About this website

  • 01 Mar 2023
  • 03 Apr 2023

I’ve recently revamped this website and I’ll be using it to collect links and content I find interesting, and for my own occasional writing, so the important things are speed and readability. I’ve closely followed the suggestions of Edward Tufte’s stylesheet recommendations for simple and clear text on the web, and a long-standing aim is that markup should be as close to purely semantic as possible. The principles derived by Dave Liepmann from Tufte’s writings are guidelines, not mandatory diktats, but they’re very useful guidelines. I’ve also been (ahem) influenced by Gwern Branwen’s Gwern.net in this most recent site revamp, though I hope not to be too copycat as the site evolves over the next few weeks.

This is a static website, generated with Hugo (written in Go/Golang), and it’s served from Github Pages with a build action when I push content to the repository. Content is written in Markdown and the custom domain name is registered via Google.

Simplicity and speed is exactly what I wanted for this revamp. I don’t have any need for complicated, dynamic, session-based pages so this setup does the job well.

About me

I’ve worked in IT for nearly all of my adult life and I’m currently a Solutions Architect, which means I’m mostly hands-off in my day job. I’m Welsh, though I moved from Wales for university when I was in my teens and I’ve lived in England ever since, with a few exceptions. I was born and brought up in the English-speaking part of Wales and I like to point out to Welsh nationalists that the de facto national language of Wales is English.

I’ve worked in the UK and — briefly — in the US, France, Belgium, Germany and Japan. I hardly travelled abroad when I was young but got the bug when I met Helen, my partner, who started me off with a cycling holiday in France. Since then we’ve visted the US many times, all of Europe, Turkey, India, and the Far East. We’re yet to explore Africa, South America, and Indonesia. Favourite countries to date are Japan, and Spain, Italy and Greece especially for the history.

A Japanese friend once gave a presentation complaining that the Japanese had to learn English and suggested Esperanto instead. I don’t think she understood Esperanto is an artifical Romance language. It’s essentally a dialect of Latin.

Like most British people I’m not great at languages - a little French and less German, Spanish and Italian, and very little Mandarin and hardly any Japanese. I try to learn languages a bit because of the additional insight it gives into other cultures but I don’t blame the British in general for their lack of facility with languages, as if it betrayed insularity or xenophobia, a common accusation; we have an asymmetric relationship with other languages & countries because we’re already speaking the international lingua franca.

Years ago, on a TV quiz programme, I asked the host why they didn’t have more science questions and he replied,‘Because we don’t consider science to be part of general knowledge.’

Almost everything can be interesting if you invest time and effort. As someone educated in maths and working in IT I’m very aware of the supposed philisitinism of the STEM-trained but I’d turn the accusation around onto the Arts crowd. Next to nobody knows much about, or cares about, culture and history but in any case that culture includes science, maths and technology. This isn’t a criticism – people have their lives to live and that’s difficult enough.

I’m politically ordinary. I started out on the Left and joined Labour when I was 15 just as the entryist Militant group gained a stranglehold on the Labour Party Young Socialists – so I became a Trotsykist, which had the attraction of annoying my parents. Militant was kicked out and prompted that speech by Kinnock, when he berated Liverpool Council leaders, but I’d already dropped my involvement by then. Over time I moved to the centre, joined the party again when Blair took over, left again, and now I reject the idea of arranging policies along a L-R continuum, and I dislike political tribalism. I’m more conservative now, in an Oakshottian way.

To be conservative … is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant, the convenient to the perfect, present laughter to utopian bliss

Michael Oakeshott Rationalism in Politics and other essays 1962

I like some music – ‘classical’ especially Baroque (which isn’t classical classical) and the popular music of my late teens but then, everyone likes the music of their late teens. I like good poetry, though most is bad–to–toe-curlingly terrible, and now I agree with a lecturer I once had who claimed that writing programs is akin to writing poems, though at the time I thought he was silly. It’s important to memorise poetry. I like art of just about any period, though very contemporary stuff is difficult because the rubbish hasn’t been winnowed out and there’s so much rubbish. I like most kinds and periods of literature with a few exceptions and blind spots but, as with art, the good contemporary stuff is swamped by the bad – anything younger than about 100 old is, to quote Zhou Enlai, too early to tell. I like history. I wish I was better at maths – I keep meaning to teach myself more stats.

I’m getting old. My joints ache. My eyesight’s worsening. My earliest memories are of the 60s, I’m beginning to see echoes of Auden in my face (’a wedding cake left out in the rain’).

You can find me on Twitter at askdavidjones and on Instagram as davidjonesphotos