November 30, 2004
Meet The Beables
In particular we will exclude the notion of 'observable' in favour of that of 'beable.' The beables of the theory are those elements which might correspond to reality, to things which exist. Their existence does not depend on 'observation.' Indeeed observation and observers must made out of beables.
I use the term 'beable' rather than some more committed term like 'being' or 'beer' to recall the essentially tentative nature of any physical theory. Such a theory is at best a candidate for the description of nature. Terms like 'being', 'beer', 'existent', etc., would seem to me lacking in humility. In fact 'beable' is short for 'maybe-able'.
John S. Bell, "Beables for quantum field theory," in Speakable and unspeakable in quantum mechanics.
Dead Leaf Roundabout
London plane trees, Cowper Street & Nevada, Palo Alto, CA.
What is the slashdot amnesia phenomenon?
November 29, 2004
Thoughts on a new laptop
1) 802.11 isn't that useful at home if you don't have a TV (why else move the laptop)?
3) Tech support for the HP Bluetooth Deskjet 995c has been outsourced to India, where they answer the phone cheerfully, thank you for your patience, but still can't solve your problem.
4) Putty is my new Telnet/SSH client. But of course I never use telnet. Nor should you. Once Anil screamed "STOP!" at me just as I was about to use it.
5) I'd forgotted M-x latex-mode. Nice to meet him again. It's been a few years.
6) Thumbnails of most of my ever-burgeoning collection of digital photos and scanned images seem to be available here, at Google. Why then do I struggle to archive them myself? Somehow this question reminded me of the book of Job. I had a Bible handy and found this at the end of Chapter 5, just as more JPGs and MOVs were being whisked off to some appropriate archive:
You shall know that your tent is safe, and you shall inspect your fold and miss nothing. You shall know also that your descendants shall be many, and your offspring as the grass of the earth. You shall come to your grave in ripe old age, as a shock of grain comes up to the threshing floor in its season. Lo, this we have searched out; it is true. Hear, and know it for your good.
November 28, 2004
We just got back from a weeklong vacation to Hawaii (Kauai).
Returning from a hike on the Na Pali coast, we stopped in Hanalei for a snack. I was deeply engrossed in taking incredibly boring photographs of a Hawaiian Shave Ice stand when suddenly Ann urgently whispered"Hey, that's Joey from Friends.'' [Matt Leblanc]. Gloria immediately confirmed it, but I wasn't so sure (couldn't really look past his loud red sunglasses). So I sidled up to the burger joint he was standing outside of, aiming to take a nice paparazzi. But of course he noticed me and the camera (I was standing right next to him), and I couldn't muster the courage to shoot a point-blank shot. So I let them go.
But then, as I was driving out of the parking lot, I had a perfect opportunity to roll down the window and capture my prey. Unfortunately it's not quite in focus. (Or was it this?)
November 19, 2004
From the Poker Weekend
I'm actually getting quite competent at saying and spelling "Chilnualna." It's not an easy word to internalize, somehow.
I saw her play the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor at the "Blue Hair" San Francisco Symphony matinee this afternoon.
[actuallyyesterday afternoon. It's late]
In the Upper Room (first on the third CD of "How I got Over")
November 18, 2004
At the Guardian
"Can you spell with speed, accuracy and under pressure?" This is a question to which we wanted answers. We urged Professor Vivian Cook, professor of applied linguistics at the University of Newcastle and author of Accomodating Brocolli in the Cemetary or Why Can't Anybody Spell?, to supply us with 10 of the most orthographically problematic words in the English language. We then rang likely people to find out if they could spell all of them correctly. Sadly, a high proportion of them either did not reply or got someone to ring and say they were very busy - far, far too busy in fact, to take the test. Or maybe just scared...
The hidden arrow
From an interview with the graphic designer who came up with the FedEx logo:
The power of the hidden arrow is simply that it is a "hidden bonus." It is a positive-reverse optical kind of thing: either you see it or you don't. Importantly, not "getting the punch line" by not seeing the arrow, does not reduce the impact of the logo's essential communication. The power of the logo and the FedEx marketing supporting the logo is strong enough to convey clearly FedEx brand positioning. On the other hand, if you do see the arrow, or someone points it out to you, you won't forget it. I can't tell you how many people have told me how much fun they have asking others "if they can spot 'something' in the logo." To have filled in the arrow, or to somehow make it more "visible" would have been like Henny Youngman saying "Please take my wife" instead of "Take my wife. Please." Punch lines that need to be explained are neither funny nor memorable.
November 17, 2004
the shortwave numbers mystery
the shortwave numbers mystery (thanks, Ivor!)
Also: this creepy archive of mysterious shortwave broadcasts, with banner reading
Have you ever listened to your short wave radio and heard a strange voice repeating numbers or letters ?? You may have stumbled across something they call a NUMBERS STATION
From today's NYT crossword
Returns from Venus, say (7): VOLLEYS
I'm not sure why the "say" needs to be there. I like the clue better without it.
A suspicious NYT correction
This is from the 16 Nov 2004 New York Times:
A picture caption on Saturday with a film review about "Veer-Zaara" misidentified the actress shown. She is Preity Zinta, not Veer Zaara.
This has got to be a secret message to spies behind the lines, picking up their instructions in the newspaper. Or something like that.
But I can't figure out what it means.
I've tried saying this out loud:
"veer zaara, it's preity zinta."
November 15, 2004
Driving home from Physics class, I just heard this on the radio.
Hmmm, that sounds a lot like the Three Penny Opera, I thought. What's that doing on the radio? I'm looking for U2!
Sogot to have it.
I'm probably the last one to become aware of this group, I'm sure, amongst cool people (not that I count myself amongst them, of course).
From Learning Curves
The Incredibles vs The Fantastic Four
With special pre-fight card
Dash vs The Thing
Frozone vs The Human Torch
November 14, 2004
G4G rotating dragon
Second image revealing the trick.
Template for folding your own dragon.
Colin Dixon, Ivor Barber, and Toby Ferguson at the top of Chilnualna Falls, near Wawona, Yosemite National Park.
November 10, 2004
"You can start to get mad at a problem," he says. "Did you ever see a Daffy Duck cartoon? When a few bad things happened to DaffyElmer Fudd or somebody blows him up in a number of different wayshe says, `Of course, you know this means war!' And you often get a very appealing, attractive problem that gets under your skin. You're living the problem, it's a part of you, it's always in the background, running. In some sense this means war. It's kind of life or death."
Infinityis (807294) writes:
Maybe Winzip and Ziplock should merge. I think it'd be nice to have encrypted, password protected sandwich bags, but at 90% compression, I think the bread might not taste so good afterwards.
Polya Picture Album
Kara Lynn sent some of David's books:
The Polya Picture Album is a good one. I'd looked at it in libraries and the bookstore a few times. It's nice to have a copy. Polya died just as I arrived at Stanford for graduate school, in 1985. They have some interesting Polya displays in the Math library at Stanford, including a postcard from G. H. Hardy challenging Polya to identify the source of the quotation, "Laugh and the world laughs with you, weep and you weep alone."
This is an easy one in the days of Google. Hardy wrote the answer on the bottom of the postcard: Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
Santa's big red sack
I suspect that most moviegoers care more about stories and characters than how much money it took for a digitally rendered strand of hair to flutter persuasively in the wind. Nor will they care that to make "Polar Express" Tom Hanks wore a little cap that transmitted a record of his movements to a computer, creating templates for five different animated characters.
It's likely, I imagine, that most moviegoers will be more concerned by the eerie listlessness of those characters' faces and the grim vision of Santa Claus's North Pole compound, with interiors that look like a munitions factory and facades that seem conceived along the same oppressive lines as Coketown, the red-brick town of "machinery and tall chimneys" in Dickens's "Hard Times." Tots surely won't recognize that Santa's big entrance in front of the throngs of frenzied elves and awe-struck children directly evokes, however unconsciously, one of Hitler's Nuremberg rally entrances in Leni Riefenstahl's "Triumph of the Will." But their parents may marvel that when Santa's big red sack of toys is hoisted from factory floor to sleigh it resembles nothing so much as an airborne scrotum.
I wondered"Manohla Dargis?" A man's name, or a woman's? A pseudonym? In any case, it cried out to be anagrammed.
MIRA HOAGLANDSAha. I was right. Must be a woman.
OLDISH ANAGRAMMaybe not. Since I use anagrams as a sort of divination (heh), this led me to reconsider.
OMAHA DARLINGSA secret society of movie reviewers? More evidence that it must be a woman's name.
HADAL ORGANISM [Hadal: Of or relating to the deepest regions of the ocean, below about 6,000 meters (20,000 feet)]. Not a person at all perhaps, but a new life form?
November 08, 2004
LaTex picture whacking
It's easy for me to spend too much time fine-tuning diagrams like this one, produced in the LaTeX picture environmentcountless iterations shunting a line or symbol up and bit, or down a bit. There's got to be a better way.
A friend writes
I forgot to tell you a story last night that I had been meaning to relate. We met this couple a few weeks ago who had lived and worked in the Netherlands for a number of years. The husband was discussing the difficulty of initially learning the language well enough to conduct business. For his first six months there, he had been using the phrase XXXXX to indicate his assent at the end of a discussion, thinking that it meant "I agree." It never seemed to have quite the conciliatory effect that he expected. He understood why after someone eventually explained to him that the meaning of the phrase was "I am right."
November 07, 2004
100,000th OEIS Sequence Revealed
I'm proud to be the first guest at the 100K E-Party.
November 05, 2004
J & K
You may have heard that John Kerry lost.
It wasn't any better for Jerry Kohn.
Things are so complex you need an M.Sc. to program crud!
I don't think the M.Sc. is likely to help. [link]
November 04, 2004
Lunar E, reprise
I'm reminded of two "odometer" word pairs
HIDEOUS HIDEOUT (found by Dan Asimov)
GRIM GRIN (what you see there)
November 03, 2004
Expecting to have to buy the busted violin, I was surprised when Susan at Kamimoto only charged me $25.60. Apparently they embed insurance in the rental fees.
In preparing the paperwork, Susan pulled out a sheet of paper she uses to record instrument rentals that were cancelled because the instrument was dropped on the floor, lost, or otherwise damaged. Cole's broken 1/4 violin was #23 on this year's list.
She drew my attention to a cello that got crushed in the early spring of this year.
"That was a bad one," she said.
I rented a replacement violin. Cole thought its neck was shorter than the old one.
In today's lesson, Denise tried to get Cole to use a 'slower bow'. "You can play fast, but with a slow bow," she says. Shinichi Suzuki gave students short bows on small violins so that they had to use a slow bow on them.
Another technique to enforce slow bowingattach big metal paper clips to the bow.
Cole and I had just finished practicing "Perpetual Motion" on our violins, playing along with the Suzuki CD.
Cole put his violin down on my desk. I turned around to turn off the stereo. I heard a clatter.
November 02, 2004
From the web site:
The idea is simple: collect post-use, single-use chopsticks from restaurants in China, thoroughly clean them, sanitize them at extremely high temperature and pressure, and use them to make high-quality accents for the consumer's living space.
November 01, 2004
Separated at birth?
ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero
Ron Reagan Jr
Thank you Andrew
The website is almost unresponsive today (not surprising). It has Kerry ahead with 298 votes, but who knows.
I recommend that these Guardian paragraphs be used for medicinal purposes if all goes bad and we all have to deal with four more years of chimp smirking:
One theory - which you might call the "George W Kerry" theory after an article by that title in the journal Foreign Policy - is that Kerry will be more like Bush than most of his supporters suppose.
In that article, author Moises Naim argues that the president whom Kerry will most resemble - at least in terms of foreign policy - is the one we've got now, and that, paradoxically, if re-elected President Bush will be more like Kerry than he is today: "If re-elected, Bush will have difficulty sustaining the foreign policies of his first term, whereas a first-term Kerry presidency is bound to emulate some of Bush's more aggressive positions."
There's some truth to this. Presidents are powerful, but they are also influenced by the world, and neither the world, nor America's interests in it, change as much as people think from one election cycle to another. Nixon, remember, ran as a "peace candidate" in 1968, but was still fighting LBJ's war in 1972. And although George W Bush invaded Iraq, Bill Clinton threatened to, and even, in 1998, signed the Iraq Liberation Act, which made regime change official US policy.
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