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July 31, 2006

Alexander Cockburn in Beat the Devil

It's always a pleasure to read Cockburn in The Nation (and in Counterpunch, which I highly recommend), but this time he has outdone himself in amusing first paragraphs. This is from a column titled "The Triumph of Crackpot Realism" (August 14/21 issue, pg 10):

The frayed threads anchoring the American government to reality have finally snapped, just at the moment radiologists are reporting that Americans are getting too fat to be X-rayed or shoved into any existing MRI tube. The gamma rays can't get through the blubber, same way actual conditions in the outside world bounce off the impenetrable dome of imbecility sheltering America's political leadership. Twenty-three years after one of America's stupidest Presidents announced Star Wars, Reagan's dream has come true. Behind ramparts guarded by a coalition of liars extending from Rupert Murdoch to the New York Times, from Bill O'Reilly to PBS, America is totally shielded from truth.
Posted by tplambeck at 11:07 PM

Nontransitivity in partisan misere games

In continuing to mess around with misere partisan games, I just found that the three birthday-two-or-less games 0, {1|*}, and { | 0,-1} stand in the relations

0 > {1|*} > { | 0,-1} > 0.

Of course, one doesn't want an relation like "greater than" to be nontransitive. I'm actually glad to find pathology like this because it means that there's probably some interesting theory to be worked out for misere partisan games that doesn't just follow the path taken in Conway's On Numbers and Games.

In normal play, the recursive definition of a game's negative is

-G = { -GR | -GL }

In introducing this notation, one expects that

G + (-G) = 0

will be true, and it is true, for arbitrary G, in normal play. The G+(-G)= equation already fails for *2 in misere play, since *2 would be its own "negative," yet *2+*2 is not indistinguishable from zero.

Nevertheless, I still held out some hope that order relations might be a useful concept in misere play, in particular for reduction to some (as yet, undetermined) notion of a misere canonical form via dominated options (and they still might be, somehow), even with this somewhat flawed version of the "negative" operator.

In normal play, one can say that G > H if G + (-H) is a win for Left, no matter who moves first. I wondered how this would behave in misere play, assuming that the definition of "minus" is as it is in normal play, and the definition of > is as it is normal play, and that's how I (more precisely: Mathematica and I) found the example.

Posted by tplambeck at 08:05 PM

July 30, 2006

On Sirius radio

Coming back from the loft, on Sirius satellite radio, I heard Keb' Mo' improvise a blues version of "America, the Beautiful."

I thought it was absolutely fantastic, but Cole kept saying—ack—turn that down.

THANE: "You are so, so, so, wrong about the blues. This is just too cool—he's singing that song just the way it should be sung. I played that song from a 1951 church hymnal and wondered—what's the right way to jazz this thing up, make it interesting—and here it is, this guy Keb' Mo' is doing it perfectly!"

COLE: Turn it off!

He only seems to like classical music and disco—who can respect that?

Posted by tplambeck at 12:17 AM

July 29, 2006

Partisan misere games

Since I'm going to this math event in Halifax in less than a month, I thought I should spend some time thinking about the topic of misere partisan games, since that's the only thing mentioned as a definite topic. I worked on it today at the loft, as the kids played Katamari Damacy on the PS/2.

As usual, I can't be bothered to do any heavy lifting and I don't have any particularly good ideas except a healthy suspicion that the whatever I first think about the subject will turn out to be wrong, as well as the second, third and fourth thing I think about it. But I'm always willing to do some computer programming, or fiddle around with other calculations.

Here are the results of a Mathematica search I did today for pairwise mutually distinguishable partisan misere games at birthday two. At birthday 0 and 1, there are 1 and 4 mutually distinguishable normal and misere games (ie, 0, 1, -1 and star, ie *1). But at birthday two, there are only 22 normal play games (I think), but at least 123 misere ones, if this program is correct. There are probably more distinguishable types. There are at most 256.

I'm getting a headache trying to figure out the correct canonical form reduction rule in the monoid of all partisan misere games, so I think I'll forget about that for now. Also, even thinking about order relations is giving me pain.

It's a start at least.

Posted by tplambeck at 11:32 PM

Opal Nicholas

Twenty years ago (30 July 1986) in Kearney, Nebraska, my father was about to cut up an onion for a salad in the kitchen when the doorbell rang. He came to the door carrying the onion, and saw Bob Anderson, a neighborhood kid grown up to be a police officer.

He told my father that my grandmother (Beatrice) Opal Nicholas had driven her car off Highway 30 and crashed into a tree near Wood River, only a few miles from Kearney. She was wearing a seat belt, but it was a bad enough accident to kill her, anyway. She had just started on a drive back to her home in Crofton, Nebraska.

It wasn't hard for my father to explain to me where the accident took place—there was one big tree fairly close to the road just outside Wood River. I remembered it easily, having ridden by it many times growing up. I don't think the tree is there anymore, though.

Here's the obituary that was published in the Kearney Daily Hub

KEARNEY — Services for Opal Nicholas, 77, of Crofton, who died as a result of a one-car accident two miles west of Wood River on Highway 30, will be at 9:30am Saturday. The Rev. Helen Handley will officiate at First Presbyterian Church in Kearney. Burial will be in the Kearney Cemetary.

The family plans memorials to First Presbyterian Church or the Congregational Church in Crofton. Horner-Lieske-Horner Mortuary is handling arrangements.

She was born April 26, 1909, in Wisner to Frank and Matilda Laase. She had lived in Crofton for 15 years, moving there from Valentine. She was a clerk for the Selective Service office in Cherry county for many years before retirement. She was a member of the Congregational Church in Crofton, Eastern Star, Daughters of the Nile and Shrine Auxiliary.

Survivors are daughter, Marlene Plambeck of Kearney, and two grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband Earl, who died in 1981, and a brother.

Posted by tplambeck at 10:27 PM

July 28, 2006


Originally uploaded by thane.

Posted by tplambeck at 11:49 PM


Originally uploaded by thane.
Cole wanted to show me some of the stamps he's inherited (via my Dad) from his great grandfather (Earl Nicholas's) stamp collection.

I went to get my camera when we kept running into interesting ones.

Posted by tplambeck at 11:17 PM

The ultimate puzzle

The ultimate puzzle
Originally uploaded by Leonisha.
I've thought about selling a puzzle like this that would only have a solution if (say) there were twin primes with more than 100000 digits.
You'd sell boxes of puzzle pieces asking for the associated tiling, placing no restriction on its size.

I think this is possible, mathematically, at least, or at least I remember reading about it long ago (someone named Berger, or maybe Wang. Or maybe it's in the Gruenbaum and Shephard book).

They'd be welcome to buy more pieces in sets of 100, say. The cognoscenti would know that a solution almost certainly exists, but that it would involve trillions of pieces.

Just keep selling those boxes!

This site describes how to buy this puzzle, and a contest (somewhat vaguely).
Posted by tplambeck at 10:47 AM

July 27, 2006

Long live the ANV!

On a page I got to from a WSJ article on electric vehicles and miniaturized jets:

The Tomberlin ANVIL is a no-compromise (electric) Aggressive Neighborhood Vehicle available the end of this year.


[ The Aggressive Neighborhood Vehicle—nice! I like its sneering face. This is not your grandfather's golfcart. Oh no—the article says it's street legal. And is that a stormtrooper I discern seated behind the wheel? ]

Posted by tplambeck at 07:27 PM

One piece of the puzzle

Originally uploaded by thane.
I found it on the sidewalk near the intersection of Waverley and Hamilton in downtown Palo Alto.
Posted by tplambeck at 01:24 PM

July 25, 2006

Air des Bouffons

Air des Bouffons
Originally uploaded by thane.
From my Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians (a convenient 1947 edition in only five volumes, unlike the more recent (and bloated) twenty volumes)

MATASSINS Also called—bouffons—a dance of men in armor, popular in France during the 16th and 17th centuries. It was probably derived from the ancient Pyrrhic dance, although the name has been traced to an Arabic root.

[Added later: I can't get this stupid little tune out of my head, and I've never even heard it. Try humming it in your mind from the notes. I picture George Bush walking into a room, and a solitary tuba belting out the Air des Bouffons with the utmost solemnity. I suggest that "Hail to the Chief" be replaced immediately!]
Posted by tplambeck at 06:31 PM

The mathemagician and the pied puzzler


Now online! Go see!

Posted by tplambeck at 01:05 PM

July 24, 2006

via the Polaroidonizer

via the Polaroidonizer
Originally uploaded by thane.

Posted by tplambeck at 03:52 PM


I saw this bumper sticker on a pickup on Middlefield Road. Most of the last part of the sticker was worn off and unreadable. I've replaced the worn-off part with *'s that exactly count the total number of missing letters and spaces (13 of them)


The answer is easily Googled if you get, uh, stumped.

Posted by tplambeck at 01:02 PM

July 23, 2006

Photoshop Hell

For the record, the two phrases to search on when trying to figure out how to automate Adobe Photoshop tasks are the following:

"Batch processing" and "Actions."

I'm only an occasional user of Photoshop, and I guess I've gotten used to its user interface and menus, but whenever I want to figure out how to do something new, it's like pulling teeth. Is it so unreasonable to expect the word "macro" to employed, somewhere, in describing the process of creating a bunch of commands to be run ensemble on each photo in a given directory? I don't think the word "Macro" appears in the help file for Photoshop at all.

I also think the word "Actions" is incredibly poorly chosen. What is using software at all if not a series of "Actions?" Until I rediscover this word in the help file, I'm helpless.

Posted by tplambeck at 05:06 PM

Helicopter ride


Already as I watched Gloria ascend in the emergency helicopter from this Death Valley parking lot a couple of months ago (visible only in this larger image), the following thought passed through my mind:

Hmmm—wonder if the insurance will cover this one.

Since receiving the bill for $14,631.83, I haven't had the courage or stamina to read our policy. But yesterday we got some good news:


Paid in full!

Posted by tplambeck at 12:53 PM

Upside of jury service

I rediscovered Homma's Brown Rice Sushi, a place that you only find by going down a little alleyway after noticing this sign, and which might possibly be the restaurant closest to our house as the crow flies (or as anything flies, or, more importantly, walks or rides a bicycle from our house).


There's one chef (is he Homma?), and a helper. A few seats indoors, and then plastic chairs outside. The sushi was excellent, and not too much of it, either.

I recommend Combo #1 or Combo #2.

Posted by tplambeck at 12:25 AM

July 22, 2006

Lee Morgan, Infinity

Somehow I overlooked this CD when I created the HARD BOP JAZZCHIP that I have installed in the Audi— or at least I hadn't noticed it up to the time I got sick of feeding CDs into the laptop and waging hand-to-hand combat with the "featureset" of the iTunes monstrosity.


Recorded November 16, 1965.

I like the second track, Miss Nettie B, although the solos are bit subdued. On the back of the CD I have, it says

Infinity was one of several brilliant Lee Morgan albums that was not issued until the late 1970s. The late trumpeter was a prolific recording artist and, in the quest for follow-ups to The Sidewinder, many of the sessions left in vaults were artistically brilliant dates. This astonishing hard bop gem is issued on CD for the first time...

That seems to overstate it a bit, but having nothing from this on the HARD BOP JAZZCHIP was an overisight I think

Posted by tplambeck at 12:27 AM

July 21, 2006

Various middlebrow synonyms

Babbitt, boeotian, dabbler, dilettante, illiterati, know-nothing, no scholar, puddinghead, tenderfoot, unintelligentsia

I think "unintelligentsia" is my favorite. I think I'd be proudest to be named one of the unintelligentsia, certainly. On the other hand, "dilettante" is a very comfortable word for me—I use it quite a bit in self-description. And I've certainly got some Babbitt tendencies too.

What a great list.

Posted by tplambeck at 10:22 PM

Prolegomena to a Middlebrow Arithmetic of Curves of Genus 2


You've got to love this—prolegomena, middlebrow, and number theory, all at once!

Posted by tplambeck at 10:13 PM

Morning basketball

Despite my responsibility to find my seat in the juror's box in Palo Alto by 8:30am, I decided to go to my regular Friday morning basketball game in Menlo Park, from 6:30 to 7:30am, and then hurry back to the house for a shower. I made it with time to spare.

I had a good day covering the (injury-recovering) Wade, who has lost a step temporarily as he comes back from knee and back trouble. I was able to get lots of shots from about 13-ft away, and (most importantly) make them. On the other side of the balance, Tim is now playing again too, and he's a tough enforcer inside:


He doesn't wear that outfit, exactly, to morning basketball, but he is awfully strong (it's a "strength of ten men" kind of situation). So no rebounds for me.

Posted by tplambeck at 08:47 PM

Jury trial outcome

I finished my three days of jury duty today.

The defendant was a California highway patrolman in training who spent an evening drinking in Mountain View and Palo Alto with his friend, who came down from Sacramento. He was off duty.

At 1am on Hamilton Avenue near Middlefield Road, he was stopped for speeding, and then asked to do FST's (Field Sobriety Tests) and blow into a Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) device, which is a kind of hand-held breathanalyzer. The PAS registered .111 and .107, which is quite a bit above the .08 limit, but when they took the defendant to the station, a more precise machine at the Palo Alto Police Department got a reading of 0.08, exactly.

He was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and driving with blood alcohol at or above over the .08 limit. We found him guilty on the first charge, and not guilty on the second.

Not good for him (he's just 22 years old), but I think it was the right verdict.

Posted by tplambeck at 07:56 PM

July 20, 2006

Woody Allen sighting

Woody Allen sighting
Originally uploaded by Esthr.
via Esther Dyson's flickr photos

[I'm finding lots of cool photos by searching on randomly chosen highbrow tags such as 'aptitude.' That's how I found this interesting photo and flickr user ]
Posted by tplambeck at 11:12 PM

Puff Daddy George, 2/2

Puff Daddy George, 2/2
Originally uploaded by EricGjerde.

Posted by tplambeck at 10:55 PM



It would be nice to have one of these built-in wherever more sense is needed, or where (perhaps more precisely) what sense is already available in one's local environment might be usefully amplified.

I was reminded of an ancient su-roger-or-andy posting, which some readers might recall:

Concerning the contrapositive of "if you don't understand this paragraph, that's OK..." Applying the known Laws of Grammar and the technique Semantic Inversion, I obtain "if that's not OK, then you do understand this paragraph." Strangely, the technique sheds no light on my original meaning, which although radiant and clear as a sunspot to me when I first wrote it, nevertheless proves elusive now in a moment of quiet reflection. It can be difficult to gather one's thought. For example I find that the repeated use of the expressions "Wait, let me think..." and "OK...wait..." interspersed with nervous giggling and eyeball batting do little more than draw out the time before I have to eventually say, OK, I have no idea what I am talking about. Sometimes waiting and thinking don't seem to accomplish very much. The man of action does very little waiting and when he thinks, it is strictly on the fly. At least that's what I always thought. It makes sense to me. But wait, let me think....

From plambeck Fri Sep 13 23:47:24 1991

Posted by tplambeck at 08:02 PM

Where Alph, the sacred river, ran


Posted by tplambeck at 07:36 PM

Hang gliding in Rio


Posted by tplambeck at 06:46 PM

Protocol error

Unclear on the subject
Originally uploaded by Lohphat.

Posted by tplambeck at 06:26 PM

July 19, 2006

At the Computer History Museum


At the Computer History Museum, as we inspected aisle after aisle of hulking equipment that looked like this:


or this:


or this:


or this:


Cole couldn't contain his frustration any longer—

COLE: Where are the screens?!

THANE: You mean, like on a laptop, or a desktop PC?

COLE: Yes! Those are just the computers, right? Where are the screens?

THANE: Well, some of the old ones, it would just print stuff out, instead.

COLE: No screen?

THANE: No screen. Or maybe it would just flash lights, or show numbers.

COLE: No screen?

THANE: No. You might get a printout, you know, on paper like this:


THANE: [Waxing nostalgic] Ah yes—those were the days, waiting for your printout to come out from the machine room. The paper was hot, someone had just torn it off the big machine, your job card stack would come out later...yes. Very nice...

COLE: No screen?

Posted by tplambeck at 11:01 PM

Consul, the Educated Monkey [1916]

google search

Posted by tplambeck at 08:03 PM

July 18, 2006

From Triangle of Thoughts

pp 109-110
MPS [Marcel Paul Schutzenberger] [...] In other words—and this is what I find amazing—Nash's theorem expunges any trace of psychologizing. My computer, programmed according to Nash's theorem, plays better, and no worse, than any professional [poker] player. If I play against a professional player with my computer in my pocket, I do the best that anyone can do. This is an empirical validation of the theorem.

The only axiomatic hypothesis is that each player acts according to a purely mathematical principle that a certain linear form has to be minimized. This principle incorporates everything that the most refined psychology can confer.

AC: [Alain Connes] It might be that you could pick out the habits, the weaknesses of the player across from you.

MPS: Nash's theorem, unlike von Neumann's optimally uses the other player's habits. It provides absolute security. With Nash's theorem, one can exploit the other's weakness to the maximum. For example, if the other person does not choose numbers at random, this is automatically detected and one necessarily wins in the long run.

AC: You detect this through an analysis of numbers?

MPS: No, there is no analysis of the randomness of these numbers; I am the one who added the word random. The probabilistic game is optimal with respect to all of the other player's movements, whatever they may be, and the power of Nash's theorem is that this strategy is shown to be the best possible. This theory is sublime!

AC: Does it work in practice?

MPS: Now, we have to be modest: the decision tree for real poker is impossible to fit in a computer. But we can do it for poker reduced to four cards and three bets, and everything works perfectly. I have demonstrated it.

AC: Can you do the calculations in your head, or is a computer necessary?

MPS: Even in the simplest cases, the calculations are impossible to do mentally. They are not impossible in the crudest cases, but you have to invert 8 x 8 matrices... This is the minimax in a quadratic, hyperbolic form. On the basis of the rules of the game, the set of strategies is a tree; therefore the number of possibilities is exponentially large. What is extraordinary is that the theorem works, since the machine wins. This elimination of psychologizing strikes me as fabulous.

AC: The theorem works with two players. It does not work with more than two players.


MPS: We end up with the problem of three players. To summarize, von Neumann's theory as completed by Nash is the theory of two wills that know each other as such. This, along with entropy, is one of the rare metaphysical concepts that has a mathematical formulation. I find that amazing.

With three players, the situation is quite different ...

Posted by tplambeck at 11:15 PM

At the courthouse

I forgot how boring it is to wait for jury selection. This photo captures the excitement pretty well.

Jurors waiting

Somehow I forgot half the NYT (section B, with the crossword, and section D, science).

The crosses I bear!

Posted by tplambeck at 01:08 PM

July 17, 2006

Here come da judge

I never seem to have a good excuse for getting out of jury duty. Last time, I sat as a juror on a special circumstances murder trial. Maybe if I mention that they'll take pity on me, and excuse me.


I have to report tomorrow morning at 8:30am.

Posted by tplambeck at 07:08 PM

plambeck.org photo update

I'm just too sick of seeing the same photo of myself in the upper left hand corner of this web site.

I just hacked it to pick a random one from my flickr photos tagged thane-webfront, instead.

I've taken care to ensure that quite a few of them aren't photos of me at all.

Posted by tplambeck at 04:11 PM

Two more whiteboard puzzles


[ The rules. ]

Posted by tplambeck at 03:16 PM

July 15, 2006


mark jenkins

Posted by tplambeck at 10:26 PM

Sanit writes on the NPL list

Here are three "Wheel of Fortune" puzzles I got with no letters; I'm sure many of you will find them easy.
PLACE:  _ _ _ _   _ _ _ _   _ _ _ _   _ _ _ _
FICTIONAL PLACE:  _ _ _   _ _ _ _   _ _   _ _
QUOTATION:  _ _ _ - _ - _ _ _   _ _ _   _ _ _ _ _   
_ _ _   _ _   _   _ _ _

[ The first one I got immediately, the third one after about 5 minutes, and the FICTIONAL PLACE is driving me nuts...Oh!—now I got it....]

Posted by tplambeck at 08:58 PM

Leaving the game

Leaving the game
Originally uploaded by thane.

Posted by tplambeck at 03:12 PM

On deck

Ryan Howard
Originally uploaded by thane.
Ryan Howard struck out on this (upcoming) at bat, if I remember correctly.
Posted by tplambeck at 03:03 PM

Giants vs Phillies

Giants game
Originally uploaded by thane.
Via repeated smugglings of Chris's awesome two Giants tickets back and forth past the gatekeeper ushers, we got our party of seven into the seats closest to home plate in the whole AT&T (San Francisco Giants) ballpark.

It's not a great place to watch the game, unless you want a real close up view of Barry Bonds and the speed of major league pitching (it's, well—fast).

At the far left in the red hat, sportscaster Mike (with his newlywed Dalina) ponder the tickets.
Posted by tplambeck at 02:55 PM

July 14, 2006

Battambang, Cambodia

Originally uploaded by waiwang.

Posted by tplambeck at 09:28 AM

July 13, 2006

Disco Bingo

The Water Sprinkler.




Posted by tplambeck at 03:57 PM


This morning, I went to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation for a blood draw (part of an overdue physical).

It's always busy in the "Lab." I had brought the NYT Thursday puzzle to occupy me during my wait for the needling, but I finished it early. Then they called my name.

go slower!

"OK—so I've got nothing to distract myself," I thought, "Big deal." I took my seat in the blood drawing chair. I said I preferred the left arm to the right.

So far, so good.

NURSE: (Loudly working over another patient) It's a BIG VEIN, FULL OF BLOOD, but I can't get it going! See, it's BUBBLING. Not good, not good! We'll have to TRY AGAIN.

Simultaneously, I'm stabbed. I glance forlornly at the solved puzzle.


NURSE: Yes, I'm sorry, you see that? THE BUBBLING.

I put my head on top of my right hand. I'm starting to sweat like it's 90 degrees. I still think I'm OK, though. Then I notice my nurse with 4 vials of my blood in her hand. She's swishing them back and forth, like there's some strange object inside the tubes.

MY NURSE: Dod /adoedc,, ?

THANE: Whuh?

I hear the sounds of the curtains being drawn around me. I'm almost gone, but still conscious.

MY NURSE: Keep your head down...you want a blanket?

[She's *pushing* my head down into my lap.]

THANE: I'm feeling a little faint. No—no blanket, I'm sweating!

THIRD NURSE: It's the adrenaline. OK, can you move to this chair? We're going to wheel you into another room where you can lie down.

I manage to get into the rolling chair.

FOURTH NURSE: This is fun! I've never done this before.

THANE: Glad to add some novelty. [I'm starting to feel better]

I felt a lot better lying down than sitting. I was able to get up and walk out in about 4 minutes.

Posted by tplambeck at 01:42 PM

July 11, 2006

Paul Auster, Charles Krug Sauvignon Blanc, Arturo Islas

1) Enjoyed this book by Paul Auster that I picked up in SFO airport, even thinking, dammit—why didn't I think of that myself, although not so much so as to actually read the whole book.

2) Need to find some bottles of Charles Krug Sauvignon Blanc, which Gloria and I happily swilled at Sierra Camp. Peter Mondavi said "sometimes at Safeway," but I couldn't find it. Beltramos? Andronicos? Must broaden the search. Also, he told us about the jousting tournaments at Arezzo [google search] that they stumbled upon. The jousting happens every June (in some week he told us about, but I forgot). Another reason to go back to Italy.

3) Discussing Gloria's El Paso origins, Katie mentioned her patient and El Paso native Arturo Islas, who died of AIDS in 1991. More to read.

Posted by tplambeck at 11:08 PM

July 10, 2006


Cole has been making up puzzles on my office whiteboard where he takes the letters of a word and writes them in a grid shape, each letter a king's move away from the previous one. No letter is repeated, and every letter is used.

The answer to the puzzle before this one was IDIOMATIC, which I got pretty quickly, but this one stumped me. It looks easy (maybe it is, for others).


Posted by tplambeck at 10:08 PM

Norwalk, Wholphin, Sayyid Qtub

1) At Stanford Sierra Camp, a visit from the Norwalk Virus, which struck 16 or so people in the camp (of approximately 270 total, campers+staff). Our family finished the week unaffected. Googling it, I've learned that the proper term is Norovirus. There are always plenty of physicians on holiday present at camp, and they seemed to agree that using stuff like this on your hands is a great way to avoid catching it.

2) While we were away, my first Wholphin DVD arrived, and I'm well pleased. [ It's hard to spell "Wholphin" correctly; I've corrected two mistakes in this paragraph, already]. Along with the Wholphin, a separate DVD called The Power of Nightmares, packaged in a plain brown CD wrapper reading


It suffers from heavy-handed narration but has fantastic video clips of Anwar Sadat, Bush-I-era Rumsfeld, bin-Laden, Nasser, and most interestingly, the story of Sayyid Qtub.

3) Also got this book recommended by Michael Kleber on the math-fun list, which looks good.

4) Again at Sierra Camp, a lecture by Margot Gerritsen on her work to build a flying pterosaur replica that's shown in a National Geographic documentary called Sky Monsters. Strangely, she didn't mention the earlier project of Paul Macready to do what seems to me to be almost exactly the same thing:

Under the sponsorship of the National Air and Space Museum and Johnson Wax, his team developed a radio-controlled, wing-flapping, flying replica of a giant pterodactyl—a creature from 70 million years ago with a 36-foot wing span. The replica is the key "actor" in a wide screen IMAX film, On the Wing, which connects biological flight to aircraft.
Posted by tplambeck at 11:10 AM

July 09, 2006

Walter Thane Baker

Originally uploaded by thane.
My namesake, the Olympic medalist in 1952 and 1956, here looking like he's awaiting the baton in the Kansas relays (perhaps—I copied this photo from the Internet, together with its odd marring in its upper left—did someone forget to take the previously-scanned negative off their scanner?).

My father writes:

THANE BAKER was a track runner at Kansas State when I read of him and developed a liking for his name. I named both of our children, and Mother was happy with my choices.

He included a clipping from a recent Omaha World Herald, by Michael Kelly, written during the recent college (baseball) World Series:

Working concessions on behalf of their granddaughter's Girl Scout troop was a former Olympic sprinter, Walter Thane Baker of Granbury, Texas. A winner of medals at the 1952 and 1956 Olympics, he and wife Sally drove 13 hours to Omaha. A retired colonel in the Air Force Reserves, he cooked hot dogs the way he ran on the track—fast.

Posted by tplambeck at 12:08 AM

July 08, 2006

From Of Persons One Would Wish to Have Seen, by William Hazlitt, originally published in the "New Monthly Magazine" [January, 1826]

[Charles] Lamb then (as well as I can remember a conversation that passed twenty years ago—how time slips!) went on as follows: The reasons why I pitch upon these two authors [Sir Thomas Browne & Fulke Greville] is, that their writings are riddles, and they themselves the most mysterious of personages. They resemble the soothsayers of old, who dealt in dark hints and doubtful oracles; and I should like to ask them the meaning of what no mortal but themselves, I suppose, can fathom. [...] When I look at that obscure but gorgeous prose composition, the 'Urn-burial,' I seem to myself to look into a deep abyss, at the bottom of which are hid pearls and rich treasure; or it is like a stately labyrinth of doubt and withering speculation, and I would like the spirit of the author to lead me through it.
Posted by tplambeck at 09:05 PM

Euphemisms for bears in John Muir's Rambles of a Botantist (1873)

1) a thumping, uncomfortably near

2) the rugged author of broad prints

3) mother bruin and her cubs

4) a near neighbor

5) a discovery of paws

6) those long claws

Posted by tplambeck at 08:52 PM

July 05, 2006


Originally uploaded by thane.
Posted by tplambeck at 03:34 PM

July 03, 2006

Stanford Sierra Camp

Originally uploaded by thane.
Maybe it's a butterly, not a moth?
Posted by tplambeck at 03:17 PM

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