Thursday, August 31, 2006

Baseball hijinx

There are a couple amusing things that happened in the world of baseball today.

1) Jim Leyland, the manager of the Tigers, was having a heated argument with an umpire when 'God Bless America' started playing over the stadium speakers. He immediately stopped arguing, took off his hat and put it over his chest, and bowed his head a bit until the song was over. Then, he went back to the umpire, resumed his vehement argument, and got kicked out of the game. Awesome!

2) This one was actually partly annoying because the afflicted pitcher is on my fantasy team. In the game between the Blue Jays and the Red Sox, Alex Cora (of the Sox) hit a fly ball off of Roy Halladay. Outfielder Alex Rios drifts towards the ball, lollygagging the whole way, and the ball pops out of his glove, hits his other hand, and ricochets into the stands for a two-run homerun. He wasn't even on the warning track---the ball went 7-8 feet off his hand. As Orel Hershiser correctly pointed out on baseball tonight, this should be ruled a four-base error rather than a homerun. Rios was lollygagging! (In a related---but significantly funnier---incident, a ball bounced off Jose Canseco's head for a homerun in 1993.)

More Google magic

My site got hit from the search 'photo big buts holding hands'.

Let's assume for a second that the author of that search spelled things correctly. I'd find a photo of big butts holding hands to be very disturbing. I didn't even know that butts had any hands...

BUT, maybe the author really meant a big 'but'... Personally, I like big NEVERTHELESSs (and I cannot lie).

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Grand Theft Amish

Just how awesome is this t-shirt! Let me count the ways...

More media sluttage

My work on Congress was recently highlighted by the American Mathematical Society as one of its Mathematical Moments. (Also, here is the short version.) This is the second article of mine to be so highlighted. (The other one was an expository piece.)

By the way, I want to mention that I think my recent movie review (which my fictitious twin brother helped me write) was extremely well done. :) Not to brag or anything...

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I need to figure out how to write an entry about a movie I saw recently.

Last night, I saw a movie at Lemming's place. Actually, I saw two of them, but this entry is about the first one and I'm not entirely sure how to write it. Or even how to start the entry, for that matter.

The movie is about orchids. And the characters are all static for a while, but then there is a deux ex machina and they suddenly change after the script writer (Charlie Kauffman) gets help from his ficticious twin brother Donald. We then see (in order) sex, drugs, a vehicle chase, murder, and a gruesome death by a crocodile (or maybe it was an alligator). (Actually, this order might be approximately right, but it was funny to see this because when he took on the script, Charlie Kauffman had vowed not to put in any of that stuff. He wanted to adapt a book and not have a convoluted plot.) You see, Charlie is really shy, has trouble talking to women, and seems to say exactly the wrong thing at exactly the right time (after which awkward silences ensue). He likes very introspective films; for example, he was the writer behind Being John Malcovich (also a really awesome flick!), which makes a cameo in this film. Hence, the first part of this film, called Adaptation, has an introspective flavor. Donald, on the other hand, only recently learned to write screenplays after having taken one of those weekend crash courses. (In this course, by the way, one of major pieces of advice is to never use deux ex machinas.)

The author of the book also appears in the film; she's played by Meryll Streep. Her book doesn't have any drugs or sex in it, but that's only because she lied. The Kauffman brothers spied on her and found out about it.

You know, I'm really not sure if the way I've been writing this blog entry is the way that I should be doing it. Maybe I should start over? ... I know, I could follow the movie and write my review in a way that reminiscent of this other review. (If this blog entry were turned into a movie, who do you think would play me? Maybe Tom Hanks? That's the actor several people have told me I look like, but maybe I could just play myself. I just don't think my essence can be duplicated.) Well, that's ok. None of you will be seeing my scratch work anyway, and it's the final result that counts after all.

Nicolas Cage, playing both brothers, gave an incredible performance. It was especially nice to see him as Charlie because it was quite a departure from his "standard" on-screen persona that he's asked to play over and over again. I identified with Charlie's trouble speaking to women quite a bit, and empathy with one of the characters is obviously an excellent way to suck somebody into a film.

We laughed so hard that we cried. In fact, we were making so much noise that the neighbors called the cops to come in and quiet us down. I had to answer the door, because Lemming was acting too drunk (even though he was sober), muttering something about his cell phone. It's a good thing I got rid of them before the brownies caught fire -- a little side project of ours. If it had happened sooner, the cops also might have stumbled across our female friends in the back room. Whew!

So, in conclusion, Adaptation is a fantastic film. Go see it!

P.S. This entry makes a lot more sense for people who have seen the movie than for those who haven't.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Today's amusing google search

Somebody in Australia got to one of my web pages (as the second entry, according to Google!) via googling 'i am pretending to do work'. (The quotes were not present in the search.) The part of one of my pages that shows up is when I attempt to define "flicking." (I needed a definition/explanation that would be more broadly understood than 'You flick. You flame. UASH.')

On the subject of work, I'm going to go do some. Too bad I'm not in the mood, but I'll at least get a little more done today.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Article on Perelman in The New Yorker

Catalin Turc pointed me to this article in The New Yorker on Grigory Perelman, who this week declined a Fields Medal for proving the Poincaré conjecture. (Nobody had previously declined a Fields Medal.)

The article is very long but very interesting, and I recommend it highly; it is excellent. The author is Sylvia Nassar, who wrote the book A Beautiful Mind on John Nash on which the movie of the same title (which is an excellent movie) was based.

Shing-Tung Yau, an extremely famous mathematician, is portrayed as a total dick in this story. I've never met him, and I obviously fall beneath the notice of most such people anyway, but he's done some pretty ugly things if the allegations are true.

Friday, August 25, 2006

I am impressive: Exhibit A

In an e-mail I sent today to a collaborator, I inadvertently made the following comment:

"After that, it may make sense for me to go before Dimitri rather than the other way around (which is what I suggested earlier), so that Dimitri sees something closer to confusion."

By "confusion," I naturally meant "completion."

Damn word substitution...

Congrats to Mee Choi!

My friend Mee, who some of you met (she is now living with her husband in Pittsburgh), just gave birth to a child.

Well, it's her life. :) (Don't you forget. ... Maybe Lemming is the only one with a chance to get this reference?)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Don't tempt me.

I have a vague recollection of mocking this abstract when the first version of the paper was posted to the arXiv, but I'm going to make fun of it again now anyway.

\Paper: physics/0602051
replaced with revised version Tue, 22 Aug 2006 18:11:40 GMT (16kb)

Title: A Tempt To Measure Reality
Authors: Bhag C. Chauhan
Comments: 17 pages, typos, Submitted for Foundation of Physics
Subj-class: Popular Physics; Physics and Society
\Despite the extraordinary successes the two great bastions of $20^{th}$ century science (Quantum Theory and General Relativity) are troubled with serious conceptual and mathematical difficulties. As a result, further growth of fundamental science is at stake. Is this the end of science? Optimistic answer is ``NOT''! In this work, it is argued that science must continue its cruise, but with anew strategy -- a thorough recourse into the grass-root level working of science is inevitable. In fact, our conventional scientific methods are based upon ordinary sense perception, which keeps the outer physical universe as a separate entity, that is something quite independent of the observer. Basically, it is the observer -- the knower (human mind) -- which makes perception possible. It makes a person or scientist to recognize or refute the existence of an object or a phenomenon. It is also tempted to evince that working of human mind is epistemically scientific and can, in principle, be completely deciphered. It's inclusion in scientific theories, although tedious, can certainly spark a revolution in our understanding of nature and reality.
\\ ( , 16kb)

OK, now how about making a tempt to use proper grammar?

(Additionally, there is a strange lack of all-caps words for such a crackpot piece.)

Fresh from the arXiv

I just saw the following paper:

\Paper: physics/0608228
Date: Wed, 23 Aug 2006 22:55:15 GMT (122kb)

Title: Predicting Baseball Home Run Records Using Exponential Frequency Distributions
Authors: D. J. Kelley, J. R. Mureika, J. A. Phillips
Comments: 5 pp, LaTeX; 1 eps figure
Subj-class: Popular Physics
\ A new model, which uses the frequency of individuals' annual home run totals, is employed to predict future home run totals and records in Major League Baseball. Complete home run frequency data from 1903--2005 is analyzed, resulting in annual exponential distributions whose changes can be a used as a measure of progression in the sport and serve as a basis against which record-setting performances can be compared. We show that there is an 80% chance that Barry Bonds' current 73 home run record will be broken in the next 10 years, despite the longevity of previous records held by baseball legends Babe Ruth and Roger Marris.
\\ ( , 122kb)

Here's my first question: Do they take 'roids into account?

(The article is very small and -- on a quick glance -- doesn't seem to offer much except for some simple curve fitting. Granted, I could be up for some hot, steamy curve fitting.)

Pluto is no longer a planet

As reported here, Pluto has been demoted and is no longer considered a planet.

There is no truth to the rumor that its name will soon be changed to Wimpy.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

2006 Fields Medals

The 2006 Fields Medals. were announced at the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM).

The Fields Medal, awarded to some (small) number of people every four years at the ICM, is the biggest prize awarded in mathematics. It is given only to people age 40 or younger because it is supposed to go to somebody whose research program is still active.

Four people were awarded Fields medals this year:

Andrei Okounkov "for his contributions bridging probability, representation theory and algebraic geometry"

Grigory Perelman "for his contributions to geometry and his revolutionary insights into the analytical and geometric structure of the Ricci flow" (i.e., for proving the Poincaré conjecture)

Terence Tao "for his contributions to partial differential equations, combinatorics, harmonic analysis and additive number theory." Basically, he got this for doing lots of stuff in lots of different areas---I guess this is why he got a fields medal and Ben Green didn't yet get one this year; Ben Green's will probably come in 2010. I have heard professors everywhere gush about how brilliant he is; for example, a math prof at Berkeley (who has a bit of an ego) basically talked about him the way many of us have talked about certain fellow Techers. He also said that Terry knows more about a problem after thinking about it for 5 minutes than other researcher mathematicians would know after thinking about it for 2 years.

Wendelin Werner "for his contributions to the development of stochastic Loewner evolution, the geometry of two-dimensional Brownian motion, and conformal field theory"

Cornell computer science professor Jon Kleinberg (who is also brilliant, by the way) won the Nevanlinna prize (see the same press release). He mostly won for his CS work on small-world networks and related stuff.

Kiyoshi Itô won the Gauss prize.

Now, there are some further juicy tidbits to the Fields Medals. In awarding the Fields Medals, IMU President John Ball announced that Perelman declined the prize. There is apparently an NPR interview with Perelman, who is notoriously hard to reach and apparently still lives with his mother. As quoted in the AP report,

John Ball, president of the International Mathematical Union, said that he had urged Perelman to accept the medal, but Perelman said he felt isolated from the mathematics community and "does not want to be seen as its figurehead." Ball offered no further details of the conversation.

I hereby promise that if I ever get a Fields Medal that I will not decline the prize. (Not that I'll have any such "moral dilemma" to worry about any time soon...)

Monday, August 21, 2006

When stick figures attack

Courtesy Justin, this video shows what happens when one's own stick figure, drawn to play the role of an innocent victim, decides that it's going to fight back instead of accepting its torture like a man.

The video is awesome and I highly recommend it!

Zombies Protest the War in San Francisco

Well, maybe not, but as Gazebo blogs, they did invade the San Francisco Apple Store. If you want to be apprised of further zombie activity, sign up for the mailing list at

"I'm sorry Sean."

A network of network scientists

This post is for those of you who like meta. (It's only a matter of time before its use as a noun becomes officially correct...)

Here is a poster showing a network of people who have written papers about network theory.

I can explain various facets of the plot if you'd like (although there are a couple of puzzling things in there), but I'll spare you the details for now. Can you find me in there (without using a search or find function)? :)

Worldmapper (and Cartograms in general)

One of my collaborators, Mark Newman, has done some work on cartograms over the last couple years. (This is a way to take a map, such as one of the United States, and squish the sizes of, say, the states to reflect their relative population or whatever other category you want.) He is involved in a project called Worldmapper, which is doing this for the countries of the world can give a nice, easyily interpreted visualization of which countries are using the most energy, etc. Some of Mark's other cartograms are also available here.

Some of them actually showed up in media coverage of the 2004 Presidential elections and subsequently on CafePress t-shirts. For example, you might have seen some of these.

Mark's talk on this topic is especially amusing. At a talk on random networks, I gave a talk on Congress and I stated at the beginning I was going to pretend I didn't have any political opinions during the talk. (Mark is one of the coauthors of those papers.) The next day, Mark started his talk by saying that unlike me, he was going to not pretend that he didn't care about the politics involved, and then he proceeded to slam the Republicans several times during his talk. Mark also recognized my stuffed Cthulhu immediately when he visited Georgia Tech, so there are clearly a lot of compelling reasons to respect him (beyond his science).

Sunday, August 20, 2006

All Your Snakes Are Belong To Us

Courtesy Kris K. (one of my students), here is a link to the video All Your Snakes Are Belong To Us.

I guess these memes were meant to be mashed up. Now that I think about it, it was inevitable.

The video is pretty amusing, although the creator seems a little bit too into Cobra Commander. However, the version of a "Grand Unified Theory" by Einstein shown in this video is absolutely priceless.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

A surprising factoid...

As I write this, the Colorado Rockies lead the National League in ERA (4.08). They have also allowed the fewest runs in the NL.

Losses in the last two games aside, the Dodgers have kicked major butt ever since their horrible showing right after the All-Star break. We propelled ourselves to first place, where we'll hopefully stay. (It's also worth noting that our run differential has been among the best in the league the entire year, so our immediate future looks bright. Where are my shades? I gotta' wear them.)

In a final baseball note for now, it may surprise some people that David Ortiz does not currently have the best offensive stats in the American League. That honor belongs to the incredibly awesome Travis Hafner, who was gypped of a spot on the All-Star team this year.

Friday, August 18, 2006

2007 U. S. News college rankings

The 2007 edition of the U. S. News and World Report college rankings are out.

Not that it means anything, but I look at it out of curiosity. Caltech is tied for 4th this year.

United 93

I went with a bunch of friends to see the special premier of United 93 tonight.

How should I summarize this movie?

Well, there were a lot of snakes. And they were on a plane.

It was campy fun, and going on opening night is key. Mad props go out to the guy who smuggled in the guitar. I had a small magnet stuffed snake with me and Tim had a mongoose, which he almost managed to lose at Islands. (We got some strange looks during his efforts to get it back, and the one from a woman at one of the tables was particularly priceless. [We were standing by the table waiting for the waiter to finishing taking the order of her male companion so we could ask where the mongoose was because we were told that he knew.] It was one of those what the fuck are these people doing here and I hope they leave now looks. Awesome!)

I have a couple really awesome five-foot stuffed rattlesnakes (complete with rattle) at my parents' place. I used to occasionally take them with me when I went out with my family to restaurants (especially an Italian one called Andre's that had some awesome roast duck and a misspelled "parfait mason" on the dessert menu---they always gave me one of those for free and complimented me on my snakes), and I really wish I had those handy to take with me tonight.

Anyway, go see the movie on opening night. The crowd definitely made things a lot more fun.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


I saw the Japanese import Azumi on Saturday. It was a good movie with some nice action, but it was not great. It was about a young female assassin who kicks major butt despite the actress not doing it in a particularly believable fashion (that is, the actress could have been better -- I am fine with the liberties with gravity that were taken). Surprisingly, this movie ended up being about the goriest flick I've ever seen. I certainly expected some bloodshed, but there was definitely a good deal of gratuitous gore here.

OK, so what were the really cool parts?

For one thing, the two major surviving characters at the end (just about everyone dies) have just received a particularly awesome backstory for a pair of D & D characters in the same party. Hell, even if I only take one of them in a D & D party, this movie provides a seriously awesome backstory that I very much want to use either for a PC or an important NPC. (It would probably make more sense for an important NPC because Azumi has some serious ass-kicking skillz and was well beyond 1st level when the movie began, but it doesn't have to be D & D and even if it is -- I envision using this in Rokugan -- she wouldn't be the first person to miraculously lose her skills in some manner or another.) This movie was worth seeing just for the RPG ideas I got from it.

For another thing, there are some seriously sweet scenes. Azumi was playing Dynasty Warriors in a couple scenes (awesome!), and there was one particularly fighting scene with a camera that rotated rapidly around a fight (it rotated about a line in the plane formed by the ground, so the camera was sometimes coming from below the fighters and sometimes from above, etc.) multiple times. It was way cool, but I was actually starting to get dizzy from it. Nevertheless, I don't remember ever seeing this before, and the effect was quite good.

There were also some other good fighting scenes besides the standouts and there were a couple amusing moments. (The Jack Sparrow 'this time you got me' comment from a bandit was especially appreciated.)

The movie had one particularly creepy character. I'm not quite sure how to explain it, but just imagine if Michael Jackson were a primo martial artist and you've got a reasonable leading-order approximation. This guy was seriously metro.

Monday, August 14, 2006

I get my kicks above the waistline.

Last Wednesday, I saw Little Miss Sunshine, which is a good (bordering on very good) comedy about a road trip taken by dysfunctional lower middle-class family. I can totally relate to dysfunctional families, so I very much appreciated the subject matter, though these people definitely experienced things (like a dead relative in the trunk) that I haven't. (That said, my family "beats" them in a few ways.) Unlike in my experience, their road trip actually improved the relations between the family members. It climaxed in a somewhat disturbing scene near the end, which resulted in the little girl Olive being banned from all future child beauty contests in California.

The whole cast was good, but Steve Carrell (a depressed, homosexual academic who tried to commit suicide when his main scientific rival got a MacArthur "Genius Award" instead of him) and (especially!) Alan Arkin (the grandfather) gave masterful performances. This movie is worth seeing for their performances alone. "No one gets left behind! No one gets left behind!"

In terms of the title of this entry, some of you will get it immediately and the rest of you will have no clue. :)

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The origin of the Handbook of Mathematical Functions

The August-September 2006 issue of the American Mathematical Monthly has a fascinating article on Irene Stegun and the origin of the Handbook of Mathematical Functions (by Abramowitz and Stegun). (The link only goes to the table of contents + abstracts for the issue in question. Most universities have subscriptions to this journal.)

When I was an undergrad in applied math, I was informed of how useful this book can be and, indeed, I have consulted when I needed some info or useful relations regarding special functions (although the book has always been a starting point in this respect---I invariably have needed more detailed sources).

There are a number of interesting things about the origins of this book. First, it started life as a New Deal relief project that involved human computers who had very little education (the directors gave them very precise keys to be able to, e.g., compute logarithms and other functions up to a very large number of digits). (Reading about how these origins was extremely interesting. I knew about the book as a tool but had not previously had any clue about this stuff.) Second, it included more (as a ratio of participants) prominently-involved women than nearly all contemporary scientific work.

Anyway, I highly recommend this article.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Star Trek motivational posters

Courtesy Justin, here are some Star Trek motivational posters.

I don't actually like most of them very much, but I have a warm, fuzzy place in my heart for "Expendable." There is a particularly amusing reference to this in a skit I heard a couple times on the Dr. Demento show.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Future contributions to Overheard in New York?

We interrupt my work day for the following announcement:

I am being enticed to travel to and stay with a friend in New York, as I have been promised easy access to two "beautiful, single opera singers" with whom she is rooming.

(Actually, I was promised this a little while ago, and I was assured this morning that new living arrangements have not changed the situation.)

Clearly, my first visit to New York since 2001 needs to happen very, very soon...

A contribution from one of our own

Dan Marrone just got a paper published in Science.

For those who don't know who he is, he was a Lloydie in the class of 01 but he transferred after frosh year so he could be with his girlfriend (now wife).

If you want to cause him pain, bring up Francisco Liriano's injury. Also, I'll forever be able to give him an 'I told you so' about Brad Radke. (I predicted how great a pitcher he would become that year and for many years thereafter when Dan visited for prefrosh weekend -- and Dan didn't believe me because Radke hadn't been very successful in the majors up until then -- and he was eating crow when he came back to Caltech as a frosh.)


Here's a fresh (as in new...I didn't actually check if other meanings of the world hold, as I didn't read the article) story from Caltech's PR that has an exceedingly stale title:


How do you know you might be one? As you'll discover in this Caltech
News story about infrared astronomy, it has something to do with
jugs of liquid helium, body heat, and transporting rockets in



Imagine the adverse effects that permafrosh might have...

Caltech alum Frank Ling '97 (from Page, for those who keep track of such things) is writing some columns for Voice of America.

The ones he sent me today concern the amplification of global warming due to the melting of permafrost and using bikes to power computers, telephones, etc. in the "developing" (aka, undeveloped) world. (The latter story reminds me of what was being done in Amy Tan's recent novel, Saving Fish from Drowning, which was a disappoint that I recommend you don't read.)

Frank recently got his Ph.D. from Ber(zer)kley, so I should find out if the VOA bit is his regular gig. (Along with Lloydie Charles ("Chuckles") Lee '96, Frank is the co-host of Berkeley Groks.)

It was fun while it lasted.

The Dodgers (aka, the Cardiac Kids) lost today after having won 11 games in a row (after having lost 8 in a row and 14 of 15). Because of our streak and the fact that the NL West is once again a weak division this year, we're in very good shape. (We're .5 games out of first and 1 game out of the wild card.) The Dodgers have either the best or almost the best run differential in the National League, so our prospects are very good.

Naturally, the game which broke our streak was one we should have won. We missed multiple scoring opportunities, and the top of the 9th inning was extremely painful to watch.

Ah well... it's time to start a new winning streak tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

OK, I need to point out this one too...

This web comic strip is also courtesy Jonathan. It reminds me mostly of how traumatic the core curriculum can be...

Another of my alter egos...

... has a profile that can be viewed here. We seem to be a bit different...

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Mr. Bond and his forces (OF DOOM!)

Courtesy Jonathan Adams' posting on Gazebo's blog, here is an awesome comic about James Bond and centrifugal/centripetal forces. This should be required reading for Phys 1a.

The physics of zombies

You asked for it, and now an article on the subject has been posted on the arXiv:

\Paper: physics/0608059
Date: Sat, 5 Aug 2006 06:59:10 GMT (451kb)

Title: Ghosts, Vampires and Zombies: Cinema Fiction vs Physics Reality
Authors: C.J. Efthimiou, S. Gandhi
Comments: 11 pages. Based on talks by C.E. to attack pseudoscientific believes
Subj-class: Physics and Society; Physics Education; Popular Physics
\ We examine certain features of popular myths regarding ghosts, vampires and zombies as they appear in film and folklore. We use physics to illuminate inconsistencies associated with these myths and to give practical explanation to certain aspects.
\\ ( , 451kb)

I haven't actually looked at the article yet, but I'm intrigued enough that I just might...

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Things that piss me off

Well, just one thing really, but I wanted to make the title match the appropriate section of George Carlin's routine.

I was walking back to my room from the inn lobby a couple minutes ago and I see a smoldering cigarette fly from the second floor onto the street about a few inches from the edge of the first floor walkway. People who do shit like this should be shot. Go kill yourself slowly all you want, but don't do crap like this!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Mad props

I'm wearing my "Thank God I'm an atheist" shirt. I go to the same coffeeplace as last night (where I am right now) and sit down. This middle age person sitting nearby, in perfect deadpan, gets my attention with "Excuse me. Do you mind if I talk to you about Jesus?" I start to brush him off and then he starts laughing and he indicated he was joking and couldn't resist doing that after he saw my shirt. He got the deadpan tone right, and I have to give him props for doing this effectively. Maybe in 20 years I should do this to some of you just to see how you'd react?

The reputation continues

At some point, I should discuss how I was always the "bad cop" in a certain REU where I used to TA. I'll do that when I have some more time, but let's just say that the people running the REU took good advantage of it (and were popular among a broader class of students than I was) and were actualy quite appreciative of my efforts. (They could always rely on me to slam someone who deserved slamming without having to do it themselves.)

Basically, I react very poorly when I think somebody is trying to bs me. This happened with one of the poster presentations today, and while I tend to ask pointed questions anyway, answers to them that I construe as bs then to result in more critical comments than other responses would get (say, a response to an 'I don't know' or whatever). In the REU, a term called a "Mason moment" was developed to describe this phenomenon. Well, we had one of those moments today and I apparently might have gone a bit overboard, as word spread (just that it happened; not that I did it) of this event. I believe that one of my comments was, "I don't think your advisor did his job."

Here is where I should link to a 'motivational' poster about Charisma.

Adventures in google searching

My website recently was found by googling "give to me some topics on lattice theory in mathematics for purpose of research".

OK, let's see... how about cellular automata on Q*Bert lattices (which actually might be interesting, but it's the first thing that popped into my head and not close to as snarky as to what I originally intended with that's too early and the cobwebs in my brain are preventing me from thinking).

By the way, here's the Caltech press release about my nonlinearity management paper.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Greetings from Ohio

Well, Tim definitely trumps me (let me count the ways...) with respect to current location, but only I have Caltech writing a press release about my research. So there! Anyway, on to the subject at hand...

I remembered where to get good coffee and free wireless (actually, two different places to do both of these things), and now I finally have the chance to sit at one of them for a while and be able to do things online in a little less of a rush. I am drinking my "blended Ernest Hemingway" (I just love the drink names at Kerouac Korner, and I may also partake of the Galaga machine they have here...). I am also listening to the Dodger game, which please me as well.

Greg Maddux had an awesome debut for the Dodgers yesterday: he pitched 6 hitless innings. The game was delayed by rain (and presumably that coincides with the 6 innings pitched) and actually didn't finish until after I arrived at my hotel. Most of the last couple innings occurred during my cab ride from the airport. However, I did hear the score in the cab---we were playing the Cincinatti Reds and the cabby had the news on---and got to watch the last at bat. (Aside: I'm listening to a commercial for Snakes in a Building [aka, World Trade Center] and Nicholas Cage's attempt at a New York accept is amazingly bad. It's sounds closer to a Boston accent...) Not to jinx us, be we've won 6 in a row entering today. Because the NL West is so weak, we didn't get buried so we're back in the pennant races (for both the division and the wild card).

Yesterday, I was wearing my 'Cthulhu for President' t-shirt. While waiting to pick up my checked-in luggage, one person asked me about that. I gave him a short version of the explanation, and his friend (who was wearing a Harley t-shirt and looked like a ZZ-Top groupie) gave me this looked that indicated that I was too freaky for him. Thus the conversation stopped, but that's ok because I didn't feel like talking to them anyway.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Another year, another trip to Columbus

In about 15 or so minutes, Supershuttle will be picking me up so that I can make my flight to Columbus, OH to attend the 2006 Young Mathematicians Conference. One of my current SURF students will be attending as well. I'll be there as a mentor.

The internet is for 'climate porn'

You don't believe that? OK, just take a look here.

Quoth the article, Apocalyptic visions of climate change used by newspapers, environmental groups and the UK government amount to "climate porn," a think-tank says.


I saw the new Woody Allen film, Scoop, a few days ago.

I tend to like Allen's comedies a lot, and Scoop did not disappoint, as it is a very good film. (I didn't like it as much as Anything Else or Bullets Over Broadway, but those flicks provide extremely stiff competition.) I am not really familiar with his dramas, but the thing I dig about Allen is his shtick, which tends to have a 'love it or hate it' relationship with people. Allen takes a lot of the stereotypical Jewish humor and blends it into movies extremely well. I should mention as well that I appreciate this quite a bit because (as an MOT) I have numerous relatives who act in these manners, so there is a strong sense in which I am "in" on the jokes.

Scoop is part murder mystery but in larger part romantic comedy. Thankfully, Allen was not the romantic interest in this film (or in Anything Else, for that matter) and instead lets people of a similar age be interested in each other. (Of course, given real life, it can be highly amusing to see Allen and a twenty-something starlet romantically interested in each other on film.)

The highlight of this film is seeing Scarlet Johansson attempt and fantasically succeed at Allen's shtick. It's not the kind of role one might expect her to play, but she did an excellent job. (I especially liked the scene in which she completely breaks the mood during a romantic moment by refusing to remove her glasses and then explaining that she doesn't where contacts because she doesn't like to touch her eyeballs. I approve!)

In other news, I bought a copy of Almost Famous today. This movie is excellent, and any local people who haven't yet seen this before need to be educated. :)

Finally, last night when we saw Mallrats, I made the comment that Priscilla Barnes was familiar but that I couldn't place her. Well, it turns out that she played the nurse Terri in "Three's Company." She was the last of Jack Tripper's female roommates in that show, and the episode in which she is introduced is absolutely priceless. (That is one of the best episodes of that show and one of the few for which I actually still remember some details.)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The trades that didn't happen

Here are a few trades that Jim Caple wanted to see. (Personally, I'd love to see Youppi! return to baseball---yes, the '!' really is part of its name.)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

"As You Like It"

Continuing to catch up a bit...

On Sunday 7/23, I went with the CPA theatre crowd to see a free performance (though I am sending in a small donation in recognition of a fine performance) of "As You Like It" by the Independent Shakespeare Company in a small park in Hollywood. (This was after returning to Pasadena from Beverly Hills earlier in the day...)

The actors did an extremely good job with the play. Their ad-libbing was hilarious (and not intrusive), including when noisy helicopters overhead were distracting everybody. (Those led to a couple amusing comments...) In fact, their rendition of the play was funny in general. (Mad props go out to the jester! His bull and devil references with his "hat" adjustments were especially awesome.)

Many of the outfits were a bit more modern than what one would expect to see in Shakespeare. For example, one of the henchman of the evil duke (was he a duke or did he have some other title?) did the whole Trinity thing (I was highly amused...) and at some point I spotted a White Sox cap being worn by one person who was part of the crowd for a fight. (Meanwhile, one of the fighters wore a lucha libre outfit.)

Also, seeing this play reminded me of the origin of the name of at least one Jovian moon (Ganymede).

In fact, I believe there are several moons whose names are derived from Shakespeare.