Category Archives: new york

Complexity and Economics by NAF-Biz NY (Nov 16, 2017)

On November 16, prior to the 2017 Peter Stuyvesant Ball, the Netherland-America Foundation (NAF) organized this year a lecture about Complexity and Economics. The lecture, at Baker McKenzie in New York, was a high level overview of complexity principles for public policy by speakers Dr. Roland Kupers, among other associate fellow at the University of Oxford, and via a pre-recorded video by Prof. Lex Hoogduin.

On forehand, I was very excited to attend this talk as I deal with the topic more or less as a developer advocate for IBM either via the IBM Data Science Experience (DSX), Machine Learning and IBM Watson (cognitive computing, having some experience in R programming, data science, machine learning, calculus, and 20+ years of software engineering. The evening was certainly not un-interesting, but I was a little disappointed by the lack of depth of the presentations, and neither of the speakers touched on machine learning, statistics, or mathematics which have my immediate interest. But nevertheless, the two talks touched upon enough topics for further inquiry to make the evening inspiring.

Kupers’ talk relates to his publication entitled ‘Complexity and the art of public policy’ (2016) in collaboration with David Colander. Kupers is a physicist by training with experience in the field of fractals, then switched to economic policy early in his career, being a consultant now, who among other advised the NWO (Dutch organization for scientific research). Continue reading

The Sommelier

The sommelier was a light-black hispanic man in his mid-twenties, perfectly mannered and composed, quick to react to my teasing wit, while at the same time leaving no trace of composition in his smile, displaying an honest exuberance. The sommelier had been held up in the wine cellar while we picked our courses from the menu and had inquired for his advice on the wine pairing. He stood lightly stooped over our table, one hand behind his back and pointed with his hand, extended in a straight angle from his shoulder, at the wine choice, an Austrian Grüner Veltliner by Hirsch from 2013, that paired well with the Spanish octopus and the Japanese hamachi.
“You got locked up in the wine cellar by your co-workers, it seemed?”
“They tend to do that, yes,” he answered with a genuine and gentle smile.
“The Château de Pressac, Grand Cru Classé, from Saint-Émilion is a French wine with a very dark hue and berry that pairs excellent with the Wagyu Beef.”
“Excellent, I trust you.”
As the sommelier walked off, one of the middle-aged Indian backwaiters walked over, holding a dark wood woven breadbasket in front of his pelvis and a silver bread tongs in his right hand hovering above the whole grain, mini bread rolls and elongated berry bread sticks, ready to grasp a single roll with his tongs and transfer it to our plates.
“No, thank you.”
We had gracefully declined already at least 3 times prior.
Immediately following the bread runner, sensing another window of opportunity to prove his value, came the water runner holding a thin, chrome water dispenser, and carrying a white napkin folded over his wrist. I could hear the ice cubes dancing in the can, clinging against the metal sides of the dispenser, creating a wild, loud motion inside. Barely without pause, his arm stretched in one flow with his walk, as his legs came to a stop the dispenser moved steadily forward, being stretched out without delay to the rim of the glass. The glass was not even half empty yet, but water poured down like an avalanche or waterfall in one wholesome fall, everything passing so quickly it could not be helped. Drops of water splashed all over the table, the glass now refilled to the rim in a wild splatter of an instant, the base of the glass soaked in condensed water rolling down the bowl along the stem of the glass and being absorbed by the saturated table cloth. Seeing the refilled bowl of water, the Hispanic runner’s smile was equally full with satisfied content of a job well done.

Eric A. Kandel, The Age of Insight (2012)

Eric Kandel, The Age of Insight (2012)Eric A. Kandel, The Age of Insight (2012), 508p.

On April 16, Eric Kandel spoke at the Rubin Museum about his new book ‘The Age of Insight.’ The dialog between Prochnik and Kandel was lacking poignant questions, but Kandel’s personal history and his love of talking, so typical for a man his age and standing, or his art of story telling was both highly amusing and slightly obnoxious. I decided to buy and read his book because I love the encompassing space of art, science and the mind. Kandel is a charming and inspiring man of age and an accomplished neuropsychiatrist who in 2000 won the Nobel prize for his work on memory storage.

Kandel was born in 1929 in Vienna and escaped the Nazi terror with his family in 1938. Kandel’s book traces back the Fin de Siecle of Vienna and in a way re-invents his own life as he seems to imagine it. He looks back on his personal history and the history of the science of the mind, the two paths merge in the course of Kandel’s career. Kandel happily borrows from this magnificent era in Viennese history to write about a science of beauty. Continue reading

The Diaries of Arnon Grunberg (14)

Arnon started walking. He walked into the dark night and the bloated circle of colored lights. He was alone, but he barely noticed that he was while he kept on walking. It could have been snowing, or it might have been drizzling, or perhaps it was a clear winter night, he didn’t remember. He did remember the blackness of the evening, the coat of dimness that isolated him and embraced him in one present gesture, and the brightness of the sparkles around him that amazed him. His eyes were drawn in all directions, drops of rain stirring a puddle of mud, and never lingered at one spot for more than a second. He couldn’t form any prolonged ideas but only short impulses of thoughts. This state of mind itself fascinated him. It was not his nature to be caught up in such a stream of consciousness that constantly renewed itself. Arnon was more used to his own thoughts prolonging themselves and separating him from the distancing reality that surrounded him. The relation between Arnon and the world was vaguely undefined, absent perhaps in the eyes of some, at least not in a constant form that let itself be renewed easily. In what form the relation with the outside world existed then? Arnon thought of the world as a friendly enemy, a benign poison dripping into the hollow bowl of his soul until one day it would spill over and he no longer was himself. He kept on walking, alone, into the night.

Het Uur van de Wold, Heb je nog steeds vrienden?

The Diaries of Arnon Grunberg (11)

“Don’t you grow tired by your own disquiet?”
“Sometimes,” only to add at the last moment,”perhaps.”
Such a settled question, Arnon thought. Only an old man, whose years have worn down his body, sees struggling and making efforts as a burden. To the vigor of a youth, being challenged feels like an elevation of the mind, to which he looks eagerly forward.

“But then you also run from deadline to deadline.”
The interviewer’s questions started to irritate Arnon, realizing that this man’s decay was printing itself on his mind and thus polluted his lust for life. The interviewer seemed to suggest that it was all too much, that this restless inspiration needed a break, take some time off, lay in bed and do nothing for a whole day but fetish itself in lazy dinners.

“Yes, but everything that has a pattern, is easy, and I don’t forget.”

While Arnon heard his own voice say the last lines, hearing himself, he realized already did the gray haired, saggy face with the coarse scraping voice affect him. He reflected on the absurdity of the answer, embarrassed by the apparent habit of himself that he displayed in public. This pattern of routines was what tired him, not the exerting demands.

Les Temps Retrouves

Dear all,
I woke up again this morning
I said, I am grateful for the grace that shone upon us
There was sunshine and rain, both fed the soil, and out of it grew a new
I kept walking, my silhouette turns smaller and smaller
still hear the echo resonate
I walk toward the sun, still more to the story
I will be in Greece or France, stop by for drinks
“La propriété, c’est le vol”