The lights are red but we’re gonna keep dancing
All the people are dead but we’re gonna keep dancing
If this was the end would you die not dancing?
— The Trucks, Zombie


Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons.
— Bertrand Russell



I don’t think life in our Solar System is possible.


Black and white were the figures that recorded him
Black and white was the newsprint he was mentioned in
Black and white was the question that so bothered him
He never asked, he was taught not to ask
What was on his lips as they buried him
— The Association, Requiem for the Masses

Straightedge lesbians
are doing shots of lime juice
what strange world is this?


The fortune cookie said: Only count the blessed moments of life.
The pessimist mathematician reasoned: The cursed moments are uncountable.


But the band plays “Waltzing Matilda,”
And the old men still answer the call,
But as year follows year, more old men disappear
Someday, no one will march there at all.
— Eric Bogle


Subway of Leaves, Anonymous, Stachus U1, München


There are only two kinds of people: those that can write well and those that don’t. I don’t count myself to the former, but I can as well have a look at them.

What do they, with their well writing? Bored from pleasing the common readership, the members of this rare folk start trying to please each other by writing the finest and most subtle texts. They write on writing, of course. People who can leverage the full power of a medium end up using the medium for nothing but communicating about it.

Thus, writers write on writing. Ham radio operators morse about signal strength. Mailing lists discuss net culture. Film directors produce movies full of inside jokes. It’s all a mere end in itself.

That’s what literacy is, in the end: Eternal rereading, reinterpretation, recombination of age old stories. Stories that are plain shadows. Metaphors that stand for nothing but themselves. And finally, once you’re bored from the idea of structuralism, you start discussion of structuralism itself.

I shall not act the innocent. Look at what I’m doing, not only writing about writing, but guilty of all above.


A bar walks into a commutative algebraist.


The door code of the lock at the Catholic dorm is 2-0-4-6.
(The Jewish dorm has a lip detector instead.)


Plan 9 and related projects continue being a neverending source of inspiration to me. Consider Octopus’ Mails, which stores mails as directories, with all attachments unpacked. What could be easier and more convenient at the same time? Also see the implementation.

It is time for those of us who are trying to write software for laymen to stop deprecating the efforts of those of us who write software for the communities of sophisticated users that we belong to.
— RMS, Who are our mail systems for?


Let’s have some fun with divergent geometric series. It can be shown (or rather, argued) that 1+2+4+8+\cdots{}=-1

In fact, Euler already knew this. Intuitively one can simply try the well-known closed form for geometric series, that is

x^0 + x^1 + x^2 + x^3 + \cdots{} = {1\over 1-x}

for x>1 (at your own risk!), to find the solution:

2^0 + 2^1 + 2^2 + 2^3 + \cdots{} = {1\over 1-2} = -1

Alternatively, you can use Riemann’s Zeta function

\zeta(s) = \sum_{n=1}^{\infty} {1\over n^s}

which, with s=-2, results after heavy rewriting in -1 again.

For a different perspective, see Bill Gosper in HAKMEM 154, where he figures:

By this strategy, consider the universe, or, more precisely, algebra:

let X = \text{the sum of many powers of two} = \cdots{}111111

now add X to itself; X + X = \cdots{}111110

thus, 2X = X - 1 so X = -1

therefore algebra is run on a machine (the universe) which is twos-complement.


Biologically speaking, if something bites you, it’s more likely to be female.
— Desmond Morris

<chris2> you can't break marshmallows
<hasmanyjo> chris2: you can break anything with enough liquid nitrogen
<chris2> true
<chris2> except for liquid nitrogen
<chris2> ...which still is liquid
<hasmanyjo> chris2: dude, you just blew my mind
<chris2> <- master of the counterexample
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