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November 28, 2007

Red Prii within 3 blocks of our house, part VI

Red Prii within 3 blocks of our house, part VI
Originally uploaded by thane
5WAZ585 - 601 Colorado
Posted by tplambeck at 02:17 PM

November 27, 2007

Progress on the Cloak of Invisibility

Here's the conclusion to the recent paper A rigorous analysis of high order electromagnetic invisibility cloaks, by Ricardo Weder:

We gave a rigorous mathematical proof, in the time and frequency domains, that first and high order electromagnetic invisibility cloaks actually cloak passive and active devices in a very strong sense. This puts the theory of cloaking in exact transformation media in a firm mathematical basis that will allow us, in the next step forward, to analyze the stability of cloaking in the approximate transformation media that are used in the applications.

So, it sounds like the cloaks are not quite available in stores yet, but maybe it's time to preorder, or join the appropriate mailing list.

Posted by tplambeck at 11:35 PM

Rumsfeld appointment

From an article from the Stanford news service titled Hoover Institution director explains, defends appointment of Rumsfeld, with my "writer's embellishment" in italics:

* * * *
The director of the Hoover Institution told the Faculty Senate last week that he did not regret his decision to appoint former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld as a distinguished visiting fellow, but was sorry he had "blindsided" his bosses—Provost John Etchemendy and President John Hennessy—by not informing them beforehand.

John Raisian, director of the institution since 1989, had been invited to appear before the senate to explain the criteria he used to make the controversial appointment.

Speaking to the senate Thursday, Raisian said he was "saddened by the reaction of some of my Stanford colleagues." He said the appointment was "not intended to be provocative."

"I mean, c'mon, Donny's like the Prince of Darkness," Raisian went on. "How are we supposed to run an Evil Empire inside Stanford if we can't swing for the fences? It's not like this is the 'Hoover Institution for Peace'—it's the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace, for chrissakes!"

Posted by tplambeck at 10:14 PM

Cole's origami

Cole's origami

Posted by tplambeck at 08:11 PM

Dude, Katie! Your Dress is So Cute

Dude, however, is better situated than guy for grammatical widening into exclamation because it enjoys not only unmarked gender but also connotations of power, thanks to its message of "cool solidarity." Just googling dude provides an indication of the power imputed to the word. Such a search in July 2004 yielded millions of commercial web sites belonging to entrepeneurial dudes, including Pizza Dude, Beer Dude, ArtDude, DrummerDude, the more serious CVSDude, firedude (a resource for firefighters), and even the fearless Public Defender Dude. There far fewer such commercial sites that bothered to include guy, and those that existed were definitely less glamorous: History Guy, Family Guy, Pathology Guy, Fat Guy, Homeless Guy, Sock Guy, and Crazy Drunk Guy.

—From Dude, Katie! Your Dress is So Cute: Why Dude Became an Exclamation, by Muffy Siegel, VERBATIM Vol XXX, No. 4

Posted by tplambeck at 04:31 PM

November 26, 2007

This blog's reading level

Readers, you're in excellent company:

Not only that, but I've scraped the embedded "cash advance" URLs from this little meme prior to posting it.

Posted by tplambeck at 04:04 PM


I've got a new favorite from the (previously blogged) The Robbins Collection of 200 Jigs, Reels and Country Dances, on the very last page.

It's titled Tarantelle (Italian).


I like it so much I might try to write a similar piece myself, like I did way back in 2002 for the Schubert Walzes (and do feel free to subject yourself to a hearing of that particular bastardization now, as a crappy MIDI file).

Posted by tplambeck at 02:24 PM

November 24, 2007

Non piu andrai

Cherubino, alla vittoria! Alla gloria militar! Alla gloria militar!

Posted by tplambeck at 01:59 AM

Scores on Cole's medieval history quiz; NU vs CU; Stanford vs Cal

Me: 3 of 5 correct
My dad: 3 of 5 correct

I didn't know anything about King Clovis, and proved to be generally weak in the "Frankish Kings" department.

On the other hand, my dad missed an easy one on Charlemagne. I knew he was the first Holy Roman Emperor (perhaps by convention, only?), although I didn't know he (ie, Chuck) was a Frankish king.

Need to read up on Frankish Kings, I guess.

Nebraska vs Colorado: we watched it at the loft, and the Huskers looked good in the first half before melting down in the second. It's been a long time since I sat down with my dad and watched the Nebraska Cornhuskers win a football game on TV.

Stanford (women's) Volleyball vs Cal, Maples Pavilion: a great game, won by Stanford in the fifth.

Posted by tplambeck at 01:52 AM

November 22, 2007

Ezra Pound's ABC of Reading

I picked up an old copy of Ezra Pound's 1934 book ABC of Reading in a used bookstore, and almost bought it until I looked at the price ($48 for a contemporaneous-looking copy).

You can find most of it at Google books (the "limited preview" seems to include almost the whole book).

Here's a typically confusing passage, early on:

* * *

No man is equipped for modern thinking until he has understood the anecdote of Agassiz and the fish:

A post-graduate student equipped with honours and diplomas went to Agassiz to receive the final and finishing touches. The great man offered him a small fish and told him to describe it.

Post-graduate student: "That's only a sunfish."

Agassiz: "I know that. Write a description of it."

After a few minutes the student returned with the description of the Ichthus Heliodiplodokus, or whatever term is used to conceal the common sunfish from vulgar knowledge, family of Heliichtherinkus, etc., as found in textbooks on the subject.

Agassiz again told the student to describe the fish.

The student produced a four-page essay. Agassiz then told him to look at the fish. At the end of three weeks the fish was in an advanced state of decomposition, but the student knew something about it.

By this method modern science has arisen, not on the narrow edge of medieval logic suspended in a vacuum.

"Science does not consist in inventing a number of more or less abstract entities corresponding to the number of things you wish to find out," says a French commentator on Einstein. I don't know whether that clumsy translation of a long French sentence is clear to the general reader.

* * * *

Is Pound saying Einstein was someone working on the narrow edge of medieval logic, because he "invented more or less abstract entities?" What about the Fish Story?

Anyway, I find the book to be amusingly pedantic, and often exceedingly stupid and preachy—in other words, somewhat like Emerson. It's possible to read the whole thing in an hour or two, and if you're like me, you'll feel somewhat dazed and Confuciusly confused throughout. A bit like hearing a good baptist sermon, or Ralph Waldo on drugs.

Highly recommended.

Posted by tplambeck at 11:03 PM

Red Prii within three blocks of our house, part VI

Safeway parking lot
Originally uploaded by thane
5YIM709 next to our car, Middlefield Rd
Posted by tplambeck at 03:59 PM

November 21, 2007

Train crossing Road 20 1/2, Kismet, CA

Train crossing Road 20 1/2, Kismet, CA
Originally uploaded by thane

Posted by tplambeck at 09:07 PM

November 20, 2007

Red Prii within three blocks of our house, part V

Red Prii within three blocks of our house, part V
Originally uploaded by thane
6BHN566, 2341 Tasso St
Posted by tplambeck at 11:03 PM

Red Prii within three blocks of our house, part IV

Red Prii within three blocks of our house, part IV
Originally uploaded by thane
5TCK762, 2468 Cowper St
Posted by tplambeck at 11:02 PM

Red Prii within three blocks of our house, part III

Red Prii within three blocks of our house, part III
Originally uploaded by thane
5XTJ360, 2340 Cowper St
Posted by tplambeck at 11:01 PM

Red Prii within three blocks of our house, part II

Red Prii within three blocks of our house, part II
Originally uploaded by thane
5UGS557, 602 N California
Posted by tplambeck at 11:49 AM

Red Prii within three blocks of our house, part I

Red Prii within three blocks of our house, part I
Originally uploaded by thane
5NWR458, 4120 Byron St
Posted by tplambeck at 11:48 AM

November 18, 2007

The Amazing Floating Oak Leaf

OWEN: Hey Cole, daddy and I made a video of an oak leaf floating in the street.

COLE: Oh, right! I saw it floating in the street too. I was going to tell you about it.

THANE: Well, we shot some video, and you didn't, so we get the credit.

Posted by tplambeck at 09:53 PM

November 17, 2007

Stamped dollar

Originally uploaded by thane
I got this bill in change at a coffee shop near the UC Berkeley campus.

There's a stamp on it that reads "IS BUSH'S OIL WORTH YOUR SON'S BLOOD?"
Posted by tplambeck at 10:57 PM

Clothespin tree

Clothespin tree
Originally uploaded by thane

Posted by tplambeck at 05:15 PM

The Achoo Gene

Ah—at last I have a name for this: I've got the photic sneeze reflex.

I'm not pleased that they call it a "disorder." And it used to be the "helio-ophthalmic outburst syndrome," which doesn't sound much better.

At least it's not a "complex."

Posted by tplambeck at 04:34 PM

Unfiltered vs filtered then unfiltered


Posted by tplambeck at 03:47 PM

November 11, 2007

Oakhurst septic increase goes down easy

yosemiteNov07 001
Originally uploaded by thane

Posted by tplambeck at 10:14 PM

Entering Yosemite

yosemiteNov07 002
Originally uploaded by thane
The ranger hands Colin's National Parks pass back to me.
Posted by tplambeck at 10:12 PM

November 08, 2007

The Spores, Once Again

In the 12 October 2006 Nature Magazine, pg 629, "Comfortably Numb," I found a pointer to the Erowid Experience Vaults, where you can pick any selection of drugs and find people's description of their experiences after taking them all simultaneously.

It's fascinating reading, but I'm not too tempted to switch from alcohol and caffeine after reading through a few of these trip reports.

Like at Orbitz, you can choose the type of trip you'd like to know more about. Choosing "Mystical Experiences" from the "Category" list box, I found plenty of UFOs, universal insights, and glowing lights. I was about to move on, but then came across this account of a ketamine trip ("ketamine could hold the key to understanding and treating depression," according to the Nature writer Erika Check.)

[My italics]

* * *

My field of vision began to narrow and unfocus, and soon I was not aware of any of my senses at all. I began to be lost deep in thoughts of my life, its direction and meaning. I soon realized that anything and everything I did had no meaning or importance. In fact, I began to move further and further outside of myself. I can only compare it to a movie camera starting at me and moving backwards until it was outside my city, planet, solar system, etc. I realized that nothing in this world had real meaning if you looked at the 'big picture', at which I was now looking.

The essence of what I now was now perceived as liquid, a drop moving throughout the universe. I soon entered into a sort of waiting room, where I was presented with a mass of spherical liquid which represented the collection of individual 'drops', one of which was me, watching it from outside. I realized the truth - that all individuals sprung from this mass of liquid as drops, but that the drops themselves had no individual identity UNTIL they had been individual drops for some time.

In other words, if I were to re-enter this sphere my identity would be lost. I briefly wondered if my identity would be absorbed into this mass, but realized that in fact my identity, everything about me, would be completely erased. The physical world in which we lived, and everything that constituted who I thought I was, was all illusionary and meaningless.

At this point I knew I had a choice - I could re-enter the sphere and get my destiny over with, or I could continue this fabricated life for a little longer. I was unsure what I would decide, but then the horn on the streetcar went off loudly and I was brought abruptly back into this world. I had lost my chance to choose because I had hesitated.

* * *
So, are the "drops" Nozick's Spores?

Posted by tplambeck at 11:00 PM

Cold and Lonely

Tom Waittsy

Slaid Cleaves

Posted by tplambeck at 10:32 PM

November 07, 2007

Ace of Diamonds

I've been playing through an old book called The Robbins Collection of 200 Jigs, Reels, and Country Dances (feeling lucky link). I'm looking for stuff that Cole, Owen and I can play as a string trio (But—is a piano + two violins a string trio? if not, what to call it?)


I bought it on eBay. The seller's company name was "Mom Threw it Away!!", which I liked.

Here's my favorite so far, the "Ace of Diamonds," a "Danish Folk Dance."


It's a happy little dance I think.

The copyright page inside the book says "1933 Copyright Robbins Music Corporation, 799 Seventh Avenue, New York."

Here's a Google street viewer image of that location. Somehow I doubt that the new construction depicted at one corner in that photo is the new world headquarters of the Robbins Music Corporation. I can't find much more about it on the web past about 1945.

Generally speaking, it's hard to trace the fates of long-departed corporations.

Someone should start a web site.

Posted by tplambeck at 10:10 PM

Bumblebee on desktop


Posted by tplambeck at 09:54 PM

Prius filled with gas, from almost empty

Prius filled with gas, from almost empty
Originally uploaded by thane
I ran our new Prius on its first tank of gas almost until it ran out (at least the warning flash was turned on).

So I took it to the gas station, and was surprised that it only took about 10.3 gallons to fill it up.

40.2 MPG so far, according to the car.
Posted by tplambeck at 11:12 AM


Originally uploaded by Karl Horton

Posted by tplambeck at 11:08 AM

November 02, 2007

Martin Gardner's Letter to Santa

More G4G video experimenting...

Here's a 5 minute portion of Dana Richards' talk at G4G7, "Martin Gardner: The Tulsa Years":

Posted by tplambeck at 10:05 PM

Gathering for Gardner video test

Tom Rodgers sent me a big stack of DVDs recorded at the last Gathering for Gardner (G4G7).

I'm experimenting with them to see if they're going to be watchable if we convert them to AVI and upload to YouTube.

Here's my first experiment (I just took some video from the first DVD at random—excuse the watermark).

Posted by tplambeck at 04:27 PM

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