Sorted by New


What are you working on? April 2012

Thanks for the tips! I've been playing with the Alchemy API for NLP ( and an API called DayLife ( for news sources, etc.

I'm trying to do my best to make it as un-spammy as possible, but how far I can get with that remains to be seen. I have a plan to take advantage of the inverted pyramid story structure so common in news reporting, along with entity extraction on the paragraph level, to get something out of it that's more or less readable. I'll post an example when my prototype works.

What are you working on? April 2012

I've started working on a project to see if I can make a computer program which can generate a reasonably readable article on a given subject automatically. It's all a big mashup of various news and natural language processing APIs.

I've also discovered that there's a whole bunch of public domain motion graphics assets on the web designed for use in christian churches, so I've been making a series of "Inspiring Quotations" youtube videos out of them. Stuff like Nietzsche, Anton LaVey, horrifying bible verses, and so on. So far I've finished seven, and I have enough material for probably a dozen more.

Here's a link:

How to understand people better

I agree with this point as well, and I think it bears emphasizing.

Awhile ago, I had a series of conversations with a friend who was having problems with people in her workplace. She would complain along the lines of, "I just can't believe that X would just shuffle a problem over to my desk. It was X's responsibility to solve the problem; X must be trying to get me in trouble with the boss."

Or similar formulations.

It gradually became clear that her go-to modality was to think that if other people aggravated her, it was because they were doing it on purpose.

I pointed out to her that practically nobody in the world enjoys maliciousness, meanness, etc. and that, given the choice of ascribing a person's actions to maliciousness, when it was just as plausible that the real motivation was thoughtlessness, misunderstanding, or ignorance, one should only opt for maliciousness if there's a number of REALLY GOOD REASONS to think the person would behave that way.

Ultimately, we all want to get along with those around us. Usually, when we don't, it's misunderstanding to blame.

Meetup : Chicago Meetup At State and Elm, August 27th

Alas, I can't make it to this one. Hope everyone has a good time!

Teachable Rationality Skills

I couldn't agree more. I find it moderately offensive when someone says, "Bless you," when I sneeze. First, because of the religious implications, second, because they certainly haven't thought before speaking, and third, because it's never crossed their minds that I COULD be offended by unthinking, religious invocations.

Offense versus harm minimization

This is an interesting thread.

Here's a difference between the British-salmon and Muslim-Mohammed scenarios.

In the British scenario, you've postulated that the British politely ask the rest of the world to refrain from waving photos of salmon in their faces.

In the Muslim scenario, the ultra-religious are DEMANDING that the rest of the world obey their edicts on what is appropriate to draw.

I personally feel a very visceral reaction when I'm told that I'm not allowed to draw/write about/think about something. "Who are you," I think, "to presume to tell me what I can and can't express? Just who do you think you are that you get to have that sort of control over my expressions?"

My gut instinct then, is to write/draw/think about/talk about that forbidden thing.

It's the difference between a suggestion and a command. Were the Muslim community to say something like, "Ok, do as you please, but for the sake of civility, we hope you'll refrain from exposing us to the images of Mohammed you might create," you know, I'd probably say sure, ok. That's civilized. But to say, "You may not, UNDER THREAT OF DEATH, make any images or jokes about X," that's just too dictatorial for me to accept, on any level.

Procedural Knowledge Gaps

I concur. In my opinion, men are best served by a proper barber, not by a "hair stylist" at a strip mall Fantastic Sam's.

A good barber knows not only what kind of haircuts look fashionable for men, but the also how to cut the hair so it's easy to maintain. You know you've found a decent barber when you get a hot lather and straight-razor shave for your neckline at the end of the cut.

Further, a good barber won't charge more than $20 for a haircut. $15 is average. I pay $18, but I really like the place.

This from a fellow who averaged one haircut a year for 15 years, and now keeps it cut rather short.

Dark Arts 101: Using presuppositions

Regarding "whether WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange is a journalist, or can be prosecuted for espionage..."

Turns out there are different kinds of legal protections for journalists -- shield laws, for instance, which protect a journalist from having to reveal an anonymous source -- which don't apply to "non-journalists", whatever that might be in a world with twitter, blogs, etc. A private citizen emailing secret documents to someone without proper clearance can be prosecuted for it; a journalist publishing classified documents that were passed to her cannot be prosecuted.

So the question should be something more like, "Should Julian Assange be afforded the same legal protections as a journalist, or is he something other than that, to which such protections do not apply."

Chicago Meetup 11/14

This meetup was a good time. It was nice to meet everyone, and I'll certainly make it to the next one.


Load More