While the mathjocks among you might recognize this structure as a (fractal) Sierpinski Tetrahedron, note that it was constructed with baseball bats and softballs [ht JH]:
JH adds, "the photo comes from a book in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Insitute of Mathematics at the Royal Society, copyright Gwen Fisher."[cf this site]
It seems appropriate to post this now, as I prepare to head off to Labatt Memorial Park in London to watch game 7 of the IBL semi-finals, between the London Majors and the Kitchener Panthers.
Update: The London Majors won the game and now move on to the finals for the league championship.
Over the past six months we have been forced to face even more of the signs of aging. I have had to take a few days to try to come to grips with this reality.
It is difficult to accept that I can no longer pretend I am a fifty-year-old who imagines he can do the things a thirty-year-old can do.
I love my life, and I love the experiences and knowledge that come with age. I love all the adventures I still embrace. I even love the lessons I have learned as well as the lessons I have decided not to learn or have overtly decided to unlearn.
But I resent the constant reminders that physical (and mental) deteriorations persist --- e.g. deaths of friends and relatives, illnesses, lost stamina, etc.
When I was in my 50s, I often imagined I could still do things that I could do when I was in my 30s; in fact, I often did those things and more, in part to prove to myself that I still could do them and in part to deny the aging process.
It doesn't work that way anymore.
And I must work at adaptation.
I answered all ten questions on this GMAT-type quiz correctly [ht JR]. I wasn't completely thrilled with their explanations of the correct answers, though, particularly when they didn't explain the uses of infinitives and gerunds.
Note: the quiz seems to require that you provide your email address to see the correct answers, so you may not want to waste your time if you're unwilling to do that.
When someone in Sweden feels they must take down an Israeli flag to reduce the risk of harm to their family and yet a neighbour there has no qualms about showing a Palestinian flag, it might not be anti-Semitism.
But it probably is.
Read this, about what happened when a Swedish journalist traveled with an Israeli flag sewn on her suitcase. After describing the vandalism of her suitcase and its contents, she adds,
I get the call a few days later. That tension I always have from looking over my shoulder has started to release, I’m on the beach sipping coffee and reading some book I was sure to forget the minute I put it down. The voice on the other end is damp with resignation. My friend tells me that Sweden ever so quickly has gone from so-called anti-Zionism to open anti-Semitism, and that no one seems to care. Every day it gets worse, every minute the tone shifts and the shadows grow more ominous. ...I just can’t live like this any longer. I can’t accept that life consists of long periods of fear and despair, interrupted by the short bursts of happiness I get when I come back to Israel. I can’t raise my kids to hide who they are, I can’t usher them into a society that teaches them they are the other and that being less of who they are is the key to survival....
I got back to Sweden yesterday and something has changed, the shift is so tangible. Within me, yes, but also in the world around me. I take down my Israeli flag that I so proudly hung from my balcony. I’m told it is no longer safe, and I have to make a choice between being open and keeping my children safe. The Palestinian flag hanging from my neighbor’s window is still visible across the courtyard. I notice the injustice, but the outrage is replaced with sadness and fatigue.
This question was posed by a friend on Facebook.
My first reaction was that I own a couple of slide rules, but I don't think I've used either of them in the past couple of years.
Then I saw some bottles of after shave. I use them rarely and they are pretty old.
I have given away nearly all my books, but I have a few that I acquired back in the 1960s, including a bunch of conductor's scores. But I don't read hard copy books much, if at all, so I don't really use these.
Maybe the oldest thing I acquired myself that I still use (albeit rarely) is a maroon wide-wale corduroy pull-over thing that I bought in Chicago about 1966 or so.
But probably the oldest things that I own and still use are things I inherited:
For some inane reason, Facebook still uses Bing as its default translater. When someone, in my case typically a former student, writes something in a foreign (by which I mean non-English) language, I am given the option to click on "translate" and Facebook gives me a truly horrid, unintelligible Bing translation. Most of the time I have no idea what the translation means, and most of the time I am too lazy to copy and paste the posting into a Google translater.
One thing about Google is that the programmers use adaptive techniques. They are constantly improving their search engine and their translater. So when you put something from a non-English language into their translater, you get a reasonable translation from Google. Google constantly improves itself, which is why it has been so successful.
Bing, however, seems to have a zero or really bad adaptive mechanism. The translations Bing offers are just as bad today as they were a year or two ago. They do not seem to care that the translations make no sense and are of no value to Facebook readers.
I'm surprised that Bing hasn't gotten better. I'm at least as surprised that Facebook hasn't dumped Bing for the Google translator.
My Facebook friend Raffi posted this picture recently:
His answer was "Travel more". Commenters there added things like "Do it" or "Don't marry". I'm struggling to come up with just two words. Here are some options I have considered:
But I like Raffi's "Travel more" too.
Some years ago when a friend was seeking the Liberal Party nomination to run for parliament, I joined the Liberal Party so I could work for him. About a year or so ago, given my libertarian tendencies, I unsubscribed from the Liberal Party emails. But two days ago, I received the following email message, which utterly amazes me:
Some time ago, you unsubscribed from the Liberal Party of Canada's email updates.
I wanted to reach out to you, and make sure you weren't missing out on important messages you'd like to get, including:
- Updates about our team and our plan, as we build toward the 2015 election.
- Updates on some of the initiatives taken by the Liberal Party and opportunities to support them.
- Opportunities to share your ideas and your feedback with me.
Don't worry John, if you take no action, you will remain unsubscribed.
If some corporate business pulled a stunt like this, Justin Trudeau and the Liberals would be all over them for violation of my own wishes to be unsubscribed from their email list.
Further, how can we teach people that "No" means "No" if the Liberal Party and its leader don't seem to believe this.
I am offended. If there is an attorney who wishes to take Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party to court over this issue, please get in touch with me. I'm happy to let this instance serve as basis for some sort of legal action.
My mother sent me this necktie back in the days when I was doing baseball play-by-play:
One out, nobody on. 5 to 4 and bottom of the 5th.
Yes, I brought the tie with me to Rogers Centre Hotel, from which Ms Eclectic and I will be watching the Trono Blue Jays play the Orioles tonight and tomorrow night.
It isn't all just anti-Israel. It isn't all pro-Hamas. It isn't all Islamofascism. There has been a re-emergence of anti-Semitism in Europe [and elsewhere?] that is undeniable and undeniably wrong. From Slate,
A recent Anti-Defamation League survey found that 24 percent of the French population and 21 percent of the German population harbor some anti-Semitic attitudes. A recent study of anti-Semitic letters received by Germany’s main Jewish organization found that 60 percent of the hate mail came from well-educated Germans. So this isn’t just a problem with young, disaffected Muslim men.
After all, the two worst recent incidents of violence against Jews in Europe—the killing of three children and a teacher in a 2012 attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse and the shooting of three people at a Jewish museum in Brussels in May—took place during times when there wasn’t much news coming out of Israel. Continentwide statistics on anti-Semitic incidents leading up to the most recent uptick don’t show much of an overall trend—in Britain, anti-Semitic violence is becoming less common while online abuse is becoming more frequent—or a correlation with events in Israel and Palestine. ...
Europe’s anti-Semitism problem may be more open and obvious when Middle Easter violence in the news, then, but it’s not simply a reaction to whatever’s going on in Israel. Rather, it’s always just below the surface, threatening to bubble over.
To deal with a perceived population problem 35 years ago, China institued a one-child policy: parents were allowed to have only one child. Because there seems to have been an inexplicable preference for having sons, people took various measures to make sure their one child was male. The ratio of males to females jumped from about 1.05 before the policy was implemented to about 1.20.
According to some female students from Fudan University whom I taught a few years ago at the Bader International Studies Centre, a woman who was born an only child under the one-child policy would then be allowed to have two children.
But the sex imbalance has led to numerous problems, not least of which is a shortage of eligible women to become wives of all the young men. This ramification of the policy has led to some serious problems for young women in SE Asia.
China suffers from one of the worst gender imbalances in the world as families prefer male children.
As a result millions of men now cannot find Chinese brides -- a key driver of trafficking, according to rights groups.
And here is the problem:
Vulnerable women in countries close to China -- not only Vietnam but also North Korea, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar -- are being forced into marriages in the land of the one-child policy, experts say.
Here is just one example:
When Kiab turned 16, her brother promised to take her to a party in a tourist town in northern Vietnam. Instead, he sold her to a Chinese family as a bride....
The Lao Cai shelter currently houses a dozen girls from various ethnic minority groups. All say they were tricked by relatives, friends or boyfriends and sold to Chinese men as brides.
"I had heard a lot about trafficking. But I couldn't imagine it would happen to me," Kiab said.
As trafficking is run by illegal gangs and the communities involved are poor and remote, official data is patchy and likely underestimates the scale of the problem, experts say.
But rights workers across Southeast Asia say they are witnessing "systematic" trafficking of women into China for forced marriages.
I suggested to the young women from Fudan that the ratio must have made their options considerably better in seeking a life partner. They didn't seem to think so, but my own sense was that as a father during that regime, I might have preferred having a daughter to having a son. Surely the young women fare much better on average in the marriage market with such a sex imbalance among newborns.
Addendum: from Michael Connelly's Nine Dragons:
Bosch did not know the specifics of China’s one-child policies but he was aware of them. It was a population containment plan that resulted in a higher value being placed on male births. Newborn females were often abandoned in orphanages or worse. Rather than giving up Mia, the Li family had left the country for the US.
People respond to incentives.
Let me add to this list: now ask the same questions of journalists reporting from Israel about the Israel-Hamas war.
My bet about the results: there is one heck of a lot more freedom of the press and one heck of a lot less intimidation in Israel than there is in Gaza.
And, if that is the case, it should raise questions about the news reports about the war, especially those filed from Gaza.
I find #5 particularly worth considering:
5. Israel’s political leadership has done little in recent years to make their cause seem appealing. It is impossible to convince a Judeophobe that Israel can do anything good or useful, short of collective suicide. But there are millions of people of good will across the world who look at the decision-making of Israel’s government and ask themselves if this is a country doing all it can do to bring about peace and tranquility in its region. Hamas is a theocratic fascist cult committed to the obliteration of Israel. But it doesn’t represent all Palestinians. Polls suggest that it may very well not represent all of the Palestinians in Gaza. There is a spectrum of Palestinian opinion, just as there is a spectrum of Jewish opinion.
I don’t know if the majority of Palestinians would ultimately agree to a two-state solution. But I do know that Israel, while combating the extremists, could do a great deal more to buttress the moderates. This would mean, in practical terms, working as hard as possible to build wealth and hope on the West Bank. A moderate-minded Palestinian who watches Israel expand its settlements on lands that most of the world believes should fall within the borders of a future Palestinian state might legitimately come to doubt Israel’s intentions. Reversing the settlement project, and moving the West Bank toward eventual independence, would not only give Palestinians hope, but it would convince Israel’s sometimes-ambivalent friends that it truly seeks peace, and that it treats extremists differently than it treats moderates. And yes, I know that in the chaos of the Middle East, which is currently a vast swamp of extremism, the thought of a West Bank susceptible to the predations of Islamist extremists is a frightening one. But independence—in particular security independence—can be negotiated in stages. The Palestinians must go free, because there is no other way.
For decades, I have advocated for reduced entry regulations* in the taxi/limousine industry. Over the past year or so, though, it has begun to look as if competition and innovation using smart-phone apps would do what local regulators refused to do.
But of course the industry incumbents have fought back, challenging Uber, Lyft, et al. (private car services) both legally and politically. From the Washington Post (via Sean),
"The taxi industry has donated $3,500 to state legislators for every dollar that Uber, Lyft and their smaller competitor Sidecar have given . . . This massive discrepancy in political giving may also explain why, since the start of 2014, at least 12 states and the District of Columbia have introduced new regulations aimed to limit these popular ride-sharing applications."
It's much cheaper and easier to compete for anti-competitive regulations through lobbying than for customers through efficiency and innovation.
Interestingly, 35 years ago Washington DC was considered a low regulation taxi market with few entry restrictions and with zone pricing.
*Please note I'm referring to entry regulations here. See this: Regulation by Municipal Licensing (co-authored with J. Bossons and S. Makuch). Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1984.
I have less objection to ways of assuring vehicle and driver quality, possibly via huge liability insurance policies advertised by the umbrella firms, which would then have an incentive to vet the drivers and cars.
Bryan Caplan says he is a non-conformist who has succeeded in a conformist world. He is clearly very smart, but he has used his intelligence to help understand the world around him and sort the wheat from the chaff in many social and work situations. His advice for non-conformists applies equally (or in spades even) to conformists.
I highly recommend the entire piece, but here are a few of his points that I really liked:
1. Don't be an absolutist non-conformist. Conforming in small ways often gives you the opportunity to non-conform in big ways. Being deferential to your boss, for example, opens up a world of possibilities.
2. Don't proselytize the conformists. Most of them will leave you alone if you leave them alone. Monitor your behavior: Are you trying to change them more often than they try to change you? Then stop. Saving time is much more helpful than making enemies.
5. A non-conformist attitude toward education is dangerous because academic status is painfully linear and cumulative. To go to college, you must finish high school; to finish high school, you have to finish all the 12th-grade requirements; to finish the 12th-grade requirements, you have to finish all the 11th-grade requirements; and so on.
9. Most bureaucrats are deeply conformist, but bureaucratic (lack of) incentives are great for non-conformists. Think job security.
12. When faced with demands for conformity, silently ask, "What will happen to me if I refuse?" Train yourself to ponder subtle and indirect repercussions, but learn to dismiss most such ponderings as paranoia. Modern societies are huge, anonymous, and forgetful.
14. Spend the first year of any job convincing your employer he was right to hire you, and he'll spend your remaining years on the job convincing you not to leave. This advice is almost equally useful for conformists, by the way.
But allof his points are really good advice for everyone.
Pretty funny stuff from Andy Borowitz in The New Yorker [via Jack]:
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Dr. Stephen Hawking’s recent statement that the black holes he famously described do not actually exist underscores “the danger inherent in listening to scientists,” Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota) said today.
Rep. Bachmann unleashed a blistering attack on Dr. Hawking, who earlier referred to his mistake on black holes as his “biggest blunder.”
“Actually, Dr. Hawking, our biggest blunder as a society was ever listening to people like you,” said Rep. Bachmann.
“If black holes don’t exist, then other things you scientists have been trying to foist on us probably don’t either, like climate change and evolution.”
Rep. Bachmann added that all the students who were forced to learn about black holes in college should now sue Dr. Hawking for a full refund.
“Fortunately for me, I did not take any science classes in college,” she said. Bachmann’s anti-Hawking comments seemed to be gaining traction on Capitol Hill, as seen from the statement by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Chairman of the House Science Committee, who said, “Going forward, members of the House Science Committee will do our best to avoid listening to scientists.”
In the 1960s, most of the people of my generation supported Israel. Israel was the "David" in the midst of "Goliath" neighbours who had vowed to destroy Israel.
Most (or at least many) of us were probably influenced by Israel's struggle for existence from 1947 - 1973. We hoped that after 1973, treaties and peace would emerge.
But in the 41 years since then, Israel, in an attempt to defend itself against suicide bombers, rockets, and continued threats, has been losing the propaganda war. The continued expansion of settlements in the west bank has not helped Israel's position. And even though Israel withdrew from Gaza, hoping to promote more of an atmosphere of peaceful co-existence with the Palestine Authority, Israel is once again struggling in the propaganda wars.
Here is what I mean. Older people still support Israel's actions. But the younger ones, generally less aware of the 1947-73 struggles, oppose Israel's actions. From Gallup,
This table concerns me. Compare the responses of those 49 and under with those 50 and older. Clearly I am in the latter category, and I really find it difficult (if not impossible) to understand how people do not see Israel's actions as justified. But maybe that's simply a sign of my age and historical experience.
But what will happen as we old farts tire and die out? If Israel cannot persuade younger people of the justification of its actions, in another decade or two, it could lose the support of many countries that strongly support it now.
In the late 1980s, in addition to becoming enamoured of the writings of Bill James and of sabremetrics, I also made a point of reading some of the less stats-oriented books about baseball, including Roger Angell's The Summer Game, George Will's Men at Work, and Philip Roth's The Great American Novel.
I don't often agree with much that Maureen Dowd writes, but I love this piece of hers in the NYTimes about Roger Angell, who wrote the Boys of Summer (and many other lengthy pieces about baseball). Some excerpts:
In person, the writer is less “Angellic” — the adjective coined to describe his beguiling writing — than astringent. He has spent most of a century, from Ruth to Jeter, passionately tracking the sport as a fan, but he also proclaims himself a “foe of goo.” He much prefers the sexy “Bull Durham” to the sentimental “Field of Dreams.” He sniffs at being called “the poet laureate of baseball” and winces at a recent reverential Sports Illustrated profile. “It made me sound like the Dalai Lama,” he says. “My God, I’m just a guy who happened to live on for a long time. I’d rather be younger and writing than all this stuff.”
... “I didn’t write about baseball because I was looking for the heart and soul of America. I don’t care if baseball is the national pastime or not. The thing about baseball is, it’s probably the hardest game to play. The greatest hitters are only succeeding a third of the time. If you take a great athlete who’s never played baseball and put him in the infield, he’s lost.”“Baseball is linear — it’s like writing,” he says. “In other sports, there’s a lot going on at the same time. You can’t quite take it all in.”
Could soccer ever take over as the national pastime? “I don’t know,” he replied. “I felt I was being waterboarded by The New York Times with the World Cup.”
Roger Angell is being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this weekend.