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Thu, 29 Dec 2005

Y Combinator Brain Pain

Joel Splosky's recent article about The Perils of JavaSchools mentions fixed point theory. Despite the fact that my CS degree required nothing so advanced as a true understanding of a fixed point theorem, I wanted to feel that I was the kind of person who, if he put his mind to it, could wrap his head around the concept. Besides, it's related to the Y combinator, and my friend Ben and I had taken the time to understand that a few months ago. Right?

When I was a kid, lying in bed trying to sleep, sometimes I would play a game with myself where I would visualize a golf ball rolling into a hole. The particular image is fairly irrelevant (Freudian analysists start your notepads) but the point is that I often couldn't get the ball to roll in the hole. I would try to push it in and it would slip away. An inability to command one's own mental visualization is disconcerting.

Anyway, visualizing why or how the Y combinator finds a fixed point of the function that's passed to it is giving me that same feeling. I get this close to understanding how it all fits together and then <poof> it slips away as I lose track of the pieces.

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NSA Web Site Puts 'Cookies' on Computers

If federal agencies like the NSA aren't allowed to use HTTP cookies, how is Carnivore/Omnivore/DragonWare legal? I guess the federal government's too big to be consistent. Maybe consistency in the government would be a bad thing. It might lead to fascism or memetic stagnation.

Someday I'm going to argue that we the people should make all information free, but first I have to read David Brin's "The Transparent Society", which is on order from Amazon.

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