The Narcissist’s Prayer

That didn’t happen.

And if it did
It wasn’t that bad.

And if it was
That’s not a big deal.

And if it is
That’s not my fault.

And if it was
I didn’t mean it.

And if I did
You deserved it.

Unknown

A Conservative Plan

By Amii James (Instagram). Context was the Tories but applies to our fine people stateside as well.

Tory ministers saying “we owe it to children to keep schools open” might want to explain to me why they closed my youth centre, cut mental health services, underfunded my secondary school, stripped free school meals from my peers, tripled uni fees, demonised climate strikers…

Hasan Patel

On What to Live For

Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a great ocean of anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair.

I have sought love, first, because it brings ecstasy - ecstasy so great that I would often have sacrificed all the rest of life for a few hours of this joy. I have sought it, next, because it relieves loneliness–that terrible loneliness in which one shivering consciousness looks over the rim of the world into the cold unfathomable lifeless abyss. I have sought it finally, because in the union of love I have seen, in a mystic miniature, the prefiguring vision of the heaven that saints and poets have imagined. This is what I sought, and though it might seem too good for human life, this is what–at last–I have found.

With equal passion I have sought knowledge. I have wished to understand the hearts of men. I have wished to know why the stars shine. And I have tried to apprehend the Pythagorean power by which number holds sway above the flux. A little of this, but not much, I have achieved.

Love and knowledge, so far as they were possible, led upward toward the heavens. But always pity brought me back to earth. Echoes of cries of pain reverberate in my heart. Children in famine, victims tortured by oppressors, helpless old people a burden to their sons, and the whole world of loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life should be. I long to alleviate this evil, but I cannot, and I too suffer.

This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered me.

The Prologue to Bertrand Russell’s Autobiography

“I have to do this.”

I made a bet at work that involved me eating my Crocs (if I lost, of course), prompting my co-worker to send me this story about Eric Taylor, a “former Magic: The Gathering player and highly regarded Magic columnist, especially during the earlier days of the game” (MTG Wiki), who made a similarly hasty bet and honored its terms:

He went so far as to guarantee Kai couldn’t emerge victorious again, promising to eat his hat should he be proven wrong.

[…] By now a sizeable crowd had gathered to watch the spectacle. EDT began by biting into the rim, but couldn’t tear the material with his teeth. In a quick burst of speed, he reached into his bag, and pulled out a full bottle of Heinz Ketchup and a pair of scissors. Deftly slicing a swatch of material from the top of the hat, he masticated on the felt but found the taste to be offensive.

“This is terrible!”, he exclaimed, unleashing a destructive stream of ketchup all over the table and his headwear. He resumed devouring his hat, making chewing faces akin to Popeye the Sailor eating rotten spinach.

[…] Around the third mouthful, EDT began to wish he had a nacho hat. “This is terrible”, he screamed, banging his jaw against the table to force the hat down. This attracted the attention of Rob Dougherty, from the Boston. “You’re crazy!”, he admonished in the typical Your Move Games tone. Eric just shook his head, gritted his teeth, and said, “I have to do this.

Ben Bleiweiss, ERIC TAYLOR EATS HIS HAT! (emphasis mine)

2021 Things

New Years resolutions for 2021 are gonna be like:

  • travel to the other side of the room
  • wear a different shirt
  • cut screen time from 12 hours a day to 11
  • eat a vegetable
  • bathe
@alyssalimp

On Winters

Taken completely out of context, for the letter itself is a lot of bro-y “locker room talk.”

My mind is dried up, exhausted. I’m disgusted to be back in this damned country where you see the sun in the sky about as often as a diamond in a pig’s asshole.

Gustave Flaubert, Letter to Ernest Chevalier, 14th November 1840

And especially when you simply don’t have any say in the matter:

Stop Words

In computing, stop words are words which are filtered out before or after processing of natural language data (text). Though “stop words” usually refers to the most common words in a language, there is no single universal list of stop words used by all natural language processing tools, and indeed not all tools even use such a list. Some tools specifically avoid removing these stop words to support phrase search.

Any group of words can be chosen as the stop words for a given purpose. For some search engines, these are some of the most common, short function words, such as the, is, at, which, and on. In this case, stop words can cause problems when searching for phrases that include them, particularly in names such as “The Who”, “The The”, or “Take That”. Other search engines remove some of the most common words—including lexical words, such as “want”—from a query in order to improve performance.

Wikipedia

I was hitting Algolia’s search limits had to remove words I didn’t care about searching like “and”, “only”, “there”, or “I’ve” in an attempt to shrink the size of the posts on this site in the search index. There are quite a few lists on the internet and I ended up using a few of them for significant (> 65% average) size reductions in the search corpora.

The Scunthorpe Problem

The Scunthorpe problem (or the Clbuttic Mistake) is the unintentional blocking of websites, e-mails, forum posts or search results by a spam filter or search engine because their text contains a string of letters that appear to have an obscene or otherwise unacceptable meaning.

Wikipedia

Examples would be: shitake mushrooms, Herman I. Libshitz, magna cum laude, Arun Dikshit.

THIS is America

Lord of our lives and sovereign of our beloved nation, we deplore the desecration of the United States Capitol building, the shedding of innocent blood, the loss of life, and the quagmire of dysfunction that threaten our democracy.

These tragedies have reminded us that words matter and that the power of life and death is in the tongue. We have been warned that eternal vigilance continues to be freedom’s price.

Lord, you have helped us remember that we need to see in each other a common humanity that reflects your image.

You have strengthened our resolve to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies domestic as well as foreign.

Use us to bring healing and unity to our hurting and divided nation and world. Thank you for what you have blessed our lawmakers to accomplish in spite of threats to liberty.

Bless and keep us. Drive far from us all wrong desires, incline our hearts to do your will and guide our feet on the path of peace. And God bless America. We pray in your sovereign name, amen.

Dr. Barry Black, Chaplain of the Senate, CBS News (emphases mine)

And please get off this gentleman’s lawn and out of his city.

This Is America

During the four years of the Civil War, the confederates never got closer to Washington than Fort Stevens. Until today, when insurrectionist supporters of @realDonaldTrump paraded through the U.S. Capitol Building carrying the Confederate battle flag.

@JordanOnRecord

The ultimate in White privilege is when you’ve broken in to the Speaker’s Lobby, you’ve broken down the windows, and you’re trying to break in to the floor of the House, you’re 12” from a gun, and you’re still not dead.

@JSSPalding

Call the zip ties by their correct name: The guys were carrying flex cuffs, the plastic double restraints often used by police in mass arrest situations. They walked through the Senate chamber with a sense of purpose. They were not dressed in silly costumes but kitted out in full paramilitary regalia: helmets, armor, camo, holsters with sidearms. At least one had a semi-automatic rifle and 11 Molotov cocktails. At least one, unlike nearly every other right-wing rioter photographed that day, wore a mask that obscured his face.

These are the same guys who, when the windows of the Capitol were broken and entry secured, went in first with what I’d call military-ish precision. They moved with purpose, to the offices of major figures like Nancy Pelosi and then to the Senate floor. What was that purpose? It wasn’t to pose for photos. It was to use those flex cuffs on someone.

Dan Kois, “They Were Out for Blood: The men who carried zip ties as they stormed the Capitol weren’t clowning around.

Via @igorbobic’s thread:

Brittany Packnett Cunningham on Trump supporters rioting & looting the U.S. Capitol building: “This is the literal example of white supremacy.”

@monolithic87

Some real perspective:

the olay body wash at CVS has better security

@IsabelSteckel

and

Can’t believe the creators of the monster have lost control of the monster, is there any precedent for this in books or film

@DanAmira

and

“May we never forget the brave Wal-Martyrs, Gravy Seals, Green Buffets, Meal Team Six, Delta Farce, and every other Walmart Warrior of the 1st Methanized Infantile Division who fought in the Great American Inbredsurrection”

Unknown, via VM

See also: Nachkommen

Scottish Sass

Asked about speculation that Mr Trump could travel to Scotland in order to avoid the inauguration, Ms Sturgeon said: "I have no idea what Donald Trump’s travel plans are, you’ll be glad to know.

"I hope and expect that – as everybody expects, not everybody necessarily will hope – that the travel plan immediately that he has is to exit the White House.

Nicola Sturgeon, as quoted by Chiara Giordano, “Trump not allowed into Scotland to escape Biden inauguration, Sturgeon warns” (emphasis mine.)

Reaganomics: The Rest of You Shall Eat Shit

The economist John Kenneth Galbraith noted that “trickle-down economics” had been tried before in the United States in the 1890s under the name “horse-and-sparrow theory”, writing:

Mr. David Stockman has said that supply-side economics was merely a cover for the trickle-down approach to economic policy—what an older and less elegant generation called the horse-and-sparrow theory: ‘If you feed the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows.’

Galbraith claimed that the horse-and-sparrow theory was partly to blame for the Panic of 1896. While running against Ronald Reagan for the Presidential nomination in 1980, George H. W. Bush had derided the trickle-down approach as “voodoo economics”. In the 1992 presidential election, independent candidate Ross Perot also referred to trickle-down economics “political voodoo”. In the same election during a presidential town hall debate, Bill Clinton said:

What I want you to understand is the national debt is not the only cause of [declining economic conditions in America]. It is because America has not invested in its people. It is because we have not grown. It is because we’ve had 12 years of trickle-down economics. We’ve gone from first to twelfth in the world in wages. We’ve had four years where we’ve produced no private-sector jobs. Most people are working harder for less money than they were making 10 years ago.

Wikipedia

It never made sense and simply doesn’t work.

Democracy Dies Behind Paywalls

World’s richest men added billions to their fortunes last year as others struggled: Billionaires have added about $1 trillion to their total net worth since the pandemic began” (WaPo, Paywall.)

(Even though The Post is a complexifier for me, I do not at all regret my investment. The Post is a critical institution with a critical mission. My stewardship of The Post and my support of its mission, which will remain unswerving, is something I will be most proud of when I’m 90 and reviewing my life, if I’m lucky enough to live that long, regardless of any complexities it creates for me.)

Jeff Bezos, “No thank you, Mr. Pecker

So why can’t the World’s Richest Man fund a paper as “critical” as the Washington Post in perpetuity?

Latency Numbers “Every Programmer Should Know”

From a presentation by Jeff Dean. What about when technology evolves? Here’s a handy visualization. And here’s a way to think about these numbers. Nathan Hurst visualized the distances on Google Maps1.

Operation Time (ns) Light Distance (m) Approximate Light Distance
L1 cache reference 0.5 0.15 Diagonal across your smartphone
Branch mispredict 5 1.5 Height of Natalie Portman
L2 cache reference 7 2.1 Height of Shaq
Mutex lock/unlock 25 7.5 Height of a school flag pole
Main memory reference 100 30 Half a Manhattan city block (North/South)
Compress 1K bytes with Zippy 3,000 900 Width of Central Park
Send 1K bytes over 1 Gbps network 10,000 3,000 Width of Manhattan
Read 4K randomly from SSD* 150,000 45,000 NYC to Hempstead on Long Island
Read 1 MB sequentially from memory 250,000 75,000 NYC to Princeton/Trenton, NJ
Round trip within same datacenter 500,000 150,000 NYC to Scranton, PA
Read 1 MB sequentially from SSD* 1,000,000 300,000 NYC to Boston, MA
Disk seek 10,000,000 3,000,000 NYC to Austin, TX
Read 1 MB sequentially from disk 20,000,000 6,000,000 NYC to Paris, France (also the diameter of the Earth)
Send packet CA → Netherlands → CA 150,000,000 45,000,000 Once around the equator
  1. Cached: One, Two, Three. ↩︎

Ghost Structures

This is such a wonderful idea. Stand opposite the glass and you’d know what Kruševac Fortress in Serbia looked like in its heyday:

Franklin Court in Pennsylvania is another example of how one could illustrate architectural history.

Franklin Court was the site of the handsome brick home of Benjamin Franklin, who lived here while serving in the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention. Franklin died here in 1790; the house was torn down 22 years later. Today the site contains a steel “ghost structure” outlining the spot where Franklin’s house stood and features the Benjamin Franklin Museum […]

National Park Service