Message Of The Day

Sun, 03 Jul 2005

21:55 [zork(~)] cat zombies.txt

You've got red on you

I have one more trip to make this summer (unless I am unlucky, in which case I'll get to Maui). This time next week I should, once again, be in the wilds of Noo Hampshah. I will not be unhappy to bid the airlines a farewell after that one is over. The "box lunch available for purchase" is bad enough but it seems that they now only show the crappiest of films. Maybe they're afraid of some passenger sitting there for a few hours pirating the latest blockbuster from the screen in the seatback using the camera built into his cellphone. I demand good fillums so I can feel self-satisfied when I ignore them and read my book instead. The flights I have been on have actually been relatively short-haul which means the screens are in the ceiling which are harder to ignore (but even harder to watch). Thankfully 50% of the time the aircraft film system has been out of order. This left me with The Pacifier (Vin Diesel remakes Kindergarten Cop), Hitch and Robots. The last one was actually the most disappointing as Ice Age is perhaps my favourite animated film, ever. They should have made this one as a homage to Apocalypse Now with Brando playing Bigweld. Everything else follows naturally.

Since I hadn't been to the library for a few weeks they had a few new offerings. I snapped up Shaun of the Dead without a second thought. Damn. More, please. This reminds me of when I was a student and a group of us decided to write the ultimate horror thriller war film and we ended up with Necropolis Now!. Maybe I should resurrect that project. The TV/preview accompanying each in-flight movie featured the U.S. version of The Office. OhDearOhDear.

While I was in the library I picked up GEB again. Further along the shelf was Mathematical People (a series of interviews). I've enjoyed reading the chapters about the names I recognise (Conway, Erdös, Gardner, Kemeny, Knuth, and Mandelbrot). I also found that TeX stands for "Tau Epsilon Chi" (maybe I should RTFM more often). My favourite quote was from someone about whom I was previously unaware. Persi Diaconis said "I can't relate to mathematics abstractly. I need a real problem to think about it, but given a real problem I'll learn anything it takes to get a solution." I can relate to that completely. Another great quote is " cast about and find the tool to work with, and very often some mathematician will have created the perfect tool just because it is beautiful. Nothing pleases me more than being able to take something and apply it to solve a problem." AMEN! Look at the parallels in problem solving in science in general. This is just so apt. These days the "beautiful tool" would be patented and there would be no straightforward way to attack the problem. ...and people wonder why the pace of innovation is slowing down...

I see that Zork will soon be on the move. Hopefully the same will be true of me.

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