June 2003


There was no journal entry yesterday. I decided to finish reading HP5. I finished at about 3:45am this morning. I wasn't too worried about being zombied-out at work today because we are doing a stocktake. The amount of coherent thought required is a bare minimum. Unfortunately the amount of coherent thought available for writing a journal is just a little on the low-side.
I tried to watch the first Charlie's Angels movie on TV last night. I managed about 15 minutes before the cheesy superhero-mocking humour lost its sparkle and became too dull to make me endure the tired dialogue. I would probably have held out longer in hope of some kick-ass action scenes if not for the call of the book.

More than Words

Back on 9th June I raised the question of whether there was a name for a word that described itself. By sheer coincidence I came across the words "autological" and "heterological", discussed by Douglas Hofstadter in Gödel, Escher, Bach.
It is an interesting mental exercise to work out if the word "heterological" is heterological. This is Grelling's Paradox (a variant of Russell's Paradox) - an example of a strange loop in a self-referential system.
There is quite a good list at autological words.

It's finally my turn. The rest of the family have read the new HP book. I'm almost half-way through now.


Why should I bother making up silly new words and definitions when I can browse a dictionary to find words like this:
heteroousian: somebody with particular belief about God: in Christian theology, somebody who believes that God the Father and God the Son are not formed of the same substance.
What is God made of?


Leeching the free verse of flagellation
and absorbed isolation
palliates the pubescent teenangsters.
It swabs the swelling welts of resentment,
does nothing to staunch the emission -
nothing to disperse the odor of decay.

I lack the surgeon's courage to cut
so I shoo away the flies.


Sometimes it seems that luck plays an inordinately large role in the success of a project. Sometimes I wonder whether I am a naturally lucky person, or whether other people get their fair share of it but fail to recognise it.
The kind of luck I experienced today was a convergence of ideas. I had a concept for a story. I had a main character. In the story, the main character had to have the means to kill a dangerous enemy. I had left that means on hold while I developed more of the main character's background. Today I realised that the hobby I had already given my main character provided (a) an effective means to dispose of the enemy and (b) a delightful allegory for the behaviour of the archenemy. How lucky is that?


It's good to see the fun in fundamentalism. Browse Lil' Markie and listen to "Diary of an Unborn Child", then scroll through the album covers for such gems as:
"Pip Pip the Naughty Chicken" who wouldn't obey and ends up burning in Hell for all Eternity with Satan and all of Satan's disciples,
"The Game of Life" - a play-by-play commentary of the grid iron game between the forces of Good and Evil, and
Jimmy Swaggart's "Flying Missiles, Atomic Bombs and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ".

Mathematical Quotes:

I cannot do it without comp[u]ters.
- William Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale

How dare we speak of the laws of chance? Is not chance the antithesis of all law?
- Bertrand Russell, Calcul des probabilités.


The "fairytale me" picture is now complete. Allow me to introduce Granthug, the King's Champion.

Granthug, the King's Champion

Random Patents

Warning: some of the material contained in the following patent descriptions may offend.
Unicorns are no-longer mythical creatures
How touching
Improved "taste"
How to keep ahead

Animal Behaviour

There are many different behaviours exhibited by species in captivity. Let me give you an example of the interactions between members of the order physicistae, particularly physicistus easternblockus, physicistus britannicus and physicistus australis.

Easternblockus did some research to solve a problem. He found an empirical solution that gave all appearances of solving the problem. Britannicus, hearing about that solution, claimed that according to theory it should not work. Britannicus started building a case for rejection of the solution in his product development. A very old Australis, when told of the problem, recalled work that he had done in the late 1960's on that same problem in a completely different product. He pointed to a patent that he had been granted for his solution.
The solution found by Easternblockus turns out to be almost identical to the patented solution (no infringement problems since the earlier patent had expired). Britannicus withdrew his objections to the solution after having seen the patent by the older, respected Australis.
On analysis, both Easternblockus and Britannicus agreed to adopt the solution because it worked, but both agreed that Australis' analysis of why it worked was completely wrong.


The "fairytale me" picture is about to get an armoury background. I've made (modelled) a sword rack and placed some blades on it. I've done some dark, rough brick-work. Now I need to render it at high resolution with anti-aliasing and layer it behind Granthug. I'll experiment with a slight blur on the background to give the scene a little depth.


I found some wonderful quotes at Mathematical Quotations Server. Here is a selection:

The different branches of Arithmetic -- Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision.
- Lewis Carroll

A man is like a fraction whose numerator is what he is and whose denominator is what he thinks of himself. The larger the denominator the smaller the fraction.
- Lev Nikolaevich Tolstoy

I wish to God these calculations had been executed by steam.
- Charles Babbage

In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But in poetry, it's the exact opposite.
- Paul Dirac

We used to think that if we knew one, we knew two, because one and one are two. We are finding that we must learn a great deal more about 'and'.
Eddington, Sir Arthur (1882-1944)

A Mathematician is a machine for turning coffee into theorems.
- Paul Erdös


The last thing I did as I left home this morning was to grab a windcheater and drag it on over my head. Outside was grey and brisk. I didn't want to shiver.
Halfway to dropping off SonOfVirge at school I looked down. My black, brushed-cotton windcheater was not all black. Parts of it were a wispy grey. My top was a mess. I knew why. I had been furred by the fluff-master last night. Gandalf, His Fearsome Fluffiness, had sat on me while I pronounced the lesson from the Fifth Book of Potter.
My appearance at work has never been what you would have described as strictly professional. I don't wear business suits or ties (except when visiting other companies or customers). I try to keep neat and comfortable. I knew I would take my windcheater off later in the day, but for the first hour of work I wanted to wear it for a little extra warmth. The fur had to go.
As I walked from the carpark to the back door, I brushed at the fur to try to roll it into a removable clump - limited success. The cat fur stuck to the fabric far better than to my dry, smooth fingers. I licked my fingers and tried again - success! I keep brushing, but my fingers dried out quickly. Another lick, and the fur's occupation force was being beaten back, leaving clean blackness.
Then I stopped to think - to observe my behaviour. What a cheeky cat! I had worked out his ulterior motive. By leaving my garments covered in fur, he was turning me into a cat! I had fallen under his devious influence. My paw-licking method of cleaning myself was so cat-like that I could no longer think of Gandalf as "just a pet". He is clearly a manipulative megalomaniac, intent on converting all humanity to a cat-like existence where he can rule us as a pampered dictator.
Forewarned is forearmed. I shall resist his influence. Nobody's going to turn me into a cat (unless of course they feed me, cuddle me, groom me, and expect that I will do nothing but lie around all day).

Stop Press: I may have to soften my stance on the culpability of the feline. It seems that there may be less direct mechanisms by which I may have been influenced. e.g. the behaviour modifying effects of the parasite Toxoplasma gondii.