Current Events

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The first function of democracy is to enable the peaceful handover of power from one group to another. For this, all its myriad sins are forgiven. The peaceful handover of power from one group to another is not a sure thing. Historically, it’s something of an aberration. There are all sorts of reasons, when you…

Read More On Legitimacy

I generally try to stay on technical topics, because my understanding is that’s what readers want. But events are overwhelming and I believe that not speaking out is now a political choice. I want to start from this Chris Rock video: I hadn’t seen it before, but I have spent a lot of time studying…

Read More One Bad Apple

There’s an interesting article by Phil Bull, “Why you can ignore reviews of scientific code by commercial software developers“. It’s an interesting, generally convincing argument, with a couple of exceptions. (Also worth remembering: What We Can Learn From the Epic Failure of Google Flu Trends.) The first interesting point is the difference between production code…

Read More Code: science and production

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A remote Hawaiian island, East Island, was destroyed by Hurricane Walaka. East Island was 11 acres. It was also a key refuge for turtles and seals. Read more in The Guardian. Maersk has sent a ship, the Venta Maersk, through the Northern Passage. The journey and its significance were outlined by the Washington Post, with…

Read More Change in the Weather

Lately, I’ve tried to stay away from the tire fire that American politics has become. I’m reasonably certain that I have more to contribute in other areas. But when the President tries to equivocate between those waving the Nazi flag and those protesting against them, we need to speak about what’s acceptable.

It ought to go without saying that when literal Nazis are on one side of a debate, the other side is in the right.

But apparently, that’s not obvious, so I felt I could share a plan for a march by the alt-left, under the ominous name of “Operation Overlord.” They were planning to overthrow the legitimate government all along the coast, and, through force, replace it with their own puppets.

More seriously, we can have disagreements about what’s best for the country, and it’s bad when we demonize those who disagree with us. Civilized society requires us to accept civil disagreement. It accepts that no one is privileged or disadvantaged by an accident of birth: “race, creed or color,” as the expression goes. But civil disagreement, by definition, precludes violence, advocacy of violence or threats of violence.

The Nazi flag is one such threat. Waving it has no purpose except declaring oneself outside society and at odds with the ideals and principles of good people everywhere.

If you’re in a crowd of Nazis, you should be asking why, and walking away.

If you have doubts about what a President should say, here’s a sample: