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.


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.


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?

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


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

Granthug, the King's Champion

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.


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 "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.

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