative thinking, despite all of their insistence otherwise.

“We think of creative people in a heroic manner, and we celebrate them, but the thing we celebrate is the after-effect,” says Barry Staw, a researcher at the University of California–Berkeley business school who specializes in creativity.

Staw says most people are risk-averse.
He refers to them as satisfiers. “As much as we celebrate independence in Western cultures, there is an awful lot of pressure to conform,” he says. Satisfiers avoid stirring things up, even if it means forsaking the truth or rejecting a good idea. 

Even people who say they are looking for creativity react negatively to creative ideas, as demonstrated in a 2011 study from the University of Pennsylvania. Uncertainty is an inherent part of new ideas, and it’s also something that most people would do almost anything to avoid. People’s partiality toward certainty biases them against creative ideas and can interfere with their ability to even recognize creative ideas.

A close friend of mine works for a tech startup. She is an intensely creative and intelligent person who falls on the risk-taker side of the spectrum. Though her company initially hired her for her problem-solving skills, she is regularly unable to fix actual problems because nobody will listen to her ideas. “I even say, ‘I’ll do the work. Just give me the go ahead and I’ll do it myself,’ ” she says. “But they won’t, and so the system stays less efficient.”

In the documentary The September Issue, Anna Wintour systematically rejects the ideas of her creative director Grace Coddington, seemingly with no reason aside from asserting her power.

Social rejection is not actually bad for the creative process—and can even facilitate it.
This is a common and often infuriating experience for a creative person. Even in supposedly creative environments, in the creative departments of advertising agencies and editorial meetings at magazines, I've watched people with the most interesting—the most “out of the box”—ideas be ignored or ridiculed in favor of those who repeat an established solution.

“Everybody hates it when something’s really great,” says essayist and art critic Dave Hickey. He is famous for his scathing critiques against the art world, particularly against art education, which he believes institutionalizes mediocrity through its systematic rejection of good ideas. Art is going through what Hickey calls a “stupid phase.”

In fact, everyone I spoke with agreed on one thing—unexceptional ideas are far more likely to be accepted than wonderful ones.

Staw was asked to contribute to a 1995 book about creativity in the corporate world. Fed up with the hypocrisy he saw, he called his chapter “Why No One Really Wants Creativity.” The piece was an indictment of the way our culture deals with new ideas and creative people”


In terms of decision style, most people fall short of the creative ideal … unless they are held accountable for their decision-making strategies, they tend to find the easy way out—either by not engaging in very careful thinking or by modeling the choices on the preferences of those who will be evaluating them.
Unfortunately, the place where our first creative ideas go to die is the place that should be most open to them—school. Studies show that teachers overwhelmingly discriminate against creative students, favoring their satisfier classmates who more readily follow directions and do what they’re told.

Even if children are lucky enough to have a teacher receptive to their ideas, standardized testing and other programs like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top (a program whose very designation is opposed to nonlinear creative thinking) make sure children’s minds are not on the “wrong” path, even though adults’ accomplishments are linked far more strongly to their creativity than their IQ. It’s ironic that even as children are taught the accomplishments of the world’s most innovative minds, their own creativity is being squelched.

All of this negativity isn’t easy to digest, and social rejection can be painful in some of the same ways physical pain hurts. But there is a glimmer of hope in all of this rejection. A Cornell study makes the case that social rejection is not actually bad for the creative process—and can even facilitate it. The study shows that if you have the sneaking suspicion you might not belong, the act of being rejected confirms your interpretation. The effect can liberate creative people from the need to fit in and allow them to pursue their interests.

Perhaps for some people, the pain of rejection is like the pain of training for a marathon—training the mind for endurance. Research shows you’ll need it. Truly creative ideas take a very long time to be accepted. The better the idea, the longer it might take. Even the work of Nobel Prize winners was commonly rejected by their peers for an extended period of time.

Most people agree that what distinguishes those who become famously creative is their resilience. While creativity at times is very rewarding, it is not about happiness. Staw says a successful creative person is someone “who can survive conformity pressures and be impervious to social pressure.”

To live creatively is a choice. You must make a commitment to your own mind and the possibility that you will not be accepted. You have to let go of satisfying people, often even yourself.

Spamalot / DESTROYED my abstract algebra final today
« on: December 09, 2013, 09:04:47 PM »
unique factorization domains can suck my dick


Click link for video. TL;DR summary is kind of obvious.

Imaginations everywhere have been stoked since Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced his company plans to start offering 30-minute deliveries via drone-like "octocopters."

What's not fascinating about a near future in which fleets of whirring sky robots can drop our every impulse buy on our doorstep faster than we can get Chinese delivered? (You know, aside from accidental strayings into restricted air space or the rise of the machines.)

But when Bezos took to "60 Minutes" on Sunday to introduce the world to Amazon Prime Air, his idea prompted more questions than it provided answers.

So how close are we, really, to door-to-door drones becoming a reality? And how would they work?

We reached out to Amazon, where official details are still scarce, and chatted with drone expert Missy Cummings, an associate professor at MIT and one of the Navy's first female fighter pilots. Here's some of what we've been able to piece together on a project that Amazon says is, at the very least, a couple of years away from takeoff.

Could drones really be delivering packages by 2015?

That's what Bezos said is the best possible scenario. But Cummings, a longtime advocate for the commercial use of drones, thinks that's optimistic.

The Federal Aviation Administration needs to sign off on Amazon's flight plans, and Cummings says the agency hasn't been quick to move on the domestic use of drones.

"I think they (Amazon) are stepping out in a typically naive way, (but) maybe they have some secret insight to the FAA that I don't have," she said.

Cummings predicts the company will get approval to start Prime Air in other countries before the United States, but she says that having a retail and technology giant like Amazon pushing for it could speed things up for everyone.

"I don't want anybody to think this is right around the corner," Bezos warned during the "60 Minutes" interview.

How will I know if I'm eligible for a drone visit?

Bezos said the octocopters will have a 10-mile radius. So, it's likely that folks in big cities near Amazon distribution sites would be a lot more likely to qualify than those in more remote areas.

He says they'll initially carry items up to five pounds, which is roughly 86% of all deliveries Amazon makes.

The best Twitter jokes about Amazon's drones

But for even that 10-mile range to work, Amazon better be onto something about battery life that the rest of us don't know. Cummings said drones the size of the octocopters have a battery life of about 30 minutes, and the weight of their cargo could make that even shorter.

What will keep people from shooting them down?

OK, it's perhaps a little off-topic. But every single conversation we've had about the Amazon drones has, at some point, ended up focused on the innate human desire to knock stuff out of the sky, preferably with a loud bang.

Cummings joked about producing a reality show in which marksmen from different states compete to see how many octocopter targets they can bag. At least, we're pretty sure it was a joke.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Amazon doesn't directly address its drones becoming high-tech clay pigeons in a statement about safety.

"The FAA is actively working on rules and an approach for unmanned aerial vehicles that will prioritize public safety. Safety will be our top priority, and our vehicles will be built with multiple redundancies and designed to commercial aviation standards," the statement reads.

But Cummings says it's a real issue.

"It's not just people who hate drones," she said. "It's people who want those packages."

She speculated the drones will need to fly at an altitude of at least 300 feet for as long as possible to avoid attracting pot shots from target shooters or thieves. She also envisions safe "drop spots," at least at first, instead of delivery to any address within range.

"There are lots of details that need to be worked out, but nothing that is technologically overwhelming," she said.

Will the drones work when the weather is bad?

Amazon's official statement doesn't address this obvious question. But Cummings says that to make the drones reliable in most weather conditions, Amazon would need to improve on currently available technology.

"They can fly in some precipitation, but certainly not heavy precipitation," she said. "Sleet or snow ... would obscure some of the sensors. It's hard to make it a really solid business if the weather holds you back. They're going to have to work on that."

What could come next?

Amazon isn't the only company at least toying with the idea of using unmanned aerial vehicles for commercial purposes. Domino's posted video of the "DomiCopter" delivering two pizzas in the United Kingdom earlier this year. In June, the Burrito Bomber, the creation of a couple of engineers from Yelp, demoed its ability to fly that tasty treat to your doorstep as well.

And in Australia, Zookal, a textbook company, is already using drones for deliveries.
Cummings hopes that's all just the beginning. Using drones for beneficial civic or commercial purposes, instead of military actions, is a growing trend.

"Medical supplies, wildlife monitoring, cargo, firefighting -- it's a pretty long list of things that drones can do," she said. "It's reinvigorating a dying aerospace industry."

Trading, and to some extent investing, is all about knowing when markets are moving with the wisdom of the crowds and when they're moving with the madness of the crowds. In recent years, there has seemed to be much more madness than wisdom (a statement which can probably be generalized beyond the financial markets themselves, come to think of it). Where do we stand now?

I think a recent letter by John Hussman of Hussman Strategic Advisors, entitled "An Open Letter to the FOMC: Recognizing the Valuation Bubble In Equities," is worth reading. Hussman is far from the only person, nor even the most influential investor, questioning the valuation of equities at the moment.
Our own valuation models have had the projected 10-year compounded real return of equities below 3% for several years, and below 2% since late April. For a time, that may have been sustainable because of the overall low level of real rates, but since the summertime rates selloff the expected equity premium has been below 1.5% per annum, compounded - and is now below 1% (see chart, source Enduring Investments).

Hussman shows a number of other ways of looking at the data, all of which suggest that equity prices are unsustainable in the long run. But what really caught my eye was the section "Textbook speculative features," where he cites none other than Didier Sornette. Sornette wrote a terrific book called Why Stock Markets Crash: Critical Events in Complex Financial Systems, in which he argues that markets at increased risk of failure demonstrate certain regular characteristics. There is now a considerable literature on non-linear dynamics in complex systems, including Ubiquity: Why Catastrophes Happen by Mark Buchanan and Paul Ormerod's Why Most Things Fail: Evolution, Extinction and Economics. But Sornette's book is one of the better balances between accessibility to the non-mathematician and utility to the financial practitioner. But Hussman is the first investor I've seen to publicly apply Sornette's method to imply a point of singularity to markets in real time. While the time of "breakage" of the markets cannot be assessed with any more, and probably less, confidence than one can predict a precise time that a certain material will break under load - and Hussman, it should be noted, "emphatically" does not lay out an explicit time path for prices - his assessment puts Sornette dates between mid-December and January.

Hussman, like me, is clearly of the belief that we are well beyond the wisdom of crowds, into the madness thereof.

One might reasonably ask "what could cause such a crash to happen?" My pat response is that I don't know what will trigger such a crash, but the cause would be the extremely high valuations. The trigger and the cause are separate discussions. I can imagine a number of possibilities, including something as innocuous as a bad "catch-up" CPI print or two that produces a resurgence of taper talk or an ill-considered remark from Janet Yellen. But speculating on a specific trigger event is madness in itself. Again, the cause is valuations that imply poor equity returns over the long term; of the many paths that lead to poor long-term returns, some include really bad short-term returns and then moderate or even good returns thereafter.

I find this thought process of Hussman's interesting because it seems consonant with another notion: that the effectiveness of QE might be approaching zero asymptotically as well. That is, if each increment of QE is producing smaller and smaller improvements in the variables of interest (depending who you are, that might mean equity prices, long-term interest rates, bank lending, unemployment, etc), then at some point the ability of QE to sustain highly speculative valuations goes away and we're left with the coyote-running-over-the-cliff scenario. Some Fed officials have been expressing opinions about the declining efficacy of QE, and Janet Yellen comes to office on February 2nd. I suspect the market is likely to test her very early.

None of this means that stocks cannot go straight up from here for much longer. There's absolutely nothing to keep stock prices from doubling or tripling from here, except the rationality of investors. And as Mackay said, "Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one." Guessing at the date on which the crowd will toggle back from "madness" to "wisdom" is inherently difficult. What is interesting about the Sornette work, via Hussman, is that it circles a high-risk period on the calendar.

For two days in a row now, I've discussed other people's views. On Wednesday or Thursday, I'll share my own thoughts - about the possible effects of Obamacare on measured medical care inflation.

Another article on the same topic:

Is it possible to detect a financial bubble and predict when it will burst? Dr. Didier Sornette, a former physicist who is the director of the Financial Crisis Observatory in Switzerland, developed a statistical model designed to do just that. Sornette and his colleague Anders Johansen determined in 2004 that in two thirds of the cases where financial assets suffered extremely large drawdowns, market prices followed a "super-exponential" behavior prior to their occurances. According to mutual fund manager and former finance professor Dr. John Hussman, the Sornette model is now predicting a stock market crash as early as next year.

TL;DR: I've posted about Didier Sornette's work here before; he's developed a particular, non-linear/stochastic dynamical model of markets that makes use of common features of macronomic theory (eg rational expectations) but that predicts that bubbles have meaningful leading indicators and can be forecasted ahead of time. He made the news a year or two? ago for making some high-profile predictions about bubbles in particular markets and sealing them away ahead of time on arXiv somewhere. Recently an equities trader has apparently tried to use Sornette's models, amongst other things, to argue that there's a bubble in equities. I like to keep up w/ Sornette and other complex systems economics work so fuck you now it's on TZT.

MSNBC host Martin Bashir has resigned from the network following controversial comments about former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), Mediate reported Wednesday:

"After making an on-air apology, I asked for permission to take some additional time out around the Thanksgiving holiday.

Upon further reflection, and after meeting with the President of MSNBC, I have tendered my resignation. It is my sincere hope that all of my colleagues, at this special network, will be allowed to focus on the issues that matter without the distraction of myself or my ill-judged comments.

I deeply regret what was said, will endeavor to work hard at making constructive contributions in the future and will always have a deep appreciation for our viewers – who are the smartest, most compassionate and discerning of all television audiences. I would also wish to express deepest gratitude to my immediate colleagues, and our contributors, all of whom have given so much of themselves to our broadcast.’"

During a segment discussing Palin's comparison of the national debt to slavery last month, Bashir suggested the governor be subjected to certain disciplinary tactics used by a slave owner.

"In 1756, he records that a slave named Darby 'catched eating kanes had him well flogged and pickled, then made Hector, another slave, s-h-i-t in his mouth,'" Bashir said. "When Mrs. Palin invokes slavery, she doesn’t just prove her rank ignorance. She confirms if anyone truly qualified for a dose of discipline from Thomas Thistlewood, she would be the outstanding candidate."

Bashir's outing follows the cancellation of fellow host Alec Baldwin's show "Up Late" after the actor received criticism for using a gay slur.

General Discussion / Could aggregate fiscal decisions ever be delegated?
« on: December 04, 2013, 02:53:53 AM »
The political battle over delegating decisions over monetary policy to central banks has been fought and won. There may be serious concerns about accountability in some countries, and mandates in others, but there seems to be a political consensus in most places that delegation in this respect is a good thing. (I know some readers disagree with this consensus, but this post is a question about what could happen, rather than what ought to happen.)

There is no major country which delegates decisions over aggregate fiscal policy. I stress aggregate here: I’m not suggesting decisions about particular tax rates or types of spending could be delegated. Instead an independent fiscal institution could set a target level for the budget deficit, and leave it up to the government how that target was achieved. Furthermore the choice between meeting the deficit target using tax changes or spending changes would remain with politicians, so key questions about the size of the state would stay under democratic control.

I’m reminded of this question not by the impending UK autumn statement, but because I have just received my copy of a new collection of essays edited by George Kopits. Its title is “Restoring Public Debt Sustainability: The Role of Independent Fiscal Institutions”. The story behind the book is interesting in itself. Its basis is a conference in Budapest organised by the former Hungarian Fiscal Council. Although a few fiscal councils [1] existed a decade ago, in the last ten years many more have been established, and that included one in Hungary that George chaired. All such councils are advisory - none can tell governments what to do. The meeting in Budapest was I believe the first international gathering of these councils, as well as a few academics that had a particular interest in these institutions. (It is what led me to create this website.)

The conference was a prelude to both success and failure. The failure was that soon after the conference the Hungarian Fiscal Council was effectively abolished by a new government. For that government this act was a good indication of things to come, as others have documented. The brief story of Hungary’s Fiscal Council is told in one of the chapters of this book. However, the success is that, with George’s help, the OECD took on the task of holding regular gatherings of fiscal councils, and it has issued a statement of principles which are an appendix to the book’s introduction.

A few of the essays in the book touch on the question I posed at the beginning of this post, including my own, which compares the delegation of monetary and fiscal policy. In a sense the demise of Hungary’s fiscal council explains why most of the discussion at the conference was happy to see such councils as advisory only. Giving governments advice they may well not want to hear is difficult and dangerous enough, and so fiscal councils need to be well established (and therefore less vulnerable) before we can think of going any further. One step at a time.

Yet once these councils have been established, it becomes easier to imagine the possibility that delegation could go beyond advice to actual control. Take the UK case for example. The government sets its fiscal mandate (cyclically adjusted current balance in 5 years time), just as it does the inflation target. The OBR then tells the government what it needs to do to meet that mandate. So, having set the mandate, the amount of aggregate discretion left to the government in each budget is limited. It would seem quite a small step to let the OBR decide how quickly the mandate should be achieved. Another small step would be for the government and OBR to negotiate over the mandate itself (just as the central bank and government negotiate over the inflation target in New Zealand).

Small steps, but much too large in political terms right now, as I once discovered when giving evidence to the Treasury Select Committee. (See the second footnote to this post.) Yet in ten or so year’s time, when more of these councils are well established, I can see things might be quite different for two reasons. First, when the recession is finally over there will be a clear consensus that a slow (and state contingent) reduction in net debt levels is required, yet some governments may start to waver from this task for short term political gain. Second, it will have become even clearer that governments, by undertaking austerity at just the wrong time, inflicted substantial damage on their economies, and that maybe everyone would be better off if they were not given that opportunity again.

[1] I use the term fiscal council to cover much the same set that George calls Independent Fiscal Institutions. His term is probably more accurate, but I still prefer fiscal council!

Spamalot / Yo AD [ANIME]
« on: December 01, 2013, 12:22:00 AM »
Have you kept up with Kill La Kill?

I have. Still enjoying it but not nearly as impressed as I was with Gurrenn.

I do think it has the potential to match Gurrenn, though with a totally different kind of emotion; it can do the same sort of furious, ambitious, unhinged drive, but it can't make that the entire point.

But, yeah -- I think there is something there. I just don't think they've found it yet. The technical quality behind the episodes is clear, but they seem to dick around as often as not doing nothing at all, with uninteresting side stories, without developing the world and without giving us any kind of gripping drive to their vision. It needs them to give a shit about it more carefully -- not more deeply, but more carefully -- than they seem to right now.

edit: Will say that Shingeki was unquestionably the blow-out & best anime of the season. Nothing else came close. There were a few others essentially comparable to KlK, but Shingeki was fuck-out dominant.

edit2: I really wish they would cut it the fuck out with the cutesy perv jokes. If you want to make hentai, just fucking make hentai. It is not improving your non-pornographic show.

Agrulian Archives / dat HMWK + AUTO-DIDACTY THRAED
« on: November 29, 2013, 01:03:56 AM »
prescript:  thread must be hidden from the potentially idle threat of synth-nazism. i shall store this copy here

idle threat went active. code maroon, code maroon. this is now the only thread.

A mathematician wrote on the inside cover of one of the books I own but can't locate right now something to the effect of: "Math is something you do, not something you know. If you do not do the math, you will at best achieve a second-rate understanding." That's the point of this thread: To improve understanding by doing math.

Also covered will be anything and everything that seems interesting and lends itself in its established form to study via the analysis of formal models and abstractions, i.e. physics, logic, theoretical computer science, econ, finance, PChem, OChem, basic chem, game theory, etc etc etc etc etc. Anyone is welcome to join or not; this is my self-study structure for myself, but it's open to commentary/participation ofc.

General Discussion / The Different Sizes of Infinity
« on: November 27, 2013, 02:10:40 AM »
Infinity is a powerful concept. Philosophers, artists, theologians, scientists, and people from all walks of life have struggled with ideas of the infinite and the eternal throughout history.

Infinity is also an extremely important concept in mathematics. Infinity shows up almost immediately in dealing with infinitely large sets — collections of numbers that go on forever, like the natural, or counting numbers: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and so on.

Infinite sets are not all created equal, however. There are actually many different sizes or levels of infinity; some infinite sets are vastly larger than other infinite sets.

The theory of infinite sets was developed in the late nineteenth century by the brilliant mathematician Georg Cantor. Many of Cantor's ideas and theorems sit at the foundation of modern mathematics. One of Cantor's coolest innovations was a way to compare the sizes of infinite sets, and to use this idea to show that there are many infinities.

To see how Cantor's theory works, we start out by saying that two sets are the same size if we can make a one to one correspondence, or pairing up, of the elements of the two sets. We can start small — the sets {a, b, c} and {1, 2, 3} are the same size, since I can pair up their elements:

This is a little overcomplicated for comparing two small finite sets like these — it is obvious that they both have three elements, and so are the same size. However, when we are looking at infinite sets, we cannot just look at the sets and count up the numbers of elements, since the sets go on forever. So, this more formal definition will be very helpful.

Countably Infinite Sets
Our baseline level of infinity will come from our most basic infinite set: the previously mentioned natural numbers. A set that is the same size as the natural numbers — that can be put into a one to one correspondence with the natural numbers — is called a countably infinite set.

A surprising number of infinite sets are actually countable. At first glance, the set of integers, made up of the natural numbers, their negative number counterparts, and zero, looks like it should be bigger than the naturals. After all, for each of our natural numbers, like 2 or 10, we just added a negative number, -2 or -10. But the integers are countable — we can find a way to assign exactly one integer to each natural number by bouncing back and forth between positive and negative numbers:

If we continue the pattern suggested above, we end up assigning exactly one integer to each natural number, with each integer assigned to a natural number, giving us the kind of one to one pairing that means the two sets are the same size.

This is a little freaky, since the natural numbers are a subset of the integers — each natural number is also an integer. But even though the natural numbers are fully contained in the integers, the two sets actually do have the same size.

The rational numbers are those numbers that can be written as a fraction, or ratio, of two integers: 1/2, -5/4, 3 (which can be written as 3/1), and the like. This is another infinite set that looks like it should be bigger than the natural numbers — between any two natural numbers, we have infinitely many fractions.

But as with the integers, we can still make a one to one pairing, assigning exactly one natural number to each rational number. Start by making a grid of the rationals: each row has a particular natural number in the bottom part of the fraction — the denominators of the first row are all 1's, and the 2nd row all 2's. Each column has a particular number in the top part of the fraction — the numerators of the first column are all 1's, and the second column all 2's. This grid covers all of the positive rational numbers, since any ratio of two positive integers will show up somewhere in the grid:

We get our correspondence between the rationals and the naturals by moving in a zig-zag pattern through the grid and counting. Fractions like 2/2 and 4/6 that are just alternate representations of numbers we have already seen (2/2 is the same as 1/1, and 4/6 is the same as 2/3) are skipped over:

So, the first rational number is 1/1, the second is 2/1, the third is 1/2, the fourth is 1/3, we skip 2/2 since this just reduces to 1/1, the fifth is 3/1, and so on.

Continuing like this, every rational number will be assigned a unique natural number, showing that, like the integers, the rationals are also a countably infinite set.

Even though we have added all these fractions and negative numbers to our original basic natural number set, we are still at our first, baseline, level of infinity.

Uncountably Infinite Sets
Now we consider the real numbers. The real numbers are the collection of numbers that can be written out with some kind of decimal expansion. The real numbers include the rational numbers — any fraction of two integers can be divided out and turned into a decimal. 1/2 = 0.5 and 1/3 = 0.3333..., with the latter continuing on with 3's forever. The real numbers also include irrational numbers, or decimals that go on forever without settling into a repeated pattern or ending. π is irrational — its decimal expansion starts out with the familiar 3.14159... but keeps going on forever, its digits veering around wildly.

We were able to come up with clever correspondences with the natural numbers for the integers and the rationals, showing that they are all countably infinite and the same size. Given that, we might think that we can do something similar with the real numbers.

This is, however, impossible. The real numbers are an uncountably infinite set — there actually are far more real numbers than there are natural numbers, and there is no way to line up the reals and the naturals so that we are assigning exactly one real number to each natural number.

To see this, we use an extremely powerful technique in mathematics: proof by contradiction. We will start out by hypothesizing that the opposite of our claim is true — that the real numbers are countably infinite, and so there is a way to line up all the reals with the naturals in a one to one correspondence. We will see that it doesn't matter exactly what this correspondence looks like, so let's say that the first few pairs in the correspondence are the following:

Our big assumption here is that each and every real number appears somewhere on this list. We are now going to show that this is in fact wrong by making a new number that does not show up in the list.

For each natural number n, we look at the corresponding real number on the list, and take the digit n places to the right of the real number's decimal point. So, take the first digit of the first number, the second digit of the second number, the third digit of the third number, and so on:

From our first real number we get a 5, our second number a 3, and our third number a 1. We make a new number by taking each of these digits, and adding 1 to them (flipping around to a 0 if my original digit is 9), giving us the number 0.64207..., continuing on for all the other numbers on our list.

This new "diagonal" number is definitely a real number — it has a decimal expansion. But it is different from all the numbers on the list: its first digit is different from the first digit of our first number, its second digit is different from the second digit of our second number, and so on.

We have made a new real number that does not show up on our list. This contradicts our main assumption that every real number appears somewhere in the correspondence.

We mentioned before that the details of the correspondence did not matter. This is because, no matter what alignment we try between the real numbers and the natural numbers, we can do the same diagonal trick above, making a number that does not show up in the correspondence.

This shows that the reals are not countably infinite. No matter what we try, there is no way to make a one to one pairing up of the natural numbers and the real numbers. These two sets are not the same size. This leads to the profound and somewhat uncomfortable realization that there must be multiple levels of infinity — the natural numbers and the real numbers are both infinite sets, but the reals form a set that is vastly larger than the naturals — they represent some "higher level" of infinity.

General Discussion / One Momma's Battle against Revenge Porn
« on: November 25, 2013, 11:58:09 PM »
I felt like Will Smith in "Enemy of the State."

I was being hunted, harassed and stalked by criminals with technological expertise. I had been thrust into an unexpected war. I felt exposed, vulnerable and alone on the front line. I had awoken a hideous network of villains and saboteurs, who were in pursuit of me, hoping to ruin my life. I had received creepy emails, backlash on Twitter and three death threats. My computer had been bombarded with viruses, and a technician had advised me to buy all new equipment because the malware was tough to remove.

“Also, be leery of unusual cars or vans in the neighborhood,” the tech added. 

“Why?” I asked. 

“If someone wants to break into your computer network, he will need to be close to your house. That is, unless he has advanced skills. Then, he could gain access from anywhere.” 

I hurried home from the hardware store with my all-important purchase: heavy-duty padlocks. I knew I had to secure the gates at my residence, so that an intruder or a team of intruders could not access my backyard and possibly my home.

I pulled into my driveway and scanned the street, glad that the suspicious white car with the young, male driver was no longer present. It had been there on the previous evening, according to my daughter, Kayla. She’d seen it when she returned from work, and she had monitored it for several hours until it disappeared. She did not report the incident to me until the next day.

“Mom, why was there a guy in a white car, watching our house last night?”

Because she had no knowledge of the “be leery of unusual cars or vans” warning by the computer technician, I could not accuse her of paranoia.

I affixed padlocks to the gates, and the phone rang. It was like a gun. It had become a powerful way to threaten and to terrorize me. It was one of my enemy’s weapons. I reluctantly picked up the receiver.

“We know where you live,” a muffled male voice spoke. “Your life will be ruined.” He hung up.

A caller that morning had told me I would be raped, tortured and killed. I glanced out the front window. The night had once looked innocent and peaceful, but suddenly it seemed ominous and dangerous. Then I logged onto my computer to see whether the Twitter backlash against me had ceased. It had not. But there was an odd message on my feed, which read, “Please follow me. I need to direct message you.”

I did as I was instructed, and the interaction resulted in a bizarre phone call. Just as "Enemy of the State" protagonist Will Smith got aid from Gene Hackman -- an off-the-grid, former government agent -- I was being offered assistance.

“Don’t worry. We’re going to protect you. We’re computer experts,” were the first words uttered by a man nicknamed “Jack,” who claimed to be an operative with the underground group, Anonymous.

I knew little about the famous, decentralized network of activists and hacktivists, who are sometimes called “freedom fighters” or digital Robin Hoods, so I conducted Google searches during our half-hour phone conversation.

“Jack” instructed me on how to protect my computer network and explained in detail how he and a buddy planned to electronically go after the man who had been threatening me and who had been urging his devotees to follow suit. He then uttered the name of the person who has become the most well-known online face of revenge porn: a man named Hunter Moore.

“We know Hunter and his followers have been attacking you on Twitter. We will go after him and we won’t stop until he stops victimizing people,” he said. (xoJane reached out to Moore to comment for this story, but received no response.)

I felt better after the call, but wondered if it had been a practical joke. Was this really the notorious group Anonymous or was I being duped? Did I have an ally or would the stalking and emotional harassment escalate into physical violence against my family? I would learn the truth within 24 hours.

How It All Began

Celebrating after California’s anti-revenge porn law passed. I testified in favor of the bill in Sacramento.
Many months earlier, I was drawn into the nasty world of revenge porn. Revenge porn (RP) is the online distribution of nude and topless photos without consent in an effort to humiliate and hurt their targets, mostly females. A picture is uploaded to a revenge porn website by an angry ex-boyfriend or a malicious hacker usually with identifying information about a woman, such as her full name, city, workplace, social media page, boss’ email address and parent’s phone number. Followers of the RP websites then may harass the victim, often forwarding the embarrassing photo to her family members, friends and business contacts. This can lead to a loss of economic and employment opportunities, and it can strain or end a woman’s personal relationships. At least two women have killed themselves over revenge porn, and Cyber Civil Rights Initiative studies show that 47 percent of victims contemplate suicide.

In October 2011, my 24-year-old daughter Kayla was alone in her bedroom, emulating poses from fashion magazines. She snapped over 100 cute and sexy pictures in the mirror with her cell phone. One shot revealed her left breast. She never intended to show the pictures to anyone, but wanted to save them on her hard drive. She forwarded the entire lot from her cell phone to her email and then to her computer. Three months later on January 1, 2012, her email was hacked; and nine days after that, the photo revealing her left breast appeared on the notorious revenge porn website, Is Anyone Up? Kayla was an actress, but she was working part-time as a waitress when she got the distressing phone call.

“Kayla, I have to talk to you right now,” Kayla’s friend, Katie, was panic-stricken. “I’m at work in the middle of my shift. I can’t talk,” Kayla said

“This is really important,” Katie replied. “You are…” Katie began hesitantly, knowing the news would devastate Kayla. “You are topless on a website. It is called”

Kayla was in disbelief. How was this possible? She had never given a revealing photo to anyone. She was confused; it had to be a mistake.

Kayla hung up and searched the website on her iPhone. She found the upsetting photo, along with her personally identifying information. She erupted in tears. She felt helpless, exposed, violated and vulnerable. Who had seen the picture? The site bragged of 300,000 daily visitors. Would it be saved on strangers’ hard drives? Would it spread to other sites? Kayla was frantic.

During a break, Kayla phoned and uttered the four words that every mother dreads, “Something horrible happened, Mom.”

I’d never heard about revenge porn prior to the call, but for many months after, I would hear about little else. I cancelled appointments, put work on hold and ignored routine tasks because a naked image rarely comes off the Internet unless someone becomes obsessed with its removal. RP website operators are consumed with what they do; therefore, anyone who hopes to prevail against them must be equally consumed.

I emailed the site owner, Hunter Moore, and asked him to take down the photo in accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. He refused.

I was not surprised. By this time, I’d perused Moore’s online TV and newspaper interviews. He called himself a "professional life ruiner" and described his website as “pure evil.” He threw legal letters in the trash, addressed his followers as “my children,” taking a page from the Charles Manson handbook; and regularly taunted victims, encouraging them to commit suicide. People claimed to be afraid of him. He had no fear of lawsuits; he knew a victim would be unlikely to sue because a civil suit would cost $60,000 (according to attorney Marc Randazza), and forever link a woman’s name with the image she hoped to hide.

Moore maintained that his victims were sluts, asked to be abused and deserved to lose their jobs, embarrass their families and find themselves forever ruined. Below photos on the site, his followers posted crude and mysogynistic remarks. Victims were taunted as “fat cows,” “creatures with nasty teeth,” “ugly whores,” “white trash sluts” and “whales.” One commenter said, “Jesus, someone call Greenpeace and get her back in the water.” The website was not about pornography; it was about ridiculing and hurting others.

News of Kayla’s topless image circulated. Her job was in jeopardy, and Kayla also feared that her conservative boyfriend would learn about the snapshot and terminate their relationship. When Kayla searched Is Anyone Up?, she made an amazing discovery: her friend Susan was also featured on the site.

“Susan never showed her photo to anyone, except her husband,” Kayla informed me. “And she was hacked, too.”

These words became the trigger for “Operation No Moore,” my investigation of Is Anyone Up? and its site owner. I had been a private eye in the late 1980’s.

Operation No Moore

Up until this point, the media had portrayed revenge porn as a platform for angry exes to take revenge on former lovers; but now I knew some sites had hacked photos. After all, I only knew about two victims, and both had been hacked by what I soon learned was the same guy. He went by the fake name, “Gary Jones.”

I turned my home office into what looked like a CIA command post while Kayla, feeling depressed and defenseless, locked herself in her bedroom. My husband Charles, an attorney, was angry about how revenge porn had disrupted our household.

“The photo will just go away if you ignore it,” he said, unaware that images tend to proliferate in cyberspace rather than disappear.

“That’s not how the Internet works,” I replied. “It would be really nice to have a lawyer’s assistance.”

“I don’t want to be involved,” he marched out of the room.

Revenge porn was a pack of wolves. It was tearing our family apart. Kayla was withdrawn. Charles was agitated, and I was obsessed. I contacted Hunter Moore’s publicist, his attorney, his hosting company, his Internet Service Provider in France, some of his advertisers and his mother’s former workplace at the city of Davis, where associates pressed for details about Mrs. Moore’s son and his venomous website. I also registered Kayla’s photo with the U.S. Copyright office and spoke to nine attorneys about copyright law, right to privacy and options for legal recourse. The consensus was that revenge porn was largely untested in the civil courts, while criminal laws were nonexistent, except in the state of New Jersey. Within days, I became an expert on revenge porn; and it was not long before lawyers were telephoning me for guidance.

Contacting Law Enforcement

Kayla and I went to the Los Angeles Police Department, where we hoped to find sympathy and an “eager to help” attitude. We found neither. A female detective from the cyber-crimes division was more interested in condescending stares and judgmental remarks than taking a report.

“Why would you take a picture like this if you didn’t want it on the Internet?” the detective blasted Kayla.

When the detective went to fetch forms, I whispered to Kayla, “I’ll call the FBI when we get home.”

The operator at the FBI call center was not condescending or discourteous, but he also did not want to help. He said, “Just file a report online.”

I knew this was code for “We are too busy with other cases and won’t do a darned thing.”

“I see,” I replied sarcastically. “You help Scarlett Johansson when she gets hacked, but you won’t help the average person.” (The actress’ nude picture had appeared online).

The man sighed as if he didn’t have the energy to fight me. “Just a moment. I will transfer you to a detective.”

The FBI told me that three agents would be coming to our house later in the month.

“I think they are just trying to pacify you,” Charles said. “They probably won’t take the case.”

However, Charles changed his mind after my investigation file expanded from one inch to four inches and then to eight inches. The contents included personal data about Moore and his associates, printouts from his website, copies of relevant articles and reams of information on other involuntary porn stars who were featured on his site. In other words, Kayla and Susan were no longer the only hacked victims. I’d found others, and I knew it would be difficult for law enforcement to ignore folks from all over the country, who had been violated by the same pair: Moore and “Gary Jones.”

A Victim Named Jill

Jill was a kindergarten teacher in Kansas. I knew she was going to be posted. Moore had mentioned it on his Twitter feed -- which I had been monitoring -- and he asked his followers if they thought she’d get fired. They had responded with the typical landslide of loutish and smutty comments.

An hour later, her photos were visible to the world along with identifying information, including the name of the school where she taught. This was the cue for followers of Is Anyone Up? to bombard the principal and school board with Jill’s naked shots and crude remarks, such as “Fire that slut” and “You have a whore teaching your children."

“Is Jill there?” I said to the school receptionist. “She’s in class right now.”

“I’d like to leave a message. This is urgent. Please tell her to call me when she gets time.”

While I was leaving my message, the principal had marched into Jill’s classroom and interrupted her lesson.

“Please gather your things and go home,” he said while five-year-old students watched in wonder.

Bewildered, Jill accumulated her belongings, and as she was leaving the building, the receptionist handed her my message. She called me from the parking lot; and that is when I revealed the agonizing news.

Jill became hysterical, repeating, “Oh, my God. No. Oh, my God. No.”

I was teary-eyed myself. I could feel each victim’s pain, and I could imagine being in their situation. Anyone could be in their situation. It was not their fault. Making calls was depressing, and I felt like a suicide hotline. Yet, in a weird sense, it was satisfying in that I felt I was helping others. Plus, I had experience with the issue, and I could offer advice.

I gave Jill instructions on how to send take-down notices to Google and other search engines in order to de-index her name from the pictures. I told her to beef up her online presence, joining respectable websites so the disturbing pictures wouldn’t appear on the first page. I told her to register the photos with the copyright office, and I told her about the FBI investigation.

“Plus, if I get my daughter’s picture off the Internet, I will tell you what I did.”

A Victim Named Tory

Tory lived in Atlanta, and her computer had been compromised by “Gary Jones.” A medical image of her bloody and bandaged breasts appeared on Is Anyone Up? next to her name, workplace and a link to her Facebook page. Her nipples were fully visible.

“The photo is from my doctor’s office,” Tory weeped into the phone. “I’d just had surgery. How could someone do this to me?”

A Victim Named Tina

Tina from northern California was also a victim. She and a female friend had been documenting weight loss through photos. Some of the shots were topless. “Gary Jones” had gotten into Tina’s email, nabbed the sexiest pictures, and sent them to Moore, who posted them.

“I was horrified,” she told me on the phone. “I was at the drugstore and a total stranger came up to me and said ‘I’ve seen you naked.’”

Tina had been stalked online, and she was seeing a psychologist because she no longer felt safe in the world.

A Victim Named Cathy

Forty-year-old Cathy was divorced, and she feared losing custody of her two children. She had taken extreme measures to dodge the graphic photos depicted beside her name, city and social media links. Cathy had quit her job, changed her phone number, moved to a new town and gone back to using her maiden name. She was freaked out when I located her because she thought she’d erased all traces of her existence.

“I don’t understand how you found me,” she bawled into the phone. “If my ex-husband sees the photos, he will petition to take my kids away. I’m gonna lose my kids. What am I going to do? I can’t lose my children.”

Cathy had not been hacked; her photos had been morphed. In other words, she had never taken a nude shot. Someone had photoshopped her head with an unknown nude body in highly acrobatic and embarrassing poses. It made Cathy look like a veteran porn star.

“I’ve emailed Hunter Moore 20 times. He knows it isn’t me, but he won’t take the pictures down,” she wailed. “Please help me.”

The Results of My Informal Survey

Within a week, I had spoken with dozens of victims from around the country, and my findings were astonishing. A full 40 percent had been hacked only days before their photos were loaded onto Is Anyone Up? In most cases, the scam began through Facebook and ended when “Gary Jones” gained access to the victim’s email account. Another 12 percent of my sample group claimed their names and faces were morphed or posted next to nude bodies that were not theirs; and 36 percent believed they were revenge porn victims in the traditional “angry ex-boyfriend sense” (although some of these folks were on good terms with their exes and thought the exes might have been hacked). Lastly, 12 percent of my sample group were “self-submits.”  The "self-submits,” of course, are not victims at all; they are individuals who willingly sent their images to Moore. In the end, it was disturbing to realize that over half of the folks from my informal study were either criminally hacked or posted next to body parts that were not theirs.

A Victim Named Mandy

Mandy was a special victim. If I was Sherlock Holmes, she was my Watson. She originated from Iran, had been hacked by “Gary Jones” and was as feisty as a tornado. Under her topless photo, there were posts, such as “I hope she gets stoned to death.” Although Mandy was Catholic, rather than Muslim, she had highly religious relatives, who would ostracize her permanently for this sort of transgression.

At one point, while I was on the phone with Mandy, Charles decided to help us, saying, "Hunter Moore will regret the day he messed with Kayla Laws.”

Mandy had never been a private eye, but she knew how to finagle information, find clues, look outside of the box and compile information for “Operation No Moore.” Although she was afraid of “the most hated man on the Internet,” a name the media had bestowed upon Moore, she worked tirelessly behind the scenes, helping me compile evidence for the FBI.

An Alliance with Facebook

“He’s back on Facebook,” Mandy revealed. “We need to wait until he gets a few thousand friends, then pow. Kick him off.”

I was in daily contact with a number of victims from Is Anyone Up? Although they felt helpless, frightened and exploited, they shared a minor joy, a feeling of power that could be exerted at will. We could kick Hunter Moore off Facebook anytime, any moment, regardless of how much effort he expended to compile “friends.” This is because I had created an alliance with the executives at the popular social networking service, something that seemed quite remarkable in itself.

I had initially contacted Facebook to request that they fund a civil suit on behalf of victims. They had banned Moore from their site and sent him a legal letter because he had violated their terms of service by linking victims’ photos with Facebook pages. Moore responded to their letter with a copy of his penis. He had also put a bounty on their lead attorney; in other words, he wanted nude photos of this man. Facebook executives mulled over my “civil lawsuit idea,” but ultimately decided against it, thinking it would lead to a slippery slope in which everyone would ask them to finance lawsuits.

The victims and I repeatedly kicked Moore off of Facebook. He would sneak on, create a new page and tirelessly build a huge network of friends and followers. We would wait patiently. Then, I would make the all-important phone call and poof, his page would disappear. The victims would phone me, elated. Also, one person from our group knew the CEO of PayPal and got Moore banned from the e-commerce site, hindering his ability to collect donations.

Operation No Moore Nonsense

It had been eight days since Kayla’s topless photo first appeared online, although it felt like eons. Moore had been inundated with appeals to remove it: from me, Kayla, his advertisers, his publicist, his attorney, his website technician and his hosting company, among others.

Hunter ignored the requests, so I jacked up the intensity and moved on to “Operation No Moore Nonsense,” which required Charles’ assistance because we had to be ready, willing and able to sue. I contacted Jeffrey Lyon, the president of Black Lotus communications -- Moore’s Los Angeles-based internet security company -- and asked for his help

“I need to talk to my tech guys,” Jeffrey told me on the phone. “We might be able to block Kayla’s page. Although it would technically still be there, no one could see it."

“That would be great,” I replied. Hours later, the tech folks at Black Lotus had succeeded. However, shortly thereafter, Moore circumvented Jeffrey’s efforts and maliciously created a new page for Kayla. Her topless photo was visible again, and we were back to square one.

“Maybe we should try blocking the photo instead of the page,” Jeffrey said when I contacted him to report Moore’s handiwork. “I will talk to my tech guys and see if it can be done. Give me a couple of days.”

I thanked him and turned my efforts toward Moore’s Los Angeles attorney, Reza Sina, who I had spoken with twice. He’d expressed sympathy for the victims, yet claimed to have no control over his client. My intuition told me that Reza had more control than he acknowledged. I also felt he did not take me seriously, so I figured it was time for Charles to have a stern chat with him, lawyer to lawyer.

“We have talked to the FBI,” Charles revealed to Reza on the phone. “They will be coming to our house. Plus, I am walking into court and filing papers in 30 minutes if that photo is not down. Period.”

Twenty minutes later, Kayla was removed from Is Anyone Up? And a few days after that, Jeffrey and his tech folks were able to block photos of other victims from our group, although it was unclear whether Moore could bypass the cyber-barrier.


Three young FBI agents from the Los Angeles Internet Crime division appeared at our door. They were professional and supportive. Unlike the LAPD detective, they never pointed an accusatory finger at Kayla or other victims. I handed them a copy of “Operation No Moore.” They were astonished by the extent of my research.

"It’s almost 10 inches,” I said. “I have phone numbers for hacked victims all over the country.”

Charles quipped, “You should hire Charlotte. Working for the FBI is her calling.”

The agents agreed to take the case and spent several hours at our house, examining computers, copying files and questioning Kayla about the hacking. I told them that I had disclosed the cumbersome and detailed story to a reporter named Camille Dodero with The Village Voice because it was important to clear up misinformation. The media had been inaccurately reporting that photos on revenge porn websites stemmed from disgruntled exes. There had been no mention of hacking or photoshopping.

“Also, Hunter Moore lies about living in San Francisco,” I told the FBI. “I’d like to put his home address on the Internet so victims will know how to serve him legal papers.”

“I can’t tell you what to do,” the lead agent said. “But we would rather you not put his address out there yet, and we’d prefer The Village Voice not publish anything at this time because we don’t want Moore alerted to the investigation.

“Unfortunately, he probably knows about it,” I said. “We told his attorney and the president of his security company. I’d be surprised if they didn’t relay the information.”

I asked Camille to stall The Village Voice story, and then I phoned the Los Angeles Police Department detective to let her know that she could close her file.

The FBI agents stopped by our house for two more visits; the final one included a “victims meeting,” designed to discuss the possibility of a civil lawsuit and to give the agents an opportunity to interview multiple victims in one location.

Shortly thereafter, Moore took down Is Anyone Up?, selling the domain.

The FBI Raid, Threats and Anonymous

The FBI raided Moore’s home -- or more accurately, his parent’s home near Sacramento -- breaking down the front door and confiscating Moore’s computer, cell phone and other electronic equipment; and Camille felt compelled to move forward with The Village Voice article. Before going to press, she telephoned Moore for a statement. He went ballistic, cursing and making threats.

“Honestly, I will be fucking furious, and I will burn down fucking The Village Voice headquarters if you fucking write anything saying I have an FBI investigation,” he said.

He asked who had supplied her with the FBI information, but she refused to say.

He added, “I will literally fucking buy a first-class plane ticket right now, eat an amazing meal, buy a gun in New York, and fucking kill whoever said that.”

Moore soon learned it was me.

Fear entered my life. I received verbal attacks on Twitter, computer viruses and death threats. Moore publicly announced that he would relaunch Is Anyone Up? with all of the original photos, plus the site would be more insidious than before because it would include the addresses of victims along with driving directions on how to get to their homes.

This prompted me to make Moore’s home address public on Twitter, which resulted in even greater backlash, the creepy guy in the white car and the odd phone call from Anonymous.

It was two hours after the Anonymous call, and I was still wondering if the whole thing had been a practical joke. Kayla was studying near the front window, and that is when she saw it for the second time.

“Mom, that white car is outside again,” she yelled.

“What?” I was in disbelief. I was tired of having my family victimized. I was more furious than afraid and fully prepared for a mother-to-stalker showdown. I marched out of the front door, unsure whether I was stepping into danger.

Kayla tagged behind, yelling, “Mom? What are you going to do?”

There was a blonde, curly-haired, 20 to 30 year old kid in the white car. He was fiddling with something in his lap.

I stood in the street and yelled, “May I help you?”

He looked up at me and flew into panic mode. He quickly started his car and screeched away, almost barreling into my neighbor’s stucco wall. I got five digits of his seven digit license plate.

On the following day, I learned the truth about “Jack.” He was real. He was my Gene Hackman. Anonymous launched a massive technological assault on Moore, crashing his servers and publicizing much of his personal information online, including his social security number.

Moore retreated, becoming oddly quiet. He stopped speaking with the press, probably on orders from his lawyer because the FBI investigation was pending. The case is still open today.

Although Is Anyone Up? was down, I knew there were other disturbing sites and other desperate victims. I began pushing for legislation to protect victims, meeting with politicians on the state and federal level. I testified in Sacramento in favor of SB 255, an anti-revenge porn bill in California; it passed. I am hopeful that a federal law will be introduced soon.

2012 was a bizarre and difficult year. Sometimes I look back and wonder what would have happened if Moore had removed Kayla’s photo when first asked. Would his site be up today? Would Gary Jones still be hacking into emails? Would there be a pending FBI investigation? Would politicians have taken up the issue, and would there be a law in California with the possibility of federal legislation? But most of all I wonder if Charles was right.

Does Hunter Moore regret the day he messed with Kayla Laws?

It was 1963, and 16-year-old Bruce McAllister was sick of symbol-hunting in English class. Rather than quarrel with his teacher, he went straight to the source: McAllister mailed a crude, four-question survey to 150 novelists, asking if they intentionally planted symbolism in their work. Seventy-five authors responded. Here’s what 12 of them had to say. (Copies of the survey responses can be found at the Paris Review.)

McAllister's Letter
“My definition of symbolism as used in this questionnaire is represented by this example: In The Scarlet Letter there are four major characters. Some say that Hawthorne meant those four to be Nature, Religion, Science or other similar symbols in disguise. They apply the actions of the four in the story to what is presently happening or will happen to Nature, Religion, Science, etc.”

Ayn Rand: “This is not a ‘definition,’ it is not true—and therefore, your questions do not make sense.”

MacKinlay Kantor: “Nonsense, young man, write your own research paper. Don’t expect others to do the work for you.”

Question 1
“Do you consciously, intentionally plan and place symbolism in your writing?... If yes, please state your method for doing so. Do you feel you sub-consciously place symbolism in your writing?”

Jack Kerouac: "No."

Isaac Asimov: “Consciously? Heavens, no! Unconsciously? How can one avoid it?”

Joseph Heller: “Yes, I do intentionally rely on symbolism in my writing, but not to the extent that many people have stated…No, I do not subconsciously place symbolism in my writing, although there are inevitably many occasions when events acquire a meaning additional to the one originally intended.”

Ray Bradbury: “No, I never consciously place symbolism in my writing. That would be a self-conscious exercise and self-consciousness is defeating to any creative act. Better to let the subconscious do the work for you, and get out of the way. The best symbolism is always unsuspected and natural."

John Updike: “Yes—I have no method; there is no method in writing fiction; you don’t seem to understand.”

Norman Mailer: “I’m not sure it’s a good idea for a working novelist to concern himself too much with the technical aspects of the matter. Generally, the best symbols in a novel are those you become aware of only after you finish the work.”

Ralph Ellison: “Symbolism arises out of action…Once a writer is conscious of the implicit symbolism which arises in the course of a narrative, he may take advantage of them and manipulate them consciously as a further resource of his art. Symbols which are imposed upon fiction from the outside tend to leave the reader dissatisfied by making him aware that something extraneous is added.”

Saul Bellow: “A ‘symbol’ grows in its own way, out of the facts.”

Richard Hughes: “[Consciously?] No. [Subconsciously?] Probably yes. After all, to a lesser extent, the same is true of our daily conversation—in fact, of everything we think and say and do.”

Question 2
“Do readers ever infer that there is symbolism in your writing where you had not intended it to be? If so, what is your feeling about this type of inference? (Humorous? annoying? etc.?)”

Ralph Ellison: “Yes, readers often infer that there is symbolism in my work, which I do not intend. My reaction is sometimes annoyance. It is sometimes humorous. It is sometimes even pleasant, indicating that the reader’s mind has collaborated in a creative way with what I have written.”

Saul Bellow: “They most certainly do. Symbol-hunting is absurd.”

Joseph Heller: “This happens often, and in every case there is good reason for the inference; in many cases, I have been able to learn something about my own book, for readers have seen much in the book that is there, although I was not aware of it being there.”

John Updike: “Once in a while—usually they do not (see the) symbols that are there.”

Jack Kerouac: “Both, depending how busy I am.”

Questions 3
“Do you feel that the great writers of classics consciously, intentionally planned and placed symbols in their writing? ... Do you feel that they placed it there sub-consciously?”

John Updike:

[“Some of them did (Joyce, Dante) more than others (Homer) but it is impossible to think of any significant work of narrative art without a symbolic dimension of some sort.”]

Ray Bradbury: “This is a question you must research yourself.”

Joseph Heller: “The more sophisticated the writer, I would guess, the smaller the use of symbols in the strictest sense and the greater the attempt to achieve the effects of symbolism in more subtle ways. “

Ralph Ellison: “Man is a symbol-making and –using animal. Language itself is a symbolic form of communication. The great writers all used symbols as a means of controlling the form of their fiction. Some place it there subconsciously, discovered it and then developed it. Others started out consciously aware and in some instances shaped the fiction to the symbols.”

Jack Kerouac: “Come off of it—there are all kinds of ‘classics’—Sterne used no symbolism, Joyce did.”

Question 4
"Do you have anything to remark concerning the subject under study, or anything you believe to be pertinent to such a study?"

Richard Hughes:

[“Have you considered the extent to which subconscious symbol-making is part of the process of reading, quite distinct from its part in writing?”]

Jack Kerouac: “Symbolism is alright in ‘fiction’ but I tell true life stories simply about what happened to people I knew.”

John Updike: “It would be better for you to do your own thinking on this sort of thing.”

Iris Murdoch: “There is much more symbolism in ordinary life than some critics seem to realize.”

Ray Bradbury: “Not much to say except to warn you not to get too serious about all this, if you want to become a writer of fiction in the future. If you intend to become a critic, that is a Whale of another color…Playing around with symbols, even as a critic, can be a kind of kiddish parlor game. A little of it goes a long way. There are other things of greater value in any novel or story…humanity, character analysis, truth on other levels…Good symbolism should be as natural as breathing…and as unobtrusive.”

Click through to read it, don't want to redo all the formatting. TL;DR : back in the 60s a high school student fed up w/ symbol-chasing games in lit class wrote a survey and sent it to a bunch of famous authors, asking whether they intentionally or unintentionally used symbolism. If the article's not total bunk, it's quite interesting.

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