May 10


Instead of “casual Friday,” I want to make an “acausal Friday,” where all effects are separated from their causes.

May 10

Cloudy with a chance of bullshit

This is what will happen to you if you store any of your stuff – mail included – in the so-called “cloud.” Without frequent backup, that is.


And it is also what happens when you buy anything with DRM – one day, you will lose it all.

And I’ll still have all my stuff.

May 10

Emp of reason

I’m not sure why I was reading this post as it’s about something that doesn’t really interest me, but I am glad I did for this portion and what follows.

I’m frequently confronted with a very seductive, corrupting empirical failing: the tendency to think “that which I cannot measure is not real.”

I see this all the time among the more empirically-minded. Even when statistical tools are used to guard (sort of) against this error of human cognition, people still fall prey to it, and to a huge extent, too.

I’m a weird hybrid – I straddle fields of human endeavor. I’m as comfortable reading a scientific paper in nearly any field as I am an analysis of the transition from Mannerism to Baroque, as interested in art and languages as I am in quantum chromodynamics. It might not be possible these days to be a polymath, but I still try. And sometimes I even succeed. (And no, I don’t enjoy being seen to be smart. I would do this if I were the only person left on earth. Even more so than I do now, as I’d have more time!)

Dancing lightly through so many fields, even if I am not truly skilled in them, I often notice fallacies and errors that others in those fields, having little experience and no knowledge of anything else, do not notice.

This “measurement fallacy” is one I see nearly everywhere. It’s sort of like misogyny that way, alas – once your eyes are open to it, it appears all over the place.

I’m not really sure how to combat it, as you can’t make people see something that is invisible to them. But once you do notice it, it’s just about everywhere.

May 09

Not my type

Of all the reasons I can not use Windows 8, terrible interface and becoming Microsoft “Window” aside, is that the type engine no longer supports RGB sub-pixel rendering and thus any fonts look like they were excreted from the ass end of a marmot.

Way to move font appearance back 20 years to gain a tiny bit of speed, Microsoft.

The fonts in 8 are so bad that even non-font people are complaining about them.

And that takes a lot, as I’ve noticed that non-font people can read fonts that feel like chainsaws in my eyes.

May 08

Leaning out

I haven’t read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, nor do I plan to.

But this post about a bit of the book got me thinking about career risk-taking and being male, and the things I’ve gotten away with in my career that a woman probably wouldn’t, or at least would likely be effectively trained out of doing both by culture and having more responsibilities.

When I was 26 years old, I applied to and was interviewed for a job that I was objectively not qualified for. I didn’t lie in my resume, nor in my interview – but what I did do was absolutely kill the interview and effortlessly strolled through every tech and other question like I’d already been doing the job for a decade. In the interview, I suspect I went from the bottom-of-the-list candidate to “We have to hire this guy.”

So a few days later I was offered the job, and had a decision to make. Do I accept this job for which I am probably unqualified for and might utterly fail at, or do I stay in my safe and comfortable position?

Of course I opted to make the leap.

Overnight, I went from having been a lowly helpdesk tech into managing the entire IT operations for a company with offices up and down the Eastern seaboard. My salary more than doubled. I had a personal assistant (alas, the only time and job I’ve ever had one) and pretty much carte blanche as long as things got done.

To put it into terms and jobs that more people would tend to be familiar with, I went from being the district attorney’s janitor to being the district attorney in one step, effectively.

And I did well at it, through both skill, gumption and making shit up as I went. I honestly didn’t like the job much, but it was an important career step and I was really good at it.

For various reasons – all cultural and reasonable, and perfectly rational – I don’t think many women would be in a position to do what I did. Hell, looking back, I am not sure that I’d do what I did all over again.

May 07


Let’s watch Carrie Rodriguez burn up the fiddle.

That guy on the upright bass in the last video also kills it. Wish it was more audible.

May 07


I do believe the Google Maps car got well lost. Or maybe this is intentional? I have no idea.


May 06

Hacked off

Hacker News is a place where people know a great many facts, but know almost nothing about the operations and imperatives of the real world.

It makes for odd reading where one can encounter a list of facts so startlingly at odds with the conclusion that it almost seems to be a bizarre joke. Something like:

1) The sun is made mostly of hydrogen.

2) Hydrogen in the sun fuses into helium.

3) Helium is protons living communally, so helium is an anti-market liberal conspiracy!

Hacker News is a silly place.

May 06


It is really quite cool to be living through the golden age of one type of art – and I am referring to that of the TV show.

I’d date the start of the belle epoque of TV being around 1993, with the airing of the The X-Files, and it is continuing even today though I think we’re in the declining period of the golden age. In art, such periods generally last 20-30 years.

And if making a TV show is not art, and if no TV show is art, then neither is any music, nor cinema, nor painting.

The best season of any TV show ever is in my opinion Season 2 of Battlestar Galactica. Unbelievably gripping – and the best portrayal of utter desperation I’ve seen in any artistic medium.

And whatever its flaws, there will never be another show like Lost again. The show was sui generis – it “tricked” millions of people who believe they hate sf and fantasy into watching just that! – and its like will not be seen again.

These shows and others like them so raised the bar that mediocre shows now are better than the best shows that would’ve been aired 30 years ago.

Seeing an artistic medium pushed to its absolute limit is a really fun thing to to live through. It doesn’t happen all that often in human history.

Of course people who hate TV will not believe a word of this, but history will prove them wrong as so often happens.

May 06


I wonder how many of the same men who are virulently homophobic and against the idea of gay marriage have happily watched lesbian porn? I bet it’s a very large percentage.

The problem with being born a man is you are associated by women (for understandable reasons) with all the bullshit that other men believe and do.

The problem with being born a woman or a gay man, though, is even worse – you must then directly experience all of the bullshit that all too many men believe and do.

Raw deal either way, really.