Some Questions about the Recurse Center

& (verbiage overflow)Sun 22 May 2016RSSSearchSubscribe

In February of 2013 I entered the Recurse Center (RC) and have remained active in its alumn community ever since. I am fifty-four and this has been one of the most fruitful associations of my life. Now people often ask me questions about RC — here are some of those that I have heard less often than others and that I think may interest people considering application to RC:

What has the difference been for you between being at RC and coding/learning on your own?

RC has given me code review, pairing, stimulation in unexpected ways, and a network of extraordinary people. All four of those items are pretty hard to set up for oneself outside of the environment cultivated by RC.

How has coding been connected to your non-coding life or interests?

  1. In my sinological research, which remains my most abiding passion even though I no longer make a living from it, I have used my coding skills to speed tasks that would have been impossibly tedious if I’d attempted them manually. Those research projects have included:

    a. Taiwanese cantillation, manually transcribed with music-notation software, from which XML can be output and then analyzed programmatically.

    b. (In collaborative work with a mathematician) using Chernoff bounds to estimate the probability that

    1. prosodic behavior in medieval Chinese poetry is the result of random choice of word-tones, and

    2. a certain medieval prosodic effect is observed by chance in Chinese poetry written 500 years earlier.

    c. A dictionary project organized using a database and Python code, and typeset in programmatically-generated LaTeX.

    All of these are basically rudimentary applications of coding skill, and would not be of theoretical interest to people with minds inclined to the abstractions of computer science.

  2. I have begun one project developing an idea I learned from theoretical computer science: a Classical Chinese grammar project that circumvents Chomsky’s argument about the need for transformational principles. I presented it at a programming conference and it represents new research territory for me — something I hope I am able to develop much more fully as my other obligations recede.

  3. I hope to make the teaching of programming into the mainstay of my coding career, and I have found a number of the practices customary among programmers very useful to my own learning and to my study of how to teach programming:

    a. blogging about things that interest me,

    b. collecting miscellaneous notes (exposed on a public repository),

    c. giving lightning talks,

    d. mentoring junior coders, and

    e. preparing finished slides to illustrate things for instruction.

What did you find set you most apart from most other RC people?

In my first batch I was around twice the age of the average person — I was fifty, and the average age of the rest of my batch was, I think, twenty-six or so. I’m pretty sure I was the oldest person ever to enter RC up to that time.

I was also a mid-life “career-changer”. I put it in quotes because I don’t like the term — it means that I had already had a full first career in a field totally unrelated to programming or peripheral subjects such as math, physics, or formal logic. I believe I was the only such batchling up to that time who was also a very inexperienced programmer.

How did you deal with that?

I kept my head somewhat down about both my age and my past career, although my pedantic academic ways are hard to conceal for long. But my fellow batchlings were welcoming and tolerant, and have remained so.

But neither they nor RC were aware at first of the difficulties that mid-life career-changers generally encounter when trying to enter the tech industry. Overall, I find it an intrusion into my own space when a younger person, meaning well in every sense of that phrase, expresses regret about the prevalence of ageism in tech. Then again, my own reactions to various ways of life and outlook that I’ve encountered among the young are perhaps “ageist”, too. Having realized the need to face that error, I’m not in a position to complain about how the young view me and my situation.

Did you always think you were a fit for RC?

Initially I wasn’t sure, but a friend who was informally mentoring me urged me to try, so I submitted the best application I thought I could and then just put it out of my mind.

During my first batch, in the first day or so several JavaScript mavens found each other and began pair-programming together rather loudly. I had the impression that I was the only person in the entire batch who didn’t know JavaScript, and that gave me some discomfort for a time. After several such experiences, involving different technical skills, it dawned on me that I was misjudging the situation. Since then, I haven’t been bothered by other people’s superior technical skills, real or fancied.

Well, I guess, with one exception. There is a certain kind of intellectual aggressiveness exhibited by some programmers with strong backgrounds in mathematics or computer science theory. While engineering aggressiveness is normally avoided at RC, and indeed the social rules are designed to eliminate much of it, this one variety is likely to persist because it is a source of innocent pleasure for an important subset of the community’s members. (I do mean that it is innocent — I am not talking about the obstreperous way a gaggle of male engineers sometimes behaves.) The many batchlings who are uncomfortable with these fields will just have to deal with the situation, as I have. But there is a mild antidote I can recommend for people experiencing that discomfort.

Let me digress briefly but with purpose. There is an Amazon review by a well-known computer scientist who says that people who don’t like Sussman and Abelson’s Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs (SICP) are — I paraphrase — lazy thinkers. In reality, getting through SICP requires a lot of abstract thinking of a particular kind. Programming was once the private playground of people with a knack for this kind of thinking and perhaps also a penchant for exclusivity. Fortunately, the field is now wide open to people with far more diverse kinds of minds.

Whenever I remember that SICP review, in the next gust of thought there arises this line from Alistair Cooke’s Six Men (New York: Random House, 1977; p. 6):

André Malraux, in one of those blasting sentences with which [certain intellectuals] love to seal off whole tunnels of inquiry, said that “the death of Europe is the central fact of our time.”

The antidote I am speaking of is this: don’t let other people seal off the tunnels of your inquiry. Pursuit your own quest and, if you care to, do it on terms you choose. Anyway, don’t let yourself be discouraged by people who tell you, as that eminent computer scientist is doing, that your way is no good.

Were there any expectations you found hard to meet, or needs at RC that you found yourself particularly suited to meeting?

I can think of no expectations I found hard to meet.

I think I’ve been of occasional use to people preparing conference presentations and proposals, young people contemplating marriage, people afraid of career-change or a hostile job market, and people who have found some inspiration from my intransigence in such petty matters as using an old-fashioned text editor or avoiding the use of a mouse.

It seems to me I made quite an impression on the faculty during my first batch because of my extensive note-taking habits. (Those poor people have since been almost drowned in my logorrhea.)

What has inspired you to stay connected to the RC community after your batch?

The network of alumns at RC is the organization’s crown jewel, and no “inspiration” has been necessary.

What motivated you the most when your progress seemed to slow at RC?

One tactic was to change to a short-term, small project to take my mind off some bigger project that had stalled.

Long walks — of an hour or two — helped, too. Movies helped, conversation helped, assorted distractions helped. Another trick was to time my work sessions and when the timer went off, immediately force myself to stop work and do something else entirely. I’ve read that that was Igor Stravinsky’s method of composition.

Above all, persistence and patience helped. Mel Chua, now and again a resident at RC, often speaks about the uneven progress that our brains make during the process of learning. Periodically the human brain seems to slow down to a crawl and you find yourself in a funk — but that is when it is consolidating what it has learned, and the crawl doesn’t mean you’ve stopped learning at all. That’s been helpful to remember.

How did your initial goals differ from what you actually did at RC?

I haven’t looked back at my diaries to check this, but my impression is that my initial goals bore very little relation to what I actually did in batch.

In some cases, what happened to me was far better than what I had “planned” for. In others, I failed to learn something that I really had my heart set on, and that I still hanker for control of.

Were you able to make the best possible use of RC during your batch? Is there anything you wish you had done differently?

I went through two batches, and there are things I wish I had done differently both times.

The first time, I pair-programmed relatively little — probably because others were intimidated of me when I asked if we could pair, meaning for them to be “driving”. In retrospect, I see that I should have pushed for more pairing encounters, inviting others to pair, with me driving. I failed to take steps that would have made pairing take place. The driver in a pairing arrangement is more emotionally vulnerable than the “navigator”, and since my age and past profession make me especially intimidating to many people, I should always have put myself in that position for the first encounter or two.

In addition, I had a long-scheduled class that I had to teach after hours two days a week. At that time, RC’s rules were not enforced as energetically as they are now about the inadvisability of working at a job while in batch. Realistically, I could neither reschedule the teaching job nor cancel it, so I just left a little early two days a week. But it happened that that was the first batch during which Thursday presentations (now a fixture of the weekly schedule) took place, and I had to miss all but two of them. I don’t know what I could have done about that, but I wish it hadn’t happened.

In my second batch, I paired and collaborated much more, but I continued two practices from my first batch: working mainly in Python and doing projects with heavy emphasis on string-manipulation, since my domain of greatest comfort is a branch of natural-language linguistics. In retrospect, I see that I should have worked entirely in a language either new or very unfamiliar to me, and I should have worked entirely in graphical or numerical data rather than strings.

What surprised you the most about RC?

The first really big surprise I had was realizing how pleasant and interesting all the people there were. At that time, the network was not yet featured on the website as RC’s most valuable aspect. I suspect, though I’m not sure, that the founders only really began to understand about the network around the time of my first batch.

Is there anything you wish you had known, going in? Or are there any questions you would advise applicants asking themselves as they consider applying?

Are you ready to take risks with your own learning, and persistently prevent yourself from getting too comfortable with any project? That would be the best way to get the most you can out of RC.

Has there been a single most important benefit for you?

Hard to name just one, but high on the list is my understanding of what it means to be a programmer — that was the paramount insight of my first batch. Joining the network of alumns is another item high on the list.

How about a single biggest struggle?

Many people enter RC with no more coding experience than I had but they are half my age. Seeing how much more easily they get job interviews than I do — granted that they may, even so, not get job offers — has been frustrating and I haven’t always handled that well at all. The only half-solution I can offer for that is to point out that most of those people are building a first career; this is my second career, and some differences arise inevitably from that point.

Was it difficult to make the time in your life to attend RC?

It was hard on my family for me to be so completely abstracted from them for three months.

I didn’t get much exercise while at RC — I had been following a substantial workout practice until then, but RC put an end to it utterly, and I’ve never really recovered from that.

I didn’t sleep much while at RC — I was too keyed up and learning too intensely, and during those months I often dreamt that I was writing code. That happened during both batches, and the state of hyperagrypnia gradually dissipated during the month after my batch ended.

Have you had any other experiences that in part resemble your experience at RC?

My first couple of years in graduate school were somewhat like RC, in that I felt newly admitted into a restricted guild where people helped each other to learn.

My two-and-a-half years in rural China doing dialect fieldwork for my dissertation were also similar, with respect to self-directed, hands-on learning. No academic research project I have done since then has been as much like RC as that was. I had only very occasional contact with my Doktorvater, far off in the United States somewhere — we communicated by paper letters at that time and between those places. (My shymuu 師母, my advisor’s widow, recently sent me the whole sheaf of letters he had kept.) While in the field I learned a vast amount from the old men I was collecting language from, and the younger men I interacted with in the Government offices that sponsored me, and most of all from struggle — on my own terms — to make sense of the language data I was gathering.


All articles

  1. John Holt on learning in mid-life and the role of the teacher (1976)
  2. What goes in a README?
  3. Self-segregation
  4. Python decorators for object-oriented method behaviors
  5. The English Level of This Year's Principal Presidential Candidates
  6. Chao on Wenyan
  7. Face 面子
  8. Some Questions about the Recurse Center
  9. De-duplicate Apple Calendars on Mavericks
  10. Transcribing Voice Recordings on OS X, 3 — another example
  11. Transcribing Voice Recordings on OS X, 2 — more examples
  12. Transcribing Voice Recordings on OS X
  13. Interview with Rachel Vincent
  14. The Pre-Morse Origin of Two Morse Code Symbols
  15. “The Man Who Knew Infinity” — 2015 movie about Ramanujan
  16. Why does Python have two ways to filter a comprehension?
  17. There is no ternary operator in Python
  18. Does Fortran have a two-way decision function?
  19. Debugging the Art Museum
  20. Learning to Throw Books Away
  21. About Me
  22. Walter Murch on Standing at Work
  23. “Our Kind of Story”
  24. Revisiting the Taiwan national anthem
  25. Review of Button, Phonetic Ambiguity in the Chinese Script
  26. Importing Modules under Pytest
  27. Two Git Accounts on One Computer
  28. Pytest parametrization — passing multiple data-items to a single test
  29. Markdown Basic References
  30. Two Curious Things about screen.width and screen.height on Mobile Firefox and under iOS.
  31. Where Do I Stand on Digital Advertising?
  32. Progressing to the Next Level after Two Years at Hacker School
  33. Health Insurance $5,600/year ⇨ $12,600/year to Keep Our Doctor
  34. Always Use Dry-run Options If Possible
  35. Basic Interaction with Man-pages
  36. Taiwanese Cantillation Prosody and the Standard Tradition of Regulated Verse
  37. Automated Transcription of a Lyric’s Melody
  38. Quote-Unquote: Quick Python Conversion to and from URI Standard Format
  39. Literate Code in Crista Lopes’s Exercises in Programming Style
  40. Special Computer Help for an Uncooperative Person in Need
  41. Richard Bellman on Multistage Decision Processes
  42. Contradictory Advice from Kenkō about Studying after Mid-life
  43. Deceit for my Mother’s Sake
  44. New York State’s Law on Intercoms
  45. Our Relationship with Unwelcome Callers
  46. Reasons to Keep a Landline Phone
  47. Chinese (Pinyin) Tone Marks on Macintosh
  48. Suicide by Holding the Breath in the Greek Classics
  49. Transcribing a Solo Voice Recording to Western Musical Notation
  50. Surprise Text Message Sent by Google Voice
  51. Trimming a Git Repo before Moving It to GitHub
  52. The Sage Chilōn on Gesticulation
  53. Examining the Identity of a “Whole-Sliced” Python Sequence
  54. Pagerank after Completing the Move of My Blog
  55. Haydn on Originality
  56. Stages of Life
  57. Linguistic Naturalism in Behavior-Driven Development
  58. Some Advice on Interviewing in China
  59. The AARP on Ageism
  60. The Cash Value of a Lost Moment
  61. How Did 釁 Get Into My Computer? A Talk at CSTUY
  62. I Knock My Head on the Ground: Review of Richter, Letters and Epistolary Culture in Early Medieval China
  63. Two Pair of Suspenders Back to Amazon
  64. Knuth on the Direction of the Tree in Computer Science
  65. Py3K Versions of Networking Programs for the Rhodes and Goerzen Book
  66. A Fake Monk in Times Square
  67. Werner Herzog on the jungle’s “articulate obscenity”, “misery”, and “sort of harmony of collective murder”
  68. Hacker School and How we Learn
  69. Hacker School Sees “The Internet’s Own Boy”
  70. Two Chinese manifestations of black cardamom
  71. A natural-language URL shortener
  72. Recovering Web and Search visibility after Leaving WordPress
  73. Greedy evaluation in Python's default dictionary
  74. Trying to Change Google Pagerank after Moving my Blog
  75. Ensuring my blog is indexed by Google, using Webmaster Tools
  76. 'Dependency' in programming means the opposite of its traditional meaning
  77. Experimenting with a Site-Analytics Tracker
  78. Unexpected Behavior from the Python 3 Built-In Hash Function
  79. Rote learning and programming
  80. r0ml on the workspace-based, image-oriented programming paradigm
  81. In technology, knowing your vulnerabilities is a desirable strength
  82. The Lingering Puzzle of yán 焉
  83. My grandmother’s diaries
  84. Scholarly Presentation: Arousing something other than polite interest
  85. Friedrich Gulda's Beethoven
  86. Reaction to Jaron Lanier Talk at Cooper Union
  87. Yuen Ren Chao on Chanting Chinese Poetry
  88. The legal requirement of having a camera inside a NYC taxicab
  89. This blog has moved
  90. "Web of Trust" in Chinese and Japanese
  91. Taking the larger view of frustrations with technology
  92. Reflecting on Bernard Baruch, on the need for character and thinking
  93. Dinner with a Bletchley Park cryptographer
  94. Karl Popper on conflict between your basic assumptions and those of your interlocutor (1965)
  95. My Hacker School Pairing Interview
  96. Thirty political parties fielding candidates in New York City this election
  97. The world's only speaker of standard Mandarin in 1923
  98. Data within literal curly brackets using Python format()
  99. The Imperative Style in Commits and Docstrings
  100. Git overwrites file metadata including creation and modification date
  101. Two complaints and one word of praise about GitHub Flavored Markdown
  102. Lǐ Bái on time (8th century)
  103. Two bits of trivia from the Institute for Advanced Study
  104. Karl Popper against foundations of knowledge (1965)
  105. George Orwell on falsification of fact (1946)
  106. Loss of innocence for "ggg"
  107. George Orwell against uniformity of political principles (1946)
  108. Library technology at the Institute for Advanced Study
  109. Richard Feynman on scientific integrity (1974)
  110. Richard Feynman on ignorance of science (1964)
  111. Tense in Git Commit Messages
  112. A better plan is needed for transporting equipment in the subway
  113. "Premature optimization" as phrased by Musashi
  114. Finding and returning zero or one of a marked sub-expression in Python regex
  115. A faster Python sort
  116. A question about time complexity when testing membership in a Python nested sequence
  117. Rendering a matrix as a linear array
  118. Attempting a generic SQL INSERT statement in Python
  119. Welsh bwg 'bogey': an alternate proposal about the origin of "computer bug"
  120. Using python str.format(*args) when the cardinality of *args is unknown
  121. Compelled by forces I can no longer resist…
  122. Highlights of the July, 2013, NY Tech Meetup
  123. Review of Zádrapa posted
  124. Now filtering (> /dev/null) some spam before it reaches the Gmail Spam folder
  125. Isaac Newton, creationist
  126. Freeman-Halton 3x3 exact test
  127. Conjure me: reentering the zone of proximal development
  128. Python extend() without a list comprehension
  129. The name "Hacker School"
  130. The benefits of Hacker School
  131. Another two subway rules of thumb illustrated
  132. Short-circuiting and (and ==) instead of if in Python
  133. Quintilian on time and study
  134. Kenkō on time and study
  135. George Orwell on keeping a diary to cultivate dispassionate thinking
  136. A bon mot of Quintilian on theory
  137. Growth of outlook at Hacker School
  138. Nakamoto Satoshi, the name of Bitcoin's inventor
  139. The psychology of pairing and code review at Hacker School
  140. Computer science and rugelach
  141. Is Hacker School like graduate school?
  142. Why do I work so hard at Hacker School?
  143. Hacker School compared with studying computer science at City College
  144. Differences between code and natural language
  145. Hacker School after six weeks
  146. Pairing at Hacker School
  147. The Norman Manchu dictionary has reached Seattle
  148. Jerry Norman's Manchu dictionary has appeared
  149. Two things I am thinking about as Hacker School begins
  150. The white powder on the pages of library books
  151. Non-math uses of LaTeX
  152. Hacker School
  153. Hacker School (dojo/recruiter for programmers) begins in four days
  154. Dependencies for scipy and matplotlib not handled by pip
  155. The National Do Not Call Registry no longer works well
  156. Early evidence of a dislike of Christmas music?
  157. Plinyesque Christmas wishes to all
  158. Getting the Android GridView sample code to work
  159. A small triumph of explicitly readable code
  160. Godfrey Reggio on technology in life (2002)
  161. Max Weber: "science is the affair of an intellectual aristocracy" (1918)
  162. First day of Android coding: two problems solved
  163. Black optimism explained
  164. Talking across the pre- and post-computer border
  165. Getting used to the disappearance of old institutional models
  166. Anything less than perfect is a failing grade
  167. Recovering from hurricane Sandy
  168. Max Weber on meritocracy in academia (1918)
  169. Our state of things in New York right now (after hurricane Sandy)
  170. Max Weber on the "strange intoxication" of a passionate vocational devotion (1918)
  171. LaTeX's extract package, used for isolating the contents of environments and commands
  172. Fellini movie "Broadway Bomb" being filmed in my neighborhood
  173. Does Apple view an "iPhone" phone number as something different from a "mobile" phone number?
  174. Columbia University Libraries finally removing the card catalog
  175. One more rule of thumb for the New York subway
  176. Two further rules of thumb for the New York subway
  177. Two inches taller in two years
  178. Alternate ways to say "pop" and "push" in computer science
  179. Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmélites at the Dell' Arte Opera Ensemble
  180. Andrew Nathan on Doh Chull Shin on Confucianism and Democratization (2012)
  181. Proofreading poorly OCRed material
  182. New York State redistricting maps on line at CUNY's Center for Urban Research
  183. Karl Berry on free software (2005)
  184. The SEC on the utility of Python as a secure and accessible tool for generating official reports (2010)
  185. Hill Country
  186. Yogurt whey-starter pickled (soured) mackerel
  187. Images (figures) on facing pages in a LaTeX document
  188. Just what is being centrally limited in the "Central Limit Theorem"?
  189. Reloading modified code when using the Ipython interactive shell
  190. Alistair Cooke on H. L. Mencken's typing (1956, 1977)
  191. Jerry Norman (1936–2012)
  192. Ptisan issues
  193. Elia Kazan on the need for selfishness
  194. "Neither side took prisoners" — Japanese and American atrocities in the Pacific theater of World War II
  195. Surprise! You have a different Congressman now but no one thought you needed to know.
  196. Another notice of the bureaucratization of academia
  197. Bogusław Jackowski on "worldwide licensing madness" (2008)
  198. Accommodating the Chinese hunger for official seals on official documents.
  199. Bond Street and a story about a smartphone
  200. Another bond to Apple is lost as MobileMe Sync is discontinued
  201. Charles Ives (1874–1954) on his life in business (1933)
  202. "Taikonaut" and the new Cold War
  203. James Lang on improving understanding and retention by increasing "cognitive disfluency" (2012)
  204. Lǔ Xùn 魯迅 (1881–1936) on the truth behind Confucian morality (1918)
  205. Ray Bradbury (1920–2012) on cars (1963)
  206. Ray Bradbury (1920–2012) on success in the arts (1963)
  207. Chinatown breakfast offerings
  208. Zed Shaw on why to use C (2011)
  209. A step in my Chinese education
  210. Age and the MBA
  211. Useful Python time formats for dealing with HTTP headers
  212. An encounter with Google's security rules
  213. HTML headers for keeping track of updated webpages
  214. William Hung 洪業 (1893–1980) on Confucianism (1980)
  215. David Daniels on one's "other voice" (1998)
  216. Elia Kazan and questions of betrayal
  217. Advice on preparing herring
  218. Two limitations of call-forwarding on Google Voice
  219. Student protests in Montréal and thoughts about tuition
  220. Call-screening in Google Voice has a problem
  221. Cortlandt Alley's Chinese name
  222. Chinatown shorthand
  223. "Download statusbar" add-on for Firefox
  224. The ceremonial gateways of Montréal's Chinatown
  225. Nailset = chasse-clou
  226. Restaurant Mai Xiang Yuan [Màixiāngyuán cānguǎn 麥香園餐館] in Montréal
  227. A bon mot of Peter Carey about reviews of one's work (2012)
  228. A bon mot of Peter Carey about New York (2012)
  229. Identifying the active bridge adapter for use with a headless virtual machine on VirtualBox
  230. Doubts about l'affaire Chén Guāngchéng 陳光誠
  231. Military officers who cannot count
  232. Parallel text and vocabulary in LaTeX
  233. A stricture on Google Voice
  234. Resolving VirtualBox error VERR_INTNET_FLT_IF_NOT_FOUND
  235. Ubuntu 12.04LTS (Precise Pangolin) on VirtualBox
  236. Recordings for Classical Chinese
  237. Arthur Luehrmann on "computer literacy" (1972)
  238. The origin of the symbol Θ (big theta) in asymptotic notation
  239. Being censored in China
  240. The experience of learning vim commands
  241. How should I rate this movie on Netflix?
  242. Netflix miscalculation — Hugo
  243. Curious vim behavior: treats date range as subtraction
  244. Alexandra Lord on the myth of the academic career (2012)
  245. Elia Kazan on getting along in society (1974)
  246. ssh unavailable over Amtrak's wifi network
  247. Tricked again by Python's mutable objects
  248. Is blocking ads theft of service?
  249. A poor analogy on intellectual property rights
  250. A mutton chop at Keen's Steakhouse
  251. An anecdote about William Hung (Hóng Yè 洪業, 1893-1980)
  252. Sorting a list of Unicode strings in Python, case-insensitively and ignoring diacritics
  253. Avoid deleting the contents of a file in Python through sloppy use of "write" mode
  254. Reloading a Python module after modifying it
  255. Frank Mittelbach on documentation (2006)
  256. Frank Mittelbach on collaboration (2006)
  257. Frank Mittelbach's "moral obligation" license for the LaTeX multicol package
  258. Keith Whalen records scales and patterns from the Slonimsky Thesaurus
  259. Calligraphy in Chinatown
  260. Manchu dictionary done
  261. Bernard Shaw (1856–1950) on the damage done by immaturity in politics
  262. Gotham breakneck to Chinatown
  263. Calculus III progresses
  264. Some Western recipe-names as transformed by the Taiwanese linguistic experience
  265. Class war against the banking and financial industry
  266. Avoiding the Emailyama
  267. Adblock Plus is the most useful piece of shareware I've ever had
  268. A less painful way to install Adblock Plus filter-subscriptions in Firefox
  269. Tales from Calculus III
  270. Jack Cheng on "the technology I grew up with" (2012)
  271. Distribution of fonts: competing models are coexisting
  272. MoinMoin for notebook-wiki (and WordPress, you are trying the patience of my affections)
  273. generate native MATLAB code from finished figures, for study
  274. Quintilian on laziness and difficulty in one's studies
  275. Guide to Gwoyeu Romatzyh 國語羅馬字 (tonal spelling for Mandarin)
  276. Guide to the radicals of the traditional Chinese dictionary
  277. Origins of the Mandarin Phonetic Symbols (注音符號/ㄅㄆㄇㄈ)
  278. Installing UCC certificate for multiple domain names hosted virtually on a single server
  279. QuickTime Pro easily concatenates .m4v video files
  280. Columbia to Chinatown walk, 20120122
  281. A local custom without the corresponding exotic saying in rural Taiwan
  282. HTTPS being rejected at Yahoo hosting
  283. Classical Chinese syllabus posted; using Landslide for markdown-to-HTML5
  284. Phonosymbolism, etymology, and the nebulous Chinese word family
  285. Simple meal at Shui Mei Café (嘎嘎叫, 67A East Broadway, NYC), formerly So Go Café)
  286. Are cell phones and bananas radioactive?
  287. LaTeX and electronic documents
  288. New definition of “algorithm”
  289. Materials used in paper bank statements
  290. Finally making progress with Vim
  291. Kenneth S. Wherry on American influence in China (1940)
  292. Propagation of a meme and a metameme
  293. Against the single time zone
  294. Hamish Milne on transcriptions of Bach (2005)
  295. Choosing a suitable site for fieldwork, and working with illiterate informants in China
  296. Yuen Ren Chao (1892–1982) urging Americans to resist Chinese telephantasmia (1921)
  297. The brown German flour of Przasnysz
  298. Recollection of the traditional bagel in central Poland before World War I
  299. Vaclav Havel (1936–2011) on doing good work (1978)
  300. Vaclav Havel (1936–2011) on the "dictatorship of technology" (1978)
  301. Vaclav Havel (1936–2011) on ideological enslavement (1978)
  302. Vaclav Havel (1936–2011) on law (1978)
  303. Vaclav Havel (1936–2011) on responsibility and a "post-democratic" system (1978)
  304. Vaclav Havel (1936–2011) on "opposition" and "dissident" (1978)
  305. Vaclav Havel (1936–2011) on ideology (1978)
  306. 'Factorial' in Chinese (jiēchéng 階乘/阶乘)
  307. Leibniz’s theodicy, dynamic programming, and strategies for learning
  308. Emanuel Derman and Paul Wilmott on mathematical models and self-delusion (2009)
  309. Y. R. Chao and Henry Sheffer added to the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  310. Two more rules of thumb for the New York subway
  311. Math in the Movies
  312. Jim Coplien on reflection and problem-solving (2011)
  313. Richard Feynman on practical applications of the theory of gravitation (1964)
  314. Karl Popper on understanding a problem (1963)
  315. Galileo on "reason conquering sense" (1632)
  316. Apparent error in Python's priority queue and heapq
  317. Literacy book finally out
  318. Y. R. Chao on his dissertation (1974)
  319. Doctoral pedigrees
  320. Lack of stable sort in Python's priority queue
  321. Suitable pots for making turmeric tea
  322. Neuro-plasticity and strategies for improving cognitive functioning: "The Brain Fitness Program" (2007)
  323. Code-switching between comfortable cognitive aptitudes and the main aptitudes used in math and coding
  324. Wishes for the Orthodox Nativity Season (began 15 November this year)
  325. Two rules of thumb about transportation in New York
  326. Pípá yā 琵琶鴨 (Frisbee Duck)
  327. Testing the reliability of the Python priority queue
  328. Edsger Dijkstra on programming as an intellectual discipline (2001)
  329. Edsger Dijkstra on the name of the field Computer Science (2001)
  330. Edsger Dijkstra on anthropomorphizing computers (2001)
  331. Edsger Dijkstra on mastery of one's native tongue as a vital programming skill (2001)
  332. Edsger Dijkstra on the origin of his shortest path algorithm (2001)
  333. Efrem Podgaits's New York Mass (2001)
  334. Anecdotal report on experimenting with creatine as a study aid
  335. "Suppose" for math proofs, in LaTeX
  336. A rule of thumb in teaching
  337. Graphing flowcharts and automata in LaTeX
  338. Perception of time and suspension of finality (studying math)
  339. Suddenly perceiving the cantus firmus in a Bach chorus
  340. Two of Elvira's arias from Don Giovanni
  341. Identifying robots among human beings
  342. Apparent misspelling in LaTeX command set: \guillemotleft and \guillemotright
  343. Table of contents in a LaTeX book: make the TOC entry different from the actual chapter headings in the text
  344. Competition and sharing in academia
  345. Kuhn and Popper
  346. Herb Gross's calculus lectures
  347. The abbreviation UTC as an acronym
  348. Clyde Haberman on validating one's authenticity as a New Yorker (2011)
  349. The era of lost words
  350. Never odd or even
  351. William Deresiewicz on multitasking and solitude (2009)
  352. Bjarne Stroustrup's advice to up-and-coming programmers (2008)
  353. Chet Ramey's advice to up-and-coming programmers (2008)
  354. Bjarne Stroustrup on the name C++ and common criticisms of the language
  355. Steve Bourne, advice to up-and-coming programmers (2009)
  356. Alfred Aho on the origins of awk (2008)
  357. Leslie Lamport on thinking first and on commenting code (2007)
  358. Pens of choice for linguistic fieldwork
  359. How I learned LaTeX
  360. Some bons mots from Edsger Dijkstra (1984)
  361. Non-paean to Steve Jobs
  362. Annotations of Cormen et al.'s algorithm for a Red-Black Tree (delete and delete-fixup functions only)
  363. John McCarthy on "Generality in Artificial Intelligence" (1987)
  364. Brian Kernighan's summary thoughts on scripting languages
  365. Changes to the inventory of IPython magic commands (v. 0.10 to 0.11)
  366. One man's calm reflection on Java-think in Python
  367. mdfind as a substitute for locate on Mac OS X
  368. Reconsider P. T. Barnum's reputation
  369. LaTeX macro for circling answers on math problem sets
  370. View of the Mariana Trench
  371. Simulating private variables in Python
  372. Choice of formats for basic code documentation
  373. Dennis Ritchie on Computer Science and Commerce (1984)
  374. Inconsistent results of the same seed in random.seed() on different Python installations
  375. An opinion on vi configuration
  376. The virtue of Vim (or: why I do not remap copy and paste)
  377. Shark fin and the economics of Chinese "face"
  378. Two funerary practices and the end of a good story
  379. An important skill for instructors
  380. p::c
  381. Twice-a-day mail delivery
  382. Portmanteau characters in Chinese (abstract)
  383. A math professor I enjoyed
  384. The state of my Netflix patronage
  385. Longevity vs. versatility of code
  386. A new kind of noise in the subway
  387. Router VI is dead
  388. Tinker Tailor remake
  389. Automated upward pricing spiral
  390. Break-in?
  391. Telephantasmia, one of the great gifts of Chinese culture
  392. September 11th sensations
  393. Whether to take a small loss or consent to the devaluation of the US dollar
  394. City checkpoint chaos
  395. Continuing opportunity for techno-elitism
  396. A worry of Donald Knuth's
  397. An opinion of TeX
  398. Advice on teaching English in China if you lack a TEFL degree
  399. "The Highline" Park
  400. Plutarch on the sensitivity and versatility of the human mind
  401. Plutarch's praise of the "fox" temperament
  402. Unagi hitsumabushi 鰻櫃まぶし
  403. My mother and me, at work on the Early China index, 20110526
  404. juémíngzǐ 決明子 tisane
  405. Brillat-Savarin on the pleasures of the fast
  406. University of Maryland, (College Park) general education rated D in a national survey
  407. The EMACS meta key and the standing desk
  408. A rule of thumb in choosing one's tools
  409. Dr. Johnson on the "fox" temperament
  410. Carl Elliott reviews Ginsberg, Fall of the Faculty (WSJ)
  411. Hard copy vs. electronic copy
  412. Deborah Ball's article on the opposition to standardizing the Romansh language (WSJ)
  413. Boris Veytsman's review of Kottwitz, LaTeX Beginner's Guide
  414. Why even 212 phone numbers calling in-area have to dial 212 first
  415. Dr. Johnson on keeping a diary
  416. Against object-oriented design (except in scripting languages)
  417. Worrying about inadequate memory to hold program and debugger (1973)
  418. Consequences of a compiler defect
  419. The Internet and scripting languages
  420. Newton's own suffering at math
  421. Fresh turmeric-root tea
  422. Appreciation of awk
  423. "Computer Science, Modern Languages Most Gender-Polarized Majors"
  424. Food issues during the Siege of Leningrad
  425. Starting a blog