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How and why multiple dispatch is good (Julia vs Python)

I'm really interested in the programming language, Julia, for several reasons, multiple dispatch being prominent among them. (I have some painful contortions in the Python implementation of my speculative programming project, Spherical. The contortions would not be necessary if Python was implemented with efficient multiple dispatch.) I thinkthis videogets at the essence of multiple dispatch's virtue.
Unfortunately it's a video, who has time for that? The distilled message is that the multiple dispatch (multimethods) solvesThe Expression Problem, and that's not a small thing. It's an oblique way of saying that it's a more comprehensive way to do procedural composition than other approaches, and so fundamentally has greater potential for comprehensibility. Composition is the essence of building stuff, and comprehensibility is the factor that governs collaboration between people - including, for that matter, of a person with themself over time.
I love Python, bu…
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What's So Special About Contact Improvisation?

[This is a rough draft that I am developing.]

I help keep the DC weekly and ECJ biannual Contact Improvisation (CI) jams going, in order to be able to continue regular CI practice. I frequently find myself musing (and mentioning to others (-: ) that I don't want to do without it - I don't think there's anything comparably satisfying. I'm also someone who finds it helpful to be able to describe what's essential in order to do something well, and I've been working on doing that with CI for years. I think I've finally got the basics of a description that's adequate - that contains the essential aspects. I'm releasing this draft before being quite done with it in the interest of sharing it and getting input that might help me move it forwards - open sourcing it.

Here's my framing:

CI is a game where you explore and develop the extent to which you can move cooperatively with others
What's so good about that?

As our daily lives continue to become in…

Artistry and Virtuosity

A buddy and I have been thrilled with artists - in our current discussions, musicians - who specifically bring juice to their art, as well as virtuosity, rather than losing it in the quest for virtuosity.

(Brian Eno is one example of this who stands out the most for me, in the realm of music. As essentially a synthesist, and one who came to music without any rigorous training at all, he managed to develop and propagate new sensibilities, and his virtuosity seems to be the art of composition, itself. Some other examples in the progressive rock vein are David Byrne, King Crimson, even Paul Simon...)

In a Guitar World interview with the guitarist from one of my favorite groups, Adam Jones of the progressive metal band Tool, he touched on this issue in what seems to me to be an exquisitely distilled rendering:
"For a guitar player - regardless of what your level is - it’s about doing what you can do and trying to do it well instead of worrying about how someone else does it. I think …

Reread somewhat juvenile Dinosaur Beach, which I enjoyed as a kid/teen

I was wowed by Keith Laumer's Dinosaur Beach in my early teens, and have been curious whether I would still enjoy it as a much more advanced-in-years adult. It was definitely a mixed bag, but I'm glad I reread it both because I did enjoy aspects of it, and it is pretty interesting to see what held up to more informed attention, and to identify it. (Hence this blog entry... (-: )

Some of what I say below might constitute spoilers. But I think what I reveal is in such general terms that I think they might make up for the surprise of their presence with curiosity about how the delivery of the revealed items were implemented. None the less, still spoilers.

My reservations with this book are of the sort that pulp novels generally suffer - shallowness in characterization and connection, and particularly endemic to science fiction, shallowness in the science.

I think the latter - specifically, shallowness in time travel theorizing - was not contrary to Laumer's purpose and style.…

Proud of sister Susan

An article from my Google Alert for "chief manheimer": San Mateo residents weigh in on police chief recruitment, as they're looking for candidates to fill the position of Police Chief from which my sister, Sue, is retiring.

I'm not privy to the inside situation, can't tell whether or not there are undercurrents of internal and interpersonal politics, but it seems like these people are saying - not so overtly, but not so subtly - that we want what she was doing. People in roles that probably don't require saying nice things, in a situation where it's not about saying nice things about the person who's leaving.
Chairez hoped the department’s next leader would follow in Manheimer’s footsteps in understanding San Mateo’s diversity and establishing trust with all community members. [...]
Harker said he met Manheimer at a Service Academy session some five years ago, and was impressed with her nuanced understanding and approach to complex issues like human t…

Science fiction: perspective on Neil Stephenson's writing from rereading Frank Herbert

I'm planning to get to Neil Stephenson's new novel, Fall; or Dodge in Hell sometime soon. I've reveled in some of his books, and look forward to the new one. However, having reread one of my favorite books of all time, Frank Herbert's The Dosadi Experiment, brings me to a more clear perspective I have on reservations about Stephenson's writing.  I got clear about it thinking about Stephenson's writing relative to Herbert's and the writing of another favorite, William Gibson.

It all has to do with characterization.

I find Herbert's characters more gripping than Stephenson's. Herbert's primary characters tend to be iconic: super-able, in way that aren't entirely realistic, but relatable and deeply appealing to me. Stephenson's characters are much more realistic - not so idealized, more in the post-modern mix of contemporary convincing detail, including imperfection and commonplace nuance that has the feel of normal people. William Gibson i…

Jams for people who know they like Contact Improv

The framing of any Contact Improv jam influences what happens at the jam.

At the DC Sunday jam we share a monthly Underscore because it can help newcomers find their way into the practice while also providing experienced jammers with opportunities for rich exploration.

I've been involved in another kind of jam, one which is specifically framed with less guidance. That self-selects for people who know they like the practice. Such a group can together arrive in situations that might not otherwise be available in a group with more tentative participants.

I don't think this second kind of jam needs to be exclusive to work well, however. Instead, I feel that by clearly articulating some elusive criteria, people deciding whether or not to participate can know what is expected and whether or not that fits for them. Here is my first draft of an attempt at such a framing. Suggestions are welcome!
Jam for people who know they like CI This is a jam for people who can handle their own war…

Preventing Google Calendar spam, and intricacy of requirements analysis

In Google Calendar's (current) default configuration there's an opening for unlimited spamming, with an opportunity for dangerous phishing links. There's a Google Calendar setting that closes that opening, but in a way that also closes some information flow in legitimate collaboration with known colleagues. The details are a good example of the intricacy and difficulty in adequate requirements analysis.

The problem is in what happens when someone creates a calendar event that include you as a guest.

The person including you can elect to send out notifications to the event guests via email.Your calendar has a setting which regulates when a calendar entry is automatically created for events of which you are a guest: "Automatically add invitations" (in General > Event settings)Here are the options:Yes <- default="" li="" the=""> Yes, but don't send event notifications unless I have responded "Yes" or "Maybe&qu…