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Showing posts from July, 2017

notable omens and totems

POPS (n.): privately owned public space. A place where secret rules can apply to you. You can tell them by how nice/sterile they are and by the hi-viz men lurking at the edges. ("Public" is obvs a very vague word but it is fair to gloss it here as "unfenced place with seating or grass, on a public thoroughfare, which people gravitate to in idle hours".)
to roget (v.): to disguise plagiarism through systematic abuse of a thesaurus. Good word game: what rogeted phrase produces "sinister buttocks"? (Actually of course, "to attempt to disguise".) The sad thing is is that this is happening in an age with good automatic paraphrasing software.
yellow books (maths n.): The mathematics textbooks put out by Springer Verlag; a watchword for rigour and broken ground and what you will never ever master.
nooch (n.): Nutritional yeast. A forced and chummy coinage by well-meaning vegans.
senectitude (n.): old age, senescence, dotage.
bobby-soxer (1940s n.): Young f…

Been reading, Q2 2017

‘Fall’ (2012) by Victoria Reichelt. I can only really evaluate the truth of a book if it is on a topic I already know about. But books on topics I know about already are not nearly as worth reading as ones on new topics.

So, to maximise nonfiction, I need to know if a book is accurate before I read it. (Or, better, I need to know where exactly it is inaccurate.) This could be got using extremely detailed reviews by extremely involved experts - but they themselves would be wasting their time reading things they already know about. And reviews are generally too brief for this, even in academic journals or dedicated blogs; they gesture at one or two mistakes as a way of casting inductive aspersions on the whole. So what I really need is a wiki for errors and dishonesties, to spread out the Augean doings of journalists and average authors.

I don't read much fiction because I prefer reading people who know things. (That looks like a dreadful slander on novelists, but consider: …

notable bit buckets

bit bucket (n.): 1) Figurative location wherein all lost data resides; data heaven; 2) a null device or placeholder bitstream, for removing useless data: e.g. '/dev/null' on Linux; 3) an IT product by the giant meta-IT company Atlassian; 4) Literal location underneath the front hopper of a 1960s computer, which collected the used bits of punch cards. Here is the bit bucket for the (60 year!) CosRay experiment in McMurdo Antarctic Research Station:
rainbow bridge (post-Christian n.): A Heaven for nonhumans, particularly pets. So named in a clickbait prose poem of the 1990s. I have seen this used sincerely for the afterlife in general, hence "post-Christian": I said in my heart, “Concerning the sons of men, God tests them, that they may see that they themselves are like animals.” /
For what happens to the sons of men happens also to animals; one thing befalls them: as one dies, so dies the other. Surely, they all have one breath; man has no advantage over animals, fo…

the private and social

I paid tuition for the first time today. (£500 on a Bayesian modelling course.) So ends twenty-one years of perfectly gratuitous education. 1995 - 2002: Mediocre primary. Times tables, insect and tadpole lifecycles, forced sports, the globe, the War, playground torture. I remember them running out of maths resources for me in my last year. The world's end. I built Meccano towers instead.
2002 - 2008: Scottish generalism: that is, a weak grounding in everything. Excellent banal German vocabulary, which has stuck with me. Bad maths instruction, merely algorithmic, but going up to complex numbers and basic optimisation. Ordinary literature (Shakespeare, 'Of Mice and Men', 'Handmaid's Tale', Coleridge, MacCaig). Keyboards, saxophone, anacrusis and William Walton. World War I and the Clearances. Memorising Ohm's law and the Krebs cycle. Pissing about with acrylic all afternoon with Radio 1 on. Hundreds of hours doodling mindlessly. I experimented on my peers, gett…