Category Archives: academic

Even the dedication to reason and truth might, for all we know, change drastically.

The following letter, written by Carl Sagan, is one of the appendices of the “Expert Judgement on Markers To Deter Inadvertent Human Intrusion into the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant” document, completed in 1993. It’s on page 331, and it hurts to read. Dr. D. Richard Anderson Performance Assessment Division 6342 Sandia National Laboratories Albuquerque, New […]

Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Economics

Late update: This post has been added to this excellent list of falsehoods programmers believe, and I’m pretty proud of that. Two similar jokes rolled past me late last week, the first when I mentioned that running a Java program in JVM in a Linux VM in a container on AWS is a very inefficient […]

The Thousand Year Roadmap

I made this presentation at Seneca’s FSOSS a few weeks ago; some of these ideas have been rattling around in my brain for a while, but it was the first time I’d even run through it. I was thoroughly caffeinated at the time so all of my worst verbal tics are on display, right as […]

Opaque Symbology

A collection of highway traffic signage unused pending an economical symbolic representation: Warning: Ornery Local Stereotype Completely Unremarkable Natural Phenomenon: 2 KM Something Will Happen And The Right Decision Will Seem Obvious In Hindsight But Nobody In The Car Will Ever Let You Live Down What You Did, Next 500 M If There Were No […]

Hostage Situation

(This is an edited version of a rant that started life on Twitter. I may add some links later.) Can we talk for a few minutes about the weird academic-integrity hostage situation going on in CS research right now? We share a lot of data here at Mozilla. As much as we can – never […]

Citation Needed

I may revisit this later. Consider this a late draft. I’m calling this done. “Should array indices start at 0 or 1? My compromise of 0.5 was rejected without, I thought, proper consideration.” — Stan Kelly-Bootle Sometimes somebody says something to me, like a whisper of a hint of an echo of something half-forgotten, and […]

Crypto Is Not A Panacea

I was going to write this to an internal mailing list, following this week’s PRISM excitement, but I’ve decided to put it here instead. It was written (and cribbed from other stuff I’ve written elsewhere) in response to an argument that encrypting everything would somehow solve a scary-sounding though imprecisely-specified problem, a claim you may […]

On The Perpetual Threat Of Regressive Nonsense In Children’s Literature

We took Arthur’s Science Fair Trouble out of the library for Maya the other day, and let me tell you: I had always suspected that most of what adults tell you is bullshit, but children’s books live at some horrible Venn overlap of Moore and Sturgeon’s respective Laws where 90% of everything is not only […]


According to Wolfram Alpha, there are 2.9 x 10^6 dietary calories in a cubic meter of cheese, 142829% of your recommended daily caloric intake. Furthermore, there are 8.468×10^47 cubic meters in a cubic light year. From this, we can conclude that there are 2.455 x 10^54 dietary calories in a cubic light year of cheese. […]

Shooting Holes In The Story

I don’t think I’m actually done this, so just pretend it’s a late draft. I might try to tighten it up later, but here you go; I hope you’re interested. Yeah, this is still about Portal 2, so bear with me. It’s not like Gears Of War deserves to be dissected like this, you know? […]