Thursday, March 22, 2012

Not Not Double Negation

“Interestingly, one mathematician won the Fields Medal (mathematics' most prestigious prize) by distinguishing formally between not-not-A and A. Paul Cohen of Stanford showed how to develop a formal logic (called forcing) in which not-not-A and A are different. He capitalized on this distinction to show that certain mathematical statements (among them Cantor's continuum hypothesis) are neither necessarily true nor necessarily false.” -Keith Devlin, Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Language and Information at Stanford University.

In short, it has been proven that one cannot claim double negatives are assertions of the fact that is being doubly negated. It’s a slap in the face to annoying nitpickers everywhere!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


I just had this conversation in my head:

Did you say “2K12”? You sound like a toucan.

Alright, how would you pronounce the year? Two thousand twelve?

Usually, yeah. You have a problem with that?

Well, it’s got a lot of syllables, doesn’t it? It’s a bit gangly. “Two thousand” has one more syllable than “nineteen,” and it doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily, either. It’s bothered me ever since we hit the new millennium.

Seriously? How old were you then? Eight?

I was a conscientious child.

How’s this: twenty-twelve. That matches the past style of saying “nineteen” to represent nineteen hundred, and it even has a nice “tw” sound to it.

It works, I guess. Sounds weird, but I’ll have to get used to it. Wait. No, that’s bad... it does open us up to a bunch of dumb jokes about eyesight eight years from now.

Yeah, but we’ll get those anyway. Besides, they can’t be worse than the apocalypse jokes this year, and the “where’s the flying cars?” jokes in a couple more.

True. It’ll sound a bit more natural once get past the teen years, too. You could say that the outlook gets better after 2020.

...that’s not going to be funny in eight years.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

“I hate you!” he shouted. “I hate you and your stupid comical comparisons!” His face was red and contorted, like a crayola left out on the stove. “You make them all the time. Try showing a little human empathy,” he added, bubbling.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Famous Poets as an action team:

William Shakespeare is the team leader.
Edgar Allen Poe is the dark, edgy, cloaked one.
Robert Frost is the hard-hitting tough guy.
Emily Dickinson is the token female.
Lewis Carroll is the comedic relief.

Also, e.e. cummings is an odd side-character who helps them on occasion, though he’s never recovered from his encounter with a pack of Grammar Nazis.

I'm sorry to leave out Hemmingway, Lord Byron, and the Bronte sisters... but there's always the sequel.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fun Fact

In the past three millennia of world history, the average imperial power has survived for 215 years. America, measured from the ratification of the constitution, is now 223 years old.

I find this hilarious, because it sounds like one of those quaint, patently ridiculous "facts" that people pass around online, but I found it in a scholarly article by a guy who researched the fact himself. Evidence:

"Using a data set of empires that spans over 3,000 years, I wanted to create a model that could show us, statistically, what the lifetimes of empires look like. There are many more complex and intricate models of how civilizations grow and decay, but perhaps something could be gained by creating a very simple model that looks only at life span.

This data set is expansive, including everything from the Babylonian Empire of ancient Mesopotomia - known for such contributions as Hammurabi’s Code - to the Byzantine Empire, which has provided us with the eponymous word for red tape. Some of the world’s empires lasted an exceptionally long time: The ancient, and now little known, Elam empire located in present-day Iran lasted a thousand years. Others were short-lived, for all their power: The Phrygian and Lydian empires were around for only about six decades each. (The data set, based on earlier research in empires, ends at 600 A.D.)

If you crunch these all together, the first thing you discover is that the average lifetime of these powers is 215 years.

If you’re playing at home, this number is pessimistically eerie: It’s been 223 years since the ratification of the US Constitution. And that should perhaps give us some pause. To make this explicit, the United States has now outlasted the majority of the empires in my historical data set, and is now crossing the threshold into hoary old age."


Life at the moment

I have three eight-page papers to complete in the next four weeks, at least three four-pagers (I haven't counted em yet), a website to design and launch, and a couple finals, on top of my typical homework for my seven classes. I've also volunteered to help prepare posters for the senior projects of the honors kids graduating this year. I'm not sure why I did, as I'm a tad busy already... probably the same reason I'm taking the time to write this post. Maybe it's terrible priorities.

On the upside, I've finished my internship duties for a month or so, and as of last Saturday, also finished the production of Alice in Wonderland in which I was the Mad Hatter. It sold out for six out of eight shows, but we couldn't extend the run for another weekend, which is just as well, as next Saturday I'll be attempting to shoot an entire short film within one day.

I was hoping to do Nanowrimo this year, too... But I do have a week-long Thanksgiving break coming up. I might be able to dash off 50 thousand words.

College study tip:

If you leave your book alone on a library table overnight or even for several hours, the libraries clear it away. But if you stick it spread-eagled on one of the display shelves, no one notices or cares, and it’s easily retrieved later. It’s hiding in plain sight. There’s probably a cool story in there.

Maybe one written in the 1800s by Edgar Allen Poe.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Joke

An immigrant from the old country came through Ellis Island. As part of a physical exam, he was asked to read a line of letters on an eye chart. Pointing to the fourth row (which contained the letters S Z Q W R E K Z I), the doctor asked, "Can you read these letters?" "Read them?!!" The man exclaimed, "I KNOW the man!"

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Yet another quote

“On at least four of the 16 occasions between April and July that I went to Guy's for my venesections I was accosted outside the McDonald's on St Thomas Street by the same young man. He was well-spoken if shabbily dressed, and had the limp-scrape gait and the paradoxical features – at once sharply etched and poorly registered – of the street junky. Each time he asked me for change and each time I asked him if he had a drug problem. The first time he denied this I told him: "Sorry, I only give money to people who have a drug problem." So, predictably, he back-pedalled: "No, no, I do have an 'abit …" Addiction being such a great leveller, it planes away even the ability to detect irony. Then I zeroed in for the kill. "I'm sorry again, but I don't give money to liars." And he desperately rejoined: "I juss don't like to admit it straight up. Y'know what people are like …" Finally, I relented and gave him a pound coin or two, before subjecting him – in the time-honoured Sally Army way – to a homily in return for his handout.” 

- English Novelist Will Self

Monday, October 17, 2011


I once heard a story (originally told by Kevin Young) about Gerson Goldhaber, who was a physicist at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. He was talking on the phone with another physicist at SLAC near Stanford University near the end of the day on Tuesday, October 17, 1989. The SLAC physicist suddenly interrupted with, “Gerson, I have to go! There’s a very big earthquake happening!” and then hung up. So Gerson stepped out into a group of people in the hall, made a big show of yawning and checking his watch, then said, “Aren’t we about due for an earthquake?” Before anyone could respond, the Loma Prieta earthquake reached Berkeley, and he became a legend.

-the XKCD blog

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

“I know that David Tennant's Hamlet isn't till July. And lots of people are going to be doing Dr Who in Hamlet jokes, so this is just me getting it out of the way early, to avoid the rush...
"To be, or not to be, that is the question. Weeelll.... More of A question really. Not THE question. Because, well, I mean, there are billions and billions of questions out there, and well, when I say billions, I mean, when you add in the answers, not just the questions, weeelll, you're looking at numbers that are positively astronomical and... for that matter the other question is what you lot are doing on this planet in the first place, and er, did anyone try just pushing this little red button?”
― Neil Gaiman