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Noam Chomsky

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aaron swartz lead

I met Aaron Swartz in Cambridge shortly after he’d been indicted for downloading lots of JSTOR articles on MIT’s network in 2011. My Wired colleague Ryan Singel had been writing about his story, and I’d talked a lot with my friends in academia and publishing about the problems of putting scholarship behind a paywall, but that was really the level at which I was approaching it. I was there to have brunch with friends I’d known a long time only through the internet, and I hadn’t known Aaron that way. I certainly didn’t want to use the brunch to put on my journalist hat and pepper him with questions. He was there primarily to see his partner Quinn Norton’s daughter Ada, with whom he had a special bond. The two of them spent...

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Benoit Mandelbrot was one of the most influential minds of the 20th century. His career spanned many disciplines, but he's perhaps best known for his groundbreaking geometry work in defining fractals, a class of shapes that "mimic the irregularities found in nature." In The Fractalist, Mandelbrot's memoir, the late scientist reveals his journey, from fleeing Poland as a young boy in 1936 to working for IBM and meeting with Noam Chomsky. Through the course of his career, Mandelbrot influnced a number of disciplines, and the impact of his work is likely to continue to be felt for many years to come.

According to The New York Times, "to read The Fractalist is to examine a brain that can seem to reside in a jar," as few references to the...

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I'm writing an introductory paper to the field of AI.

What are the major paradigms? What are the major methods?

I'm having a hard time finding a framework for which to approach these topics. It seems to me (a relative outsider) that there are many disparate groups of AI research that overlap while others don't come close at all.

Methods I have so far are neural networks, genetic algorithms, classical (symbolic) AI, expert systems.

Paradigms I would possibly consider are a top-down approach (modelling cognition) and a bottom up approach (genetic algorithms?).

In what way can I group or classify approaches to AI as to help make more sense of this mass? Thank you.

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If you've studied design at all, you've probably encountered Lorem Ipsum placeholder text at some point. Anywhere there is text, but the meaning of that text isn't particularly important, you might see Lorem Ipsum.

Tintin-lipsum

Most people recognize it as Latin. And it is. But it is arbitrarily rearranged and not quite coherent Latin, extracted from a book Cicero wrote in 45 BC. Here's the complete quote, with the bits and pieces that make up Lorem Ipsum highlighted.

Nemo enim ipsam voluptatem, quia voluptas sit, aspernatur aut odit aut fugit, sed quia consequuntur magni dolores eos, qui ratione voluptatem sequi nesciunt, neque porro quisquam est, qui dolorem ipsum, quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci[ng] velit, sed quia non numquam [do] eius modi tempora inci[di]dunt, ut labore et dolore magnam aliquam quaerat voluptatem. Ut enim ad minima veniam, quis nostrum exercitationem ullam corporis suscipit laboriosam, nisi ut aliquid ex ea commodi consequatur? Quis autem vel eum iure reprehenderit, qui in ea voluptate velit esse, quam nihil molestiae consequatur, vel illum, qui dolorem eum fugiat, quo voluptas nulla pariatur?

At vero eos et accusamus et iusto odio dignissimos ducimus, qui blanditiis praesentium voluptatum deleniti atque corrupti, quos dolores et quas molestias excepturi sint, obcaecati cupiditate non provident, similique sunt in culpa, qui officia deserunt mollitia animi, id est laborum et dolorum fuga.

But what does it all mean? Here's an English translation with the same parts highlighted.

Nor again is there anyone who loves or pursues or desires to obtain pain of itself, because it is pain, but occasionally circumstances occur in which toil and pain can procure him some great pleasure. To take a trivial example, which of us ever undertakes laborious physical exercise, except to obtain some advantage from it? But who has any right to find fault with a man who chooses to enjoy a pleasure that has no annoying consequences, or one who avoids a pain that produces no resultant pleasure?

On the other hand, we denounce with righteous indignation and dislike men who are so beguiled and demoralized by the charms of pleasure of the moment, so blinded by desire, that they cannot foresee the pain and trouble that are bound to ensue; and equal blame belongs to those who fail in their duty through weakness of will, which is the same as saying through shrinking from toil and pain.

Of course the whole point of Lorem Ipsum is that the words aren't supposed to mean anything, so attempting to divine its meaning is somewhat … unsatisfying, perhaps by design. Lorem Ipsum is a specific form of what is generally referred to somewhat cheekily as "Greeking":

Greeking is a style of displaying or rendering text or symbols, not always from the Greek alphabet. Greeking obscures portions of a work for the purpose of either emphasizing form over details or displaying placeholders for unavailable content. The name is a reference to the phrase "Greek to me", meaning something that one cannot understand, so that it might as well be in a foreign language.

So when you need filler or placeholder text, you naturally reach for Lorem Ipsum as the standard. The theory is that, since it's unintelligible, nobody will attempt to read it, but instead focus on other aspects of the design. If you put readable text in the design, people might think the text is important to the design, that the text represents the sort of content you expect to see, or that the text somehow itself needs to be copyedited and updated and critiqued.

(Regular readers of this blog may remember that I am fond of using Alice in Wonderland in this manner, when I need a bit of text to demonstrate something in a post.)

Lorem-ipsum

However, not everyone agrees that relying on a standard boilerplate greeked placeholder text is appropriate, even going so far as to call for the death of Lorem Ipsum. I think it depends what you're trying to accomplish. I once noted that it's better to use real content to avoid Blank Page Syndrome, for example.

There are quite a few websites that helpfully offer up the classic Lorem Ipsum text in various eminently copy-and-pastable forms.

Classic Lorem Ipsum

Beyond that, if you just want a bunch of, uh, interesting text to fill an area, there a lot – and I mean a lot – of websites to choose from. So many in fact that I was a little overwhelmed trying to index them all. I've tried to broadly categorize the ones I did find, below. If you know of more, feel free to leave a comment and I'll update the list.

Novelty

Clever English Tricks

Literature

Professions

Social Networks

TV, Movies and Media

Possibly NSFW

Regional

This is a lot to go through. If I had to pick a favorite, I'd say Fillerati because it's all dignified and stuff. But I think truer to the spirit of Lorem Ipsum are definitely the homophonic transformations, which consistently blow my mind every time I attempt to read them. Isn't that the implied goal of any properly greeked text? You were one deliciously perverse professor of romance languages, Howard L. Chace.

In today's Pinteresting world, images are arguably more important than text. But what is the Lorem Ipsum of images? Is there even one? I guess you could just slap some Lorem Ipsum text in an image, but where is the fun in that? Anyway, there are also plenty of websites offering up placeholder images of various types to go along with your Lorum Ipsum placeholder text.

Images

I'm not sure the world needs any more Lorem Ipsum-alikes than we already have at this point. Like the market for ironic t-shirts, the Internet has ensured that our placeholder greeked text needs have not merely been met but vastly exceeded for the forseeable future. But after discovering all the creative things people have done with Lorem Ipsum, and text placeholders in general, it's sure tempting to dream yet another one up, isn't it?

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Stories have been around as long as we have, helping us understand our world and ourselves. We learn and retain information best through stories, because they turn information into more than the sum of its parts. But what makes a story a story, and what does it mean for the digital world we’ve built? Elizabeth McGuane and Randall Snare weave an enchanting tale of attention, comprehension, inference, coherence, and shopping.

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As the medical marijuana industry has boomed in the state, its cities and counties have banned new shops and cannabis greenhouses or moved to oust existing businesses.

All photographs by Matt Nager for The Wall Street Journal.


Chris Ward, the owner and founder of Aloha’s, a medical marijuana dispensary in Milner, Colo. On Tuesday, the county commissioners in Routt County, which includes Milner, banned new businesses affiliated with medical marijuana.


Jars of marijuana at Aloha’s. Routt County will ask voters in the fall whether they want to shutter the dispensary.


Doug Fisher, an employee of Aloha’s, measures out marijuana. Scores of localities across Colorado have banned new pot shops and cannabis greenhouses or moved to oust established businesses.


Marijuana buds, almost ready for harvest at Aloha’s. Routt County had just 12 medical-marijuana patients in January 2009. There are now 1,143 patients, or 6% of the adult population, state health records show.


The outside of Aloha’s. In nearby Steamboat Springs, the city council has put a measure on the November ballot that would shut down existing operations and ban new ones.


Marijuana magazines at Aloha’s. The industry has grown more rapidly in Colorado than any state except California.


Corey Kopp, right, a student at Colorado Mountain College who suffers from migraines, smelled a jar of marijuana on a recent visit to the Rocky Mountain Remedies dispensary in Steamboat Springs.


Marijuana buds at Aloha’s. Even communities such as Steamboat Springs that had overwhelmingly supported the right of ill Coloradans to seek pain relief from cannabis are recoiling from the industry’s explosive growth.


Lisa Watts, left, and Kelly Victory are in favor of ousting pot shops. Dr. Victory, a health-care consultant in Routt County, said she would probably favor true legalization but is pushing to oust the shops because they’re ‘making a mockery of the legal system.’

All photographs by Matt Nager for The Wall Street Journal.

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