» An Untranslatable Poem

On my phone, this (nice, despite my not speaking Portuguese) poem ended up formatted as follows:





which gave it a nice Doge-esque feeling.

» IJ (digraph) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Dutch ij is one of my favourite niche digraphs. I really enjoy this (uncited) hypercorrection from Wikipedia:

In the case of loan-words, the combination i+j is sometimes miscorrected to y. This can, among other things, lead to the sale of byoux (instead of the correct bijoux – jewelry).

Irresponsible, unsustainable bonus culture.

Irresponsible, unsustainable bonus culture.

» Inside the Mirrortocracy

On interview training (emphasis in original):

It’s astonishing how many of the people conducting interviews and passing judgement on the careers of candidates have had no training at all on how to do it well. Aside from their own interviews, they may not have ever seen one. I’m all for learning on your own but at least when you write a program wrong it breaks. Without a natural feedback loop, interviewing mostly runs on myth and survivor bias.

I do a lot of interviewing at my current job, and this certainly applies to me – and, as far as I know, to most of my colleagues, who also do a lot of interviewing. In the extreme, we have people who less than a year ago were undergraduates interviewing people. How can we possibly be judging candidates fairly?

Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter – The Long Mars (Long Earth III)

When I complained about the first two, I had forgetten about Stephen Baxter’s own (excellent) Manifold series about parallel Earths on different branches of a probability tree. But the subplot about super-smart children who band together, get institutionalised and have uneasy relationships with baseline humanity is literally half the plot of Manifold: Time.

I think I will skip any future instalments.

» My Life on Bitcoin: Sex, Drugs, and Toasters (GQ)

NSFW by dint of the massive unnecessary lace-underwear-clad derrière photo at the start. Thanks GQ. TheeQ.

Selected highlights:

I’m relatively certain that no restaurant patron has ever been more ecstatic to pay up than I was when the bill arrived. But after my offer of bitcoin confused two waiters, the owner himself stepped over to conduct the transaction.


Jamme didn’t use Coinbase, so he signed up for it. Meanwhile, Coinbase was stubbornly ignoring all my commands. Having clicked “send money” at least a dozen times—I banged away at that key like Duke Ellington—I became concerned that I was utterly delighting someone somewhere named “Jamie Changler” or maybe “James Champler.”

And (emphasis mine):

While everything else has been slow to bounce back [after the Silk Road bust], the drug boards have returned with a vengeance. On offer are: “Superman XTC” pills, a gram of uncut Peruvian cocaine, five grams of Speed Paste (“Reasonable!”), enough ketamine to sedate not just one horse but all horses, hashish gummy bears, pot-infused faux Girl Scout cookies, Belgian methamphetamine, “potent and clean” Canadian LSD, PCP, heroin from the Netherlands, and opium tea. For weed alone, you have your choice of no fewer than 1,234 vendors.

Greg Egan – Orthogonal I and II

Guillaume introduced me to Greg Egan in the form of Diaspora a few months ago, which primed me to expect more pretty heavy-duty physics from these. Sure enough, these both had more graphs and figures than any fiction I can remember reading.

On the other hand, I was absolutely not expecting these to be about gender politics, and I would like more sci-fi like this please. I have some qualms about how human-like some of the gender rôles are, given how dramatically other aspects of the world (and genders) differ, but I can see how similar structures could have arisen. I also think this is the first time I have seen Chekov’s Gun applied to multiple novels in a series.

Now reading: the third book.

» "Writing Aliens", or, "Duchamp, Markov, Queneau: A Mostly Delightful Quilt"

If you turn up the dial too high, your Markov chain will just quote the original text obsessively, like a Monty Python fan.

“Field Trip would like to Google App Engine.”

“Field Trip would like to Google App Engine.”