Trivium

28oct2008

And if I have to go, will you remember me?
Will you find someone else, while I’m away?
There’s nothing for me, in this world full of strangers
It’s all someone else’s idea
— Tom Waits, If I Have To Go

26oct2008

Websites that look like editors. Emacs: chatr (even with keybindings!), Planet Emacsen. Sam: 9grid.it. I know there was a vi-style one too, but I can’t find it—please mail if you know it.

Your trains will not run, your rockets will not fly, your bridges will fall down, if they are constructed with calculations that have sign errors.
— Eric Schechter, Common Errors in College Math

25oct2008

24oct2008

Proof of de Morgan’s laws by rewriting due to Kai Cieliebak.

\begin{align*}
\neg A \vee \neg B &= [\neg(A \wedge B) \vee (A \wedge B)] \wedge (\neg A \vee \neg B)\\
&= [\neg(A \wedge B) \wedge (\neg A \vee \neg B)] \vee [A \wedge B \wedge \neg A] \vee [A \wedge B \wedge \neg B]\\
&= \neg(A \wedge B) \wedge [\neg A \vee \neg B \vee (A \wedge B)]\\
&= \neg(A \wedge B) \wedge [\neg A \vee \neg B \vee A] \wedge [\neg A \vee \neg B \vee B]\\
&= \neg(A \wedge B)
\end{align*}

(Update: Mistake in my transcription found by Gregory Brown and his girlfriend.)

21oct2008

How many hands must we clap before the tree falls?

15oct2008

Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a deep ocean of anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair.
Bertrand Russell: What I Have Lived For

Pontual: To be a great mathematician, does one have to be mad?
Chaitin: [Laughs] Well, I don’t think it’s necessary, but it helps!

14oct2008

If the bailout plan really is a ‘socialist’ measure, it is a very peculiar one: a ‘socialist’ measure whose aim is to help not the poor but the rich, not those who borrow but those who lend.

12oct2008

So long, Mom,
I’m off to drop the bomb,
So don’t wait up for me.
But though I may roam,
I’ll come back to my home,
Although it may be
A pile of debris.
— Tom Lehrer, So Long, Mom (A Song for World War III)

11oct2008

When you design for the physical world, you design with it. Nature is
your collaborator. Most product designers have the advantage of
centuries of experience with artifacts in the physical world, and so
they’ve had 500 drafts or 40,000 attempts in their experience
base. Software is fiction, it is imagination. Not many rules apply. We
are just 50 years into it and going as strong as we can.

Animated GIFs

Oberon

I vividly remember my frustrating experiences in 1976 in learning to
program in Smalltalk, which supposedly was intended to make
programming a child’s play. Accustomed to learn to understand a
feature before applying it, and in want of a suitable manual, I
frequently resorted to ask directly Smalltalk’s designers, just a few
office doors away. Invariably their explanations came in terms of
diagrams with boxes, stacks and pointers, raising more questions than
answers. They explained their implementation, unwilling to distinguish
between the language and its interpreting mechanism. Their
abstractions could only be understood through the reactions of a
computer! It may well be that children chiefly learn by
experimentation and observation. Scientists, however, should be beyond
this stage, and they must not be denied the much more powerful means
of abstraction and logical deduction.
— Niklaus Wirth, The Essence of Programming Languages

The world of money
is all imaginary.
Now everyone knows.
— Ran Prieur

I’m toying bit around with the formatting for the next days, since some people find slashed lists too hard to read.

09oct2008

06oct2008

05oct2008

Anyone who cannot cope with mathematics is not fully human. At best he is a tolerable subhuman who has learned to wear shoes, bathe, and not make messes in the house.
— Robert A. Heinlein

04oct2008

“times are so bad, i’ve been buying gold”
“you’re not pessimistic enough, i’ve been buying rice”

03oct2008

Welcome Anarchaia readers! You probably are a bit shocked now, but you don’t need to be. Stick around a bit, read the intro and don’t forget to subscribe if you want to get updates.

02oct2008

More design tweaks, as usual the devil is in the details. I added 4px additive leading to every paragraph, a necessary compromise between a full line height (which would have ripped the layout) and nothing at all (which was too dense, making it difficult to read).

Somehow typography is easier when you do it for paper.

01oct2008

I have to admit I forgot where I picked up this scan of Cybernetic Serendipity: the computer and the arts (PDF, 11.2 MB) from 1968, but it is too interesting to let it settle dust in my tabs. Remember:

You can create art and beauty on a computer.

To quote from the introduction:

It is very rare, however, that new media and new systems should bring in their wake new people to become involved in creative activity, be it composing music, drawing, constructing or writing.

This is what happened in the advent of computers. […] People who would never have put pencil to paper, brush to canvas, have started making images, both still and animated, which approximate and often look identical to what we call ‘art’ and put in public gallieries.

The book is full of such art.

It also includes one of the first digital images ever scanned, which took 16 hours to plot again—depicting Norbert Wiener.

There are articles written by Karlheinz Stockhausen and John Cage on computer music, by Norbert Wiener on cybernetics, by Lionel Penrose (Roger Penrose’s dad) on automatic mechanical self-replication (available 40 years later).

It features an article on how Music IV is used, an early predecessor to Csound that still exists today, on simulated synaesthesia, on combinatorial geometry and on computer-proportioned buildings. Sketchpad already is dismissed as “now ‘antique’”, in spite of being just six year old.

One article compares Mondrian’s “Composition with lines” to computer generated art. There are even ALGOL programs for “rendering” balls.

And then, there are computer-aided haikus:

eons deep in the ice
I see gelled time in a whorl
pffftt the sludge has cracked

It’s a true gem, don’t miss it.

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