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Wednesday, 2015 March 11, 09:34 — prose

adrift in a sea of time

In Donna Tartt’s The Secret History (1992), the narrator says or implies that the events happened many years ago; so I’ve been watching for details that date it. Oprah Winfrey, whose show premiered in 1986, is mentioned; I think that’s the terminus post quem. More than anything else I’ve been struck by names of cigarettes: Silva-Thin, Vantage, Kool. Maybe these seem dated to me because I’ve been less exposed to tobacco advertising since ~1981.

Monday, 2015 March 2, 00:52 — cinema

Awake how often?

The protagonist of the TV series Awake lives in two worlds: one in which his wife died in a car crash, and one in which their son died instead. As we see it, he spends a day in Hannah’s timeline and then a day in Rex’s, and so on.

But (in the four episodes I’ve seen so far) no one ever asks him where he goes on the other days. On the other hand, if he lives each calendar day twice in sequence, he ought to be able to use knowledge of events unrelated to his family to win the occasional bet, and I haven’t seen him do that.

So I choose to suppose that his awareness forks each morning, and rejoins when he sleeps, so that he always has two yesterdays, neither preceding the other.

Monday, 2015 January 26, 21:51 — mathematics, merch

elusive avoidance

I’ve been designing printable models of the Lawson-Klein surface

w = cos(u) cos(2v)
x = cos(u) sin(2v)
y = sin(u) cos(v)
z = sin(u) sin(v)

As you can plainly see, this figure lives in S3 (positively curved 3-space), so stereographic projection can bring it into E3 (Euclidean 3-space) without adding more self-intersections. (It crosses itself at u=nπ.)

To minimize the distortion of the projection, I want the projection center to be as far as possible from the surface. One thing I tried was pursuit: starting with an arbitrary point P in S3 and an arbitrary point L(u,v) in the surface, move (u,v) to bring L closer to P while simultaneously moving P away from L. This gets me nowhere so far: either it fails to converge or P converges to the antipodes of L, which is also in the surface (change u by π).

Sunday, 2014 December 7, 17:07 — spam

self-referential

A recent comment on this blog from someone named ‘air jordan 1 ebay’:

Hello, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was just wondering if you get a lot of spam responses? […]

Yes. Yes, I do.

Thursday, 2014 November 27, 21:16 — music+verse

need a pun here about music and cryptography

Given a piece of music written for just intonation, clearly you could derive another piece by replacing all factors of 3 with factors of 5 and vice versa (or pick some other pair of primes). Sometimes the result might even be good.

Monday, 2014 November 24, 09:59 — me!me!me!, medicine

hidden dragon

For years I’ve occasionally had a mysterious itch at my lowest left rib, nothing showing on the skin. Now it has spread rightward at the same altitude, making me think: could this be mild shingles?

Thursday, 2014 November 6, 01:35 — cinema

The Curious Case of the Catchy but Inappropriate Title

In Mamet’s The Spanish Prisoner (1997), Joe, for a genius, is a bit stupid. Maybe he hasn’t watched enough movies.

Jimmy tells Joe to “bring the Process” to their meeting in the park. Joe never mentioned that word to Jimmy. Though Joe is already suspicious of Jimmy, he does not notice. (Well, maybe he’s too angry to notice.)

The fake FBI agents tell Joe that Jimmy is working a classic Spanish Prisoner scam, though Jimmy has done almost nothing to set up such a story. If he says the “princess” is in trouble, will Joe hand over the Process to help her? Hardly. So why doesn’t Joe remark that it doesn’t fit?

When the police ask for something with Jimmy’s fingerprints, the plot requires Joe to take a day or so to remember the switched book.

Susan is the obvious suspect for the theft of Joe’s knife; this does not occur to Joe.

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