I got a request recently for more geometry problems. There's a gnarly problem
I want to post but I'm still working on it. For today, an easy one:
A (white) triangle is inscribed in a rectangle such that the remaining
triangles (red, green, and blue) all have equal area. What proportions
b/a and d/c do triangle vertices divide
sides of the rectangle into?
Calculating the answer isn't hard.
The fun here is in guessing it first.
The UK Parliament
Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger
about his paper's reporting of the material leaked by Edward Snowden.
Among those asking questions was MP Michael Ellis:
part, from your own newspaper on 2 August, which is still
because you refer to the fact that GCHQ has its own Pride group for staff
and I suggest to you that the data contained within the 58,000 documents
also contained data that allowed your newspaper to report that information.
It is therefore information now that is not any longer protected under the
laws and that jeopardises those individuals, does it not?|
completely lost me, Mr. Ellis. There are gay members of GCHQ,
is that a surprise?|
not amusing, Mr. Rusbridger.
They shouldn't be outed by you and your newspaper.|
notion of the existence of a Pride group within GCHQ, actually if you
go to the Stonewall website you can find the same information there.
I fail to see how that outs a single member of GCHQ.|
It wasn't all that long ago that being gay could get you fired from the NSA.
In 1980, the NSA suspected that one of their linguists, Jamie Shoemaker,
was gay and started an investigation. In questioning, Mr. Shoemaker
admitted he was gay; several days later, a supervisor called him into his
office and urged him to resign, saying that if he didn't he'd be fired.
Mr. Shoemaker contacted lawyer Frank Kameny, who told the NSA supervisor
there would be no resignation and that "if the case had to be fought,
it would be fought to the accompaniment of a torrent of publicity of our
making... which would not be of the Agency's liking."
The NSA let Mr. Shoemaker keep his job if he signed an agreement
including this condition:
I will take steps, within the next 60 days, to reduce my
vulnerability to blackmail or extortion by informing the
members of my family of my sexual preference.
But really, what made me want to blog today about the
hearings was the part about the theatrical
(as if copies of the Snowden documents didn't exist elsewhere):
ceremony that took place in your basement, the secret ceremony attended
by yourself and others, how many people were there?|
were two from the GCHQ side and I think two or three from
you all just broke up the hard drives and the laptops, is that right?|
It's harder to smash up a computer than you might think.
I believe they had a giant food mixer, things like food mixers
into which you can drop the computer.|
the food mixer was brought to the basement?|
we did it with Black and Deckers.|
— that is the question.
I wonder if most people's dreams make as much use of allegory as mine do.
I've had any number of dreams that cast aspects of my
waking life in allegorical form. When this happens, it's usually related
to some difficulty I'm dealing with—something that's been weighing
on my mind. Such a dream can be helpful just by calling my attention
to how much something has been getting to me. Being aware of the fact
of preoccupation is often the first step to resolving it.
I wonder if dogs' dreams are allegorical too and I wonder
whether they ever decode the symbolism once they wake up.
And maybe dogs watch us while we sleep and
wonder why we don't bark when we dream.
, in a patent infringement trial:
heard a good bit in this courtroom about public‑key encryption.
Are you familiar with that?|
how is it that you're familiar with public‑key encryption?|
today, and I'm disappointed. But I give the losing party
(Newegg, the retailer I bought the computer I'm composing this on from)
a lot of credit for fighting back. And they intend to appeal.
A new cell phone tower was erected in Lone Pine earlier this year,
and in a what‑were-they-thinking location: close to an approach path
to our airport's runway. Pilots don't like it (to put it mildly).
There are several other cell phone towers in town, but they're
in sensible locations more than a mile away from the airport.
I got interested and read the applicable law.
about obstructions near airports specify a bunch of imaginary geometric
surfaces near runways that obstructions may not intersect.
I did the math, and by my calculations the tower is
than permitted for its location. I was surprised, though, that it's
only a little bit too high. I expected it wouldn't even be close
to permissible in such proximity to a runway.
I called my findings to the FAA's attention a few months ago,
and I got some news today. Long story; I'll save the details for
a future blog posting as things develop. But I hear that the FAA has
reëvaluated the tower and their system now agrees with me that
it is a penetration (their word) of one of the prohibited surfaces.
We'll see what happens next.
I'm not sure why I get so interested in this kind of thing,
but I do.
, a mathematician who worked for
was found dead inside a duffel bag in his bathtub.
The bag was locked with a padlock, and Williams
had the key with him in the bag.
with espionage historian
the Gareth Williams case:
you say that fiction will have fun with this one over the years?|
I think that any self-respecting novelist will completely reject this
particular plot as being so bizarre that you really put at risk the
suspended disbelief of the reader.|
This pic, like most images of my snake that I post,
has had the color saturation reduced a little.
His color looks artificial if I post them as is (although this
may be at least partly due to characteristics of the camera).
Happy nineteenth, everyone.
I don't usually follow chess matches (nor do I have much truck with
spectator sports in general), but the current championship
(Anand-Carlsen) has my interest.
Time control is more demanding this time than it was in the
1972 Fischer-Spassky match: 40 moves in 2 hours
instead of 2½.
And in 1972, computers couldn't beat Fischer or Spassky.
Real-time analysis of the match came from masters who weren't
as good as the players; now we not only have human analysis
but also what various engines
It's not like playing chess became futile once machines got good at it,
but following top-level chess has a different feel than it used to.
Maybe, just maybe, computer superiority in chess will
spur interest in games like Go and Hex that have
combinatorial unwieldiness beyond that of chess. It's not
just that humans can take pride in being the top Go and Hex engines
on the planet; the complexity of the games allows for richly
varied strategies and personal style.
And not that this has anything to do with chess or Go or Hex,
but I simply must quote this phone conversation from
you Tanya Khovanova?|
should come here immediately and redo your blood test ASAP.|
count shows that you are dead.|
|Tanya Khovanova:||If I'm dead,
then what's the hurry?|
in all directions.
I got a CD
in the mail today with a fading white speckled pattern printed
on the top side in lieu of the usual text. It's a kind of Rorschach test;
one viewer wonders if it a was mistake, another sees a pleasing pattern,
another deems it a boring substitute for an interesting artistic concept.
Me, I saw something to photograph for the blog.
Per tradition, Tommyjournal will sport a new look in January,
probably including but not limited to a new typeface for the logo
at the top of the page. If you have a typeface (or faces) you'd
like to suggest, I'd be happy to hear—either in a comment
or by email.
I can use PostScript or TrueType fonts. Or even if all you
have is a PDF document that uses a font you like (where all the
letters a,j,l,m,n,o,r,T,u,y appear), I can take it from there.
The Scrabble set we|
had when I was a
kid came with a T
that marched to a
Today's topic is various forms of artificial scarcity.
The value of a fiat currency depends on its supply.
There may not always be consensus on what central bank policy should
be at any moment, but there's little dispute that it matters a lot.
Copyright is a can of worms worth several blog postings.
Religious orders that keep secrets—especially those with hierarchies
and grades, with more secrets revealed at each level—have all kinds
of rationales for their secrecy, most of them beside the point that keeping
knowledge scarce is a ploy to make people value it.
The diamond industry in the twentieth century created artificial
scarcity of a physical commodity (and created a demand for diamond
engagement rings pretty much out of nothing).
Last but not least, I submit that artificial scarcity is
essential to the appeal of playing Scrabble. A keyboard
lets you type any word you want at any time of day—and
that is precisely why typing freely at a keyboard will never,
ever give the particular type of satisfaction that accrues from getting
the tiles to play a word like obloquy
in a game of Scrabble.