**Clive Thompson**, Wired, Thinking Out Loud, here.

The results? The children who didn’t explain their thinking performed worst. The ones who recorded their explanations did better—the mere act of articulating their thinking process aloud seemed to help them identify the patterns more clearly. But the ones who were talking to a meaningful audience—Mom—did best of all. When presented with the more complicated puzzles, on average they solved more than the kids who’d explained to themselves and about twice as many as the ones who’d simply repeated their answers.

**Gasarch**, Computational Complexity, Did YOU think NSA could factor fast? here. Theorem Shaving allegation Investigation starting up.

I will need to revise that now. BEFORE the recent revelations there were

the following points of view on factoring:

- The NSA cannot factor any better than what is known in the literature. Maybe a bit better because they use more parallelism.
- The NSA has taken the known algorithms and found the right parameters and has special purpose hardware so can do them better than anyone else, but nothing of interest mathematically. Perhaps some very interesting subtle points of math and hardware. What they have would not get into STOC/FOCS/CRYPTO (though maybe it should- that’s another debate). This is the one I believed.
- The NSA has an algorithm that is better than the literature (e.g., exponential in (log n)^{1/5}). But not in P. This would surely get into STOC/FOCS/CRYPTO and win a prize.
- The NSA has factoring in P through some very interesting and new mathematics. If this was public then perhaps a Turing Award. Some serious number theorists do think that Factoring IS in P, so this one is not quite so implausible.
- The NSA has a quantum computer that factors quickly. I do not now of anyone serious who believed this. Of course, this could be a case of the No True Scotsman Paradox— if someone really believed this I would (perhaps unfairly) declare them non-serious.
- The NSA does not have a better algorithm, but has managed to put trapdoors in stuff so that they and only they could break certain codes.(A covert version of Clipper Chip.) So they can break codes but not in a way that is interesting mathematically.

**Cassandra Does Tokyo**, Dick Fuld and The Agony of Defeat, here.

Where is Dick Fuld? This is the title of the well-read, extended Bloomberg/BusinessWeek piece yesterday, that reminded me of Vinko Bogataj. Who pray-tell is Vinko Bogataj? He is the former Slovenian ski jumper, who, for more than a decade represented one of the most famous (or rather infamous) and iconic images on American television. His notoriety resulted from a truly spectacular wipe-out off of a ski-jump platform – a fall that was prominently featured on the Intro to ABC’s Wide World of Sports.

**What if**, Google’s Data Centers on Punch Cards, here.

There are a lot of tricks for digging up information about Google’s operations. Ironically, many of them involve using Google itself—from Googling for job postings in strange cities to using image search to find leaked cell camera photos of datacenter visits.

However, the best trick for locating secret Google facilities might be the one revealed by ex-Googler talentlessclown on reddit:[18]

The easiest way to find manned Google data centres is to ask taxi drivers and pizza delivery people.There’s something pleasing about that. Google has created what might be the most sophisticated information-gathering apparatus in the history of the Earth … and the only people with information about

themare the pizza delivery drivers.