Using LaTeX in 17.310J

Date Tags LaTeX

As a Technology & Policy Program student, you need to prepare a research thesis for your S.M.; if you're in another MIT graduate program, you will likely also need to prepare a thesis or academic publication at some point during your degree!

Why? Compared to Microsoft Word, the LaTeX document preparation system can save you considerable time in writing your thesis, as well as other documents such as academic publications and the writing assignments for Science, Technology, and Public Policy. At the same time, the results will be more elegant, readable, reusable, and reproducible. STPP coursework is a great opportunity …

more ...

China to ban the sale of internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs)—Bloomberg

Bloomberg reports:

Xin Guobin, the vice minister of industry and information technology [MIIT], said the government is working with other regulators on a timetable to end production and sales [of fossil-fuel powered vehicles]. The move will have a profound impact on the environment and growth of China’s auto industry, Xin said at an auto forum in Tianjin on Saturday.

This is, no doubt, a major announcement. China is the world's largest market for light-duty vehicles (LDVs; cars and light trucks), so the impact will be greater than that of earlier statements from governments in the UK and France. On …

more ...

LaTeX using Atom

Date Tags LaTeX

I use LaTeX for my academic work. For some time Atom has been my editor of choice. Over the years, I've migrated through a variety of workflows, including using dedicated editors like LyX to write my S.M. thesis.

Atom is not a dedicated LaTeX editor, but it is immensely popular. Consequently it has many useful features and packages that I've found improve my productivity for writing code (LaTeX documents are, after all, code).1 Some of these are LaTeX-specific, but many are not.

See previous writing on this use-case by Matteo Merola and others.

TeX environment & packages

I write …

more ...

Barcodes

GitS:SaC newspaper 1 GitS:SaC newspaper 2 Source: Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (2006), via Imgur 1, 2.

Hundreds of people rally against the temporary travel ban during a protest at Detroit Metropolitan airport in Romulus, Michigan, on January 29, 2017. Source: Rebecca Cook / Reuters (29 January 2017), via The Atlantic.

This is the first time I've seen, in person or a photograph, a poster or billboard containing only a QR code—with no accompanying text.1 The code contains a link to this clip from Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator (1940):


  1. One exception was a Google recruiting ad on the side of a bus shelter from ca. 2011, but I can't find any reference to it. 

more ...

Cansplained: Executive orders

Cansplain (v): (not to be confused with mansplain)

  1. to nicely explain something about the United States, to Canadians;
  2. vice versa.

Within minutes of one another, two people asked me to cansplain executive orders. Donald Trump is signing a lot of these, and people are distressed because they're seeming to do all kinds of terrible things. What are they?

You could, of course, read Wikipedia. Here's a fast-and-loose version.

Bureaucracy

Most of the work of government happens in a bureaucracy that's organized into units that I will call ‘departments’. There are some important differences:

Thing Canada United States
Head of government …
more ...

Use people's names

I often feel that I spend too much time engaged in online political discussion. As I do, I'm aware that this likely does little to change political outcomes—who gets elected, and what policies they pursue—that concern me and drew me to those discussions in the first place. This is because:

  1. I am stuck in my own communities of like-minded people, and
  2. Any other person who stumbles across my posts and comments is unlikely to be swayed by reading them, no matter the tone.

All this said, I still try my best to enter or start discussions that help …

more ...

Listening tour

Date Tags Politics

Echoing Robert Stavins, I have only a narrow area of expertise,1 and it does not include political science. I know that some of the following turns on empirical questions that can be answered with data and rigorous analysis, and that there are researchers trying to do just this. I should, and will, acquaint myself with the knowledge they have produced; but that will be a gradual project.

In the meantime, I and others need to make decisions about how to get by in a world that seems, suddenly, different from the one some thought we lived in. We each …

more ...

On the 2016 U.S. Election

My American friends, and friends in America,

Think about your neighbours—women, the poor, immigrants, Muslims, Latinos, queers, trans people, and others. Think of the people in other countries who depend on U.S. aid, diplomacy and action for their survival or security—including from the threat of climate change. Think of their faces and their names. (If you don't know their names, resolve to learn them.)

You may be tired after a 20-month campaign. They are, too. You may wish you could have a break, to recover yourself and your equilibrium. They won't get one. Trump, and the worst …

more ...

Fun & Politics with Augmented Reality

Pokémon GO is sweeping the world, and generating a lot of interesting headlines. Here's one:

Holocaust Museum to visitors: Please stop catching Pokémon here

Reactions to this—and other stories of Pokémon trainers falling into empty swimming pools, invading their neighbours' back yards, and committing other faux pas—varied. Some joked and punned, while one indignant Facebook commenter demanded to know, "Who gave them [Nintendo & Niantic, the game's creators] the right to impose AR [augmented reality] there?" (emphasis added)

Implicit in the phrasing of this remark is the idea that one has a right to control AR content associated1 …

more ...

Salvation or Menace

"Salvation or Menace" by Chris Turner in The Walrus

This is all definitely cause for optimism, especially the degree of agreement among panelists. I was nearly dumbstruck yesterday to read about Patrick Brown stating plainly to the PC Party of Ontario that "Climate change is a fact, It is a threat. It is man made. We have to do something about it, and that something includes putting a price on carbon."

My worry about proxy wars of all kinds is that it is not simply a matter of collective choice to avoid them. Energy East, for instance, must come before …

more ...

Teaching Philosophy Statement

Date

I view my teaching as a process of continual development, in which I seek to become more able to create authentic experiences for my students; respond flexibly to their needs; judiciously incorporate new technology, techniques and research; and convey to them my passion for the topics I choose to teach.

Continual development

My graduate student teaching is in the areas of engineering & public policy, and engineering leadership development;1 my undergraduate teaching includes these areas and also fundamentals of engineering analysis. I am familiar with and appreciate many of the criticisms of “traditional” engineering education in Canada and the United …

more ...

Platform 2015

Following the good advice of an instructor from last term, I am resolving for 2015 to write for 15 minutes every day!

To be precise, the advice was to write material with a non-zero probability of appearing in my thesis. I realized that I already do spend more than 15 minutes writing each day, but without much focus. Instead, I comment in various places, or write blurbs to frame articles and other links shared on Facebook.

Though I probably spend more time on these non-research-related words than I should, that doesn't make them valueless. In fact, I usually choose to …

more ...

‘The Second Machine Age’

Date Tags Books

Reviewed:1 Erik Brynjolfsson & Andrew McAfee, The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies, W.W. Norton & Co., New York, 2014. Hardcover, 320 pp.

“The factory of the future will only have two employees, a man, and a dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to keep the man from touching the equipment.” —Warren G. Bennis2

“The hand-mill gives you society with the feudal lord; the steam-mill society with the industrial capitalist.” —Karl Marx3

In their new book, Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee draw …

more ...

‘Everything Is Obvious’

Date Tags Books

Reviewed:1 Duncan Watts, Everything Is Obvious (Once You Know The Answer), Crown Business, New York, 2011. Paperback, 269 pp. plus bibliography, notes and index.

Lest we be paralyzed with indecision, we confidently go about our everyday lives making assumptions, reasoning from the few to the many, seeking regularity and choosing, optimistically, to interpret the outcomes of our decisions as confirmation that our haphazard approach was the best one. What's more, we do the same—and eagerly accept arguments developed in the same way—when we aim to digest current events and important societal trends.

'Twas ever thus, from childhood's …

more ...

The Colour of Television

A bright video screen shows images of blue sky on Tiananmen Square during a time of dangerous levels of air pollution, on January 23, 2013 in Beijing. (Feng Li/Getty Images) Source: Feng Li/Getty Images, via The Atlantic)

The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.

Neuromancer, opening lines.

The air beyond the window touches each source of light with a faint hepatic corona, a tint of jaundice edging imperceptibly into brownish translucence. Fine dry flakes of fecal snow, billowing in from the sewage flats, have lodged in the lens of night.

Virtual Light, p.1.

William Gibson, one of my favourite authors and Canadian by choice to (a)boot, is sometimes referred to as a "noir prophet" for his work in the …

more ...

“What better place than here? What better time than now?”

One of the ways terrorism works—yes—is by provoking a reflexive reaction whereby the targets, out of terror or anger, compromise their values. The availability heuristic leads them to worry that more violence is imminent and that they face a choice between principle and safety. From my untutored perspective, the chief reason terrorism fails is that these reactions—especially revenge—don't tend to help alleviate the conditions that brought its perpetrators to anger and then violence against its targets. However, this doesn't diminish the schadenfreude felt by terrorists as victims harm themselves.

So as we respond we must not …

more ...

你好 from 北京!

Date Tags China

I am in Beijing, China from 22 February to 15 July this year (with some side-trips) to do research. My institutional host is the 清华大学能源环境经济研究所 (qīnghuá dàxué néngyuán huánjìng jīngjì yánjiū suǒ, Tsinghua University Institute of Energy, Environment and Economy), and I am mostly funded by the MISTI/MIT-China program. I am subletting a room about a kilometre east of the university.

Though I promised many I would blog about my experiences, so far I have only given commentary on some photos (please follow them, too!). But after a month of first surviving, then being generally bewildered, I finally have …

more ...

Letter to Eve Adams, Olivia Chow

Date

Ms Adams, Ms Chow;

I grew up in Mississauga, living and voting in Ms Adams' riding; for seven years while attending the University of Toronto, I lived in Ms Chow's. Despite a keen interest in policy and consequent hypersensitivity to politics, this is my first time writing to my Member(s) of Parliament. The occasion is Bill C-38, which may have passed by the time you receive this; nevertheless I want to detail why I find the bill personally offensive.

Ms Adams doubtless knows from her time as a councillor that the City of Mississauga's 2010 strategic plan, Our Future …

more ...


Rhetorical question

Date

[Posting again after yet another year-long hiatus, some site updates, a new comment system, etc.]

To test-drive all this, a question: are the ideas of work-life balance and a person's life's work compatible?

more ...