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Work: I've been in libraries since 2006; among other things, I spent a year as the at the British Library, wandering around and telling people how nice the internet was, and another five years in . I now mostly do and .

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I'm a Scottish librarian working in London; primarily what I write about here is my and work.

The biggest chunk of that is the project - trying to build a rich dataset of historic parliamentarians, and figure out what interesting things it can tell us.

Discovered an impressive bit of half-assed work in our plumbing today: pipes fitted with shutoff valves that are physically blocked from operating by the *wall*.

Takes some talent to set things up this way.

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There’s something I don’t like about using the word “hallucination” to describe the way LLMs make things up. It implies the models are doing something wrong, something they are not supposed to do. But it’s only wrong from our perspective as users: it’s not wrong from the model’s perspective. From the model’s perspective there is no difference in what it is doing when it is being factual and when it isn’t. In a sense LLMs are *always* hallucinating, but sometimes what they say happens to be true.

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There are ~950 computer screws on my desk and none (zero) of them fit the hard drive mounting I am trying to fit. There's a moral in here about measuring parts properly before ordering.

(One pack has some M3*10... with too small a head. The other has wide headed M3*6, which are too short. And the long ones are tapered heads so don't fit comfortably in the washers.)

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‘“When sorrows come, they come not single spies but in battalions”. For Conservatives, the 2023 local elections brought battalions of sorrow indeed. The headline results were dire, but detailed analysis brings even worse news.’

New Swingometer on anti-Conservative voting in the 2023 locals:

The late 1940s were truly a wild time, economically: two men summonsed in March 1947 for "wasting electric current" (leaving a single lightbulb on overnight, meaning ... half a kWh each?)

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"By all accounts, including his own, he was an idiot. ... His descendants hid [his] portrait in the attic because they were ashamed of being related to him ... When Adam Smith and Edward Gibbon were elected to The Literary Club, Boswell considered leaving because he thought the club had now "lost its select merit"!"

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Via @scotlit, a great piece on Boswell:

"the main question commentators try to answer is this: how did the worst man in the world manage to write the best biography?"

others on the list include

* "we meant this to be repealed on exit but apparently we missed it"
* "we can repeal this because we wrote some new regulations coming out later this year that cover it" (not quite sticking to the theme, there)
* "we can repeal this because we don't need to regulate analogue TVs any more"

It's amazing. All that sound and fury about red tape, and it's basically the equivalent of the Law Commission's suggesting we can repeal a sixteenth-century militia act.

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This is an absolutely hilarious list: after much sound and fury, all the retained EU law identified for revocation is along the lines of "this was a temporary provision that expired in 2012", "this amends something we revoked already", or for a really ambitious one, "this licensing regime was introduced in 2007 and no-one has used it"

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On the second day
The radios failed; we turned the knobs; no answer.
On the third day a warship passed us, heading north,
Dead bodies piled on the deck…

—Edwin Muir, “The Horses”
#Scottish #literature #poetry #Orkney #Modernism #20thcentury #postapocalypse

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I am not a *great* expert in the fine art of SI drafting, but I feel like when the Scrutiny Committee puts out a press release to complain, you might have overstepped just a tiny bit.

"As far as we can ascertain, this is the first time a Government has sought to make changes to the law by making those changes through secondary legislation even though those same changes had been rejected by Parliament when introduced a short while before in primary legislation."

Today's experiment: barleyani. Biryani with pearl barley instead of rice. Actually... not too bad?

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As someone who has participated in multi-year edit wars over, yes, Nazi shit, I will say that my biggest concern here isn’t about unedited LLM text hitting wikipedia articles—that’s v bad but probably largely fixable—but with the way Talk page sophistry is about to become absolutely fucking unmanageable as malicious editors set chatbots to do their infinite argumentation for them

To generalize: LLMs on the web’s surfaces are bad. LLMs in the backstage are much worse.

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They are lang deid, folk that I used to ken
their firm set lips aa mowdert and agley,
sherp-tempert een rusty amang the cley…

—“Elegy” by Robert Garioch (1909–1981) – born #OTD, 9 May
Published in The Golden Treasury of Scottish Verse, @canongatebooks 2021
#Scottish #literature #Scots #ScotsLanguage #poetry

(exactly which green is the better green remains a little unclear, as they have decided the party visual guidelines must be kept secret from the masses - Labour used to do the same, but made them public recently. I'm sure there's a very clever reason at work, but all a bit odd.)

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vital update: the Green Party has rebranded, changing its preferred colour from "green" to "a bit more green".

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