Cogito, Ergo Sumana
Sumana oscillates between focus and opportunity

(0) : Boisebration!: I deeply enjoy the work of writer and artist Jon Bois, so I compiled a big MetaFilter list of fiction and nonfiction he's created about class, feminism, aging, sports, politics, wonder, education, and art (not including his better-known series, Pretty Good and Chart Party). The post also collects several 17776 influences, references, precursors, and callbacks, so heads-up in case you loved 17776.

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(0) : A Theme in Newitz, Sugar, Wells, & Leckie: I'm starting Annalee Newitz's Autonomous (enjoying so far; the science-sex-and-slaves narrative makes me also want to reread Nicola Griffith's Slow River). I'm fuzzily thinking about thematic echoes in Rebecca Sugar's Steven Universe, Martha Wells's All Systems Red, and Ann Leckie's Imperial Radch trilogy (Ancillary Justice and its sequels). I'm noodling around thinking about how all of them tell stories of networked identity and body violation. What is it actually like to have unaccountable masters who can alter your mind? How similar is that to being misinformed and betrayed, in normal human ways, by people and organizations who have power over you? These are all stories that ... take cyberpunk for granted, you know? Of course we are all always plugged in, or could be, and freedom depends on being able to unplug, and to freely choose fusion, conversation, association, intimacy.

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(0) : The Programmer Experience: Redundancy Edition: Sunday morning, one thought led to another, and I realized I'd like to read a US nonprofit's Form 990 (annual report on assets, revenue, etc.). I started looking for 990s, and stumbled upon a big set of machine-readable 990s from 2011 through sometime in 2016. Is the one I seek in there? How recently was the dataset updated?

So I broke out bpython, the json module, and wget and started figuring it out.

Some things I learned/realized/remembered along the way:

  • json.load() does pretty much exactly what I hoped it would even though I had forgotten the exact wording -- yay.
  • Gar -- why can't datetime Just Do The Right Thing regarding turning very datestamp-looking strings into datetime objects? Aha, Arrow is my answer (Arrow : datetime :: requests : urllib2).
  • Hey, if I've started up a virtualenv (being careful to create one whose Python is my installation of Python 3), how come I can't invoke bpython? Ohhhh, I have to pip install bpython inside the venv (or -- just to be safe -- I used pip3 install bpython which worked).
  • I am fine with iteratively searching through a huge dataset in an incredibly unoptimized and cut-and-paste way at first, and if I get irritated by waiting then I can fix things up with refactoring and optimization and so on.
  • According to the index of available filings, the most recent update reflected in those filings is from January 11, 2017.
  • I'm one step closer to reflexively doing this kind of stuff in a Jupyter notebook and publishing it but I'm not there yet, despite encouragement from Julia Evans and how much easier the infrastructure's gotten. Next time, I think.
  • I remembered that Bradley Kuhn would like for far more people to pay attention to 990 filings, and has co-maintained a repository of FLOSS foundations' filings for some time. I started searching around in case there was a more recent version of the repo* -- and found, via an actually relevant textual ad served by a search engine, ProPublica's Nonprofit Explorer.

    Use this database to view summaries of 3 million tax returns from tax-exempt organizations and see financial details such as their executive compensation and revenue and expenses. You can browse IRS data released since 2013 and access over 9.6 million tax filing documents going back as far as 2001.

    For example, attractively presented data, and full 990s, for the Organization for Transformative Works.

So, uh, turns out I didn't need to actually get all "make a new GitLab repo! how does Arrow work? gotta refactor this!" and so on, but ah well. Now I will have a fresh new project to use for testing as I delve into Python packaging and test Warehouse, the new Python Package Index.


* Update: Mike Linksvayer, on Identi.ca, edifies: "The archived gitorious floss-foundations filings repo is now actively maintained by Martin Michlmayr at https://gitlab.com/floss-foundations/npo-public-filings".

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: Video of Our PyGotham Play: You can now watch the 22-minute video of the play I discussed last month. "Code Review, Forwards and Back", co-written by and co-starring Jason Owen and me, directed by Jonathan Galvez.

Thanks to:

  • Kenneth Durril for running sound
  • David Beazley for running lights (on a few hours' notice and with no rehearsal)
  • A. Jesse Jiryu Davis for a cameo as a junior engineer, and for introducing the play
  • Jonathan Galvez for directing (if you're in NYC and looking to hire a director for a thing like this, ask me for his email address)
  • Michael Rehse for a ton of useful advice
  • Laura Hampton for serving as a dramaturg during late rehearsals
  • The PyGotham organizers for accepting the talk and advising us on logistics and tone
  • Our audience, especially attendees who told us they'd liked it

We were happy to hear people say things like I'm new to the industry, and this helped me learn things to watch out for or I used to be that reviewer and I'm trying not to be anymore or My name is Randall and I never hear my name in fiction and it was nice to hear you say my name or I don't code at all but this is a marvelous management parable. Indeed, code review is just a particularly visible moment where you can see the effects of an organization's culture and processes. Too execution-focused (the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing)? Too alignment-focused (we're taking so much time deliberating and gaining consensus that we can't make forward progress on the mission)? Too lax, or too superficial, in enforcing rules? Our play can't dive into every scenario but it's a start. And -- the most frequent comment we got from happy attendees -- it was a change of pace (no slides!).

We're revising the play and submitting this a few other places; once it's run its course, we'll be posting the text of the script online.


(1) : Happy Halloween: Today in the US we have the 1st of the crowded season of holidays taking us into the spring: Halloween, Thanksgiving, ["the holidays"], New Year's, Valentine's Day.

Fear/horror, gratitude, tradition/family, hope, romantic love.

Halloween and Valentine's Day bookend this season; they are candy holidays of gesture, with eros and thanatos a hairswidth apart.

My best wishes to you all today; may your inner demons find a safe way to frolic.

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(2) : Cleveland Visit: I'm visiting Cleveland, Ohio this coming weekend, in case you live there or have suggestions for things I ought to do.

(One proximate cause of this is that, through the Python community, I've met multiple nice people who are organizing or championing PyCon North America in Cleveland in 2018 and 2019, and who will show me around a bit. Another is the United Airlines rep who, while trying to reroute us on our solar eclipse trip, said, "The only place in the United States I can get you tonight is Cleveland" which sounds more like a Call to Adventure than most bad travel news does.)

I'm particularly interested in hiking, walking tours, live folk and rock music, history (especially political, social, and science and engineering history), pair programming, and trains. I'll be there Friday October 20th through Sunday October 22nd. I'm also open to giving a talk or two while in Cleveland. Feel free to leave comments on this post -- the spam filter is rather aggressive but I'll fish things out regularly!


: Hello City Limits, I See Your Sign, Left Your Dystopia Way Behind: A joking-around conversation from a recent conference, from memory and condensed.

A: "I saw the eclipse in Nashville."
B: "Oh I'm from Nashville!"
A: "Oh cool! Did you see it there too!"
B: "No, I didn't, I don't live there anymore."
A: "So you're from Nashville. Do you play an instrument? Are you a musician?"
B: "No, I'm not."
A: "Is that why you had to leave? Is there some age by which the Machine sends you a notification that you have to choose an Instrument and perform at the Audition?"
C: "I'm imagining that scene from A Wrinkle in Time, the street of identical houses, everyone in a row on the sidewalk, with their guitars."
A:"Playing 'Wonderwall', all at the same time. And you show up at the Audition, like, 'I'm Divergent, I'm not gonna choose an Instrument, I'm leaving!'"
B: "This is actually a little too real."

(You may also enjoy Randomized Dystopia, a.k.a. Assorted Abrogations.)

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This work by Sumana Harihareswara is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available by emailing the author at sh@changeset.nyc.