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Ideas I frequently invoke:

- Philip Guo on silent technical privilege

- Bryn Hammond on silenced history

- Duncan Watts on cumulative advantage, or, MusicLab, in the top ten scientific experiments ever

- AnimeFeminist for their critiques and season guides

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“Fischer Black thought that got the right price within a factor of two about 90 per cent of the time… I knew Fischer pretty well, and he didn’t throw numbers like those around lightly; he thought long and hard about them, even though they sound like the kind of rough figures other people would come up with quickly. We argued quite a bit about them, and I pushed for ‘within a factor of two about half the time’.” —Aaron Brown

*Financial Risk Management for Dummies* chapter 4 = 🔥

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“Taking less risk than is optimal is not safer; it just locks in a worse outcome. In competitive fields, doing less than the best often means failing completely. Taking more risk than is optimal also results in a worse outcome, and often leads to complete disaster.”
—Aaron Brown, “Red-Blooded Risk”

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MFW one of the most talented devs on my team feels embarrassed after fucking up their branch in : 🤕 and invoke on how terrible Git UX is (

New brief, too technical article on finance/risk analysis: trying to recreate 's "Bayesian" value-at-risk and running into a problem I can't overcome. Maybe someone will explain to me in five years what I did wrong.

Checking in 

Everyone, I am alive and well and as happy as one can be in 2020. Hope you all are doing well too. I'm staying busy trying to avoid news (flexing that privilege…), writing a bit of code here and there (hoping to publish a short note about value-at-risk in a couple of days), doing some simple English-to-Japanese translation exercises.

@mplouffe forgive me for reaching out directly and burdening you with this idle thought, but maybe there's a phrase I can search for—

If everyone in the country (or the world) began budgeting aggressively, and, following conventional wisdom, invested the bulk of their concomitant savings in the stock market, what would happen? Naturally the stock market would rise but the listed companies would have fewer sales because of decreased consumption, which seems paradoxical? Is this a "savings glut"?

Is there a Swagger/OpenAPI for Mastodon server-server API? This garrulous spec is killing me

I love this tidbit in @ 38:50—paraphrasing:

Question: "It takes a lot of social capital to tell someone they have to totally rethink their approach in their thousand-line pull request"

Farhan: "You've never worked at Shopify! It’s inherent in humans—sunk cost—but I’ve seen lots and lots of pre-existing work thrown out because we realized we found a better way… the learning is still there—you learned! The code is not the thing: you learned, so let’s write it properly."

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Wherein I solicit programmers' advice and invoke Stefan Knüpfer, Steinway's chief piano tuning technician 

The dev who can't implement bubble sort without some handholding—within <10 sessions implementing various similar low-level algorithms, they'll be able to handle it on their own.

But they can immediately begin creating value by gluing together APIs (other people's and ours) and solving our problems.

And they can be incredibly helpful both detecting and fixing infelicities or unsmoothed edges in your API representation of your business domain.

I'm fine with you not knowing how to solve a puzzle. We'll learn how to do that. We can teach you other people's APIs (SQL, Pandas, STL, Unity, React, etc.). Because we want you to bring your instincts about the business domain and make sure our APIs represent our best understanding of that domain.


I promised Stefan Knüpfer: there's a whole documentary on his work tuning the pianos of the world's great soloists but here's a great starter:

Knüpfer creates the pianos. Aimard plays the pianos.

Asking someone to be able to do bubble sort is confusing the pianist from the tuner. I see the people who deign languages and runtimes and external libraries as Knüpfers. Crucial, but orthogonal to my task as a pianist—of using the tool to do something else.


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Wherein I solicit programmers' advice and invoke Stefan Knüpfer, Steinway's chief piano tuning technician 

To clarify my position a bit—I do know people who can visualize an algorithm for a code puzzle in their heads and then throw down the code at the speed of typing ( and note, Slava is as far as I know a wonderful and humane engineer and leader—he co-founded RethinkDB), and I think that skill is neither necessary nor sufficient to succeed in the day-to-day dev work I do, of building apps. I believe if someone can't implement a working bubble sort in an hour, I can teach them what they need to know in another hour, and they'll be able to contribute to my codebase just as effectively.

I feel that the bulk of my work can be broken down into three types:

- writing low-level things (sorts, database drivers, DOM manipulation libraries, numerical special functions): 1% of my time, 5% in importance, because while it'll probably be buggy and incomplete, it does occasionally unlock a competitive edge

- gluing together APIs others have designed, APIs of varying levels of quality: 80% of my time, 20% in importance because this is what actually delivers value to my users

- ensuring that the APIs that *we've* built for *our* application reflecting *our* understand of *our* users and domain: 19% of my time, 80% in importance, because I completely agree with Antirez' blog post about the importance and value of APIs that are as perfectly-matched to your domain as humanly possible. This is what ensures that we continue being able to deliver for our users, with minimal technical debt.

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Wherein I solicit programmers' advice and invoke Stefan Knüpfer, Steinway's chief piano tuning technician 

I trust the opinions of those here. Antirez, creator of Redis, excellent C programmer and API designer, tweeted this: (the thread goes both up and down from this link, it'd be helpful to scroll up then read)

He says (paraphrasing) that

(0) while programming is many things to many people,

(1) to him, part of programming is being able to implement a bubble sort or selection sort (slow, quadratic algorithms that are rarely seen outside beginner courses) under pressure—in an interview or on the job,

(2) and, if you struggle to produce a working bubble sort, he expects you will likely also struggle with other day-to-day dev tasks.

I would mostly disagree, but more than that, I was surprised to hear Antirez say all this, because he has also spoken at length about the importance of getting the API design right. He talks about spending days working and reworking an API:

"I really mean it when I say *days*, just for the API. Writing drafts, starting the implementation shaping data structures and calls, and then restarting from scratch to iterate again in a better way, to improve the design and the user facing part. Why I do that, delaying features for weeks? Is it really so important? Programmers are engineers, maybe they should just adapt to whatever API is better to export for the system exporting it."

I had implicitly believed that anyone who valued the importance of API quality, of making them ergonomic and perfectly-matched to the problem at hand, would simultaneously believe that implementing things like bubble sort was UNimportant. So his tweet thread above made me realize that you can believe in both the importance of classic programmer puzzles AND of API design (and presumably use).

New blog post, nothing interesting (really: it's about stock market excess returns) shows the real excess returns of S&P500 over Treasuries over all 40-year horizons of monthly dollar-cost averaging. It shows the median 40-year-excess-return over 150~years is 1.6%~, and for long stretches it was negative, meaning investors were punished for buying stocks instead of risk-free Treasuries.

Includes links to a Google Sheets version of the same calculation as the TypeScript code, which gives me hope that I don't have a bug.

(Todo: evaluate the real excess returns of portfolios mixing stocks, bonds, etc.)

(Todo: factors.)

New blog post. “Learning about risk, for kids and grownups”, about and , and a web app to play hold ‘em with your pandemic circle: (link to app therein)

Needed: tutorial cookbooks that rather than giving you 50 hard recipes, instead give a graded progression of dishes to level you up, to get you used to the various ideas in the cuisine.

Must be written by aunties and with dishes for home cooking (not restaurant food).

We have a super-accurate weight scale.

a kleenex (paper tissue) weighs 1.33 grams.

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Things I'd like to see more in secondary worlds:

- Hunter-gatherer societies that acknowledge their sophistication and complexity and don't relegate them to noble savages
- Matrilineal societies that are not some caricature of "matriarchy"
- Nuanced ideas of gender and sex, dammit
- Religion and spirituality that are actually real and important guiding principles in characters' and communities' lives and not just exotic color or a source of supernatural power
- "Soft" skills like negotiation, relationship management, homemaking, spirituality, gardening, caregiving etc. being given actual importance. So sick of women characters' worth being decided solely by how good they are at violence, and physically disabled people being left out altogether unless they have Disability Superpowers.

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The lack of this kind of variety is why I've largely checked out of fantasy and started taking more interest in history tbh. It's not that great stories haven't been told under more conventional action-adventure frameworks, it's that they all feel the *same* after a while and I'd rather go to a much richer, diverse source: real life.

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I will always retoot beating up police with their ballsacks.

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. What a badass. I will buy and read anything anyone strongly recommends about her story.

'It means he doesn’t relate to the feeling that he could be the next driver to be unjustifiably stopped and searched, asked to get out of his car (or worse) for a broken taillight or verbally ridiculed or assaulted for someone else’s assumptions about his sexual orientation. It means he doesn’t think the rise of white supremacy in America is going to affect or diminish his ability to “stay focused” on his company’s mission. It means…' — on 🔥

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