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December 30, 2006

The web page at mail.google.com may say it, but I'm tired of reading it


Spam is no "conversation."

Posted by tplambeck at 11:18 PM

800m run, world records

1:41.11 Wilson Kipketer DEN Cologne ln 24 August 1997

The WORLD RECORD for Women - 20 years in 2003
1:53.28 Jarmila Kratochvilova TCH Muenchen 26 July 1983

Posted by tplambeck at 01:13 AM

December 29, 2006

Kearney High School vs Lincoln East [December 1979]

My father gave me a nice scrapbook of photos at Christmas. Here I'm shooting in the lane against Lincoln East. I'm pretty sure I missed the shot.


[added later: a kearney high game played tonight]

Posted by tplambeck at 11:13 PM

Clue in the Friday NYT

52 Across: Pioneer in the math of Sudoku (5)


Hmmm—not sure I buy that.

I did like

Nitpick? (7)


Posted by tplambeck at 10:54 PM

Toss or document (or both)?

Instead of simply discarding big chunks of software I hack together after they get too complicated for me to understand (or use) anymore—as is my usual practice—I've decided to try write manual pages for them, instead. Then it at least I have some record of it before it gets trashed.

I'm writing up one set of soon-to-be-discarded software this morning. Already it's looking like it might be a useful idea.

I got the idea that it's best to simply toss big and confusing blobs of code long ago after reading this passage from Don Knuth's The Art of Computer Programming, vol I, pg 188, "Basic Concepts: Subroutines:"

Step 3 (Reexamination). The result of Step 2 should be very nearly a working program, but it may be possible to improve on it. A good way is to reverse direction again, studying for each subroutine all of the calls made on it. It may well be that the subroutine should be enlarged to do some of the more common things which are always done by the outside routine just before or after it uses the subroutine. Perhaps several subroutines should be merged into one; or perhaps a subroutine is called only once (if we are fortunate, perhaps one is never called) and should not be subroutine at all.

Then the kicker:

At this point, it is often a good idea to scrap everything and start over again at step 1! This is not intended to be a facetious remark; the time spent in getting this far has not been wasted, for we have learned a great deal about our problem. We will probably know of several improvements that can be made to the organization of the program; there is no reason to be afraid to go back to step 1—it will be much easier to go through the above steps again after a program has been done already. Moreover, we will quite probably save as much debugging time later on as it will take to rewrite the program. Some of the best programs ever written owe much of their success to the fact that about this stage all the work was unintentionally lost and the authors had to begin again.
Posted by tplambeck at 11:19 AM

December 27, 2006

From Emerson's Quotation and Originality

1) Marmontel's principle, "I pounce on what is mine, wherever I find it."

2) "He that borrows the aid of an equal understanding," said Burke, "doubles his own; he that uses that of a superior elevates his own to the stature of that he contemplates."

3) Many of the historical proverbs have a doubtful paternity. Columbus's egg is claimed for Brunelleschi. Rabelais's dying words, "I am going to see the great Perhaps" (le grand Peut-etre), only repeats the "IF" inscribed on the portal of the temple at Delphi. Goethe's favorite phrase, "the open secret," translates Aristotle's answer to Alexander, "These books are published and not published."

4) Observe also that a writer appears to more advantage in the pages of another book than in his own. In his own he waits as a candidate for your approbation; in another's he is a lawgiver.

5) The child quotes his father, and the man quotes his friend. Each man is a hero and an oracle to somebody, and to that person whatever he says has an enhanced value. Whatever we think and say is wonderfully better for our spirits and trust, in another mouth. There is none so eminent and wise but he knows minds whose opinion confirms or qualifies his own, and men of extraordinary genius acquire an almost absolute ascendant over their nearest companions. The Comte de Crillon said one day to M. d'Allonville, with French vivacity, "If the universe and I professed one opinion and M. Necker expressed a contrary one, I should be at once convinced that the universe and I were mistaken."

6) Next to the originator of a good sentence is the first quoter of it. Many will read the book before one thinks of quoting a passage. As soon as he has done this, that line will be quoted east and west. Then there are great ways of borrowing. Genius borrows nobly. When Shakspeare is charged with debts to his authors, Landor replies "Yet he was more original than his originals. He breathed upon dead bodies and brought them into life."

7) Goethe frankly said, "What would remain to me if this art of appropriation were derogatory to genius? Every one of my writings has been furnished to me by a thousand different persons, a thousand things: wise and foolish have brought me, without suspecting it, the offering of their thoughts, faculties, and experience. My work is an aggregation of beings taken from the whole of nature; it bears the name of Goethe."


Posted by tplambeck at 10:57 PM

Saddam's dilemma

From a news article, "Saddam may hang within 30 days":

Aref Shahin, chief judge of the appeals panel, said there was no further legal recourse for Saddam and the Iraqi executive is free to send him to the gallows "any day, ... starting from tomorrow." The execution must be carried out within 30 days.

This reminded me of the "execution paradox" (maybe it has some other name?). On Sunday, the executioner tells the prisoner, "You'll be killed some day in this week, and you won't be expecting it."

The prisoner reasons as follows: "Well, I can't be executed on Saturday, because that's the last day of the week, and I would have survived the other days and would certainly expect to be executed on Saturday. So, Saturday is out. Similarly, I can't be executed on Friday, since once Thursday ends, I would know for sure that the execution would be on Friday, since it absolutely can't happen on Saturday...."

Similarly, he works backward to Monday and then Sunday. He's safe! He can't be executed at all!

Then the executioner takes him out of his cell on Tuesday, kills him, and you know what—he wasn't expecting it...

Posted by tplambeck at 02:01 AM

December 25, 2006

Wholphin DVD #3 choicebits

I got Wholphin 3 in the mail a few days ago.

What a great idea to bundle up interesting short films on a DVD like this.

These are the two I liked the best.

A stranger in her own city—an absolutely mesmerizing portrait of a thirteen year old girl in Yemen. Directed by Khadija Al-Salami.

Never like the first time animated short, directed by Jonas Odell.

Posted by tplambeck at 01:20 AM

December 23, 2006

Talk - action = zero

Talk - action = zero
Originally uploaded by Denim.
A pithy equation, I thought—but then I realized it implies that talk equals action.
Posted by tplambeck at 12:23 AM

December 22, 2006


Gray Jeep behind Starbucks, Middlefield Rd, Palo Alto
Originally uploaded by thane.

Posted by tplambeck at 03:06 PM

Statues of Liberty



Photoshopped from two murky, distant photos [#1, #2] on my father's camera.

Posted by tplambeck at 01:09 PM

December 21, 2006

What American accent do you have?

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The West
North Central
The Inland North
The South
The Northeast
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Posted by tplambeck at 01:46 PM

December 20, 2006

December 19, 2006

Throwing the switch

Amidst a mostly run-of-the-mill story on a gang of identity thieves, I found this vivid description:

When the gang's premises were raided by the members of the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), Kostap was handcuffed with his hands in front of his body. He managed to leap up and flick an electrical switch that wiped databases that could have contained records of the gang's activities stretching back more than 10 years, SOCA said.
Kostap's action also triggered intricate layers of encryption on the gang's computer systems, which SOCA's experts were unable to crack, the court heard.
SOCA was not prepared to discuss what encryption was used or why it was unable to decrypt it, as such information would enable other criminals to use the same methods.
Posted by tplambeck at 12:20 AM

December 18, 2006

Season's greetings, reprise

Cole elfed himself, too.

Posted by tplambeck at 11:39 PM

Feudal landholder

Feudal landholder
Originally uploaded by thane.

Thanks to Orange for pointing this out.

Posted by tplambeck at 10:37 PM

U9 Boys paired with U9 girls

Before yesterday's scrimmage between the under nine boys and under nine girls, the coaches had them walk onto the field in pairs.


It reminded me of the presentation of the homecoming royalty at a high school football game.

Moments later, it was game on:




Posted by tplambeck at 09:57 PM

December 17, 2006

From Nature, 7 December 2006, pg 661


Justice Antonin Scalia: Your assertion is that after the pollutant leaves the air and goes up into the stratosphere it is contributing to global warming.

James Milkey: Respectfully, Your Honor, it is not the stratosphere. It's the troposphere.

Justice Scalia: Troposphere, whatever. I told you before I'm not a scientist. That's why I don't have to deal with global warming.

Posted by tplambeck at 09:16 PM

December 16, 2006

Friday NYT crossword clue

Knock-down-and-drag-out (5)

MELEE was the answer. It doesn't quite work for me.

I think "knock-down-and-drag-out" can only be read as an adjective. MELEE is a noun.

I wouldn't have the same complaint about "free-for-all."

Posted by tplambeck at 11:14 AM

December 15, 2006

Season's greetings


GLORIA: That's disturbing. Oh—and it dances better than you do.

THANE: Thanks so much for these kind words.

* * *
Added later Marc has more attitude.

Posted by tplambeck at 06:47 PM

December 14, 2006

Snapvine experiment

I wanted to see how this thing works, so here you go—leave a message if you like.

Get Your Own Voice PlayerManage


Posted by tplambeck at 03:16 PM

December 13, 2006

I added Highway to Hell to my iPod, and now it thinks it's Japanese


After scrolling up to the higher-level menu:



Posted by tplambeck at 10:21 PM

December 11, 2006

"Cheer"—Neung Phak

From The Believer, the June/July 2006 music issue:

Recorded at the Ivy Room in Albany, Calif., live to two-track DAT. Based in large part on a handheld cassette recording done in 2000 by two Neung Phak members in Bangkok, Thailand: a local bar band, called the Lucky Band, performing their hearts out to a tiny audience with this tune.

Beats the Numa Numa song all to hell. I found the MP3.

Posted by tplambeck at 07:26 PM

I know just enough French to know I'm being insulted

I can always REJOUER [via Loki-5]

Posted by tplambeck at 02:15 PM

Snowcapped Half Dome

I just grabbed this photo from the Yosemite webcam:


(More than) Sixteen Half Domes

Posted by tplambeck at 10:23 AM

December 10, 2006

Fish fry

1) Sudwest Funk (Donald Byrd), third track on CD 1 of The Complete Blue Note Donald Byrd / Pepper Adams Studio Sessions, recorded 21 December 1958. I'm a sucker for the light piano lead in (Wynton Kelly), followed by the unison trumpet / alto sax section, and wrapped up the trumpet solo, which paints out the rest of the picture (— yes, there's always that sax solo (Jackie McLean), but by then I've gotten what I need out of it). Straight up baby. Nice one, but the trumpet solo could have gone another 8 or even 16. I forgot to put any of this on the JAZZCHIP.

2) Tad Friend, writing about the BBC Two sitcom "The Office," in the 11 December 2006 New Yorker:

The show's lodestar was Ricky Gervais as the regional manager, David Brent. With his dated Vandyke, darting eyes, and shit-eating grin; with his wish to be more of friend and entertainer than a boss, a wish torpedoed by coercive feeblenes of hi spater and his horrifying dance moves; and with his unerring gift for joining conversations and killing them with one unpardonable remark. David was a new figure in the sitcoms: the unbearable lead. In the first office, in a scene that extended for an excruciating two and a half minutes, he sought to impress the new temp by having him sit in as he played a practical joke on the receptionst, Dawn (Lucy Davis). After calling here into his office, he pretended to fire her for stealing. When she began to sob, he winced and shifted and finally murmurred, "Good girl, that was a joke we were doing." With her head still in her hands, she called him a "wanker" and a "sad little man." "Am I?" he said, attempting nonchalance. "Didn't know that." But he does. And our slow discovery of how this self-knowledge eats at David made us, grudgingly, begin to think of him as tragic.

3) George Perec, "Thoughts on the Art and Technique of Crossing Words," subtitled The legendary French author's forward to his two books on Crosswords translated into English for the first time, printed in The Believer Games Issue (September 2006), and translated by Henri Picciotto with Arthur Schulman:

Thus an author once was able to write that no one could claim themselves to be a crossworder who was not ready to define the cow Io in 100 different ways. As for me, I'm only up to twenty-eight, but I have not given up on reaching this goal in the future:

Have a cow!
The last we heard from MacDonald's farm
Ex officio
Ab initio
Coming back from Boise
By Jupiter!
Drops of iodine
The ultimate in audio
Piece of the action
Ionesco characters
Regional center
Opening of Iolanthe
It's base
Violin duet
Trio members
Rational number
Idho's borders
A priori deduction
Most of debt
Eastern Ohio
She's engaged in coition, either way
A couple of ravioli
Ninth and fifteenth Greek letters, or half of ninth
Was she cowed by Zeus?
Dior showing

One should note that some of these definitions do not apply at all to our heifer by only to the letters I and O.

Posted by tplambeck at 10:20 PM

More haunting piano

Move over, Shostakovich.

On findrobert.ca, I found these eerie 1999 piano lesson recordings of the ~12 year-old Robert Barrington Leigh, a young Canadian mathematician who committed suicide a few months ago at age 20.

The satisfied voice of what (I assume) is the piano teacher introduces many of these pieces—she's happy with her student. And he does play the pieces very nicely.

What happened here? Why suicide?

I happened to be in Halifax, Canada, when the search for him was underway, and was still there when his body was discovered in a river near Edmondton. In reading the articles, I detected the euphemism of suicide, and later it was acknowledged.

Still later, I realized that I had chatted with him briefly in March 2006 at G4G7 in Atlanta. Here's an article about his participation there, also lifted from findrobert.ca. He would be dead in six months.

I vaguely remember thinking as I talked to him—what a nice person.


Something—I remember leaving him and thinking I'd like to talk to him some more.

Robert Barrington Leigh (Google search)

Posted by tplambeck at 12:42 AM

December 09, 2006

Mickey Mouse Mummy

A sixth-grade social studies project Cole is working on.

Mickey Mouse Mummy project

From the instructions, entited Egyptian Burial Ceremony: Mummification of the Teddy Bear:

What you will do: Remove the stuffing from the torso of the stuffed animal. Leave a little where the heart should be and do not remove any from the head, arms, or legs. Bring a stuffed animal to class that is NOT of sentimental value.

I don't recall any mummification projects from my junior-high school days.

Mickey Mouse Mummy project

Posted by tplambeck at 10:16 PM

Santa Clara vs Stanford, women's basketball

Wade gave us four "folding chair" front seat tickets (thanks Wade!).

I took some video of the Santa Clara team warming up.

Later, Cole appeared on the Jumbotron as the winner of the "Outback Steakhouse" giveaway:

Cole on Jumbotron, Maples Pavilion

Halftime entertainment:

puzzle 036

Posted by tplambeck at 08:38 PM

December 07, 2006

Greg Brown's The Ornidontist

This morning, I noticed that a new plaque has gone up next to the wall painting I'd previously photographed behind the Starbucks at Colorado and Middlefield in Palo Alto:


It says THE ORNIDONTIST on it, and identifies Greg Brown as the artist.

Shorter and sweeter than the title I'd given it myself.

Palo Alto artist Greg Brown has recently completed a new mural for Midtown entitled "The Ornidontist." The City of Palo Alto Public Art Commission commissioned Brown to create the mural. Midtown residents and businesses are excited about having a mural by Greg Brown in the neighborhood. The mural is located at 2741 Middlefield Road in the back of the building that houses Travelsmith and The Territories Ahead (the old Bergmans building).
Greg Brown says, "This was, for me, an interesting exercise in that I wanted this figure to be kin to the people downtown, but they were painted nearly 30 years ago. Should I simply go back in time? Drag it forward to a more contemporary Palo Alto? I am hoping the right balance was found."
Brown's downtown murals, begun in 1975, are part of the Palo Alto Pedestrian Series funded by a CETA grant as part of the City of Palo Alto's Artist-in-Residence Program, established and maintained by the City of Palo Alto.

—City of Palo Alto web page

Posted by tplambeck at 11:11 PM

Typing of the Dead

RALPH KOSTER: For our spelling game, we might consider an instructional typing game I once played called Typing of the Dead. This was a spinoff from light-gun games, where you aim a gun at a screen and the computer detects where on the screen you're pointing. In the original game, you simply have to shoot the zombies before they eat you and and all the other people around you. Well, the game makers developed an alternate version of this game that is frankly ridiculous, when you think about it, but it is actually brilliant. To each zombie they added a placard with a word printed on it. Instead of shooting the zombie, the player simply had to type the word.
THOMAS DE ZENGOTITA: That's a perfect idea.
JANE AVRICH: I want to play that game.

"Grand Theft Education," Harper's Magazine, September 2006

Posted by tplambeck at 12:23 AM

December 01, 2006

Crossword matchmaking

On the NPL list, I asked
* * *
In today's (Friday) NYT, #1 Across,


was joined with


just underneath. It would be nice to have them to dinner.

What might be some other natural couples---any as good as this one?
* * *
Mel Rosen (Quip) replied:

For a CrossSynergy puzzle a few years ago I set SID CAESAR directly above CLEOPATRA. -Quip

Posted by tplambeck at 11:03 PM

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