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18th-Nov-2013 04:16 pm - Tir gan teanga: rap as Gaeilge.
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Sílim go mbeadh sé seo breá le Bar-Barra... is dócha.

Tá sé ceoltoir as an tSiombaib é, agus tá cuid focail na n-amhrán atá:
"Is gaeilgeoir mé, tá Gaeilge mo chroí..."




(Ní dóigh liom go beidh ar maith leat an ceol: tá sé duine ó an tSiombaib leis a chuid Gaeilge air, atá a bhí mé tú a éisteacht é.)


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Overload is a feature of autism, to the point were I would talk about how my autism interacts with my circumstance, but there is so much going on that I find myself unable to extract any particular thing to discuss: the forest is so big, I can't describe any trees.

So instead of talking about that, let me talk about television.

There are autists on TV, even if their attributes are usually inconsistent and subject to plausible deniability by the show's writers. That is: it doesn't matter how obvious that the traits are, the writers will deny that the character is anything of the sort. Presumably so that they can explain away any mistakes they make.

Still, there is Sheldon Cooper, and Temperance Brennan, and Data, and (I'm told) Abed Nadir.

Characters in historical features, however, are more difficult to nail down. Not least because the assumption seems to be that, in accordance with Age of Autism dogma, there weren't any autists before the 20th century.

Which is, of course, ridiculous.

Historical autists who could feign normality, or were in circumstances where they could function, were just folks who were odd. Autists who could not function were "idiots", and typically ignored in the records. If they lived that long.

There's a good argument that Fitzwilliam Darcy was on the spectrum, given how he was described as acting stiffly and formally, and abnormally so even by the standards of the time, but hiding behind his demeanour a rare kindness and sensitivity.

Sherlock Holmes, for different reasons, as well.

But as far as it goes, that would seem to be that, unless you include the archetypal absent-minded professor. And even that is typically a trope in its own right, and with only tangential connection to autistic traits as is typically presented.

And then there is Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, series 2, episode 8: "The Blood of Juana the Mad".

Spoilers and potential triggers ahead

Beatrice Mason is a student of medicine in the 1920s. When we first see her, she is not the only female in the class — indeed, the teacher of the dissection class is a woman — but the three women present are outnumbered by the men. When the sheet is pulled from the cadaver, supposed to be a woman in her thirties, and it is revealed to be an older man with a slit throat, Beatrice is the one who names him as Professor Katz. Her expression is one of surprise, rather than shock or despair.

Later we see the investigation enter Professor Katz' office, and it turns out that Beatrice was his research assistant. She gets distressed that strange people are invading the office. She gets even more distressed when a valuable mediaeval manuscript is missing from the safe.

Her reaction is to rush out to the empty corridor, and rest her forehead against a pillar. When Phryne (the heroine of the series) goes out, Beatrice says that she finds groups of people difficult to be around.

Later, when Beatrice is questioned, she reveals that she effectively lives in her office after she was kicked out of her rooming house after she was blamed for a fire. As a woman, she wasn't allowed to live in any of the residential colleges. She is very matter of fact about this.

Later we learn other things about Beatrice. She may not show it, but she says that she is sad that Professor Katz is gone. She only eats jam sandwiches. She hates it when people touch her books without gloves. When she says in response to an offer of a place to stay, that she "will consider it", she means exactly that, it's not a euphemism for "no". She looks distracted, but while looking around she picks up important details as quickly as does Phryne herself.

And she provides the vital clues to solving the mystery when not only has she transcribed the missing manuscript, not only had she found the hidden code, but when her transcription was stolen, it turns out that she had made separate transcriptions of the code alone.

Her difficulties are not played down: she is drugged because someone gives her a jar of spiked jam. She is lured to a boy's room by simply being invited. "It was polite to go. It's important to be polite." She is constantly being insulted, teased and excluded, and appears unaware, although she does describe knowing full well what's going on. Mostly.

Never once is the word "autism" uttered. It would be an anachronism if it were: Kanner's paper was still twenty years in the future. And yet, for those who know what they're looking at, there can be no question that that's what she is. It's not a tragedy, it's not played for laughs, it's not a source of superhuman powers, and it's not a quirk without consequence.

It's possible for the depiction of autism on television to be done right.


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25th-Oct-2013 09:25 pm - Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries
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The Blood of Juana the Mad

So... a researcher who obsesses over a mediaeval manuscript, who is autistic, and works at the University of Melbourne.


Hm.


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19th-Feb-2013 10:20 pm - Birthdays
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I seem to have misplaced a decade somewhere.

It's Miss A's tenth birthday today. how did that happen?

BRB, checking down the back of the couch...


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14th-Jan-2013 04:33 pm - 12th Night, as I remember it.
SCA
It turned out that the Cockatrice drawing I knocked off in a couple of hours appeared on the front cover of the Cockatrice publication. People have said that they like it, which is gratifying.


After a week of not quite panicking, things more or less worked for 12th night, heraldically speaking.

I ran Henri and Beatrice's last court, handing off to [personal profile] actreal for Teffania's Laurel ceremony, and only almost ruining it in the introduction.

The final court also included, amongst lots and lots of Cyphers, a Cockatrice, Prometheus, a couple of Silver Pegasi and a White Scarf, [personal profile] felinophile being admitted as a Pelican.

The final court segued straight into the investiture ceremony, which I also did the shouting for.

After lunch, the first court of Felix and Eva, handled by [personal profile] actreal. This was all about the Royal Household, and no awards (requiring entry into Canon Lore) were given.

After tourneys and other such entertainments, first court of the evening was run by Sorle, who passed off to the B&B Stormhold who allowed me to pass my Office of Goutte d'Eau off to [personal profile] pearl, who very shortly thereafter was also admitted as a Laurel.

Paul Mortar was granted a Golden Tear, there was another Cockatrice, a Star and Lily, and Dante the newly appointed Deputy Goutte d'Eau was granted an Award of Arms.

And [personal profile] actreal was made a Court Baron.

The chest I made at Mistress Antonia's workshop did not win the Arts and Sciences competition, but it was very handy to carry our feasting gear -- and it fits almost perfectly into the boot of Mim's car.

People said nice things about my shouting, including that they were entertained when I pronounced people's names as they were meant to be, not as they might be read out naively.


Sunday was at a site a long way away. [personal profile] actreal was not there, so I did the courts, and Sorle did his shouting duty at the tourney. One of the items of business was that the previous evening the children had chosen a king and queen by the finding of a bean in a cake. Miss A was the queen of the children. They came up in court to ask permission to hold a children's court, which was graciously granted (their Majesties seemed taken by the idea), and their majesties ran the King and Queen of the Children through a quick oath to Do The Right Thing, and granted them tokens. (Which was not expected or planned, but was a lovely touch.) Miss A in particular had a strong clear voice in court and her petition and answers were note-perfect.

During the day there was wandering, and talking, and Being Hit On The Head Lessons, and the Children's Court (they appointed their own lords and ladies of the court, and a herald, and gave out awards and prizes, and waved banners, and generally demonstrated that the College of Heralds and the various aspects of nobility will be in good hands when it comes their time.

I heralded the final court, which had a Golden Tear (for the Steward), a Star and Lily, several gifts and offers of fealty, and one huge glaring stuff-up on my part when the court was closed, we had had cheers for the King and Queen, and I then declared three cheers for "the Barons and Baronesses, the Peers, and the populace of Stormhold".

I didn't even realise I'd said that (at the top of my lungs) until the Kraé Glassians all looked at me horrified, gave confused cheers (knowing what I meant), and then informed me what I'd said.

Autopilot can be a bitch.

And there's documentary evidence of the coronation.

And Sorle Canon was right there, so all the CHAF forms went straight to him then and there, and it's already up on Canon Lore.


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5th-Jan-2013 09:42 pm - Cockatrice
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cockatrice by catsidhe
cockatrice, a photo by catsidhe on Flickr.

Something I drew.

1st-Jan-2013 12:02 am - 2013
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May this one be better than the last.


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3rd-Dec-2012 08:09 am - William Marshall Tourney and Feast
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I got sunburned on my shoulders, where my splendidly embroidered new tunic doesn't cover.

My new period boots worked wonderfully well, although the wrappings chafed my calves quite painfully.

The kids were mostly well behaved, except for an incident involving a river and a lost shoe.

The company was exceeding pleasant.

Mim and I were made companions of the Silver Drakkar. This was a huge surprise and honour (not least the unscripted acclamation), but it does explain why the Baron told me that Rocket had volunteered for the closing court, which came as news to Rocket himself. There was only one token, but when Mim went to Bash, she was given Baron Sven's own token, an even higher honour again.

I have opened applications for my replacement, with an announcement at court and a post on Stormlist. I would send the message to the Chronicler, but I don't know if Stormscroll would be out early enough. I got an approving message from a herald who liked the way I worded the post.



I interview for my own job tomorrow.


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A note to far too many organisations who have websites which are meant to deliver a service: Your website is overcomplicated, baroque, brittle, and absolutely unusable. You are paying your web devs to piss people off and chase them away. You are declaring that the disabled can just fuck right off because you would rather stab yourself in the head than make something accessible to them. You are what is wrong with the internet.

Telstra, I'm not just looking at you, I'm setting fire to you with my eyes. I wanted to see what mobile phones are available on my current plan... ideally which ones are available at $0 extra cost. That shouldn't be a hard thing to ask for. Not only did I used to be able to do it, it used to be easy.

Now, however...

First, you have made it extremely difficult to even find where my plan is described. I have to know the genus, family, and species of plan before I can compare instances. And I can't compare across plan genuses. And the web page just tells me that "phones are available", but there is nowhere, nowhere where I can find out which ones.

And when I was trying to look, the website popped up some javascript abomination or other to get my feedback. Which was intrusive, complicated, and didn't work. And then I went to give some feedback on my browsing experience, and you've made it so insanely complicated and baroque that I can't even figure out how to do that! I started off annoyed, then deeply annoyed, and then angry, at which point I wanted to give some pointed feedback. But the process of trying to figure out how to give feedback escalated my feelings to wanting to abuse you and all your web developers and user interface architects, to wanting to fill in the feedback form (wherever the hell it is) with a couple of megabytes of insults, cursewords and wishes for your horrible deaths, and then the desire to hunt you down with my feedback literally written on a sharp stake and giving you some "pointed feedback" in a very visceral and non-metaphoric manner.

The thing is, this sort of thing isn't that hard. It's not trivial, but it's a solved problem. You have had this functionality in the past, and you systematically stripped it out because ... because reasons? Because you literally hate us and want us to suffer? Because you are going out of your way to make it impossible to choose the sort of sensible plan I've had for decades and push me onto something which isn't as functional for only twice the price?

What you're doing is very clearly trying to look clever. And the thing about looking clever is that people or organisations who actually are clever don't need to work that hard to look it. Corollary: the harder you're trying to look clever, the more likely it is that you simply aren't. Corollary to the corollary: your website shows you up as a bunch of blithering fools, desperately signing up to the latest buzzword du jour in the frantic hope that you'll be taken seriously this time, all the time alienating the people who would want to use your service, and not fooling any of the ones who need to be convinced, except for the ones whose custom you don't want, but obviously deserve.


Summary: go stick your heads in a fucking pig, the whole fucking lot of you. Your obvious contempt for those who would dare attempt to become your customers on their terms is returned.


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I don't really think of myself as "disabled".

Even when I got the diagnosis of Asperger's. I mean, Asperger's is an Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Autism is classified as a disability, but this is how I've always been, so I don't feel any more "disabled" after the diagnosis than I did before.

Sure, there are things I can't do as well as most people, but usually I can work around them. "Please email that info to me, because I have already forgotten it." "Please, only one person talk at a time, otherwise I can't hear anyone." "Say again?" "I don't understand."

But then sometimes the walls fall down.

Last week was very difficult, but it could have been much worse.

The Tuesday before last, and the Friday before that, I had the visual halo of a migraine after going to the gym. This was disturbing – to say the least – so my wife, Mim, made an appointment for me at the doctor's.

And on the Wednesday evening – the evening before the appointment – my car's engine changed from running rough to tapping as I drove home from filling the tank. When I checked, the oil was basically dry.

So on Thursday morning Mim drove me to the doctor's appointment, where he told me I was probably dehydrated, and that I needed blood tests for everything. I was at high risk for Diabetes, high cholesterol, Lymph dysfunction, all sorts of things.

After the appointment, we went shopping and got a bottle of oil, and I filled the engine when we got home. I drove around the block, but the tapping didn't go away, so Mim called a mechanic, and we drove over for him to look at the car. It turned out that the tapping was fixable, the car needed a service (which I knew), and I had severely over-filled the engine, and was at risk of blowing the gaskets. We booked it in for a service the following Monday. Which meant that I would have to figure out the new train ticketing system to get to and from work.

On Saturday, Mim took me to get phlebotomised, which was relatively painless, even if it did delay my morning coffee by a couple of hours.

On Monday, she followed me to the mechanic's, and took me in to work. She gave her phone number, so that the mechanic would talk to her about the works required, and her mother drove the car home for us. Then Mim came and collected me from work. She also booked the followup doctor's appointment when I got notification that my results were in.

I'm not diabetic, by the way. (big sigh of relief.)

But that long tale, even with the happy endings (car is fixed, bloodwork looks normal, further gym sessions have been migraine-free), brought something else to light.

I could not have done any of it on my own.

Mim had long since found a medical clinic for us to go to, and had the number to hand. Mim knew the mechanic, and had his number to hand. Mim had organised half a dozen people in an intricate dance of planning over a week, over and above the usual juggling involved with being a mother of two. Mim neither froze nor panicked when plans changed and unexpected emergencies popped up. Mim could make phone calls without having to force herself to.

If it were not for Mim, I would have had to pick a doctor randomly out of the phone book, not having any idea where to go. At this point I would have been paralysed by the choice between dozens of unknowns, and very likely given it up as Too Hard.

I would have had to pick a garage out of the phone book, again, randomly. Again, paralysed by a choice between unknowns, again likely to have given it up, or at least put it off and put it off and put it off...

I would have been unable to ask for help, leading me to be stressed out by learning how to buy a train ticket in the new system. (Although that there is now a need to learn how to buy a train ticket is another rant, for another time.)

Even if I had been able to chose a doctor or mechanic, I would have been paralysed at the act of picking up the telephone and talking to them: an absolutely excruciating experience at the best of times, and the best of times is not when I'm worried about my health and my car and everything is failing at once and I need to cold call strangers and make snap decisions and complicated (for me) planning on the run.

With Mim looking out for me, everything turned out OK, and relatively without fuss, and quickly.

Without Mim, I would still be stressing about finding a doctor, and prevaricating about actually organising to go, and putting off dealing with the car, and catching public transport in the heat and the rain, and avoiding the gym because I didn't know what was causing the migraines, and generally freaking out. Every point would have been a mountain to overcome, where most people see gentle hills at worst. And that's if Mim were to have only been on holiday last week. Without her at all in my life then I wouldn't be living where I do, likely wouldn't have the friends or social interaction that I do, wouldn't eat as well as I do.

Whenever I've made a step towards independence in the past, it was only possible because friends and family have helped me. A school friend helped me move out of my father's house, and in with him. And then helped me arrange a flat of my own. Where I lived off takeaway, and never used the kitchen, and washed my clothes far less often than I should have, and was in the early stages of scurvy before other friends noticed and gave me a prod. And those friends helped me move in to their share house, and through them I met Mim.

I owe my independence to the help of others. I don't think I would have been capable of any of it without their help.

And it was luck that led me to them: it was because my father saw an ad for the entrance exam for a selective entry state school, and he took me to take that test, and I passed, and I chose Japanese instead of French or German, and I repeated year ten, and I joined the Stage Crew. If any of those things had not happened then I wouldn't have met any of these people, and I would not be where I am now.

I simply could not have done it without their help.

And so, by this luck, this series of strokes of luck, I am privileged. I am privileged in that while I have Asperger's, I don't have to think of myself as disabled.

Because other people have helped me in those things which I cannot handle on my own, simple and normal things which most people take for granted, like arranging a place to live, and eating, and seeing a doctor, and getting the car serviced, and dealing with minor crises, and so I am saved from most of those things which could so easily go so very wrong.

I love Mim. She is my wife, and my friend, and the mother of my children, and besides all that, the person who enables me to function as if I were normal. I cannot express how grateful I am to be so lucky.


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22nd-Oct-2012 04:05 pm - Forget Sheldon, Bones knows Aspie.
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Bones, season 8 episode 2: "The Partners in the Divorce"

Over the years Temperance Brennan's Asperger's (as near Word of God as we're likely to get [0]) has varied from subtle eccentricities to verging on caricature, but in the episode which showed here last night, "The Partners in the Divorce", they damn near nailed the core of the condition.

The plot is ostensibly about the investigation into the murder of a man whose body was found burning in a 44 gallon drum under a bridge. But that's incidental to the personal interactions going on. And the biggest one is between Booth and Brennan, dealing with recent events.

The context is that Brennan has just returned from three months on the run from the law, trying to clear her name after being framed for a murder. (She, of course, arranges for this to happen.) But in the meantime, she and Booth have been separated, and Booth has neither seen nor heard from Brennan or their baby, which Brennan took with her on the run.

When we first see them in this episode, Brennan is cooking breakfast, and we can see that Booth is trying to hide how upset he is. Brennan is cooking breakfast, usually Booth's job.

When they get to the crime scene, Booth is further upset when he steps in brain matter and his shoe is bagged as evidence, and snaps when Brennan starts giving orders relating to police procedure. He angrily starts giving orders relating to forensic procedures, and hops off. Brennan knows that he's upset, but has only the vaguest idea why.

As the case progresses, and they discover that they're investigating a Divorce Lawyer, she further upsets Booth (a Catholic) with her statements that marriages often end in divorce, and it's a good thing they aren't married.

Things get more and more tense, with Brennan aware that something is wrong, but unable to figure out what it is. When people hint at the reason, she rejects it as a stupid reason: she gives Booth the credit of being as logical as she is. But still, they are snapping at each other, both getting more and more upset at each other, and themselves.

The turning point is when Booth talks to Brennan in her lab, and they are calm and rational about things, they give each other a peck, and Booth leaves. Brennan is relieved that things are calming down (which is the interpretation I gave the interaction as well), until her intern asks what's wrong. When Brennan asks why, the intern says that whenever his parents are that polite to each other, it means things are about to explode.

And that's the moment when she realises that he could be pretending to be calm, and that she needs help to figure out what's going on.

Later that night she arrives home late. Booth is drinking. He asks her why she's late, primed to see something to get angry at, but this is defused when she says she was meeting with Sweets the psychologist, asking him for help to learn what she should do. And she says so with "There's something wrong with me."

That was what made the episode for me. It was the recognition that Aspies get into trouble because we can tell (sometimes) that someone's upset, but not be able to tell what they're upset at, and we get caught when someone else tells us that things are "fine", we can't tell that that's a lie. And when we realise what's going on, it's us with the malfunctioning systems. It's our fault that the other person's upset, because if we were better at being functioning human beings, we would have been able to tell that they were upset, and figured out at what, and known how to fix it.

It was the look on Brennan's face when she realised how little she knew about what was going on around her, and how close she was to everything unravelling around her, and her largely oblivious. Because that's a feeling I've had myself.

Is this what it's like to relate to a character on TV?



[0] http://www.nj.com/entertainment/tv/index.ssf/2010/02/how_tv_shows_try_or_choose_not.html:
"If we were on cable, we would have said from the beginning that Brennan has Asperger’s," Hanson says. "Instead, it being a network, we decided not to label a main character, for good or for bad. But those elements are in there."



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Gilgamesh
I would like to find the person who thought that blocking all northbound traffic through the Haymarket Roundabout was an acceptable, let alone a good, idea, and ask the felching crack-smoking microcephalic deskbound project manager of an excuse for an anthropod exactly when he became a fucking brain donor.

And the same for every single person who didn't kill this stunningly fucking stupid idea stone dead as ridiculous on its face.


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9th-Oct-2012 02:15 pm - How's your 16C French?
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Belle qui tiens ma vie, a pavane written by Thoinot Arbeau (a pseudonym for Jehan Tabourot) and published in Orchésographie in 1589.

The translation is my own, and any who know French better than I do (not difficult) are welcome, indeed, encouraged to submit corrections.


Belle qui tiens ma vieBeauty who holds my life
Captive dans tes yeux,Captive in your eyes.
Qui m'as l'ame ravieWho made my soul happy
D'un soubz-ris gracieux,With a gracious smile.
Viens tost me secourirCome soon to help me
Ou me fauldra mourir.Or I must surely die.
  
Pourquoy fuis tu mignardeWhy do you flee, dainty one
Si je suis pres de toy,If I am near to you
Quand tes yeulx je regardeWhen I look into your eyes
Je me perds dedans moyI lose myself within
Car tes perfectionsFor your perfections
Changent mes actions.Change my actions.
  
Tes beautéz et ta graceYour beauty and your grace
Et tes divins propos.And your divine words
Ont eschauffé la glaceAre hot ice
Qui me geloit les os,Which freezes my bones
Et ont remply mon cœurAnd have filled my heart
D'une amoureuse ardeur.With a loving heat
  
Mon ame souloit estreMy soul is wont to be
Libre de passions,Free of passions
Mais amour s'est faict maistreBut love is the true master
De mes affections,Of my affections
Et à mis soubs sa loyPut underneath its law
Et mon cœur et ma foy.Both my heart and my faith
  
Approche donc ma belleApproach then my lovely
Approche toy mon bien,Approach you, my dear
Ne me sois plus rebelleI will rebel no more
Puis que mon cœur est tien,Therefore my heart is yours
Pour mon mal appaiser,To ease my pain
Donne moy un baiser.Give me a kiss
  
Je meurs mon AngeletteI die, my little Angel
Je meurs en te baisant,I die as you kiss,
Ta bouche tant doucetteYour mouth so sweet
Va mon bien ravissantIt has ravished me well
A ce coup mes espritzTo blow my wits
Sont tous d'amour espris.They are all smitten by love
  
Plustost on verra l'OndeRather we see the Wave
Contre mont reculerAgainst the mountain break
Et plustost l'œil du mondeAnd rather the eye of the world
Cessera de brusler,Ceases to burn
Que l'amour qui m'époinctThat the love that stings me
Decroisse d'un seul poinct.Decreases from a single prick

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Gilgamesh
Seriously, what the hell is wrong with BSM Remedy when the client, which is a glorified web page and must be accessed through a browser (although to be fair, the previous version's dedicated client was, in essence, a glorified and fundamentally broken web browser with pretentions of adequacy), uses almost as much memory as an entire running VMware instance of WinXP?


BSM Remedy: levelling the playing field by making simple jobs as hard to do as complicated ones, and complicated ones impossible.

BSM Remedy: because the person designing the system has no idea what you do, and it shows.

BSM Remedy: because there's nothing like an ITIL-compliant job tracking tool; and this is, indeed, nothing like one.

BSM Remedy: because if the person who designed your implementation knew what they were doing, they'd be doing something important instead of designing your implementation.

BSM Remedy: management hates you and wants you to suffer.


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10th-Sep-2012 01:45 pm - Postscript
unhappy
And mention BSM Remedy or the "smart" url completion algorithms of Chrome or Firefox at the risk of sending me completely over the edge into a snarling weeping fit of frustration and rage.

I'm holding onto control by my badly manicured fingernails as it is.


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10th-Sep-2012 01:36 pm(no subject)
unhappy
Do not ask me any questions. Do not engage me in conversation, unless you wish it to be very short and the last word being "... off." Do not talk to me. Do not look at me. Do not wave your hand in front of my face unless you do not want to keep it. Do not touch me. Do not stand in my way. Do not walk very slowly in my way. Do not step into my way. Just generally get the hell away from me. Do not talk loudly or make noises, especially sudden ones. Do not ask "what's wrong", because the answer would be "everything", if I were capable of speaking it. Do not set me a task for anything requiring any sort of planning of presence of mind. Do not request anything requiring patience or calm.

Just ... don't.


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Gilgamesh
What the politician said:
"Fines such as these for publishing blatant untruths or misleading news reports, or temporary suspensions of the right to publish or broadcast, would lead to a major improvement in the accuracy and fairness of our media."
(My emphasis.)

Which seems clear enough: if you lie, if you say something blatantly untrue, if you make shit up or don't bother checking, then you should be punished for it. That's not "Oops, we spelled this witness' name wrong", or "we were honestly misinformed," that's talking about Andrew Bolt-ian levels of disingenuity and agitprop.

How was this reported?

MP wants journalists fined for mistakes.

THAT'S NOT WHAT HE SAID AND YOU FUCKING KNOW IT YOU GODDAMN HACKS!

But thank you, nameless ABC journo, for proving his point. I have no doubt all the other sources will be similarly misquoting and mischaracterising Steve Gibbons MP from now on in, and squealing that they're the aggrieved parties the whole time they're shamelessly pretending he said something he didn't.


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24th-Jul-2012 02:45 pm - Word Salad!
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Wordpress comment spam I found today:
Ripe install yet , I was wanting to copulate if you could correspond a litte solon on this substance? I’d be rattling thankful if you could clarify a small bit statesman. Impart you!


I think "I'd be rattling thankful" will have to enter my vocabulary.


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20th-Jul-2012 09:48 pm - An open letter to Gerry Harvey
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Dear Mr Harvey, the board and management of Harvey Norman, and whichever Oxygen Thief Advertising company who thought this was a good idea,

On behalf of Computer Professionals everywhere, may I invite you all to go fuck yourselves.


No love,

Me.


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Churches have the right to publicly opine on matters of public policy. Even when such opinions happen to have startling alignment with certain political parties' platforms.

But here's an idea: when a religion starts actively campaigning for one party or another, they lose the right to be recognised as a tax-exempt entity. Squared if they're doing it by lying.

You want to play partisan politics? You get to pay tax on your property and income, like the rest of us.


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17th-Jul-2012 01:17 pm - Pretending to care is hard.
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For the love of Rational Thought, can't you even pretend like you give a fuck?


(The second link was unavailable as I wrote this post, because the ABC.net.au was down, but it is nothing more or less than a collection of people's tweets and facebook posts about what Christopher Pyne said in his appearance on the ABC last night. Roughly grouped into Pro and Con. It's back now.)


Let me say this as simply and calmly as I can: PEOPLE SAYING STUFF ON THE INTERNET IS NOT NEWS YOU LAZY SONS-OF-BITCHES.

Editors of every news portal on Earth, please memorise this before I have to come round there.


(Note: News.ltd productions are exempt from this requirement, because reporting that people talk about articles about opinions about stuff is still an improvement on all the other crap they print.)


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5th-Jul-2012 10:24 pm - Argh, ouch.
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The Eustachian tube on the right side of my head has become irritated.

I can feel it; I can feel it inside my head. It feels like a toothache from the back of my sinus to the back of my throat, and an ache in my neck.

It hurts, and there's nothing I can do about it.


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1st-Jul-2012 09:24 pm - What we did on the weekend
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Primary achievement: still not dead.

Looked at the weather reports and decided not to go to the tournament on Saturday. Mostly because all of us were still coughing and drugged up. We got to the tourney site in time to help pack up, and to the feast site to help set up.

There was an Arts and Sciences competition, which featured painting a portrait in Italian style. I was handed the task of painting a portrait of Her Majesty. I had a couple of handicaps in this: I had white, blue, red, green and yellow paints, and the darkest mix I could get was a dark purple; they were somewhat gloopier in consistency than I am used to; I had to finish the last few details by candlelight; the table kept getting bumped by curious children; and I have face blindness, so I was painting a portrait from memory of a face which I could not picture to save my life.

I think the painting took about half an hour... maybe 45 minutes, go to whoa.

Miss A was snarking about how much she wanted to be a member of the Mouse Guard, and it was gratifying to see the look on her face when she and Miss S were summoned in court and given their Mouse Guard pouches.

Mim and I were somewhat more surprised when the girls' first duty was to bring us in front of Their Majesties, where Mim was awarded the Star and Lily (for her Guild), and I was made a member of the Order of the Cockatrice (for Linguistics, especially as applied to Heraldic Commentary and Consultation).

Friða also was hunted down and forced to join the Order of the Cockatrice. And at that there was general acclaim and much rejoicing.

When the Arts and Sciences was announced, it turns out that my portrait won, despite having no resemblance to Her Majesty whatsoever. Her Majesty even requested the portrait. The portrait which my girls and the elder daughter of B&B Kraé Glas painted of His Majesty was also given to him. He was very gracious.

Sara's Pelican ceremony was grand and dignified, and the hall was completely silent, except for the sounds of a very bored and tired toddler, but no-one held it against her or her family.


Today was simply too miserable, and we are all still too unwell, to have considered going to Bash, even if it weren't cancelled because of precisely that bad weather.

And although I'm still not recovered, and probably still sicker than anyone else in the house, the doctor's certificate has run out, so I'm back at work tomorrow to see if I can stick it out.


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26th-Jun-2012 07:05 am - I am not going to go to work today.
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Because my childrens' friends like to share, and my children like to share, and I have decided to be selfish.


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25th-Jun-2012 05:07 pm - How not to teach mathematics.
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  1. Set a problem for homework.
  2. Provide a suggested method for finding a solution of, essentially, "randomly shuffle these numbers until it kinda looks right".
  3. ...
  4. Profit! End up with children who are frustrated and angered by the sight of numbers, and have little to no idea that there are ways in which this sort of problem can be approached, let alone relatively simple and rigorous ways to prove them correct, let alone that the solution raises all sorts of other questions, which can themselves be answered...


The actual problem was "Take the nine numbers 2 to 10, and arrange them in three groups of three so that each group adds to the same number."

The suggested approach was to "write the numbers on pieces of paper, and arrange them into the right groups."

No, seriously, the suggested approach was to randomly shuffle the numbers until they (magically) come out in the right order. Personally, I'm wondering if there is a worse possible approach to the problem.

When I sat down with Miss A to approach this, my first question was: so, what is the number they have to add up to?

What you're looking for is
x = a + b + c
  = d + e + f
  = g + h + i
So the first thing to notice is that
a + b + c + d + e + f + g + h + i = 3x

The sum of 2..10 is 54, so the answer to each group of three must be 54/3 = 18.

So then we need an algorithm to fill in the blanks. Start with the biggest number, so
18 = 10 + b + c
b≠9, because that is already too big. And while 10+8 = 18, that only works if c=0, which isn't an available value. Neither is 1, so b≠7. So by elimination, we have a=10, b=6, c=2. Then do the same with the remaining numbers (d=9, e=5, f=4), and the remaining three must be g, h and i. Luckily, when you check, they are.

There was a secondary part to do the same thing with the set B = [3..11]. And yes, we showed that the algorithm still works. Only now the sum to each group is 21.

Hang on, 21 = 18+3, and we're dealing with groups of three... that can't be a coincidence, can it? It turns out, if you compare the ordered sets, then you see that each number Bx is just Ax+1. So if each number has 1 added, then each group must have 3 added to the total for it to work out.

And if we've just solved this problem for the set N2 = [2..10], and for N2+1, then we've demonstrated that the solution will work for Nx, where x is any positive integer. So for the set [1..9], the sum to each group should be 15... and when you check, it is.

But wait... what we've got can be drawn in a grid
1062=18
954=18
873=18

If we re-arrange the numbers within each row, then we get
1062=18
549=18
387=18
=
18
=
18
=
18

And if you do a bit of matrix manipulation, then you get a Magic Square, where the rows, columns and diagonals all add up to the same magic number.

And we've proved that this pattern is a Magic Square whether you pick your nine numbers starting from 2, 3, 1, 512, 100473, or whatever. I wonder if it works for other progressions? Say, N55 = [5, 10, 15, ..., 45]? (It does, but proof is an exercise for the reader.) Or for negative integers? What would we have to do to the algorithm to make it work? What about magic squares of order 4, 5, 19? What about...?


Just look at all this number theory we got from a question where the suggested approach was to "fiddle randomly and hope you trip over the right answer."

I'm sure there's some sort of pedagogical approach which calls for the systematic frustration of children, and the comprehensive murder of any potential joy of mathematics, but for the life of me I can't think what it is.


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