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Friday, 2020 October 30, 07:47 — general

bubbling shelves

I have more books than shelf space. I assume that some of my readers can say the same.

In my previous apartment, where space was even scarcer, I had one shelf beside my desk for the reference books that I use most often. After consulting such a book, I put it at the end of that shelf nearest my hand (I’ll call that end the head). How might I extend that principle to many shelves, without shifting all the books every time?

Initially all the books are in boxes (with a catalog telling me which box each is in). When I take a book from a box, it goes to the head of the first non-full shelf. If all shelves are full, it goes on the last shelf, and the last book on that shelf goes to a box.

When I take a book from a shelf, I return it to the head of the previous shelf (if any) and, if necessary, move a book from the tail of that shelf to the head of the next shelf.

Can you improve this scheme?

Wednesday, 2020 August 26, 15:18 — cartoons

curious about causality

Without trying, I can think of five webcomics authors who changed their pronouns long after they started posting: Dana Simpson (Ozy and Millie), Joey Alison Sayers (Thingpart and now Alley Oop), Allison Shabet (Deadwinter), Elli Stephens (Goblins), and now Maelyn Dean (Real Life).

Is there something in the ink?

Saturday, 2020 August 1, 23:29 — language

polyglot priority

A genie offers to make you fluent in twenty or a hundred languages, living or dead. How do you choose?

The greedy algorithm: add whatever language most increases the number of people with whom you could have (had) a fluent conversation; repeat.

Alternately, all the languages preferred by any of your ancestors after whatever date that allows. (Closely related dialects come at a discount.)

But I’d trade some slots at the bottom of either of these lists for some smaller languages of historical or literary interest, such as Etruscan and perhaps Volap√ľk, plus sign languages (ASL, Plains, BSL).

Thursday, 2020 April 23, 06:43 — medicine, politics

I’ll sit this one out

Looks like I’m staying home alone until a vaccine comes; it’s what I mostly do anyway, though I miss the occasional card game. As a libertarian, I do not presume to know what’s best for others. So, lucky me, I need not obsess about policy.

Sunday, 2020 April 19, 14:52 — cartoons

early webcomics gallery

Joe Average’s first anniversary strip features characters from 37 other strips. Can you help me name them? Some have fallen off the Web.

Nukees S.S.D.D Look What I Brought Home (?) Superosity
Road Waffles ? Life at Bayside (?) Bobbins
Krazy Larry Ashfield When I Grow Up
Bruno the Bandit Avalon High Joe Average
? Soap on a Rope (?) Melonpool
? ? It’s Walky
Awkward Zombie (?) ? ?
Help Desk Clan of the Cats GPF
Sinfest ? ?
Everything Jake Real Life ?
Alice Funny Farm The Class Menagerie
Down to Earth (?) Suburban Jungle ?
Monday, 2020 March 30, 10:35 — curve-fitting

Scribbles: The Ensmoothening, Part III

Many of the curves in this chart have some unsightly wiggles. That’s because, when a function of degree 2 or higher tries to approximate a piecewise constant, it tends to go back and forth across the target. So here instead I fitted each such function not to the piecewise constant directly but to the fit of the next lower degree.
( . . more . . )

Wednesday, 2020 March 11, 02:07 — merch

supply issues

I’ve had a number of mugs printed by Zazzle, and most of them came out gorgeous; but last summer I was peeved enough by a delivery cock-up to want to take my business elsewhere. Recently I got around to doing something about it, with even more disappointing results.

Threadless would not let me sign up. I can’t tell which of my address, handle and password offends it, let alone how.

Cafepress failed to upload my design.

Spreadshirt and CustomInk cannot do a wraparound design on a mug.

Who else is out there? Maybe I have cooled off enough to go back to Zazzle.

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