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Showing posts from 2017

notable benefits of clergy

geofence (tech n.): a virtual boundary that lets software respond when its device enters or leaves a particular area. e.g. disabling wi-fi, e.g. sending an alert. My engineering lecturer claimed that the DoD disabled his car with one of these.
Stingray (policing n.): phone snooper; IMSI-catcher. Emulates a real phone tower to locate and identify nearby phones. In common use in large US cities.
Moravec's paradox (AI n.): the surprising fact that abstract cognition has proved much easier to emulate in AI than has basic, instinctive visual and motor processing. Haut en bas.
slamming (white-collar crime n./v.): taking control of a phone owner's account without permission. Done by actual companies, somehow.
benefit of clergy (medieval n.): right to be tried by the Church instead of the magistrate; effectively, the right to not be executed for your crimes. Originally only granted to clerics, hence the name, but eventually to anyone who could read.
skurf (sp…

notable is what it is, am what I am, will be will be boys

Half-Mourning (Victorian n.): The final stage of the Decent two-year grieving period, in which the widow is allowed to hear hats again and can start to work bland colours (grey, lilac, lavender) into her clothing.
Game recognizes game (black proverb): Takes one to know one; great minds think alike. Self-aggrandising compliment.
healthspan (n.): the length of time in which you are healthy. Healthspan is the proper target of medicine, but has been sidelined in favour of raw longevity for a century.
bare stick (光棍) (Chinese n.): Single man. (Some suggest that this is a dick joke, but this is likely to be denied by locals.) Name of the annual Valentine's Day / orgy of consumerism, on November 11th (chosen because 11/11 has a lot of single 1s in it).
exploitable (n.): a meme template with blank space for you to speak your branes in.
manhwa (만화)(Korean n.): manga.
brohoof (internet n.): A high-five between two bronies, men who watch the show My Little Pony.

notable [redacted for your sake]

twenny nug (channish n.): 20 (chicken) nuggets.
skiff (US military n.): Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility. Airgapped, maximal security computer installation.
class-struggle face (阶级斗争脸) (Maoist n.): the fixed frown-grimace suitable for intimidating black elements. A risque joke at Mao's expense. I make this face at work when I don't want to be bothered. (I work in an open plan.)
black money (Indian n.): Money from the black market, untaxed: perhaps trillions in total.
twice exceptional (US pedagogy adj.): both disabled and gifted. (“being gifted and being disabled are surprisingly similar: isolating, mystifying, petrifying.”)
nasheed (Arabic n.): religious song, canonically a'capella, but these days they add a bunch of overdubs and comps and stuff. Searching for them can get you put on A Watchlist.
grand truth (ML n.): The underlying distribution; the population. Coined by Tsypkin (1971) to no acclaim, but I've seen it used by the modern gre…

notable nicenesses

niceness (UNIX n.): inverse process priority. a job with a high niceness is very kind to the users of your system (i.e., it runs at low priority), while a job with little niceness utilises more of the CPU
TPTB (internet n.): The Powers That Be. You can hear the conspiratorial hiss.
skeuomorph (pej. design n.): an object which retains the look and metaphors of its predecessors even though it does not need to:
cultural fluency (culture war n.): Mandatory ideological re-education on campus (see also sensitivity training). Very useful, not as guide to actually ethical conduct, but as primer on what inadvertent words are likely to incite a mob.
stemwinder (US n.): A rousing speech, especially by a politician.
spavined (posh adj.): bony, particularly of horses; wasted.
neuclidean(maths adj.): noneuclidean for impatient people.
landsat (science n.): The oldest satellite mapping project: 45 years of continuous imagery.
interocular trauma test (stats n.): draw…

notable rolfing

sentinel organ (medical n.): a part of the body particularly sensitive to some medical insult (pathogen, toxin, mutation). Canary in the mine. Has been used of the brain, liver, thyroid, mammaries.
toxicant (medical n.): toxic substance. Hypernym of toxin, which is supposed to be "naturally produced toxicant". Language being what it is, people actually use "toxin" as the hypernym and "toxicant" as "artificial, industrial toxin".
the walking well (medical collective n.): Medical jargon for healthy people. But particularly malingerers: people going to the GP with nothing wrong. Term is a shibboleth for the speaker being an allied practitioner.
apodization (signal processing n.): applying a function to a signal to change its shape, in particular tapering out the extreme values to zero, in particular improving the focus of an optical system by manipulating its input-intensity profile. Literally "de-footing". Used to produce the bokeh effect…

notable numale numanoids

pokie (Oz n.): slot machine (metonym for poker machine). See also pokie palace, a cheap casino. The only evidence I have that this diminution is typical of Australia is this:
Jahwist (philology proper n.): One of the hypothesised four authors of the Old Testament, the one who uses YHWE as the name of God.
numale (manosphere n.): Slur for non-hegemonically masculine / non-sexist man. Said to be disrespected by all.
the Cupertino idiot-tax operation: Apple Inc.
banya (Russian n.): sauna room.
to patch (Scots v.): to cancel; to bail; to ditch. Dundonian.
stramineous (Latinate adj.): straw-like; worthless.
to slot floppies (Rhodesian v.): to shoot insurgents. Presumably racist.
source (stream computing n.): stream creator/pusher. Source and sink are from thermodynamics and/or ecology.
sink (stream computing n.): stream consumer. A class or function (or file...) that receives events from another object or function. A production sink is in the real frontend of your system.
gateway (stream …

notable knouting

to knout (v.): to lash with a barbed, multi-headed whip. Peculiar to English commentary about Tsarist Russia.
to perlustrate (v.): to inspect thoroughly; to rifle through.
morganatic (adj.): Of marriage: crossing class boundaries; partial; granting no titles to the wife and children. AKA left-handed marriage.
accouchement (Fr n.): a birth; the moment of fetal expulsion.
altricial (adj): incapable of moving around immediately after birth.
test particle (n.): fictional entity used in high-energy physics simulations / dynamics problems at the limit. Model with only one property, the one you want to simulate.
fustian (n.): 1) thick dark cloth; 2) pompous writing. Confusing because it looks like an adjective.
to templatize (computing v.): genericise; to use metaprogramming templates on. Seen in a BS marketing spiel; yet another case of presenting some 40-year-old basic CS idea as revolutionary innovation.
nesomane (n.): Island lover.

Been reading, Q3 2017

Young Stalin reading (1949) by Viktor Golitseva
the following treatise investigate[s] the fundamental laws of those operations of the mind by which reasoning is performed; to give expression to them in the symbolical language of a Calculus... and to collect some probable intimations concerning the nature and constitution of the human mind.~ Boole, epitomising the ambition and naivete of GOFAI,
100 years before it

1/5: Do not read.4/5: Read with care.2/5: Do not finish.4*/5: Read agape.3/5: Skim.5/5: Read again3*/5: Devour with a grin.


The Master Algorithm (2015) by Pedro Domingos.

Overambitious pop science from a lively and charming expert, trying to sketch all of machine learning in a couple hundred pages. The warmth of his teaching voice comes through the page: As you read the book, feel free to skim or skip any parts you find troublesome; it’s the big picture that matters, and you’ll probably get more out of those parts if you revisit them after the puzzle is assembled.…

notable no-no-no-notorious

infra dig. (Latin / U adj.): infra dignitatem; incredibly posh way of saying the already posh "beneath one".
shakeout (business n.): The collapse of a competitive industry into oligopoly. Wall Street word: you can hear the salivation.
ranch (computing n.): cluster. (Archaic.)
shell account (computing n.): a remote userspace. Remarkably, you can buy one of these for accessing your casual-but-nerdy forum (it's giving randos an arbitrary-execution place on your server, after all). These are how Unix-inclined programmers survived in a Microsoft world.
malocclusion (dentistry n.): misalignment of teeth between your two jaws.
ULEZ (London n.): Ultra Low Emission Zone. Tiny central circle of London that you have to pay extra to drive polluting vehicles in. Overlaps the existing Congestion Charge Zone perfectly, which makes for an interesting ontology of tax.
workforce-planned area (corporate n.): a physical area of a company where everything is highly timed and regimented, like a fac…

Alan Turing: The Enigma (1983) by Andrew Hodges

in the early days of computing, a number of terms for the practitioners of the field of computing were suggested in the Communications of the ACM — turingineer, turologist, flow-charts-man, applied meta-mathematician, and applied epistemologist.- wiki
In a man of his type, one never knows what his mental processes are going to do next. - JAK Ferns, Turing's coroner

There have been two big films about Turing (three if you count the uselessly fictionalised Enigma (2001)). All of them are more or less dishonestly melodramatic; for instance they depict Turing's relationship with his dead love Christopher as the simple driver of his work on machine intelligence. And more generally they depict him as tragic. But he wasn't tragic: we were. In the 1950s we attacked a superlatively beautiful and profound person, because we were certain it was the right thing to do.

Hodges, whose book began the great public rehabilitation of Turing and served as the source for the films, bears …

Highlighted passages in Hodge's Alan Turing: the Enigma (1983)


"Is a mind a complicated kind of abstract pattern that develops in an underlying physical substrate, such as a vast network of nerve cells? If so... could something else be substituted for the tiny nerve cells, such as millions of small computational units made of arrays of transistors, giving rise to an artificial neural network with a conscious mind?... In short, can thinking and feeling emerge from patterns of activity in different sorts of substrate − organic, electronic, or otherwise?

...Could a language-using machine give the appearance of understanding sentences and coming up with ideas while in truth being as devoid of thought and as empty inside as a nineteenth-century adding machine or a twentieth-century word processor? ...Are understanding and reasoning incompatible with a materialistic, mechanistic view of living beings?

Could a machine ever be said to have made its own decisions? Could a machine have beliefs? Could a machine believe it made its own d…

notable intermittent explosions

Intermittent Explosive Disorder (medical n.): behavioral disorder involving sudden irrational rage. Children under 6 are never considered to display IED: their explosive disorder is instead due to being under 6. Very possibly the reason for that unbelievably petty outburst you saw in Morrison's the other day.
sport one's oak (Oxbridge v.): to signal a desire for solitude by closing one's (outer) door.
fatberg (n.): a congealed mass of cooking fat, nappies and condoms, blocking a sewer. This one is 130 tonnes.
Vouched Mozillian: A trusted volunteer for the Mozilla Foundation. Sounds like a clan from Dune.
monocoque (engineering adj.): of frames which use the external chassis to support weight, lacking an internal load-bearing frame; 'structural skin'.

Underwater basket weaving (US n.): snarky metonym for any useless university course. Decried as racist, as all things must be.
survivors movement (internet n.): People who hate the psychiatric treatment they've had. Pre…

The Dune Trilogy (1965-76) by Frank Herbert

Dune (1965), Dune Messiah (1969), and Children of Dune (1976)
by Frank Herbert.

The bottom line of the Dune trilogy is: beware of heroes. Much better [to] rely on your own judgment, and your own mistakes– Frank Herbert
'Didn't you learn the difference between Harkonnen and Atreides so that you could smell a Harkonnen trick by the stink they left on it. Didn't you learn that Atreides loyalty is bought with love, while the Harkonnen coin is hate?– also Frank Herbert
Dune shouldn't work: there's a lot of the worst of fantasy fiction in it. The spurious black and white morality, above; cod-medieval dialogue; noble-savagery and bizarro Orientalism; its spoilers for itself (through its constant first-person precognition); and the po-faced chapter epigrams about how great the main character is... *

But it does work. It works because of the loveable setting and its thrilling ecosystem; the sharp, rapid dialogue; its sheer, smushy pastiche of human history (American enviro…