## 22-Dec-2014

### The local “king tide” floods

Filed under: sfba — jlm @ 19:36

Some really large tides occurred today and at the shore I saw the ocean coming to re-take some small slices of the real estate we had taken from it:

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## 25-Oct-2014

### Insects, emerge!

Filed under: animals — jlm @ 14:52

Today the nests of some kind of insect decided to emerge from under the ground of my yard and fly off.
[Pics! Vids!]

There were three nests doing this that I saw. About 40 seconds into the filming of the earliest two nests (one of which was already mostly done), Android’s camera app wedged and prevented taking photos or a new video (and even left the first 40s of that first video unviewable), and by the time my phone rebooted, there were only a few stragglers to photo. Later nest #3 emerged, and I got a couple decent vids of it.

## 21-Oct-2014

### Why was algebra so difficult to discover?

Filed under: math — jlm @ 18:48

(tl;dr: Asking a bunch of questions, and not making any guesses.)
Consider integer arithmetic prior to the discovery of algebra. How do you go about a really foundational task such as defining division? You give everything involved names, like so: A number called the dividend divided by another number called the divisor is a number called the quotient with a non-negative number called the remainder if the divisor times the quotient plus the remainder is the dividend and the remainder is smaller than the divisor. How do you get anything done with that kind of word salad? No, when you want to actually do some number theory, you go with: n÷d = q R r is equivalent to n = q∙d + r ∧ 0 ≤ r < d. This terminology is taught because you teach division well before you teach algebra, but it’s so useless afterwards that I very well might have never used this sense of the word “dividend” all these years since I learned algebra. Anyone skeptical that basic grade school arithmetic isn’t far harder to grasp without algebra is invited to explain how come long division gets the right answer without using it.

So fine, algebra is incredibly useful, but utility has no relevance to ease of understanding. I remember having some confusion when I was introduced to it. It was along the lines of: “What number is x?” “That can be any number.” “*boggle*”. Yet, those named terms above, they’re just placeholders too: “What number is the dividend?” “That can be any number.” “Oh, okay.” — How come that’s different?

The Greeks were using letters to represent arbitrary points in geometry centuries earlier than the Arabs did that for arbitrary numbers. In teaching geometry we don’t get the problem “What point is A?” “That can be any point.” “*boggle*” — What makes “x can be any number” so much harder than “A can be any point”?

## 8-Oct-2014

### Colloidal suspension of disbelief

Filed under: humor — jlm @ 20:01

Numi makes decent enough herb teas, but their “100% real ingredients” teabag tag always strikes me as weird.

What’s the alternative? Fictional ingredients?

## 15-Sep-2014

### Oakland bonsai garden

Filed under: sfba — jlm @ 14:47

I recently took a walk around the gardens in Oakland’s Lake Merrit Park, and found the bonsai garden there to be especially nice.

Which means you get to enjoy some photos!

## 4-Aug-2014

### Faces are hard

Filed under: web — jlm @ 22:10

So, there’s this webcomic Prequel Adventure set in the Elder Scrolls: Oblivion universe. It’s an excellent comic, with a compelling plot and great humor. (It also is paced extremely slow, with a real-time:in-universe-time ratio that handily exceeds even that of Freefall.) The panels are drawn simply, supporting the story’s elements and the comic’s jokes, and clearly indicating that the focus is on telling a good story in a funny manner, and not on having beautiful art (another similarity with Freefall). But despite the comic’s simple drawing style, there’s one bit which Kazerad absolutely nails: Facial expressions. I mean, look at the final panel from this page.
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## 24-May-2014

### Do not use for lunch

Filed under: humor — jlm @ 10:27

## 24-Apr-2014

### Economics is the dismal science because people don’t think it’s a science

Filed under: econ — jlm @ 11:13

So, here I am, reading this article on the FDA proposing rules on “e-cigs”, and come across this:

Some smokers use e-cigarettes as a way to quit smoking tobacco, or to cut down. However, there’s not much scientific evidence showing e-cigarettes help smokers quit or smoke less, and it’s unclear how safe they are.

… Tobacco company executives have noted that they are eating into traditional cigarette sales, and their companies have jumped into the business.

That sure sounds like economic evidence that they help people to smoke tobacco less.

## 23-Apr-2014

### TC on SF

Filed under: sfba — jlm @ 16:08

Do you enjoy long, complicated analyses of city policy? Here’s an excellent one on San Francisco’s distress from TechCrunch.