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Similar to technical debt, the accumulation of technical problems over time due to more pressing concerns, I have a fun maths debt.
My current balance: five papers open in tabs on my desktop, twelve on my phone

I've just seen someone using the symbol φ for the empty set.
I need to go and have a lie down.

about a cabal of evil linguists, no seriously, missionarism 

if you use Linux and you like languages, chances are you’ve struggled to find fonts that give good panlinguistic support. Unicode combining characters, for example, remain poorly supported in most popular fonts. Phonetic characters are only included in a few.

if you look into which free fonts have good coverage, you’ve probably found Junicode, which is great but too mediæval manuscript-like for most computer users (I mean no kink-shaming but most of us want a bit higher x-height in our UIs); and, in modern times, Google's android fonts like Noto/Roboto. some ugly computer-generated stuff with no typographers involved.

and SIL. there's some pretty great fonts labelled SIL something, like Charis SIL or Doulos SIL, great for printed articles and with good coverage of non-European linguistic orthographies. Charis may be the best IPA font I’ve ever seen, does better even than (commercial) Brill at complex, combining IPA.

let’s talk about what the "SIL" here means.

Wikipedia’s introductory paragraph is good…

> SIL International (formerly known as the Summer Institute of Linguistics) is a Christian non-profit organization, whose main purpose is to study, develop and document languages, especially those that are lesser-known, in order to expand linguistic knowledge, promote literacy, translate the Christian Bible into local languages, and aid minority language development.

…so we know already this is a Trojan horse, these are missionaries i.e. they want to befriend indigenous folk in order to Christianize them. we get a lot of endangered language documentation, fieldwork recordings and data from SIL. At the cost of cultural genocide. (a concept they deny, and rephrase as "cultural progress"). It’s like catching pretty butterflies to display their beautiful dead bodies in a glass case.

But it gets funkier. SIL was founded by William Cameron Townsend, a Presbyterian missionary. One of his core beliefs was the Great Commission doctrine: that Jesus charged Christians with the mission to spread the word of God to all nations. Townsend’s revelatory experience was that ‘nations’ here isn’t supposed to be all political countries, but all ethnic groups. All individual cultures.

All languages.

So he founds Wycliffe Bible Translations, with the goal of translating the Word to every single language in existence. And the Summer Institute of Linguistics as a front organisation, with a façade of ecumenism and downplaying the missionarism, to learn what is necessary from undocumented languages. So that the Wycliffe institute can translate the Bible into those, too.

After all, only after every living person in the world has heard the Good News will they be able to take a stand, with God or against. Currently they’re about halfway through the world’s 7 thousand something languages.

What happens when you get the Bible readable into every possible language, and every person of every nation has heard the Good News? That’s right. Second Coming.

I’m not making this up:
SIL International is a cabal of Christian linguists doing language documentation with the goal of ending the world.

I'd like it if my email client showed the number of threads with unread messages, instead of just the number of unread messages.

Since I failed to find a well-known implementation to namedrop (can you help?), here's some links:

A CRDT kanban board:
CRDT library for JSON:
Ink & Switch's writeup:


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Looking for recommendations of software/services to live-subtitle my own talk when presenting through a platform I have no control over.

Context: I'm giving a presetation via GoToWebinar. GTW's transcription & subtitling is awful so the organisers have, quite reasonably, asked me to turn on the subtitles feature in Powerpoint. Except... I'm not using Powerpoint. :BlobCat:


You, a tech startup with millions in angel finance: made an app to turn handwritten maths into TeX.

Me, just the worst kind of smart alec: convinced a pen to turn TeX into handwritten maths

Obsessed with CLIP+FFT, which uses CLIP, an internet-trained image-judging AI, to steer a deep dream-like image generator.

It'll do what you ask, but it will do it excessively.

"Frodo Baggins delivering pizza through the mines of Moria"

Joy of Computing - every weekday a new interesting #ComputerScience link, from the Recurse Center.

(The #RecurseCenter is a self-directed, community-driven educational retreat for programmers based in New York City and currently operating online)

That's better: now the symbols don't look like the ghosts of overfull hboxes

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So obliging of my knee to dislocate in order to make space for my baggy trousers when I kneel.

Putting the finishing touches to my history of mathematics in the north-east of England, "E to the Why Aye"

Me: ooh, maybe 1.5MB is too big for an entire package that students need to load to do their exam.

My employer: let's stick a different 1.6MB "hero image" at the top of each of our public-facing pages

Can't not read it as "finitely generated abelian grape"

Idea: a theorem verifier with the mindset of a toddler. When it starts it rejects everything, so you have to show it the two theorems it already knows like a hundred times before it'll admit that some things are, in fact, true

Today I have had a lovely time writing a Numbas extension for graph theory.

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Working on some group theory, I'm writing out words on generators, which I've labelled with letters.
I just noticed that \(e\) has order 2, so

\[ beef = bf \]

It turns out this is real-world maths, after all!

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