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Caml Trading: Experiences in Functional Programming on Wall Street td Sun Dec 3 17:19:36 2017
This month's Monad.Reader has an interesting article by Yaron Minsky on adoption of O'Caml by a Wall Street firm for financial and trading software. Excerpts:
One of the things we noticed very quickly when we started hiring people to program in OCaml was that the average quality of applicants we saw was much higher than what we saw when trying to hire, say, Java programmers. It’s not that there aren’t really talented Java programmers out there; there are. It’s just that for us, finding them was much harder. The density of bright people in the OCaml community is impressive, and it shows up in hiring and when reading the OCaml mailing list and when reading the software written by people in the community. That pool of talent is probably the single best thing about OCaml from our point of view.
It has been my experience and the experience of most of the OCaml programmers I’ve known that the object system in OCaml is basically a mistake. The presence of objects in OCaml is perhaps best thought of as an attractive nuisance. Objects in ML should be at best a last resort. Things that other languages do with objects are in ML better achieved using features like parametric polymorphism, union types and functors. Unfortunately, programmers coming in from other languages where objects are the norm tend to use OCaml’s objects as a matter of course, to their detriment. In the hundreds of thousands of lines of OCaml at Jane Street, there are only a handful of uses of objects, and most of those could be eliminated without much pain.
Cardew Choir at Berkeley Art Center, May 9 td Sun Dec 3 17:19:36 2017
The Cornelius Cardew Choir's (belated) May Day concert happens on May 9.

My composition Revolving Door is on the program.
Ego Sum Ens Omnipotens td Sun Dec 3 17:19:36 2017
Holy geez, this is just unbelievable. I don't know whether the tower of Babel prose, the bullshit criticism or the hypernarcissism is the most jaw-dropping.
Eisenhower on neoconservatives. td Sun Dec 3 17:19:36 2017
Here is a 1954 letter from then-President Eisenhower to his brother. Note particularly the fourth paragraph:

Now it is true that I believe this country is following a dangerous trend when it permits too great a degree of centralization of governmental functions. I oppose this--in some instances the fight is a rather desperate one. But to attain any success it is quite clear that the Federal government cannot avoid or escape responsibilities which the mass of the people firmly believe should be undertaken by it. The political processes of our country are such that if a rule of reason is not applied in this effort, we will lose everything--even to a possible and drastic change in the Constitution. This is what I mean by my constant insistence upon "moderation" in government. Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.
Founder Stories td Sun Dec 3 17:19:36 2017
Here's a guide to a little-recognized literary genre.
Function keys on my laptop td Sun Dec 3 17:19:36 2017
Just for me, here is the documentation for the function keys on my IBM X30 laptop.
Grandchild update. td Sun Dec 3 17:19:36 2017
Our new grandson now has a name: Gavin Michael Franklin Evanini.
Happy Birthday To Me td Sun Dec 3 17:19:36 2017
Susan organized a surprise party for me on my 50th Birthday (December 8, 2002.) Tim got me out of the house by begging a ride over to a friend's house to pick up something he'd left there. I should have suspected something when Tim & friend shuffled around the house for 15 minutes and then pulled out a Beach Boys bootleg CD and started pestering me for stories about growing up with all that stone age music.

When we got home, the house was packed with friends. Lou Katz took some pictures.

I received a nice pile of gifts, mostly books:

  • The History of American Classical Music, by John Warthen Struble
  • The Tao of Pooh, by Benjamin Hoff
  • Uncle Tungsten, by Oliver Sacks
  • Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser
  • The Origins of Virtue, by Matt Ridley
  • English As She Is Spoke, by Jose La Fonseca and Pedro Carolino
  • The Lost Beatles Interviews, by Geoffrey Giuliano & Vrnda Devi
  • Constantine's Sword, by Jame Carroll
So I'm set in the reading department for the forseeable future.
Headline of the decade td Sun Dec 3 17:19:36 2017
Take a look at this.
I write like H P Lovecraft? td Sun Dec 3 17:19:36 2017
Apparently it's true, according to this:
I write like
H. P. Lovecraft

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Ira Glass Interview td Sun Dec 3 17:19:36 2017
The Onion AV Club has a decent interview with Ira Glass. Note especially his endorsement of TiVo:
The TiVo is really an amazing machine. Like everyone who has one, I totally recommend it. Just as everyone who's married will tell you to get married, and everyone who has a baby tells you to have a baby, everyone who owns a TiVo will tell you to get a TiVo, and they'll say things like "Your life will be completely different." It's true.
Of course, he has good things to say about public radio as well, particularly about the horror of pledge drives. I hate pledge drives too, to the point that I won't listen to them. Combined with my hypertrophic conscience, that means I don't listen to public radio at all, since I can't contribute and I'm not a freeloader.
It's Alive td Sun Dec 3 17:19:36 2017
I found a literary appreciation of Duff's Device at
James Carville apocrypha td Sun Dec 3 17:19:36 2017
You know, back in 2000 a Republican friend of mine warned me that if I voted for Al Gore and he won, the stock market would tank, we'd lose millions of jobs, and our military would be totally overstretched. You know what? I did vote for Al Gore, he did win, and I'll be damned if all those things didn't come true.
—James Carville (alleged)
Let's Discover F Words. td Sun Dec 3 17:19:36 2017
My copy of Let's Discover F Words (which I heard about at Language Log) just arrived. (It's a $0.79 closeout.) Notwithstanding the hilarious title, it's full of charming ink and watercolor illustrations in the Little Golden Book style by Louise Gordon.
Major League Google Action td Sun Dec 3 17:19:36 2017
Google Maps, which was already amazing, can now display satellite images as well as conventional maps. Over lunch today, I looked for images of all the major league ball parks. Here's what I found (there may be mistakes, some of them were hard to locate):
MLK Quote td Sun Dec 3 17:19:36 2017
Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. It is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. The old law of an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding; it seeks to annihilate rather than convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.
      -Martin Luther King, Jr.
My FLUXUS Evening td Sun Dec 3 17:19:36 2017
Last Saturday (December 7, 2002) ACME Observatory presented a concert of early FLUXUS works, curated by Gino Robair.

I performed George Brecht's Three Aqueous Events, by frying ice cubes on an amplified (contact microphone taped to the bottom) electric griddle, and Dick Higgins's Danger Music Number Fourteen, both of which appeared to go over very well.

But the real excitement happened off-stage. Morgan Guberman planned to perform Ken Friedman's Stamp Act, which involves rubber stamps and a nude model. So he put out a query for a model on craigslist, and got two replies. The first one sent him a second message the next day saying "what was I thinking, I just broke up with my boyfriend and wasn't in my right mind and I'm sorry I led you on", but the second said her name was Bibiana Padilla Maltos, she was a big FLUXUS fan, had performed Stamp Act before and would fly up from Calexico, CA (or Mexicali, MX, I'm not quite clear on that detail) for the show. As show time approached, she hadn't shown up and Morgan spent a lot of time pacing anxiously. Several of us suspected that someone was pulling Morgan's chain, but he kept saying "she called me a few minutes ago, she just got off the plane, she'll be right here". Then a couple of people showed up claiming to be her friends, adding to the suspense. Finally, just as we were getting started, she appeared! It turns out she's for real, confirmed by a google search. She and Morgan did a great job of Stamp Act.

Side note: one of the unwritten rules of performance art is you don't want to follow the naked lady, so of course, my two pieces were scheduled right after Stamp Act. (Fortunately, the naked lady effect was diluted by an intermission.)

Also on the program were a couple of La Monte Young compositions (Composition 1960 #7 and Piano Piece for David Tudor #1.) Saturday morning, we received the following email:

Dear Tom Duff and Gino Robair,

It has come to our attention that you have programmed one or more works by La Monte Young on a concert to be hosted by Gino on Saturday, December 7 at 8:15 PM, at TUVA Space, 3192 Adeline at Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley, CA, presented by the ACME Observatory.

We would have appreciated being contacted by you in advance of this presentation. La Monte prefers to work with musicians who are going to perform his work, which is obviously not now possible in this case.

La Monte Young's works are copyrighted and it is necessary to obtain a performance license from us. According to the announcement in the Bay Area NEWMUS-EVENTS digest 1131, you plan to perform "Piano Piece for David Tudor #1," from 1960, which was announced as: "Feeding hay to the TUVA piano!"

Please provide us with the titles of any other works of La Monte's on the program so we can issue a performance license. A licensing fee of $100 is usually required for performances of each of La Monte's compositions of this type, depending on the circumstances. As Acme Observatory Contemporary Music Series is supported by grants from the Berkeley Civic Arts Commission and anonymous donors, we assume this concert has some funding.

We realize this request is reaching you very late in your planning and we are willing to work with you toward a positive resolution, but we received the information extremely late also.

With best regards,

La Monte Young       Marian Zazeela
MELA Foundation, Inc.
275 Church Street
New York, NY 10013

Of course, we can't afford fees like this at all. Our grant from Berkeley is $2500, with which we do about 30 concerts a year, we took in $61 at the door, and we rent TUVA for $100 a night, so if we gave Young $200 we'd be about $150 short on the night, which the aforementioned "anonymous donors" would have to pick up. ("Anonymous donors" is a euphemism for "you can't make money doing what we do. On the other hand, you can't lose that much either, so rather than not do it, we cover the difference out of our own pockets.")

So probably we should have contacted him (it never occurred to me -- most experimental composers get little enough attention that they're happy about any sort of performance), and maybe we could have negotiated an agreeable rate, but there was no time, so we dropped his pieces from the program. Tough for us (I blew a couple of weekends programming my laptop, trying to make an idiomatic, compelling interactive version of Composition 1960 #7), but tougher for La Monte. He missed out on a performance at what turned out to be a very good show, and there's not much chance we'll ever program him again. But I guess he needs us as much as we need him.
Nerdiness td Sun Dec 3 17:19:36 2017
Mark, pointed it out, so I tried it. I guess the result is not surprising: I am nerdier than 99% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!
New Patent td Sun Dec 3 17:19:36 2017
US Patent #7095409, "Shot shading method and apparatus" issued on August 22, 2006. The inventors are Rob Cook and Tom Duff.
Personal History of Science Factoid td Sun Dec 3 17:19:36 2017
I was 82 days old when the double-helix structure of DNA was discovered, on Feb 28, 1953.
Property Tax Web Site Advice td Sun Dec 3 17:19:36 2017
You can get property tax and assessment information for any address in Alameda County at the county assessor's search page. It's not a very friendly page, and in particular, it gives you no spelling help. This item is mostly to remind me that when looking up addresses on Martin Luther King Junior Way, I should refer to it at "M L King Jr Way", and not some other string that might seem at least as plausible to me.
Ramanujan Constant td Sun Dec 3 17:19:36 2017
At my birthday dinner last year, conversation turned at one point to transcendental numbers and Ramanujan's constant (which has nothing to do with Ramanujan.) Looking it up the next morning, I found this page of wacky math formulas that almost produce integer values. (And I just rediscovered my reference to the links now and thought I should preserve it.)
SHOW TUNES 1, FUNDAMENTALISTS 0 td Sun Dec 3 17:19:36 2017
Proseletizer neutralization, pointed out by Tom Lokovic.
Song Meme td Sun Dec 3 17:19:36 2017
Tenser, said the Tensor mentions a Song Meme. Here's my list:
Favorite Beatles song: 3 way tie!
Revolution 9
A Day in The Life
Favorite solo song by a former Beatle: Maybe I'm Amazed
Favorite Rolling Stones song: Sympathy for the Devil
Favorite Bob Dylan song: 4 way tie! (all from the same album!)
Highway 61 Revisited
Desolation Row
Like a Rolling Stone
Ballad of a Thin Man
Favorite Pixies song: N/A
Favorite Prince song: Little Red Corvette
Favorite Michael Jackson song: Ben
Favorite Metallica song: Enter Sandman
Favorite Public Enemy song: Fight the Power
Favorite Depeche Mode song: N/A
Favorite Cure song: N/A
Favorite song that most of your friends haven't heard: Kurt Weill's Surabaya Johnny, as performed by Kathy Berberian
Favorite Beastie Boys song: Fight for Your Right
Favorite Police song: Murder by Numbers
Favorite Sex Pistols song: God Save the Queen
Favorite song from a movie: Third Man Theme
Favorite Blondie song: One Way or Another
Favorite Genesis song: The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
Favorite Led Zeppelin song: How Many More Times
Favorite INXS song: N/A
Favorite Weird Al song: The Saga Begins
Favorite Pink Floyd song: Set the Controls for the Heard of the Sun
Favorite cover song: Music for Airports/Bang on a Can Allstars
Favorite dance song: The Rite of Spring
Favorite U2 song: Pride (In the Name of Love), but many close seconds.
Favorite disco song: Donna Summers' version of MacArthur Park
Favorite The Who song: Won't Get Fooled Again
Favorite Elton John song: Rocket Man
Favorite Clash song: Should I Stay or Should I Go
Favorite David Bowie song: Space Oddity
Favorite Nirvana song: Smells Like Teen Spirit
Favorite Snoop Dogg song: Murder was the Case
Favorite Ice Cube song: N/A
Favorite Johnny Cash song: I Walk The Line
Favorite R.E.M. song: What's the Frequency, Kenneth?
Favorite Elvis song: Tie: Heartbreak Hotel, Suspicious Minds
Favorite cheesy-ass country song: George Jones's Brown to Blue
Favorite Billy Joel song: The Longest Time, many close seconds.
Favorite Bruce Springsteen song: Born to Run, a zillion close seconds.
Favorite Big Audio Dynamite song: N/A
Favorite New Order song: N/A
Favorite Neil Diamond song: I'm a Believer
Favorite Squeeze song: Tempted
Favorite Smiths song: N/A
Favorite Tragically Hip song: N/A
Trend of The Year td Sun Dec 3 17:19:36 2017
Long phone messages consisting of background noise & random conversation, presumably from people that accidentally hit the green button on their cell phone & don't even know they're calling anyone. Or maybe it's really a group of minimalist conceptual phone pranksters passing my number around.
UNIX Beard td Sun Dec 3 17:19:36 2017
Tim and I were arguing the other day about exactly what constitutes a UNIX beard, and today I happened upon a picture of Ed Gould, proprieter of the the original Unix beard, on Declan McCullagh's web site.
US Patent Number 6,483,514 td Sun Dec 3 17:19:36 2017
My patent, Motion blurring implicit surfaces, issued on November 19, 2002. I learned about it, not from the US Patent and Trademark Office, but from US Patent Certificate, Inc., who sent me a letter asking if I'd like to buy a nice commemorative plaque.
What a degree in Classics & Linguistics is good for td Sun Dec 3 17:19:36 2017
There's a scene in Pixar's new movie Cars that takes place in a courthouse. (This in a world full of cars -- no human drivers, just sentient cars.) On the back wall of the courtroom is the Latin motto JUSTITIAE VIA STRATA VERITATE, which means "The road to justice is paved with truth." Our family Classics/Linguistics expert, Keelan provided the translation. (But he's not mentioned in the credits, unless I missed it.)
Yet another patent td Sun Dec 3 17:19:36 2017
U.S. Patent #7129940, "Shot rendering method and apparatus", issued on October 31, 2006. Inventors are Rob Cook and Tom Duff.