Come Up You Fearful Jesuit

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Tag: there are 10 kinds of people

Lack of Imagination

Posted on March 5, 2017 in Computrons Culture Reality As Such

Travis Kalanick’s recent string of run-ins with reality have put me to thinking, as I occasionally do, about how weird it is that we ignore empathy when evaluating intelligence. While anyone who has been paying attention can tell you that Kalanick’s apologies are insincere, the hurt and confused demeanour isn’t. He’s genuinely at a loss, because he’s getting in trouble for the exact behavior that has caused people to throw money at him. Kalanick may be the (punchable) face of the problem at the moment, but the fact that VCs are clamoring to get in on a company that’s hemorrhaging precisely because of its cavalier attitude towards its employees, the law, and the world at large constitutes a problem on a much larger scale.

We can quibble about lionizing sociopaths having been appropriate in the past, but for people trying to make their money off the opportunities presented by the connected world, not being sympathetic to someone else’s perspective is basically wanting to have your cake and eat it too, which I think is something that everyone can agree is a sign of limited intelligence.


Posted on May 5, 2012 in Computrons Language

So it turns out that my debugging print and puts statements were a huge contributing factor to how slow my Ruby parser is. That doesn’t mean that I’m not still looking for ways to make the whole thing a bit more compact, it just means that I can definitely forget about it until I start populating an actual site with probability tables.

I also performed the massaging mentioned in the previous post. The probability table now goes between the Ruby backend and the Javascript frontend without trouble. Here was the first success:

“What do you pretend not to like excitement. But it had always made the keeper of the sunken eyes seemed to find this answer in the restitution of the dead of night yet before us.”

“I have invented this definition, this last phrase the Minister of the upright judge. Let me take him into a wall of the seizure of the windows. In the distance was answered by the side of the oppressed, of the approaching end, she had not heard a short intoxication, whose delight one remembered with profound attention. “You have got a priest for me to shame,” he said.

The chairman of the curse of death and putting our trust in God. Were not the heart having no concern with the Gould silver mine, which by every law, international, human, and divine, reverts now to hush Mrs. Gould. “But, my dear mother, for a moment with the fatal spell of an experienced woman. She was, before all these things (which were accessible to His Excellency’s intelligence) in a black grating upon a drum. After listening for a long time he could say. They drove him away with my profound studies in Belgium and

Yeah Yeah

Posted on April 22, 2012 in Computrons Identity Images

I had planned to be so good. Furthermore, I guess I’d sort of hoped to coast along on the momentum that came with the previously-mentioned promotion, but of course I don’t work that way. Instead, it seemed to cause a bit of a rupture and everything got kind of destructured.


Assorted thoughts:

Pinterest is great. Despite initial reservations, I think I’m getting more out of it than any other internet service these days. After my initial reaction to the information flood my impulse was to stop following everyone to whom I was automatically subscribed when I created my account. Luckily I didn’t do this, and instead starting dropping individual boards in which I was clearly not interested. The result is that I avoid being inundated with crap, but I’m still seeing a lot of things that are very cool that I wouldn’t have found left to myself.

In the olden days that doddering old fools like me only barely remember almost all personal web presences included a substantial link section. People would use these to collect lists of pages that they wanted to keep around, and there was a sort of discovery process whereby you would find someone’s homepage and follow their links, learning about various corners of the web as you went. Traditionally-minded bloggers like Warren Ellis still frequently post entries that are lists of links, but in general this process has moved within the silos of social networking sites. Of course, Pinterest is a social networking site too, but it’s very easy to get stuff into it and (and really, this is the most important thing) one doesn’t have to be logged in to view content.

I’ve been really scattered. I’ve always tended to be this way a bit, but it has accelerated lately. I think. I definitely feel like I am less able than usual to determine what I should be doing next, which often means that I waste time doing nothing. It is also the case that my attention span has been really dismal. I’m not positive what that is about.

The most obvious victim of this has been Markov Garden, which is currently pretty dormant. It is very hard for me to decide what to do about that. Part of me would like to really focus on how I can get organized in such a way that a next step is either obvious or discoverable when I find myself wondering what I ought to do. Part of me thinks that the most important thing is to finish what I’ve started and trying to organize myself more effectively ought to wait until after that has happened. If you hadn’t guessed from the previous paragraph, the outcome of this conflict is always that I don’t do anything worthwhile.



Posted on April 11, 2012 in Computrons Culture Introspection

Eventually, things change.

I’ve been at Temboo for over 5 years now. I have had a lot phases over the course of them. Sometimes things were good, and sometimes they were very, very bad. I almost left last week, but was convinced to stay by a gradual shift in my role. Basically I’m going to stop breaking things and start making them.

In my recent post about Temboo’s recent all-hands I mentioned that this was a direction that I needed to go in. At that point it seemed like that was going to mean Markov Garden, and whatever projects with which I decided to follow it up. What’s different about doing programming at work as well is that my mind is already going to be engaged that way. Programming is something where you need not only knowledge, but mindset. It’s a lot easier to write code today if you were doing it yesterday. This will be a good facilitator.

Another good thing that this means for Markov Garden is that I don’t have to feel like it’s a portfolio project. While I don’t think that I found that aspect of it particularly onerous, I’m interested to see what it will feel like to come back to it as just an example of personal expression.

At any rate, that’s what’s going on. It’s pretty crazy, really.


Fed to the Lines

Posted on February 17, 2012 in Computrons Language

So I’m in Ashland for the long weekend, but I managed to do some hacking in the plane. Now the generated text includes paragraphs! Exciting. Of course, the process of adding them has made the random text generator 3 times more inefficient, but we can leave that for later. In the mean time, Machiavelli:

In 1500 he was the kingdom of Naples. But let us return whence we started. I say that, on the pursuit of which he was a case of need. When the “History of Florence,” gives us a picture of the Venetians and Florentines formerly extended their dominions by these continual discussions there could be done. In a short time the emperor ceased to hold securely the state, still less in the enterprise, in exchange for the utmost diligence to avoid those things which ought to entertain the people to arms and fortunes of Florence, and Messer Antonio da Venafro as the governments of Europe rely on his back, or if any of my acting thus for thou hast learnt to believe and to the throne, he moved against the other; which course will always be as keys to that kingdom; because, having always kept both orders in their own laws and good faith, and to bring success and honour to him to it. This occurred on the point to die.

I say, therefore, that in entirely new principalities as I said Nabis the Spartan did.

But concerning his intentions. Ugucionne cursed the hesitation and cowardice of his “Art of War.” It was here that Castruccio far excelled his companions in courage and hope with which all difficulties are prior to getting possession, because they fly, but they are about. Therefore a wise and able man to discuss them, because their alliance will bring thee advantages and security. It is seen also that I may catch a whale”; and this is Il Taro, afterwards Allesandria, Capua, Genoa, Vaila, Bologna, Mestri.(*)

When all the other under Pagolo, and the other hand, Castruccio reached Montecarlo with his greatness of the cavalry. The horses, alarmed by the Church

It is seen also that I may catch a whale!



Posted on February 15, 2012 in Computrons Images

So it was Valentine’s day yesterday and C came up briefly, and then I sat in the bath and read The Line of Beauty and cried softly to myself. Consequently, no post. Today I met some work people for lunch and rolled up to Alberta afterwards. Once I knocked off I got back to work on an HTML representation of the Markov Garden probability table. Here, in lieu of a snippet is a visual fragment of the table generated by Nick Mack’s The Prince.

Screen Shot 2012-02-15 at 5.49.20 PM

It still needs a lot of work. When something contains as much information as a Markov Garden table, you have to think a lot about how to format it in such a way as to make it comprehensible. I think what I’m going to to is see what it does with a much smaller string, and build up from there.


In Which We Reiterate the Location of God

Posted on February 8, 2012 in Computrons Language

So it’s great to be like, “Hey, I’ve got a great idea for something to hack on” and to just sort of go for it. Furthermore, it’s great to take the opportunity to learn a new approach or language (or, in my case, two), but going great guns at it tends to create problems. In my case (and I think it’s a pretty common one), I ended up only being able to access the component parts of my program through its overarching mechanisms, which is pretty much backwards (this is, as you know, not particular to computer programs). Right after my post last night I figured out that some small aspect of my program wasn’t working the way I wanted to, and that I didn’t have any way to access it. Tonight I did a little decomposing, making my components a little more autonomous, and a little more responsive to prodding. Of course, the problem was a stupid typo, but at least I got to the point where I was able to figure that out with a test instead of staring at the code.

This is from the apology again.

But, having regard to public opinion, assumes the same gods which the city recognizes–the charge is five minae.’ Happy is Evenus, I said before about the conclusion. He characteristically remarks that he has embodied his conception of him, appearing in the aspiration of the state acknowledges, but some other new divinities or spiritual agencies (new or old, he is speaking an untruth. Wherefore, O judges, be of good cheer about death, and that the unexamined life is not so ignorant as to those who agree to

It’s sort of cool when you have something that veers this close to actual semantic content, but it isn’t nearly as fun.


Here Goes

Posted on February 7, 2012 in Computrons Culture Language

So I took some paternal advice and subclassed something instead of wrapping it, and I also tried (without much success) to get the thing to print a summary of the table of probabilities that is used in generating the random text. At any rate, this used Plato’s Apology as input.

Translator: Benjamin Jowett and not far from death. I am almost ashamed to confess that immediately after my departure punishment far heavier than you are mistaken: a man is able to pay, and not to do anything that might pervert the course of his triumph, when he concludes this part of a kind of voice, first began to come forward in public and advise the state. I will tell you. It is an old man already, and the demigods or spirits are gods, and then I dare say that maintenance in



Posted on February 7, 2012 in Computrons Language

Okay, so a while ago I posted about my Markov Chain project, and then it sort of fell off the face of the earth. Or at least the blog. I have been banging away at it fairly slowly, but it still feels like it’s a long way off, and that’s sort of self-perpetuating, because if it’s sort of far off anyways it doesn’t make that much sense to forge ahead bravely, which allows the whole thing to continue to stay a long way off. At any rate, I’m sick of it.

Starting tomorrow I’m going to post fragments generated by Markov Garden (that’s what I decided to call the project) up here every day. Hopefully that will induce me to work on the code more steadily, which in turn will reduce the degree to which the whole thing is far off. I guess I’d like to see things tidied up to the point where I can unlock the Bitbucket repo in which I’m keeping the code by next weekend. Wish me luck.


Throws LacunaException

Posted on January 28, 2012 in Computrons Culture

I found this old Jeff Atwood post (yes, it’s because it was linked from so-called “Hacker News,” okay?) about the apparent intractability of teaching programming, based on an academic paper. The upshot is that 1) some (and perhaps a majority of) people are simply incapable of coming to grips with programming and 2) these people seem to derive almost no benefit of any kind from programming coursework.

An example of a question that can be used to determine if someone will get anything out of studying program is presented:

Read the following statements and tick the box next to the correct answer.

int a = 10; int b = 20; a = b;

The new values of a and b are:

  • [ ] a = 20 b = 0
  • [ ] a = 20 b = 20
  • [ ] a = 0 b = 10
  • [ ] a = 10 b = 10
  • [ ] a = 30 b = 20
  • [ ] a = 30 b = 0
  • [ ] a = 10 b = 30
  • [ ] a = 0 b = 30
  • [ ] a = 10 b = 20
  • [ ] a = 20 b = 10

So people throw out a whole lot of explanations for this in comments and inevitably devolves into “teachers suck” because everyone on the internet is such a fucking precious snowflake, but I’m not going to get sidetracked by that, because then I’ll just get depressed and never get to the point.

Which is: the reason this information confuses people is that they think that variable assignment is confusing because it’s a mathematical abstraction, but this isn’t true. Variable assignment, and a number of similar concepts that you need to wrap your head around in programming are confusing because they are linguistic abstractions, and linguistic prejudices are confusing and difficult to override (or, as is apparent here, even identify) because they develop than people tend to think they would, and so much work goes into preserving them. Understanding computers requires one to assume intuitively (although not consciously) that meaning is pretty arbitrary, which is arguably the single most important step to understanding (again, often in a pre/non/sub-conscious way) how to interact with the rules whereby meaning is generated.