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May 31, 2005

Reminds me of my kids

Sol 469 (ending on May 20):
Two meters (6.6 feet) of commanded motion, resulting in 1.1 centimeters (0.4 inch) of progress.

Sol 470:
Twelve meters (39 feet) of commanded motion; about 6 centimeters (2.4 inches) of progress.

Sol 471:
Twelve meters (39 feet) of commanded motion; about 6 centimeters (2.4 inches) of progress.


Posted by tplambeck at 11:53 PM

From Introduction to Critical Theory, by David Held

Within moments of most films starting we can predict quite accurately how they will end, who will win out, lose, or be forgotten. The structure of a popular song is well known before the song is actually heard. The first few notes, or phrases, of a hit are enough to tell us what the rest will be like. The surrounding framework of events can automatically be supplied to a detail known about a television show. Magazines and newspapers usually present little news and certainly no surprises. Even special effects, tricks and jokes are all allocated particular places in the design of programmes by experts in offices. The result of standardization and pseudo-individualization `for the physiognomy of the culture industry is essentially,' as Adorno summarizes it, `a mixture of streamlining, photographic hardness and precision on the one hand, and individualistic residues, sentimentality, and an already disposed and adapted romanticism on the other.' As long as a product meets certain minimum requirements, a feature which distinguishes it from others, a little glamour and distinctness, marks of 'mainstream' (conventional) character, it is suitable material for popular presentation.


Posted by tplambeck at 05:35 PM



Posted by tplambeck at 02:35 PM

From a 1915 lecture by GH Hardy on prime numbers

A science is said to be useful if its development tends to accentuate the existing inequalities in the distribution of wealth, or more directly promotes the destruction of human life. The theory of prime numbers satisfies no such criteria. Those who pursue it will, if they are wise, make no attempt to justify their interest in a subject so trivial and so remote, and will console themselves with the thought that the greatest mathematicians of all ages have found it in it a mysterious attraction impossible to resist.
Posted by tplambeck at 02:30 PM

Dyson and Montgomery's fortuitous meeting over tea


Posted by tplambeck at 02:26 PM



Posted by tplambeck at 12:41 PM

One-Dimensional Man : Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society


Posted by tplambeck at 11:17 AM

Buick wildcat parked behind Starbucks

Buick wildcat

Posted by tplambeck at 09:08 AM

May 30, 2005

Propane tank


flickr slideshow

Posted by tplambeck at 10:00 PM



flickr slideshow

Posted by tplambeck at 09:29 PM

Oakhurst deck repair

Colin ripped up the Oakhurst deck, repaired the rotting joists underneath, and put everything back in its place perfectly. No more risk of having your ankle snapped off by a sagging board.


Posted by tplambeck at 09:35 AM

May 28, 2005

at nature

avian flu nightmare

Posted by tplambeck at 12:32 AM

Search for the New Land / The Joker


Posted by tplambeck at 12:11 AM

May 27, 2005

Poem ID: 1919

We, who seven years ago
Talked of honor and of truth,
Shriek with pleasure if we show
The weasel's twist, the weasel's tooth

Posted by tplambeck at 10:31 PM

Poem ID: Imitated from the Japanese

Seventy years man and boy
And never have I danced for joy

Posted by tplambeck at 10:30 PM

The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade

link / antipixel

Posted by tplambeck at 10:12 PM

Kearney (Nebraska) High School Boys Track Streak Is Over

The Kearney High boys track team experienced something it hadn't experienced in 11 years: The feeling of not winning a state track and field championship.

But they may have lost their seat to the throne long before the season even started.

Even as Fremont sprinted to victory in the last race on Saturday, it never occurred to Head Coach Roger Mathiesen that his team's run of state titles would end.

"Things always seem to work out for us, so it never really entered my mind that were going to lose until the last step. I guess I never really thought about it," said Mathiesen.

Until Saturday, it was the longest active winning streak in United States high school sports. Eleven straight state championships, 93 consecutive meet wins. But it was what happened away from the track that may have ultimately cost the Bearcats this streak, specifically, the issue of alcohol.

"We haven't suffered a lot of losses from people being hurt or people being suspended because of alcohol-related type things. We've been amazingly resilient in the 25 years that I've been here. You could say terribly fortunate," said Mathiesen.

Back in February, the terribly tragic happened. Senior Todd Becker was killed in a drunken driving accident.

The school lost a classmate and the track team lost a teammate, who placed fourth in the pole vault at state last year, good enough for four points. Kearney had no one qualify for the event this year and lost by three points.

Mathiesen said, "There is no question that some of the kids we thought were going to be on the team at the end of the year, they weren't there."

The driver of the car, Curt Westerbuhr, was suspended from school and suspended from the team, not allowed to compete in the district meet. He was one of the best shot-putters in the state.

Add another alcohol-related suspension for another state qualifier just in the last two weeks and you've got a team without three of it's point-getters, who could have made the difference and extended the streak.

"We're intolerant, like the Marines. But we feel like that's the way it has to be in order to succeed at the level that we've been succeeding," Mathiesen said.

Did alcohol cost his team its 12th consecutive State Championship?

"When you ask if I think that alcohol-related events cost our team the state championship, I would answer it by saying this: I think historically across the state, that would not be an uncommon thing to have happen, unfortunately," Mathiesen explained.

Despite the tragedy that the school experienced this year, Coach Mathiesen isn't so sure that students got the message.

"As sad as it is to say, I don't know how much of an impact it had and that's a terrible commentary on American life, isn't it? I'm afraid, probably, that it wasn't much of an impact," Mathiesen said.

* * * *

I need to hold on to the "11 straight state championships" t-shirt that Roger sent me.

Posted by tplambeck at 08:44 PM

Today's NYT puzzle

CLOSEBUTNOCIGAR [30 across: "A winner ... almost" (15)]
TELECOMMUNICATE [34 across: Discuss by phone (15)]
ONINTIMATETERMS [35 across: Familiar (15)]


* * *
Added later: An overinking in that photo—

26 across: Cut (4).

I had _ _ W N, and wrote in MOWN.

But the answer was HEWN.

* * *
Added even later: No it isn't HEWN, either.

It's SAWN.

Posted by tplambeck at 07:45 PM

Early adopter literature and fiction

link (amazon)

A Thane speaks, in today's NYT

To the Editor:

Why is the demand for balance between work and personal requirements being limited to the elites? I'm sure that the lower classes would also benefit from and enjoy the freedom to exercise their job-related talents and develop their personal relationships.

Let's call for a general restructuring of the workday to serve human needs and desires. That is, after all, what work is for.

Thane Montaner
Chicago, May 25, 2005

Posted by tplambeck at 03:40 PM

May 26, 2005

Wave making moon movie

quicktime (jpl)

Dr. Torrence Johnson, Cassini's imaging team member, talks about the tiny object in the center of the Keeler gap [in Saturn's rings] and the wavy patterns in the gap edges that are generated by the moon's gravitational influence. This moon is provisionally named S/2005 S1.

This video is strangely enhanced quite a bit by having that mysterious harmonic music playing in the background. It's the kind of music they play in Monterey tourist traps that want to sell you a plastic dolphin, windchime made of shells, or DVD on whales. In those settings, such music just gets under my skin. But shown with the little moon sweeping clear debris between the rings of Saturn, it's just right.

Posted by tplambeck at 11:39 AM


Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics [Wittgenstein. Books like this are endlessly amusing. All the great philosophers share this trait—they are just too funny. I almost skipped the Galison lecture to continue reading it. (I'm not trying to put down Wittgenstein. I *like it*)]

Posted by tplambeck at 01:24 AM

Covering Things with Things


Posted by tplambeck at 01:17 AM

Proceedings of the 1st ACM workshop on Story representation, mechanism and context


[Another thing I looked at in the Stanford math library prior to the Galison lecture. Reminded me of its random].

Posted by tplambeck at 01:16 AM


If the back cover of this book (which I recently examined in the Stanford Math library) is to be believed, the proof of the classification theorem for finite simple groups is finally down on paper in all its inscrutable glory, roughly 25 years after it was announced and mathematicians generally accepted its truth.

* * *
Added later: This is what is says on the back of the book:

Around 1980, G. Mason announced the classification of a certain subclass of an important class of finite simple groups known as "quasithin groups". The classification of the finite simple groups depends upon a proof that there are no unexpected groups in this subclass. Unfortunately Mason neither completed nor published his work. In the Main Theorem of this two-part book (Volumes 111 and 112 in the AMS series, Mathematical Surveys and Monographs) the authors provide a proof of a stronger theorem classifying a larger class of groups, which is independent of Mason's arguments. In particular, this allows the authors to close this last remaining gap in the proof of the classification of all finite simple groups.

["Quasi-thin" may be in the title, but it's over 700 pages long, hardbound]

Posted by tplambeck at 12:54 AM

May 25, 2005

Google Research translates a Chinese Rx


I prefer the Inscrutable East.

Posted by tplambeck at 11:00 PM

An observation on a recent Jeopardy question, from Coach at the NPL

Yesterday, "Who is Doctor Who?" was accepted as the question for the answer about the fellow who travels through time. While the show is called "Doctor Who," the character himself is actually just "the Doctor." Or so I thought.
Posted by tplambeck at 09:54 PM


From an article about MI5 bugging of Sinn Fein offices, ca 2004

* * * **

Last Monday night a bugging device was discovered under floorboards in an upstairs room at Connolly House, Sinn Fein's Andersonstown office. The sophisticated electronic listening device was disguised as a wooden joist with two microphones attached to false nail heads. One microphone was directed towards a downstairs constituency office and the second into the upstairs conference room. Packed into the five-foot wooden construction were dozens of batteries and a number of transmitters.

This is the seconded bugging device discovered in the last 10 days. The first was uncovered by workmen mending a roof in a block of flats in West Belfast. Packed under the eaves, the device led to a microphone embedded in the ceiling of a flat belonging to a party member who works in Gerry Adams's constituency office. In December 1999 a vehicle used by Adams and McGuinness during crucial meetings with the IRA was also bugged.

"This is not the way to make peace," said Adams, "it is wholly unacceptable for the British government or their securocrats to be engaging in bugging operations against political opponents. It is wholly unacceptable for the largest nationalist party to be subjected to this kind of electronic surveillance. This is not a breach of our security, it's a breach of our human and civil rights..."

* * * *

I like that word, securocrat. Apparently it's been around awhile.

Posted by tplambeck at 03:53 PM

An embarrassment of Zombies

Daniel Dennett:

Must we talk about zombies? Apparently we must. There is a powerful and ubiquitous intuition that computational, mechanistic models of consciousness, of the sort we naturalists favor, must leave something out—something important. Just what must they leave out? The critics have found that it's hard to say, exactly: qualia, feelings, emotions, the what-it's-likeness (Nagel) or the ontological subjectivity (Searle) of consciousness. Each of these attempts to characterize the phantom residue has met with serious objections and been abandoned by many who nevertheless want to cling to the intuition, so there has been a gradual process of distillation, leaving just about all the reactionaries, for all their disagreements among themselves, united in the conviction that there is a real difference between a conscious person and a perfect zombie—let's call that intuition the Zombic Hunch—leading them to the thesis of Zombism: that the fundamental flaw in any mechanistic theory of consciousness is that it cannot account for this important difference. A hundred years from now, I expect this claim will be scarcely credible, but let the record show that in 1999, John Searle, David Chalmers, Colin McGinn, Joseph Levine and many other philosophers of mind dont just feel the tug of the Zombic Hunch (I can feel the tug as well as anybody), they credit it. They are, however reluctantly, Zombists, who maintain that the zombie challenge is a serious criticism. It is not that they dont recognize the awkwardness of their position. The threadbare stereotype of philosophers passionately arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin is not much improved when the topic is updated to whether zombies—admitted by all to be imaginary beings—are (1) metaphysically impossible, (2) logically impossible, (3) physically impossible, or just (4) extremely unlikely to exist. The reactionaries have acknowledged that many who take zombies seriously have simply failed to imagine the prospect correctly. For instance, if you were surprised by my claim that the Steinberg cartoon would be an equally apt metaphorical depiction of the goings on in a zombie's head, you had not heretofore understood what a zombie is (and isnt). More pointedly, if you still think that Chalmers and I are just wrong about this, you are simply operating with a mistaken concept of zombies, one that is irrelevant to the philosophical discussion. (I mention this because I have found that many onlookers, scientists in particular, have a hard time believing that philosophers can be taking such a preposterous idea as zombies seriously, so they generously replace it with some idea that one can take seriously—but one that does not do the requisite philosophical work. Just remember, by definition, a zombie behaves indistinguishably from a conscious being—in all possible tests, including not only answers to questions [as in the Turing test] but psychophysical tests, neurophysiological tests—all tests that any "third-person" science can devise.)...


Posted by tplambeck at 11:24 AM

The Must Reads

A must read in (12900 hits)

A must read for those (50900 hits)

A must read for anyone who (73000 hits)

Find a comfortable chair and start reading. One might start with more self-effacing (and thankfully shorter)

A must read in my opinion (2060 hits)

Posted by tplambeck at 11:07 AM


Operating a webserver on the Internet is like owning a house in a neighborhood full of idiotic robots who cruise by hourly to check whether you've forgotten to lock a window or door. If one of the robots finds a open door, he whistles to a Ukrainian or Minnesotan hacker weenie who immediately comes over, lets himself in, and starts smashing your furniture and repainting the walls.

Failed logins from these:

adm/password from 1 time(s)
adm/password from 2 time(s)
apache/password from 1 time(s)
apache/password from 1 time(s)
ftp/password from 1 time(s)
games/password from 1 time(s)
ident/password from 1 time(s)
mail/password from 1 time(s)
news/password from 1 time(s)
nobody/password from 1 time(s)
nobody/password from 1 time(s)
operator/password from 1 time(s)
root/password from 22 time(s)
root/password from 59 time(s)

Posted by tplambeck at 09:42 AM

May 24, 2005

Slick, OK


Posted by tplambeck at 10:02 PM

Evening Shade, Arkansas


Posted by tplambeck at 09:59 PM

Oil Trough, Arkansas


Posted by tplambeck at 09:58 PM

Archaic Flute / Soft Eject

In the summer of 2002, a piece about the Soft Eject group was broadcast on the television. Viewers found out that the group was playing a 3,300 year old musical instrument discovered 64 years ago in a Samtavro burial ground...


[I found this by searching on the name of the Women's International (chess) Master Nino Maisuradze, whom I just played on the Internet Chess Club in a 60 second game. Once again, I'm playing the ever-slimy, ever-reprehensible Plambeck Fianchetto Attack. Somehow I don't think my chess play "Honors the Game," the way we're advised to teach kids as baseball (and presumably, as chess) coaches. I have a love-hate relationship with chess. Mostly hate.]

Posted by tplambeck at 03:12 PM

International Quilt Study Center

From the International Quilt Study Center


Posted by tplambeck at 10:18 AM

No human hair was harmed in the production of this message


Posted by tplambeck at 09:49 AM

May 23, 2005


1) Just got back from this lecture by Peter Galison on the relationship between Friedrich Adler and Einstein. I enjoyed it quite a bit. Adler shot and killed a right wing Austrian politician during WWI, was imprisoned and "almost executed" (I've always considered this to be one of the brighter things that can be found on a person's resume). He pestered Einstein with questions and arguments about relativity, from death row. Noticed my neighbor Lenny and his wife, Ann, in the audience.

2) Spent several inconclusive hours trying to figure out whether Adobe Illustrator-generated graphics and PDFlatex are likely to coexist peacefully in my efforts to put together the Klarner-deBruijn manuscript.

3) Had another good day at morning basketball.

4) Cut up a watermelon, and gave some to the dog.

5) Got farther into the "Pioneers of Representation Theory" book, which is very good I think.

6) Completed the Monday NYT crossword with no difficulty. It's really not even worth it to start them until Wednesday. Ed MEESE appeared in the puzzle again: "Reagan attorney general Edwin (5)." Like OPRAH, he's likely to see unusual longevity in crosswords (not that Oprah is in immediate danger of fading from the limelight). Tried to come up with a list of other people who live on in the grids: ASHE, BORG, and even LAVER came to mind. All tennis players.

Posted by tplambeck at 11:00 PM

Mixed Motives

Number one at Google for this search term: a math book

Posted by tplambeck at 07:21 PM

America Needs a Buddhist President


Posted by tplambeck at 03:37 PM

Serendipity writes

The web site of the game is http://www.griffithscollection.org—I will be particularly interested in recruiting team members who can find and solve hidden puzzles on this site—to my knowledge, so far, there is only one. But there will be more over the next month or so, of that I'm sure!
Posted by tplambeck at 02:51 PM

2005 Google puzzle championship


Posted by tplambeck at 01:16 PM

May 21, 2005



Tricky little devils.

I had assumed this was some Internet Explorer or XP atrocity, but why does it "work" in Firefox too?

Some speculation from here:

Aha, I think we figured it out. It gives an error in IE but Firefox is the one that takes me to microsoft.com, and the reason is that it must be automatically searching google and taking me to the first result. That must be the answer...

some evidence in favor of that

more speculation

Posted by tplambeck at 10:37 PM

May 20, 2005

Walking Panda


What an absolutely horrible bigfoot costume. Don't they know you're supposed to make the photo blurry? The color of the fur doesn't match the mask!

link / lesser panda (google image search)

Posted by tplambeck at 10:08 AM

May 19, 2005

Map of Kearney, Nebraska

Map of Kearney, Nebraska

Just a simple grid with a few curving streets to you, but to me, a container for practically all of my memories to age eighteen.

There's hardly a block on that map, or street segment between two intersections, that I couldn't summon up multiple memories about.

0) On looking at it, I immediately think of the "good" parts of town, and the "bad." Next, I locate our house, my childhood friend's houses, my elementary school, my junior high school, and my high school.

1) The hoity-toity parts of town correspond to areas with curving or otherwise unusually-shaped street segments. I wonder if this is a general rule (probably so). I grew up in a strictly Cartesian neighborhood—5th Avenue and 23rd Street.

2) The dense warren of streets in the upper right—a cemetery. My mother is buried there.

3) From the railroad crossing at 5th Avenue: freight train whistles at night, somehow corresponding to the image of car headlights momentarily illuminating a portion of the wall of my bedroom. These illuminated patches moved across the wall until they reached a corner of my bedroom, changed their geometry, and then faded away. And a fan blowing right next to my head on summer nights (no air conditioning).

4) I think of the northeast portion as Catholic. The southern portion, particularly south of the tracks, is the bad part of town. The west part of town—Kearney State College (now the University of Nebraska at Kearney)—the best part of town.

5) Tennis courts in Harmon Park, and various matches there. I remember mostly losses, although I won a lot more than I lost.

6) High school basketball gym, and games there.

7) Routes followed in high school track workouts (distance training).

8) Locations where notable car accidents occurred.

9) The place on 5th Avenue where I was stopped by police and asked if I was "John Lawless." "No," I said.

10) The (unshown) lake in the northwest, and playing hockey (very badly) on it.

11) Lawns I mowed for $5.

12) Places where I saw one kid beat up another kid.

13) Houses of kids with mean parents, or houses of kids with strange siblings.

14) Houses that smelled funny for some reason.

15) "Rental properties," and the natural stigma associated with them.

16) Frat house locations.

17) The place where I left my glasses in a park before playing tackle football. When I remembered I left them, I hurried back but a park lawn mower had just gone over the area. I found a little twisted gold piece of metal. Nothing more.

18) The place where I chased my classmate, the six-year-old Donna Newman, into the street, right in front of a car that slammed on its brakes, hard. Donna stopped running when she heard the horn of the car. I remember the squealing of the brakes. Then the car had stopped, just barely touching the outer fabric of her dress. The driver jumped out in a panic. "Are you OK?" "Yes," said Donna, "But I think it might have touched me."

Posted by tplambeck at 11:40 PM

The 100 gigaton bomb

"Normally, a small earthquake might last less than a second; a moderate sized earthquake might last a few seconds. This earthquake lasted between 500 and 600 seconds (at least 10 minutes)," said Charles Ammon, associate professor of geosciences at Penn State University.
The [2004 Dec 26 tsunami] quake released an amount of energy equal to a 100 gigaton bomb, according to Roger Bilham, professor of geological sciences at the University of Colorado...


This had me wondering—does somebody actually have a 100 gigaton bomb?

Surely not?

Let's hope not.

Posted by tplambeck at 01:00 PM

Fly in larger context


Posted by tplambeck at 10:55 AM



Posted by tplambeck at 10:52 AM

From the deBruijn and Klarner book

I'm putting together an unpublished book by David Klarner and NG deBruijn called Pattern Enumeration from old printouts and TeX files of it.

This is from Chapter 2 (unfortunately, it's a part I don't have diskettes for)

Usually, two things are considered alike when they share properties considered predominant at the moment of comparison. For example, at a cocktail party when it is remarked that two ladies have worn the same dress, one does not look for two women struggling for space inside one dress. On the other hand, at the dress shop one pays for two dresses even when they are the same. Thus, in some circumstances things are the same while in others they are different. Ambiguity of this sort has to be cleared up in mathematical discussions...
Posted by tplambeck at 10:39 AM

A better agapanthus photo

bigger, at flickr

Posted by tplambeck at 10:32 AM

Agapanthus, rising


Posted by tplambeck at 09:45 AM

So much for the "it never rains in Palo Alto after May 15th" rule

Rain after May 15th in Palo Alto

Posted by tplambeck at 09:34 AM

ATM dialog

"Yes or no" questions should have "yes" and "no" buttons to push as answers.

Dumb ATM dialog

Posted by tplambeck at 09:16 AM

May 18, 2005


1. Went to this, but missed the afternoon talks.

2. Received the book reviewed here and here, and started reading it a bit.

3. Bought one of these, and was surprised to be informed by Cole that a neighborhood kid already had one. It successfully guessed DAISY, FLUORESCENT LIGHT TUBE, and BASEBALL, bragging for each at question 17 or so that "I already know the answer." Cole tried WIND, and it guessed JOINT at twenty questions, but (in overtime) came up with WIND at question twenty-five. Owen tried PERSON, answering the question "Would you find it at the zoo?" confidently with a "Yes," perhaps misleading the device into guessing WALRUS. This device reminds me that I still want to build this.

4. Struggled to cover Tim at morning basketball. After my big game on Monday, couldn't find the hoop again. He kept knocking the ball away, just as I was about to catch it in the lane. "My big wing span," he said.

5. Feeling pretty good about slides I finished this week for a talk announced at this page, in Banff next month.

6. Started work on a manuscript by NG deBruijn and David Klarner on Polya enumeration. Already looking good, although I need to figure out how to do the (many) figures, which are all hand drawn. Thanks to Greg, I have TeX-able files now for most of the hardcopy versions.

Posted by tplambeck at 11:22 PM



Posted by tplambeck at 03:42 PM

May 17, 2005

home office closeups

click for flickr slideshow

Posted by tplambeck at 11:19 PM

Slighting GINORMOUS: The top ten words not in the dictionary


Too bad everyone's too cool to make a little space in the dictionary for GINORMOUS. But I'm confident it will have to be admitted into the dictionary, eventually, if only because it's so f***king big and gnarly.

Lexicographical officialdom cannot resist the power of the GINORMOUS. It is, quite simply,

bigger than gigantic and bigger than enormous

These superior intellects are no match for this powerful wordly weapon.

Posted by tplambeck at 09:22 AM



An "Oh, Deer" moment

Posted by tplambeck at 01:05 AM

Laplace and the black hole

Not only is gravity the dominant force on a large scale, but it is a force which affects each particle in the same way. This universality was first recognized by Galileo, who found that any two bodies fell with the same velocity. This has been verified to very high precision in more recent experiments by Eotvos, and by Dicke and his collaborators (Dicke (1964)). It has also been observed that light is deflected by gravitational fields. Since it is thought that no signals can travel faster than light, this means that gravity determines the causal structure of the universe, ie. it determines which events of spacetime can be causally related to one another.
These properties of gravity lead to severe problems, for if a sufficiently large amount of matter were concentrated in some region, it could deflect light going out from the region so much that it was in fact dragged back inwards. This was recognized in 1798 by Laplace, who pointed out that a body of about the same density as the sun but 250 its radius would exert such a strong gravitational field that no light could escape from its surface. That this should have been predicted so early is so striking that we give a translation of Laplace's essay in an appendix.

From The large scale structure of space-time, S. W. Hawking and G. F. R. Ellis, 1973

Posted by tplambeck at 12:15 AM

May 16, 2005

The Piano Man


Posted by tplambeck at 03:42 PM

An anagram


Posted by tplambeck at 10:08 AM

A matter of timing

Yesterday, a car going "about 100" (according to a Safeway clerk) skidded off Middlefield Road in midtown Palo Alto, jumped the curb, knocked over a brick wall, and landed where I usually park.

Car jumps curb and demolishes wall at Safeway

But not when I happened to be parking, so no problemo.

* * * *
Added later: Jesus, that Safeway guy wasn't exaggerating. This accident killed the 19 year old driver. Here's a photo of the car.

Posted by tplambeck at 09:53 AM

May 14, 2005

King Tut

Thane (to Owen, age 7): Owen. Check this out. Some scientists took an X-ray of King Tut, you know, the mummy. They measured his skull and figured out what he would have looked like.


Owen: You mean the mummy, the dead guy all wrapped up?

Thane: Yes, right, exactly.

Owen: How do they know he wasn't a black guy?

Thane: Uh—Good question...

Posted by tplambeck at 01:33 AM

Emerson, from Spiritual Laws

Human character evermore publishes itself. The most fugitive deed and word, the mere air of doing a thing, the intimated purpose, expresses character. If you act, you show character; if you sit still, if you sleep, you show it. You think, because you have spoken nothing when others spoke, and have given no opinion on the times, on the church, on slavery, on marriage, on socialism, on secret societies, on the college, on parties and persons, that your verdict is still expected with curiosity as a reserved wisdom. Far otherwise; your silence answers very loud. You have no oracle to utter, and your fellow-men have learned that you cannot help them; for, oracles speak. Doth not wisdom cry, and understanding put forth her voice?
Posted by tplambeck at 01:20 AM

May 13, 2005

Happyland, OK


Posted by tplambeck at 10:16 PM

May 11, 2005

RSA 200


Posted by tplambeck at 11:57 PM

Valuing the honor role

An idea—compute the value of honorific titles in charitable donation.

Let's compile some data.

Item #1: Stanford Lively Arts brochure: "Become a Partner and enjoy great seats and rewards!"

Honorific values:

"Visionary" : $25,000
"Founder" : $10,000
"Sponsor" : $5,000
"Grantor" : $2,500
"Guardian" : $1,000
"Benefactor" : $500
"Patron" : $250
"Donor" : $100

It's not hard to turn up many more examples on the web by searching on honorifics. For example, Item #2, from a public television station web site:

Visionary Member ($25,000 and above)
Founder Member ($10,000 to $24,999)
Benefactor Member ($5,000 to $9,999)
Advocate Member ($1,500 to $4,999)
* * * *
Clearly being called a "Visionary" is a good thing. But I remember when I worked for a software company where it was common practice to refer to any paying customer as a "Visionary." People who hadn't paid were simply called "Not Customers."
* * * *
Item #3, at one church fundraising page:

New Founders - $100,000 and up
Visionaries - $20,000-$100,000
St. Juliana Society - $10,000-$20,000
Benefactors - $5,000-$10,000
Patrons - $1,000-$5,000
Sponsors - $500-$1,000

* * * *
This shows a promising direction, making up very special sounding names such as "St. Juliana Society." Who would want to cough up $100,000 only to find out that only $10,000 got you into the St Juliana Society? I think this might not be such a good example to follow, numerically, but the general idea is good. Or, thinking along a related direction at Item #3 on a page concerning donation to the (most excellent and worthy) concert series Music at Menlo:

Patron's Circle:
Medici $100,000+
Carnegie $50,000
Esterhazy $25,000

Composer's Circle:
Beethoven $10,000
Mozart $5,000
Haydn $2,500
Bach $1,000

Performer's Circle
Caruso $500
Joachim $250
Paganini $100

I thought, "Joachim"? I don't know who that is. Paganini, yes; Joachim, no.

Posted by tplambeck at 10:19 PM



Posted by tplambeck at 09:50 PM

Journal of Ride Theory Omnibus


Posted by tplambeck at 01:14 PM

Bet on the Fortune Cookie


[110 people won in Powerball because they followed the prescient cookie]

Posted by tplambeck at 01:04 PM

May 10, 2005

Chat with the editor of the Palo Alto Weekly, Jay Thorwaldson

Chat with the editor of the Palo Alto Weekly

Jay showed us clippings from 1969 about the NAZI TERROR NET, an interesting episode in the history of Kepler's bookstore.

The photo was taken by Norbert von der Groeben, the Palo Alto Weekly photographer, and printed on large paper for us to take home before the meeting was over.

I'm in the upper right, and Owen is in the lower left, mugging for Norbert.

Posted by tplambeck at 10:23 PM

A puzzle finally makes the cosmic figures fit


Posted by tplambeck at 12:58 AM

May 09, 2005

Three Jazz CDs that I hadn't listened to for over two years but still kick ass

1) Moanin' (Art Blakey with Lee Morgan and Bennie Golson, Bobbie Timmons piano)

2) Herbie Nichols, The Complete Blue Note recordings

3) Thelonious Monk, Straight no Chaser

Posted by tplambeck at 11:09 PM

The Omnificent English Dictionary In Limerick Form


Posted by tplambeck at 01:49 PM

Worst explanation of the work of Einstein?

This incredibly stupid article from the 10 March 1923 issue of Time magazine ("Einstein Made Simple") sets a high bar for future writers to aspire to.

Posted by tplambeck at 01:46 PM

May 08, 2005

Powwow rainout

powwow rainout

Posted by tplambeck at 11:21 PM

Powwow rainout


Posted by tplambeck at 11:06 PM

Powwow rainout

Powwow rainout

Posted by tplambeck at 10:57 PM

Powwow rainout

powwow rainout

Posted by tplambeck at 10:52 PM

Powwow rainout

powwow rainout

Posted by tplambeck at 10:49 PM

Powwow rainout


Posted by tplambeck at 07:08 PM

Powwow rainout


Posted by tplambeck at 07:03 PM

Amy Chow pole vaulting

Here's a slideshow of photos I took of the 1996 Olympics women's gymnastics team gold medalist Amy Chow competing in the pole vault at the Cardinal Invitational track and field meet last week.


She won the event with a vault of 13' 9", roughly.

I wondered what the women's world record is in the pole vault. I'm not sure, but found this:

* * *

July 29, 2004

Yelena Isinbayeva Breaks Pole Vault World Record

"Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva cleared 4.89 metres to retake the world record in women's pole vault on Saturday at an athletics meet in Birmingham, England....

* * * *

[4.89 meters = a little over 16 feet]

Posted by tplambeck at 05:52 PM

Robert J Lang Origami


Posted by tplambeck at 02:17 PM

The other 1905 revolution

A very nicely put summary of Einstein's work in 1905, in a review at The Nation by Joshua Foer of this book by John S Rigden.

Posted by tplambeck at 09:53 AM

May 07, 2005

Pluto kin captured by Saturn


Posted by tplambeck at 03:54 PM

Emilio Segre Visual Archives


Posted by tplambeck at 10:32 AM

Institute for Radical Forgiveness

Not the republican dispensation I expected.


Posted by tplambeck at 12:05 AM

May 06, 2005


I like her haircut, but her voice is a real turn off


Posted by tplambeck at 11:55 PM

15,147 WWII Generals

No wonder my copy of The Oxford Companion to World War II is so thick.


Posted by tplambeck at 11:49 PM

Math student indicted in $43M scam


Posted by tplambeck at 11:29 PM


Pakistan Quizzes Al Qaeda Suspects

No college bowl, I'll bet.

Just renewed my Amnesty International membership.

Posted by tplambeck at 10:17 PM

cosmic os

It's a familiar problem. You've finally managed to contact that alien civilization. Things are going great. You feel like your world will never be the same, that whole new realms of possibilities are opening up before your eyes. Then, inevitably, a hint of strain starts to creep into your relationship...

lincos: design of a language for cosmic intercourse

[Now we're talking.]

Posted by tplambeck at 09:49 PM



Posted by tplambeck at 09:43 PM

c's bad student essay entry

Phi. The Golden Number. For centuries the concept of this figure has baffled and intrigued the mind of man. It is unknown exactly when this great mystery was discovered and applied by man, nor is the extent of its usefulness known. If its usefulness becomes known, man will not be baffled by it any longer. Man was baffled by it many centuries ago, and many are still baffled by it. It is very baffling. It is also very intriguing, because it is baffling. It intrigues the mind of man, which is also baffled by it at the same time. How can the mind of man be intrigued and baffled at the same time? This is a very difficult question. But that is why phi is such a great mystery...


Posted by tplambeck at 02:21 PM

May 05, 2005

At Whole Foods Market

"Xylichew."—gum made out of wood?

Endangered Species Chocolate. Gloria bought a "Salmon" bar.

A surprisingly large incense section.

A woman having a massage.

Organic, and non-organic strawberries. "It makes a lot of difference, whether strawberries are organic," Gloria said. We chose organic.

Thin people.

"Garden of Eatin'" mini tortillas, on sale.

Posted by tplambeck at 11:33 PM

Certain fears

In my mind, it was never about the timing, however unfortunate. I was simply running from myself and from certain fears controlling my life.


1) An indistinct, nagging apprehension that the correct pant size for groomsman #11 was not 34in after all, but rather 35in.

2) An uneasiness that the caterer would have to be paid, after all.

3) A foreboding about the reception, the music, and the seating. Was the "bunny hop" really the correct dance in this situation? It was too late to change the number of accordionists.

4) Dress distress.

5) Shrimp not on ice.

6) An eerie misgiving about his name—John Mason—. Isn't that a dead pilgrim, or a canning jar? It has to be a pseudonym. "Mrs. John Mason." No! No!

Posted by tplambeck at 07:50 PM

Why a person should always carry a digital camera and be prepared to duck

Walking Pearl the dog, I found my way blocked by a defiant squirrel carrying a six-inch baguette in its mouth. It ran up a tree as we approached.


I went back for a digital camera, but there was no sign of the squirrel. Then I heard a loud thwacking noise above me. The baguette bounced to a stop at my feet. I looked up and saw the squirrel grimacing at me, but it moved away before I could take a photo.

Four blocks away and few days ago, a redwood fell onto an RV.


Posted by tplambeck at 02:27 PM

May 04, 2005

Vedic Mathematics


Posted by tplambeck at 10:42 AM

May 03, 2005

Darth Vader makes his pitch

link (via Roger)

Posted by tplambeck at 11:27 PM

The Fake Heroes of Chernobyl chess tournament


Posted by tplambeck at 01:24 AM

From Fate (Emerson)

Doubtless, in every million there will be an astronomer, a mathematician, a comic poet, mystic. No one can read the history of astronomy, without perceiving that Copernicus, Newton, Laplace, are not new men, or a new kind of men, but that Thales, Anaximenes, Hipparchus, Empedocles, Aristarchus, Pythagoras, Oenopides, had anticipated them; each had the same tense geometical brain, apt for the same vigorous computation and logic, a mind parallel to the movement of the world.
Posted by tplambeck at 01:17 AM

From Fate (Emerson)

In certain men, digestion and sex absorb the vital force, and the stronger these are, the individual is so much weaker. The more of these drones perish, the better for the hive. If, later, they give birth to some superior individual, with force enough to add to this animal a new aim, and a complete apparatus to work it out, all the ancestors are gladly forgotten. Most men and most women are but one couple more.
Posted by tplambeck at 01:11 AM

From The Young American (Emerson)

More than our good-will we may not be able to give. We have our own affairs, our own genius, which chains us to our proper work. We cannot give our life to the cause of the debtor, of the slave, or the pauper, as another is doing; but to one thing we are bound, not to blaspheme the sentiment and the work of that man, not to throw stumbling blocks in the way of the abolitionist, the philanthropist, as the organs of influence and power are swift to do...
Posted by tplambeck at 01:06 AM

From Character (Emerson)

Life goes headlong. We chase some flying scheme, or we are hunted by some fear or command behind us. But if suddenly we encounter a friend, we pause; our heat and hurry look foolish enough; now pause, now possession, is required, and the power to swell the moment from the resources of the heart. The moment is all, in all noble relations.
Posted by tplambeck at 12:55 AM

Some terms and quotations from Elementary Go Series, vol 3: Tesuji

The Slapping Tesuji

The Clamping Tesuji

Cuttable and Uncuttable Shapes

Big Eyes


"White is fighting at a disadvantage and cannot afford to worry about such relatively minor issues. The important thing is to develop some shape for himself."

"Are you tired of solving problems? If you are, then put this book away for awhile and take a well-deserved rest, but when you have recovered your appetite, come back and try this last batch of hard ones."

Posted by tplambeck at 12:41 AM

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