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Showing posts from September, 2016

preacher or engineer

If your software only uses 8-bit characters, if it does not set an explicit charset, then it cannot handle non-English languages. This excludes 80% of the world - mostly nonwhite people. So developers who don't handle different character encodings are racist. And we do not associate with racists. So we need our own, non-racist versions of all ASCII software; yes, this may take all our lives, but the cause is just, and when it comes to justice there is no calculus, no compromise possible. Are you with me?

Or

If your software only uses 8-bit characters, if it does not set an explicit charset, then it cannot handle non-English languages. It's silly and extremely inefficient to limit your software's reach so much for the sake of two missing functions. The cost is an hour or two of development; the payoff is increasing your potential userbase by a factor of 6. This will also expand the pool of potential contributors to your project enormously. And besides, glyph encoding is an …

Been reading, Q3 2016

(c) "Cross References" (2003) by Jonathan Wolstenholme


Some people try to do something noble with their bodies: they try to have their bodies have some use after they're dead, which I think is a good thought. You're only borrowing your body. You're only borrowing everything. If your body's worth anything when you're done with it you should pass it on, that's something I really believe.
I mean, ok
I'm not gonna do it, because I don't want - ewww! No! It's mine!
: I have a lot of beliefs, and I live by none of em. That's just the way I am. They're just my beliefs; I just like believing them. I
like that part! They're my little believies, they make me feel good about who I am! But if they get in the way of a thing I want, or I want to jack off or something...

– Louis CK


Science is the optimum belief system, because we have the error bar, the greatest invention of mankind. It is a pictorial representation of our glorious undogmati…

I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that (2014) by Ben Goldacre

A hundred clear, witty, and literate attacks on the agreeable nonempiricism that most worldviews and most conversations are based in, even in the modernised, developed world. (It covers such anti-scientific fields as alternative medicine, journalism, politics, and policy. You may regard anti-vaxxers, face cream 'science', homeopathy, and AIDS denialism as too obviously false to be worth your time deriding. But these hopeful, manipulative falsehoods are where many if not most live: someone has to defend people.)

This makes it a collection of a hundred enjoyable tutorials in statistics, experimental method, and epistemology:

Alternative therapists don't kill many people, but they do make a great teaching tool for the basics of evidence-based medicine, because their efforts to distort science are so extreme. When they pervert the activities of people who should know better – medicines regulators, or universities – it throws sharp relief onto the role of science and evidence…

Notable incorporated words

succession planning (Corp n.): Lining up replacements for senior managers in case of medical or PR disaster. (Think: Cardinal Wolsey in a pantsuit.)

to write (Corp v.): to underwrite; to take on the risks of.

retrocessionary (n.): Reinsurer of a reinsurer, who is "ceded" part of the first reinsurer's written reinsurance.
to productionalise (Corp v.): to produce (test, polish and deploy).
halfly (Corp adj.): twice a year (compare quarterly). Delightful!
to downselect (Corp v.): to choose (!)
backpocket (n.): Crib notes for the CEO so they don't look totally stupid in interviews. Refers both to the briefing and the people who produce it "My backpocket tell me...". to clopen (worker v.): to shut the shop for the night, then go home to sleep inadequately, then come back and open the shop in the morning.
acting up (Corp n.): performing work above one's position
to socialise (Corp v.): to spread around; to make accepted.
information scrap (Corp v.): process of realis…

alternative names for "data scientist"

"machine learning engineer"
(but really mostly instead "data janitor")
"statistical programmer"
"quant developer"
"technical generalist"
"Sexy S. Sexington"
"really really really big data analyst"
"also overpaid"
"makes pretty pictures about the money"
"statistician sans shame"
"insipid informatician"
"human sticker shock"
"is to science what software engineering is to physical engineering"
"conduit to reality itself"
"munge munge munge manager"
"driving the SAS and SQL out of Ireland"
"chlorine in the data lake"
"the corporate equivalent of I Fucking Love Science"
"Inquisidore Generale Temible"
"buzzword herder"
"machine teacher"
"race traitor"

nonvicious responses to technological unemployment

Factories that run 'lights out' are fully automated and require no human presence on-site... these factories can be run with the lights off.Wiki
Not only is it lights-out - we turn off the air conditioning and heat too.Gary Zywiol, VP of Fuji Automatic Numerical Control

Autonomous trucks are now in use and are already safer and more fuel-efficient than human driven ones. (Note also that truck drivers are ~2% of the entire American workforce.) Crap journalism (that is, 80% of journalism) is now fully automatable. Automatic art is quite good and improving fast. Consider also the cocktail bartender. And so on: around half of all jobs are at risk of being automated, assuming the rate of AI progress just stays constant ("over some unspecified number of years, perhaps a decade or two").

Economic automation has been happening for hundreds of years, but in the past it probably didn't produce long-term "technological unemployment". (This is probably because…