Nash Equilibrium, Hilary Mantel, Autism, Raphael, Checkers

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Upsetting The Nash Equilibrium

Erica Klarreich | Quanta | 18th July 2017

John Nash argued that there was always a best way of reconciling competing preferences within a group, leading to an “equilibrium” which rational players would respect once it had been found. The idea was simple, brilliant — and wrong in both theory and practice. “There’s no guaranteed method for players to find even an approximate Nash equilibrium unless they tell each other virtually everything about their respective preferences. The amount of time required for communication quickly becomes prohibitive” (2,400 words)

The Art Of Fiction: Hilary Mantel

Mona Simpson | Paris Review | 1st May 2015

Interview. Interesting throughout. Topics include the virtues of Robert Louis Stevenson, teaching in Botswana, adapting novels for the stage, and the demands of historical fiction. “When I’m writing a novel about historical figures, I have to be everybody. It’s strenuous. You know the concept of the good-enough parent? Well, sometimes you have to settle for the good-enough character. When the people are real, though dead, I have a different feeling toward them. I consider them my responsibility” (11,200 words)

Autism On A Rainy Day

Naoki Higashida | Literary Hub | 20th July 2017

On growing up with autism. “I asked my mother how she identified rain by the sound alone. She told me: ‘Well, that sound is the sound of rain, and when it starts raining, we bring in the washing’. What remains a mystery is how to infer that it’s raining purely from the noise. Even if I could identify the source of rain-noise, making the jump from the thought, ‘It’s raining!’, to bringing in the laundry, would be out of the question. I’d be too occupied just sitting there, entranced” (1,220 words)

Raphael At The Ashmolean

Charles Hope | LRB | 17th July 2017

Raphael is the most admired and least loved of the Renaissance masters. His paintings are too flawless for the modern taste. We think of Leonardo and Michelangelo as more “driven and difficult”, and so more in tune with our notions of what an artist should be. But Raphael was their equal in genius, as a show of his drawings in Oxford reminds us. “No drawing of the 15th century is remotely comparable, and it entirely negates the idea of Raphael as an artist of self-conscious perfectionism” (1,900 words)

How Checkers Was Solved

Alexis Madrigal | Atlantic | 19th July 2017

“Marion Tinsley — math professor, minister, and the best checkers player in the world — sat across a game board from a computer, dying. Tinsley had been the world’s best for 40 years, a time during which he’d lost a handful of games to humans, but never a match. It’s possible no single person had ever dominated a competitive pursuit the way Tinsley dominated checkers. But this was a different sort of competition: the Man-Machine World Championship” (4,400 words)

Video of the day: Game Of Thrones: Libertarian Edition

What to expect:

Parody blending two generally interesting conversation topics: Libertarian thinking and ‘Game of Thrones’ (5’58”)

Thought for the day

Language eases the pain of living with other people
Anne Carson

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