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April 30, 2005

More Eggers

The Stanford daily on the previously blogged Eggers event

Posted by tplambeck at 01:35 AM

green citizen


Gloria handed me their brochure, suggesting that I dump our ever-expanding pile of dead computers, cell phones, and other momentary gadgetry on them. "Where is it, I wonder," I thought. I flipped it over.

At GreenCitizen, we want to make recycling electronics so easy that you'll make it a part of your everyday routine. For our part, we'll be working with the most trusted recyclers to ensure that the electronics you place in our hands will be stewarded to their safest disposal.

There's the faintest odor of euphemism lingering over that paragraph. So, you can imagine the conspiracy theory that formed in my mind when I flipped the brochure over and found the green citizen recycling point is immediately behind Fry's Electronics in Palo Alto.

Now I know where all those suspectly-shrinkwrapped "previously opened" boxes really come from. Someone dumped them in the trash behind FRY'S!!


Posted by tplambeck at 01:26 AM

Tchaikovsky 5/4 waltz

Somewhere I've written down the music in the movie Minority Report, including something from T. that is written in 5/4 time. But the 2nd movement of the Pathetique symphony doesn't seem to be it.

What is it?

[OK, I found it—I guess it is that movement after all. People like to describe it as "undanceable," or "lopsided." Sort of like Tom Cruise himself.]

Posted by tplambeck at 01:07 AM

Warren Wilson College

The college "most leaning to the left" according to an article I just read.

Posted by tplambeck at 12:56 AM

April 29, 2005


From a pop-up dialog window on my laptop computer:

The IBM Active Protection System is an autonomic feature that helps protect your hard drive from damage caused by physical shock and vibration. It continuously monitors the movement of your ThinkPad computer and temporarily stops the hard drive when a fall or similar damaging event is predicted

Nice word—"autonomic." Googling it reveals that IBM owns it (seemingly).

Sure beats all those "self-healing" software systems I read about 10 years ago. And if I hear something described as "mission-critical" again, I may throw a fit. So be warned.

Posted by tplambeck at 02:48 PM

April 28, 2005

Ed Witten in anti-Filibuster protest


link; also this at Not Even Wrong.

This isn't much to start a meme with, but still, I thought I'd give it a shot:


I don't have a bullhorn, but I've always wanted one.

[If you've got a copy of the Griffiths Elementary Particles book, take a picture of yourself Frist-Filibustering with it and send me a pointer to it (or a copy of it)....I'll add it to this page (or link to you), or whatever...]

Posted by tplambeck at 09:58 PM


link A Solondz movie—it doesn't look so good to me, after seeing the trailer. As corroborative evidence, I offer these two Solondz quotations from the magazine FLM ("The Voice of Independent Film," Spring 2005, pg 8):

(1) One of the first questions people tend to ask me after seeing Palindromes is, "Why did you cast so many actors in the role of Aviva, instead of just one?" I suppose if hadn't made this movie it would be my first question as well...
(2) ...for I remember when they changed actors playing Darrin on TV's Bewitched: one season it was one actor, the next another, and it didn't seem to faze Samantha at all...
Posted by tplambeck at 09:40 PM

Microsoft Office Assistant: The Paper Clip


Posted by tplambeck at 09:57 AM

Dave Eggers and Friends

Cameraphone photo taken before Dave Eggers (with Spike Jonze and David O Russell) showed two interesting documentaries at Dinkelspiel auditorium on the Stanford campus.

Dave Eggers and Friends

Spike Jonze, who seemed to be very uncomfortable in the spotlight, squirmed when Eggers asked him how he selects projects.

"I don't know, how would *you* answer that?" Eggers couldn't think of a good answer, either.

In mid-2000, Jonze made a great rough-cut documentary meant to illustrate what Al Gore is really like. Gore liked "Being John Malkovich," and let Jonze carry a handheld consumer video camera into his ranch in Tennessee (I think that's where it was) to shoot candid scenes with his family. It's a thirteen-minute film that was supposed to be used at the Democratic convention, but instead was shelved. Gore comes off very well in it, sitting around the dinner table being teased by his daugthers. Eggers asked Jonze why it was never used. "I don't know," he said, "I had a chance to show it on Nightline, but was finishing up another project. I feel kind of bad about that." [I'm paraphrasing, but that was the idea.]

[link (stanford lively arts) and link (mcsweeneys.net)]

Posted by tplambeck at 12:19 AM

April 27, 2005

mail order chickens


Posted by tplambeck at 09:35 AM

April 26, 2005

Definition of extortion?

Let's say I find a human finger in my Wendy's chili. Let's suppose that I didn't put it there, and I have no idea how it got there.

Then I call Wendy's corporate headquarters, and say, "Hey, I found a finger in my chili. I'm really upset. I'm about, let's say, $400,000-worth upset. Make me not upset or I'll tell everyone about the finger."

My question—is this extortion? What is extortion, anyway, legally speaking?

From FindLaw:

518. Extortion is the obtaining of property from another, with his consent, or the obtaining of an official act of a public officer, induced by a wrongful use of force or fear, or under color of official right.
519. Fear, such as will constitute extortion, may be induced by a threat, either: 1. To do an unlawful injury to the person or property of the individual threatened or of a third person; or, 2. To accuse the individual threatened, or any relative of his, or member of his family, of any crime; or, 3. To expose, or to impute to him or them any deformity, disgrace or crime; or, 4. To expose any secret affecting him or them....


520. Every person who extorts any money or other property from another, under circumstances not amounting to robbery or carjacking, by means of force, or any threat, such as is mentioned in Section 519, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three or four years.

Guilty, or not guilty?

Posted by tplambeck at 04:22 PM

April 24, 2005

Technical difficulties

This web server is acting strangely.

It may be a terminal condition.

I need to get a new machine up to LLIC.

Posted by tplambeck at 04:38 PM

April 21, 2005

Book request

We're not a church-going or religious family. But with the Pope(s) in the news and our recent visit to Rome, Florence, and Orvieto, the kids are increasingly becoming aware of religious topics.

Yesterday, Cole (9) was reading a comic book "History of the Universe" and read the story of David and Goliath in it. He wondered if it was the same David as in Michelangelo's sculpture. "Yea, verily," I replied (or words to that effect). So:

Cole: So this story is from the Bible.

Thane: Yes. Lots of stories come from the Bible. OK, practically all stories come to from the Bible. At least the ones that come to mind. And what isn't in the Bible, comes from the Bible. At least it seems that way. It's hard to make up new stories, so people just rework the old ones. Or they change it around sort of, but it's still a Bible story. Or it has some part in it, or some symbol, that you're supposed to know comes from the Bible. It's a big book. It's hard to get away from the Bible—it's quite an interesting book, I should read it more myself. In fact, if a person wants to say some book has all the important stuff on some subject, they call it a "Bible," so you know, you've got the "bible of golf" or whatever... (I think I could have rambled along boringly on this subject for awhile, so it was good to be interrupted...)

Cole: (Resignedly) —Well, it would be *nice* if we had a Bible. (This is the tone he uses when he wants me to buy a book).

Thane: I think I can turn up a Bible [departs for the home office].

It turns out I have quite a few Bibles, at least three. Amazingly, the first one I opened opened almost exactly to the David story in 1 Samuel 17. Goliath is looking for an Israelite champion to fight:

And he stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, and said unto them, Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? am not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me. If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us. And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.

Nowadays, a person would say

I'm going to kick whoever's ass comes down here

or (again) words to that effect. We live in a swaggering age I guess.

Posted by tplambeck at 10:20 PM

Liudprand, Embassy to Constantinople [963 AD]


I think that I shall have as much pleasure in describing this procession as my masters will have in reading of it. A numerous company of tradesmen and low-born persons, collected on this solemn occasion to welcome and honor Nicephorus, lined the sides of the road, like walls, from the palace to Saint Sophia, tricked out with thin little shields and cheap spears.-As an additional scandal, most of the mob assembled in his honor had marched there with bare feet, thinking, I suppose, that thus they would better adorn the sacred procession. His nobles for their part, who with their master passed through the plebeian and barefoot multitude, were dressed in tunics that were too large for them and were also because of their extreme age full of holes. They would have looked better if they had worn their ordinary clothes. There was not a man among them whose grandfather had owned his tunic when it was new. No one except Nicephorus wore any jewels or golden ornaments, and the emperor looked more disgusting than ever in the regalia that had been designed to suit the persons of his ancestors. By your life, sires, dearer to me than my own, one of your nobles' costly robes is worth a hundred or more of these. I was taken to the procession and given a place on a platform near the singers.
As Nicephorus, like some crawling monster, walked along, the singers began to cry out in adulation: "Behold the morning star approaches: the day star rises: in his eyes the sun's rays are reflected: Nicephorus our prince, the pale death of the Saracens." And then they cried again: "Long life, long life to our prince Nicephorus. Adore him, ye nations, worship him, bow the neck to his greatness." How much more truly might they have sung:-"Come, you miserable burnt-out coal; old woman in your walk, wood-devil in your look; clodhopper, haunter of byres, goat-footed, horned, double-limbed; bristly, wild, rough, barbarian, harsh, hairy, a rebel, a Cappadocian!" So, puffed up by these lying ditties, he entered St. Sophia, his masters the emperors following at a distance and doing him homage on the ground with the kiss of peace. His amour bearer, with an arrow for pen, recorded in the church the era in progress since the beginning of his reign. So those who did not see the ceremony know what era it is.

link; Eastern Orthodox Church (at the Wikipedia, which laments, "The Eastern Churches have no one so powerful as the Roman Pope;" also—a site on the difference between the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches. This stuff is complicated! I started off wanting to read a little about the bad popes, and now I'm quickly submerging in schismatic detail. At least there's plenty of sex and violence to keep up a person's interest.)

Added later: From The Bad Popes, pg 27:

The Theophylact women emerge suddenly, in three dimension, from the dark background, bathed in the same lurid light as shone on Sergius. But unlike Sergius, they had their own chronicler, a bitterly hostile one who destroyed what good name they might have possessed in exchange for the immortality he granted them. His name was Liuprand, bishop of Cremona, a Lombard by birth and therefore a bitter enemy of all that Rome and the Romans stood for. Marozia and her mother are introduced into his history in a passage of concentrated venom which established their reputations for centuries to come. Cardinal Baronius, struggling in the sixteenth century with the task of writing the first papal history, hand no choice but to follow Liudprand and coined the vivid term "pornocracy" for that period of the Papacy which the two women dominated.
Posted by tplambeck at 11:03 AM



In every photo of the new pope, I see a sneer. Is it just me?

Posted by tplambeck at 10:05 AM

The Nag Hammadi Library


Posted by tplambeck at 09:59 AM

Against the Heresies


Posted by tplambeck at 09:45 AM

April 20, 2005

The Grand Contraption


Posted by tplambeck at 10:59 AM

April 19, 2005

Plimpton 322

Plimpton 322, the tiny dark star of Columbia University's Rare Book Library, is probably the world's best known piece of Mesopotamian mathematics. A clay tablet, about 5 inches long and 3.5 inches wide, with 4 columns and 15 rows of cuneiform hexadecimal numbers, it is usually dated 1900-1600 BC. Sir Christopher Zeeman lectured on it in San Antonio in 1995 AD, calls it ``the oldest preserved document on number theory," and gives a mathematical argument for its interpretation as a set of pythagorean triples...


i'm feeling lucky/search

Posted by tplambeck at 12:50 PM

Popcorn secrets

Popcorn kernels are nature's firecrackers, and as with any explosive device, sometimes you get a dud. In this modern era of microwave popcorn, in fact, sometimes you get a lot of duds - a mass of unpopped kernels rolling around the soggy bottom of the bag...


Posted by tplambeck at 10:43 AM

Sightseeing along the Nile

Food pyramid becomes 12 pyramids

I could never understand the logic of the food pyramid. Why is all the bad stuff up on top? Only because you're not supposed to eat much of it? Shouldn't candy and the deadlier fat variants be sepulchered far beneath the pyramid, accessible only to the intrepid explorer with the professionalism to know when and how much to partake of them? We'd all be a lot safer that way. Do I really have to lay that gigantic foundation of rice, cereals, and breads in order to enjoy an apple or tree of broccoli, just a single level up?

But my bathroom scale keeps creeping up, too. I had been thinking I should convert to food pyramidism. But now, just when I was going to make the first cautious enquiries, it's suddenly ballooned into 12 pyramids.

I can't even find a diagram for new the pyramids. Someone is going to need to draw a detailed map.

* * *
[Added later: I love the name of this "Boston-based think tank that specializes in food issues," the Oldways Preservation Trust. They should put them on the pyramid committee.]

Posted by tplambeck at 09:18 AM

Favorite rides, or "Hello, I'm Grumpy"

It figures that my two favorite rides—Pirates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion—celebrate rape, pillage, plunder and death.

link (outerlife.com)

Also—the excellent Mr Toad's Wild Ride, a reflection on insanity and the meaningless of life.

More: The happiest place on Earth

Posted by tplambeck at 08:58 AM

Billy Cottrell gets 8 years

LOS ANGELES—A graduate student was sentenced Monday to more than eight years in prison and ordered to pay millions of dollars in restitution for firebombing scores of sport utility vehicles.
William Jensen Cottrell, 24, was convicted in November of conspiracy to commit arson and seven counts of arson...

[link (news article); also this from the deep archives]

Posted by tplambeck at 12:40 AM

April 18, 2005

Donald Knuth, founding artist of Computer Science


Posted by tplambeck at 04:36 PM

Earth from above, 00:00:00 UTC today


This is output from the Solar System Simulator, which is really fun to play with.

[also: bigger]

Posted by tplambeck at 11:19 AM

The happiest place on Earth

via outer life:

We went to Disneyworld today and it's supposedly the happiest place on Earth [...] it looked more like people were in hell...


[Flipping through these photos I found myself laughing so hard I couldn't catch my breath. They perfectly capture the spirit of the Magic Kingdom. The only flaw is there's no really good shot of a long line for a ride. On our trip to Disneyland, I felt like I was in a Soviet bread line.

Once we waited for about 40 minutes in a misleadingly pleasant artificial cave for admission to "Bug's Life." At last we took our seats, the lights dimmed, and explosive show began, with detonations so loud that our kids covered their heads like so many WWI soldiers under heavy shelling. Bravely I drew myself together, and shouted my command to the family to evacuate---"Let's go, yes, everyone, move it! Now!", and we pushed our way to the exit, ducking our heads so as not to block the view of the other people in our trench. It's truly from hell, that ride.

I guess I need to get out more. Gloria seems to think so.]

Posted by tplambeck at 10:41 AM

April 17, 2005



For example, find the word matching


if that is your desire.

Posted by tplambeck at 10:01 PM

Palo Alto Little League Opening Day


Posted by tplambeck at 11:15 AM

April 16, 2005

Good cards


Posted by tplambeck at 10:25 PM

Palo Alto Little League Opening Day

Opening day

Posted by tplambeck at 03:26 PM

April 15, 2005

Continued Fractions and Modular Functions

The mathematical universe is inhabited not only by important species but also by interesting individuals.—C.L. Siegel

link (PDF, W. Duke)

Posted by tplambeck at 10:52 PM

wow, we didn't intend to capture this icebreaker pushing this submarine


Posted by tplambeck at 10:29 PM

Top 25 Infoworld CTO

Congratulations to Greg and his company, Trustgenix.

[From the deep plambeck.org archives (ca 1999)]

Posted by tplambeck at 10:24 PM

Dribble glass

Diagrams drawn to illustrate the key concepts of the dribble glass and other novelty stemware

[Cole suggested that we study the items available at this link. I think Anil got me once with a squirting nickel. He may remember "the line"—you were supposed to say it just before squirting someone, according to the enclosed instructions. But I've forgotten the line. It may have been "Have you ever seen the sprinkler on Jefferson's lawn?" So many items for sale at that web site are very tempting to buy. Less than $3 for a two-headed nickel? That's a bargain!]

Posted by tplambeck at 10:07 PM

Learning experience

Owen (age 7): I know a compound word.

Thane: What?

Owen: "Washer."

Thane: Well, that's not really a compound word. A compound word is a word that you can split into two words.

Owen: Was. Her. Washer.

Thane: Ah.

Posted by tplambeck at 09:38 PM

From Cripples

We tend to ignore facts, preferring to draw conclusions. A typical first question: "How did this happen?" A better one: "Did what I think happened actually happen at all?" The human mind can manufacture a hundred other worlds, complete with matching philosophies and laws. No raw materials required, nor even a foundation to build on: once we're off and running, we'll play architect as willingly in a vacuum as on level ground, even where no room exists even for the littlest nothing, whether meaningful or meaningless:
Even giving weight to smoke
What we really should be saying is: "Wrong!" And I would more often, but I usually don't, because people become instantly annoyed, claiming that such a reaction is a way of covering up for one's ignorance and general stupidity. Instead, I willingly play the fool, telling stupid stories and holding forth on stupid subjects, not believing a word of what I'm saying, just to keep everyone happy. I admit it's rude and argumentative to tell a man he doesn't know what he is talking about.

—Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, translated from the French by Wyatt Mason [I copied it from the Threepenny Review]

April 14, 2005

Economics in One Lesson

It's 198 pages—not my idea of a casual classroom drop-in—but the price is right.


via the (underappreciated) christian langreiter

Posted by tplambeck at 11:47 PM

More thoughts on how to play Texas Hold'Em against nine AI robots

1) Fold.

2) Don't be a hero—let the robots beat each other up, instead.

3) Robots bluff.

4) Fold.

5) Fold.

6) Be patient—then fold.

7) Many hands don't require much thought. But some do. Make sure you think on the ones that require thinking. And then think. Don't just think, "Now, Thane, think." Instead, actually think.

8) Fold.

9) A $62 bet by "Surita," "Avery," or "Winston" is often a bluff. Try raising by $62. Surita, Avery, or Winston will fold.

Posted by tplambeck at 09:50 PM

Emptying Pockets

1) A folded-up copy of the 31 March 2005 New York Times crossword, by David Liben-Nowell:

3 down: See 6-down: NINEDOWNISFALSE
6 down: 3- and 6-down, eg: PARADOXICALPAIR
9 down: See 6-down: THREEDOWNISTRUE

There are a few unfilled-in squares in the middle upper center, but it looks like I was having an easy time of it before folding up the puzzle and jamming it in my pocket. A Thursday puzzle.

2) Badge for an "Electronic Billing" conference at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa, Miami, Florida, 25-27 October, 2000. I gave a talk on Internet payment systems (I presume; I can't remember anymore). What I do remember is deciding in advance to try to make the talk entertaining, ie, mostly make jokes, tell stories only plausibly germane to my topic, etc. All the "meaty" things I usually talked about at such events I just skimmed over, or dropped. I think I got a best speaker award, or something like that. People just want to be entertained.

Posted by tplambeck at 05:09 PM

April 13, 2005

You know you've chosen poor notation when...

...you write down something like this and it seems to clarify things.


Posted by tplambeck at 04:01 PM

James Webb Space Telescope Mockup

Roger writes:

They made a full size mockup of what I'm working on for a conference a couple weeks ago. I lead the team that assembles the telescope, all the stuff up on top.

James Webb Space Telescope Mock Up, II

[link and another photo]

Posted by tplambeck at 08:52 AM

April 12, 2005

Via geomblog

SCIgen is a program that generates random Computer Science research papers, including graphs, figures, and citations. It uses a hand-written context-free grammar to form all elements of the papers. Our aim here is to maximize amusement, rather than coherence.
One useful purpose for such a program is to auto-generate submissions to "fake" conferences; that is, conferences with no quality standards, which exist only to make money. A prime example, which you may recognize from spam in your inbox, is SCI/IIIS and its dozens of co-located conferences (for example, check out the gibberish on the WMSCI 2005 website). Using SCIgen to generate submissions for conferences like this gives us pleasure to no end. In fact, one of our papers was accepted to SCI 2005! See Examples for more details.

link and some info about an accepted paper, from Suresh.

[Makes we want to whack on my "its random" code again].

Posted by tplambeck at 08:35 PM

On magic squares

Another Leonhard Euler paper (PDF) appears at the arXiv.

Posted by tplambeck at 08:23 PM

That's no Norbert

Copyright 1949

Posted by tplambeck at 08:20 PM

San Francisco

San Francisco

Posted by tplambeck at 08:07 PM

Email to Dad

Maria, who does our wash, is inside the house.

I just came back from running & walking 5 miles in 52 minutes, 45.57 seconds. It's nothing for the record books, even my "personal bests." My left foot hurts a bit.

I've hidden my jeans from Maria in a closet so that she doesn't wash them. Jeans are good for several days. I also hid a green sweatshirt that I wore this morning, so that she won't throw that in the wash, either.

Overnight, Norbert chewed through an essential part of my watch wristband, rendering the watch utterly unrepairable (apparently, but read on) for geometric reasons that I won't describe. But now I've taken a cigarette lighter, held it under the chewed-through portion, and have fused the broken pieces together again. Even now, there's still a faint miasma of burning plastic floating around me. But I've tested the strength of the fused-portion and have pronounced the operation completely successful. Once again I assert my superior cleverness over the feline. My mistake was putting the watch on the bookshelf behind my head so that I could have a few extra moments of sleep before getting up for morning basketball. Usually, I leave the watch where Norbert can't get it. In my sleep, I heard him chewing on it.

Posted by tplambeck at 07:57 PM

April 11, 2005

My Entry in Becky Hirta's essay contest

For many millennia, man has tried to create ways to measure time. At the very dawn of civilization, ancient sages awoke to the cries of their dying countrymen, their throats slit by the warriors of a nearby village, and thought, "Jesus Christ, it's a bit early for a massacre.'' And it was not easy to go back to sleep then, for the Dux bed would not be invented for many centuries.

I've got a watch that has never worked well for me. For one thing, the strap is too tight. Or too loose, depending upon which hole I use. And it's no use trying to buy a new strap, because the only ones available are sold by Swatch and they look identical to my strap. They are available in other colors, but the holes are in the same place. So when the great physicists of the 20th century ask me to imagine identical clocks at every point of spacetime, each clock ticking away the time coordinate in a synchronized fashion, and all running at the same rate, creating an inertial geometry of space which is Euclidean and the distance between two points is independent of the time coordinate, I know exactly what they are talking about.

What is a quartz watch? It is not a watch made of quartz. This is clear. What then?

Most people, when they think of measuring time, think of boring church sermons, university lectures, and their in-laws. Why won't people shut up? A little peace and quiet is important. If I've got to be looking up at the clock, wishing I was somewhere else, I'm not having a good time. In this way we see that time is relative. Someone put it this way: "Time flies like an arrow, but fruit flies like a banana." I wish I had thought of that one myself.

In a letter to the Very Rev. H. R. L. Sheppard dated 5 August 1930, George Bernard Shaw wrote: "I am too old to temporize or to behave considerately: I am passing through my second youth on my way to my second childhood, and find myself, to my alarm, talking very much as I did when I was twenty-five years old."

See what I mean?

* * *
[Added later: ben's contest description]

Posted by tplambeck at 11:17 AM

April 10, 2005

New On Sang

New On Sang

Posted by tplambeck at 12:31 AM

via Ed Pegg

math license plates

[I think my friend (and Dots-And-Boxes expert/master/mathter) Ilan Vardi had SQRT PI as a California license plate, circa 1990. It looks like Ilan's working on, or maybe he's already finished, a book called You failed your math test, Comrade Einstein]


Posted by tplambeck at 12:26 AM

Fit to Kill


Adrian, a charming but self-indulgent chess master, lives a life of luxury thanks to his marriage to Janice, an older, but still sexy and vibrant woman who has made her fortune as the CEO of an exercise empire...
Posted by tplambeck at 12:18 AM

April 09, 2005

Two blindness

The small miracles of exact division—that eight divides 200, sixteen divides 2000, thirty-two divides 20000, etc.

It came up today as I calculated the per-ticket price of a left-field San Francisco Giants skybox with 16 seats. The asking price is $2,000 for the Milwaukee game on April 23rd (not that I'll be in town, then, anyway, or have 15 friends).

That 16 divides 80 has startled me more than once. It never quite seems to be right to me. A nightmare—I'm trapped in a room with two doors, one marked 16*5=80, and other 15*6=90. Which is correct? Or neither?

Posted by tplambeck at 11:31 PM

A NYT crossword walks into a bar...


Posted by tplambeck at 11:19 PM

Bend Sinister


Posted by tplambeck at 10:55 PM

Statistically Improbable Phrases

At Amazon.com:

Amazon.com's Statistically Improbable Phrases, or "SIPs", show you the interesting, distinctive, or unlikely phrases that occur in the text of books in Search Inside the Book. Our computers scan the text of all books in the Search Inside program. If they find a phrase that occurs a large number of times in a particular book relative to how many times it occurs across all Search Inside books, that phrase is a SIP in that book.

They have also started putting up a "Concordance" link (example)

You can click on a SIP and bring up other books that mention that SIP, for example, here's a list of books mentioning virtual quanta.

Or for "real estate," (say) you can type in a simple link using this syntax:


Posted by tplambeck at 10:34 PM

Catfish plate

Catfish plate

Posted by tplambeck at 05:58 PM

Chinatown, I

Chinatown, San Francisco

Posted by tplambeck at 05:48 PM

April 08, 2005


Google image search

Posted by tplambeck at 03:51 PM

April 07, 2005

Physicalism, or something near enough


Posted by tplambeck at 12:32 PM

The Bad Popes


Posted by tplambeck at 10:28 AM

Emerson; Safire vs Friedman


We come to wear one cut of face and figure, and acquire by degrees the gentlest asinine expression. There is a mortifying experience in particular, which does not fail to wreak itself also in the general history; I mean "the foolish face of praise," the forced smile which we put on in company where we do not feel at ease, in answer to conversation which does not interest us. The muscles, not spontaneously moved but moved by a low usurping wilfulness, grow tight about the outline of the face, with the most disagreeable sensation.

(2) Who is more painful and tiresome to read, William Safire or Thomas L Friedman? Safire has bad politics and combines with this his completely irritating and sophomoric weekly column, "On Language." But Friedman is 100% vapid, never quite reaching his point (if he ever has one). Reading his writing is like browsing someone's inflated PowerPoint presentation, a presentation you're only too glad to have missed in person. Might as well switch on NPR, or the Teletubbies.

The nice thing about those little cards and overthick advertising or perfume supplements that block one's attempts to read a magazine is that you can pull them out, stripping the magazine card-by-card and scent-by-scent. But Safire's column requires the more energetic physical act of ripping out pages, and Friedman's article in this week's Sunday NYT runs over 7 or eight pages.

At least I get a little workout doing it.

Posted by tplambeck at 09:55 AM


google search and paper

Posted by tplambeck at 09:26 AM

April 06, 2005

The rambling statement

You can be assured a journalist thinks you're a bozo when you give a rambling statement.

It's probably worse to give a long and rambling statement.

Posted by tplambeck at 11:32 AM



Posted by tplambeck at 09:45 AM

April 05, 2005

Shuttlecock & ulva

naughty-looking words

Posted by tplambeck at 01:04 PM

Counting Lego towers

From a paper by Bergfinnur Durhuus (I would love to see how Scott Kim might turn that name upside down) & Soren Eilers [link]:

It has long been asserted that the number of ways to combine six 2 x 4 LEGO blocks of the same color is
This number was computed at LEGO in 1974 ([2]) and has been systematically repeated, for instance in [4, p. 15] and [3]. Consequently, the number can be found in several "fun fact" books and on more than 250 pages on the World Wide Web. However, this number only gives (with a small error, as we shall see) the number of ways to build a tower of LEGO blocks of height six. The total number of configurations is
as found by independent computer calculations by the second author and by Abrahamsen [1].

Posted by tplambeck at 01:00 PM

via cheesebikini

Content below copied from this link at cheesebikini:

Here's something strange to explore. A guy I know recently stumbled across this. time.nist.gov is a standard NTP server, used to syncrhonize clocks on your computer to the govt's atomic clock.
However, it also seems to have another strange service running in port 78 and 79. Telnet in, and hit enter after connection is established, and you get this:

dream% telnet time.nist.gov 78
Connected to time.nist.gov.
Escape character is '^]'.

P: P: My name is Patsy: and my husband's name is Paul:
We come from Pittsburgh: and we sell Peaches::
$ 0 875 3000 8 1 0 0
Connection closed by foreign host.

Posted by tplambeck at 09:56 AM

Wi-Fi digital hotspotter


[I'm a sucker for special-purpose devices that do what a PC does already, by itself. Yet I will not buy this one, because I don't like to move my laptop.]

Posted by tplambeck at 12:08 AM

April 04, 2005

There's plenty of room at the bottom

link [PDF]

Posted by tplambeck at 12:25 PM

April 02, 2005

Willie Mays hands a signed baseball to Cole [2 April 2005]

Willie Mays gives a signed baseball to Cole

[OK, I promise: no more Willie Mays photos...really.]

Posted by tplambeck at 11:22 PM

Willie Mays [11 April 1955]

Willie Mays  11 April 1955

Posted by tplambeck at 04:27 PM

Nest Eggs (Willie Mays signed baseballs)

Baseballs signed by Willie Mays, Palo Alto

Posted by tplambeck at 04:24 PM

Willie Mays signing baseballs for Owen (left) and Cole (right)

Willie Mays signing baseballs, Palo Alto

Posted by tplambeck at 04:20 PM

April 01, 2005


Text attritbuted to Google (for all I know, correctly) at this interesting page about pages hidden at Wordpress:

The term "cloaking" is used to describe a website that returns altered webpages to search engines crawling the site. In other words, the webserver is programmed to return different content to Google than it returns to regular users, usually in an attempt to distort search engine rankings. This can mislead users about what they’ll find when they click on a search result. To preserve the accuracy and quality of our search results, Google may permanently ban from our index any sites or site authors that engage in cloaking to distort their search rankings.

Posted by tplambeck at 10:21 PM

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