Larry Hosken: New

Adventures in web layout: Depending on compatibility between that font you're using and various text-rendering library versions, maybe everything seems to work until you look closely and notice that ) doesn't appear.

Why oh why didn't I check for ) compatibility before I used this font in this svg graphic I wanted people to view in their browsers?

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2019-11-21T17:48:28.912401

Looks like I just ran out of excuses for not walking all of the way around San Francisco Bay.

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2019-11-16T19:13:47.964923

“Freedom isn't free.”
   –Guy who went to City Hall to vote early and left his bus pass by the metal detector.

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2019-10-31T22:10:32.938859

Farewell to Kennedy's Irish Pub and Indian Curry House where a couple of BANG puzzlehunts finished. Maybe there's some correlation between "has enough empty space to shelter many puzzle nerds on a weekend-night" and "is going out of business within a few years."

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2019-10-31T19:24:16.887014

The Devil's Chessboard

It's a biography of Allen Dulles—Nazi sympathizer, CIA director, Bay of Pigs fiasco-driver, Warren Commission Report obfuscator. The story of this terrible human being reminds us that one person can make a big difference, can really change the world.

I always liked the plot point in "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" that active spies would turn to a retired spy when they needed to fix something wrong in their agency. But Dulles' story feels more plausible: A CIA director created systemic problems. He was forced out after a debacle. But the people in his agency still came to him, asked him for direction. And the CIA kept pulling stunts that blew up in their faces… It's hard to know whether the CIA assassinated President JFK; but it's pretty clear that on Dulles' watch, the CIA gathered many goons so over-enthusiastic about political assassination such that they thought killing JFK would be a good idea.

The book's a slow read. The text flows well, but you have to keep pausing and contemplating how much better off the USA would be if someone mentally competent had been running the CIA during those years.

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2019-10-28T14:19:18.980127

Who wants in on a poetry pyramid scheme? You invest one poem, get up to 400 back. Let me know. I'll need your email address.

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2019-10-22T20:11:21.657926

Today's my birthday. My aunt Ellen came into town, so we had a little get-together over at my Mom and Dad's place. (That means it was a pretty good day, in case that wasn't clear.)

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2019-10-12T00:07:53.349695

I have walked 1000km while playing that Harry Potter Wizards Unite game.

game screenshot

(That milestone doesn't capture the fun of the game, but it's something that folks can understand even if they don't know the game's rules. Like… if all you care about is how far you've walked, just use an app that keeps track of your "steps". Harry Potter Wizards Unite does something that those apps don't do: occasionally, it shows you a cute animation of a baby hippogriff flapping about. I don't know how to get my phone to screenshot that baby hippogriff animation for you, so instead you just get to see this screen with a 1000KM at the bottom.)

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2019-10-10T14:40:25.282212

When I read that Puzzled Pint now has a Code of Conduct, my first thought was "What about scissors?" … and they have a clause about scissors. They thought of everything.* Nice job, folks, I approve.

*Here, by "everything", I mean scissors.

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2019-10-07T19:56:24.313084

Book Report: How Not to be Wrong

A mathematician writes about how to think about the universe. A lot of the math-for-the-layperson material was old news to me, but there were some new-to-me bits. E.g., I'd read about instant runoff voting, Condorcet paradoxes, Arrow's theorem and such, but I hadn't seen a comparison between election results and slime mold behavior. I'm not sure if I'm happier knowing that a democratic society behaves like a slime mold, but… uhm well yeah anyhow.

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2019-10-04T16:32:49.762946

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