Category Archives: blog

How A Small Bug I Wrote Started Helping Holocaust Deniers

In my early software education, I’d been taught about how untested  software could result in deadly radiation-therapy machines. But since I never planned to be in the medical devices industry, these sort of warnings didn’t apply to me – after all I was only writing Wikipedia bots. But this week I was proved wrong when another Wikipedian messaged me with a query unlike any I’d received before (empahsis mine):

Hi Max, I’ve pinged you a couple of times, but in case you’re not getting them, would you mind commenting?

It’s about an edit your bot made to Wikidata that changed the infobox of a featured article about a book about the Holocaust, Night.

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Flavours of Ethanol: Not That Different

I spent a weekend with my friend riding 30 miles between Minneapolis breweries.  We learned some important lessons.

  1. The modern consumer elects to understand arbitrary differences in item-classes.
  2. The corporation co-opts leisure time of the individual to construct an aesthetic.
  3. Even if thebeers are not that different, they will say they are.
  4. This is similar to the divided political “spectrum”, that is, not a spectrum at all.
  5. As a test case take the IPA, the least versatile “acquired” taste.
  6. Once the consumer has developed a false consciousness and accepts  the objectionable and anti-rational quality of IPA ethanol, that consumer has joined the in-group.
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U and Why?: Part 3: Highest Recommendaitons

I first discovered Why? in the same way that all new music came to me in my teenage years, pen-pal-ship with my best friend Daniel Cohen. I’d wanted to retain my friends and life when I was stripped from England in ’99, and between annual visits, emails filled in the gaps for us. (In retrospect this comments on the history of chat technology, youngsters able to figure it out around the millennium.) An early symbol of my empathetic practice, in 2004 electro-mails I basically asked Dan questions that Pitchfork media was answering. I’m not taking credit for his current success as a reviewing journalist, but I think he relished the task and I gave him plenty of practice.… Read the rest

U and Why?: Part 2: Snow Bike and the Seven Identities

While Ceephax has exposed me to a hyperactive, ultrajoyful side of myself, Why? has shown me how to cope with inexorable loss of impermanent identities. Just today I was going to go to an event I’d been looking forward to for over a year; the Stupor Bowl is a 50 mile bike ride in Minneapolis, stopping at 9 bars, and on the coldest day of the year. But after ceding a pool table yesterday to a man who my friends told me looked very much like myself, due to his moustache and cycling jacket, I became paralyzed by the self-awareness of my new identity.… Read the rest

U and Y. Part 1

Intro

In this Ceephax Acid Crew Live youtube video there’s a comment which says “Love that one guy going nuts.” And it’s true, there is a guy in the front of the crowd feeling the music and letting his body follow. That’s not a particularly amazing fact to many people, but to me its a revelation on a virality with which I’m infected. Because just 24 hours earlier, I was that person in the front.

24 hours even before I was going nuts, I was getting nervous. Ceephax was playing at the Science Museum in San Francisco, and this would be my first opportunity to see him in the flesh.… Read the rest

Dried and True

I didn’t like the Dyson Airblade at first. Its slick futuristic form with neon yellow striping gives the visual indication that it will instantly dry your hands, which it doesn’t. It takes 12 seconds. Still, I claim this represents a revolution. The watch-a-microwave-tick-down waiting time is a small price to pay for leaving the tiled room with hands truly free of water, rather than the less-wet state my whole life prior to this invention taught me was normal.

The Dyson Airblade. Attribution: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dyson_Airblade_Transparent_BG.png

To understand why the Airblade represents such a leap forward in hand-drying technology, we have to understand the past that Dyson was trying to escape.… Read the rest

Differently Shaped Virtual Paper

The very first time I heard it I was immediately convinced by Killer Mike’s un-festschrift “Reagan”. It’s a lucid, orchestrated, and damning exposé of what Reagan’s legacy has meant for less privileged people in America  “[…] thanks to Reaganomics, prisons turned to profits
Cause free labor is the cornerstone of US economics”. However as much I appreciate what Killer Mike spits, and specifically how he’s spitting it, I never felt I could fully connect with the message having never been directly effected by Reagan’s policies – until now.

This week my National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program application was “rejected without review.” The reason given was my application was not conforming to the submission standards, I hadn’t left 1 inch margins.… Read the rest

List of Yoga Quotations

Here are a list of Yoga quotations that I’ve compiled from my 200-hour yoga teacher training, other classes I’ve attended, and various yoga books.

Jon Isaacs

  • “The pose begins once you want to leave it”.
  • “Who went to their first yoga class because their life was going really well‽”
  • “I had a hedgefund guy fire me once because I was talking about greed in class.”

Sean Feit

  • On taking non-harming literally, “I take an antibiotic – genocide.”

Jean Mazzei

  • “You can have peace or mind, but not peace of mind because the mind’s purpose is to think.”

Cora Wen

  • “You probably think you have a knee, there’s nothing there.
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Cyberwizard Institute: Retrospective

 

Cyber Wizard Institute

The Cyberwizard Institute  (CWI) was a free programming school based out of Sudo Room, running for the month of January 2015. The proclamation that I saw on their website before I volunteered to teach there was:

cwiThe idea is to be an anti-bootcamp. Anyone can participate. It’s free. We’re going to try hard to have lecture notes, assignments, and lecture livestreams up online. It will be primarily self-directed, but with guidance from higher level wizards.

As a founding member of sudoroom since 2011, but suffering from a recent malaise in my hacktivism, this was the perfect project to reinvigorate my involvement.Read the rest

“High Speed Rail: The Board Game” Review: The Nonviolent Utopian Interactive Senate Simulation

Board Games do not attract me by default. The closest I have come to enjoying board games is playing Risk, single player on my phone, and reading a lot about Nomic. But when Alfred Twu speaks, I listen, so if when announced his own fresh take on board gaming my ears piqued and my credit card edged ever so slightly out of my pocket. High Speed Rail: The Board Game emerged from High Speed Rail: The Map, of Guardian Fame. Neither the map or game, have rooted in any material claim to reality, but most things that inflame your imagination don’t.… Read the rest