Apr 1

Dear Tesco customers: stop eating my butter.

Feb 22

The Warp Drive of the Ancient Mariner

'But why drives on that ship so fast,
Without or wave or wind?'

'The air is cut away before,
And closes from behind.'

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Jan 7
You feel wise! You must have been very observant. --More--
You feel tough! You must be leading a healthy life-style.


Dec 30

Teach him mathematics as thoroughly as his capacity permits. I know that Bertrand Russell must, seeing that he is such a featherhead, be wrong about everything, but as I have no mathematics I cannot prove it.

Yeats, 1930, via Language Log

Nov 1

America's Armed nurble

Language Log alerted me to the SMBC cartoon on Nurbling, which proposes that all political speeches could be improved --and remain comprehensible -- if everything but the nouns were changed to the word "nurble".

The Language Log post goes into detail about some of the nouns the SMBC guy had missed, but I think a simpler hypothesis is worth testing: that all political speeches could remain perfectly comprehensible if any subset of words were changed to "nurble", even if that subset was randomly chosen.

Here's some Python:

import random

def random_nurble(text):
    text = text.split(' ')
    nurble_count = len(text) / 3

    for i in range(nurble_count):
        text[random.randint(0, len(text) - 1)] = 'nurble'

    return ' '.join(text)

There are several bugs (it can re-nurble what has already been nurbled, it doesn't do punctuation, etc), but I think the results are pretty good:

>>> random_nurble("These achievements are a testament to the courage, selflessness, and teamwork of America's Armed Forces.")

These nurble are a nurble to the nurble selflessness, and teamwork of nurble nurble Forces.

These nurble are nurble nurble to the courage, selflessness, and teamwork of America's Armed nurble

These achievements are a nurble to the courage, selflessness, nurble nurble nurble America's Armed nurble

These nurble are a testament nurble nurble courage, selflessness, and teamwork of America's nurble nurble

Jun 15

I wish she had told me more about the Master's, but SmartStamp does look pretty good!

Jun 12

The Racist Tree

A short story by Alexander Blechman

May 19

Another interesting application that would have large social ramifications, perhaps: if you could actually choose to preserve your romantic attachments to one person, undiminished, through time. So that love would never have to fade, if you didn't want it to. That's probably not all that difficult. It might just be a simple hormone or something.

Nick Bostrom at TED (14:30 start)

Dec 12

A ferocious spider lives in the brain. His name is Willis! Note (Fig. 10) that he has a nose, angry eyebrows, two suckers, eyes that look outward, a crew cut, antennae, a fuzzy beard, 8 legs, a belly that, according to your point of view, is either thin (basilar artery) or fat (the pons, which lies from one end of the basilar artery to the other), two feelers on his rear legs, and male genitalia.

From Clinical Neuroanatomy made ridiculously simple, by Stephen Goldberg, M.D.

Dec 6

Every Little Helps

Tesco's slogan is "Every little helps".

Does this make sense? Every little what helps? "Gnome", perhaps? I hope it's "gnome". I hope Tesco has an army of little helpful gnomes.

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