Pinned oot

Friends, I'm a terribly incompetent social medialyte—I don't see many toots since I follow almost no one, don't check local or federated timelines, don't get follow/fave/boost notifications—just at some point I lost the taste for being plugged in.

But! I'm more than happy to read, learn, discuss, answer, and mentor:

or whatever 🤗!

(I'll pin this toot, so don't link to it!)

Pinned oot

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

(Don't link to this toot, it'll be edited+deleted, but it'll be pinned to my profile on

“Observation and experience can and must drastically restrict the range of admissible scientific belief, else there would be no science. But they cannot alone determine a particular body of such belief. An apparently arbitrary element, compounded of personal and historical accident, is always a formative ingredient of the beliefs espoused by a given scientific community at a given time.”
—Kuhn, ibid.

I love this! I’ll spare everyone my thoughts on how this applies to software engineering :)

Aha, jumped the gun!, just one paragraph later:

“the early developmental stages of most sciences have been characterized by continual competition between a number of distinct views of nature, each partially derived from, and all roughly compatible with, the dictates of scientific observation and method.”
—Kuhn, ibid.

“What beliefs about the stars, for example, does he bring to the study of chemistry or electricity? Which of the many conceivable experiments relevant to the new field does he elect to perform first? And what aspects of the complex phenomenon that then results strike him as particularly relevant to an elucidation of the nature of chemical change or of electrical affinity.”
—Kuhn, ibid.

Path dependence in the sciences: many possible approaches, all scientific, with various problems.

“Instructed to examine electrical or chemical phenomena, the man who is ignorant of these fields but who knows what it is to be scientific may legitimately reach any one of a number of incompatible conclusions. Among those legitimate possibilities, the particular conclusions he does arrive at are probably determined by his prior experience in other fields, by the accidents of his investigation, and by his own individual makeup.“
—Thomas , *The Structure of Scientific Revolutions*, chap. 1.

Whom can you insult. Whom can’t you. What happens when you do anyway. What techniques are you taught as children to deal with insults—wanting to make them and then receiving them.

I don’t particularly care for your unique characters in unique circumstances.

I want to taste your society’s fabric.

How frequently your garbage is collected. How you far you go to get food. Who tells you what to do. How much do you pay in taxes. How often is the tax man replaced. How do you raise capital for an uncertain venture.

Yeah. Sociological storytelling.

I probably won't read Game of Thrones, and I loved The Wire—this interview with David Simon about the heinous atrocities visited upon Baltimore's black neighborhoods by then-mayor Martin O'Malley has shaped my views on how racism tactically ruins the oppressed and the oppressors:

But other than those two, what other sociological storytelling epics, in which mediums, are out there?

Tolstoy? Titus Livy? Emma manga?

Naomi 's "Spinning Silver" novel blew me away on the strength of its sociological storytelling—not just worldbuilding but showing how social parameters configure individuals' universe of options, even if a character's final response is creative and out-of-the-box.

I was vaguely aware that she was doing some very funny things with the tsar, and some clever things with the ice dude, but idgaf about that shit.

The choices for women. For Jews. The shackles of society. Give me more of that.

"The hallmark of sociological storytelling is if it can encourage us to put ourselves in the place of any character, not just the main hero/heroine, and imagine ourselves making similar choices."

What other works of sociological storytelling are recommended?

I absolutely love sociological storytelling, though today's the first time I've heard the phrase. I often tell people "Yeah you gotta check out X! The society-building is amazing! Just ignore the parts about the characters."

“In sociological storytelling, the characters have personal stories and agency, of course, but those are also greatly shaped by institutions and events around them. The incentives for characters’ behavior come noticeably from these external forces, too, and even strongly influence their inner life. … The overly personal mode of storytelling or analysis leaves us bereft of deeper comprehension of events and history.”

‘“Unhappy is the land that breeds no hero.”
“Unhappy is the land that needs a hero.”’

“Well-run societies don’t need heroes, and the way to keep terrible impulses in check isn’t to dethrone antiheros and replace them with good people. Unfortunately, most of our storytelling—in fiction and also in mass media nonfiction—remains stuck in the hero/antihero narrative.”

These are the money observations near the end. The media studies analysis earlier in the piece is also very interesting.

"It’s reasonable, for example, for a corporation to ponder who would be the best CEO or COO, but it’s not reasonable for us to expect that we could take any one of those actors and replace them with another person and get dramatically different results without changing the structures, incentives and forces that shape how they and their companies act in this world."

Zeynep Tüfekçi is dropping 🔥 through a most unexpected angle: Game of Thrones.

22 boosted

@22 To think that way back when I wanted to learn Japanese but ended up writing software (in Emacs) to learn Japanese instead of learning, people recommended the Leitner system to me... then I switched to Flashcards, also in Emacs, people started talking about SM5, Damien Elmes took over, switched to Python, creating Anki: it all happened on IRC!

But irrespective of the methodology used, I just didn’t make enough time for Japanese. 😭

Shit I have to rehydrate my mental cache of all this calculus 😣…

Oh my fucking god, Robert Kern—the Numpy/Scipy guru—found a major breakthrough in my Bayesian scheduling algorithm:

and it looks brilliant. The analytical simplification he found is going to simplify a big chunk of the implementation.

That face when one of your heroes—the person who you thank when they merge a critical improvement to Scipy that you’ve been asking for—drops a bombshell in your little open-source project: 🌝

‘Thankfully, the field of Computer Science has been optimizing algorithms and data structures for storing and sorting data for the last 60 years, so there were plenty of ideas about how to proceed.’


Computer science and engineering and programming are really fun, and high-paying and civilized, and I want to welcome more people into it rather than keep them out. That’s I think what frustrates me about our industry’s shit hiring practices.

Deep problem solving is awesome :). 👍 Discord.

Juicy :

‘this posed one big problem on the server side: We needed a data structure capable of holding hundreds of thousands of entries, sorted in a particular way that can accept and process tons of mutations, and can report back indices of where things are being added and removed. … let’s put on our Computer Science helmets and go spelunking into the caves of data structure design.‘

Finally! A compelling need for advanced computer science!

Thanks to some good feedback, I’m going to rewrite this post, when not sleep-deprived, and to focus around my experience breaking into tech with a strong portfolio of projects rather than getting good at little puzzlers.

The complaints of hiring managers enraged by the number of applicants who can’t code are something I’m still trying to figure out.


This blog post "Senior Developers are Getting Rejected for Jobs" talked about how senior devs are failing those awful but how companies love that shit, and predicting we'll see more HackerRank:

It motivated me to concatenate a few notes about my 2018 job search into a disorganized post:

6.5 months. 50-55 resumes. I'm fairly sure this is not useful or interesting except in a vanity sort of way, forgive me.

.com and have given us free ways to deploy Node.js backends for some years now.

I've written JS backends in no small part because these high-quality, highly-reputable free hosts exist.

.it brings that to a slew of other languages! JVM languages, .NET CLR languages, Haskell, Crystal, Rust, yum! (No Racket yet—excited to try it due to .)

Ah, I see that Zeit Now also has Go, Rust, etc. support!

Will I finally diversify my backends again? I'm excited to find out!

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Octodon is a nice general purpose instance. more