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Paul Wright's blog
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25th Aug 2020, 09:29 pm - Welcome to my blog
I'm Paul Wright, a software engineer based in Cambridge, England. You can now find my public blog on my own site: http://www.noctua.org.uk/blog/. I'll be crossposting from there to LJ but you'll only be able to comment on my site. See you over there.
Cheeky Nando’s, or, what went wrong? | Idiot Joy Showland
Top bants of the apocalypse.
(tags: nandos apocalypse post-apocalyptic bants funny)
Real Life First Person Shooter (Chatroulette version) – YouTube
British film company put together a live action first person shooter and invited people on Chatroulette to play. The “making of” video linked at the end explains how they did it.
(tags: chatroulette shooter first-person live games)
Work Hard, Live Well — Life Learning — Medium
“So it is with deep sadness that I observe the current culture of intensity in the tech industry. My intellectual conclusion is that these companies are both destroying the personal lives of their employees and getting nothing in return. A candidate recently deciding between Asana and another fast growing company told me that the other team starts their dinners at 830pm to encourage people to stay late (he’s starting here in a few weeks). I also hear young developers frequently brag about “48 hour” coding sprints. This kind of attitude not only hurts young workers who are willing to “step up” to the expectation, but facilitates ageism and sexism by indirectly discriminating against people who cannot maintain that kind of schedule.”
(tags: work productivity rest crunch overtime)

Originally posted at Name and Nature. You can comment there. There are currently comments.
How Trigger Warnings Are Hurting Mental Health on Campus – The Atlantic
American identity politics and the attempt to curtail academic freedom with talk of triggers and microaggressions and all that jazz. “You might call this impulse vindictive protectiveness.” (Via Mefi, where the mods deleted a posting someone made linking to this, disappointingly: Mefi’s mods seem to have crossed the ID politics event horizon recently)
(tags: ptsd trigger psychology university america academia microagression.)

Originally posted at Name and Nature. You can comment there. There are currently comments.
I spent a weekend at Google talking with nerds about charity. I came away … worried. – Vox
Apparently the Effective Altruism movement is no longer all about mosquito nets and is now rather more excited about the coming Singularity and whether the machines will be friendly. Arguments for giving money to MIRI and similar organisations (instead of buying mosquito nets) rely on correctly estimating tiny probabilities, though.
(tags: altruism charity x-risk artificial-intelligence miri nick-bostrom effective-altruism)

Originally posted at Name and Nature. You can comment there. There are currently comments.
17th Jul 2015, 12:13 am - Link blog: bible, literature, history
ladysisyphus: So You Want To Read The Bible
ladysisyphus on Bible translations, and why you probably shouldn’t just try to read it cover to cover.
(tags: bible religion literature history)

Originally posted at Name and Nature. You can comment there. There are currently comments.
ISIS and the Lonely Young American – The New York Times
The NYT has a story about radical Muslims attempting to convert an American Christian and convince her to travel to join them in Syria, all done via the Internet, mainly Twitter and Skype.
(tags: isis islam internet twitter religion radicalisation)
Start-up Costs: ‘Silicon Valley,’ ‘Halt and Catch Fire,’ and How Microserfdom Ate the World «
It’s 20 years since “Microserfs” was published. Here’s an article looking at the changing portrayals of the tech industry in fiction, from Microserf’s optimism to a more cynical view today.
(tags: microserfs douglas-coupland technology silicon-valley programming)
A Quite Long Review of Edward Feser’s Aquinas: A Beginner’s Guide | Thing of Things
Ozy reads Edward Feser so you don’t have to.
(tags: aquinas thomist edward-feser metaphysics teleology causality)

Originally posted at Name and Nature. You can comment there. There are currently comments.
Stephen Law: ‘Skeptical Theism and the Pandora’s Box Question’ – YouTube
Stephen Law did a half hour talk on the sceptical theist response to the Problem of Evil (“you can’t know that God doesn’t have good reasons for allowing some apparently gratuitous evils merely because you can’t think of such reasons”), and how adopting such a response leads to more general scepticism about just about everything (the Pandora’s Box objection, as he calls it).
(tags: theodicy theology religion philosophy problem-of-evil stephen-law epistemology)

Originally posted at Name and Nature. You can comment there. There are currently comments.
For American pundits, China isn’t a country. It’s a fantasyland. – The Washington Post
“Whenever I want to be cheered up about the future of my adopted country, I turn to American pundits. The air here might be deadly, the water undrinkable, the Internet patchy and the culture strangled, but I can always be reassured that China is beating America at something, whether it’s clean energy, high-speed rail, education or even the military. Over the past decade, American audiences have become accustomed to lectures about China, like a schoolboy whose mother compares him with an overachieving classmate.”
(tags: china america politics)
Ken MacLeod – Socialism and transhumanism
“The challenge for humanists and liberals in the face of a transhuman future is daunting: to replace the socialist project — or to revive it. Without something like it to underpin a sense of common human identity and common human interest, people will divide on the basis of other identities. Many on the left, of course, have found in identity politics a replacement for the universalism of their past. But identity can also be seized on by the far right. It can feed a resentful indifference to the plight of others that comes from having one’s own plight disregarded.”
(tags: socialism politics transhumanism ken-macleod identity-politics humanism)

Originally posted at Name and Nature. You can comment there. There are currently comments.
Is a ‘lack of belief’ the best we can do? | The Philosopher’s Groan
“There is a common view – one you yourself may hold – that the only intellectually honest position for an atheist to have is a ‘lack of belief’ in gods. Today I’m going to argue that this definition is confused, and should be retired. It is too broad to be useful, and that we ought to reserve the word ‘atheist’ for active disbelief in the existence of gods. Furthermore, I’ll try to demonstrate that we have a much stronger positive philosophical case for rationally believing that no god – theistic or deistic – exists.”
(tags: atheism philosophy agnosticism belief)

Originally posted at Name and Nature. You can comment there. There are currently comments.
Git from the inside out
If you’re someone who understands things best by knowing how the guts of them work, here’s a good post on Git’s insides.
(tags: git programming revision-control internals blob hash)
Losing their religion: The hidden crisis of faith among Britain’s young Muslims | Global | The Guardian
The experiences of ex-Muslims in the UK, who face ostracism and maybe even violence, as well as finding it hard to find help because of worries about Islamophobia. Sulaiman, who is featured in the article, is a former colleague of mine. “Shams believes that this kind of gesture and the NUS decision last month to lobby alongside Cage, the militant Islamic prisoners pressure group, undermines the position of dissenting Muslims. “What it does is to say to reformists and secularists, you’re not really Muslims.””
(tags: ex-muslim islam apostasy politics multiculturalism uk islamophobia)

Originally posted at Name and Nature. You can comment there. There are currently comments.
Ground Control | George Monbiot
“No progressive party can survive the corporate press, corrupt party funding systems and conservative fear machines by fighting these forces on their own terms. The left can build only from the ground up; reshaping itself through the revitalisation of communities, working with local people to help fill the gaps in social provision left by an uncaring elite. Successful progressive movements must now be citizen’s advice bureau, housing association, scout troop, trade union, credit union, bingo hall, food bank, careworker, football club and evangelical church, rolled into one. Focus groups and spin doctors no longer deliver.”
(tags: monbiot george-monbiot politics left progressive latin-america)
Henry Marsh’s “Do No Harm” – The New Yorker
The New Yorker looks at Henry Marsh, author of “Do No Harm”.
(tags: books surgery medicine brain neurosurgery)

Originally posted at Name and Nature. You can comment there. There are currently comments.
Whig Party | Britain’s original progressive political party is back
Crikey. It’s like a Neal Stephenson novel: “The Whigs are returning to British politics. We are going into the 2015 General Election to provide a fresh choice to the British people, and to show that everyone can get involved in politics. Our campaign will be positive and optimistic, both online and in the streets. The Whigs are back. Come and join the party.”
(tags: whig politics election history uk general-election)
David Hume and the sensible knave | Ask a Philosopher
Is there a response to Hume’s “sensible knave”, who does evil only when he can be reasonably sure of not getting found out?
(tags: david-hume hume morality knave philosophy glaucon)
Why I Don’t Read The News Anymore | Thing of Things
I don’t, either, for roughly the same reasons.
(tags: news ozymandias psychology availability politics)
A fixed-term hung Parliament? | British Government and the Constitution
Prof Adam Tomkins explains the Fixed Term Parliaments Act. Points out that, while a defeat which is not a motion of no confidence does not allow an early election, nothing compels a Prime Minister to stay in office: Labour could hold the threat of Milliband’s resignation (and the Tories being invited to form a government) over the SNP in order to pass a budget, for example.
(tags: constitution government politics election confidence)
The British press has lost it – POLITICO
Even the broadsheets don’t bother to hide the fact that they’re rooting for the Tories because their oligarch owners told them to (except the Graun, of course). No one in my liberal bubble actually reads print newspapers, they just share links to the Graun’s “Comment is Dumb” section on Facebook. Still, I might not be typical, so it’s all a bit worrying.
(tags: press newspapers journalism politics britain election)

Originally posted at Name and Nature. You can comment there. There are currently comments.
21st Apr 2015, 11:03 am - Elsewhere: God, cosmology, complexity

Spot the godOver on top cosmologist Sean Carroll’s blog, there’s a guest post by his fellow top cosmologist Don Page, who is a Christian. Page was responding to Carroll’s debate with William Lane Craig. Page does not find Craig’s Kalam Cosmological Argument persuasive, but has his own reasons for being a Christian, which you can read about over there (spoilers: maybe God is the simplest explanation for the fact that the universe is orderly; also the Resurrection happened).

The comment thread beneath the post is huge and goes off in all sorts of interesting directions. Page makes use of Bayes’ Theorem in his arguments. There are some people who use in their day jobs (rather than just reading Less Wrong and bullshitting, as I do) who respond to him, notably Bill Jefferys, staring here.

I’ve been commenting on and off. I reconstructed the threads I got involved in as the lack of threaded commenting over there makes it difficult to follow. I’ve been reading Peter Boghossian’s “A Manual For Creating Atheists” (which I hope to post about at some point) so I was trying for some Socratic dialogue and questioning of “faith” as a means of knowing. See how I got on:

Mathematicians wanted

I was interested in Daniel Kerr’s comments (for example, here, here, and finally here, in response to one of mine). He says that simplicity depends on a choice of mathematical language, but I thought this was just a constant factor. However, the comments rapidly go off into model theory and stuff about the Axiom of Choice, so I got lost. Can anyone comment on what he’s saying and whether he’s right?


Originally posted at Name and Nature. You can comment there. There are currently comments.
Peter Boghossian vs Tim McGrew – YouTube
Here’s an “Unbelievable” show in which Boghossian (“A Manual For Creating Atheists”) talks to Tim McGrew, who’s reasonably well known for his arguments in favour of belief in miracles. I’ve linked to a set of comments from “MrShamuto” where he undertakes more or less the process Boghossian describes in the books, of Socratic dialogue with “AdeToz”, a Christian. It is long and occasionally interrupted by other people who are bonkers, but it’s interesting to see Boghossian’s stuff in action.
(tags: street-epistemology epistemology peter-boghossian tim-mcgrew philosophy evidence unbelievable premier christian radio socratic)
W00tstock 5.0 – George RR Martin vs. Paul and Storm – YouTube
The singers of “Write like the Wind, George RR Martin” get a surprise.
(tags: game-of-thrones grrm george-rr-martin funny video wootstock)
List of testimonies from people who just know their religion is true
amymea, writing in the ex-Mormon Reddit, takes to task someone who argues that the “testimony of the spirit” is good evidence that Mormonism is true, by listing a bunch of other people who had strong feelings upon reading their own religious texts.
(tags: mormonism reddit feelings faith religion evidence)
Advanced Trolley Problems
Funny.
(tags: philosophy funny comic ethics trolley-problem)
What I’ve Learned About Female Desire From Reading
Mallory Ortberg is fun. “100% of women want to have sex with a man who embodies the fox version of Robin Hood from the cartoon Robin Hood, but most do not actually want to have sex with a fox or a man dressed as one.”
(tags: mallory-ortberg funny reading sex desire books)

Originally posted at Name and Nature. You can comment there. There are currently comments.
15th Apr 2015, 05:00 pm - Elsewhere: lindy conduct

I’ve been talking elsewhere, so I thought I’d make some posts about that.

Previously, I talked about the push to introduce codes of conduct for lindy hop events in the wake of a high profile sexual assault case. Over on Reddit, /r/SwingDancing saw quite a bit of discussion of the whole business, as you’d expect.

Someone calling themselves The Logical Lead started a Reddit discussion about a blog post of his and another discussion about where the boundaries of flirting are. His burden seems to be that Mobtown Ballroom’s Code bans flirting and victimises men, because of the third rule, which begins “Don’t treat the ballroom like a pick-up joint.”

He makes the true point that, in the recent case, things were made worse because the perpetrator was a famous and popular teacher. But he then went off the rails in saying that the community’s reaction was victimising men by targeting them rather than only dealing with the abuse of fame, and even implying that the codes would be abused by popular men to corner the market in women. I commented saying that, although the recent case was certainly about the misuse of fame, the discussion that followed allowed many women talk about problems they’d had, most of which were not with famous teachers.

On the question of differentiating flirting and harassment, this thread linked to Dogpossum’s own guide to dating dancers. Some people quibbled about Dogpossum’s advice, but I think the point is that if you’re asking how to do it and not fall foul of a code of conduct, you’re saying you’re not sure of your social skills and need rules. If you are skilled enough not to creep people out anyway, you can probably treat them more as guidelines.

I also bigged up the Northerners’ STEPS code and their FAQ, where they make it clear that “we certainly aren’t suggesting that dancers aren’t allowed to form romantic relationships at our events (including, a-hem, extremely short relationships)”.

On Metafilter, Reddit has a reputation as a terrible place full of MRAs, libertarians and other ne’er do wells, but The Logical Lead didn’t get a very good reception for his stuff, so I suppose it depends which sub-reddits you’re talking about.


Originally posted at Name and Nature. You can comment there. There are currently comments.
FtBCon2: Sexual Harassment Law and You – Google
Ken White (Popehat) talks about American laws related to harassment and convention policies.
(tags: conventions harassment law popehat)

Originally posted at Name and Nature. You can comment there. There are currently comments.
cmocka – unit testing framework for C
Nifty unit test framework which does the checking arguments and providing return values from stub/mocked functions which I tend to spend a bit of time re-creating each time I write a test.
(tags: test development programming testing unit-test C)
What cohabiting couples can to do put their financial house in order | Money | The Guardian
(tags: cohabitation finances will legal law money)

Originally posted at Name and Nature. You can comment there. There are currently comments.
20th Mar 2015, 01:13 am - Link blog: ad-hoc, gods, list, vimes
Mister Vimes’d Go Spare | Send in the Zeppelins!
One of the many online tribute threads for Terry Pratchett lead me to this fanfic about what happened after Sam Vimes died. Good stuff.
(tags: discworld fanfiction vimes gods terry-pratchett)
Temporary Mailing Lists | Hacking for Christ
Here’s a rough spec for something I’ve often wanted at work (less the “delete the archive after 2 weeks” part). Anyone seen an implementation of something like this?
(tags: email list ad-hoc)

Originally posted at Name and Nature. You can comment there. There are currently comments.
24th Feb 2015, 01:13 am - Link blog: death, life, cancer, money
The value of a life
“If you have money and want to save lives, you had better put a price on life… But don’t mix up the price of a life with the value of a life. I see this happen all too frequently. To correct this mistake, I’m going to tell a little story.”
(tags: economics life value cost money charity death)
Oliver Sacks on Learning He Has Terminal Cancer – NYTimes.com
Oliver Sacks has terminal cancer. He reflects on his life.
(tags: death cancer oliver-sacks david-hume)

Originally posted at Name and Nature. You can comment there. There are currently comments.
Feminism and The Search for Truth | The Merely Real
Chana Messinger’s response to the Scott Aaronson thing (on whether feminism hurts geek guys) is the best one. I learned the term “scrupulousity”.
(tags: scott-aaronson nerds feminism laurie-penny chana-messinger)
Hume and subjective/objective moral values
A Twitlonger page (which I guess is what we used to call a blog post) about Hume and the varied meanings of “subjective” and “objective” wrt morality.
(tags: hume david-hume subjective objective morality)
What Color is Your Function? – journal.stuffwithstuff.com
Interesting stuff about asynchronous programming.
(tags: async programming)

Originally posted at Name and Nature. You can comment there. There are currently comments.
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