Pandemic: the reckoning

Sunday 2 August 2020, 18:33

The word "reckoning" came up a lot in discussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially early on as the world just started to realize the scale of the problem. I've seen a lot of people grimly commenting that "there will be a reckoning for this" in response to things like media dismissal of early warnings, followed by later media endorsement of exactly the positions they had earlier mocked. I've made such comments myself. It's human nature to hope for a reckoning, but at this point I don't think it's rational to expect one.

Shining Path

Saturday 14 March 2020, 12:44

I finished the manuscript for my first professional-grade novel in 2011, spent a few years trying to find an agent to represent it to publishers, and then shelved it as the demands of other parts of my life took priority. Now, I've posted it online at . Please share that link widely.

It's a 100,000-word book in a genre I would describe as dark anime science fiction. Drugs, sex, religion, gangsters, catgirls.

Take it to Zdrabko

Sunday 23 February 2020, 12:16

Many years ago, when I was less than half my current age, I worked at a software company where they had a unique engineering process I haven't seen anywhere else. It was called something like "taking it to Strafco"; it wasn't a written-down process and when I first heard about it I wasn't sure of the spelling, but that was what it sounded like.

Apache, PHP-FPM, chroot jails, MediaWiki, MySQL, and so on

Wednesday 22 January 2020, 12:12

These are some notes on configuring Apache httpd to run large PHP applications via PHP-FPM in separate chroot jails. I recently had occasion to do that, and I had to find bits and pieces of information about it in many different places around the Net, so I'm compiling these notes both for my own future use and for anyone who's contemplating a similar project. There are a number of subtle details needed to do things like get TeX working (needed for MediaWiki math), configure process-pool policy, and so on. I'm not going to go into much detail on why someone would want to do this, nor background systems administration concepts like "What is a chroot jail?".


Thursday 12 December 2019, 10:53

古風な活字とき、ページがよく飾られました。 いろいろのディングバットありました。 LaTeXでその活字をしましょう。

これは「TeX and LaTeX Advent Calendar 2019」の13日目の記事です。 12日目はMahito TANNOさんです。 14日目はhak7a3さんです。 外の年も記事を書きました。 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018

The Genie speaks

Sunday 6 October 2019, 08:34

Once there was a Sultan who fucking loved science. That was the slogan embroidered upon his robe.

A palindrome

Thursday 19 September 2019, 09:09

From roughly 1999, when I completed a Bachelor's degree and started a Master's, until 2016, when I left academia at the postdoctoral research level, I regularly received solicitations from recruiters trying to interest me in work in the computing industry. I generally ignored and rejected these solicitations - mostly because I wanted an academic career instead, and also partly because the recruiters steadfastly refused to use ever email as a first-class communications medium, instead trying to "set up a phone call" for any substantive communication. More about the telephone thing another time.

For now, the point I'd like to highlight is that as soon as I left the academic path and updated my LinkedIn profile to say I no longer worked at a university, I stopped hearing from these people. My qualifications are the same or better now; it would seem (since I now have some business experience, and I'm no longer committed to research as a career) that I might be a better prospect, with more freedom and possible interest to listen to what they have to say; but the solicitations have just dried up. It's almost like they only want the one that they can't get.

Eight of Cups

Sunday 7 July 2019, 11:44

Summer 2019 marks eleven years since I completed my PhD, and three since I decided to stop looking for an academic job. I want to write about that but it's hard to do so. I've written and thrown away many drafts of comments on my own experience, what was promised, what I found instead, and where I stand now.

When they bring in the idols

Wednesday 1 May 2019, 16:51

I once saw the leaders of a student group insert a paragraph at the start of a pagan ritual, pointedly giving it top billing over the other introductory material, to pledge allegiance to one side of a then-current highly controversial issue in international politics. "We believe..." was the statement they read out in circle, speaking without permission on behalf of me and the rest of the group, ahead of something I certainly did not believe, something that was not closely connected to the personal experience of anybody present, that had nothing to do with the subject of the main ritual, and indeed was worded in such a way as to invoke a pantheon completely alien from the one I'd come to practice that day; incidentally breaking the rules of our own practice regarding what and who gets invoked first. It was not "We believe that China should end its occupation of Tibet" supported by some quotes from Buddhist scripture and inserted at the start of a Wiccan rite, but that's the kind of thing you should imagine.

Horse girls considered

Thursday 11 April 2019, 13:27

Uma Musume Pretty Derby (ウマ娘プリティーダービー, hereinafter UMPD; the first couple words translate as "horse girl") was a hit anime series in 2018. It quickly became a favourite topic of fan artists on Twitter and the federated network, largely because of the cute character designs. It's basically a sports anime, which is not exactly my favourite style, and it took me some time to get around to watching it, but I finally did in December and I became interested in a number of questions about the world-building.

I'm sure UMPD was never meant to be "hard SF" and the writers, throughout the series, just did what they thought would be cute without regard to whether it made any sense; but let's see how far we can go on the assumption that this show actually does depict a consistent world that makes some sort of sense. What kind of world is it?