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March 30, 2008

Fact learned at G4G8

The second player in Tic-Tac-Toe can't force a draw.

Don't believe me? Well—don't forget that if the second player happens to win, that's not forcing a draw!

I learned this from Rich Schroeppel's talk on how to force a draw in 7^3 Tic-Tac-Toe.

Posted by tplambeck at 08:11 PM

March 28, 2008

Mayumi Miyake

Mayumi Miyake
Originally uploaded by thane

Posted by tplambeck at 06:55 PM

Drums at Tom's house

Drums at Tom's house
Originally uploaded by thane

Posted by tplambeck at 06:54 PM

Dr Johnson + Tom's wine

Dr Johnson + Tom's wine
Originally uploaded by thane

Posted by tplambeck at 06:46 PM

George Hart finishing a sculpture

George Hart finishing a sculpture
Originally uploaded by thane

Posted by tplambeck at 06:44 PM

With John Conway

With John Conway
Originally uploaded by thane

Posted by tplambeck at 06:35 PM


1) Beginning of Raymond Smullyan's talk

"Before I start my talk, there's something I'd like to say.

[Long pause]

2) Later on in the same talk:

Successful people know about two rules: Rule 1—never tell people everything you know.

[Longer pause]

3) THANE: So, Scott, do you use that BULLSHIT graphic in your slides for undergraduates?

SCOTT: No, but I used it my job talk...

Posted by tplambeck at 06:29 PM

March 25, 2008

Gathering for Gardner 8: here I come

Gathering for Gardner 8: here I come
Originally uploaded by Seb Przd
Seb Przd hacks Scott Kim's logo
Posted by tplambeck at 09:54 PM

I fail to persuade Kim to sing a song about California she learned in second grade

Posted by tplambeck at 09:32 PM

March 21, 2008

Owen as seaweed at Ocean Day

THANE: Are you kelp?

OWEN: Yeah.

THANE: All right, good.

Posted by tplambeck at 09:09 PM

March 19, 2008

Game on


The Palo Alto Little League season has started.

All you readers in snowy, rainy, stormy, or otherwise unpleasant climes—keep watching this page!

Posted by tplambeck at 07:56 PM

March 18, 2008

awareness test

via Tom Rodgers

Posted by tplambeck at 08:28 AM

March 17, 2008

St Volodymyr's

St Volodymyr

Somehow reminded me of Syldavia, and the Sprodj Atomic Research Centre

Posted by tplambeck at 10:00 PM

On the music teacher

COLE: He doesn't have great English. In rehearsals, it's hard to tell what he's saying, or even if he's talking to you or not.

THANE: So, what do you do, say "EXCUSE ME—Are you talkin' to ME?!"

COLE: No—my seatmate found a solution—if he's talking somewhere in our general direction, she'll start swaying side-to-side, ever so slightly. If he happens to be talking to us, he'll start swaying, also.

Posted by tplambeck at 09:40 PM

March 11, 2008

cutesyness & killing the circle

A similar problem occurs when teachers or textbooks succumb to "cutesyness." This is where, in an attempt to combat so-called "math anxiety" (one of the panoply of diseases which are actually caused by school), math is made to seem "friendly." To help your students memorize formulas for the area and circumference of a circle, for example, you might invent this whole story about "Mr. C," who drives around "Mrs. A" and tells her how nice his "two pies are" (C = 2πr) and how her "pies are square" (A = πr2) or some such nonsense. But what about the real story? The one about mankindís struggle with the problem of measuring curves; about Eudoxus and Archimedes and the method of exhaustion; about the transcendence of pi? Which is more interesting—measuring the rough dimensions of a circular piece of graph paper, using a formula that someone handed you without explanation (and made you memorize and practice over and over) or hearing the story of one of the most beautiful, fascinating problems, and one of the most brilliant and powerful ideas in human history? We're killing people's interest in circles for god's sake!

Lockhart's Lament

Posted by tplambeck at 08:14 PM

March 08, 2008

Rethinking the hydrocarbon personal motto

This blog used to have the title

If urethane, who am I?

I thought that was pretty good—even though I did get sick of it after awhile. But now I've just thought of

You Tarzan, methane.

Added later: I know, I know—it's supposed to be "Me Tarzan..." But somewhere I've already archived a follow up to that—

ME TARZAN ... [?]

Posted by tplambeck at 08:00 AM

March 06, 2008

Grand Central Station

Originally uploaded by thane

Posted by tplambeck at 11:16 PM

Man crossing street while studying his cell phone, NYC

Man crossing street while studying his cell phone, NYC
Originally uploaded by thane

Posted by tplambeck at 09:31 PM


Originally uploaded by thane

Posted by tplambeck at 09:30 PM

New York subway

New York subway
Originally uploaded by thane

Posted by tplambeck at 09:07 PM

Grand Central Station

Grand Central Station
Originally uploaded by thane

Posted by tplambeck at 08:55 PM

March 05, 2008


1) Old news department: I didn't know that the most powerful politicians in Poland are twin brothers named Kaczynski.

2) On streets of NYC: People promoting a Travel Channel TV show called Bizarre Foods.


They were handing out boxes of flavored crickets:


I gave them to Owen and Cole.

3) From Charlotte Bronte's Villette, which I picked up in an SFO bookstore: the narrator is a young Englishwoman who has traveled to Belgium for no particular reason, looking for work. She finds a job teaching schoolgirls who have the reputation of being troublemakers:

Mesdemoiselles Blanche, Virginie, and Angelique opened the campaign by a series of titterings and whisperings; these soon swelled into murmurs and short laughs, which the remoter benches caught up and echoed more loudly. This growing revolt of sixty against one soon became oppressive enough, my command of French being so limited, and exercised under such cruel constraint.

Could I but have spoken in my own tongue, I felt as if I might have gained a hearing; for, in the first place, though I knew I looked a poor creature, and in many respects actually was so, yet nature had given me a voice that could make itself heard, if lifted in excitement or deepened by emotion. In the second place, while I had no flow, only a hesitating trickle, of language in ordinary circumstances, yet—under stimulus such as was now rife through the mutinous mass—I could, in English, have rolled out readily phrases stigmatizing their proceedings as such proceedings deserved to be stigmatized; and then with some sarcasm, flavoured with contemptuous bitterness for the ringleaders, and relieved with easy banter for the weaker but less knavish followers, it seemed to me that one might possibly get command over this wild herd, and bring them into training, at least. All I could now do was to walk up to Blanche-Mademoiselle de Melcy, a young baronne, the eldest, tallest, handsomest, and most vicious—stand before her desk, take from under her hand her exercise-book, remount the estrade, deliberately read the composition, which I found very stupid, and, as deliberately, and in the face of the whole school, tear the blotted page in two.

This action availed to draw attention and check noise. One girl alone, quite in the background, persevered in the riot with undiminished energy. I looked at her attentively. She had a pale face, hair like night, broad, strong eyebrows, decided features, and a dark, mutinous, sinister eye. I noted that she sat close by a little door, which door, I was well aware, opened into a small closet where books were kept. She was standing up for the purpose of conducting her clamour with freer energies. I measured her stature and calculated her strength. She seemed both tall and wiry; but, so the conflict were brief and the attack unexpected, I thought I might manage her.

Advancing up the room, looking as cool and careless as I possibly could—in short, ayant l'air de rien—I slightly pushed the door and found it was ajar. In an instant, and with sharpness, I had turned on her. In another instant she occupied the closet, the door was shut, and the key in my pocket.

It so happened that this girl, Dolores by name, and a Catalonian by race, was the sort of character at once dreaded and hated by all her associates. The act of summary justice above noted proved popular; there was not one present but, in her heart, liked to see it done. They were stilled for a moment; then a smile—not a laugh—passed from desk to desk. Then, when I had gravely and tranquilly returned to the estrade, courteously requested silence, and commenced a dictation as if nothing at all had happened, the pens travelled peacefully over the pages, and the remainder of the lesson passed in order and industry.

"C'est bien," said Madame Beck, when I came out of class, hot and a little exhausted. "Ca ira."

[That's good—that'll do.]

Posted by tplambeck at 09:47 PM

Times Square

Times Square
Originally uploaded by thane
I'm back from a two-day trip to NYC.
Posted by tplambeck at 09:32 AM

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