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Simons Mith
Works at Aurora Metro Publications
Attended The prestigious Cruella de Vil College of Evil in Stoke Poges
Lived in 42.23144, -50.955033
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Simons Mith

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Thanks for the recommendation +Simons Mith!
I couldn't agree more ;)
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An awkward bird
... and some of what Reddit did with it (gallery)

originally via +e-kanape lt 
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Thank you Simons :)
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32 Crutch Words to Cut Out of Your Writing

I'm terrible for this. As Blaise Pascal said, "I'm sorry I wrote you such a long letter; I didn't have time to write a short one." I know what he meant.
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You may have heard of a dogpile before, but check out this foxtrain!

via +Tami Baeighkley 
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Losing my Religion for Equality

A 2009 article by ex-president Jimmy Carter.

I was too young to have any appreciation at the time of whether the Carter presidency was a good one or not, but maybe it does start to look better compared to what has come since. And his accomplishments post-presidency have been impressive.

via +Ipan Baal
In this amazing piece, President Jimmy Carter renounces the traditions of his religion in solidarity with women and in support of equality. Progressive, brave and wise. Bravo, sir.  

#HeForShe   #religion   #feminism   #equality   #EveryDayFeminist  
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Carter was a failed Presidency, but I would not say a bad one.  One of Carter's biggest problems was that he practiced what everyone says they wish for, a moral administration.  Well, that and when he asked Americans to put a sweater on, drive slower, and set their T-stat to save energy, people discovered they weren't willing to actually sacrifice comfort and convenience.  American's instead opted for the Ronald Reagan mythos of "Morning in America" where no one has to sacrifice anything, as an exceptional people, it is our right to have cheap goods, low cost gas, high wages, and a good life free of any discomfort. 

The American Experience two part documentary, "Jimmy Carter" and "The Man from Plains" are both excellent works worth a watch.
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Probability of a Commenter Being an Arsehole, by Website of Origin

[103 total users; 183 total comments; 40 users who weren't arseholes.]

via +Ray Radlein 
Creeps hassle data scientist. Data scientist analyzes creeps.
Ever since my writeup on leaving R, my blog has been getting a lot more traffic than usual. Usually this would be fine except it's also resulting in many more comments, and the topic means that a lot of those...
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Simons Mith

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Logical Errors to Guard Against in a Mathematical Proof
[Another repost from my former Google Buzz feed, which I first posted on Aug 16, 2010.]

Formally, a mathematical proof consists of a sequence of mathematical statements and deductions (e.g. "If A, then B"), strung together in a logical fashion to create a conclusion. A simple example of this is a linear chain of deductions, such as "A > B -> C -> D -> E", to create the conclusion "A -> E". In practice, though, proofs tend to be more complicated than a linear chain, often acquiring a tree-like structure (or more generally, the structure of a directed acyclic graph), due to the need to branch into cases, or to reuse a hypothesis multiple times. Proof methods such as proof by contradiction, or proof by induction, can lead to even more intricate loops and reversals in a mathematical argument.

Unfortunately, not all proposed proofs of a statement in mathematics are actually correct, and so some effort needs to be put into verification of such a proposed proof. Broadly speaking, there are two ways that one can show that a proof can fail. Firstly, one can find a "local", "low-level" or "direct" objection to the proof, by showing that one of the steps (or perhaps a cluster of steps, see below) in the proof is invalid. For instance, if the implication C -> D is false, then the above proposed proof "A -> B -> C -> D -> E" of "A -> E" is invalid (though it is of course still conceivable that A -> E could be proven by some other route).

Sometimes, a low-level error cannot be localised to a single step, but rather to a cluster of steps. For instance, if one has a circular argument, in which a statement A is claimed using B as justification, and B is then claimed using A as justification, then it is possible for both implications A -> B and B -> A to be true, while the deduction that A and B are then both true remains invalid. (Note though that there are important and valid examples of near-circular arguments, such as proofs by induction, but this is not the topic of my discussion today.)

Another example of a low-level error that is not localisable to a single step arises from ambiguity. Suppose that one is claiming that A>B and B->C, and thus that A->C. If all terms are unambiguously well-defined, this is a valid deduction. But suppose that the expression B is ambiguous, and actually has at least two distinct interpretations, say B1 and B2. Suppose further that the A->B implication presumes the former interpretation B=B1, while the B->C implication presumes the latter interpretation B=B2, thus we actually have A->B1 and B2->C. In such a case we can no longer validly deduce that A->C (unless of course we can show in addition that B1->B2). In such a case, one cannot localise the error to either "A->B" or "B->C" until B is defined more unambiguously. This simple example illustrates the importance of getting key terms defined precisely in a mathematical argument.

The other way to find an error in a proof is to obtain a "high level" or "global" objection, showing that the proof, if valid, would necessarily imply a further consequence that is either known or strongly suspected to be false. The most well-known (and strongest) example of this is the counterexample. If one possesses a counterexample to the claim A->E, then one instantly knows that the chain of deduction "A->B->C->D->E" must be invalid, even if one cannot immediately pinpoint where the precise error is at the local level. Thus we see that global errors can be viewed as "non-constructive" guarantees that a local error must exist somewhere.

A bit more subtly, one can argue using the structure of the proof itself. If a claim such as A->E could be proven by a chain A->B->C->D->E, then this might mean that a parallel claim A'->E' could then also be proven by a parallel chain A'->B'->C'->D'->E' of logical reasoning. But if one also possesses a counterexample to A'->E', then this implies that there is a flaw somewhere in this parallel chain, and hence (presumably) also in the original chain. Other examples of this type include proofs of some conclusion that mysteriously never use in any essential way a crucial hypothesis (e.g. proofs of the non-existence of non-trivial integer solutions to a^n+b^n=c^n that mysteriously never use the hypothesis that n is strictly greater than 2, or which could be trivially adapted to cover the n=2 case).

While global errors are less constructive than local errors, and thus less satisfying as a "smoking gun", they tend to be significantly more robust. A local error can often be patched or worked around, especially if the proof is designed in a fault-tolerant fashion (e.g. if the proof proceeds by factoring a difficult problem into several strictly easier pieces, which are in turn factored into even simpler pieces, and so forth). But a global error tends to invalidate not only the proposed proof as it stands, but also all reasonable perturbations of that proof. For instance, a counterexample to A->E will automatically defeat any attempts to patch the invalid argument A->B->C->D->E, whereas the more local objection that C does not imply D could conceivably be worked around.

(There is a mathematical joke in which a mathematician is giving a lecture expounding on a recent difficult result that he has just claimed to prove. At the end of the lecture, another mathematician stands up and asserts that she has found a counterexample to the claimed result. The speaker then rebuts, "This does not matter; I have two proofs of this result!". Here one sees quite clearly the distinction of impact between a global error and a local one.)

It is also a lot quicker to find a global error than a local error, at least if the paper adheres to established standards of mathematical writing.
To find a local error in an N-page paper, one basically has to read a significant fraction of that paper line-by-line, whereas to find a global error it is often sufficient to skim the paper to extract the large--scale structure. This can sometimes lead to an awkward stage in the verification process when a global error has been found, but the local error predicted by the global error has not yet been located. Nevertheless, global errors are often the most serious errors of all.

It is generally good practice to try to structure a proof to be fault tolerant with respect to local errors, so that if, say, a key step in the proof of Lemma 17 fails, then the paper does not collapse completely, but contains at least some salvageable results of independent interest, or shows a reduction of the main problem to a simpler one. Global errors, by contrast, cannot really be defended against by a good choice of proof structure; instead, they require a good choice of proof strategy that anticipates global pitfalls and confronts them directly.

One last closing remark: as error-testing is the complementary exercise to proof-building, it is not surprising that the standards of rigour for the two activities are dual to each other. When one is building a proof, one is expected to adhere to the highest standards of rigour that are practical, since a single error could well collapse the entire effort. But when one is testing an argument for errors or other objections, then it is perfectly acceptable to use heuristics, hand-waving, intuition, or other non-rigorous means to locate and describe errors. This may mean that some objections to proofs are not watertight, but instead indicate that either the proof is invalid, or some accepted piece of mathematical intuition is in fact inaccurate. In some cases, it is the latter possibility that is the truth, in which case the result is deemed "paradoxical", yet true. Such objections, even if they do not invalidate the paper, are often very important for improving one's intuition about the subject.
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'Contractions function almost identically to the full two-word phrase, but are only appropriate in some places in a sentence. It's one of the weird quirks of this language we've.'

via +Meirav M. 
Mandatory reshare.

[Image source: 08-Jun-2016, Shower Thoughts:]
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Simple and ingenious!! 
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Books and Writing

32 Crutch Words to Cut Out of Your Writing

An Essay on the Dark Arts of Book Editing

The Copyeditor's Typographic Oath

Author Earnings by Publisher Type, February 2014 - May 2016

New Collections Needed... (Darn.)

New Vorkosigan Novel - Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen (review)

The Colour Thesaurus


David Mamet Lays Out Some Guiding Principles for Compelling Television

Anyone in Need of Editorial Services...?

Q. Pinterest for Authors?

The Long War, by Stephen Baxter and Terry Pratchett (review)

Parts of Speech (infographic)

Difficult Email...

'Dog Whistle' Edits

The Bad Writing Contest, 1995-1998

Social Marketing for Authors: The One Thing You Should Never Do

Why My Book Can Be Downloaded for Free

Some Caveats About Writing Groups

How to Write an Irresistible Book Blurb in Five Easy Steps (yeah, right)

DRM-free Indie Books Outsell DRM-Encumbered Ones 2:1

The Not So Final Draft

Hosting Suchen Christine Lim for a Few Days?

Sometimes the Dialogue Just Writes Itself

Grammar Girl's Editing Checklist

Good General Advice for Using Social Media More Effectively


8 (Free) Books Every Intelligent Person Should Read

Tracks Racing the Sun (review)

The Princess who Saved Herself (Kickstarter)


Don't Blame the Homogeneity of Your Novel on Historical Accuracy

The Unsuccessful Self-Treatment of a Case of 'Writer's Block' (paper)

Girl Gernius Reprint Frenzy! (Kickstarter)

Punch Up a Paragraph By Putting the Last Sentence First

Trying the Read the Koran (and a Comparison to the Luzumiyat of Al Ma'arri)

How to Run a Publication That Isn't Sexist

The Greatest Life Advice from Kurt Vonnegut
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An Essay on the Dark Arts of Book Editing
When I read novels and watch movies, I'm frequently stopped by inconsistencies. This is particularly fraught in SF, and even more in SF movies, where for some reason it's acceptable to dismiss people acting completely insanely because it's just SF.

It's pleasant to read something that so confirms my beliefs.

“I was 37 then, strapped in my seat as the huge 747 plunged through dense cloud cover on approach to Hamburg airport. Cold November rains drenched the earth, lending everything the gloomy air of a Flemish landscape: the ground crew in waterproofs, a flag atop a squat airport building, a BMW billboard. So – Germany again.”

When coming in to land through dense cloud cover, you can’t see the ground crew. I stopped reading, just as that Metro reader had.
One of New Zealand's best and most illustrious book editors, Stephen Stratford ("I am a polite person, mostly"), vents about having to deal with writers and publishers. What I dread #1 When meeting someone new, the question I most dread is, “What do you do?” It is really hard to
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I think it's a good example, because it's a relatively subtle error. It's an error in the writing mechanics. You can imagine the author picturing the scene, and writing down things as they 'see' them, but missing out the implied scene change - which, yes, most of us picked up on. So provided you 'stay in sync' with the author, imagining the same things they do in the same order, you don't feel the problem very much.

I noticed it as a 'missing step', and I needed to expend a bit of additional editorial mental effort to fill in the gap. And spending mental resources on editorial tweaks like that very quickly takes me out of a story.

But most of the time you won't be in perfect mental sync with the author, and then this kind of omission is very jarring and can easily kill a story.

[If you do stay in perfect sync for a whole book, that's probably a sign of really predictable writing, and that kills the story too...]
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The D36

This isn't really a house rule, 'interesting' or otherwise. I know most of the gamers here are old hands, and many will have come up with something like this independently, but I think I've found the quickest way to make a D36 out of 2D - analogous to how you can make 2D10 into a D100. I always used to do it by treating 6's as 0 and '00' as 36, but this way is quicker and doesn't make you muck about mentally renumbering the dice:

To generate a D36, roll 1D x 6 + 1D - 6.
[Then optionally multiply by 10 to get a value from 10-360º]

Useful for:

Days of the month: - Just reroll if you get an out-of-range result.

Random directions: - It gives bearings from 0-360 in steps of ten. (Used for: "Bad news! Incoming pirates, bearing (rolls) 220, approach speed 7! Worse news! Incoming Imperials, bearing (rolls again) 070, approach speed 9! So, um... how are those repairs coming along then, guys? :-) [Bearing 360 is the same as bearing 0; use that for dead ahead/due North, and count round clockwise from there, so 90 is due East, 180 South etc.]

Planetary seasons: - Treat 0-360 as days 0-360 of the year; 1~=January 1st or local equivalent, 90~=30th March/1st April/Spring, 180~=June 30th/Summer, 360~=December 31st/Winter. Ten day accurary from a D36 is ample for most uses. This means you can tell broadly what weather a planet might be having with one 'die roll'.

Time of day/planetary rotation: - Same as for the year; either treat 0/360 as local midnight and 180 as local noon, or use the D36 as local time on the local clock; i.e. 17 = 1700 local time, 0400 = early morning, etc. This way you can even handle planets with 27-hour days. :-) As for days of the month, just reroll if you get an out-of-range value.

Edit - thought of another: Latitude/Longitude: - If you want to place some location on a map, and have no preferences as to where it goes, 0-180 for Lat and 0-360 for Long (equivalently, 90 to -90 (N to S) and -180 to 180 (W to E)) describes a point anywhere on a planetary surface. I think this is mainly useful to help GMs insert a bit of variety into where they set up their locations. A starport near the south pole; raiders from 'the far side of the planet, somewhere along the equator' are the kind of prompt you might not otherwise think of. A similar principle applies for randomly choosing locations in space, save that there you're choosing an orbital position round the star.

If you don't need accuracy to the nearest 10º, just roll 1Dx6 and that gives six values 0, 60, 120, 180, 240, 300 and 360 which is the same as 0.

[I suppose if you want a D216, you could even expand the trick and use D36 x 6 + D6 - 6]

Any other suggestions? I'm sure there's one or two other obvious uses I'm missing...
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Simons's Collections
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  • The prestigious Cruella de Vil College of Evil in Stoke Poges
    System Administration
  • University of Neasden
    Maniacal Engineering
  • Shepparton College of Hair Design and Beauty
    Moths, Psychics, Chemiserie
Basic Information
Looking for
Friends, A relationship, Networking
January 1, 1890
Other names
104879277024913363852, a_liar, not
As we journey through life, discarding baggage along the way, we should keep an iron grip, to the very end, on the capacity for silliness. It preserves the soul from desiccation. - Humphrey Lyttelton
I may not be as colorful as my avatar, but I do have better posture.

What to expect in my stream
I like to keep my feed as eclectic as I can, but certain posting trends are emerging. If Google+ ever gives us effective filtering tools, I'll try to be conscientious about tagging things into categories so that you can filter out the stuff you're not interested in. I don't categorically guarantee to keep what I post safe for work, but so far it mostly has been.

Sciency and computery stuff
I'm a sucker for sciency things, especially in areas I don't know much about. Maths, physics, astronomy, cryptography, computer programming, chemistry, geology, and anything else that comes my way. I'm interested in raytracing and CGI in general, computer art, fractals and cellular automata.

This includes sci-fi and astronomy, cyberpunk, steampunk, fantasy, fine art, CGI, sculpture, and scenes of natural earthly beauty. Beautiful animals, plants, fungi, minerals, machines. Especially if they're _strange_ and beautiful. Beautiful women - or men, if I happen to chance across them. This seems only fair to me. :-) Silly pictures and memes too, sometimes.

Musical stuff
I love posting examples of high talent, and I also love especially unusual or entertaining pieces. It'll be a science-themed version of Bohemian Rhapsody one day, the Muppets the next, and then Mongolian throat-singing the day after, if that's what I find. Familiar pieces on unfamiliar instruments; unfamiliar works by familiar artists. One Song to the Tune of Another.

Silliness and satire
Silly images; daft cartoons; serious articles on improbable subjects. Improbable articles on serious subjects, especially if the silliness hides a worthwhile serious point. I have many comedy heroes, from Monty Python and Spike Milligan to Bill Bailey and Tom Lehrer. Expect some overlap with the other categories.

Worthy stuff like women's rights and LGBT issues
This is rarer, but if I come across something that deserves resharing I will reshare it. I'm privileged in all sorts of ways, so if I can help by spreading the word about some abuse suffered by a minority I may pass it on.

Politics and philosophy
Not so much of this, but not necessarily none at all. Just because I post something, especially something objectionable, doesn't necessarily mean I agree with it. But remember: objectionable speech is the only kind of speech that needs protecting. If we overlook that, we cede victory to the tyrants before any 'debate' has even started.

Post frequency
About one post per day, on average. Sometimes little flurries of a few posts on a single day. Image flurries usually have 50-60 posts, and happen every week or two.

Where I post
Mostly in collections and as comments. I do make the occasional stray post of my own that I haven't decided how to categorise yet. I post system-specific RPG material in communities only - at present that's just Star Wars D6 content, which I post here:
Other RPGs, such as EarthDawn, Golden Heroes, RuneQuest, Feng Shui or whatever, if I started posting about them I'd join a suitable community first. General RPG stuff has mostly been in the GM tips or map-making communities I follow, but may also be cross-posted, because there might sometimes be overlaps with my writing and/or mathematical interests.

How to contact me
First, I don't do hangouts with anyone. Just don't like 'em. Text communication is by far my most preferred channel. On G+, probably the best way to contact me privately is to create a post shared just with me, and for public contact just +mention me in a post.

Blocking policy
I cheerfully block and flag people who appear to be spammers. I block racists, bigots, sexists and the barely-literate, and if your posts lead me back to your website, and your website fires popups at me, I'll block you and your entire domain. I also block the perpetrators of clickbait. Web site writers take note: web sites are ten thousand a penny. I don't have to visit the same site twice in my lifetime if I don't want to, so I have a merciless one-strike policy. One popup, one auto-playing video, one sliding pane, or any other piece of modern HTML gimmickry and you're banned forever more, and good riddance.

Deletion and locking policy
My general motivation for deleting, moving or locking content is housekeeping rather than censorship of any kind. If I delete a post it's usually within minutes of creation, often where I've made a setup mistake; then I'll redo the post properly. Long-standing posts may be removed if all the content vanishes and I can't recreate it - no point keeping a blank post. Posts which are in some way sensitive may have their viewership restricted as I deem appropriate. (Happens about once a year.) Junk and worthless comments may be silently deleted and their owners blocked. Comments or resharing may be turned off if an old thread starts to attract off-topic attention. Everything else is likely to stay even if it's embarrassing or contentious.
Bragging rights
I am pledged to use my evil somewhat for good!
Terrorist. (Reason here:
Technical writing, editing, proofreading, book layout and typesetting, ebooks, training and mentoring, computer system administration, HTML and CSS, hardware, software and network technical support.
  • Aurora Metro Publications
    2009 - present
  • The Open Emuversity
    Technical Author (contract), 2011
  • Lead
    Technical Author (contract), 2008
  • PowerGen Italia
    System Administrator, 1998 - 2004
  • Hair Fare
    Technical Writer (contract), 2006
  • Orbital Mind Control Lasers Inc.
    Field Testing, 2002
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