news of the day: LaTeX waste; around Arrow

  1. Someone, – I think it was Andy Odlyzko, – mentioned how the habits lead us to extremely inefficient usages of cheap resources. The archetypal example was that perpetual habit of converting short text conveying all necessary information (department picnic on Saturday, 2pm, in Liberty Park; bring a dish, family welcome!) into a 2Mb PowerPoint attached to the email.

    While the cost of such misuse of bloated tech is obvious (need to click through, hard to search, wastes memory and cycles), it is also small enough to ignore it, – that arrogant laissez-faire attitude towards the people we deem less efficient than us, highly focused and trained scientists.

    Until you realize that we, – highly focused and trained scientists, are LaTeXing just about everything, with abandon. However small, text document (no formulas! no pictures!) is bloated into a .tex source, and compiled into a pdf document.


    OK, in math, handling formulae is, sort of, easier to do using the LaTeX infrastructure (especially, easy to set up macros). But we seem to LaTeX just about everything. Meeting minutes, policies, guides, – everything is converted into pdfs, which are hard to reformat, copy-paste and sometimes, even search.

    All in all, minor bad, but still bad habit. Better get rid of it.

2. Around Arrow published, – a riveting tale of cold war planning, trans-Atlantic rivalries, RAND corporation characters, lack of social networks in 1950-ies, and the ensuing non-emergence of applied topology half a century ago, – all there.

No, really.

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