Pact Sealed

Originally posted on Pig's Pen:

Well.  That was a learning experience.  I think that’s the best way to put it.

It’s impossible to say anything about Pact without inevitable comparisons to Worm, so I’ll bite that bullet right here and right now.  I suppose what I can say is that where Worm was a triumph, in many respects, Pact was a means for me to grow as a writer.

I should start off by saying that I’m immensely grateful to my readers for reading through Pact and offering their feedback and support.  Pact came to 948,800 words.  We can round that up to 950k words, for the sake of brevity.  It took almost half the time to write that Worm did, and came to about half the word count.  You guys stuck it out with me, you shared your comments, and I was able to make a living as a writer in the meantime.  I…

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Teaching Haskell to a 10 year old: Day 1

Originally posted on SuperGinBaby:

My older son, who is in fourth grade (homeschool) and just turned 10, has been nagging me for ages to teach him Haskell. The desire originates from me learning Haskell and writing a book with Chris Allen. I have told him a little bit about Haskell as I’ve been learning it, and he thought it sounded cool. Today I finally gave in and started teaching him.

Now, he’s 10. He hasn’t really had any formal algebra instruction. He does have more previous programming experience than I had because he’s taken some JavaScript classes from Khan Academy and he’s taking the Minecraft Mod class from YouthDigital, and that uses Java.

We started today with running simple arithmetic expressions in GHCi and then also entering them into a text editor and loading them that way. We’re using the book that I’m writing as a guide, but because he’s 10 (and…

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Postrationality, Table of Contents

Software Mechanic:

Looks like I fall somewhere on the postrationality camp.. Not sure what relevance it has to my activities.

Originally posted on Yearly Cider:

A couple of weeks ago, Scott Alexander posted a map of the rationalist community, and much to my delight, I’m on it! Specifically, I’ve been placed in the country of Postrationality, alongside Meaningness, Melting Asphalt, Ribbonfarm, and A Wizard’s Word. This is truly an illustrious country, and I’m honored to be a member of it.

But anyway, as a result of this map, a lot of people have been asking: what is postrationality? I think Will Newsome or Steve Rayhawk invented the term, but I sort of redefined it, and it’s probably my fault that it’s come to refer to this cluster in blogspace. So I figured I would do a series of posts explaining my definition.

As you might imagine, postrationality has a lot in common with rationality. For instance, they share an epistemological core: both agree that the map is not the territory, and…

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Integer challenge.

Originally posted on Abandon MATLAB:

The ninth Mersenne prime is 261 – 1 = 2305843009213693951. Try to cause MATLAB to represent this value in a simple variable, then display it.

For example here is a Python session that passes by direct calculation:

>>> x = pow(2,61) - 1
>>> x

That obtained the value by calculation, but no mathematical sophistication should be required to stuff a number in a variable. In fact, you may want to see if there’s any way you can simply type the number in to MATLAB and have it represented, as you see here in Python:

>>> x = 2305843009213693951
>>> x

MATLAB has built-in uint64 and int64 data types that are, in principle, able to hold this value, so you should have no problem either way. Heh.

(A contrived example, you suggest? I have experiments running in MATLAB that communicate with a simple data acquisition device, one…

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Life Lessons from Machine Learning

Originally posted on Outlook Zen:

What comes to mind when you hear the term “Machine Learning”? A bunch of programmers hunched over their computers in a dark room, working on something completely virtual & divorced from reality? A group of scientists creating a Frankenstein monster that has no resemblance to us whatsoever?

It may certainly seem that way, but you’d be wrong. The accomplishments of Machine Learning (Self-driving cars, human handwriting parsing, IBM Watson) are certainly very technological in nature. But in truth, Machine Learning is equal parts Art and Philosophy, incorporating deep Epistemological insights in order to better make sense of the world. Machine Learning is in essence, a simplified & structured version of what goes on in our minds every single day, in our quest for knowledge.

If this “quest for knowledge” sounds like a bunch of mumbo jumbo and you’re wondering how it’s actually relevant to us…

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Lint For Math

Originally posted on Gödel's Lost Letter and P=NP:


Stephen Johnson is one of the world’s top programmers. Top programmers are inherently lazy: they prefer to build tools rather than write code. This led Steve to create some of great software tools that made UNIX so powerful, especially in the “early days.” These included the parser generator named for “Yet Another Compiler Compiler.”

Today I (Dick) want to talk about another of his tools, called . Not an acronym, it really means lint.

Steve was also famous for this saying about an operating system environment for IBM mainframes named TSO which some of us were unlucky enough to need to use:

Using TSO is like kicking a dead whale down the beach.

Hector Garcia-Molina told me a story about using TSO at Princeton years before I arrived there. One day he wrote a program that was submitted to the mainframe. While Hector was waiting for it to run he…

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Marital Egalitarianism Is Bad For Your Sex Life

Originally posted on Chateau Heartiste:

From an American Sociological Review research paper, 💋SCIENTISTS💋 (as opposed to feminist “””scientists”””) discover that egalitarian marriages — ones where in practice husbands shoulder a significant amount of the household chores traditionally the province of wives — are arid, sexless wastelands.

This article began by noting that American marriages are more egalitarian today than they were in the past, but scholars have found it difficult to offer a clear interpretation of how egalitarianism has changed the nature of marriage itself. One broad interpretation of egalitarianism is that couples exchange resources across various domains. Moves toward more equality in one area, such as earnings, might thus induce more equal distributions in other areas, like housework, a suggestion that has certainly received extensive investigation. In this article, we asked whether men and women use housework and sex as resources for exchange, or whether other logics govern sexual frequency within marriage.


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DevOps Is Bullshit: Why One Programmer Doesn’t Do It Anymore

Originally posted on jjmojojjmojo: In Effect:

I’ve always been handy with hardware. I was one of “those kids” you hear about that keeps taking things apart just to see how they work – and driving their parents nuts in the process. When I was a teenager, I toyed with programming but didn’t get serious with it until I decided I wanted to get into graphic design. I found out that you don’t have to write HTML yourself, you can use programming to do it for you!

But I never stopped tinkering with hardware and systems. I used Linux and BSD on my desktop for years, built my LAMP stacks from source, and simulated the server environment when I couldn’t – when I used windows for work, and when I eventually adopted Apple as my primary platform, I first started with cross-compiled versions of the components, and eventually got into virtualization.

In the early days (maybe 10…

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Judgment 16.12

Originally posted on Pact:

Last Chapter                                                                       Next Chapter

“Buy me time!” Rose called out.

Easier said than done.

The others were okay, though battered, bruised, and at least one bad injury.  They were standing closer to where the dragon had been impaled, and many of the blades were in their way, forcing them to very slowly extricate themselves, out of fear of dying to a simple slip or fall.

In short, it was Mags, Paige, and Peter on one side.  Buttsack, the Welder and the Nurse were there as well, though the goblin had been gouged by the blade, the Nurse injured in the prior encounter with the dragon.

Ms. Lewis, the possessed lawyer with two deep wounds in his chest…

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Comment Of The Week: The Danger Of The Traumatized Woman

Originally posted on Chateau Heartiste:

How is a wounded woman like a wounded animal? PA explains as he hoists the COTW trophy:

A nasty form of red pill involves thoughts of how to act when your woman has been through great trauma, rape or otherwise. A wounded human being is in a shitload of pain, in such cases psychic pain.

They say that you shouldn’t try to comfort a beloved dog that was injured by a car because its pain can cause it to bite you. External-source duress, usually financial, can turn a wife into a bitch.

There was an article a few years after the 9.11 attacks, about a middle aged woman, civilian employee at the Pentagon, who was badly disfigured in the resulting fires and how she copes with life. Her husband (photos from happier days were shown, they were both radiant) had left her after the disfigurement.

I was quick to fault…

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