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Things that are connected

October 1, 2011

1. Everything you ever wanted to know about the development of surgical anaesthesia.

2. Prof. Edward Nelson believes he has a proof outline for the inconsistency of Peano arithmetic. You can read an early draft of his book here. And here is more analysis. Note that Nelson is a well-regarded mathematician, and not particularly prone to dramatic pronouncements.

My own work on consistency results went in the other direction — investigating large cardinal axioms whose provability from within ZFC would trigger Gödel’s second theorem with painful consequences, then trying to rank them by consistency strength, so I am not particularly qualified to comment on Prof. Nelson’s  work. But I’ll still be reading the book.

3. This article on mistreatment of Amazon workers has been sent around a lot, but a reader points out that it is actually an article about the Horrors of Taylorism. This reinforces my belief that the purpose of most management philosophies is not to improve productivity but rather to provide new and interesting ways of terrorizing employees into submission. The genius of scientific management is that it provides procedures and methods which allow one to devise rules of maximum arbitrariness while cloaking them with the all-important veneer of rational, utilitarian justification.


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