Permalink or It Didn't Happen

As far as I can tell, I don't have any kind of synesthesia. You can't be too sure (which means, you can easily be entirely too sure), what with our na(t)ive theories of psychology being so inadequate that everything we believe about other minds is but a filament of noise and conjecture, but your probability distribution about the mapping of sensory inputs to perceptions for me is probably not so different as mine of the same for you (dear reader of whom I know nothing)—roses seem red, violets would seem blue if we spoke a language that didn't already have a word for violet—which means that when I tell you that there's a musty, stale odor around a blog that hasn't been updated in a month and change, it's only a trite metaphor and not a perceptual reality of any sort. Still, even if you can't smell it (if your senses are like mine; if your fox, like mine, still hasn't bothered to implement the HTML5 <aroma> element), it's an ominous thing, to see a blog hovering near the boundary between life and death, a corpus perhaps on the way to being a corpse. The internet is littered with the latter, monuments to people who reliably had something to say, month after month ... until they missed a month, and then it wasn't long before they missed another.

my_block_of_squares

Now I can assure you that that will never happen to this place while I'm still breathing—this blog lives exactly as long as I do—only that's not a precise way of speaking; what I can do is offer you my assurance, which is a different thing from you actually feeling assured, which is a different thing still from that which was assured against actually never coming to pass. But I think these differences—between feeling and reality, between saying and reality—I think these enormous differences are much greater than the tiny, barely-perceptible gap between seeing so many gloriously intricate things to say, and making the time and words to express them on your blog when you are so busy with your trade in the manufacture of useful machinery (and the green tiles which are its highly-coveted industrial byproduct). But if all I can observe is that the gap is barely perceptible, then by the enormity of the earlier differences, I am not licensed to infer that the gap is tiny, not when the only reason I am telling you this is that I would die of shame if my monthly archives sidebar skipped a month for the first time since May of 'aught-twelve, not during this second year of my life in which I am supposed to write a compiler and a bad novelette even though it is for all intents and tens of intensive purposes practically March.

2014 Year in Reverse

(Previously.)

If I had any readers who still believe in the A-theory of time, I might say: 2014 is dead! Gone! Over! But since I probably don't have any readers like that (since I probably don't have any readers, full stop?), it's better to face the truth: 2014 is an immutable part of our universe; just because we don't—get to?—have to?—experience it "now", doesn't mean it has "stopped" existing, any more than 2016 doesn't exist "yet" just because we don't remember it.

Anyway. In that two-thousand-and-fourteenth year of our Common Era, the first year of my life (that I feel comfortable admitting to), and (unfortunately) not actually the Year of the Em Dash, this blog saw 45 posts and 40 comments. Among these—

The weariness of being monolingual was confessed to. We saw how to convert Markdown to HTML within Emacs (a technique which is proving itself to be of some convenience to your author in preparing blog posts for publication). We considered one weird trick for what to write when you can't infer the correct spelling of someone's name from what you heard. It turned out that the word apology can mean different things, and that characters in popular 1990s science-fiction television programs aren't always completely honest in interpreting the moral law. We were prompted to prove why we will never write anything. We had a wild Halloween party, noted a baffling error message from Git (hint: commit hooks and virtualenv), and drowned our sorrows in tower defense. The American coffee hegemon started serving pumpkin spice again. There were feelings of inadequacy, at least one contrived distraction from writing that ineffectually pretended to not be a distraction, and the occasional obscure pun. We examined where I stand and were enlightened by some standard advice. There were more feelings of inadequacy. Even conditional on the hypothesis that all's well that ends well, I think it's important to consider the condition of people for which all is not looking to end well. We heard a poem for OpenStack object storage, and a lament against git push --force. I argued that Twilight Sparkle is a disaster waiting to happen and confessed that perhaps too many of my life decisions are determined by what things GitHub happens to provide graphs for. I ate too much ice-cream once and explained how consistent hashing works.

And as for that other nearby immutable span of reality, the one called 2015? Well, that would be telling (and I can't know that from here).

The Year of the Em Dash, Not

"2014 is the Unicodepoint for the em dash! Isn't that the greatest thing ever? How did I not know this before December of this glorious year?"

"That's two zero one four in hex, dummy. It's not the same number."

"But, but—that means the year of the em dash isn't until—four, plus sixteen, plus two-to-the-thirteenth ... the year eighty-two twelve! I'll probably be dead by then!"

"Well, you can still celebrate the year of the N'ko letter Ka."

"That is small consolation, my friend!"

Convert Markdown to HTML Within Emacs Using Pandoc

Okay, so there actually is a pandoc-mode, but I couldn't figure out how to configure and use it, so it was easier to just write the one command that I wanted—

(defun markdown-to-html ()
  (interactive)
  (let* ((basename (file-name-sans-extension (buffer-file-name)))
         (html-filename (format "%s.html" basename)))
    (shell-command (format "pandoc -o %s %s"
                           html-filename (buffer-file-name)))
    (find-file-other-window html-filename)))

Coffee Names

"Hi, could I have a grande vanilla iced-coffee?"

"And your name?"

"Zack."

"Is that Zach with an ch or Zack with a ck?"

"You know, I've even seen it done with just a c. But really, isn't this what we have regular expressions for?"

"What?"

"May I?"

The barista hands over the pen and cup, whereupon the customer writes:

/Zac[hk]?/

"There. Now you can't possibly be wrong!"

Missing Words VI

We need different words for apology in the sense of "I'm sorry; I won't do it again," and apology in the sense of "I'm sorry that this lowers your utility, but not sorry enough to actually change the behavior in question; maybe we could negotiate some other behavior change that might partially make up for it." Both can be sincere, but they mean different things.

Yet Another Idle Wish for a Future Star Trek Series

(Previously, previously on An Algorithmic Lucidity.)

"So, I'm not convinced that deassimilating Seven of Nine was the ethically correct choice."

"Oh?"

"I'm watching 'The Gift', and Seven clearly says, quote, 'You have imprisoned us in the name of humanity, yet you will not grant us your most cherished human right, to choose our own fate. You are hypocritical, manipulative. We do not want to be what you are!' End quote. As far as I can tell, Seven is just correct here; Janeway's pretense of acting in Seven's best interests because Seven used to be human twenty years ago, just isn't plausible."

"Since when are you a big defender of humanoid rights to self-determination? Didn't you root for the bad guys in Insurrection?"

"That was a completely different situation! Anyway, on futher thought, maybe my lament isn't so much about Janeway making the wrong decision, so much as I wish that she—or some analogue of her in an episode of some future Trek series, since wishing that Joe Menosky had made a different artistic decision in 1997 would be, uh, there's a specific word I want here ..."

"Futile?"

"—could just be honest about what she was doing. You could just say, 'Yes, I'm depriving current-you of autonomy and the entire purpose of your existence, but I don't care about that, and after a few more months of captivity, Stockholm syndrome will set in and future-corrupted-you will grow to like it,' instead of appealing to some bizarre teleology of humanness."

Last Friday Night

it's a blacked-out blur, but I'm pretty sure

* * *

$ heroku create
Creating howling-nightmare-4505... done, stack is cedar
http://howling-nightmare-4505.herokuapp.com/ | git@heroku.com:howling-nightmare-4505.git
Git remote heroku added

"Did they—did they change their random words dictionary for Halloween?"

* * *

-----> Python app detected
-----> Installing runtime (python-2.7.8)

"What?! No! What are you doing, you crazy machine?!"

* * *

$ echo "python-3.4.1" > runtime.txt
$ g a .
$ gco -m "the month of July 2010 called and wants their programming language back"

* * *

< What are you spinning up the box for?

> it's Friday night

< How does that lead to box spinning?

> previous message was an attempt at humor, as if to suggest that I'm the sort of person for whom deploying a web application fulfills a similar purpose as some sort of wild social event with drugs might for some others, about which they might offer a similarly vacuous "explanation"

* * *

it ru-uled

Cloud Computing in the Small

I want you to consider the indignity of sitting on the train pondering the philosophy of linear functions of a single variable, not because you enjoy being reminded about being the kind of frail, helpless creature that needs hundreds of millions of microseconds to compute trivialities that any actual person would tell you come as naturally as breathing or mitosis, but because you want the website you're writing to have one of those adorable tag clouds and you need to tell the device what font sizes to use.

Friday Night Lies

"I am a practical man," I said calmly and confidently to no one in particular while sitting down to an easy-mode round of the new tower defense game where the bad ponies are the good ponies and the good ponies are the bad ponies, "I have created no less than X times 276 divided by 365 dollars of economic value this year, and I don't believe in karma, sin, or willpower depletion."

Pumpkin Spice!

It's September in the first year of my life (that I feel comfortable admitting to), and I feel great—the mounting success or arguably-not-yet-failure of my professional, intellectual, and—other goals is complemented splendidly by a muted but nonetheless genuine appreciation of the subset of nature's cyclic harmonies that I'm capable of perceiving: the air is getting slightly less warm, the sun is setting slightly earlier, and the hacks by which the retailers separate us from our money have changed completely.

In particular, the American coffee hegemon has started offering its "pumpkin spice" medicinals again, and my esteemed colleague Alexander Corwin has been blogging about drinking them despite/because hating them, so as a loyal client of the hegemon (measured by spending habits; the market gods only accept sacrifices of time and money, and don't care what you say or believe), of course I have to accompany him to the hegemon's outpost on fourth street that I go to frequently (typically bringing the personal cup I got at BABSCon, and the barista H. insists on giving me a brohoof every time), but the day before was no good, because Alexander apparently needed his sweetener/caffeine medicinal while I was busy pairing with our CEO on our new lead pipeline and bought his traditional Diet Coke instead.

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Worth

"I still feel bad about being the worst person at my job."

"You don’t mean worst person. People all have an equal intrinsic moral worth that has nothing to do with their economic role in society. You mean something more like, 'perhaps less skilled than some others at some job tasks'."

"No, that’s pretty much what I meant by worst person."