2016 Year in Reverse

(Previously, previously, previously.)

So, 2016 was an interesting year for me. (It was an interesting year for a lot of people.) I moved to Berkeley, landed 19 commits in the Rust compiler, and had my trust in the sanity of the people around me re-shattered into a thousand thousand bloody fragments. (The pain of this last is exactly what I deserve for allowing the trust to re-form after the last time.)

In 2016, this blog saw 77 posts and 65 comments. Among these—

It turns out that not everypony can be like Applejack. I have money. I went to a Star Trek convention. Bros will be bros. I took a break from blogging following a moment of liberating clarity. I went to RustConf and San Francisco Comic-Con. Some have concerns. You miss your beloved exactly because you can't model them well enough to know what it would be like if they were here. Destined best-friends-"forever" are still subject to the moral law. The map is usually not the territory. Living well truly is the best revenge. It turns out that thinking sanely about politics has a surprising number of parallels with writing a chess engine for fun (although the former activity is far less common). I'm kind of an asshole. There exist some less-common reasons to detest American football. If you wait too long to write something, you might lose your chance. Trade-offs and competitive forces continue to shape our lives even if we would prefer they somehow didn't.

What can readers of An Algorithmic Lucidity look forward to in 2017?

Well, it's looking to be a really exciting year for me, both intellectually and biochemically, for reasons that I can't talk about because I'm trying to minimize the sum of number of friends lost and bricks thrown through my window. (Only two so far!)

So, I don't know; maybe this'll become a math blog or something.

This Has Always Been the Year

At a quarter past eight on the first Monday of the new year, the yellow line on the way to the city has just passed Orinda. A young man is standing in the bicycle priority area near the doors, reading a paper magazine. Write Your Novel in 2016! is the cover story, followed by more teasers below: "2 Tools That Can Fix Any Story Problem," "What's Really at Stake? The Secret to More Compelling Characters," and "5 Great Caribbean Literary Festivals: Get Away, Get Inspired!"

It catches the eye of a young woman who got on at Lafayette and has spent the last six minutes scribbling in a Moleskine notebook. "Oh!" she says, approaching. "Are you a writer, too?"

The man looks up, seeming slightly surprised and confused, which slightly surprises and confuses her in turn. "Of course not," he says, indicating the magazine. "If I were, would I be reading this?"

2015 Year In Reverse

(Previously, previously.)

Dear reader (that's reader in the singular because I doubt that there are two actual humans who read my blog; it's not because there are many and I'm addressing you individually), it's that time of the year again—the time of the year when it stops being the year. A time to think thoughtfully and ask, "What happened since the last time we did this?"

In the year 2015, this blog has seen (at press time) 43 posts and 30 comments. Among these—

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2014 Year in Reverse


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).

2013 Year in Reverse

Dear reader, as another year comes to a close, it is perhaps wise that we should take a few moments to reflect on what we learned here at An Algorithmic Lucidity in 2013—the year that was!

In the year 2013, this blog saw 103 posts and (at press time) 40 comments. Among these—

We heard a poem about why you should hire me. We surveyed a few numbers between 0 and 1. (Friend of the blog Grognor told me that the funniest part was the explicit disclaimer that the list was non-exhaustive. I replied that not everyone knows about the diagonalization argument—but considering this blog's, um, selective audience, maybe my readers do—all five of you!) We mentioned some hidden costs of talking about stuff. We noted that some words have substrings which are other words. I wrote a series about my experiences studying web development at App Academy (9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1). I pasted my first attempt at an OKCupid profile. We observed that I'm a moron. Books arrived in the post. We mused on the nature of personhood and implemented some classic algorithms: the Ford-Fulkerson technique somewhat clumsily in Ruby, quicksort in the form of a letter to a fictional horse, and Huffman coding in Python. We lamented the nature of existence, noticed the non-observance of an unusual tradition, and heard a poem about watching a motion picture by someone you met at university. Three problems with unsolicited advice were discussed, as was the role of bases in the theory of vector spaces, and the subjective indistinguishability of propaganda and other forms of instruction.

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