[nts] shaaaaaaaaaaarks

Oct. 31st, 2014 03:25 pm
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
[personal profile] kaberett
Insight would be appreciated but mostly I'm writing this down this time so's I have it when I come back to this after the weekend. ;)

Read more... )


Oct. 31st, 2014 12:38 pm
wildeabandon: me sitting by the thames (Default)
[personal profile] wildeabandon
I'm really bad at going to bed at a sensible time. I tell myself that I need to be in bed by 11.30, and with the lights out and trying to sleep by midnight, but as that time rolls around there's always an urgent need to play just one more level of my game, or read just one more chapter of my book. Last night was particularly bad, and I didn't make it to bed until nearly five, which when I'm getting up at sevenish is not something my body can cope with now I'm no longer quite so young as I once was. Usually it's better than that, but one-thirty or two is not uncommon, and I'm starting to resent being tired all the time.

Anyone else struggle with this, and if so, any suggestions more useful than "apply more willpower"?
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
[personal profile] kaberett
Today I have not yet got out of bed for more than 10 minutes at a time.

small victories )

really really todo: rinse out the dishwasher filters
[personal profile] mjg59
I'm not a huge fan of Hacker News[1]. My impression continues to be that it ends up promoting stories that align with the Silicon Valley narrative of meritocracy, technology will fix everything, regulation is the cancer killing agile startups, and discouraging stories that suggest that the world of technology is, broadly speaking, awful and we should all be ashamed of ourselves.

But as a good data-driven person[2], wouldn't it be nice to have numbers rather than just handwaving? In the absence of a good public dataset, I scraped Hacker Slide to get just over two months of data in the form of hourly snapshots of stories, their age, their score and their position. I then applied a trivial test:
  1. If the story is younger than any other story
  2. and the story has a higher score than that other story
  3. and the story has a worse ranking than that other story
  4. and at least one of these two stories is on the front page
then the story is considered to have been penalised.

(note: "penalised" can have several meanings. It may be due to explicit flagging, or it may be due to an automated system deciding that the story is controversial or appears to be supported by a voting ring. There may be other reasons. I haven't attempted to separate them, because for my purposes it doesn't matter. The algorithm is discussed here.)

Now, ideally I'd classify my dataset based on manual analysis and classification of stories, but I'm lazy (see [2]) and so just tried some keyword analysis:

A few things to note:
  1. Lots of stories are penalised. Of the front page stories in my dataset, I count 3240 stories that have some kind of penalty applied, against 2848 that don't. The default seems to be that some kind of detection will kick in.
  2. Stories containing keywords that suggest they refer to issues around social justice appear more likely to be penalised than stories that refer to technical matters
  3. There are other topics that are also disproportionately likely to be penalised. That's interesting, but not really relevant - I'm not necessarily arguing that social issues are penalised out of an active desire to make them go away, merely that the existing ranking system tends to result in it happening anyway.

This clearly isn't an especially rigorous analysis, and in future I hope to do a better job. But for now the evidence appears consistent with my innate prejudice - the Hacker News ranking algorithm tends to penalise stories that address social issues. An interesting next step would be to attempt to infer whether the reasons for the penalties are similar between different categories of penalised stories[3], but I'm not sure how practical that is with the publicly available data.

(Raw data is here, penalised stories are here, unpenalised stories are here)

[1] Moving to San Francisco has resulted in it making more sense, but really that just makes me even more depressed.
[2] Ha ha like fuck my PhD's in biology
[3] Perhaps stories about startups tend to get penalised because of voter ring detection from people trying to promote their startup, while stories about social issues tend to get penalised because of controversy detection?

Risk: where present meets future

Oct. 30th, 2014 12:49 pm
gerald_duck: (duckling frontal)
[personal profile] gerald_duck
It's unhealthy to worry too much about the future. In particular, it's unhealthy to fret and fear about possible futures.

C.S. Lewis puts it quite elegantly in Screwtape Letter VI. It's written in the form of a letter from one devil to another with God as "the Enemy", but I'd hope atheists and agnostics can subtract the religion and still see the wisdom:

It is your business to see that the patient never thinks of the present fear as his appointed cross but only of the things he is afraid of.

Let him regard them as his crosses: let him forget that, since they are incompatible, they cannot all happen to him, and let him try to practise fortitude and patience to them all in advance. For real resignation, at the same moment, to a dozen different and hypothetical fates, is almost impossible, and the Enemy does not greatly assist those who are trying to attain it: resignation to present and actual suffering, even where that suffering consists of fear, is far easier and is usually helped by this direct action.

An important spiritual law is here involved. I have explained that you can weaken his prayers by diverting his attention from the Enemy Himself to his own states of mind about the Enemy. On the other hand fear becomes easier to master when the patient's mind is diverted from the thing feared to the fear itself, considered as a present and undesirable state of his own mind; and when he regards the fear as his appointed cross he will inevitably think of it as a state of mind.

Or, as Roosevelt put it a couple of decades earlier, we have nothing to fear but fear itself. (Well, almost. He almost put it like that, and it's almost true.)

Or, to someone like me who thinks in terms of books like Risk by John Adams, perhaps the error is modulating one's level of concern about an risk only according to its severity, not its likelihood. And, when worrying about multiple risks, treating them as independent when they're really mutually exclusive. Once we recognise that A cannot happen if B does, fear of B ought rationally to abate fear of A. Even if it's not precisely a spiritual "law", pragmatism dictates that concentrating on the problem in front of one to the exclusion of distant hypotheticals is a valuable discipline.

All well and good.

Well, not really — I know I can suck at that. I'm not sure I've ever quite experienced a nervous breakdown or panic attack, but I recognise I can sometimes get overwhelmed and come close. I definitely have room for improvement.

Ah but, in the words of Blackadder, the path of my life is strewn with cowpats from the devil's own satanic herd.

What if the present problem, the one right in front of you, is to assess a risk? It's not the fallacy of fretting about a matter that's out of your hands, you actually need to make a decision now about an uncertain future.

I guess the main thing is to maintain focus. Is the problem genuinely of such a nature? If so, perhaps the challenge is to see to it that the problem remains as small and self-contained as possible, to avoid it becoming a fishing lure which can ensnare less legitimate worries.

On joining the FSF board

Oct. 29th, 2014 05:01 pm
[personal profile] mjg59
I joined the board of directors of the Free Software Foundation a couple of weeks ago. I've been travelling a bunch since then, so haven't really had time to write about it. But since I'm currently waiting for a test job to finish, why not?

It's impossible to overstate how important free software is. A movement that began with a quest to work around a faulty printer is now our greatest defence against a world full of hostile actors. Without the ability to examine software, we can have no real faith that we haven't been put at risk by backdoors introduced through incompetence or malice. Without the freedom to modify software, we have no chance of updating it to deal with the new challenges that we face on a daily basis. Without the freedom to pass that modified software on to others, we are unable to help people who don't have the technical skills to protect themselves.

Free software isn't sufficient for building a trustworthy computing environment, one that not merely protects the user but respects the user. But it is necessary for that, and that's why I continue to evangelise on its behalf at every opportunity.


Free software has a problem. It's natural to write software to satisfy our own needs, but in doing so we write software that doesn't provide as much benefit to people who have different needs. We need to listen to others, improve our knowledge of their requirements and ensure that they are in a position to benefit from the freedoms we espouse. And that means building diverse communities, communities that are inclusive regardless of people's race, gender, sexuality or economic background. Free software that ends up designed primarily to meet the needs of well-off white men is a failure. We do not improve the world by ignoring the majority of people in it. To do that, we need to listen to others. And to do that, we need to ensure that our community is accessible to everybody.

That's not the case right now. We are a community that is disproportionately male, disproportionately white, disproportionately rich. This is made strikingly obvious by looking at the composition of the FSF board, a body made up entirely of white men. In joining the board, I have perpetuated this. I do not bring new experiences. I do not bring an understanding of an entirely different set of problems. I do not serve as an inspiration to groups currently under-represented in our communities. I am, in short, a hypocrite.

So why did I do it? Why have I joined an organisation whose founder I publicly criticised for making sexist jokes in a conference presentation? I'm afraid that my answer may not seem convincing, but in the end it boils down to feeling that I can make more of a difference from within than from outside. I am now in a position to ensure that the board never forgets to consider diversity when making decisions. I am in a position to advocate for programs that build us stronger, more representative communities. I am in a position to take responsibility for our failings and try to do better in future.

People can justifiably conclude that I'm making excuses, and I can make no argument against that other than to be asked to be judged by my actions. I hope to be able to look back at my time with the FSF and believe that I helped make a positive difference. But maybe this is hubris. Maybe I am just perpetuating the status quo. If so, I absolutely deserve criticism for my choices. We'll find out in a few years.

FemslashEx Round-up

Oct. 28th, 2014 04:04 pm
ambyr: a dark-winged man standing in a doorway over water; his reflection has white wings (watercolor by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law) (Default)
[personal profile] ambyr posting in [community profile] white_lotus
A number of A:TLA and TLoK fanworks came out of [community profile] femslashex (including one written by me and one written for me), and since none of them seem to have been linked here, I thought I'd do a round-up post. I'm not caught up on Korra, so I haven't read them all yet, but I've liked what I've seen!:

If she runs fast enough (3381 words) by Dayadhvam
Fandom: Avatar: Legend of Korra
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Korra/Asami Sato
Characters: Korra (Avatar), Asami Sato
Additional Tags: Unresolved Sexual Tension, Depression
Summary: Post-S3, timeskip AU. “I’ll only be gone a couple of weeks,” Korra had said at their parting, but Asami could hear the strained lie in her voice. They wouldn’t see each other again for two years.

midnight meeting [art] (0 words) by dante_gabriel_renesmee
Fandom: Avatar: The Last Airbender
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: azula / ty lee
Additional Tags: really simple art, only mild shippiness sorry

a nice way to start people (628 words) by possibilityleft
Fandom: Avatar: The Last Airbender, Avatar: Legend of Korra
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Katara/Toph Bei Fong
Characters: Katara (Avatar), Toph Bei Fong, Lin Bei Fong
Additional Tags: Babies, Alternate Universe - Future, treat
Summary: Katara and Toph and baby Lin. "Thank the badgermole you're back," Toph says in a scratchy voice, holding out the baby to Katara. Katara takes the baby carefully, putting her bag down. Lin smells like sour milk, and just a little like dirt.

Oasis (6115 words) by lilacsigil
Fandom: Avatar: Legend of Korra
Rating: Mature
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Ming-Hua/P'Li
Characters: Ming-Hua, P'li, Zaheer
Summary: P'Li was the a prisoner - and secret weapon - of a warlord for three long years. Now she's going home, but it's a dangerous journey even with waterbender Ming-Hua and her friend Zaheer to help. Set late in the incarnation of Avatar Aang.

Out of the Void (4047 words) by Aiffe
Fandom: Avatar: Legend of Korra
Rating: Mature
Warnings: Author Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: Korra/Asami Sato
Characters: Korra (Avatar), Asami Sato
Additional Tags: BDSM, Aftercare, Angst and Fluff and Smut, Consensual Violence, Consent, Masochism, Topping from the Bottom, First Time Topping, Femdom, Communication, Canon Disabled Character, disabled sexuality, Healing Sex, but not curative sex
Summary: In the wake of book 3, Asami helps Korra reclaim ownership of her body and strengthen her earthly tethers.

Red Monsoon (8028 words) by Aiffe
Fandom: Avatar: The Last Airbender, Avatar: Legend of Korra
Rating: Mature
Warnings: Author Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings, Underage
Relationships: Hama/Katara (Avatar), Hama/Kanna (Avatar), Aang/Katara (Avatar)
Characters: Katara (Avatar), Hama (Avatar), Aang (Avatar), Yakone (Avatar)
Additional Tags: May/December Romance, Age Difference, Statutory Rape, Dubious Consent, Complicated Relationships, Dubious Morality, Teacher-Student Relationship, Bloodbending
Summary: Katara is seduced into a dangerous obsession as Hama teaches her the finer points of bloodbending.

the soul seeks faintly for its shore (3786 words) by possibilityleft
Fandom: Avatar: Legend of Korra
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: Author Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: Lin Bei Fong/Kya II
Characters: Lin Bei Fong
Summary: It's been a long time since Lin has spent time with Kya, and she didn't realize how much she missed it. Lin meets with Kya for dinner a couple times a week. It's just a small addition to her comfortable routine. They walk through the streets together afterwards, most days. Kya notices things that Lin has never seen. Lin sees her past here, the criminal enterprises she has raided and the citizens she has helped. Kya buys flowers at a ridiculous mark-up from the street children and makes Lin take them home, telling her that she got her sense of style from her mother and needs more greenery in her house, less rock and metal. Sometimes Lin remembers to water them.

Tide Locked (9179 words) by ambyr
Fandom: Avatar: The Last Airbender
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: Author Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: Hama/Kanna
Characters: Hama (Avatar), Kanna (Avatar)
Additional Tags: War, Friends to Lovers, Pre-Canon, Post-Canon, Non-Linear Narrative, References to Kanna/Pakku
Summary: "Come back to me," Kanna says impulsively, and then claps a hand over her mouth. It is an impossible request. Kanna knows it; Hama knows it. "I will," she says despite that, and then she steps out into the dawn.

Trinkets and Treasures (1385 words) by emergencycocktail
Fandom: Avatar: Legend of Korra
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: Author Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: Korra/Asami Sato
Characters: Korra (Avatar), Asami Sato
Additional Tags: Season 3 Spoilers
Summary: Set early into Korra's recovery following her battle with Zaheer post season-three, Korra struggles with her physical state as well has the psychological pressures of feeling she needs to live up to her role as the Avatar.

Badger, badger, badger, badger...

Oct. 27th, 2014 06:31 pm
gerald_duck: (Dafydd)
[personal profile] gerald_duck
OK, this is an amusing demonstration of what's wrong with the badger cull. (Or what would be right about an Ebola cull, I guess.)


Oct. 27th, 2014 10:27 am

An ongoing source of amusement

Oct. 27th, 2014 12:48 am
kaberett: a patch of sunlight on the carpet, shaped like a slightly wonky heart (light hearted)
[personal profile] kaberett
Unfamiliar but meticulously planned route (mostly on tube) to friend's house in Peckham earlier: actual panic including some capslocky flailing text messages.

Improvisational night buses back: not a problem.

Which, as best as I can tell, is because (1) nobody was expecting me/waiting for me, and (2) it was travelling homeward so the journey got progressively easier. Anyway, the upshot is that it took me 90 minutes to get home (via three buses), of which half an hour was walking; I could probably have shaved some extra time off by taking a route I was less familiar with but hey, whatever, I got a lot of code written on the buses and successfully made it home, so.

Ten good things:
1. Awesome ex-housemate C's birthday not-a-party; pizza + cake + a bafflingly preposterous film.
2. ... I made a cake while simultaneously making dinner and reducing the washing-up pile to tractable size...
3. ... and just about squeaked it all into the available time after getting back from work, where I sorted out cleaning up the mass spec.
4. Lots more of the ridiculous script! Really I should not be at ~200 lines to plot some bloody graphs I think, and on the other hand I'm doing rather better error handling and abstracting lots etc etc etc. (Well, relative to an early incarnation. It's still preeeeeetty specific to my particular data and how I've piled it up.)
5. I am continuing to derive more satisfaction than is perhaps reasonable from the silly computer game I'm being ridiculously completionist about.
6. I am having a lot of thoughts and feelings about being-imperfect-in-public, and what it means that I am proud of putting up shoddy code and poem drafts and such, and maybe there will be a longer post on this.
7. Housemate (who is a pretty integral part of my support system at this stage) has told me about a couple of medium-duration trips away from home she'll be taking in the next few weeks. I continue not freaking out despite the relevant trauma (like, it isn't even sitting up and sniffing). This continues incredibly validating.
8. Having articulated that I have spent the past couple of months pretty continuously low-grade triggered, I am much calmer and much more together and much more relaxed and it is awesome. It is so, so nice. It is so nice.
9. ... Korra 4x04 went some way towards redeeming the terrible politics of the first three seasons??? Decidedly partial, but!
10. Sleep-tracking app appears to be having the effect of encouraging me to consciously work on catching up on sleep (and to be more aware of what I do need to average). I'm currently averaging ~8hrs/night; I really do need to get it up to 9, and while that clearly isn't going to be happening tonight it's very nice to have the information. The downside is that when I'm getting ~enough sleep I get much more vivid and memorable (and often unpleasant) dreams than when I'm in continuous major sleep dep, but hey.

Oh! And I washed my hair, and Ancillary Sword is more and more appealing the more I sit with it, so I suspect I will be going back to it for a slow-and-steady reread sometime soonish.. General Please.

Back once again for the origin/master

Oct. 26th, 2014 07:58 pm
simont: (Default)
[personal profile] simont

This weekend, after preparation and faff lasting several months, I migrated all of my free software projects out of Subversion into a collection of git repositories.

Good grief, it was a faff! It's surprisingly like moving house – there's no end of just-one-more-things that all have to be sorted out, and every so often you turn a corner and find another huge list of things to add to the list, and it's exhausting sorting it all out. I did as much as I could ahead of time (e.g. I did the work of stopping various projects from depending on a monotonic revision number a few weeks in advance of the moment of migration itself), and there's a big list of sortings-out left to be done which I'll get round to once I've rested, but even so, the actual ‘moving day’ still had a lot of bits and pieces I couldn't move to another day. I'll find work restful tomorrow, I think!

handing over the reigns for LYNE

Oct. 26th, 2014 07:04 pm
such_heights: katara looking happy and hopeful (a:tla: katara)
[personal profile] such_heights posting in [community profile] white_lotus
Hi all!

I know a few of you have been asking whether [personal profile] eruthros and I have plans to run the Lunar New Year Exchange again, and I'm sorry I haven't got back to queries sooner. Unfortunately neither of us have the time at the moment, but if someone else would like to step in and make it happen then that would be wonderful.

PM me if you're interested, and I'd be happy to share any useful info/details.


Sweden and XKCD

Oct. 25th, 2014 10:49 pm
gerald_duck: (infra-red)
[personal profile] gerald_duck
"Nice t-shirt", called over a guy working on the adjacent line at airport security.

I looked down. (I have a lot of commentworthy t-shirts and I seldom remember which I'm wearing on any given day.) It was the XKCD correlation/causation one. I thanked him cheerfully.

"Is it a comment on profiling?"

Uh-oh. I gulped mentally, trying not to show visible apprehensiveness. "No, it's just what I happened to be wearing today."

"Oh. Pity."

That conversation might, in my wildest dreams, just about have occurred in the UK. In the USA it seems monstrously unlikely. Where it actually happened was Sweden; they do things differently there.

Sweden's economy operates, as the name suggests it might, on the Nordic model. Their collectively liberal outlook means they can take markedly different stance from us on matters of privacy. They have ridiculously low levels of corruption, and of disparity of wealth.

Coincidentally, my brother was getting a loft hatch installed when I visited. This gave me a valuable opportunity to re-use the Swedish word "takkatt", which I'd assumed was utterly wasting valuable space in my long-term memory. It also meant I learned about Sweden's solution to the goat-welding problem I posted about a few years ago: there, each person, each year, can pay self-employed tradespeople up to SEK 100 000 (£8,500 pounds or so) and the government will match it Krona for Krona. As well as making more and better-paid work for tradespeople, and reducing the amount of DIY everybody has to do, this has the neat effect of doing away with VAT fiddles — everyone wants the government to know they did the work!

Meanwhile, today, I chanced to look at the Wikipedia article on svenska kyrkan, the national church of Sweden (formally disestablished in 2000). The church's primate, the Archbishop of Uppsala, is female. The Bishop of Stockholm is both female and in a same-sex civil partnership with another priest. Svenska kyrkan voted in 2009 to perform same-sex marriages — yes, even using the "m" word. (It had been turning a blind eye for years. I like the photo in that article.)

Swedish society doesn't appear to have imploded in quite the way some outside observers might have expected.

As I noted the other day, correlation doesn't entail causation, but it does suggest it. I find these phenomena all being observed in the same country… suggestive.

Stating the obvious

Oct. 25th, 2014 10:54 pm
gerald_duck: (by Redderz)
[personal profile] gerald_duck
Once in a while, somebody says something so staggeringly obvious I wonder how I've lasted forty years without realising it or being told it before. And then I wonder whether to share it as a public service or keep quiet to avoid looking silly when everyone else already knew.

Well, here goes…

People can't have equality in the abstract because we're all individual and distinctive; we can only have equality of something specific.

In particular, equality of opportunity tends to contradict equality of outcome.

Now I have to go away and think harder about identifying as an egalitarian. /-8

I need access to a printer

Oct. 25th, 2014 10:28 pm
gerald_duck: (Pure?)
[personal profile] gerald_duck
I keep noticing things I obviously should have posted about but never have.

Ages ago, I printed myself a copy of Cards Against Humanity and much hilarity ensued. On LJ, it barely got a mention.

If Cards Against Humanity is a party game for horrible people then LTAG! is a party game for horrible structural linguists. I probably do know people who throw the right kind of party, but even then it would probably end up getting played in the kitchen…

Why I became a Christian

Oct. 25th, 2014 12:41 pm
gerald_duck: (stained glass)
[personal profile] gerald_duck
I've been posting ad nauseamextensively about religion recently. As some people have noted, knowing there is God, seeking to discern God's will, striving to do it, make me a theist, but they don't make me a Christian.

I am a Christian.


God told me to do it.

But! But... )