Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Deconstruct this.

Posted in Uncategorized on August 27, 2009 by Philonous

Guess who got a graphics tablet?

Sporadic Simple Games

Posted in maths, Uncategorized on September 16, 2008 by Philonous

Are you au fait with finite simple groups? Well I know I’m certainly not.

For the uninitiated, a group is a mathematical object which can be thought of as the collection of symmetries of some object. As for simple groups, I guess they can sort of be thought of as the basic buidling blocks of groups (whatever that means…)

There’s a classification of finite simple groups which is one of the great results of the 20th/21st century. It shows that there are four categories (not in the mathematical sense) into which the finite simple groups may be divided, the most romantic of these consisting of the 26 sporadic groups. I say romantic, what I really mean is quirkily named – one of the groups contained therin is the Monster group while another is called the Baby Monster… Ah those finite group theorists.

Anyway, as someone who finds finite simple groups particularly scary, I was rather pleased to see a rather interesting page at Scientific American. There you can find a couple of games that give some idea of the structure of the groups M12, M24 and the Conway group without actually knowing any mathematics whatsoever. Click on the link below to investigate. Happy playing!

The finite simple groups at play

Incidentally, if you’re feeling slightly fobbed off by my lack of a definition of a finite simple group, then check out the articles on group, normal subgroup, quotient group and simple group.

NYC Mass gets Critical

Posted in Uncategorized on September 10, 2008 by Philonous

This pretty shocking video is of Patrick Pogan, a 3rd generation member of the NYPD shoving a NYC critical masser into the pavement.  I thought this was pretty bad and started reading into the story.  The crazy thing is, not only was the cyclist, Christopher Long, unceremoniously heaved over, he was also charged for assault!

Instant thoughts of left wing hippie internet propaganda immediately popped into my head, but these were pretty quickly quelled by this, a copy of Pogan’s statement.  Very quickly, this video, which was kindly provided by a tourist was uploaded onto YouTube, getting a million and a half hits within a couple of months and completely rubbishing the assault charge, which was promptly dropped.

It goes to show kids: either join the police or carry a camera.

Concept Bike

Posted in Uncategorized on September 7, 2008 by Philonous

Ok, I’ve heard of concept cars but have you ever heard of a concept bike? Well here are some pictures of one. And yes, it was inspired by old motorbike designs, although apparently the handlebar design comes from 1930s track bicycles.

This one was designed by Eric Therner and claims, I think a little erroneously to create a new market…

One thing that I definitely do like about it is that there are integrated LED lights inside the frame itself. Was this never practical before? Anyway, drool all you like.

Check out these links:

Horse Pie

Posted in Uncategorized on August 31, 2008 by Philonous

Yes I’ve missed it. The irrelevant comments about people’s spelling and grammar. The thwack of keyboard upon human reason. The erroneous and fictitious anecdotes. The endless comparisons to Hitler. That’s right. It’s time to argue about something on the internet.

I’ll get started. Here is an hilarious xkcd cartoon about pretending to be a literary theorist. It’s very funny, because it points out what we all know, that literary theory is a load of bullshit and we could all just make up crap and experts in the field would be fooled. We know this because occassionally we’ve looked at essays by actual graduate students and academics in the field, and it looks like a big load of meaningless drivel. To further illustrate the point, here’s a website that generates essays about postmodernism completely indistinguishable from the real thing.

Except that while I couldn’t distinguish these essays from actual essays, isn’t it possible that academics in the field actually could. After all, it would be pretty easy to make made up maths ‘papers’ and hand them around, and see whether people on the street can tell they’re made up. All the essay writer proves is that I lack the ability to tell the difference between these made up essays and real ones. The two alternative explanations for this are clearly: 1) there isn’t one, or 2) there is, but I don’t know what it is. It seems pretty arrogant to just plump for option 1) without even considering the second.

Now my mind isn’t made up on this. Several people I know who’ve actually studied English at university have a pretty low opinion of literary theory also. And even assuming it isn’t a big pile of horse pie that hardly justifies it’s existence. After all, what’s the point of studying literature at a level nobody else can understand. At least when asked what the point in maths is, we can pretend that it’s essential for the advanceent of science. Or better still, we can point them to Hardy’s apology, which neither we nor they will ever get round to reading.

This is my thing.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on August 15, 2008 by Philonous

Was very interested to see that there is some growing popular interest in tourism around Native American mounds- the stuff I wrote my Masters thesis on and want to do my PhD on.
The New Yorker actually devised a road trip to view some of the most impressive, which you can read here
I will definately consider doing it when I get back, even though I’ve already been to most of the sites. They’re still very impressive, and definately under appreciated (and unknown) by the majority of tourists. Perhaps the economy will encourage people to do more travelling at home, and then discover these sites!

Contraceptive pill ‘can lead women to choose wrong partner’

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on August 13, 2008 by Philonous

Whoa. Yeah that’s the headline in the Guardian. Say what??? I thought I smelled some conservative anti-feminist anti-sex thing going on. But actually the scientific study here references tests done that claim women are unable to ‘smell’ appropriate partners, who would be best suited to produce offspring, and be potential mates. What???

“Not only could MHC similarity in couples lead to fertility problems, it could
also ultimately lead to the breakdown of relationships when women stop using the
contraceptive pill, as odour perception plays a significant role in maintaining
attraction to partners.”

I realize that smell and hormones play a big instinctual part in creating these relationships, but I think that the tagline of this article and its message are anti-contraception. And I am not down with that. I’m apt to think that this study was supported by funds with interests in my aforementioned ‘anti-‘ list.

Literary Criticism Criticism

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on August 9, 2008 by Philonous

Cheers for the link Archie.

The Man With No Name

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on June 14, 2008 by Philonous

I just read that most American presidents cite their favourite films as westerns. I really like westerns. I know that most people don’t. For me, it’s probably a cultural thing- I grew up on a farm, my dad is kind of a cowboy, he liked westerns, so I learned to as well.
Traditional westerns (al la Serge Leone) are really really slow. It’s all about the anticipation. Most people hate this pace- they get bored. This is something that’s really copied by Tarentino in Kill Bill which I think is fantastic. Watching the final confrontation in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly or many of the scenes in Kill Bill, I just savor the timing. I’m practically bouncing in my seat while other people are looking at their watches. Basically its the complete opposite of say the Transformers or Die Hard. I think that you have to learn to watch these films- just like someone might learn to appreciate opera- to truly get the most out of them.
And don’t even get me started on the music… ah, Ennio Morricone! If only you could do the soundtrack to my life…
Cowboys and the wild west are one of the most popolar and romantic themes in American life. They’re frougth with strife in reference to the reality- the politics of American expansion, the (un)reality of the American Dream/Manifest Destiny. I know both- but if I’m asked I’ll say I wish I lived during this time period. People want to control their own destiny in their own way, they want to think that they’re moral and good, and have the power to act on this. They want to be clever and powerful but independent and self sufficient. Hence the popularity with presidents, I think.
So let me know when you’re ready for me to bring over my dvd collection, and we’ll begin the education…

World Wide Knit in Public Day

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on June 14, 2008 by Philonous

For me, not as much fun as cycling naked. Unless I knit naked! Hmm…