Slashdot: Do Strongly Typed Languages Reduce Bugs?

"Static vs dynamic typing is always one of those topics that attracts passionately held positions," writes the Morning Paper -- reporting on an "encouraging" study that attempted to empirically evaluate the efficacy of statically-typed systems on mature, real-world code bases. The study was conducted by Christian Bird at Microsoft's "Research in Software Engineering" group with two researchers from University College London. Long-time Slashdot reader phantomfive writes: This study looked at bugs found in open source Javascript code. Looking through the commit history, they enumerated the bugs that would have been caught if a more strongly typed language (like Typescript) had been used. They found that a strongly typed language would have reduced bugs by 15%. Does this make you want to avoid Python?

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Recent additions: hasql-simple

Added by AlexanderThiemann, Sat Sep 23 21:18:11 UTC 2017.

A somewhat opinionated "simpler" API to hasql

Recent additions: tweet-hs

Added by vmchale, Sat Sep 23 21:13:14 UTC 2017.

Command-line tool for twitter

Recent additions: pcf-font-embed

Added by mswan, Sat Sep 23 20:31:54 UTC 2017.

Template Haskell for embedding text rendered using PCF fonts.

Bifurcated Rivets: From FB

Eileen Gray

Bifurcated Rivets: From FB


Bifurcated Rivets: From FB


Bifurcated Rivets: From FB


Bifurcated Rivets: From FB


MetaFilter: Education Can't Solve Poverty

So Why Do We Keep Insisting That It Can? An interview with historian Harvey Kantor, the author, with Robert Lowe, of a 2013 paper on the history of Educationalizing the Welfare State (8.4MB PDF).

Recent additions: pcf-font

Added by mswan, Sat Sep 23 20:16:34 UTC 2017.

PCF font parsing and rendering library.

Recent additions: coinbase-exchange

Added by andrewrademacher, Sat Sep 23 20:15:37 UTC 2017.

Connector library for the coinbase exchange.

MetaFilter: "Shall we play a game?"

The U.S. Navy's most advanced submarines will soon be using Xbox controllers [The Virginian Pilot] "The control room of one of the Navy's most advanced submarines is filled with sophisticated computers, flat-screen monitors and sailors who grew up in a digital world. At times it can look a bit like a video game arcade, and not just because of the high-resolution graphics. The Navy is beginning to use an Xbox 360 controller – like the ones you find at the mall – to operate the periscopes aboard Virginia-class submarines. [...]

"The Xbox controller is no different than the ones a lot of crew members grew up playing with. Lockheed Martin says the sailors who tested the controller at its lab were intuitively able to figure out how to use it on their own within minutes, compared to hours of training required for the joystick. The Xbox controller also is significantly cheaper. The company says the photonic mast handgrip and imaging control panel that cost about $38,000 can be replaced with an Xbox controller that typically costs less than $30."

Greater Fool – Authored by Garth Turner – The Troubled Future of Real Estate: Timing

DOUG By Guest Blogger Doug Rowat

Warren Buffett once famously said that he “made more money when snoring than when active.” Buffett, of course, is well aware that most investors are terrible at predicting short-term market swings and that the best plan is to simply be boring and stay invested. Yet we mostly can’t help ourselves. As proof, the comment section of this blog will shortly be filled with individuals making short-term market predictions with many suggesting that the market is rigged, the economy doomed and that hiding in cash is the best option.

However, JP Morgan research clearly shows the difficulty of trying to time markets. Staying fully invested in the S&P 500 from 1994 to 2014 would’ve generated a 9.9% annualized return, but missing just 10 of the best trading days would have dropped the return to only 6.1%. Ten days over 20 years. Don’t tell me that you would have known when those 10 days would have occurred?

But note that, historically, the best days tend to arrive fairly near to the worst days. However, what’s the most likely scenario? The worst days would likely prompt a retail investor to move to cash with an almost zero likelihood that they would then shortly after re-enter the market in time for the strongest market days. What my nearly two decades in the investment industry has taught me is that once a defensive cash position is taken, it’s a position that remains, often for years.

Performance of US$10,000 over 20 Years: Missing Just a Few Days Cripples Performance

Source: Business Insider. JP Morgan Asset Management. Data as of Dec. 1, 2014. Measures return of S&P 500.

A favourite pastime of Canadian investors is also attempting to market time the loonie. We simply love doing this. It’s as Canadian as Tim Hortons’ coffee. However, market timing currencies is even worse than timing equities. This is because equity markets are much more forgiving—over time, they move higher. Not so with our Canadian dollar/US dollar exchange rate. Our loonie, for instance, currently sits at roughly the same level that it was at 30 years ago! Currencies tend to move in giant M or W patterns and timing each peak and valley is exceedingly difficult. An article in the Wall Street Journal a few years ago highlighted some of these issues:

Only about 30% of all retail forex trades are profitable, according to Aite Group [an independent financial market researcher], largely because of traders’ lack of education and experience in dealing with a market dominated by institutions.

Eventually, as you attempt to repeatedly time all the tops and bottoms, you’ll be wrong, and the incorrect timing could create permanent losses. With equity markets, an incorrect entry point will, of course, cost you time, but it’s very likely that, if you’re patient, you’ll eventually profit, most often within a year or two. But with a poorly timed currency trade, you could easily go a decade or more in a loss position. For instance, if you’d bought US dollars in 2002 when the Canadian dollar was at about 62 cents, you’d still be waiting for your ‘trade’ to be in-the-money.

In Roughly 30 years, CAD/USD FX Rate has Gone Nowhere…

…While the Canadians Equity Market has Advanced almost 600%.

Source: Bloomberg, S&P/TSX Composite return includes dividends

Forecasting the loonie is a fun pastime, but the best strategy is simply to convert currency on a consistent and routine basis, perhaps quarterly, to hedge risk.

Another timing-related question we get asked constantly: what percentage will XYZ market go up this year? Blunt answer: I have no idea. According to Vanguard, 13.7 percentage points was the average annual forecast error among leading market strategists from 1998 to 2016. In fact, if strategists had just given the historical average return for the market they would have been more accurate. And interestingly, no strategist predicted negative returns for years with the greatest losses (2001, 2002 and 2008).

What we aim to do is create a low-cost, balanced and globally diversified portfolio and then gradually shift asset mix and geographic weightings based on our longer-term economic forecasts and changes in broad fundamentals such as corporate profitability. With any luck, we’ll minimize volatility and generate a reasonably predictable long-term rate of return. But we’ll never be able to tell you the exact percentage return of any particular market in any given year. We’ll almost certainly be wrong.

And that’s a prediction I guarantee to be accurate.

Doug Rowat, FCSI® is Portfolio Manager with Turner Investments and Senior Vice President, Private Client Group, Raymond James Ltd.

MetaFilter: Some Tech Bros Think Gender Equality Has Gone Too Far

Mr. Altizer is part of a backlash against the women in technology movement. While many in the tech industry had previously dismissed the fringe men's rights arguments, some investors, executives and engineers are now listening. Though studies and surveys show there is no denying the travails women face in the male-dominated industry, some said that the line for what counted as harassment had become too easy to cross and that the push for gender parity was too extreme a goal. Few were willing to talk openly about their thinking, for fear of standing out in largely progressive Silicon Valley.

Many men now feel like "there's a gun to the head" to be better about gender issues, said Rebecca Lynn, a venture capitalist at Canvas Ventures, and while "there's a high awareness right now, which is positive, at the same time there's a fear."

The backlash follows increasingly vulgar harassment revelations in Silicon Valley. Several female engineers and entrepreneurs this year named the men they accused of harassing them, and suddenly tech's boys' club seemed anything but impervious. Travis Kalanick, Uber's co-founder, resigned as chief executive after the ride-hailing service was embroiled in harassment accusations. Dave McClure, head of the incubator 500 Startups, called himself "a creep" and stepped down. This month, the chief executive of Social Finance, Mike Cagney, also quit amid a harassment scandal.

things magazine: Everybody lies

‘As Seth Stephens-Davidowitz points out in his new book Everybody Lies (Bloomsbury, £20), researchers have studied the difference between the language used on Google, where people tend to tell the truth because they are anonymously looking for answers, and the … Continue reading

Slashdot: Microsoft and Facebook Just Built a 4,000-Mile Cable Across the Pacfic Ocean

An anonymous reader quotes Popular Mechanics: Microsoft, Facebook and global telecommunication infrastructure company Telxius have completed the Marea subsea cable, the world's most technologically advanced undersea cable. The Marea crosses the Atlantic Ocean over 17,000 feet below the ocean's surface, connecting Virginia Beach with Bilbao, Spain. Over 4,000 miles (6,600 kilometers) long and weighing nearly 10.25 million pounds (4.65 million kilograms), the Marea can transmit up to 160 terabits of data per second, which Microsoft notes is "more than 16 million times faster than the average home internet connection, making it capable of streaming 71 million high-definition videos simultaneously." The undersea cable -- about 1.5 times the diameter of a garden hose -- contains eight pairs of fiber optic cables encircled by copper, a protective layer of hard plastic, and then waterproof coating. Its 4,000-mile route had to avoid everything from earthquake zones to active volcanoes. Cables under the Atlantic Ocean carry 55% more data than cables under the Pacific, Microsoft writes, adding that "the project highlights the increasing role of private companies in building the infrastructure of the future."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

MetaFilter: They are glowing with affection

Please Do Not Pet the Radioactive Puppies of Chernobyl.

ScreenAnarchy: Fantastic Fest 2017 Review: LET THE CORPSES TAN, More Stylish Than Substantial

Writing-directing team Hélèn Cattet and Bruno Forzani burst onto the genre film scene in 2009 with the highly original Amer, a giallo-inspired experimental horror/thriller about different ages of one girl's life. Their second feature, The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears, went even further into mystery and strangeness in a more obscure story. Their third feature, Let the Corpses Tan, is something of an experiment for Cattet and Forzani, in that it comes from an original novel by Jean-Pierre Bastid. The result of the pair's high style with a complicated story, while (as always) beautiful to see and hear, is not entirely successful. On the gorgeous Italian coast, a criminal trio headed by Rhino has staged a dramatic robbery of an armed vehicle, killing four...

[Read the whole post on] Coerce-Types-Standard-0.000001


Slashdot: Popular Chrome Extension Embedded A CPU-Draining Cryptocurrency Miner

An anonymous reader writes: SafeBrowse, a Chrome extension with more than 140,000 users, contains an embedded JavaScript library in the extension's code that mines for the Monero cryptocurrency using users' computers and without getting their consent. The additional code drives CPU usage through the roof, making users' computers sluggish and hard to use. Looking at the SafeBrowse extension's source code, anyone can easily spot the embedded Coinhive JavaScript Miner, an in-browser implementation of the CryptoNight mining algorithm used by CryptoNote-based currencies, such as Monero, Dashcoin, DarkNetCoin, and others. This is the same technology that The Pirate Bay experimented with as an alternative to showing ads on its site. The extension's author claims he was "hacked" and the code added without his knowledge.

Read more of this story at Slashdot. Data-IEEE754-Tools-0.018

Various tools for understanding and manipulating the underlying IEEE-754 representation of floating point values

Slashdot: Apple's Swift 4.0 Includes A Compatibility Mode For 'The Majority' Of Swift 3.x Code

An anonymous reader quotes InfoWorld: Swift 4.0 is now available. It's a major upgrade to Apple's Swift, the three-year old successor to the Objective-C language used for MacOS and iOS application development. The Swift 4 upgrade enhances the Swift Package Manager and provides new compatibility modes for developers. Apple said Swift 4 also makes Swift more stable and improves its standard library. Swift 4 is largely source-compatible with Swift 3 and ships as part of Apple's Xcode 9 IDE... Swift 4's new compatibility modes could save you from having to modify code to be able to use the new version of the compiler. Two modes are supported, including the Swift 3.2 mode, which accepts most source files built with Swift 3.x compilers, and the Swift 4.0 mode, which includes Swift 4 and API changes. Apple said that some source migration will be needed for many projects, but the number of source changes are "quite modest" compared to many previous major changes between Swift releases. Apple calls Swift 4.0 "a major language release" that also includes new language changes and updates that came through the Swift Evolution process.

Read more of this story at Slashdot. Async-Trampoline-0.001002

Trampolining functions with async/await syntax

ScreenAnarchy: Fantastic Fest 2017 Review: THOROUGHBREDS, A Pitch Black Tale of Female Friendship

Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy cement their positions as two of the most captivating young actresses working today in Thoroughbreds, a wickedly humorous psychodrama straddling the class divide in small-town Connecticut and exposing the complex malevolence of the adolescent psyche.   After years apart, teenagers Amanda (Cooke) and Lily (Taylor-Joy) are reunited in a last-ditch effort by Amanda’s mother to ground her daughter in a positive environment. The troubled young woman is undergoing counselling after a violent incident with her beloved horse. Lily has been hired to tutor her childhood friend, and at first they appear to be worlds apart.    Lily has grown into a composed and ambitious young woman, despite her mother remarrying Mark (Paul Sparks), a profoundly narcissistic douchebag. Amanda. meanwhile, has...

[Read the whole post on]

Slashdot: Facebook Relents, Switches React, Flow, Immuable.js and Jest To MIT License

An anonymous reader quotes the Register: Faced with growing dissatisfaction about licensing requirements for some of its open-source projects, Facebook said it will move React, Jest, Flow, and Immutable.js under the MIT license next week. "We're relicensing these projects because React is the foundation of a broad ecosystem of open source software for the web, and we don't want to hold back forward progress for nontechnical reasons," said Facebook engineering director Adam Wolff in a blog post on Friday. Wolff said while Facebook continues to believe its BSD + Patents license has benefits, "we acknowledge that we failed to decisively convince this community"... Wolff said the updated licensing scheme will arrive next week with the launch of React 16, a rewrite of the library designed for more efficient operation at scale. Facebook was facing strong criticism from the Apache Software Foundation and last week had announced plans to move away from React. "Wolff said Facebook considered a license change for its other open-source projects, but wasn't ready to commit to anything," the Register adds. "Some projects, he said, will keep the BSD + Patents license."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

MetaFilter: "Why throw it away just because the author has died?"

Well, it happened again. When Lillian Ross died earlier this week, the New York Times ran an obituary written by someone who was also dead. It's not a secret that celebrities -- especially long-lived ones -- have "advance" obituaries, but the NYT (thanks partially to its rigorous byline practices) is often noted as having obits that seem to be "ghost"-written. Via Kottke. Open NYT links in Incognito or Private mode.

Instructables: exploring - featured: Diwali Special

Winter is Coming...festival decorations are everywhere.One of the gadgets that can be found everywhere are led light diya . They are cheap, clean and not as dangerous as real diya.Let's start it..... Preparation of the Materials What we need for this DIY is a DiyaLedsArduino unoGas sensorGeneral ...
By: alok014

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Instructables: exploring - featured: Super Cute Mini Preserves Jar !!!

Hey, everyone!Todays intstructable is going to be on how to make a super adorable preserves jar that can make a beautiful ornament in the kitchen or even in your bedroom! In this instructable i have used a small jar but you can use any size.Hope you enjoy,Now let's get started! You will need: For...
By: kathy4lee

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ScreenAnarchy: Well Go USA Acquires ICHI THE KILLER 4K Restoration For North America

The recently completed 4K restoration of Miike Takashi's seminal splatter film, Ichi the Killer, has found a North American home with Plano, TX based Well Go USA. The restoration just had its world premiere at Fantastic Fest in Austin and as one of those privileged to be in attendance for the event, I can confirm that this is the best the film has looked in a very long time. The film's restoration was announced in advanced of the Cannes Film Festival back in May, sponsored by Hong Kong's Emperor Multimedia Group who restored the film and own the worldwide rights. Well Go USA haven't announced formal plans for the film yet, but I would expect more festival screenings to be on the horizon to be...

[Read the whole post on]

Disquiet: The Self-Education of Synthesist Emily Sprague

Emily Sprague patches her modular synthesizer, sets it running, and checks in on it hours, even days, later to figure out where the generative invention has meandered and matured, what strange familiar-yet-unfamiliar music it’s gotten up to. She initiated her relatively recent self-education by mainlining module manuals and studying the videos of a handful of people (notably Lightbath and r beny) whose aesthetic and approach appealed to her (i.e., largely ambient, if gently melodic, and lacking a fixed rhythm). She says she likes tap tempo, for the organic feel, and certain filters, for their ability to self-oscillate. She began to share videos of her own work in part to replenish the well from which she’d drawn, and also out of an awareness that modular synths are a male-dominated thing.

Here’s an early such video, from May 2016:

And here’s a gentle, burbling track from about a year ago:

These are just some of the things we learn in the excellent eighth episode of the Sound + Process podcast hosted by Dan Derks. Interspersed in the podcast are demos of the music that will appear on her forthcoming solo modular synth album. Sprague, who also is part of the folk-pop band Florist, talks about gaining fluency with patching by buying and selling modules, seeing what works for her and what doesn’t, and how warm and welcoming the synth community, in particular on the (also known as Lines) message board, has proved to be.

And after listening to Sprague speak for an hour, you also can check out some of her band Florist’s music, and hear that same voice sing. This track is “What I Wanted to Hold,” off the forthcoming Florist album If Blue Could Be Happiness, which is to be released on September 29, 2017:

More from Emily Sprague at and, and her YouTube channel. Subscribe to the Sound + Process podcast via iTunes or RSS.

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Lemonade

Click here to go see the bonus panel!

It's so easy to get adults to give in to peer pressure.

New comic!
Today's News:

Instructables: exploring - featured: Yet Another Raspberry Pi Photo Booth

Recently, my company (cubitux) had the opportunity to participate to a contest to present a photo booth solution to a client. Because I'm an open-source fan, I picked Raspberry Pi technology and started creating something around it. ------------------Everything runs with a customized Raspbian - Desk...
By: PierreH23

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Instructables: exploring - featured: Nightmare Room

Halloween is coming. Just realized that I have so many horror books. Yes, I love R.L. Stine so much. Being left by my wife and kids at weekend, I dream of these Nightmare Room series keep falling from the shelf. Are these books really haunted? Or is it the room?Well, it is time to start a new projec...
By: chienline

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ScreenAnarchy: Fantastic Fest 2017: Index

In 2017, Fantastic Fest runs from September 21-28. Here are links to reviews and interviews by our contributing editors and writers, all listed alphabetically by the film's English-language title. This will be updated throughout the festival. Bad Genius: review by Peter Martin Darkland: review by Peter Martin Hagazussa: The Heathen's Curse: review by Michele 'Izzy' Galgana King Cohen: interview by Michele 'Izzy' Galgana Thelma: review by Michele 'Izzy' Galgana Past coverage 78/52: review by Andrew Mack (Hot Docs 2017) Bodied: review by Kurt Halfyard (Toronto 2017) Brawl in Cell Block 99: review by Kurt Halfyard (Toronto 2017) Brimstone & Glory: review by Kurt Halfyard (Hot Docs 2017) Cold Hell: review by Andrew Mack (Fantasia 2017) The Endless: review by Shelagh Rowan-Legg (Tribeca 2017) Five Fingers...

[Read the whole post on] MooseX-DIC-0.4.0

A dependency injector container for Moose

ScreenAnarchy: Fantastic Fest 2017 Review: HAGAZUSSA Paints Terrible Beauty

When Fantastic Fest programmer and producer Annick Mahnert introduced Hagazussa: A Heathen's Curse, she mentioned that it was a student film and that her jaw dropped when screening it. She wasn't joking.  Hagazussa: A Heathen's Curse could be easily labeled as the indie German version of The Witch. All comparisions aside, the film is quite different than the tale of a young girl and her family losing their minds, religion, and lives in early Colonial America. With nearly no dialogue and a VERY slow burn of a loose plot, this isn't going to be a film for everyone. That's not to say that Hagazussa isn't effective. It's long, lingering shots of dead or eviscerated animals, human suffering, bodily decay, and long takes are going to disturb a lot...

[Read the whole post on] SPVM-0.0271

Fast Calculation and Easy C/C++ Binding with perlish syntax and static typing

MattCha's Blog: “Wild Puerh” Tea Is Not Really Puerh Tea!

I think there is a little confusion about what exactly “wild puerh” is.  I remember first trying “wild puerh” in 2008 and being completely and absolutely dumbfounded by it.  In fact, I wrote a blog post about this experience and in it you can sense this confusion.  I ended up purchasing a tong of this puerh not because I really loved the tea as a puerh tea but because I still couldn’t understand this tea- it really stumped me and besides the Qi sensation in particular was really unlike any puerh I had encountered before.

I believe I was the first to blog about such a tea and I think I couldn’t find anything on the English internet for years later and even then it mainly just confused me.  It wasn’t only me who was confused by “wild puerh” but many other Westren puerh drinkers were equally at odds with this tea throughout the years.  Even today amongst people who are well versedin puerh seem perplexed with it.  Why all the confusion about this tea?

First of all this tea is commonly referred to as “yesheng” or (if the purple leaf variety) it is often referred to as “purple yesheng”.  Part of the confusion, I think is that the term “yesheng” is often used to describe non-plantation puerh or is simply used at random to describe puerh (such as this 6FTM “yesheng”).  The other part of the confusion is that there are many teas that are purple leaf teas that grow wild but are not “wild purple puerh” or “yesheng purple”.

Through careful contemplation and deep meditation I thought about my 2008 “wild puerh” throughout the years.  I would drink it only once and a while to see how it’s aging and to again attempt to understand it.  It was not until recently that I finally feel like I truly understand what is commonly called “wild puerh” and learned to appreciate it fully.

What changed?

I came to the conclusion that “wild puerh” is not really puerh at all.  To me puerh tea is either the sheng or shu processing style of the Camellia sinensis var assamica or other various small leaf hybrids (as found in Yibang, Mengsong, ect).  What is commonly referred to as “wild puerh” is not Camellia sinensis var assamica or other various small leaf hybrids but rather is one of the other 13 camellia thea species that grow in Yunnan.  The “wild purple” or “purple yesheng” is thought to be Assamica Dehongensis- this is the variety that is comprised of my 2008 “wild purple puerh” probably the most common and popular “wild puerh” variety.  Recently I learned that "wild puerh" can also be classified as “sweet wild” or “bitter wild”.  I think we are still in the early days of learning about "wild puerh".

I feel that “wild puerh” is processed and pressed the same way sheng puerh is processed and obviously there is some kind of taxonomical difference in the material itself.  However, what makes it not puerh to me is that it has a completely different Qi, mouth/throat feel, body feel, taste and aroma than puerh.  So to me, it should no longer be referred to as “wild puerh” nor should we really be comparing it to our other puerh experiences.


Penny Arcade: News Post: Market Penetration

Tycho: Outside of Twitter or email, I don’t let strangers talk to me on the Internet.  I just don’t do it.  Generally speaking their “insights” about my identity fall into a few very staid categories and I feel confident I’ve experienced the flavor ridges of that particular narrative arc.  I’m not resting on my anodized laurels though: I’m getting into the conversation in a big way, and there’s been some interest in the novel mode of my dialectic. Hey!  The Child’s Play Team has put together a an event this afternoon on our… Comic for 2017.09.23

New Cyanide and Happiness Comic

Instructables: exploring - featured: Steampunk Jetpack

Here is the step by step Photo-instructables of my steampunk jetpack Main Engine test I tried some different approaches/configurations until i found the right configuration for the main engine Main engine setup I had left some clamps from my old drum they fitted perfectly Main Engine Test 2 ...

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Greater Fool – Authored by Garth Turner – The Troubled Future of Real Estate: Embarrassing

Poor Bill. Hung out to dry by his prime minister and bestie. Bet he wishes he’d stayed at home in his $5 million house in tony Bennington Heights, earning seven figures running his dad’s company. But, no, he had to go into politics – where he’s being used up, day after unrelenting day.

The finance minister faced another hostile room yesterday, this one in Nova Scotia where there are more people than jobs and 75% of doctors (not enough of them, either) are incorporated because they basically have to. So federal proposals to seriously increase the tax burden on the self-employed because ‘wealthy people have to pay their fair share’ were met with eye rolls and derision. In parts of the country were rich people are rare (almost all of it) and families would benefit from more job opportunities, whacking small businesses seems strange indeed.

Recall that the proposed changes – disallowing spouses from sharing earned income even though they’re both corporate owners and investors, plus raising taxes on retained earnings to as much as 73% – are not law. Yet. We’re in a 75-day consultation period that ends a week Monday. In the meantime people who know tax law (like accounting firms) or what’s good for the economy (manufacturers, exporters, labour unions, farmers, small biz operators) are apoplectic.

Over two million small businesses and households will be affected by this. Yes, some are fancy doctors and lawyers. Some are plumbers, IT guys and Uber drivers. Seven in ten earn less than $200,000. Collectively they run businesses employing an estimated  half of the 18.4 million Canadians who work. Overwhelmingly the people Morneau is about to squish are members of the middle class.

Well, as mentioned, he’s being used up. And knows it. The ‘consultation period’ is not only absurdly short, plus crassly staged during summer when you were fishing and MPs went home, but it’s a sham. The new rules are set. The enabling legislation has been drafted. The prime minister has admitted it. T2 doesn’t actually care what anyone thinks, according to remarks he gave at the UN this week.

“We raised taxes on the wealthiest one per cent so that we could lower them for the middle class and we’re continuing to look for ways to make our tax system more fair. Right now, we have a system that encourages wealthy Canadians to use private corporations to pay a lower tax rate than middle class Canadians. That’s not fair and we’re going to fix it.”

This is false, of course. The two million small businesses to be drop-kicked are not owned by 1%ers, since 90% of them don’t earn enough to qualify, nor do they have sufficient assets. Moreover, they’ve being playing by rules in place for decades. They’re not tax cheats. Legislated Tax Act provisions are not loopholes. And lower tax rates for people who risk capital to employ others (the vast bulk of the people T2 will brutalize) are a big reason they take risk. Otherwise, we’d all just loop along and work for corporate giants and government.

Anyway, the prime minister didn’t tell the UN that Canada’s consulting about making major changes to the tax code. “We’re going to fix it,” he said. That was clear. So much for what people think.

One irony is that Justin Trudeau is a millionaire thanks to money he inherited from his famous father. The funds have been tax-sheltered in various numbered companies and trusts. He will not be impacted by these changes, although he’s rich.

The interesting point is that Pierre Trudeau also inherited much of what he passed along to his now-PM son. And where did that wealth come from?

Yes, his father.

 Charles-Émile “Charley” Trudeau was a small business dude. A gas station grunt. He built a network of 30 locations around Montreal and started a loyalty program that encouraged 15,000 people to be gassing up regularly by 1932. He eventually sold the business for big bucks to an oil company, then invested the proceeds in mining companies and a baseball team (the Royals). He died prematurely, and the family fortune passed on to Pierre. Then to Justin.

Imagine. Gas station money. Now sheltered from tax in the accounts of a man his grandfather would hate, but who gladly took it.



Some recent work by Philadelphia-based artist Yis Goodwin (aka Nosego). Click here for previous posts. See more images below.



Lovely scenes of quiet solitude by artist and photographer Pierre Putman from Ghent, Belgium. Discovered via our new Submissions section, considering participating here if you have work you’d like to share. More images below.


BOOOOOOOM! – CREATE * INSPIRE * COMMUNITY * ART * DESIGN * MUSIC * FILM * PHOTO * PROJECTS: Artist Spotlight: Curtis Santiago aka Talwst

Some recent ring box dioramas and paintings by artist Curtis Santiago aka Talwst (previously featured here). See more images below.



Open Culture: Martin Scorsese to Teach His First Online Course on Filmmaking

If you need to make movies, if you feel like you can't rest until you've told this particular story that you're burning to tell, then Martin Scorsese has a course for you. Through MasterClass, the director of Goodfellas, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, and Mean Streets is now set to teach his first online course. According to the video trailer above, Scorsese will explore in 20+ lessons everything from cinematography and editing, to working with actors, on-set directing, and developing a personal filmmaking style. The $90 course won't be released until early 2018, but anyone who pre-enrolls now will get early access to the class.

While you wait, you can also take Werner Herzog's own course on filmmaking (also offered through MasterClass). Or explore Scorsese's lists of recommended films that we've previously featured here on Open Culture. Find them in the Relateds right below.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

If you'd like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.

Note: MasterClass is one of our partners. So if you sign up for a course, it benefits not just you and MasterClass. It benefits Open Culture too. So consider it win-win-win.

Related Content:

Martin Scorsese Creates a List of 39 Essential Foreign Films for a Young Filmmaker

Martin Scorsese Makes a List of 85 Films Every Aspiring Filmmaker Needs to See

Martin Scorsese Names His Top 10 Films in the Criterion Collection

Great Filmmakers Offer Advice to Young Directors: Tarantino, Herzog, Coppola, Scorsese, Anderson, Fellini & More

Werner Herzog Teaches His First Online Course on Filmmaking


Martin Scorsese to Teach His First Online Course on Filmmaking is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

Disquiet: What Sound Looks Like

The San Francisco airport, SFO, regularly features engaging exhibits. There was one recently about the art of ouija. Titled The Mysterious Talking Board, it brought a halo of sound to the topic, insinuating the notion of the “voice” of the unseen, otherworldly interlocutor. Currently in Terminal 2 there is a show that calls out for a sonic complement. The Typewriter: An Innovation in Writing (which runs from May 13, 2017, through January 28, 2018) displays dozens of typewriters from numerous stages of the technology’s development and, like this Chinese item shown here, from various places where characteristics of specific languages put unique demands on the underlying concept. I came away from it excited for another glimpse after my return flight, but also wishing I could hear what these different machines sounded like when in use.

An ongoing series cross-posted from

Open Culture: Watch the New Trailer for Wes Anderson’s Stop Motion Film, Isle of Dogs, Inspired by Akira Kurosawa

It surprised everyone, even die-hard fans, when Wes Anderson announced that he would not just adapt Roald Dahl's children's book Fantastic Mr. Fox for the screen, but do it with stop-motion animation. But after we'd all given it a bit of thought, it made sense: Anderson's films and Dahl's stories do share a certain sense of inventive humor, and stepping away from live action would finally allow the director of such detail-oriented pictures as RushmoreThe Royal Tenenbaums, and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou fuller control over the visuals. Eight years later, we find Anderson overseeing another team of animators to tell another, even more fantastical-looking story, this one set not in an England of the past but a Japan of the future.

There, according to the project's newly released trailer, "canine saturation has reached epic proportions. An outbreak of dog flu rips through the city of Megasaki. Mayor Kobayashi issues emergency orders calling for a hasty quarantine. Trash Island becomes an exile colony: the Isle of Dogs." Equals in furriness, if not attire, to Fantastic Mr. Fox's woodland friends and voiced by the likes of Jeff Goldblum, Scarlet Johansson, Tilda Swinton, and of course Bill Murray (in a cast also including Japanese performers like Ken Watanabe, Mari Natsuki, and Yoko Ono — yes, that Yoko Ono), the canines of various colors and sizes forcibly relocated to the bleak titular setting must band together into a kind of ragtag family.

Anderson must find himself very much at home in this thematic territory by now. It would also have suited the towering figure in Japanese film to whom Isle of Dogs pays tribute. Although Anderson has cited the 1960s and 70s stop-animation holiday specials of Rankin/Bass like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and The Little Drummer Boy — all produced, incidentally, in Japan — as one inspiration, he also said on an ArteTV Q&A earlier this year that “the new film is really less influenced by stop-motion movies than it is by Akira Kurosawa.” Perhaps he envisioned Atari Kobayashi, the boy who journeys to Trash Island to retrieve his lost companion, as a twelve-year-old version of one of Kurosawa's lone heroes.

And perhaps it owes to Kurosawa that the setting — at least from what the trailer reveals — combines elements of an imagined future with the look and feel of Japan's rapidly developing mid-20th century, a period that has long fascinated Anderson in its European incarnations but one captured crisply in Kurosawa's homeland in crime movies like High and Low and The Bad Sleep Well. Anderson has made little to no reference to the Land of the Rising Sun before, but his interest makes sense: no land better understands what Anderson has expressed more vividly with every project, the richness of the aesthetic mixture of the past and future that always surrounds us. And from what I could tell on my last visit there, its dog situation remains blessedly under control — for now.

via Uncrate

Related Content:

A Complete Collection of Wes Anderson Video Essays

The Geometric Beauty of Akira Kurosawa and Wes Anderson’s Films

Wes Anderson & Yasujiro Ozu: New Video Essay Reveals the Unexpected Parallels Between Two Great Filmmakers

Accidental Wes Anderson: Every Place in the World with a Wes Anderson Aesthetic Gets Documented by Reddit

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Watch the New Trailer for Wes Anderson’s Stop Motion Film, <i>Isle of Dogs</i>, Inspired by Akira Kurosawa is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

Michael Geist: Bell Calls for CRTC-Backed Website Blocking System and Complete Criminalization of Copyright in NAFTA

Bell, Canada’s largest telecom company, has called on the government to support radical copyright and broadcast distribution reforms as part of the NAFTA renegotiation. Their proposals include the creation of a mandated website blocking system without judicial review overseen by the CRTC and the complete criminalization of copyright with criminal provisions attached to all commercial infringement. Bell also supports an overhaul of the current retransmission system for broadcasters, supporting a “consent model” that would either keep U.S. channels out of the Canadian market or dramatically increase their cost of access while maintaining simultaneous substitution.

The Bell positions were articulated at hearing this week of the Standing Committee on International Trade on NAFTA (I appeared earlier in the week before the same committee). The first hour included representatives from both Rogers and Bell. The Rogers position on copyright struck a reasonable balance:

The 2012 Copyright Modernization Act was carefully developed by Parliament over many years and is designed to serve the interests of all Canadians in its balance between rights holders and uses of copyrighted works. We are concerned that a trade renegotiation, where copyright issues are used as bargaining chips, could endanger this delicate balance. In our view, any changes to our domestic copyright laws should be made through the upcoming five-year review of the Copyright Modernization Act, not through the NAFTA renegotiation.

In other words, Rogers believes that changes to Canadian copyright law should come through an open, public process, not behind closed doors in a trade negotiation.

By contrast, Bell took precisely the opposite approach, urging the government to use secretive trade discussions to establish copyright reforms that would be unlikely to ever garner public or policy support. Indeed, it seems likely that the only way Canada could end up with a mandated website blocking system overseen by the CRTC would be to cook it up in a trade negotiation.

Bell focused on piracy during its presentation, arguing that website blocking is the best solution:

Our view on how we solve the piracy problem is it is not sort of coming up with new technological measures, it’s blocking access to piracy. How do you do that? We would like to see measures put in place whereby all Internet service providers are required to block consumer access to pirated websites. In our view, that is the only way to stop it. So you would mandate all ISPs across the country to essentially block access to a black list of egregious piracy sites. That would be job number one.

How does Bell envision this working?  When asked, Bell’s representative stated:

In our view it would be an independent agency that would be charged with that task. You certainly would not want ISPs acting as censors as to what content is pirate content. But, surely, an independent third party agency could be formed, could create a black list of pirate sites and then the ISPs would be required to block it. That is at a high level how we would see it unfolding, perhaps overseen by a regulator like the CRTC.

This is not a misprint. Bell would like the CRTC to police allegations of copyright infringement by overseeing a new website blocking agency charged with creating a block list. Incredibly, Bell’s proposal involves no court oversight, hoping to create a mandatory system for blocking websites that excludes the due process that comes from judicial review (raising obvious Charter of Rights and Freedoms concerns). Notably, Bell does not discuss that Canada already has a provision in the Copyright Act that allows rights holders to target websites that enable infringement.

Moreover, Bell also wants to introduce criminal liability for all commercial copyright infringement. During the opening remarks, it said “Canada should also create a criminal provision for any infringement of copyright, including facilitating and enabling piracy where it is undertaken for commercial purpose.” Since Canada already has a provision to target sites that enable infringement, Bell’s goal is to dramatically expand the prospect of criminal liability for infringement by opening the door to criminal sanction for all commercial copyright infringement. Since some groups have argued that even non-commercial activity could have a commercial impact, the proposal could conceivably capture a wide range of common activities. As with the mandated website blocking proposal, Bell is hoping that the government support inclusion of criminal copyright in NAFTA, thereby ensuring that it does not go through the same policy and public review as other copyright reforms.

The Bell proposals (which sit alongside broadcast distribution proposals that would enshrine simultaneous substitution in NAFTA and create the prospect of blocked U.S. channels under a consent model) suggest that the company’s position as a common carrier representing the concerns of ISPs and their subscribers is long over. Instead, Bell’s copyright advocacy goes beyond what even some U.S. rights holders have called for, envisioning new methods of using copyright law to police the Internet with oversight from the CRTC and implementing such provisions through NAFTA.

The post Bell Calls for CRTC-Backed Website Blocking System and Complete Criminalization of Copyright in NAFTA appeared first on Michael Geist.

Colossal: A Wind-Up Bamboo Passenger Pigeon by Haptic Lab

The Flying Martha Ornithopter is a mechanical toy that when wound, flaps its wings through the air just like a real bird. The simple invention is built entirely from bamboo and Mulberry paper, and released just like a paper airplane. The ornithopter was built by Haptic Lab to honor the very last passenger pigeon, Martha, who died while in captivity at the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914.

Haptic Lab believes the invention is symbolic of humanity’s role in a rapidly changing world. “Like our other projects at Haptic Lab, the Flying Martha ornithopter aims to connect people to their physical environment, to one another, and to the planet as a whole,” says the design studio. “The Flying Martha celebrates the spirit of invention and discovery essential to humanity’s survival and to the survival of our planet.”

Each ornithopter is built to reflect the true size of the extinct bird, with a wingspan of 16 inches. The handmade nature of the toy bird allows its user to customize its flight, solving problems to discover the invention’s best flight path. By a slight twist of the tail to the left or right, its flight course is altered, giving the owner full control of how the bird flies.

The project is currently raising funds on Kickstarter. You can see more projects by Haptic Lab on their website, Instagram and Facebook. (via Kottke)

All Content: Cupid's Arrow Pierced My Tender Heart at the Movies

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Labor Day is the official start of the awards season with the advent of annual film festivals in Venice, Telluride and Toronto (not that we will forget earlier films like "Get Out"). There are so many good and exciting movies that audiences can look forward to in the coming months that I just wanted to highlight a few of them. As is usually the case, I saw far fewer movies at the festivals than I wanted to, but these are some of the ones I've seen that I highly recommend. I also recommend that you read the reports from our other writers who wrote more in depth about the festivals. (See the Table of Contents for Telluride and Toronto.)

1. Love Stories That Pierced My Heart

One of my best days at Telluride this year began with Guillermo del Toro's "The Shape of Water," a love story that combines elements of "Beauty and the Beast," except the beast is from the sea, more like the Creature from the Black Lagoon. It tells such a beautiful wondrous story. Leading lady Sally Hawkins' performance is deserving of an Oscar nomination. She duly walks through the routines of her drab life until she is jolted awake by feelings of love. The intensity of the scene where she tries to convince Jenkins to help her rescue the creature is alone worth the price of admission. She makes you believe the passion she has for the sea creature and has you rooting for them. She receives expert support from Richard Jenkins, Octavia Spencer and Michael Shannon. Guillermo is a masterful storyteller who brings true art to his special effects. But what this film does for the heart is what commends it most of all. 

Next, in collaboration with the Pordenone Silent Film Festival in Italy, Telluride presented Alexandre Volkoff's 1924 silent romance, "Kean, or Disorder and Genius," with the score performed live by musicians. The film's melodramatic gestures generated big emotions, especially following "The Shape of Water." For some reason, silent films in black and white accompanied by live music are perfect for allowing you to get lost in pure emotion. 

After those two films, I stumbled in a daze to Paul McGuigan's "Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool." This is based on the memoir by Peter Turner in which he recounts his love affair with Hollywood film star Gloria Grahame while he was a much younger up-and-coming actor. Annette Bening gives a fine performance, nailing the voice and sexiness and vulnerability of Grahame. And in scenes showing how their relationship progresses, Jamie Bell gives an equally enthralling portrayal of Turner. Supporting players are Julie Walters, Vanessa Redgrave and Frances Barber.

Seeing those three love stories in a row made me feel like my heart would burst. So afterward, I decided to see Joe Wright's drama about Winston Churchill, "Darkest Hour," featuring a performance by Gary Oldman that is guaranteed to be talked about at Oscar time. Not only was the film compelling, but it also allowed my heart to recover from the sting of cupid’s arrow. 

The romance continued at Toronto with "Call Me by Your Name," the exquisite new film by Luca Guadagnino, whose ravishing 2009 melodrama, "I Am Love," previously screened at Ebertfest with star Tilda Swinton in attendance. His latest film features Timothée Chalamet as an Italian teenager who falls for his father's research assistant, played by Armie Hammer in a revelatory performance. Hammer has never been more free and emotionally expressive on screen. And Chalamet shines in this coming-of-age romance. The lush Italian countryside mirrors the sensuous stirrings afoot. Michael Stuhlbarg as Chalamet's father gives a wise unexpected speech at the end that any young person struggling with his sexuality would be fortunate to hear. 

Wim Wenders, who received the Golden Thumb at our annual TIFF Ebert Filmmakers Tribute this year, presented an intelligent romantic thriller, "Submergence," about two lovers (played by James McAvoy and Alicia Vikander) recalling their time together while in separate confining circumstances; Vikander because of her exploration of the depths of the ocean, and McAvoy because of his global political explorations.  

2. Wonder Women

An instance of the truth being far stranger than fiction can be found in Angela Robinson's "Professor Marston and the Wonder Women," where we learn the true origins of the Wonder Woman story. Harvard psychology professor, Dr. William Marston (Luke Evans) shares an unconventional living arrangement with two women, his wife (played convincingly by Rebecca Hall) and his student (Bella Heathcote.) Both women are so intelligent, but with different degrees of dominance and submission, that it inspires him to combine their characteristics to create the titular superhero. They all paid a heavy price for their lifestyle. It's a story that will knock your socks off. However, you may never look at Wonder Woman's wristbands and lasso in the same way. 

Angelina Jolie's wrenching drama, "First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers," is her most accomplished directing to date and was well received at both festivals. It is based on the memoir by human rights activist Loung Ung, who experienced the horrors of the Cambodian genocide as a child. Like Jolie's 2014's "Unbroken," the film is a fact-based tribute to the endurance of the human spirit in unthinkable circumstances. 

Jessica Chastain brought another strong female to the screen in "Molly's Game," a true-life tale marking the directorial debut of Aaron Sorkin. It is based on the memoir by Molly Bloom, an Olympic-class skier who was targeted by the FBI after she began running a high-stakes poker game. The film features a splendid ensemble including Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Chris O'DowdMichael Cera and Graham Greene.

"Battle of the Sexes," the new film from "Little Miss Sunshine" directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, entertainingly recounts the 1973 tennis match between world champion Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and hustler Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell). The film is remarkably evocative of the period that it portrays. People may have forgotten how important the match was. The Virginia Slims Tennis Tournaments didn't come about because women liked to smoke, but because the professional women tennis players were banned when they went on strike for equal pay.

Viewers who think Carell's spot-on performance goes overboard should revisit footage of Riggs himself, whose showmanship is glimpsed in the end credits. One thing the film does that was perhaps unknown is give us a glimpse into the balance Riggs' wife (portrayed by the wonderful Elizabeth Shue) brought to his life. Stone's exceptional portrayal of King makes me wonder if there is anything Emma Stone can't do. She wouldn't have been my first choice to play Billie Jean King, but I would have been wrong. She is marvelous. The film also highlights Billie Jean King's love triangle with her husband and her first lesbian relationship. It does this in a surprisingly gentle and respectful manner, mirroring the gracious way the real parties handled those revelations at the time.  

What surprised me the most about the picture was the fact that it made me think of how far we still have to go in our campaign for human rights. It made me wonder how society has allowed women to be treated like second class citizens for far too long while tolerating outspoken male chauvinists. And lest we think this was just in the past, simply reflect back on the openly disrespectful, almost thuggish way Hillary Clinton was treated last year when she ran for president. I was reminded of Dr. King's words about judging others not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I thought about how people of color, immigrants and the LGBTQ community have been treated unequally, and how that inequality is responsible for a failure of our social systems and the rise of division and violence. Before it is too late, we must begin to treat our neighbors as ourselves. We must strive more than ever to embody the principles of empathy, kindness, compassion and forgiveness.

And I marveled at how this particular seemingly light film subversively caused me to think all of those  thoughts.

3. Familiar Faces

Think of the greatest example of a young actor channeling Woody Allen, and that is essentially what Saoirse Ronan does for her writer/director in the new film, "Lady Bird." It's a semi-biographical comedy that marks the solo directorial debut of Greta Gerwig, the gifted star and co-writer of "Frances Ha." Ronan's embodiment of Gerwig is flat-out uncanny, and she's joined by an excellent supporting cast headed by Laurie Metcalf as her mother.

The latest film from iconic French auteur Agnes Varda, "Visages Villages" ("Faces Places" in English), was co-directed by JR, a photographer and muralist 50 years her junior. Together, they gather extraordinary stories about ordinary people living in small villages, and then create striking artworks by plastering giant images of the people on the sides of buildings. 

Thirty-three years after its initial release, Francis Ford Coppola has released a restored and extended cut of his 1984 film, "The Cotton Club." This new cut restores many of the scenes that help explain the film's plot. And more importantly, it restores scenes featuring the home life and dance numbers of characters Gregory Hines and his brother Maurice, and songs like "Stormy Weather," sang by Lonette McKee playing a Lena Horne-like character. Previously Coppola was admonished to lose footage that contained "too many Black people." Coppola supposedly retorted, "It is called 'The Cotton Club' you know." 

The film stars Richard Gere, Gregory and Maurice Hines, Diane Lane and Lonette McKee, and a budding cast of other stars like Nicolas Cage, Bob Hoskins, Fred Gwynne, Gwen Verdon, Jennifer Grey and James Remar. Entitled "The Cotton Club Encore," this new version of the picture is being hailed as a masterpiece, and is sure to earn it many new admirers. 

Another good film I saw that is currently playing in theaters is "Brad’s Status," directed by Mike White, who has helmed offbeat gems such as "Chuck and Buck," "Year of the Dog" and HBO's "Enlightened" series. White's new film gets at the heart of a man (played by Ben Stiller) going through a midlife crisis. He has worked all his life deriving satisfaction from the nonprofit work he does in the world rather than the money he doesn't earn. But as his son, Troy (Austin Abrams), appears to qualify for a Harvard education, Stiller's character starts to compare his life to his friends who own jets and live in Maui beach houses with multiple women. He comes face-to-face with the question of whether his life amounted to enough. When you have raised a son as kind and level-headed as Troy is, my answer would be yes. The film becomes more profound, authentic and well-acted than the trailer suggests. 

4. Films That Make You Think

I greatly appreciate films with ideas that force you to debate their merits. Darren Aronofsky is an intelligent man and filmmaker, and I've always been a proponent of his work. His metaphors and allegories may sometimes be difficult to comprehend initially, and there are times he attempts to tackle too many ideas at once, but we recognize that he is an assured filmmaker. "mother!" is full of great performances by Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Michelle Pfeiffer and Ed Harris, but what is it about? Is Aronofsky working through his feelings regarding a past relationship, or is he more concerned with exploring the dynamics between an artist and his muse? Or it is all one big biblical allegory? The answer may lie somewhere in between. In interviews he has said that it is about God and the environment. Whatever. I wasn't bored. Horrified by the sudden violence at times, but never bored.

Another filmmaker I've always admired is Alexander Payne, whose latest film, "Downsizing," starring Matt Damon, has received a divided response from festivalgoers. Like Aronofsky, Payne likes to introduce different ideas into his work rather than simply revisit the same terrain over and over again. There's something I admire about this film's premise, which centers on the idea of people being physically "downsized" for environmental reasons. The idea seems to change tonally when the miniature community is examined more closely through the life of the rich lay-a-bout character played by Christoph Waltz. Is there Utopia in the small? It's an intriguing idea, and I give him credit for tackling it.

5. A Few More Favorites

One of my favorite films at Cannes this year was Ruben Östlund's Palme d'Or winner, "The Square," which was recently confirmed as Sweden's Oscar entry. The picture is a galvanizing satire centering on the existential crisis of a museum curator (Claes Bang). It co-stars Elisabeth Moss, whose equally timely Hulu series, "The Handmaid's Tale," recently swept the Emmys. It ponders many social and moral issues including how far society will allow a bully to go before intervening to save a victim. It also acts as a send-up to the curator's armchair ideas of justice and equality. Another favorite was Andrey Zvyagintsev's "Loveless," about a divorcing couple in Russia searching for their missing son against a backdrop of unfolding negative power politics. This film surprisingly is Russia's entry for the Academy Awards, even though it doesn't always show the country in the most positive light. This film drills deep. Zvyagintsev's previous film was "Leviathan."

Yorgos Lanthimos' "The Killing of a Sacred Deer," on the surface is more straightforward and less surreal than his last film,"The Lobster," but this chilling revenge tale starring Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman is deadly in its subtle cruelty. Last but not least is another soon-to-be-released film, Sean Baker's "The Florida Project," a touching and naturalistically shot portrait of latchkey kids living in an impoverished motel community outside Disney World. Their world, though physically close to the Magic Kingdom, is far far apart. Willem Dafoe gives a compassionate performance as the manager of the motel residence. It's yet another picture well worth seeking out in the months ahead.

All Content: Battle of the Sexes

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Going into “Battle of the Sexes,” one might expect an equally-balanced look at the lives of self-proclaimed chauvinist Bobby Riggs and tennis superstar Billie Jean King. This is not that movie. And it shouldn’t be really. The best angle of the film is the way it illuminates the difference between fighting for equality and battling to hold on to perceived superiority. Of course, this is a fight that continues to this day, and not just in terms of gender. If anything, there’s a better version of “Battle of the Sexes” that focuses even more fully on King, villainizing Riggs and his grotesque culture of sexism in a way this movie disappointingly seems scared to do. The material involving King’s fight for equality is powerful, and the performances are uniformly strong, but there’s a TV movie approach to the emotion and truth of this situation that softens it in detrimental ways. It’s not a “bad” film, but Billie Jean King’s story could have been so much deeper. It’s a movie that doesn’t hit nearly as hard as she did.

King is played by the Oscar-winning Emma Stone, who captures her unique blend of determined grit and awkward social behavior. Her take on King is relatively shy and spotlight-averse, the opposite of the gregarious Bobby Riggs, portrayed by Steve Carell. A gambling addict, the 55-year-old Riggs has lost his drive, looking for the next hustle to keep him happy, even as his bad habits frustrate his wife, played in a totally thankless role by Elizabeth Shue. When the head of the Tennis Association, played with an almost caricature degree of smarm by Bill Pullman, offers a tournament in which the female winner will get $1,500 while the male winner gets $12,000, King jumps ship, and she takes almost every female tennis player that matters with her. Led by Gladys Heldman (Sarah Silverman), the ladies form their own tennis tour, and the world notices, including Bobby Riggs.

While Riggs is looking for his next big thing, King is confronted with something she didn’t expect, a romance with her hairdresser, Marilyn Barnett (Andrea Riseborough). Happily married to Larry (Austin Stowell), Billie Jean never expected to fall in love with another woman, and it’s the kind of affair that could destroy her career, especially as the new tour is trying to find sponsors. With this new romance as the backdrop, King ends up agreeing to a one-time match with Riggs, who believes that an over-the-hill male tennis player can still beat the #1 young, female tennis champion. While a lot of the people around her see this as just a gimmick, she realizes the message it could send to the world if she loses.

With copious amounts of ‘70s style and music, directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (“Little Miss Sunshine”) work hard to recreate a period in which male chauvinism could still be very easily taken as a public position. It’s hard to imagine a dinosaur like Bobby Riggs getting any attention beyond a small core of morons nowadays. Even if his brand of sexism is depressingly alive and well, it’s not the kind of thing sports announcers openly defend. Listening to Howard Cosell and company legitimize Riggs’ worldview shows how much of a culture King had to work to tear down.

However, it also makes one wonder why writer Simon Beaufoy didn’t take a tougher stance against Riggs. Scenes with his wife and child are clearly designed to humanize him in a way that feels oddly disingenuous. At one point, he’s a goofy charmer, but then we see how much larger a hill that King had to climb because of the Riggs brand of sexism and it’s hard not wish the movie didn’t too often treat him as a harmless clown. There’s a better version of “Battle of the Sexes” that focuses more completely on just King because this half-developed, comedy approach to Riggs’ life doesn’t add enough to this version.

As for performances, Dayton & Faris have always been strong with an ensemble, and that’s true here as well. Stone is subtle and powerful, but Riseborough actually gives my favorite performance of the film, playing someone who feels more three-dimensional than the icons at the center of the piece. Similarly, Alan Cumming does a lot with just a few scenes, which isn’t that unusual for him. Less fortunate are Shue and Pullman, turned into the archetypes of the Frustrated Wife and the Sexist Boss. The final scenes of Pullman sneering as he watches the match might as well have had him twirling a curled mustache. It’s that superficial approach to the world around Billie Jean King that diminishes her story. Instead of a timeless story, this feels like a Hollywood production that softens what was truly and genuinely a battle, one that women are still fighting today.

This review was originally filed on September 12, 2017 from the Toronto International Film Festival.

Daniel Lemire's blog: Science and Technology links (September 22th, 2017)

Mass is preserved. When you lose fat, where does the fat goes? It has to go somewhere. No, it is not transformed in “energy” or “heat”. Neither “energy” nor “heat” have atomic mass. I asked the question on social networks and most people got the wrong answer. This YouTube video gives the correct answer.

I had been assuming that the US consumption of electricity was on the rise. I have gadgets everywhere around me, these use electricity, right? Actually, no, electricity usage, in absolute value, is stagnant in the US, which means that the per capita usage is down:

Economic growth in advanced economies does not require increased energy consumption. Real GDP rose 12.7% in the U.S. between 2008 and 2015. During the same time period, electric consumption declined by 0.3%.

Climate scientists badly failed to predict CO2 emissions:

Global CO2 emission intensity increased despite all major scenarios projecting a decline.

Influential climate scientists have also revised their predictions:

Computer modelling used a decade ago to predict how quickly global average temperatures would rise may have forecast too much warming, a study has found. (…) The Earth warmed more slowly than the models forecast, meaning the planet has a slightly better chance of meeting the goals set out in the Paris climate agreement, including limiting global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. (…) The study, published this week in the journal Nature Geoscience, does not play down the threat which climate change has to the environment, and maintains that major reductions in emissions must be attained.(…) But the findings indicate the danger may not be as acute as was previously thought.

So you think you should take your antibiotics even after you feel fine? No. Exposing your body to antibiotics longer than needed is counterproductive, as it helps develop antibiotic resistance. Doctor Brad Spellberg is the chief medical officer for the Los Angeles County, and we writes:

There are some chronic infections, such as tuberculosis, where you do indeed have to take long courses of antibiotics, not to prevent resistance but rather to cure the infection. But for most acute bacterial infections, short courses of antibiotics result in equivalent cure rates and with less chance of causing the emergence of antibiotic resistance among the bacteria in and on your body.

Llewelyn et al. (2017) write:

However, the idea that stopping antibiotic treatment early encourages antibiotic resistance is not supported by evidence, while taking antibiotics for longer than necessary increases the risk of resistance.

(Source: HackerNews).

Uber has taken the world by storm, using a small mobile app to allow people to either offer cab services or call a cab service, without the infrastructure that normally supports cab services. The City of London will not renew Uber’s license. The government fears that Uber is a threat to Londoners’ safety and security.

Human beings’ death rate follows a Gompertz’ law which means that the probability that you will die goes up exponentially, year after year. This explains why, even though there are billions of us, none of us get to live beyond 120 years old. Not all living beings follow a Gompertz’ law. Plants do not. However, wooden utility poles do follow a Gompertz’ law just like us.

P. D. Mangan reports that exercise helps keep cancer away:

Exercise prevents cancer (…) A recent meta-analysis found up to 42% less risk for 10 different cancers, including esophageal, liver, lung, kidney, and many other cancers. (…) An interesting question is how exercise prevents cancer, and some recent research sheds light on this. (…) Fat tissue generates cytokines that promote the proliferation of cancer cells, and physical activity diminishes or abolishes the effect, which is dose-dependent, i.e. more exercise means less cancer promoting cytokines. (…) In animals (mice) that were implanted with tumor cells, voluntary running reduced tumor growth by over 60%. The researchers believe that exercise mobilized natural killer (NK) cells, which attack cancer.

Open Culture: How Can We Know What is True? And What Is BS? Tips from Carl Sagan, Richard Feynman & Michael Shermer

Science denialism may be a deeply entrenched and enormously damaging political phenomenon. But it is not a wholly practical one, or we would see many more people abandon medical science, air travel, computer technology, etc. Most of us tacitly agree that we know certain truths about the world—gravitational force, navigational technology, the germ theory of disease, for example. How do we acquire such knowledge, and how do we use the same method to test and evaluate the many new claims we're bombarded with daily?

The problem, many professional skeptics would say, is that we’re largely unaware of the epistemic criteria for our thinking. We believe some ideas and doubt others for a host of reasons, many of them having nothing to do with standards of reason and evidence scientists strive towards. Many professional skeptics even have the humility to admit that skeptics can be as prone to irrationality and cognitive biases as anyone else.

Carl Sagan had a good deal of patience with unreason, at least in his writing and television work, which exhibits so much rhetorical brilliance and depth of feeling that he might have been a poet in another life. His style and personality made him a very effective science communicator. But what he called his “Baloney Detection Kit,” a set of “tools for skeptical thinking,” is not at all unique to him. Sagan’s principles agree with those of all proponents of logic and the scientific method. You can read just a few of his prescriptions below, and a full unabridged list here.

Wherever possible there must be independent confirmation of the “facts.”

Encourage substantive debate on the evidence by knowledgeable proponents of all points of view.

Arguments from authority carry little weight — “authorities” have made mistakes in the past. They will do so again in the future. Perhaps a better way to say it is that in science there are no authorities; at most, there are experts.

Spin more than one hypothesis. If there’s something to be explained, think of all the different ways in which it could be explained. Then think of tests by which you might systematically disprove each of the alternatives.

Try not to get overly attached to a hypothesis just because it’s yours. It’s only a way station in the pursuit of knowledge. Ask yourself why you like the idea. Compare it fairly with the alternatives. See if you can find reasons for rejecting it. If you don’t, others will.

Another skeptic, founder and editor of Skeptic magazine Michael Shermer, surrounds his epistemology with a sympathetic neuroscience frame. We’re all prone to “believing weird things,” as he puts it in his book Why People Believe Weird Things and his short video above, where he introduces, following Sagan, his own “Baloney Detection Kit.” The human brain, he explains, evolved to see patterns everywhere as a matter of survival. All of our brains do it, and we all get a lot of false positives.

Many of those false positives become widespread cultural beliefs. Shermer himself has been accused of insensitive cultural bias (evident in the beginning of his video), intellectual arrogance, and worse. But he admits up front that scientific thinking should transcend individual personalities, including his own. “You shouldn’t believe anybody based on authority or whatever position they might have,” he says. “You should check it out yourself.”

Some of the ways to do so when we encounter new ideas involve asking “How reliable is the source of the claim?” and “Have the claims been verified by somebody else?” Returning to Sagan’s work, Shermer offers an example of contrasting scientific and pseudoscientific approaches—the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute and UFO believers. The latter, he says, uncritically seek out confirmation for their beliefs, where the scientists at SETI rigorously try to disprove hypotheses in order to rule out false claims.

Yet it remains the case that many people—and not all of them in good faith—think they’re using science when they aren’t. Another popular science communicator, physicist Richard Feynman, recommended one method for testing whether we really understand a concept or whether we’re just repeating something that sounds smart but makes no logical sense, what Feynman calls “a mystic formula for answering questions.” Can a concept be explained in plain English, without any technical jargon? Can we ask questions about it and make direct observations that confirm or disconfirm its claims?

Feynman was especially sensitive to what he called “intellectual tyranny in the name of science.” And he recognized that turning forms of knowing into empty rituals resulted in pseudoscientific thinking. In a wonderfully rambling, informal, and autobiographical speech he gave in 1966 to a meeting of the National Science Teachers Association, Feynman concluded that thinking scientifically as a practice requires skepticism of science as an institution.

“Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts,” says Feynman. “If they say to you, ‘Science has shown such and such,’ you might ask, ‘How does science show it? How did the scientists find out? How? What? Where?’” Asking such questions does not mean we should reject scientific conclusions because they conflict with cherished beliefs, but rather that we shouldn't take even scientific claims on faith.

For elaboration on Shermer, Sagan and Feynman's approaches to telling good scientific thinking from bad, read these articles in our archive:

Carl Sagan Presents His “Baloney Detection Kit”: 8 Tools for Skeptical Thinking

Richard Feynman Creates a Simple Method for Telling Science From Pseudoscience (1966)

Richard Feynman’s “Notebook Technique” Will Help You Learn Any Subject–at School, at Work, or in Life

Michael Shermer’s Baloney Detection Kit: What to Ask Before Believing


Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

How Can We Know What is True? And What Is BS? Tips from Carl Sagan, Richard Feynman & Michael Shermer is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

Tea Masters: A spectacular tea pairing event at the Mandarin Oriental in Taipei

There's an iron rule in gongfu cha never to eat food while tasting tea. That's because tea has very light aromas that are easily obscured by food. So does that mean that food and tea never mix? This reminds of the joke with 2 priests who meet outside church while smoking a cigarette. The first one says: "Are you allowed to smoke in your monastery? In ours we can't." The second one says: "Sure, we can. How did you ask to be allowed to smoke?" The first priest says: "I asked if I may be able to smoke while I pray. They said no. How did you ask?" The second priest says: "I asked if I could pray while I smoke!"

So, the answer is that it's best not to have food while tasting tea, but you can have tea while eating! After all, tea and gastronomy are intimately related as I've recently shown.
Last Friday, the Chairman of the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Taipei, M. Lin, organized a tea pairing dinner for a group of distinguished guests from Thailand. He asked M. Chi Zongxian (aka Teaparker, my tea master) to pair the Chinese dishes with tea. Teaparker then turned to me to brew these teas with the help of a few more persons. The goal wasn't merely to have tea with the dinner, but to match each dish with a tea in a harmonious and delicious way.

The first course consisted of several appetizers: roasted suckling pig, barbecued pork ribs with longyan (similar to lychee), jelly fish head in chilli sauce, black fungus with aged vinegar, pork knuckle in soy broth, dried tofu in soy broth. What all these dishes have in common is soy sauce and ginger. That's why an organic Concubine Oolong from Shan Lin Xi from 2016 is a great match: the honey scents are powerful enough and the sweet taste adds to the taste of the food. Besides, these appetizers are quite rich and could almost make one feel satisfied, but the tea opens up the appetite. I brewed this tea in my biggest Yixing zhuni teapot and served it in dragon and phoenix gaiwans from the 1970/80s. Thanks to the lid, the tea stayed hot longer in the air-conditioned room. To refill the cups, Teaparker let us use a Qing dynasty Yixing zisha water polished teapot that was made for export to Thailand. This gesture was very appreciated by the Thai guests.

The second course was a double-boiled codyceps in a black bone chicken soup. The paired tea was Wuyi Baijiguan from the Yu tea plantation brewed in a Duanni teapot and served in wine glasses at a cooled down temperature unlike other teas. This dish was also paired with a 1986 chateau Mouton Rothschild. Baijiguan has a moss and mushroom like fragrance with a delicate, sweet taste. The guests drink the tea after drinking half the soup. They notice that the aromas of the soup intensify as they drink the Baijiguan and that the tea echoes the wine in terms of refinement. Fittingly, we refill the cups with a Japanese silver teapot with a spout in the shape of a phoenix head! 

The third course was a braised sea cucumber with spring onion. It was paired with a clone of one of the Wuyi DaHongPao bushes, the Qidang, from this spring. I brewed it in my antique Dehua porcelain teapot. It smelled like a bouquet of roses with a deep taste of rocks.

The fourth course is braised goose feet with abalone in abalone sauce. The same Qidang Yancha is used here. The fine abalone taste complements well the elegant taste of the Qidang. We refill the cups with a big 19th century silver dragon teapot. 

The fifth course is star garoupa fish with spring onions. The sixth course is poached baby cabbage and bamboo pith in superior broth. These 2 dishes have light aromas and are paired with this wild raw spring 2017 puerh tea brewed in my silver dragon and phoenix silver teapot. The fresh spring buds add a fresh feeling to the fish and vegetables. The cups are refilled with a gold teapot and added to the luxury feeling in this 5 stars hotel!

After this dinner, M. Lin gave us his feedback about this tea pairing event. For him, wine is a natural companion for a dinner, because it gives a party feeling. Everybody feels 'high' and easy going thanks to the alcohol. Tea seems to have an opposite effect, making people quiet and zen, but it also provides with interesting new pairing possibilities.

For Teaparker, such a tea pairing event was the first of its kind in Asia. It was a small, but important step to show the pairing potential of tea. This will become a future trend in upscale restaurants and it's going to be an exciting field of exploration and innovation. 

As for me, I think that M. Lin is right to point out the opposite effects of tea and wine. But this doesn't mean that tea and wine should necessarily be opposed to each other. On the contrary, as my cheese, wine and tea pairing event showed, tea and wine can also be complementing each other. Tea helps to delay the point when you feel to inebriated, while wine adds a celebratory mood to the meal. And both can provide good matches for the food. This approach is also probably easier to promote to restaurants where wine is often a cash cow that nobody wants to see replaced.

(This article is based on free translation of Teaparker's recent articles with his kind permission).

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Humor

Click here to go see the bonus panel!

How many blondes does it take to screw in a lightbulb? None, because automation has eliminated the need for humans.

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The Shape of Code: An Almanac of the Internet

My search for software engineering data has turned me into a frequent buyer of second-hand computer books, many costing less than the postage of £2.80. When the following suggestion popped up along-side a search, I could not resist; there must be numbers in there!

internet almanac

The concept of an Almanac will probably be a weird idea to readers who grew up with search engines and Wikipedia. But yes, many years ago, people really did make a living by manually collecting information and selling it in printed form.

One advantage of the printed form is that updating it requires a new copy, the old copy lives on unchanged (unlike web pages); the disadvantage is taking up physical space (one day I will probably abandon this book in a British rail coffee shop).

Where did Internet users hang out in 1997?

top websites 97

The history of the Internet, as it appeared in 1997.

internet history viewed from 1997

Of course, a list of web sites is an essential component of an Internet Almanac:

website list from  1997

All Content: Stronger

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There’s a great scene a little over halfway through David Gordon Green’s “Stronger,” in which Jeff Bauman, who lost both of his legs just above the knee in the Boston Marathon bombing, is trying to stand on new prosthetics for the first time. His face is pained and he mutters something about pins and needles, but everyone around him is just cheering, his mother shouting “You look awesome!” He doesn’t feel awesome. “Stronger” transcends your standard inspirational drama mostly through two fantastic performances, but also in the way it understands that trauma isn’t inspirational to the people who suffer it. During much of “Stronger,” Jeff will be told he’s a hero and reminded to stay “Boston Strong,” but will question again and again just what that means. And then Green’s film subverts its own message about the commodification of tragedy to become something even more remarkable—a statement on the value of images of survival. Some of it is too broad, and I wish the film dug a little deeper at times, but this is one of those rare inspirational films that earns its inspiration.

Screenwriter John Pollono’s adaptation of Bauman’s memoir spends very little time on set-up, but Green and his cast make the most of it. We meet Jeff (Jake Gyllenhaal), getting out of a sticky situation at his job at Costco so he can be in his lucky chair to watch the Red Sox game. They lost the last two because he wasn’t there. At the bar, we meet his beer-swilling family, played with sometimes-too-broad Boston accents and personalities by Miranda Richardson as Jeff’s mom and Clancy Brown as his dad, along with famous Boston comic Lenny Clarke as another relative, and others who sometimes feel straight out of Boston central casting—love the Sox, drink before noon, yell over each other, etc. Jeff’s friends and family sometimes feel a bit too broadly sketched, but they’re captured lovingly.

We also meet Erin (Tatiana Maslany), Jeff’s on-again-off-again girlfriend, who just happens to be running in the Boston Marathon the next day. In what feels like an effort to try and win her back a bit, Jeff makes a sign to greet her at the finish line. He’s at ground zero when the bombing happens, and he loses both of his legs below the knee. He becomes an even bigger story when he reports that he saw one of the bombers. Not only is he a survivor, but he’s going to help take down the enemy. Jeff becomes an image for a nation in need of a hero. But Jeff, with Erin by his side, has to learn how to survive as more than just a symbol.

Green and Pollono are at their best here when they’re focusing on the details of Jeff’s situation in ways that gauzy melodramas usually overlook. There’s a striking scene in which Jeff’s dressings are taken off for the first time, out of focus in the background, as we stay on Jeff’s face in the fore. He can’t look, and so we don’t see them clearly either. He’d rather look into Erin’s eyes. He’s scared and in pain, and she’s the only lifeline. Other scenes of tactile process—like making casts for his legs or how hard it is to get in the tub—add gravity and realism to what could have been a more manipulative experience.

Of course, what really grounds “Stronger” is the work by Gyllenhaal and Maslany, both giving performances at or at least near the top of their already-notable careers here. They’re both remarkably committed physically, but it’s how completely they stay in the moment that makes “Stronger” work. We believe their situation entirely, never feeling like they’re merely pulling heartstrings to get a response or playing melodrama instead of truth. So many performances in inspirational dramas are all about the external mountain the hero or heroine has to climb, but Gyllenhaal and Maslany recognize that it is the internal drama that will make these characters resonate.

A few of the beats don't work—some inspirational scenes would have been more powerful if they had been just a bit shorter—and there are some “Boston atmosphere” moments I just didn’t quite believe (like the cop who asks for a photo after pulling them over). But every time that “Stronger” threatens to become just another piece of Hollywood inspiration, something happens to bring it back to Earth, most often through the smart choices made by Gyllenhaal and Maslany (and, of course, Green’s direction of them). “Stronger” feels sometimes manipulative—it would be difficult to tell this story and not come off that way—but I’d be lying if I said the manipulation didn’t work. 

Jeff Bauman wondered aloud why he was considered strong just for being in a place that was bombed. He didn't consider himself a hero and shied from the spotlight. But the film about him becomes a striking testament to the power and human need for symbols of hope, and has the ability to be as inspirational to someone as Bauman’s true story. It understands the pain in Jeff’s face when he was standing for the first time, but also gets that for those who needed to believe in him, the moment was pretty “awesome.”

This review was originally filed on September 9th, 2017 from the Toronto International Film Festival.

All Content: Kingsman: The Golden Circle

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The franchise-style espionage thriller has long been ripe for a sendup, or a pastiche, or an update, or whatever the hell people think it’s ripe for. The comic book “Kingsman” provided the basis for 2015’s “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” a blockbuster sized action picture with, ostensibly, a cheeky attitude not unlike that of “Kick-Ass” (also directed by Matthew Vaughn). For many, that movie filled the sendup/pastiche/update bill quite nicely. Instead of an official intelligence industry, the secret agent outfit Kingsman, operating out of a high-end tailor’s shop, is a privatized law-enforcement security service with a lot of high-tech weaponry and convoluted cutting-edge tech protocol.

The movie itself, a sort of bildungsroman in which raw recruit Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is given a class-conscious catapult to lethal gentlemanhood by older agent Harry (Colin Firth), was sufficiently slick and energetic that you might not notice at first what a callous, nihilistic, smirky, sexist, retrograde pile of expensive garbage it was. It even managed to make its last-call anal sex joke seem mildly charming … if you didn’t think about it too much.

The true tell in the first film was the character of Gazelle, a henchperson of the main villain, a woman whose prosthetic legs are sharp knife edges. With these she can amputate limbs, and even cut a man entirely in half. These mutilations were depicted in a sterile, near analgesic fashion; the audience is meant to titter at the loss of life and limb delivered so efficiently, with no pain, no mess. Similar dismemberments and body halvings are delivered in the sequel, “Kingsman: The Golden Circle.” It’s violence for cowardly voyeurs who want to make the people who annoy them just shut up in a way that’s silent, sterile, and thoroughly humiliating to the victim.

But the movie was successful, so now there’s the sequel, cooked up in the script department by director Vaughn and Jane Goldman. If you think having a woman co-writing the screenplay will help in the egregious gross sexism department you are mistaken; one of this movie’s “gags” involves putting a tracker on a villain’s girlfriend by means of a form of sexual assault the current president of the United States once bragged about. Eggsy performs this act reluctantly, we are meant to understand, in part because he is now in a committed relationship with the Swedish Princess who gifted him with anal sex in the first movie.

“Kingsman: The Golden Circle,” which finds the British tailors decimated and forced to join forces with a whiskey manufacturing U.S. spy network called “Statesman” and featuring such personages as Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges and Halle Berry, is even longer than the first movie, clocking in at two hours and 20 minutes or so. As action-packed as the movie is, it feels like it’s six hours. That’s in part because the pacing is so spavined; the movie lurches twitchily from set piece to set piece and spends inordinate amounts of time on shots of its sharp-dressed characters slow-motioning into the widescreen frames showing off accessories that will be sold to you by various companies in various Kingsman tie-ins all over the Internet. (A scene wherein Firth is packing up his things finds the actor taking special care to make sure the wooden Art of Shaving soap dish is turned to the camera lens. In recent weeks, I’ve received no less than a dozen e-mails from Art of Shaving, all tied in to “Kingsman.”) 

It also feels long because every bit or joke is dragged out long past its funniness or shock value. The plot here, just as reactionary in its way as that of the first one, centers around a drug cartel, the Golden Circle, run out of a jungle presided over by Julianne Moore’s Poppy. (I hope the producers of this movie paid Moore an inordinate amount of money, because all she gives them in return for her fee is a passable Megan Mullally impersonation, which is still less than they deserve.) Poppy’s very rich and powerful but also isolated and lonely, so she’s kidnapped Elton John and is forcing him to perform solely for her. Elton John is played by himself. This is funny at first, then sour, then gets beaten worse than a dead horse as Sir Elton is made a plot point and a climactic action sequence is played out over one of his more raucous numbers. “Enough,” one thinks, but “enough” does not exist in the philosophy of this movie.

Well, I suppose it does in one respect. In “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” villain Valentine, played by Samuel L. Jackson, inveigled various world leaders into going along with his twisted save-the-earth doomsday scheme; he then implanted a device in their necks that, unbeknownst to them, could blow up their heads if triggered. One of the world leaders was meant to be taken for then-President Barack Obama. And at the movie’s ending, all the head-exploding devices were made to go off, and the audience was invited to guffaw at the spectacle of Barack Obama’s head blowing up. This movie’s plot hinges on tainted drugs that will kill, potentially, all the world’s substance abusers. The scheme, initiated by Moore’s character, is reported by Fox News, none of whose correspondents are shown to have the sign of the taint. Because no one who works for Fox News does drugs, as we know. This movie also features a United States President, but not a real one, as the last film did; this movie’s president is white, and played by Bruce Greenwood. It’s probably just a coincidence that this movie is produced by Fox. It probably means nothing that this movie, made by people who invited you to laugh at the violent death of the United States’ first black president, won’t touch Donald Trump with a ten-foot pole. They can’t be racist, right? They cast Halle Berry in this movie and Samuel L. Jackson in the last. They approve of black actors at least.

Speaking of actors, this is a movie that makes you wonder about them as a class. Can Colin Firth, Channing Tatum, Mark Strong, Jeff Bridges, Poppy Delevingne, Julianne Moore, Michael Gambon, and so many others in the cast be themselves as soul-dead and life-hating as this movie? If not (and it’s probably, or at least hopefully, not) who do we blame? Their agents? The whole bloody system that’s out of order?

All Content: The LEGO Ninjago Movie

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The pieces are all there, but they never really snap into place in “The LEGO Ninjago Movie.”

The feature-film version of the long-running animated TV series “Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu” only superficially resembles its source material, and it pales in comparison to its cinematic predecessors. Maybe such diminishing returns were inevitable. It would be impossible to recreate the groundbreaking, lightning-in-a-bottle innovation of 2014’s “The Lego Movie.” We saw that earlier this year with the release of “The Lego Batman Movie,” which was consistently zippy and amusing but, inevitably, not quite as novel.

Now we have “The LEGO Ninjago Movie,” about a group of teenagers who are secretly ninjas, each with a special elemental power. Their challenge is to take on the evil Lord Garmadon (voiced by Justin Theroux), who also happens to be the father of the team’s Green Ninja, Lloyd (Dave Franco). But while the film is credited to three directors (Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher and Bob Logan) and a small army of writers, it results in only a few clever ideas that are chuckle-worthy, at best.

Its strongest bit is the introduction of a live-action cat within this animated setting—dubbed Meowthra in an homage to classic, Japanese movie monsters—who terrorizes Ninjago City when she’s accidentally summoned with a red laser pointer. But the enjoyment of the absurd sight of a cat knocking over Lego buildings lasts about as long as your average viral video—and then you’re stuck realizing how little there is to the script.

Part of the problem is that “The LEGO Ninjago Movie” is primarily about Lloyd struggling with his daddy issues and Garmadon trying to figure out whether and how to be a father to Lloyd, whom he hasn’t seen since the boy’s infancy. And aside from Lloyd, the other ninjas are essentially interchangeable, which is a huge departure from the television show. (I have a son who’s almost eight. We watch a lot of “Ninjago” in this house. Ask me anything.) The supporting players’ names and nature-related abilities are all the same—water, lightning, fire, etc.—but they have no discerning personalities beyond that. They are background noise. They are filler.

What’s so bizarre about that is that the longtime voice performers from the TV series—who’ve been playing these characters for seven seasons now—have all been replaced with better-known actors and comedians, who then get surprisingly little to do. Nothing against them—they’re all great and they’re solid voice talent, people you’re happy to see whether they appear in TV or film—but they’re not given enough material to justify overhauling the entire cast. The shift seems like a cynical ploy to make the movie more marketable.

For the record, they are Kumail Nanjiani (Jay), Fred Armisen (Cole), Michael Pena (Kai), Abbi Jacobson (Nya) and Zach Woods (Zane). Jackie Chan plays their wise leader, Master Wu, and Olivia Munn has a small supporting role as Lloyd’s mom, Koko.

“LEGO Ninjago” also suffers from its live-action bookend narrative structure, featuring Chan as a store owner who tells the legend of Ninjago to a wide-eyed kid. All that does is explain the presence of the cat and it gets the film’s pacing off to a sluggish start from which it never fully recovers.

What it could have used more of was world-building, literally and figuratively. What makes this place different from every other? What makes it better than the world of “The Lego Movie,” where everything was awesome? That movie efficiently and effectively laid out its parameters and characters. This one drops you in—so if you don’t know the show, you’ll have no connection to this setting. Having said that, if you’re a fan of the show, you’ll be struck by how little the movie has in common with it.

Despite the grander scale (and bigger budget), the movie doesn’t use the Legos for the thing that makes them fun: the building aspect of them, the possibility of creativity, the way they allow you to push boundaries and come up with structures and characters that maybe don’t make any sense, but they’re cool-looking. “LEGO Ninjago” is essentially an ordinary animated film, with visuals rendered in Lego form.

And sometimes the visuals are so garbled, this may as well be a “Transformers” movie, especially as the ninjas climb inside their various mecha to fly/climb/fight/etc. against Garmadon to keep him from destroying Ninjago City. Along those lines, the sound mix often made it hard to hear the quips, one-liners and banter, especially during the big action sequences, of which there are many. Then again, the jokes and the energy as a whole lack the infectious nature of previous Lego movies.

Since we’re making all the inevitable comparisons, it’s hard to shake the sensation that Theroux is essentially doing Will Arnett doing Batman in the previous two Lego movies. He brings an amusing buffoonery to this alleged super-villain—a clueless bravado, a total lack of self-awareness—but we’ve heard this shtick before. Even the husky swagger of Theroux’s delivery recalls Arnett’s performances, and it serves as yet another reminder of how superior the predecessors were.

And as my son pointed out after a screening of the film (between bursts of singing the TV show’s insanely catchy theme song) the ninjas don’t even do spinjitzu, their stylized martial-arts technique using their signature elemental powers. Not really—not until the end. But maybe we’ll see more of that in the sequel, which is certainly on the horizon, whether it’s merited or not.

Disquiet: Live Classical Remix

What might be a bowed cello or, perhaps, a deep horn opens this track solemnly. The quick initiation of a repeating fragment, the appearance of an audible seam where a loop ends and then again begins, makes it clear this is a remix. What it is is the musician taking a bit of classical music recorded off the radio, and through improvisation in one sitting layering and reworking it into something else entirely.

It is literally one sitting, which we know because the track appears as a video, documentation of a musician coming up to speed on a relatively new piece of equipment. The instrument is the Digitakt, a drum machine and sampler from the company Elektron. You don’t need to know the Digitakt’s interface in order to correlate some of the live actions with what we’re hearing. Often it’s self-evident, as when, around the 2:00 mark, one sample is slowed ever so slightly, or at the end when the volume decreases for a slow fade out.

The strings are the majority of the piece. They are sequenced to avoid any easy sense of metrical certainty, and they are copied and pasted well beyond the number of players present on the original recording. Remixing is like magic: smoke (filters) and mirrors (sampling). The result is a digital fantasia, material mixed as the memory might, favorite snatches on repeat, connections and contrasts between formerly sequential elements emphasized through simultaneity.

This is the latest video I’ve added to my YouTube playlist of recommended live performances of ambient music. Video originally posted on the corduroyfarmer YouTube.

Better Embedded System SW: Challenges and Solutions in Autonomous Vehicle Validation

Here are the slides from my AV17 Presentation on self-driving car safety:


Japanese artist Ryota Matsumoto recently shared some work via our new Submissions platform (you can submit your own work here). The artworks are a combination of traditional (ink, acrylic, graphite, photo collage) and digital media. See more below.


things magazine: Publishing things

Epic amounts of creative work at wallpaper*’s guest editor retrospective: Zaha Hadid; Dieter Rams; David Lynch; Christian Marclay; Frank Gehry; Hedi Slimane; Kraftwerk; Louise Bourgeois; Philippe Starck; Robert Wilson; Laurie Simmons; Liz Diller; Rei Kawakubo; Taryn Simon; Lang Lang; Karl … Continue reading

CreativeApplications.Net: A/B – Experimental AR livestream with audience participation

Created by Harald Haraldsson, A/B is a Unity and Google's ARCore interactive livestream experiment where the online audience is invited to direct Harald which way to navigate Chinatown in NYC.

Open Culture: A Reading of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” in 100 Celebrity Voices

For every august personage who’s taken a crack Edgar Allan Poe’s evergreen poem, "The Raven," there are thousands more who haven’t.

Humorist Jordan Monsell is doing what he can to close that gap, providing a sampling of 100 mostly male, mostly white, mostly human celebrity voices. It’s a solo recitation, but vocally a collaborative one, with a fair number of animated characters making their way into the credits, too.

He certainly knows how to cast outside the box. Traditional Poe interpreters such as Vincent Price and John Astin bring some well established creep cred to the enterprise. Monsell picks Christopher Walken and Christopher Lee already have existing takes on this classic, and Anthony Hopkins and Willem Dafoe are welcome additions.

But what to make of Jerry Seinfeld, Pee-Wee Herman, Johnny Cash… and even poetry lover Bill Murray? Manic and much missed Robin Williams may offer a clue. What good is having an arsenal of impressions if you’re not willing to roll them out in rapid succession?

While some of Monsell's impersonations (cough, David Bowie) fall a bit short of the mark, others will have you regretting that no one had the forethought to record Don Knotts or JFK reciting the poem in its entirety.

The titles offer a bit of a misnomer. In many instances, it’s not really the performers but their best known characters being aped. While there may not be too great a vocal divide between playwright Wallace Shawn and Vizzini in The Princess Bride, The Dude is not Jeff Bridges, any more than Captain Jack Sparrow is Johnny Depp.

The project seems likely to play best with nerdy adolescent boys… which could be good news for teachers looking to get reluctant readers onboard. Show it on the classroom Smart Board, and be prepared to have mini-teach-ins on Katharine Hepburn, Walter Matthau, the late great Robert Shaw, and other big names whose day has passed. Shrek, Gollum, and Harry Potter’s house elf, Dobby, are on hand to keep the references from feeling too moldy.

The specter of Poe gets the coveted final word, a balm to the ears after the triple assault of Christian Bale’s Batman, Mad Max’s Tom Hardy, and Heath Ledger’s Joker. (It may be a matter of taste. You’ll hear no complaint from these quarters with regard to Mickey Mouse, Bert Lahr’s Cowardly Lion, or The Simpson’s Krusty the Klown, wonderfully unctuous.)

The breakneck audio patchwork approach doesn’t do much for reading comprehension, but could lead to a lively middle school discussion on what constitutes a successful performance. Who served the text best? Readers?

Furthermore, who’s missing? What voice would you add to the Monsell’s roll call, below?

Morgan Freeman

Kermit the Frog

Johnny Cash

Ringo Starr

David Bowie

Rick Moranis

Gary Oldman

Peter Lorre

Adam Sandler

Don Knotts

William Shatner

George Takei

Michael Dorn

Daffy Duck

Ricky Gervais

Foghorn Leghorn

Liam Neeson

Nicholas Cage

John Travolta

Anthony Hopkins

Rod Serling

Cookie Monster

Jay Baruchel

Jeff Bridges

Johnny Depp


Dr. Phil


Mandy Patinkin

Wallace Shawn

Billy Crystal

Owen Wilson

Dustin Hoffman

Krusty the Klown


Christian Bale

Michael Caine

Tom Hardy

Heath Ledger

Mickey Mouse

John Wayne

Jerry Seinfeld

Phil Hartman


Al Pacino

Marlon Brando

Jack Lemmon

Walter Matthau

Christopher Walken

Rowlf the Dog

John Cleese

Robin Williams

Katharine Hepburn

Woody Allen

Matthew McConaughey

Cowardly Lion

Jimmy Stewart

John C. Reilly

James Mason

Sylvester Stallone

Arnold Schwarzenegger


Daniel Day Lewis

Maggie Smith

Alan Rickman


Jack Nicholson

Christoph Waltz

Bill Murray

Dan Aykroyd

Sean Connery

Bill Cosby

Christopher Lloyd

Droopy Dog

Kevin Spacey

Harrison Ford

Ronald Reagan


Bill Clinton

Keanu Reeves

Ian McKellen

Paul Giamatti


Stan Lee

Jeff Goldblum

Hugh Grant

Kenneth Branagh

Larry the Cable Guy

Pee-Wee Herman



Charlton Heston

Michael Keaton

Homer Simpson


Willem Dafoe

Bruce Willis

Robert Shaw

Christopher Lee

Edgar Allan Poe

Related Content:

Hear Classic Readings of Poe’s “The Raven” by Vincent Price, James Earl Jones, Christopher Walken, Neil Gaiman, Stan Lee & More

Edgar Allan Poe’s the Raven: Watch an Award-Winning Short Film That Modernizes Poe’s Classic Tale

The Grateful Dead Pays Tribute to Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” in a 1982 Concert: Hear “Raven Space”

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

A Reading of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” in 100 Celebrity Voices is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

Open Culture: Lin-Manuel Miranda Reads Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

It's worth taking note of this: In a newly-released audiobook, Lin-Manuel Miranda (the creator and star of Hamilton) narrates Junot Diaz's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Above and below, listen to excerpts of an unabridged reading that lasts nearly 10 hours. And also note that Miranda is joined at points by Tony Award-winning actress, Karen Olivo.

If you're tempted to hear the full production, you can purchase the audiobook online. Or you can download it for free by signing up for Audible's 30-day free trial. As I've mentioned before, if you register for Audible's free trial program, they let you download two free audiobooks. At the end of 30 days, you can decide whether you want to become an Audible subscriber (as I have) or not. No matter what you decide, you get to keep the two free audiobooks. Miranda's reading of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao can be one of them.

For anyone who wants free readings of Diaz stories, see our post: 7 Short Stories by Junot Díaz Free Online, In Text and Audio.

NB: We have a partnership with So, if you give their program a try, it will help support Open Culture.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

If you'd like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.

Related Content:

Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda Creates a 19-Song Playlist to Help You Get Over Writer’s Block

A Sneak Peek at Junot Díaz’s Syllabi for His MIT Writing Classes, and the Novels on His Reading List

Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda Creates a Playlist of Protest Music for Our Troubled Times

“Alexander Hamilton” Performed with American Sign Language

Lin-Manuel Miranda Reads Junot Diaz’s <i>The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao</i> is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs. Comic for 2017.09.22

New Cyanide and Happiness Comic

Daniel Lemire's blog: Swift as a low-level programming language?

Modern processors come with very powerful instructions that are simply not available in many high-level languages JavaScript or Python. Here are a few examples:

  • Most programming languages allow you to multiply two 64-bit integers and to get the 64-bit results (it is typically written as x = a * b). But the multiplication of two 64-bit integers actually occupies 128 bits. Reasonably enough, most programming languages (including C, Java, Go, Swift, C++,…) do not have 128-bit integers as a standard data type. So these programming languages have no way to represent the result, other than as two 64-bit integers. In practice, they often offer no direct way to get to the most significant 64 bits. Yet 64-bit processors (x64, ARM Aarch64…) have no problem computing the most significant 64 bits.
  • Similarly, processors have specialized instructions to compute population counts (also called Hamming weight). A population count is the number of ones contained in the binary representation of a machine word. It is a critical operation in many advanced algorithms and data structures. You can compute it with shifts and additions, but it is much, much slower than when using the dedicated processors that all modern processors have to solve this problem. And I should stress that you can beat the dedicated instructions with vector instructions.

This disconnect between programming languages and processors is somewhat problematic because programmers have to get around the problem by doing more work, essentially letting the perfectly good instructions that processors offer go to waste. To be clear, that’s not an issue for most people, but most people do not deal with difficult programming challenges.

That is, 95% of all programming tasks can be solved with Python or JavaScript. Then, out of the remaining 5%, the vast majority are well served with something like Java or C#. But then, for the top 1% of all programming problems, the most challenging ones, then you need all of the power you can get your hands on. Historically, people have been using C or C++ for these problems.

I like C and C++, and they are fine for most things. These languages are aging well, in some respect. However, they also carry a fair amount of baggage.

But what else is there?

Among many other good choices, there is Apple’s Swift.

Swift is progressing fast. Swift 4.0 is a step forward. And, in some sense, it is beating C and C++. Let me consider the two problems I mentioned: getting the most significant bits of a product and computing the population count. C and C++ offer no native way to solve these problems. At best, there are common, non-portable, extensions that help.

Swift 4.0 solves both problems optimally in my view:

  • value1.multipliedFullWidth(by: value2).high gets mapped to the mulx instruction on my x64 laptop
  • value.nonzeroBitCount gets mapped to the popcnt instruction on my x64 laptop

(The phrase nonzeroBitCount is a weird way to describe the population count, but I can live with it.)

If you call these operations in a tight loop, they seem to generate very efficient code. In fact, consider the case where you repeatedly call value.nonzeroBitCount over an array:

func popcntArray( _  value  : inout [UInt64] ) -> Int {
    return value.reduce( 0, { x, y in
        x &+ popCnt(y)

The compiler does not use popcnt, but rather the more efficient vectorized approach (see Muła et al.). That’s because Swift benefits from the powerful LLVM machinery in the back-end.

I wrote a small Swift 4.0 program to illustrate my points. You can compile a swift program for your hardware using a command such as swiftc myprogram.swift -O -Xcc -march=native. You can then use the lldb debugger to automatically get the assembly produced by a given function.

Conclusion. If you are not targeting iOS, it is crazy to use Swift for high-performance low-level programming language at this time. However, it is getting less and less crazy.

Planet Haskell: Tweag I/O: GHC compiler plugins in the wild:<br/> typing Java

Facundo Domínguez, Mathieu Boespflug

Previously, we discussed how to use inline-java to call any Java function from Haskell. The reverse is also possible, though that will be a topic for a future post. In this post, we'll peek underneath the hood to talk a little about how inline-java does its deed.

You might find it an interesting read for at least the following reason: since the latest v0.7 release of inline-java, it's an example use of a recent feature of GHC called compiler plugins. These allow you to introspect and transform types and the abstract syntax tree before handing them off to later stages of the compiler pipeline. We use this to good effect in order to check that argument and return types on the Java side line up with those on the Haskell side (and vice versa).

Calling Java

inline-java makes it possible to invoke code written in Java using a Haskell language feature known as quasiquotes.

{-# LANGUAGE QuasiQuotes #-}
import Language.Java (withJVM)
import Language.Java.Inline

main :: IO ()
main = withJVM [] $ do
    let x = 1.5 :: Double
    y <- [java| { System.out.println($x);
                  return $x + 1;
                } |]
    print (y :: Double)

The function withJVM starts an instance of the Java Virtual Machine (JVM), and the java quasiquotation executes the Java code passed to it as a block of statements.

In this example, the Haskell value x of type Double is coerced into a Java value of primitive type double, which is then used whenever the antiquoted variable $x appears inside the quasiquotation. When the quasiquotation finishes executing, the Java value resulting from evaluating $x + 1 is coerced back to a Haskell value of type Double.

GHC doesn't parse or generate any Java. Neither does inline-java. So how can this program possibly work? The answer is that inline-java feeds the quasiquotation to the javac compiler, which generates some bytecode that is stored in the object file of the module. At runtime, inline-java arranges for the bytecode to be handed to the JVM using the jni package. Finally, inline-java makes use of the jvm package to have the bytecode executed.

Type safety

A notable characteristic of this approach is that we know at compile time if types are correct. We know that Java won't return an object if on the Haskell side we expect a double, because the Java side knows it's on the hook for handing us a double. javac will raise a compile time error if the Java code doesn't do that. Even if the Haskell side expected an object, say of type java.util.List, the Java quasiquotation can't return an object of type java.lang.String either. And conversely for arguments, Java and Haskell need to agree on the type of arguments, or a compile-time error ensues.

Given that no one compiler analyses both languages, how can type-checking work across language boundaries? Fortunately, both compilers can be put to cooperate on the task. First, GHC infers the types of the antiquoted variables and the return type which is expected of the quasiquotation. Then, these types are translated to Java types. The translation is conducted by a machinery of type classes living in the jvm package. The details of this process are not important at this point. What matters is that it enables us to translate types across languages. For instance,

Haskell type Java type
Double double
[Double] double[]
ByteString byte[]
Text java.lang.String

The translated types are passed to javac together with the rest of the quasiquoted Java code. In our running example this would be

double fresh_name(double $x) {
    return $x + 1;

Finally, the javac compiler type checks the quasiquotation. Type mismatches will be discovered and reported at this stage.

It turns out that the first step is by far the most intricate. Specifically, for inline-java to query the types that GHC inferred for the antiquoted variables, and also query the type of the entire quasiquotation.

Looking for the types

At first, it appears as if determining these types is trivial. There is a Template Haskell primitive called reify.

reify :: Name -> Q Info

data Info =
    | VarI Name Type (Maybe Dec)	

Given an antiquoted variable $x, we ought to be able to use reify 'x to determine its Haskell type. Well, except that this doesn't quite work, because type checking is not finished when reify gets evaluated. From there, we went down a rabbit hole of trying to propose patches to Template Haskell to reliably get our hands on the inferred types. If you want to follow the intricacies of our journey, here are the related GHC issues for your amusement: initial discussion, 12777, 12778, 13608.

After many discussions with Simon Peyton Jones, and some deal of creative hacking, we could kind of get the inferred types for antiquoted variables, but only for as long as the java quasiquotation didn't appear inside Template Haskell brackets ([| ... |]). Moreover, we made no progress getting the expected type of the quasiquotation. Every idea we came up with required difficult compromises in the design. In the meantime, we had to choose between checking the type of the values returned by quasiquotations at runtime or using unsafe coercions, neither of which is an attractive option.

Eventually, we learnt that Template Haskell was not the only way to query the output of the type checker.

Enter GHC Core plugins

The GHC compiler uses an explicitly typed intermediate language known as Core. All type applications of terms in Core are explicit, making it possible to learn the types inferred at the type checking phase by inspecting Core terms. In order to get our hands on Core terms, we can use Core plugins. We could think of a Core plugin as a set of Core-to-Core passes that we can ask GHC to add to the compilation pipeline. The passes can be inserted anywhere in the Core pipeline, and in particular, they can be inserted right after desugaring, the phase which generates Core from the abstract syntax tree of a Haskell program.

Quasiquotations disappear from the abstract syntax tree when Template Haskell is executed. This happens well before the plugin passes. In order to enable the plugin to find the location of the quasiquotations, the quasiquoter can insert some artificial function call as a beacon or marker. In inline-java, our example program looks something as follows after Template Haskell runs.

main :: IO ()
main = withJVM [] $ do
    let x = 1.5 :: Double
    y <- qqMarker
	   "{ System.out.println($x); return $x + 1; }"
    print (y :: Double)

qqMarker :: forall args r. String -> args -> IO r
qqMarker = error "inline-java: The Plugin is not enabled."

The GHC Plugin is supposed to replace the call to qqMarker with an appropriate call to the generated Java method. The all-important point, however, is that the calls to qqMarker are annotated with the types we want to determine in Core.

main :: IO ()
main = ...
         @ Double
         @ Double
         "{ System.out.println($x); return $x + 1; }"

The type parameters provide us with the type of the antiquoted variable and the expected type of the quasiquotation. From here, the plugin has all the information it needs to generate the Java code to feed to javac. In addition, the plugin can inject the generated bytecode in the object file of the module, and it arranges for this bytecode to be located at runtime so it can be loaded in the JVM.

Now the user needs to remember to tell GHC to use the plugin by passing it the option -fplugin=Language.Java.Inline.Plugin. But this is only until Template Haskell learns the ability to tell GHC which plugins to use.


By using a GHC plugin, we have simplified inline-java from a complicated spaghetti which sprung from attempting to use Template Haskell's reify and didn't fully addressed the type lookup problem in a robust way. Now we have a straight forward story which starts by introducing the qqMarker beacons, attaches the Java bytecode in the plugin phase and ends by loading it at runtime into the JVM.

Writing a compiler plugin is similar to writing Template Haskell code. Both approaches need to manipulate abstract syntax trees. The plugin approach can be regarded as more coupled with a particular version of the compiler, since it relies on the internal Core language. However, Core changes relatively little over the years, and anyway, a pass that looks for some markers is hardly going to change a lot even if Core did change.

Many thanks to Simon Peyton Jones for his patience to walk with us over our attempts to fix Template Haskell. Without this dialog with the compiler implementors, it would have been difficult for us to explore as much of the design space as we needed to.

s mazuk: oneterabyteofkilobyteage: original url...


original url

last modified 2001-08-17 08:48:12

Colossal: Aspen Trees Grow on Delicate Ceramic Vessels by Heesoo Lee

Ceramic artist Heesoo Lee brings the textural depth of aspen forest canopies to her sculptural bowls and vases. Lee painstakingly places each and every leaf by hand, building unique, organic trees that seem to come to life with their shimmering, colorful leaves. While the vibrant glazes add a lifelike layer, the pieces are equally stunning in their unglazed form. The Montana-based artist shares many progress shots and videos on her Instagram, and works are available for purchase on Etsy. (via Lustik)

An unglazed work in progress

Greater Fool – Authored by Garth Turner – The Troubled Future of Real Estate: Remorse

Enough Millennial-bashing, already. Let’s do something nobler. Like trashing realtors.

Over the past few years this pathetic blog has warned you (repeatedly) against signing anyone’s BRA. The Buyers Representation Agreement may make perfect sense from an agent’s or broker’s point of view, but it can come to bite buyers in the rear.

In case you just became sentient, the BRA is a document real estate boards have been pushing for years in order to obligate buyers who are shopping the market. The clauses are draconian and rarely explained. No wonder. If most people understood what was being pushed in front of them, they’d freeze.

This thing ties you into one agent, which means if you decide to buy a house with another realtor, you may owe commission to the first guy who did nothing to assist you. It’s common practice for an agent insisting on a BRA to make it for a long period of time (I’ve often seen six months, sometimes a year) and for a broad geographic area (like an entire city). Other agents just refuse to show a home to you unless the document is executed.

So the first thing is to refuse. If that doesn’t work, agree to aBRA only for a specific house. Write that address in, and make the document effective for two days. The agent will hate you, but c’est la vie.

Now, here’s an instructive tale.

Obviously Marcello and Anita are among the handful of Canadians not addicted to this site. They listed their north-GTA house months ago and made an offer with agent Vince to buy another one for $1.3 million, after he asked for a BRA. Then the market tanked. M&A panicked since they’d bought firm without selling their existing place. After weeks of debate, they walked. The risk, they felt, was just too great.

So they lost their deposit – as anticipated. They now face a potential lawsuit from the jilted sellers who can go after the difference between $1.3 million and the ultimate selling price, plus costs and damages. And, to their profound shock, they owe Vince almost $40,000 in commission on a purchase that never materialized.

Huh, you say? Don’t vendors pay commissions? Why would they be responsible?

Yes, because of the BRA. One of the nasties in there clearly states that in the event a buyer inks a deal using the agent, then fails to complete that transaction, “due to the buyer’s default or neglect,” they must pay. Here’s what realtor Vince told a reporter: “…they refused to close, stringing sellers, agents, mortgage brokers and lawyers along the way… This is a case of a client taking advantage of the current situation of the housing market due to buyer’s remorse.”

If this goes to court (a bad idea), Marcello and Anita can add twenty grand in fees to a litigation lawyer to the pile they’ll be ordered to pay Vince. It’ll be good practice for being screwed-over by the lawyers for the sellers they walked out on. They may feel wronged and victimized, but those are the downfalls of ignorance and house lust.

So here is the realtor-bashing part: if Vince failed to explain the document clearly, to spell out the gravity of its provisions when he presented it to his clients, he was negligent. Moreover, when the buyers were considering abandoning their purchase, the commission grab should have been spelled out as a key consideration. Given all the cash M&A will be piddling away, it might have made sense to close, rent out one of both properties, and weather the equity storm until markets heal. At least then they’d have assets, not merely regret.

How does this compare with the financial business – where clients rarely make million-dollar decisions in less time than they spend buying underwear? Simple. An advisor failing to disclose risk, making an unsuitable recommendation, or guiding clients into a $40,000 loss without providing any tangible benefit, would be covered in peanut butter, naked, and thrown into a pen of hungry weasels. With fleas.

Never sign a BRA. If you do, make it for a single address. Make it short. Strike out offending clauses. And if an agent refuses to represent you as a result, find another. There are 120,000 of them in the nation and 45,000 in the GTA alone, where Marcella and Anita now contemplate their miserable future.

Imagine. If only they’d come here, they would have found salvation. For blessed even are the greater fools.

TheSirensSound: New video Don’t Give Up On Love by Maggie Szabo

Maggie Szabo is a Canadian singer-songwriter who has been winning over audiences worldwide with her stunningly soulful vocals and empowering pop anthems. Hailing from small town Ontario, Szabo is now an accomplished musician living in Los Angeles and is using her music to conquer social injustice.

After quickly becoming one of the most sought-after songwriter/vocalists for DJs and notable film and TV placements, Szabo’s latest work has focused primarily on her solo project and was written in some of the most beautiful and exotic places on earth, including Greece, Amsterdam, London and Thailand.

‘Don’t Give Up’ is the first single off of Szabo’s upcoming EP, entitled Worthy. It’s a beautifully authentic and heartfelt song dedicated to transgender youth around the world who live in fear and suffer from rejection and exclusion. ‘Don’t Give Up' showcases an emotional rawness rarely found in music today, whilst addressing a subject which is imperative within today’s society. With soaring layered vocals, Szabo sings an uplifting and encouraging message of hope and acceptance. The single features a driving rhythm section and gospel inspired backing vocals, creating the perfect empowering anthem for those in need. 'Don’t Give Up’ was written and recorded in Los Angeles along with Stefan Lit (One Direction) and Chaz Mason.

The powerful and poignant narrative of ‘Don’t Give Up' is reflected in a exquisitely cinematic video, that follows a girl who is struggling with her gender identity and the pressures of conformity in high school. Szabo’s ultimate messages to fight for social justice and equality, “people are people, love is love. Society needs to stand up” professes Szabo. “I can’t stand by and watch millions of transgender youth live in fear for their safety, outcast from their homes and marginalized by society simply because they are struggling to understand their gender identity. I want to stand with them.”

Szabo’s successes to date include over 13 million views on YouTube, extensive media coverage from high profile outlets such as Perez Hilton, Yahoo Music!, PopCrush and Huffington Post, as well as being featured on multiple airline playlists and numerous notable film and TV placements. She recently was the featured vocalist on the album for German electronic DJ Schiller, who has so far sold 7 million albums worldwide.

With a quickly growing fan-base and a social media following that tops some of the nation’s most established pop artists, Szabo has effectively used the internet to showcase and market her songs to the world and her dedicated fans.

The Software Freedom Law Center Blog: A New Era for Free Software Non-Profits

The US Internal Revenue Service has ushered in a new and much more favorable treatment for free software projects seeking to have 501c3 tax exempt non-profit organizations of their own. After years of suffering from a specially prejudicial environment at IRS, free software projects—particularly new projects starting out and seeking organizational identity and the ability to solicit and receive tax-deductible contributions for the first time—can now do so much more easily, and with confident expectation of fast, favorable review. For lawyers and others counseling free software projects, this is without question “game-changing.”

Planet Haskell: Brent Yorgey: New baby, and Haskell Alphabet

My wife and I just had a baby!

If you missed seeing me at ICFP, this is why.

In honor of my son’s birth (he will need to learn the alphabet and Haskell soon)—and at the instigation of Kenny Foner—I revived the Haskell Alphabet by converting it to modern Hakyll and updating some of the broken or outdated links. Some of it is a bit outdated (I wrote it seven years ago), but it’s still a fun little piece of Haskell history. Enjoy!


Recent work by Sweden-based artist Fredrik Åkum. Click here for previous posts. See more images below.
































Fredrik Åkum’s Website

Fredrik Åkum on Instagram

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Flying

Click here to go see the bonus panel!

I tried this on a seven year old and it didn't work. I think there might be a sweet spot, taking into account trustworthiness and writing ability. Alternatively, you could spend seven years being kind an honest to a nephew or niece, just so you can pull this off.

New comic!
Today's News:

Hey geeks! We've sold 1/3 of all Seattle BAHFest tickets in just a few days. This one's definitely selling out, so buy soon if you want to lock in a spot!

We're also having a pre-show chat with me about Soonish. The tickets are just $1.

Disquiet: Disquiet Junto Project 0299: 10bpm Waltz

Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group, a new compositional challenge is set before the group’s members, who then have just over four days to upload a track in response to the assignment. Membership in the Junto is open: just join and participate. (A SoundCloud account is helpful but not required.) There’s no pressure to do every project. It’s weekly so that you know it’s there, every Thursday through Monday, when you have the time.

This project’s deadline is 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are on Monday, September 25, 2017. This project was posted in the morning, Denver time, on Thursday, September 21, 2017.

Tracks will be added to the above playlist for the duration of the project.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at

Disquiet Junto Project 0299: 10bpm Waltz
Make super slow music in 3/4 time.

Step 1: This project is intended as a way to contribute to the 10 BPM Dance Club announced at and Tracks submitted to One Take Records will be included at an inaugural event in Copenhagen at the end of this month, September 2017.

Step 2: Consider what 10 beats per minute means, what the pace of 10 beats per minute feels like. Think about the instance of the down beat. Think about how 10 bpm differs from, say, 20 bpm, or from 40 bpm.

Step 3: Think about how 3/4 time differs from 4/4 time, and for that matter from 6/8 time. Think about what 3/4 time means when slowed down extremely, all the way down to 10 bpm.

Step 4: Having reflected on the concepts described in Steps 2 and 3, proceed to compose and record a piece of music that is 10 bpm and in 3/4 time.

Step 5: Share your track with the Copenhagen event by sending it to, per the instructions at

Five More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: If your hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to include the project tag “disquiet0299” (no spaces) in the name of your track. If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to my locating the tracks and creating a playlist of them.

Step 2: Upload your track. It is helpful but not essential that you use SoundCloud to host your track.

Step 3: In the following discussion thread at please consider posting your track:

Step 4: Annotate your track with a brief explanation of your approach and process.

Step 5: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Deadline: This project’s deadline is 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are on Monday, September 25, 2017. This project was posted in the morning, Denver time, on Thursday, September 21, 2017.

Length: The length is up to you.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0299” in the title of the track, and where applicable (on SoundCloud, for example) as a tag.

Upload: When participating in this project, post one finished track with the project tag, and be sure to include a description of your process in planning, composing, and recording it. This description is an essential element of the communicative process inherent in the Disquiet Junto. Photos, video, and lists of equipment are always appreciated.

Download: It is preferable that your track is set as downloadable, and that it allows for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution).

Linking: When posting the track online, please be sure to include this information:

More on this 299th weekly Disquiet Junto project — 10bpm Waltz: Make super slow music in 3/4 time — at:

Thanks to all the folks in the Junto Slack for proposing and helping to shape this prompt.

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

Subscribe to project announcements here:

Project discussion takes place on

There’s also on a Junto Slack. Send your email address to for Slack inclusion.

things magazine: Into the deep

Some art: Nina Baxter; Kat & Kin; Barbara Mullarney; beautiful paintings by Ylva Ceder; intense botanical works by Eggert Pétursson / architectural paintings by Ben Johnson / cityscapes by Hugo Moreno / Liza Dimbleby / a vast collection of videos … Continue reading

LLVM Project Blog: 2017 US LLVM Developers' Meeting Program

The LLVM Foundation is excited to announce the selected proposals for the 2017 US LLVM Developers' Meeting!





Lightning Talks:

Student Research Competition:


If you are interested in any of these talks, you should register to attend the 2017 US LLVM Developers' Meeting! Tickets are limited, so register now!

Disquiet: Andrew Weathers’ Psychedelic Amalgams

With a guitar-driven album that at times echoes such minimalist composers as Terry Riley (in its tonal psychedelia) and Steve Reich (in its percussive patterning), the Texas-based musician Andrew Weathers continues to build a body of work that mixes rigor and wandering, exactitude and ease, ambition and intimacy, grandeur and isolation.

The album is Build a Mountain Where Our Bodies Fall, credited to the Andrew Weathers Ensemble and released on his Bandcamp page. Weathers has a composer’s desire for concerted expression and a seer’s hunger for wisdom. His homespun vocals reach full force amid evocative, densely orchestrated settings. Sometimes the music is rhythmically momentous, like “We Already Exist Forever (We Will Eat),” while at others it drones as an extrapolation of Indian raga, for example “The Light Pulse Earth Grid is a Channel.” The result is an amalgam, in the sense of a rich composite, the parts inseparably intertwined but still recognizable. It’s music that, and this is meant as a compliment, suggests signifiant effort, the effort of making something vital, something not just new but trenchant and meaningful.

The songs on Build a Mountain Where Our Bodies Fall, per Weathers’ description, took as their origin point material from The Industrial Workers of the World Little Red Songbook. That period mix of progressive fervor and community action finds an outlet here in the sheer ecstasy of a track like “Astral Swords (Seven – A Past That Folds Over),” in which his voice is just one rough-textured element among many.

And then for one brief ambient track, texture is given its momentary, quiet primacy. The piece is “The Dream Body Does Carve (Green Grave).” In it a dense sine wave of a guitar line undulates between threadbare piano playing and tiny little glitches of synthesizer whimsy. It brings to mind the gestural rural atmospherics of the great Scott Tuma. The association makes particular sense, in that at times Weathers’ voice suggest favorably the vocals of Scott Tuma’s former Souled American bandmates, Joe Adducci and Chris Grigoroff. If the idea of Souled American regrouping in order to record an album of Steve Reich covers sounds appealing, then Build a Mountain Where Our Bodies Fall is the album for you.

As for the Andrew Weathers Ensemble, it isn’t precisely a band, except perhaps in the Steely Dan sense of the word: nearly 20 musicians are listed in the credits, including Kyle Bruckmann on oboe, Brendan Landis on electric guitar, and Erik Schoster on Pippi computer (that’s Schoster’s music-making software coded in the language Python), just to name a few.

You know that joke in The Blues Brothers movie where Elwood asks the bartender, “What kind of music do you usually have hear?” and she replies, “Oh, we got both kinds. We got country and western”? Well, Weathers only has western — it’s a useful descriptor for how he draws from aspects of rock and folk, bypassing country almost entirely, as he heads out toward vast hypothetical expanses.

Get the full album at More on Weathers, who is from North Carolina and lived and was educated (at Mills College) in Oakland, California, before recently relocating to Littlefield, Texas, at

Penny Arcade: News Post: My Thing

Tycho: I’m still thinking about my SCA shit up at last weekend’s Banner War, partly because I got sick there so I’ve had a lot of time to lie completely motionless except for wracking coughs and the occasional turn, as meat is turned on a grill, to let the mucus collect in the other lobe of my sinuses. Here is the comic which recounts a vital portion of the experience.  I always wonder how I’d fare in another context; statistically speaking, “dead at another’s hand in the service of someone I don’t know” is probably the correct assessment. …

Sam Harris: Into the Dark Land

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Siddhartha Mukherjee about his Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. 

Siddhartha Mukherjee is a cancer physician and researcher. He is an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University and a staff cancer physician at the CU/NYU Presbyterian Hospital. A former Rhodes scholar, he graduated from Stanford University, University of Oxford (where he received a PhD studying cancer-causing viruses) and from Harvard Medical School. His laboratory focuses on discovering new cancer drugs using innovative biological methods. He has published articles and commentary in such journals as Nature, New England Journal of Medicine, Neuron and the Journal of Clinical Investigation and in publications such as the New York Times, The New Yorker, and the New Republic. His work was nominated for Best American Science Writing, 2000. He won the Pulitzer Prize for his book The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. His most recent book is The Gene: An Intimate History.

s mazuk: self-healing:A Philosophy of Walking, Frédéric Gros


A Philosophy of Walking, Frédéric Gros

Greater Fool – Authored by Garth Turner – The Troubled Future of Real Estate: Special

Is she everyman’s dream? Barely 30, badger-aggressive, six-figures, killing it in the boy’s club as an equities trader, based in Vancouver. “So,” she barks into her headset between clicks, “here’s the deal.” I wait in abject anticipation. “I wanna retire, like those other people you did it for. Eight years.”

Turns out that would make less than her forty. She fantasizes following in the footsteps of my two egomaniac, insufferable clients who achieved millionaire status by thirty, told their bank overlords to shove it, and set off to consume the world.

What would you do when you retire, I asked?

“Travel. Hang out. You know.” And you’d be surprised how many times I hear this from people of the same age. It seems the notion of ‘career’ has shrunk from something over 30 years to something closer to a decade or a dozen. Hedonistic, entitled, special. Working for decades is so analog. So Boomer.

Hungry girl has assets of $110,000 and no debt. Not bad compared to peers. But not enough to turn into a lifetime income fund in eight years. Not even close. Besides, it’s all in high-interest savings accounts and GICs. Turns out the equity tosser doesn’t trust stocks. Interesting.

Generalizations usually suck, and say more about you than them, but it seems some common themes are at play. This was emphasized by the moister-wrinklie slugfest in yesterday’s comments section. The kids are uber-educated, insanely risk-averse, materialistic, disloyal to employers, financially illiterate, and know everything. They may be savers, but not investors. They’re employees, not entrepreneurs. Like most young, they’re lefties. A key part of social justice is taxing the crap out of old people with assets. That’s only fair. They’ll die, anyway.

Boomers aren’t used to the political pendulum swinging away from them. For their entire lives they’ve been in the majority, moving markets with their wants and desires, living for the most part in the expansion and inflation their sheer numbers created. But now the moisters outnumber them, more so daily. The son of the father is prime minister. Wealth and assets are under attack, with taxes rising. It’s all too much.

More conflict lies ahead. The kids will push for equal treatment of all dollars – whether earned as an employee (like them), a small business guy, monied investor or old retired divvy-collecting dude. Look for T2 to play to the crowd in his second term with an increase in the capital gains inclusion rate, a potential change to the tax treatment of dividends and even start contemplating a wealth tax. Maybe’s we’ll even end up like Norway – a moister fav – where you can go online and punch up anyone’s tax return.

Well, the solution for all of this – unrealistic expectations of retirement, wealth envy, financial ignorance – is for everyone to invest money. That way even the screwiest Mill can see another path forward, one of their own design with unlimited potential for success (or failure). Start with the TFSA. When that’s full split money between an RRSP (to shift tax into other years) and a non-registered portfolio (to benefit from capital gains and dividends). Stick with it, max the tax-free account with pre-authorized debits from your bank account and never, ever listen to TNL@TB, eschewing costly mutual funds and brain-dead GICs.

Have a balanced portfolio, with 40% in safe stuff and 60% more growth-oriented. Since rates are rising, keep the bond exposure slim (they pay nothing but reduce volatility) but have lots of rate-reset preferreds which swell along with bond yields. Carefully weight Canadian, US and international assets, taking into consideration that we’re currently on fire, Trump’s a time bomb, the US is expanding, Europe’s in recovery and nobody should bet against China. Never hold individual stocks (unless you have seven figures to invest and can achieve diversification – which requires about 60 positions).

If you have a little money, hold three or four ETFs. If you have a lot, then 17 should be about right. And keep a small cash position, since that’s a defensive asset as well as ammo if an opportunity arises.

So, 2% cash in a HISA, 20% in a mixture of government, corporate, provincial and high-yield bonds plus 18% in preferreds make up the safer stuff. Put 5% in REITs, then hold 16% in Canadian equities, an equal amount in US markets and 23% in internationals, for the growth portion. Rebalance once a year. Put higher-taxed stuff (bonds) in a tax shelter. Reserve the TFSA for fast growers (like emerging markets). Enjoy a 50% tax break on capital gains in your non-registered. And don’t forget about income-splitting with your squeeze, which can be done through a spousal plan or maybe a joint account.

Or, you can go to a pathetic blog, whine about people with more than you and plan to retire shortly after puberty. Good luck.

Lambda the Ultimate - Programming Languages Weblog: Non-determinism: a sublanguage rather than a monad

Non-determinism: a sublanguage rather than a monad

A puzzlingly named, exceedingly technical device introduced to structure the denotational semantics has by now achieved cult status. It has been married to effects -- more than once. It is compulsively looked for in all manner of things, including burritos. At least two ICFP papers brought it up without a rhyme or reason (or understanding), as the authors later admitted. I am talking about monads.

In truth, effects are not married to monads and approachable directly. The profound insight behind monads is the structuring, the separation of `pure' (context-independent) and effectful computations. The structuring can be done without explicating mathematical monads, and especially without resorting to vernacular monads such as State, etc. This article gives an example: a simple, effectful, domain-specific sublanguage embedded into an expressive `macro' metalanguage. Abstraction facilities of the metalanguage such higher-order functions and modules help keep the DSL to the bare minimum, often to the first order, easier to reason about and implement.

The key insight predates monads and goes all the way back to the origins of ML, as a scripting language for the Edinburgh LCF theorem prover. What has not been clear is how simple an effectful DSL may be while remaining useful. How convenient it is, especially compared to the monadic encodings. How viable it is to forsake the generality of first-class functions and monads and what benefits it may bring. We report on an experiment set out to explore these questions.

We pick a rather complex effect -- non-determinism -- and use it in OCaml, which at first blush seems unsuitable since it is call-by-value and has no monadic sugar. And yet, we can write non-deterministic programs just as naturally and elegantly as in Haskell or Curry.

The running tutorial example is computing all permutations of a given list of integers. The reader may want to try doing that in their favorite language or plain OCaml. Albeit a simple exercise, the code is often rather messy and not obviously correct. In the functional-logic language Curry, it is strikingly elegant: mere foldr insert []. It is the re-statement of the specification: a permutation is moving the elements of the source list one-by-one into some position in the initially empty list. The code immediately tells that the number of possible permutations of n elements is n!. From its very conception in the 1959 Rabin and Scott's paper, non-determinism was called for to write clear specifications -- and then to make them executable. That is what will shall do.

Quiet Earth: Retro Slave: MDV Launches "Rewind Collection" with Punks and Killer Tomatoes

MVD Entertainment Group have announced the launch of the "MVD Rewind Collection", a series celebrating "cult classics and more from the video store" in special edition Blu-ray + DVD collector's sets loaded with special features.

Scheduled to debut December 2017, the MVD Rewind Collection will launch with special editions of the never-before-released-on-disc punk rock doc classic D.O.A.: A Right of Passage along with Attack of The Killer Tomatoes on two-disc collector's sets.

The MVD Rewind Collection is the brainchild of MVD Entertainment Group's Eric D. Wilkinson and the home entertainment team. Wilkinson not only manages acquisitions for MVD, but is also personally overseeing this new line of product for the company.

DOA: A Right of Passage

[Continued ...]

Planet Haskell: Neil Mitchell: Shake 0.16 - revised rule definitions

Summary: I've just released shake v0.16. A lot has changed, but it's probably only visible if you have defined your own rules or oracles.

Shake-0.16 is now out, 8 months since the last release, and with a lot of improvements. For full details read the changelog, but in this post I'm going to go through a few of the things that might have the biggest impact on users.

Rule types redefined

Since the first version of Shake there has been a Rule key value type class defining all rule types - for instance the file rule type has key of filename and value of modification time. With version 0.16 the type class is gone, rules are harder to write, but offer higher performance and more customisation. For people using the builtin rule types, you'll see those advantages, and in the future see additional features that weren't previously possible. For people defining custom rule types, those will require rewriting - read the docs and if things get tough, ask on StackOverflow.

The one place many users might encounter the changes are that oracle rules now require a type instance defining between the key and value types. For example, if defining an oracle for the CompilerVersion given the CompilerName, you would have to add:

type instance RuleResult CompilerName = CompilerVersion

As a result of this type instance the previously problematic askOracle can now infer the result type, removing possible sources of error and simplifying callers.

The redefining of rule types represents most of the work in this release.

Add cmd_

The cmd_ function is not much code, but I suspect will turn out to be remarkably useful. The cmd function in Shake is variadic (can take multiple arguments) and polymorphic in the return type (you can run it in multiple monads with multiple results). However, because of the overloading, if you didn't use the result of cmd it couldn't be resolved, leading to ugly code such as () <- cmd args. With cmd_ the result is constrained to be m (), so cmd_ args can be used.

Rework Skip/Rebuild

Since the beginning Shake has tried to mirror the make command line flags. In terms of flags to selectively control rebuilding, make is based entirely on ordered comparison of timestamps, and flags such as --assume-new don't make a lot of sense for Shake. In this release Shake stops trying to pretend to be make, removing the old flags (that never worked properly) and adding --skip (don't build something even if it is otherwise required) and --build (build something regardless). Both these flags can take file patterns, e.g, --build=**/*.o to rebuild all object files. I don't think these flags are finished with, but it's certainly less of a mess than before.

Quiet Earth: Trailer for Psychedelic Horror Flick THE CRESCENT

The trio behind 2012’s fever dream, Lowlife, return with a hallucinatory story focused on a woman and her child enveloped by an eerie atmosphere and creeping dread upon retreating to a remote coastal estate.

The Crescent was a big hit at the recent Toronto International Film Festival winning accolades for its sense of creeping dread.

After an unexpected death in the family, a mother and son struggle to find spiritual healing at a beachfront summer home.

It was directed by Seth A. Smith and shot in Nova Scotia Canada.

The trailer is available [Continued ...]

Quiet Earth: Musical ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE Trailer

A trailer has arrived for Scottish zom-com-musical Anna and the Apocalypse, based on the BAFTA winning short film "Zombie Musical" by the late Ryan McHenry. While McHenry scripted the feature, it is directed by John McPhail (Where Do We Go From Here). The film will play at the 2017 Sitges Film Festival.

Shot on location in Scotland, the comedy stars Ella Hunt (Our Robot Overlords) as Anna, with Mark Benton (The Halcyon) as her father Tony and Paul Kaye (Game Of Thrones) as the wicked Savage.

The cast also includes up-and-comers Malcolm Cumming, Sarah Swire, C [Continued ...]

Planet Haskell: Mark Jason Dominus: Gompertz' law for wooden utility poles

Gompertz' law says that the human death rate increases exponentially with age. That is, if your chance of dying during this year is , then your chance of dying during next year is for some constant . The death rate doubles every 8 years, so the constant is empirically around . This is of course mathematically incoherent, since it predicts that sufficiently old people will have a mortality rate greater than 100%. But a number of things are both true and mathematically incoherent, and this is one of them. (Zipf's law is another.)

The Gravity and Levity blog has a superb article about this from 2009 that reasons backwards from Gompertz' law to rule out certain theories of mortality, such as the theory that death is due to the random whims of a fickle god. (If death were entirely random, and if you had a 50% chance of making it to age 70, then you would have a 25% chance of living to 140, and a 12.5% chance of living to 210, which we know is not the case.)

Gravity and Levity says:

Surprisingly enough, the Gompertz law holds across a large number of countries, time periods, and even different species.

To this list I will add wooden utility poles.

A couple of weeks ago Toph asked me why there were so many old rusty staples embedded in the utility poles near our house, and this is easy to explain: people staple up their yard sale posters and lost-cat flyers, and then the posters and flyers go away and leave behind the staples. (I once went out with a pliers and extracted a few dozen staples from one pole; it was very satisfying but ultimately ineffective.) If new flyer is stapled up each week, that is 52 staples per year, and 1040 in twenty years. If we agree that 20 years is the absolute minimum plausible lifetime of a pole, we should not be surprised if typical poles have hundreds or thousands of staples each.

But this morning I got to wondering what is the expected lifetime of a wooden utility pole? I guessed it was probably in the range of 40 to 70 years. And happily, because of the Wonders of the Internet, I could look it up right then and there, on the way to the trolley stop, and spend my commute time reading about it.

It was not hard to find an authoritative sounding and widely-cited 2012 study by electric utility consultants Quanta Technology.

Summary: Most poles die because of fungal rot, so pole lifetime varies widely depending on the local climate. An unmaintained pole will last 50–60 years in a cold or dry climate and 30-40 years in a hot wet climate. Well-maintained poles will last around twice as long.

Anyway, Gompertz' law holds for wooden utility poles also. According to the study:

Failure and breakdown rates for wood poles are thought to increase exponentially with deterioration and advancing time in service.

The Quanta study presents this chart, taken from the (then forthcoming) 2012 book Aging Power Delivery Infrastructures:

The solid line is the pole failure rate for a particular unnamed utility company in a median climate. The failure rate with increasing age clearly increases exponentially, as Gompertz' law dictates, doubling every 12½ years or so: Around 1 in 200 poles fails at age 50, around 1 in 100 of the remaining poles fails at age 62.5, and around 1 in 50 of the remaining poles fails at age 75.

(The dashed and dotted lines represent poles that are removed from service for other reasons.)

From Gompertz' law itself and a minimum of data, we can extrapolate the maximum human lifespan. The death rate for 65-year-old women is around 1%, and since it doubles every 8 years or so, we find that 50% of women are dead by age 88, and all but the most outlying outliers are dead by age 120. And indeed, the human longevity record is currently attributed to Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997 at the age of 122½.

Similarly we can extrapolate the maximum service time for a wooden utility pole. Half of them make it to 90 years, but if you have a large installed base of 110-year-old poles you will be replacing about one-seventh of them every year and it might make more sense to rip them all out at once and start over. At a rate of one yard sale per week, a 110-year-old pole will have accumulated 5,720 staples.

The Quanta study does not address deterioration of utility poles due to the accumulation of rusty staples.

OUR VALUED CUSTOMERS: Life can be hard...

LLVM Project Blog: Clang ♥ bash -- better auto completion is coming to bash

Compilers are complex pieces of software and have a multitude of command-line options to fine tune parameters. Clang is no exception: it has 447 command-line options. It’s nearly impossible to memorize all these options and their correct spellings, that's where shell completion can be very handy. When you type in the first few characters of a flag and hit tab, it will autocomplete the rest for you.

However, such a autocompletion feature is not available yet, as there's no easy way to get a complete list of the options Clang supports. For example, bash doesn’t have any autocompletion support for Clang, and despite some shells like zsh having a script for command-line autocompletion, they use hard coded lists of command-line options, and are not automatically updated when a new option is added to Clang. These shells also can’t autocomplete arguments which some flags take (-std=[tab] for instance).

This is the problem we were working to solve during this year’s Google Summer of Code. We’re adding a feature to Clang so that we can implement a complete, exact command-line option completion which is highly portable for any shell. To start with, we'll provide a completion script for bash which uses this feature.

Clang now has a new command line option called --autocomplete. This flag receives the incomplete user input from the shell and then queries the internal data structures of the current Clang binary, and returns a list of possible completions. With this API, we can always get an accurate list of options and values any time, on any newer versions of Clang.

We built an autocompletion using this in bash for the first implementation. You can find its source code here. Also, here is the sample for Qt text entry autocompletion to give an example how to use this API from an UI application as seen below:


You can always complete one flag at a time. So if you want to use the API, you have to select the flag that the user is currently typing. Then just pass this flag to the --autocomplete flag in the selected clang binary. So in the case below all flags start with `-tr` are displayed with their descriptions behind them (separated from the flag with a tab character).
The API also supports completing the values of flags. If you have a flag for which value completion is supported, you can also provide an incomplete value behind the flag separated by a comma to get completion for this:
If you provide nothing after the comma, the list of the all possible values for this flag is displayed.

How to get it
This feature is available for use now with LLVM/clang 5.0 and we’ll also be adding this feature to the standard bash completion package. Make sure you have the latest clang version on your machine, and source this script. If want to make the change permanent, just source it from your .bashrc and enjoy typing your clang invocations!

Planet Haskell: Dominic Orchard: Scrap Your Reprinter

Back in 2013, Andrew Rice and I were doing some initial groundwork on how to build tools to help scientists write better code (e.g., with the help of refactoring tools and verification tools). We talked to a lot of scientists who wrote Fortran almost exclusively, so we started creating infrastructure for building tools to work on Fortran. This was the kernel of the CamFort project for which we got an EPSRC grant in 2015 (which is ongoing). The CamFort tool now has a couple of fairly well developed specification/verification features, and a few refactoring features. Early on, I started building everything in Haskell using the brilliant uniplate library, based on the Scrap Your Boilerplate [1] work. This helped us to get the tool off the ground quickly by utilising the power of datatype generic programming. Fairly quickly we hit upon an interesting problem with building refactoring tools: how do you output source code for a refactored AST whilst preserving all the original comments and white space? It is not enough just to pretty print the AST, unless your AST contains all the comments and layout information. Building a parser to capture all this information is extremely hard, and we use a parser generator which limits flexibility (but is really useful for a large grammar). Another approach is to output patch/edit information for the original source code, calculated from the AST.

In the end, I came up with a datatype generic algorithm which I call the reprinter. The reprinter takes the original source code and an updated AST (which contains location information) and maps them into a new piece of source code. Here is an illustration which I’ll briefly explain:


Some source text (arithmetic code in prefix notation here) is parsed into an AST. The AST contains the “spans” of each syntactic fragment: the start position and end position in the original source code (for simplicity in this illustration, just the column number is represented). Some transformation/refactoring is applied next. In this case, the transformation rewrites redundant additions of 0, which happens in the node coming from source locations 10 to 16. The refactored node is marked in red. The reprinting then runs, stitching together the original source code with the updated source tree. A pretty printer is used to generate code for any new nodes, but all the original source text for the other nodes is preserved. The cool thing about this algorithm is that it is datatype generic: it works for any datatype, with some modest side conditions about storing source spans. The implementation uses the Scrap Your Zipper [2] library to do a context-dependent generic traversal of a datatype. In essence, the algorithm is similar to what one might do if you were to spit out edit information from an AST, then apply this to a piece of source text. But, the algorithm does this generically, and in a single simultaneous pass of the AST and the input source text.

I’ve always thought it was a cute and useful algorithm, which combined some cool techniques from functional programming.  As with all the “Scrap Your X” libraries it saves huge amounts of time and messing around, especially when your AST representation keeps changing (which it did/does for us). The algorithm is really useful anywhere you need to update human-written source code in a layout-preserving way; for example, IDEs and refactoring tools but also in interactive theorem provers and program synthesis tools, where you need to synthesise source text into some existing human-written code. This is one of the ways it is used in CamFort, where specifications are synthesised from code analysis data and then inserted as comments into user code.

This summer, I was fortunate enough to have the resources to hire several interns. One of the interns, Harry Clarke, (amongst other things) worked with me to tidy up the code for the reprinter, add some better interfaces, make it usable as a library for others, and write it all up. He presented the work at IFL 2017 and the pre-proceedings version of the paper is available. We are working on a post-proceedings version for December, so any comments gratefully appreciated.

[1] Lämmel, Ralf, and Simon Peyton Jones. Scrap your boilerplate: a practical design pattern for generic programming. Vol. 38. No. 3. ACM, 2003.

[2] Adams, Michael D. “Scrap your zippers: a generic zipper for heterogeneous types.” Proceedings of the 6th ACM SIGPLAN workshop on Generic programming. ACM, 2010.

Penny Arcade: Comic: My Thing

New Comic: My Thing

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Algebra

Click here to go see the bonus panel!

How am I the only person who's considered this consequence?

New comic!
Today's News:

We're now in our final month promoting Soonish. As ever, we really thank all of you who've preordered. I can't say everything, but those good early sales numbers have really opened some doors for us. So, thank you all!

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - A Heap of Trouble

Click here to go see the bonus panel!

I don't believe in categories, like 'I' or 'believe' or 'category'.

New comic!
Today's News:

new shelton wet/dry: ‘La sève des arbres vous entre au cœur par les longs regards stupides que l’on tient sur eux.’ –Flaubert

When making trust decisions in economic games, people have some accuracy in detecting trustworthiness from the facial features of unknown partners. […] We observed that trustworthiness detection remained better than chance for exposure times as short as 100 ms, although it disappeared with an exposure time of 33 ms. { Experimental Psychology | Continue reading } photo { [...]

new shelton wet/dry: Every day, the same, again

Senate map gerrymandered for senator’s house Entrepreneurs are finding profits turning human waste into fertiliser, fuel and even food. The new economy of excrement Chinese sex doll rental service suspended amid controversy Tourists at the Koorana Saltwater Crocodile Farm in Coowonga, Queensland, Australia, were randomly assigned to play a laptop-simulated Electronic Gaming Machine Sleep deprivation rapidly reduces [...] Comic for 2017.09.20

New Cyanide and Happiness Comic

Ideas from CBC Radio (Highlights): The Future of Work, Part 2: The highs and lows of digital platforms

Digital platforms have been well received by customers, but for workers, they often have a dark side. And they present a major challenge for governments who are grappling with how to regulate them.


Waterloo, Ontario, Canada University of Waterloo Tue, 19 Sep 2017 20:32:26 -0700

IEEE Job Site RSS jobs: Faculty Position in COMPUTER SYSTEMS SOFTWARE

Waterloo, Ontario, Canada University of Waterloo Tue, 19 Sep 2017 20:23:22 -0700

MattCha's Blog: 2017 White2Tea “four am” and A Trap Music Puerh Session

One of the elements that makes White2Tea so unique is that Paul has branded and intertwined his selection of puerh with American popular culture and his spin on modern art.  This has never been done before and oh, it is done so brilliantly.  Especially noticeable are references to American Rap and Jazz.  I believe it is no coincidence that around the same time this tea was being pressed 2 Chainz released his single “4 AM”.

Really there is no better way to enjoy puerh that to bang out some new school trap music.  Sitting in Zen meditation with 2 Chainz, melodically disorienting styleof rap bridging on the edge of confusion with both rough and harsh edges flowedby high interruptions booming seems like the best way to appreciate such things.  I received this sample free with my order of 2017 "Pussy" on White2Tea's site it is listed for $109.00 for a 200g Xiao bing or $0.55/g. Let’s drop this…

The dry leaves are mix of pungent, deep, rich meat notes, with a slight fruity edge.

The first infusion delivers a pungent, spicy peppercorn sweet meaty initial taste in a thick brothy mouthfeel the aftertaste is of mild honey tastes and edges of slight floral tones.  There is a nice slightly rubbery, slightly bubble gum taste that lingers in the mouth minutes later.  Immediately, I think to myself that there is a lot going on here.

The second infusion develops a creamy sweet taste, then just a slight meaty pungent profile which pops up quickly then recedes to a developing sweetness of honey and slight, almost non-existent, orchid tastes.  The aftertaste develops a gummy, barely bubble gum, and mainly unnami like taste.  There is lots of different tastes going on here. The back drop is a decent mouthfeel and a throatfeel that is pretty deep and stimulating.

The third presents with bitter notes up front which then build up to a swelling and growing expanding sweetness.  The base flavor is a slightly savory unnami taste and a sweetness.  The sweetness is of mainly honey but slight orchid.  This infusion shows slight suggestions of a wood base underneath.  The initial mild bitterness really opens the mouth to the sweeter tastes to come.  The qi makes the jaw and face slightly numb and is giving me a nice floating sensation in the head.

The fourth has a bitter and cypress taste up front that has a slightly evergreen tree like edge to it.  A sweet edge of honey develops underneath but this tea is not out rightly sweet.  The sweetness build in the mouth until a nice spike of icing sugar and peach fruit sweet taste spikes about 20 seconds after swallowing.  The mouthfeel is slightly medium thick, sticky fuzzy in the mouth but the throat is nicely stimulated.

The fifth offers creamy soap-like tastes that pair with slightly bitter cypress tree notes.  These tastes quickly transform with ghostly edges of orchid and honey.  The sweet taste peaks 20 seconds later with a sweet bubble gum and fruit taste in the mouth.  There is a slight woody base under the whole infusion.  Feeling very relaxed- nice qi.

The sixth infusion offers a flatter, initial bitter, up front sage-like honey taste is in there as well.  An evergreen wood base taste in slight sweetness develops.  The sweetness builds slowly and has a certain complexness to it.  Really, there is lots going on as far as taste goes.  Minutes later the taste aggregates into a sweet clear honeydew melon taste with honey base and suggestions of orchid flowers.

The seventh and eighth offers a watery, bitter initial taste with slight wood.  There is a nice building up to a enjoyable melon sweetness. The returning sweetness is layered nicely and is by far the most enjoyable part of this tea.  The bitterness feels quite mild here now.

The ninth infusion offered stronger resinous evergreen tree notes as the base.  A slight menthol note appears in the aftertaste for the first time.  The sweet note builds slowly until cresting in that honeydew melon taste.

The tenth infusion has a watery soft bitter start with an edge of evergreen wood.  The taste is a bit vacuous in the middle profile.  Even the aftertaste is a bit weak- not as sweet but more orchid late in the returning sweetness.  The taste evolves slowly in the mouth.

The eleventh has florals mixed with muted evergreen wood/ cypress wood taste.  The sweetness first of honey then of a floral type.  The twelfth infusion steeped a little longer seems to meld most of these separate tastes into one right from the initial taste and through to the aftertaste.  This tea is still too young to drink and I can feel its qi kicking at my stomach.  I spread out the infusion through the course of my day at home to mitigate this ill effect.  The tea really coats the teeth and tongue in a thin stickiness.  Minutes later there is a sweet honeydew melon sweetness on them.  Minutes after that a faint resinous evergreen woody taste.

In the thirteenth infusion the bitterness starts to come on stronger mildly astringing the fluids of the mouth and dominate the subtle flavours which still manage to punch through.  I was at approx. 20second infusions here.  I think I will dial that back.

The fourteenth is mild, almost a creamy sweetness in empty woody water here.

In the fifteenth I press hard again- it is buttery, bitter and slightly sweet now.  The aftertaste is still interesting woody, and slight sweet.  The bitterness is somewhat challenging at this point.  If you steep lightly, you don’t get too much but if you go a bit stronger the bitterness is an issue.

I steep it a few more times but the bitterness is too unpleasant and unharmonious at this point to continue which is absolutely normal for a tea that is meant to be aged.  Overall the tea is not that bitter, but just young puerh bitter.

The taste is as chaotic as the music I have paired with this tea today with a lot going on- highs, lows, depth, and harshness.  I still think "Pussy" is a better tea but these are two really different types of puerh.  “four am” has much more diversity of taste in there and is a tea that you would want to age not drink now.

Looking back at my day with this tea I can sum up the chaqi as giving me an unfocused and floating feeling… not much got accomplished this day.. hahaha.

So why the fly image?  It is a reference to the slang “I’m flying high” aka experiencing a sensation of floating or the effects of drugs.  Certainly this tea has some of this.

… Or maybe its just a complete coincidence and the name is a blend from “four”, “am” as in “areas in Menghai”.  The thing with White2Tea is that you never know.

The names and wrappers are essentially art to be interpreted by the eye of the beholding puerh drinker.  Which I find quite amusing… but not as amusing as day of Trap music and puerh.


IEEE Job Site RSS jobs: Assistant/Associate Professor (Tenure-track) - Computer Engineering

Guelph, Ontario, Canada School of Engineering, University of Guelph Tue, 19 Sep 2017 18:47:43 -0700

Greater Fool – Authored by Garth Turner – The Troubled Future of Real Estate: The better way

Why does T2 think it’s okay to gut TFSAs, create a new tax bracket and whack business owners? Because, politically, it is. The federal Libs are out to destroy the NDP (currently trying to pick a leader), so they can suck off the soft socialists and rule Canada forever.

It’s a plan. So far, it’s working. Step One is to create class warfare. The steerage section of this pathetic blog will attest to how great that’s going. Drenched in debt, laden with house and swimming in their own bad decisions, the deplorables among us believe the way they can get more is to ensure everyone else has less. And why not? It’s exactly the message of Bill Morneau.

“Too many people still feel as though the system is stacked against them. They work hard. When it comes to paying their taxes, they pay on time and in full. But there is a sense that some may be getting a better deal than others. It’s time for the next steps in our plan to bolster the confidence Canadians have in their Government and in their economy. And it starts by making sure that we all pay our fair share of taxes—with no exceptions.”

When asked what a ‘fair’ tax is, the answer’s always the same – one that somebody else pays. If they have more than you, it’s ever fairer. Now that home ownership has risen to 70%, people have borrowed $1.3 trillion in mortgages, and the savings rate has plunged, our leaders know the time is right to cause division and stoke envy. After spending nine years in the House of Commons and the backrooms on Parliament Hill, I know. Power comes first. Responsibility second.

But, despair not. This blog is here to empower you, not induce suicidal thoughts. That’s what Costco and Drake are for. So instead of thinking you can build yourself up by knocking someone else down (the Lib-NDP-Screwed-Millennial way), why not just advance? One great way of doing that is to invest.

On Tuesday the Fruit People, formerly known as Orange Guy’s Shorts, released the results of a survey showing just how beaten down most Canadians have become. Incredibly (it says) only 4% of Canadians have ever seriously considered opening an investment account. Why? Not because they fear losses, but rather since 70% of all these dispirited beavers believe they don’t have enough money to invest.

And here’s another report proving what a mess children make of people’s brains. Just out, it shows 53% of parents think their adult kids are dependent on them. Almost 40% will hand over house money to their spawn or finance college even when it means kissing off retirement.  “According to the results,” says the Financial Planning Standards Council, “assisting their ‘big kids’ with post-secondary costs will postpone the retirement of 45% of respondents and prevent 46% from paying off their debt.” By the way, guys (at 44%) are way more willing to put their kids into real estate than women (32%). So much for the nesting myth.

So why would having offspring – which people have apparently done for some time – be putting a “financial strain” on almost half of all parents? Why can’t people manage to have a job, raise a family and still have enough loot saved after six decades of life to stop working?

You already know.

Years ago when I was traveling the country speaking on behalf of financial dudes, banks and fund companies, the gigs took me everywhere. Glittery ballrooms. Church basements. One night I walked into a hall in a remote, dusty burg in southern Saskatchewan to talk to a few hundred dour-looking locals. The advisor sponsoring the event told me how much money she looked after. A staggering amount. “Huh?” I said, meaningfully. And she explained – in a place where real estate was cheap and debt sparse, people gave their money to her (after buying some new cows, of course). No retirement crisis there.

The cost of a one-strategy strategy is incalculable. Debt’s off the chart. House prices inflated. Families stressed. And if property values don’t hold, millions of wrinklies will be pooched. People who have relied on real estate only to build net worth must liquidate it at some point to survive. What a crap shoot that can be – as we’re learning. Without balance, diversification or (often) liquidity, risk ignites.

The sooner you stop fawning over house, believing politicians or caving to your kids, the better the outcome. Tomorrow, a small refresher course on the better way.


Colossal: Aerial Images of Vibrant Landscapes by Photographer Niaz Uddin

The Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone National Park (all images via Niaz Uddin)

Niaz Uddin is a photographer, director, and filmmaker that explores a variety of natural landscapes from high above. His color-saturated photographs explore crowded beaches and remote tide pools, capturing each of the scenic environments from a bird’s eye view. One of my favorite images is the picture above, which provides a rare perspective of the Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park. You can see even more sky-high images on his Instagram, and buy limited prints on his website.

Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach

Manhattan Beach

Manhattan Beach

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Michael Geist: Canada’s NAFTA IP and E-commerce Priorities: My Appearance Before the Standing Committee on International Trade

The House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade has been conducting hearings on the NAFTA negotiations. I appeared before the committee yesterday on a panel that included the dairy industry, food and beverage sector, and my comments on IP and e-commerce. The MPs showed considerable interest in both IP and e-commerce, asking questions about notice-and-notice, fair use, copyright balance, the public domain, and the privacy implications of the e-commerce chapter.  My opening remarks are posted below.

Appearance before the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade, September 18, 2017

Good afternoon. My name is Michael Geist.  I am a law professor at the University of Ottawa, where I hold the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law. I appear today in a personal capacity representing only my own views.

There is much to say about NAFTA – I have written numerous articles and posts on the agreement – but I have limited time so I’ll focus on the intellectual property chapter with a brief additional comment on the e-commerce chapter.

While Canada is accustomed to “playing defence” to U.S. intellectual property demands in trade talks, this round of renegotiation offers the chance to pro-actively ensure that Canadian IP priorities and policies are reflected in the agreement. To place the IP issue in context, over the past five years, Canada has implemented anti-circumvention laws similar to those found in the U.S., added stronger enforcement measures, enacted anti-counterfeiting laws, extended the term of protection for sound recordings, and engaged in patent and trademark reforms.

It should therefore be recognized that Canada already meets its international IP obligations and has largely addressed previous U.S. demands regarding further reforms. At a broad level, the Canadian negotiating goal should be to retain an appropriate IP balance that fosters creativity and access, while ensuring that there is room for Canadian-specific policies that sit within the flexibilities of the international IP framework.

What might that look like?  I’d raise five points.

First, Canada should insist on the inclusion of language on maintaining balance across all IP rights, the legitimate interests of users, promoting access to and preserving the public domain, ensuring that IP rights do not create barriers to legitimate trade, and facilitating access to affordable medicines.  Similar language was raised during the TPP negotiations and it belongs in NAFTA.

Second, the availability of U.S. fair use represents a significant competitive advantage for U.S. businesses and creators. To ensure a level playing field for innovation, the NAFTA IP chapter should require that all parties feature a fair use or fair use equivalent provision.

Third, Canadian copyright law’s anti-circumvention provisions are among the most restrictive in the world and badly undermine the traditional copyright balance in the digital world creating unnecessary restrictions on innovation. While the Canadian exceptions were narrowly constructed and limited to a handful of circumstances, the U.S. has actually been expanding its digital lock exceptions. The imbalance in exceptions creates an uneven playing field for innovation and should be remedied within NAFTA.

Fourth, the NAFTA IP chapter should also address the abuse of intellectual property rights that may inhibit companies from innovating or discourage Canadians from taking advantage of the digital market. The benefits of an anti-IP abuse law could be used to touch on patents, trademarks, and copyright.

Fifth, one of the chief concerns with past trade negotiations is the expectation that the U.S. requires other countries to mirror its IP laws, even if those laws extend far beyond international law requirements. The Canadian approach should be to require NAFTA parties to meet international law, but to retain the full flexibility found within those laws. For example, the term of copyright in Canada is presently life of the author plus an additional 50 years, a term compliant with the international standard set by the Berne Convention.

I recently conducted research on the role of copyright term and the public domain in Canadian schools using data obtained by the Ontario Book Publishers Organization.  According to data submitted by hundreds of school teachers and school districts, half of the most popular books taught in Grades 7 – 12 are in the public domain or about to enter it. If we extend the term of copyright, dozens of books used by thousands of students today that are scheduled to enter the public domain would be shut out for decades. The prospect of using those books in new and innovative ways without the need for further licensing or royalties – as well as increasing access in open electronic form – would be lost for a generation. These are crucial IP issues and should not be overlooked.

My time is limited to discuss the e-commerce chapter in these opening remarks and I would welcome the chance to do so during questions.  I would only note that Canada should be wary of provisions that undermine legitimate public policy interests, including privacy and security.

The U.S. has identified restrictions against local data storage – often called data localization – as one of its objectives. The Canadian government should resist efforts within NAFTA to limit the ability of federal or provincial governments to establish legitimate privacy and security safeguards through data localization requirements.

Limitations on data transfer restrictions, which mandate the free flow of information on networks across borders, raises similar concerns. While the U.S. is seeking a ban on data transfer restrictions, Canada should ensure that privacy and security laws will not be superseded by NAFTA restrictions. In fact, throughout the e-commerce chapter, Canada should seek higher level privacy protections and e-commerce regulations.

I welcome your questions.

The post Canada’s NAFTA IP and E-commerce Priorities: My Appearance Before the Standing Committee on International Trade appeared first on Michael Geist.

OCaml Weekly News: OCaml Weekly News, 19 Sep 2017

  1. Next OUPS meetup, Sep 26th 2017
  2. From the OCaml discourse
  3. Ocaml Github Pull Requests
  4. Other OCaml News

Tea Masters: The purest form of gastronomy is Tea

(This is an improved translation of an article I published in French a few days ago.) The way we practice skilled tea is gastronomy in its purest form. Tea and gastronomy are both rooted in desire rather than in need. We practice them because we want and love to, not just because we have to. Where gastronomy is the sublimation of hunger, tea sublimes thirst. These two primary needs, hunger and thirst, have the same origin: the constant regeneration need of the body. Hunger is more painful than thirst, but it's possible to survive much longer without eating than without drinking. And while it's possible to eat a little more when you are not hungry, there won't be much pleasure. It's still very important to feel hungry in order to arouse a desire for good food. Thirst, on the other hand, is such a fundamental need for the body that it's almost always possible to drink without feeling thirsty. So, if satiety kills the desire for gastronomy, quenching one's thirst doesn't suppress the desire for tea. There's always space for a small cup of tea! The desire for tea is therefore more sublime, because it exists beyond thirst.

For foodies, quality is more important than quantity. A good meal isn't judged by the number of calories or by the number of spoons we ingest, but by the quality of the feelings the food generates. For the best teas, it's also not the number of brews that matters. Sometimes, a single cup is enough to satisfy us immensely. In both cases, we pay attention to the quality of the main ingredients that come from specific origins. They are grown in harmony with nature, then they are harvested and transformed by traditional means by skilled farmers. But while the number of ingredients in a recipe is often 10 or more, a tea session only requires one type of tea leaves and good water. It's that simple and pure!
After the ingredients, let's turn our attention to the preparation. Here again, the recipe of tea is extremely simple compared to food: add very hot water to the leaves, let them brew and serve! But every detail has its importance. How many leaves? What water temperature? Should I preheat or rinse? How long should the tea brew? What tea vessel and tea cup should you use? There's no consensus, even tea experts. All this depends on the tea you are brewing and the flavors you wish to highlight. This fine tuning requires the same experience and skill as a good cook. 2 persons may follow the same detailed food recipe, but the result will never be exactly the same. The difference between good and excellent is how well you are able to adapt to circumstances and feel when it's ready. For tea this is very much the case, because with its very simple recipe, tea gives the brewer the most freedom to use his skills and experience. 
In today's virtual world, there's a new found pleasure in creating something with your hand that you can feel and even eat or drink. But creating a meal takes time and experience and so, many people choose to skip this pleasure and go to the restaurant instead or reheat something prepared by someone else. Making a tea is much less daunting or time consuming. And it may teach people the pleasure and magic of cooking: combining 2 or more ingredients with heat.

For all these reasons, tea is the purest form of gastronomy. You can brew tea whenever you want, at any time of the day. It's zero calorie! And the cost for the leaves for a tea session only rarely exceeds that of a hamburger! So, even though tea has an elitist reputation, it is a healthy and simple food pleasure for all!
Note: the pictures for this article show various roasted Oolongs I brewed recently. Comic for 2017.09.19

New Cyanide and Happiness Comic

Ideas from CBC Radio (Highlights): Decolonization: The Next 150 on Indigenous Lands

Three Indigenous PhD students (Réal Carrière , Keri Cheechoo and Cherry Smiley) share their insights at a public forum hosted at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. The theme: “The Next 150, on Indigenous Lands.”

Penny Arcade: News Post: Dropping Science

Tycho: Gabriel mostly sat in confusion after the comment at Curriculum Night; he doesn’t really start or maintain beef in realspace. What you think isn’t political - that is to say, what isn’t up for debate - is really just an index of your politics anyway, and quite a robust one.  For me, I don’t think teaching science in science class is a political act.  I grew up in a house where “teaching evilution”...  Well, the fact that we called it Evilution is probably enough information to glean the subtleties of the position.  I live and let live as…

TheSirensSound: New single Slow Down by Scenic Route to Alaska

Scenic Route To Alaska just released their new single “Slow Down”. The song is taken from their new  LP which will be released in early 2018.

“Slow Down” is about the inherent struggle of maintaining balance while always on the move. The song was inspired after burning rubber on the road for the majority of 2016/2017. The lyrics also hint at attempting to maintain relationships and a healthy lifestyle and is met by a big ' "I don't think I'm ready for it".

Scenic Route To Alaska have been a band since they were teenagers and strive to make pop music with ample doses of both substance and accessibility. 

TheSirensSound: New single A Maze by Pekoe Cat

Pekoe Cat is multi-instrumentalist/producer Kyle Woolven and self-proclaimed as the artist you've never heard of.  Woolven is part of the non-existent indie scene in Belleville, Ontario. His new single "A Maze" is a psychedelic trip through his many musical influences and a peek into his warped melodic mind. Pekoe's goals: create, progress, and one day reach 40 Twitter followers.

Daniel Lemire's blog: Visiting all values in an array exactly once in “random order”

Suppose that you want to visit all values in an array exactly once in “random order”. You could do it by shuffling your array but it requires some extra storage.

You want your code to use just a tiny bit of memory, and you want the code to be super fast. You do not want to assume that your array size is a power of two.

One way to do it is to use the fact that (a x + b) modulo n will visit all integer values in [0,n) exactly once as x iterates through the integers in [0, n), as long as a is coprime with n. Being coprime just means that the greatest common divisor between a and n is 1. There are fast functions to compute the greatest common divisor between a and n.

A trivial coprime number would be a = 1, but that’s bad for obvious reasons. So we pick a coprime number in [n/2,n) instead. There is always at least one no matter what n is.

Enumerating all coprime numbers in [n/2,n) could get tiresome when n is very large, so maybe we just look at up to 100,000 of them. There is no need to actually store them in memory, we can just select one at random, so it requires very little memory.

To see why the mathematics work, suppose that ( a x + b ) modulo n = ( a x' + b ) modulo n,
then a (x - x') modulo n = 0 which only happens when (x – x’) is a multiple of n
because a and n are coprime. Thus if you map a consecutive range of n
values x, you will get n distinct values ( a x + b ) modulo n.
The choice of the parameter a is critical however: if you set a to 1 or 2,
even if it is coprime with n, the result will not look random.

The running code is ridiculously simple:

    public int getCurrentValue() {
      return ( (long) index * prime + offset ) % ( maxrange);

    public boolean hasNext() {
      return index < maxrange;

    public int next() {
      int answer = getCurrentValue();
      index ++;
      return answer;

There are various ways to optimize this code further (e.g., you can increment a counter instead of doing a multiplication), but it is likely faster than most other approaches people come up with in practice. Of course, it is not really random in the sense that no (good) statistician should accept the result as a fair shuffle of the indexes. Still, it might be “good enough” to fool your colleagues into thinking that it is random.

While my implementation assumes that you are visiting the values in order, you can go back in time, or jump forward and backward arbitrarily.

I make my Java code available. It can be made more elegant, but it should work just fine in your projects.

(As pointed out by Leonid Boytsov, this approach is reminiscent of the Linear congruential generators that are used to produce random numbers.)

If you can find ways to make the result “look” more random without significantly making it slower and without increasing memory usage, please let us know.

You can find ready-made solutions to visit all values in an array with a power of two number of elements. And by restricting your traversal to the subset of elements in [0,n) from a larger virtual array having a power of two size, you will have an alternative to the approach I describe, with the caveat that your main code will require branching. The computational complexity of a call to “next” becomes O(n) whereas I use a small, finite, number of instructions.

Colossal: Synchronistic Images Captured in Soviet Era Swimming Pools by Photographer Maria Svarbova

Photographer Maria Svarbova is fascinated by the sterile, geometric aesthetic of old swimming pools, especially those built during the Socialist Era in her native country of Slovakia. Each scene she photographs is highly controlled, from the subjects of her works to the bright colors and dramatic shadows that compose each shot.

“The figures are mid-movement, but there is no joyful playfulness to them,” says Sarbova’s artist statement about the project. “Frozen in the composition, the swimmers are as smooth and cold as the pools tiles…Despite the retro setting, the pictures somehow evoke a futuristic feeling as well, as if they were taken somewhere completely alien.”

The series, In the Swimming Pool, began in 2014 and is her largest to date. Recently she published a book on the project through The New Heroes and Pioneers aptly titled The Swimming Pool Book which you can pre-order on Amazon. To see more of her photographs centered around Eastern European pools, head to her Instagram or Behance. (via Visual Fodder)

Quiet Earth: BLADE RUNNER Anime Coming From Cowboy Bebop Director

[Editor's Note: Be sure to join us on Facebook for news and contests and even more discussion of awesome movies, books and TV!]

As we sit in heated anticipation for Blade Runner 2049, word has come that Cowboy Bebop's Watanabe Shinichiro has created his own Blade Runner spin off anime, Black Out 2022.

The new anime short takes place shortly after the events of the original 1982 film and it will stream on the Sony Pictures Japan YouTube channel on September 26th!

Here's an announcement teaser to enjoy until then! [Continued ...]

s mazuk: thunderstruck9:Will Cotton (American, b. 1965), Sugar Bloom,...


Will Cotton (American, b. 1965), Sugar Bloom, 2001. Oil on canvas, 127.6 x 152.4 cm.

Colossal: In Secret Wood’s Enchanting Pendants, Turtles Carry the World on Their Backs [Sponsored]

Vancouver-based jewelers Secret Wood are known for their fusion of wood and resin to create magical rings. Their latest creation features more enchanting worlds, this time on the back of a turtle.

The recently released World Turtle pendant has a unique feature: it is customizable and interchangeable. Switch between different enchanting worlds to personalize your World Turtle pendant. From waterfalls to winter scenes, coral reefs to blossoms, intricate worlds are artfully created inside the turtle’s geometric shell. The design allows light to shine through, refracting off the shell’s many facets.

These pendants take inspiration from Hindu, Chinese and Indigenous mythologies which tell of the world being found on the back of a turtle. The turtle seemed appropriate for this grand role due to its qualities: perseverance, longevity, and determination.

“We were completely inspired by these mythologies and knew we had to use them in our creations,” explains Secret Wood founder, Roman Wood. “There are so many beautiful landscapes on this Earth, the creative possibilities are endless.”

Much like Secret Wood’s rings, every piece is handmade and unique, ensuring a unique wearable experience. More turtle shell designs will be released in the future.

See more examples of the World Turtle on Secret Wood’s pre-order site. The pre-order for these pendants will run until October 18th, or until crafting capacity is reached.

CreativeApplications.Net: HARVEST – Mining cryptocurrency with wind to fund climate research

Created by Julian Oliver and commissioned by the Konstmuseet i Skövde, HARVEST is a work of critical engineering and computational climate art. It uses wind-energy to mine cryptocurrency, the earnings of which are used as a source of funding for climate-change research.

Trivium: 18sep2017

Daniel Lemire's blog: Computing the inverse of odd integers

Given x, its (multiplicative) inverse is another value y such that x y = y x = 1. We all know that the multiplicative inverse of x is 1/x and it exists as long as x is non-zero. That’s for real numbers, or at least, rational numbers.

But the idea of a multiplicative inverse is more general.

It certainly fails integers in general. I.e., there is no integer x such that 2 x is 1. But, maybe surprisingly, all odd integers have an inverse if you use normal computer arithmetic. Indeed, when your processor computes x y, then it actually outputs x y modulo 232 or x y modulo 264 depending on whether you use 32-bit or 64-bit instructions. (The value x y modulo 264 can be defined as the remainder of the division of x y by 264.)

Let me briefly explain why there must be an inverse. You can skip this part if you want. Take any odd integer x. Because x is odd, then it is not divisible by 2. In fact, that’s what it means to be odd. But this also means that powers of x will also be odd. E.g., xk is also odd for any integer k. Ok. So xk modulo 264 is never going to be zero. The only way it could be zero is if xk were divisible by 264, but that’s impossible because it is an odd value. At the same time, we only have a finite number of distinct odd values smaller than 264. So it must be the case that xk modulo 264 = xk' modulo 264 for some pair of powers k and k'. Assume without loss of generality that k is larger than k'. Then we have that xk-k' modulo 264 = 1 modulo 264 (I am not proving this last step, but you can figure it out from the previous one). And thus it follows that xk-k'-1 is the inverse of x. If you did not follow this sketch of a proof, don’t worry.

So how do you find this inverse? You can brute force it, which works well for 32-bit values, but not so well for 64-bit values.

Wikipedia has a page on this, entitled modular multiplicative inverses. It points to an Euclidean algorithm that appears to rely on repeated divisions.

Thankfully, you can solve for the inverse efficiently using very little code.

One approach is based on “Newton’s method”. That is, we start with a guess and from the guess, we get a better one, and so forth, until we naturally converge to the right value. So we need some formula f(y), so that we can repeatedly call y = f(y) until y converges.

A useful recurrence formula is f(y) = y (2 - y x ) modulo 264. You can verify that if y is the 64-bit inverse of x, then this will output y. So the formula passes a basic sanity test. But would calling y = f(y) repeatedly converge to the inverse?

Suppose that y is not quite the inverse, suppose that x y = 1 + z 2N for some z and some N that is smaller than 64. So y is the inverse “for the first N bits” (where “first” means “least significant”). That is, x y modulo 2N = 1.

It is easy to find such a y for N greater than zero. Indeed, let y = 1, then x y = 1 + z 21.

Ok, so substituting x y = 1 + z 2N in
y (2 - y x ) modulo 264, we get
y (2 - ( 1 + z 2N) ) modulo 264
y (1 - z 2N ) modulo 264.
So I set y' = f(y) = y (1 - z 2N ) modulo 264.
What is x y'? It is (1 + z 2N ) (1 - z 2N ) modulo 264
or (1 - z2 22 N ) modulo 264.

That is, if y was the inverse “for the first N bits”, then y' = f(y) is the inverse “for the first 2 N bits”. In some sense, I double my precision each time I call the recurrence formula. This is great! This means that I will quickly converge to the inverse.

Can we do better, as an initial guess, than y = 1? Yes. We can start with a very interesting observation: if we use 3-bit words, instead of 32-bit or 64-bit words, then every number is its own inverse. E.g., you can check that 3*3 modulo 8 = 1.

(Marc Reynolds pointed out to me that you can get 4 bits of accuracy by starting out with x * x + x - 1 .)

So a good initial guess is y = x, and that already buys us 3 bits. The first call to the recurrence formula gives me 6 bits, then 12 bits for the second call, then 24 bits, then 48 bits, then 96 bits, and so forth. So, we need to call our recurrence formula 4 times for 32-bit values and 5 times for 64-bit values. I could actually go to 128-bit values by calling the recurrence formula 6 times.

Here is the code to compute the inverse of a 64-bit integer:

uint64_t f64(uint64_t x, uint64_t y) {
  return  y * ( 2 - y * x );

static uint64_t findInverse64(uint64_t x) {
   uint64_t y = x; 
   y = f64(x,y);
   y = f64(x,y);
   y = f64(x,y);
   y = f64(x,y);
   y = f64(x,y);
   return y;

I wrote a complete command-line program that can invert any odd number quickly.

Each call to the recurrence formula should consume about 5 CPU cycles so that the whole function should take no more than 25 cycles or no more than the cost of a single integer division. Actually, it might be cheaper than a single integer division.

Because of the way we construct the inverse, if you somehow knew the 32-bit inverse, you could call the recurrence formula just once to get the 64-bit inverse.

How did we arrive at this formula ( y (2 - y x ))? It is actually a straight-forward application of Newton’s method as one would apply it to finding the zero of g(y) = 1/y - x. So there is no magic involved.

My code seems to assume that I am working with unsigned integers, but the same algorithm works with signed integers, and in binary form, it will provide the same results.

Reference and further reading: Granlund and Montgomery, SIGPLAN Not. (1994). Some people point me at On Newton-Raphson iteration for multiplicative inverses modulo prime powers by Dumas (2012).

Credit: Marc Reynolds ask on Twitter for an informal reference on computing the multiplicative inverse modulo a power of two. It motivated me to write this blog post. / 2017-09-23T21:41:23