The quote he pulls is
The quote he pulls is
Networked buffering: a basic mechanism for distributed robustness in complex adaptive systems, James Whitacre and Axel Bender, 2009/12/10, arXiv:0912.1961
Excerpt: This paper proposes a generic design principle for generating robust traits in complex systems that requires two basic conditions to be satisfied: 1) agents are versatile enough to perform more than one single functional role within a system and 2) agents are degenerate, i.e. there exists a partial overlap in the functional capabilities of agents. Our principle claim is formulated within the so-called networked buffering hypothesis. It outlines how degenerate systems may readily produce a distributed response to local perturbations and reciprocally how excess resources related to a single function can indirectly support multiple unrelated functions within a degenerate system.
Translating a bit out of complex systems speak, here's my interpretation. Note that the paper proposes a design principle (and not a rigorously tested set of experiments) so there's room to explore this principle in a variety of worlds and words.
The first note is that the pieces of the robust complex system in question are flexible and reconfigurable ("versatile"). Every part has multiple uses; every person has multiple sets of skills; for every functional role, there's more that one piece that can fit that functional role. The expectation is that for any gap that you find from the temporary dislocation of a portion of the system there would be some other resource available to fill it, and also that if you have a temporary need for increased resources in some role that there would be a variety of resources available to pull into it.
The second note is the that the agents are diverse (oddly, in this language, "degenerate") in their skills. This implies most critically that if two agents could fill the same functional role, that there might always be a swap between them so that one of them could take it one while the other applied their exceptional talent to the need that was pressing.
Between the two principles you see how a system might get a considerable amount of redundancy and of reconfigurability to address exceptional needs. For any individual task, there's more than one set of agents to address that task. Any portion of the system that is redundant for any given task is also exceptionally qualified for some other task.
I want to draw conclusions to modern management, to staffing and scheduling and vacation time, and to the risks to brittle organizations when budgets are cut. I haven't even made sense yet of the "network buffering" piece. Too short a post for that, please do have at the paper and see how that makes sense to you.
Every so often the inbox is full and the blog is empty; this is an attempt to remedy that.
How to do an introduction online. X, meet Y; Y, meet X. X is notable for a1, a2, a3; Y is notable for b1, b2, b3. You have a mutual interest in c1, c2, c3; you should connect. There are several of those pending.
How to make the best of not responding to mail promptly. Answer long, hoping that your thoughtfulness makes up for your tardiness. Follow up with a new question, assuming that anything that went more than some period of time – two weeks, a month, or more – was overtaken by events and you want to be seen as having good follow up skills.
How much inbox is too much inbox. Inbox zero, for sure, in someone's dreams. I'm generally happier when the bottomless queue reaches 100 or less, since it seems more likely that each one might represent a chance to connect with someone in particular. There's also a time duration beyond which it makes more sense to start afresh than it does to reply.
1 Tbs canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 8 oz packages savory baked tofu
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets, steamed
coconut milk, about half a can
diced tomatoes, one small can
Heat the canola oil over medium heat (6/10). Add chopped onion.
Cook until fragrant. Add curry powder – I generally sprinkle it
lightly over the top – and stir until even more fragrant and colorful.
Add diced tofu, stir so that the curry powder is equally mixed in.
Don't cook so hot that the onions brown, but get everything hot
enough that if you stopped you could eat the mixture right there.
Add steamed cauliflower, stir until everything is coated with the curried
onion. Adjust the seasonings so that the color is right.
Add the coconut milk and diced tomatoes. If you are using canned
tomatoes, consider reserving some of the liquid so that the curry
is not too soupy. Stir, bring to heat at 6/10, then reduce the heat
to 3/10 and cook until the color is right. (At the start, you will
have a pinkish tone because the tomatoes are raw; you are aiming for
a more curry color, which will happen when the tomatoes are cooked
With the right amount of liquid, this can be served over rice or with
rice on the side to sop it up.
Serves as many people as you make it for; I allow 4 oz of tofu per
It could probably have peas added to it.
Freeze the other half a can of coconut milk for the next time you
do this recipe.
Even better the next day if there's any left.
Heat a sturdy deep pot with a lid to the same temperature you'd use for low temperature sauteing; on our stove it's 6 of 10. When the pot is properly warmed up, pour a bit of oil on the bottom (about a tablespoon or a little more) and bring that up to heat. I know it's at the right temperature when the thin layer of oil starts to form standing waves, ridges, or ripples. If it starts to smoke, it's too hot; if it's a completely flat layer of oil, it's too cold.
What is that ripple effect? From Harold McGee, The Curious Cook in the New York Times:
As the temperature of the pan surface rose above 350 degrees, the
oil began to move and form thick ridges and thin troughs, a stage that
some recipes refer to as the oil “rippling.” As the temperature kept
climbing, the thin areas spread out and the ridges became fewer and
higher. The pattern reminded me of the long drops that run down the
inside of a glass of wine or spirits. Eventually the thin areas seemed
to run completely dry, and most of the oil had collected in a ring
around the pan edge.
With some research, I soon learned that I
had been observing Bénard-Marangoni convection, which is related to
Marangoni convection in a wineglass. Uneven temperatures at the pan
surface cause regional differences in the oil’s surface tension, and
this causes the oil to get pulled toward the cooler areas.
When the oil is at the right heat, pour in enough popping corn in the pan to make a layer of kernels a single kernel deep. Shake the pot around so that all of the kernels get a very thin coating of hot oil. If there's any excess oil pooling around, you've put
too much in.
Put the pot back on the heat – again, it's 6/10 on our stove – and keep the lid in while it pops. Shake the pan back and forth every so often. When the popping stops, take the pan off the heat.
Cinnamon Popcorn Cereal
a recipe from Jonathan
Fresh popped popcorn
Pour fresh popped popcorn in a bowl. Sprinkle cinnamon on top. Pour milk in the bowl. Eat.
Note: do not salt the popcorn if you want to enjoy this cereal.
Note: This should work with crumbled rice cakes as well.