Monday, November 16, 2015

A small post to loosen my brain and strengthen the nerves

In December, Puzzle and Game night will deal with the idea of facing anxiety. The motivation for the event will be the concept of an entirety spent alone and never trying to attempt to reach dreams. Is this world real or just illusion perpetrated by others? One will never know until they leave the walls that confine them and venture outside of their comfort zone.

I like to say we make our own success. What I need to say is that the only failure is being too scared to try. This job is taking my spirit. The people around me convince me that the only life worth living is a life of money and security because being poor sucks. I guess it is, but the fear of staying still and never trying is worse.

Have you ever had to write something, but your brain is clogged with other thoughts? I mean, god damn, this isn't even writer's block, this is staring at a piece of paper and wanting to write something different than what I'm supposed to. Best way I found to deal with the situation is to write the annoying thoughts, get them out of the way, then focus on the real work. This helps lube the brain and gets the fingers lose.

God, this works every time. Who needs alcohol when this boosts the confidence just as well?

Thursday, November 5, 2015

9 Books that every dumb person who wishes to be smart should read

I really like reading, but I hate book lists. There is a good audience for this, I think. Do you all ever read these damn things and get the feeling the author stopped reading after high school? Like, they got a reading list with Great Gatsby, Slaughterhouse 5, and the Grapes of Wrath then decided that literature both begins and ends with those books.

I haven't read much Fitzgerald, but I used to love Vonnegut. That never would have happened if I just read Slaughterhouse 5. Vonnegut was what was right with Sci-Fi from the 50's and 60's in that he used sci-fi concepts to explore human nature. Sure, Slaughterhouse 5 sticks with it and has aliens and time travel while dealing with the horrors and futility of war, but every time I see that book on a list instead of something like God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater or Sirens of Titan, my soul cries a little. What makes some of his earlier work so memorable in my mind is his wit. His way with words made for some funny scenes while picking apart the world around him. That just doesn't come to my mind when I think Slaughterhouse 5. Slaughterhouse brings out my pretentious side at parties, the hipster part of me that talks about the fire bombing of Dresden and how important that book was in exposing the hypocrisy of people who think that there is just war. You know what though? Rosewater mentions Dresden. Cat's Cradle is a great allegory about the Bomb. To this day though, I think the best introduction to Vonnegut is Welcome to the Monkey house. I may not suggest it to people as much because it's a collection of short stories, but it covers a wide array of his work, so you get exposed to his early style as well as some of his post Slaughterhouse style. You should read Vonnegut, stop suggesting Slaughterhouse 5 because your high school English teacher liked it so much.

John Steinbeck is the same message, just a little harder because every English teacher loves him and all of his work is on every reading list. It's just between Grapes of Wrath and Slaughterhouse 5, it seems these people making lists not only want me to think that they are well read, but they TOTALLY know about history and junk too. God, people who write on the Internet are just so deep and mysterious and I bet they're just like a calm, dark river with a strong undertow.

I was going to write about Steinbeck, but it would just sound like Vonnegut above. You should read Tortilla Flats though. It would describe the Millennials if you replace 'wine' with 'marijuana'. Or read The Pearl because Steinbeck's best trick is writing an ending that makes you question your life and want to hide in a dark corner and hug your dog. No, instead let us talk books that are fun stories and also about history. Let's talk about All Creatures Great and Small. What a good mix of stories. Funny, heartwarming, depressing, and the whole time talks about life as a veterinarian in a small village in England in the 30's. Usually when I talk books with my dad, Harry Potter and this series comes up. We both have different tastes, I like deep heavy works where you have stop every 5 pages to think, or works of fiction with a deeper meaning behind them. He likes historical books about World War 2 and young adult fantasy and Sci-Fi. All Creatures and the other books in this series has something for everyone and does it well. Seriously, it doesn't challenge the ideas of how a story should be told like Joyce or Grapes of Wrath, but at least one or two of these stories will stick with you years later. Like James Herriot, the author, delivering a foal whilst intoxicated. Or him rescuing a dog that had been abandoned and had gang green along it's hind legs. Maybe try showing your sensitive side off when you talk books.

You know, the more I work on this list, and the more I think about other lists, the more I just don't like some other lists. So reading isn't something you should do to unwind after a hard day at work, no that's the job of TV. There is only one reason to read and make lists of books that others should read and that is to prove that you are just a much better person. I need books on here that show that I understand what the world is going through right now. Books that show an un-American perspective on current events. Especially in the middle East, because Americans are so stupid they can't even find the middle East on a globe. Something that shows the proud culture of these misunderstood people. Well, I don't have anything like that. But have you read The Koran, The Bible, or The Epic of Gilgamesh? Those books really mesh, and they give the illusion that you once took a class in theology.

No, I want to talk about Ayn Rand. Her ideas found a resurgence in pop culture a few year back, and I have to wonder if many of you out there read any of her books. Not all of her work, mind you, it's just I have met plenty of people who have opinions on Ayn Rand but not as many who have read her work. Personally, I think you should read The Fountainhead because it's not as long as Atlas Shrugged and it's also the only book I've read by her. The reason why is that I've read plenty of things about Objectivism, so I'm frightened that her other books will destroy my thoughts on Fountainhead.

I think objectivists miss the point. They really seem more like hardcore capitalists who believe that hard work leads to success, and success means having more money than God. Sure, in the end Howard Roark gets the girl, makes the money and gives a speech, but what has stuck with me isn't that he worked hard, he worked hard at something he's passionate about. Characters fail in the novel because they are either sooth sayers or they do what other people think they should do. Honestly, over the next few months I will probably spend a bit of time talking about radical ideas, socialism, and anarchy because that's the type of stuff I've been reading, besides all the books about mathematics. So if you end up getting fed up with all my hippy bullshit, come back to this and realize that I think well read people should read this book, if not something by Ayn Rand.

Speaking of hippy bullshit, I rediscovered Deschooling Society by Ivan Illich. He was not a hippy, but you should read this book because I want to talk about it, but it is so very hard to talk about. Long story short, education is the greatest thing that happens to men, but we are always learning and school is an institution that is what is wrong with society. He argues that we need to not just get rid of school, but change our outlook on education. School is not something that allows the poor to rise out of their existence, because the poor don't have the same resources to get a good education out of school. Education should not be a means to end, which is making money and keeping your self in the right class or moving up to a higher class. An actual education is important, but his argument is that any means of school reform is useless, because school is the problem. We need to spend more time meeting with people with different ideas, we need to learn for fun, and travel for pleasure and knowledge, not to wear as a badge of honer to show off to your friends. It's hard to talk about because it's very radical, so read it so we can talk more about it, m'kay?

The Karma Sutra. I'm worried that this list is looking like the reading list of repressed white nerd, so going with that theme is The Karma Sutra. Famous for naughty pictures, I'm impressed with the way it handles the topic of sex. Forget about the sexual positions, some of those are designed for a culture that includes stretching in their religion. Instead, focus on the fact that the book has tables in it. Tables that show the perfect coupling between the various sizes of vaginas and penises. A religious work on sex that dares to claim that some people aren't as horny as other people. Even in our modern culture where we can talk about sex and use fruit to show that vaginas come in various shapes and sizes, this concept that not every one has the same sexual appetites is still some how lost in that discussion. And The Karma Surtra has tables to help demonstrate these ideas.

This entire post was inspired by a list of books I read this morning called Books Every Well Read Person Has Read. When it comes to reading, I have no tolerance for pretentious people. You can read thick, heavy tomes that examine what human nature is. You can read ancient literature that influenced the modern novel. Reading is so many things, and it's been around for so long that you can still read the words and first hand accounts of people and cultures that have been dead for centuries. That is not a claim that movies can make, and you can listen to modern interpretations of classical composers, but you will never hear an orchestra lead by Bach. Books and reading do not make you an interesting and introspective person. They help expose you to new ideas and thoughts, but that will never happen if you keep suggesting I read On the Origin of Species. Because of the "Well read person" statement, I was going to put C.P. Snow on this list. When I started talking about his books is when others started calling me well read. But you know what every well read person has read? Some guilty pleasure, sort of trashy pulp novel. It wasn't for escapism. It wasn't to gain new insights to an otherwise foreign culture. It was because they just like to read. Here something everyone should read: next time you're on the shitter, read the back of a shampoo bottle. Maybe read the text on a macaroni box when you're in the kitchen. Don't read for any grand reason or you need a way to impress your next date. Just read for the fact that you can read, and try to find some enjoyment in it.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Post Title

I should just write this in seasons. That way. in my mind I could justify taking time off. Man, every job should be like that.

I kind of miss that when I was farm hand. Summer time was the farm, something I loved to do and wanted to be better at, then winter was time  to do something new. A chance to refocus and try something else for a change. Okay, I always like to stop and redefine success for myself, and that is how I know I will have done well for myself in 5 years. If I can take 3 months off and then return to my job to refocus, then I've found my calling in life.

It's the moeteny that gets to you in life. Waking up every day and rinse, recycle repeat the same pattern. This is not a life I was meant for, a life where I just do the same thing every day. I fought against before, so why accept it now? Why just sit here and let life decide what it wants for me? There is nothing in that except for frustration.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Fuck the shit, and fuck your politics

I started watching the democratic debate, and coincidently I started drinking. Honestly, I've stopped watching because 5 minutes in I relieazed I hate real world politics when I start to follow it. So I'll tell you what, Imma gonna make a pot of tea, spike it with more whiskey, and then I'll rant to the void about the anarchist  and socialist stuff I've been reading lately.

For anyone playing along at home, I'm drinking green tea mixed with coconut milk, sugar, and a big dose of Jack Daniels brand whiskey. Yes, that's right, Jack Daniels brand whiskey is the only whiskey recommended by both doctors and pediatricians. If life has got you down and nothing seems to go your way, then try Jack Daniels brand whiskey for a new, IMPROVED, outlook on life.

What has fueled tonight's concept is drinking, Clinton's comment that capitalism is great because a business person can own there own business, and a small argument with a roommate about what Marx REALLY said. There's a couple thoughts I have right now, first: I've heard that said before, and that's not what make capitalism great. That's not even what makes it unique. Second: If you own your own business, you have pay various taxes and fees to the state and various licensing bodies, as well as trying to make money for your investors, so do you REALLY own your own business in our version or capitalism?

Did you know that Vladimir Lenin believed in private ownership of business? He did not believe in private ownership of property, but business he felt could help the state because of competition and such. Citation needed, but what keeps me from posting regularly is fact checking, so come at me bro. My point is, capitalism vs communism is not who gets to own the business. There was way more government regulation in the USSR, but that didn't stop people. Aside, I would argue that there was more of punk rock attitude in the USSR during the '70's then the rest of the world. Listen to Aquarium.

Wait, back up. So what is the difference? The best argument I found is The Capitalist's Bible, who argued that "Like classic economics, Marxian economics is based on the labor theory of value." To you the reader I ask, who deserves the fruit of labor? The best I can do is this: Socialism v Objectism. The value of an object is based on it's value. It's value is based on how much someone wants it. If I go out, and based on my initiative I decide to start selling widgets, because fuck all, whiskey has decided everyone needs a widget. The thing is, in order to produce one of these damn things I need a company. For ease, it's me, a salesman, a builder, and a janitor. Who should make the most money?

Simple Marxian economics is that the person who produced the most labor makes the most money. Without the builder, then the company is SOL. Objectivism says that since I make the tough decisions, then I should make the most money and fuck the janitor since we can clean our own damn building. Now, I included both the salesman and the janitor since they are both necessary jobs that I avoid like the plague. Sure, good man, good chairs, hard beaten path to his door and all that jazz, but his chairs are useless if no one knows about them. Also, I fucking hate cleaning. The only reason why I want too much money is to pay someone to clean for me. Sure I could sell my own product and clean up after myself, but to me the value of people who can do this better is worth it. This because time saved cleaning and selling is time spent coming up with new and better ideas.

In modern society, it's more complex. Man has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These are all marketable goods that have been assigned values by economists. Man, who thought that if you have the ability to help others, you should? It wasn't followers of Ayn Rand. It's just those basic human rights have too high of value. Not dieing of dehydration due to my own bad decisions is somewhere around 1500 USD. It's my right to be alive, but that's about as much as I make in a month, before my cost of living. If I can't buy the dollar value of not dieing of dehydration, should I be left to die and keep myself out of the gene pool? That's not even capitalism, that jut a strange concept from the early 20th century.

Should society meet the rights of the individual, or the should the individual meet the needs of of society? Is personal liberty more important than the greater good? The price of material comes from what value people put on it as well as the labor involved. It's a strange delicate system that is better suited for a different time. That's not the important question we need to ask ourselves. The money entitled to me, as a worker, does that go to an awesome mansion, a new car, and a rocking health care plane? Or does it go to "society" which could be me, or a down on his luck worker, or some lazy bastard who works the system? I don't know, because whiskey and green tea. You figure it out, I'm going to pass out. Luis Prat and Utah Phillips, play me out.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Binary Logic, puzzles and Boolean Algebra

Today, I give you a nice, simple Sudoku like puzzle to start with, called binary puzzle. It comes in 3 sizes: 6x6, 8x8, and 10x10. Check it out here and here are the rules.

Simple, fun, something to do and now for an actual discussion on Binary and Boolean logic. Keeping these posts short and sweet is nice, sort of. This will help me practice for some other short posts I need to write on other topics.

I used to enjoy converting numbers into binary in high school and working with them because it was so damn easy. And it helped me understand how places work. When working with any counting system, the first number on the right is always the ones place, or x0 where x is the base. 20 = 1. 100 = 1. 10000000000000666000000000000010 = 1. Why? Well, Dr. Math has the answer. For those looking to just read this before moving on to the next blog, here's his proof:
While the above argument might help convince your intuitive side that any number to the zero power is 1, the following argument is a little more rigorous.
This proof uses the laws of exponents. One of the laws of exponents is:
   --- = n^(x-y)
for all n, x, and y. So for example,
   --- = 3^(4-2) = 3^2

   --- = 3^(4-3) = 3^1
Now suppose we have the fraction:
This fraction equals 1, because the numerator and the denominator are the same. If we apply the law of exponents, we get:
   1 = --- = 3^(4-4) = 3^0 
So 3^0 = 1. We can plug in any in number in the place of three, and that number raised to the zero power will still be 1. In fact, the whole proof works if we just plug in x for 3:
  x^0 = x^(4-4) = --- = 1
Anyway, back to binary. So one's place is always 1 * whatever the number is. Next to that is x1, so in base 10 it's the ten's place, base 16 it's the sixteenth, and the Mayans called it the 20's place. Binary was simple to convert for this reason: 1001001 would be 1 * 26 + 0 * 25 + 0 * 24 + 1 * 23 + 0 * 22 + 0 * 21 + 0 * 20 or 64 + 8 + 1 or 73 in base 10. I can't believe I just wrote that out. Just showing my work like a good student.

Boolean algebra is good stuff too. What to say about that is simple, since I already dug myself this hole yesterday? Well, here are details about it all. Boolean and binary are not the same, but Boolean can help you build a binary calculator with LEDs. That's all I have today. Come back tomorrow when I try something a little easier. Or celebrate Good Friday, that's okay too.

Twitter: @aristotlesmstk, facebook, you know the whole usual drill.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A* algorithm

The theme for my A to Z challenge is puzzles, games, and algorithms. I already have to spend my time looking for this my math group, so hopefully this cuts down on the amount of brain juice I have to excrete in my day.

To start with A, I choose the A* algorithm. The linked video is "short", about 14 minutes but can be run in the in the background. It explains the math behind this path-finding algorithm.

I like computers and making computers and running computers and such, but I never took comp sci so I didn't start learning about A.I. algorithms until the past year or so. What grabbed my interest in these programs are two videos, and for your viewing pleasure I'll link them. Originally, it was videos of slime mold solving mazes. I'm also a mushroom man, so watching videos about slime mold solving mazes really got me excited.

Of course, this was just a novelty video we were showing around work to each other. "OOH! Look at the mold! It thinks it's smart!" It wasn't until I started finding GIFs on StumbleUpon demonstrating the maze solving capabilities of Dijkstra and A* that it changed from "novel curiosity" to "Holy shit, that looks exactly like slime mold!"

That's the best video I could find to try and show what I'm talking about. Sadly, I'm not as good at saving links I find as I should be, so I can't show the actual webpage that made me excited. Now, wouldn't you rather see this used to control Mario?

There was an AI competition where people wrote programs that control Mario in an attempt to complete a level. This is the video that got me interested in learning more about the algorithm, and it was the winner of the first competition.

Enjoy watching videos as you surf through A to Z today. Come back tomorrow for "Binary Logic, puzzles, and Boolean Algebra". I'll do a better explanation of how this algorithm works on Saturday with "Dijkstra". Also, I'm on the usual social network sites with Facebook, @aristotlemstk on twitter, and there's a Google+ link.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Political thoughts.

For a moment, let's say that a manager is not more important than a janitor. We'll take this road, because people like the idea of freedom. Freedom does not mean that an entire world is closed off to you because you have no money, so in order to get things you need to be an idea man. You need to be a manager. For a moment, and for the sake of discussion, lets think that "the slacker" is not an unmotivated, unintelligent bum, but instead they do find joy in certain task that others find undesirable. And why not? The world would fall apart without a janitor or a garbage man because if you got rid of those jobs people would be forced to clean up after themselves. Progress would come to a grinding halt because CEO's, the men with the plans, would have devote time and brain space to small unimportant tasks, and therefore have no time to come up with ways to make the world a better place to live.

Reward on education and skills is a utopian dream. Here me out though: A business doesn't run in layers. One department doesn't work harder than another department, it just works differently. You can remove unproductive and lazy people, or people who aren't a good fit, or any other excuse you can find for removing an individual. Remove a group, a department, a community, and the business will fall apart.

Engineers are awesome,and I will sing our praises until the end of time. Data analysts are gods among men. With no sales knowledge, or a sales staff, then we are just hobbyists. Sales without a product is a crazy man with a cardboard sign. Without leadership or direction, these guys wander and flounder and create novilities and toys. But without a good work force, "Leadership" is that asshole at family get-togethers that bosses you around with any contributions.

Why does an "idea man" get more? I can take classes in management, business, and arts for creativity. I can work my weekends at a market or sell drugs to learn how to hustle like a player. An idea man isn't special, and established companies have shown that a CEO can be fired or traded. Rewarding the hard work it takes to get there in the first place I'm all for. To get to that level of trust and skill takes years of hard work and fuck ups and success. And a CEO of company that makes money globally as opposed to locally, I can see the reasoning in why they would make more. Why should a CEO who's worked his way to the top make more money than a maintenance man who's work as long and has hard.

I say maintenance and not janitor because the modern janitor does more than clean spills. Cleaning the floors and building, repairing machines that break, watching over the maintenance of a fleet, and making sure a building is taken care of can all fall under the duties of the maintenance department. Not all companies handle this in the same way, mind you. Some find that big specialized tasks need to be hired to outside companies. But the head of maintenance is the one who deals and orchestrates with them. Cleaning is a task that different companies deal with differently, so janitor may be a thing doesn't technically exist where you work. It doesn't exist at my job. We have people who clean, but that isn't there only job. They work production, but during slower points in the day, they're job is to help clean. The reason I'm focusing on this concept is because of a webpage on objectivism decided to make an example out of why a CEO is better then a janitor. I can't find this again, sadly, but if I do, I'll link it here.

New man on the job, sure, don't pay him that much because he's fresh face, eager to work, but doesn't know shit about anything. But why is someone who is the head of a department like maintenance paid less then head of management? It's not education, really. The education it takes these days to know anything is extensive. Sure, your college may not be as expensive as the other guys. That's a whole other discussion that I could rant about, but for now let's say that's not the cost of education that's important, but what you do with it. Remember, for discussion we live in a utopia.

Not years of experience, either. For comparison, what's the difference between 2 fifty year old men who both went to school when they where 18, and graduated to find paying jobs. Assume that one is the CEO and one is the head of Maintenance. The way they dress and hobbies are different, values might not be the same, but experience wise they are same in their respective fields.

Accountability is an issue. One of these men reports to the other. One man makes decisions that affects how smoothly and well a company runs, a job that has a huge impact on others jobs. The other wears a nice suit and drives a nice car.

My point isn't to belittle either job. My point is to say "What is the value of a person?" At it's core, capitalism likes to say that it rewards hard-workers, that each man is free. But it still puts a different value on different jobs. This is not my final thoughts on this, it's just the beginning. Something capitalism has given us is ideas on how to share limited rescorces. It's just that it's cheerleaders come off as pretty fucking clueless. If you can't afford a car, and your options are "McDonald's or don't eat out" in walking or biking distance of where you live, then you don't eat at McDonald's because you like the taste. That's a reference to another webpage, which I swear will be linked later tonight. Of course, you can go shopping and eat in. Where I live, the shopping options aren't good. Unless it's a supermarket, stores don't carry a lot of produce because it went bad months ago before it got here. I live in PA, but all the small markets are getting their stock from Hannaford's in Massachusetts. Like, the stuff that couldn't be sold in New England comes down here. My options for a quick meal in is frozen pizza, or really anything with a long shelf life and little nutritional value. When faced with choice like that, the mind begins to think "Sure, freedom exists. To people with money."

Really, though, what makes the internet great is that if you don't agree with me, I'll probably here it. Post any thoughts in the comments below, or tell me opinions @aristotlesmstk at twitter, or it's on Facebook if that's your poison. Me, I'm gonna finish this book on Emma Goldman's essay and go back to stumbling political and mathematical websites.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Math as a tool

While this is still fresh in my mind, I have a little bit to say about this video:

That video is calculus and is about finding the minimum and maximum using the second directive. I don't have much to say about how the function works, mostly because I'm still processing it myself, but mostly what it is used for.

When I took trigonometry years ago, one of the many things that bothered me about mathematics was their examples of "real world" applications of using trig. The problem was something like "There's a guy who sets up tents for the circus, He needs so much rope, and if the pole is this length and the angle needs to that angle, how much rope does he need?" The problem was dumb I thought because you would figure out how much rope you need the first time, add a little extra, then always keep that length of rope. Now, what it was TRYING to do was make math accessible, and showing the student how to translate this "real world" problem into mathematical language to solve. I still maintain it was dumb.

A great example of trig in the real world? Carpentry, or most forms of civil engineering. Triangles are everywhere in construction, and the formons I've met not only know SOHCAHTOA by heart, but they know what it does and how to use it properly.

Anything that has to be done by enough people repetitively needs to be or has been turned into a tool for maximum efficacy. I need second derivatives at my job. There is a device called a Near-Infrared Machine, or NIR, that is awesome because it analyzes the heat waves from the bonds of molecules to determine what kind of molecule it is. It prints out a graph that is the molecular make-up of the material in question. I like to tell people that I've seen molecules, but I like to tell people all sorts of crazy shit. This machine, though, is data analysis. To get anything useful from this machine, you need a ton of points of data and then you need the second derivative.

The second derivative is useful for data analysis, which he briefly mentions for statisticians. Then he talks about his drive to work. It's a great tool for data analysis because have you ever been given a list of numbers and tried to find the minimum and maximum by looking at it, then tried to do a bunch of predictions on it? I have, because sometimes I don't have the right tools, and anyone who tells you I'm smart is a liar. It's horrible, but the thing is, if every time I need a second derivative I did the whole thing out by hand, then I would slowly go insane and I wouldn't have time for anything else and I couldn't store anything else in my brain because I would have to devote part of my brain to just doing the second goddamn derivative. So I have a machine do it for me, or if I want to get fancy, Python or R or Perl can do it faster than I can.

Knowing how it works is cool and important because of zen, really. Simply put, by understanding the makeup of something, what you can do with it is awesome. Failing that, just simply knowing where to use it and when to use it is more important for people. In my Utopian dream world, everyone can work on their own vehicles, make road warrior constructs from crap they find in the junk yard, and know how to make a 20 year old computer work by running the right version of linux. They also know how to program. This world is the least of my eccentricities, I assure you. This is a crazy fantasy land, so I would be happy with people just knowing how to drive a car in a good way and learning how to properly maintain it. Math is as much a tool as a car is, and can be just as dangerous sometimes, so learning how to use the right tools for the right job would be enough for. Please math teachers of the world: I know you're a math nerd that likes to see the patterns in everyday life, but you're car ride to work may not be the demonstration of a principle.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Guess what day it is!?

I wasn't going to post anything about pi day today, because it's expected, and we make a big deal out of weird number milestones, also it's my day of after 2 hectic weekends. Apparently, there is another holiday today that seems to exist to stir controversy. Yes, we men need a day to celebrate what it means to be a man, damn it! For too long, holidays like Valentines, Women's Day, and Mother's Day force us to be civil to women, and they cast a shadow over Columbus Day, Martin Luther King Day, Jefferson and Washington's birthdays along with President's day, those two holidays that celebrate the life and death of a famous religious man (Christmas and Easter), all the holidays that celebrate man's contribution to history. Also, the other holiday falls between Mardi Gras, which is known for large amounts of alcohol and sluts pretending to have something to do with religion, and St. Patrick's day, an excuse to drink until you black out pretending to be a celebration of Irish culture. As a man, I demand more holidays to make up for the three days in which women are the center of attention!

 Truth is, I don't have a girlfriend to celebrate with, so I might as well celebrate the lame math day for dorks and nerds. I could post a link to my own post about Sophie Germain Primes or maybe a link to Sofia Kovalevskaya's wikipedia page. Kovaleskaya is a bad ass as a woman and a mathematician, since she hung out with some of Russia's greatest philosophers at the time, and figured out a way to get educated, become the first female professor of mathematics in Russia AND Europe, and wrote a book on Nihilism along with her work in differential calculus. But that would be about women, though. Honestly, I feel Russians are largely unappreciated in their contribuitons to science in the last 100 years, so you should read about Vladimir Kovalevsky, Sophia's husband. Honestly, the information on him in English is slim to none and I think the only thing resembling a biography on him was written by Stephen Gould. It's a shame really. He only wrote one book on the evolution of horses, but it inspired further research into the field. Him and his brother were the earliest evolutionary biologists due to the fact that Vladimir had know Darwin personally. He even translated The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication and published it before the official English version. He did commit sucide when he wasted all of his wife's money on a failed business deal, but him and his brother helped Russian biologists. Sadly, the wikipedia article is short due to the fact there is little information in English about him, and most people don't represent the relationship between him and his wife properly. I want to write about the two of them so badly.

Have you ever read I Ching? It has been a pretty influential work in mathematics, including inspiring Gottfried Leibniz and his version of Calculus. Here's a page on the combinatorics of I ching.

Representing Argentina is my man, Jorge Luis Borges. He was a short story writer whose interest in mathematics lead him to writing stories like The Aleph and The Library of Babel. His stuff still seems to be under copywrite, and I am a fine upstanding citizen who would never of think of doing anything like suggesting a Google search for "Jorge Luis Borges works download".

You know who was cool? Srinivasa Ramanujan. He's not talked about much outside of mathematics and science, partly due to having a name that Americans have a hard time saying. But he had no formal education, and he taught himself math by reading then corresponding with the big mathematicians of the time. Indian mathematicians in general are very important, like Brahmagupta who introduced the concept of zero, or any of these other guys.

Women have been doing some good work in math. The Math Counts meetup, the group I help with in Philadelphia, just read a book about Infinity written by Lillian Lieber. It's written in a free form verse style. Of course, there is the famous Marie Curie, who was physicist and chemist which are math heavy sciences. Maybe you should check out Hypatia, a Greek female mathematician.

You know what pi day is about? Math and science, a long standing tradition that has brought together people and thinkers from all sorts of cultures and genders. We need more holidays like that. You know what the other holiday is about? A bunch of asshats who want to be noticed for a day and who think they are being edgy with this type of humor. I hope I gave you some good reading material for the rest of the night.

If you're coming from the A to Z website, welcome! I don't post as much as I should, but maybe if you check me out on facebook and twitter I'll get the inspiration to start maintaining those more.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Place filler

Have you ever worked on a problem, and gotten really far on it, only discover that you completely misunderstood the problem when you were almost done? I have to rework a blog post I've been doing for the last two days. No problem, I think I salvage it. What I wanted to mention is that simple games are really complex math wise. Yahtzee is really complex statistics wise. Origami has graph theory, topology, and combinatorics involved. Trying to understand the math of these games is one of the harder things I've attempted.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

An easier math problem for the day

Yesterday was intense, wasn't it? My brain is still a little overloaded, really. We'll take it down a notch with something simpler:
What is the largest integer that can be obtained as the product as the product of positive integers that add up to 100?
This starts out simple: pick any numbers you can think of that add up to 100. 50 + 50 works, right? So what is their product? 50 * 50 = 2500.

What about two different numbers, like 49 and 51? That's 2499. 25 and 75? That's no better, it's 1875. Seems that numbers that are equal will maximize efficiency.

Well, what about 4 equal numbers, like 25 * 25 * 25 *25? Well, we get 390625. That's way better.  So, 5 numbers? 205 =3,200,000. Uh. How far can you keep going along with this pattern until you get the biggest number possible? And is there some sort of algorithm or process to make looking for the answer easier?

Monday, March 2, 2015

1089 is all that and a bag of chips

Take any three-digit number in which the first and last digits are different.  Reverse the digits to get a new number, so now you have two numbers, and each one is the reverse of the other.  Subtract the smaller from the larger to get a third three-digit number.  (If subtracting gives you a two digit number, then please treat it as a three-digit number whose first digit is zero.)  Now add this number to its reverse.  The result will be 1089.
This is the first puzzle featured for this Saturday's Puzzle night at the Institute in Philadelphia. I love you guys though, and I feel I've been neglecting you as I focus more on the writing that I'm doing and this math group. I will give you a head start on working on the problem on yourself, then I'll give a walk through and some notes.

Something like 836 is a good example to try. So 836 - 638 = 198. 198 + 891 = 1098. Maybe you tried something like 655, in which case you get 655 - 556 = 99. As they point out in the puzzle, treat it like a 3 digit number, 099, in which case 099 + 990 = 1089. Lets now reduce this to the alphabet, because every smart ass in the world hates it when math uses letters. Our 3 digit number will simply be ABC. It COULD be AAC, where the first and second letter are the same, or it COULD be ACC where the second and last number are the same BUT never ABA, because the first and last number ARE different. And only old women like ABBA, but that's neither here nor there. Anyways the first rule of this puzzle is:
  • A > C
because the larger number ALWAYS subtracts the smaller number. Cool? Ice Cold.

Set this puzzle up, and you get the form ABC - CBA = DEF. If our first rule is true, then C - A is always going to be subtracting a larger number from a smaller number. Most of us don't even think about carrying the 1 from B anymore. That changes C from a 1 digit number to a 2 digit number. This tells us the algebraic answer though: C - A = (10 + C) - A. Why 10? Because we are using decimal, of course. If we take a 1 from B and add it to the front of C, it's the same as adding 10 to the number. Here's my second rule:
  • E = 9
The carry over rule applies here too. The thing is, this is not something like 7-8. Since it's in the 10's place, it would look something like 70 - 80. Or algebraically: 10(B-1) - 10B. When you carry the one, it becomes ((10B - 10) + 100) - 10B. As long as B is a number less than 9, than E is always 9. Which just leaves D as (A - C - 1). 100(A - C - 1) + 9 + (C + 10 - A). Or 100A -100C + C - A.

Here is next wild part: D + F = 9. D is (A - C - 1) and F is (C + 10 - A), so A and C cancel out and the whole thing becomes 10 -1, or 9. E is 9 and 9 + 9 is 18, so that extra 1 gets added to the front, making the whole thing 1089. Wow. That took me all afternoon, now I am going to bed. For anyone interested, does this formula work for Octal or Hexadecimal? Is there a way to make it work?

Monday, February 2, 2015

A puzzle for you

There is a puzzle night going on at the Institute at 549 North 12th Street, Philadelphia, PA this Saturday, February 7th. February is not my favorite month, really. It cold and grey and it's "holidays" celebrate a fuzzy rodent that DOESN'T give out candy, and a holiday that excludes single people. Oh, and then there is that third one, President's Day, that hasn't been fun since I used to get the day of from school and is really just an excuse to sell cars. What I'm saying is, the excuse to get a group of people together to do puzzles is a needed change in short nightmare of a month.

I decided to share some of the puzzles here on the blog since I wanted to share the fun with rest of you. Here is the first puzzle:

By adding mathematical symbols, can you make each statement true? You cannot add any extra numbers, for example 4 * 1 + 1 + 1 is not a legal move, and cube roots don't work, but square roots are fair game.  6 is done to give you an idea.

0   0   0  = 6

1   1   1  = 6

2   2   2  = 6

3   3   3  = 6

4   4   4  = 6

5   5   5  = 6

6 + 6 - 6 = 6

7   7   7 = 6

8   8   8 = 6

9   9   9 = 6

If you're interested in some more, check out the Math Counts Meetup page . Or stick around this week, the rest of the puzzles will go up. If you live in the area, come out and bring friends! There will be more puzzles not listed on the website that will be there.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Mushroom Life

Here is a fun game to keep you a little occupied.

A mushroom spaceship, or "a weekender"
Maybe if you are one of the ten people who follow my facebook page, or google+, or any of my social media accounts, you might come to the conclusion that I'm obsessed with this game this morning. Which is very true, and it's one of the few math games I can get away with playing at work and claim that I'm being productive.

John Conway's Game of Life is a zero player game where the initial state is chosen by a person and then AI is allowed to take over and create many patterns. Someone modified the game a bit, so that pins would become mushrooms in a couple generations. I really want to find the person who made this game, and failing in that I want to steal this code. Is it still wrong if your honest about your intentions to do wrong?

The final stages of an exploder
I introduced a coworker to the original game this morning, and he came back to me with this version. The both of us being mushroom dorks, this was a fun version to use. At first it was disappointing because it was too small and can't handle a small glider gun. As I sat and watch the patterns evolve across the screen, I started to recognize some of the patterns. This is what happens when you spend three years watching mushrooms grow. Mushroom farming is a zero player game in which the outcome is controlled by the initial state.

It's still a complex system, and the rules are different. But if the super complexity is ignored for a moment, stuff like nutrition in the soil and the presence of predators, then outcome of setting up the original box is something amazing to watch. The health of the mycelicum, where water collects in a bed, all of that and more create the patterns that occur.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

ISWG a day late, and horns with no volume

A day late for ISWG, so I'll give you two posts in one! The first one is my insecurities, and my second one is being too smart for my own good.

New years resolutions, amiright?  I stopped setting them a while ago, but I still try to improve myself. I stopped setting them because of that god awful trap that I tended to fall into where I miss the goal and I think "Oh, damn it I failed! No I'll never be able to do it!" and then I would give up until next year.

Now, I've got stuff I do and I feel about when I can't do it as well as I can. It's a journey. Write when I can, try to improve my organizational skill, get better faster harder stronger. You know the whole drill.

How are you guys doing on your resolutions?

This month the Minions of Math are going to start talking about infinity. Not to ruin the surprise, but we'll talk more about infinity next month too. This is a video month, and I watched this video by Numberphile this morning before running 2 miles in 3o Fahrenheit weather. That combination has proven time and time again to kick my mind into overdrive, so if figured I would take the time to address one of the paradoxes here: Gabriel's Horn.

There is a soft spot in my heart for Numberphile and Vihart because those two along with Gödel,Esher, Bach and the great Lewis Carrol did more for my interest in mathematics than 13 years of schooling. With that said, I've noticed that the deeper and deeper I get into math the Numberphile videos are a bit harder to watch since a majority of them seem to be aimed at I Fucking Love Science crowd. Instead of complaining about this, here are some more thoughts about Gabriel's Horn.

He points out that what makes it a paradox is the fact that it's a horn that tapers into infinity, and as such it has infinite surface area, BUT it has a finite volume. It seems paradoxical, until calculus is involved.

WAIT! Come back! I promise it's simple calculus! It needs to be, since I have yet to take an honest to god calculus class. First things first, I don't know much about the average reader's childhood, but a few of you must of noticed something about thirds at some point in your life. Namely this: 1 divided by 3 is equal to 0.3333 where the three just goes off into the distance. Multiply that number by 2 and you get 0.66666 repeating. So far so good, but if you multiply that first number by 3, depending on your calculator you won't get 1, you'll get 0.99999 repeating. That's a paradox, honestly, because you already divided 1 by 3 to get 0.333333, but multiplying 0.333333 by 3 doesn't give an answer of 1. This is simply because god hates math.

OK not true. The truth is 0.999999 repeating is so close to 1 that it's 1. That answer always struck me as unsatisfying when I was younger, but if we except that axiom we can do something more amazing with Gabriel's horn. More amazing than what the guy in video says with the whole "You couldn't paint the surface, but you could fill it with a finite amount of paint."

If there is a number that is so close to 1 that it's 1, then a number like 0.000 . . . 001 can be so close to zero that it's 0. Why Gabriel's Horn works is it's an infinite series, which can be best explained by a joke:
There's a math conference in town, and all the mathematicians walk into a bar. The first mathematician orders a beer. The second orders half a beer. The third orders a quarter. The forth orders an eight. The bartender stops them at this point and hands them two beers.
 It works for 2: 1 + 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 + 1/16 . . . to infinity. It works for 1: 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 + 1/16 . . . to infinity. In fact, it works with zero if ou work with small enough numbers. In a sense, the volume kind of works the same way for the horn, it's an infinite series. Less cool when you know how it works. What I've been working up to this whole time is that IF this is the case, AND a the sum of an infinite series can equal zero, THEN a Gabriel's trumpet exists that not only has infinite surface area, but also has a volume equal to zero. I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader.