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Aaron Brown
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Terrifically well-done documentary about the life of Mike Oldfield and how one of the oddest and most brilliant albums of all time came to be made.

I've wondered for 40 years what the story behind Tubular Bells was. This is it.

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Another childhood confusion: because Finnish doesn't have gendered pronouns and I read Iznogoud (Ahmed Ahne in Finnish) in translation, it took me a very long time to realize that the Sultan/Caliph in the series wasn’t intended to be a woman. I thought he looked like one! And he behaved like a kindly old grandmother!

And yes, he did have a harem, but how was I to know what that meant? :p (especially since the harem canonically didn't get much use) 

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Mistakes I've made, part 2: Father Christmas

I believed in Father Christmas for longer than I believed in God. This is mostly surprising because it is unusual. There was both more evidence for Father Christmas, and more motivation to propel cognition. I stopped ‘believing’ in Father Christmas in…

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Fonn Mor, one of my bands, playing in Battle Creek, MI on December 13th 2014. (We played with the orchestra on another piece but this one is just us.)

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I google-stalked my dad +Scott Orshan today, and found this wonderful bug report he submitted on April 1, 1985:

"On every UNIX system I have ever used, there is no way to prevent the echo command from printing its arguments. I would like to propose a "-q" option to echo which tells it to be quiet and go about its work without printing its arguments."

My dad is awesome.  =) =) =)

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> For a modern reader of the column’s 1950s and ’60s archives, it’s hard not to be horrified by the complete and utter awfulness of many of the husbands – both their behaviours, as reported by their wives, and their own responses to counselling. Perhaps more shocking still are the counsellor’s responses. No matter how bad it got, the counsellor always managed to find a way to blame the woman for the couple’s problems.

> In March 1957, in the case of ‘Josh’ and ‘Elsa’, Elsa reported that Josh hit her after he came home late from an office party. In the course of her description of their relationship, Elsa tells the counsellor that when their daughter Sally was born: ‘Josh showed plainly his disappointment that the baby wasn’t a boy.’ ‘When the baby and I came home,’ she added, ‘I stayed in bed and let him prepare his own breakfast. He was outraged and yelled so furiously all the neighbours heard him.’ Elsa told the counsellor that she was absolutely miserable in her marriage: ‘When [Josh] abuses me in the presence of our children, when he humiliates me before the neighbours, I want to curl up and die. There is an ache deep in my chest, in my heart. I feel physically sick.’

> The counsellor wrote that Elsa was ‘jolted and shocked when I told her she was partly at fault’. This wife needed to be convinced out of her own self-righteous understanding of the situation, the counsellor argued. ‘If she wanted a serene family life, she would have to learn to give Josh what he wanted from their marriage and thereby help him control his temper.’

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I made a thing.

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Here is a sonnet about HMMs!  I would like to dedicate this to my advisor +Jason Eisner.

A hidden Markov model generates
expressions of a most exquisite form.
So gracefully it leaps between its states,
its distributions far from uniform:
by EM's arts, transition tables know
the subtle dance from DET to N to V,
and from emission distributions flow
the words that it has grouped statistically.
But oh! this model's tragic flaw is clear:
it has but finite memory, no stacks.
And yet the HMM will persevere
despite its failure modeling syntax:
a CFG can match a close-paren,
but HMMs have runtime O(n)!

#nlp #machinelearning
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