Monday, March 12, 2007

News Epigrams

A renaissance writer sent a long missive to a colleague, apologizing for its length because he "didn't have time to write a short letter" -- I have the modern-day problem: I don't have time to write a long post, so the below epigrams must do for now.

  • This contract has got me working again; so now I'm working on everything again: last week I set aside time to play a game of go during the evenings -- I was able to play through three games last week. Not very satisfying, because "Cosmic Go" Takemiya didn't have any challenge winning the games I played through. I love his go, but I love playing through games where he faces an earnest challenge. This week will be much better, as I'll be more selective: when "Thickness" Otake and Takemiya play, some very entertaining games are made.

    I did, however, get to play through the magical game between Yamabe (one of the 三羽烏 ("Three Crows") of which Fujisawa Shuko and Kajiwara are also members -- Shuko created an opening that accentuated thickness and became so popular when he demonstrated it in China that it is now known as the "Chinese opening") and Go Seigen (the co-author of the new fuseki (opening) that so revolutionized go playing throughout the world that its effects are still being felt today, 50 years later), and that game was scintillating, as it always is when I play through its moves.

  • I'm suffering a case of "Logician's Absurdity": that being (re)defining Number. This seems to be a phase logicians experience, much to the amusement of their mentors. The crisis for me is that the things computers call numbers are of little value to the things I need to do, computationally (because, unlike normal software engineers who are satisfied with the IEEE standard, I need computer models of numbers to model, you know, Number, not some extra-logic compromise packaged in N bits ... and, yes, I'm always pushing things to their breaking points). The first step in the crisis is to (re)implement the peano series, which works perfectly well with infinite induction, but in practice gives one a bad aftertaste (after all, 1,000,000 has 1 million successors to zero), so I've gone ahead to the "next" kind of logical representation of Number ("next" being defined differently from one logician to the, *ahem*, "next"). I'm going in the Gödel numbering direction; not in the functional Church encoding. Yes, I am feeling rather silly, but I'll stop when I think I'm not getting any more utility out of this endevour.

  • There is this thing ("thing" is a technical term) in mathematics called quantification which I am, again, currently exploring, because when unified with type theory may yield the expressive power I need to do the following task:

    There is some concrete type T that I will define at a later time where the following predefined properties hold [...].

    My problem is that the predefined and at a later time are usually reversed in (mathematical) problem-solving (you have a predefined type with properties expressed at a later "time", not the way I'm going about it); so I'm hoping that existentially quantified types will allow me to express the problem and then to solve it.

Okay, enough of all that [oh, yes, I'm also doing paid work in XML, but that a different story, with not much to tell] ...

  • I was ferrying Elena Marie about one day when she asked: "Papa, why did you need to scrape your car windows? Why?" ... she often asks 'why' more than once, just to show her sincerity. [Diane, to me, when I gave her an extra bit of ice cream after a firm denial to her entreaty: "She's turning into a master negotiator" Me: "I get to see you and the children on the weekends: your sadness has 5 times the affect on me; so I'd rather see you happy." Diane: "*Harumph!*" (but it was a slightly pleased harumph)]. My quick answer: "Because Jack Frost covered the windshield with his magic faery dust."

    I need hardly mention, given my wild imaginings and a 5-year-old's curiosity, that my quick answer turned into an hour-long deconstruction of Jack Frost's motives (Elena Marie calls him "Jack-the-Frost", like we Christians call the Big Guy, "Jesus-the-Christ"), his appearance (including clothes (green seems to be a favourite) and hair (wavy and shockingly bright red-orange)), his skittishness, his size (EM: "Is Jack-the-Frost small?" Me: "I'm not sure, as I haven't seen him, but I remember reading a story of him being very tall, towering over other people"), and his wealth. Elena Marie made plans to catch him the next morning so she could throw him into her jail (?!) until he surrendered his pot-o'-gold. Okay, so I was more than a bit liberal in my story telling, but I figured that was that and put it out of my mind.

    The next morning, Elena Marie presented me with a present: a cut out drawing of a man in green wearing a pointy green hat over a shock of red hair.

    My, my, my!

  • Isabel Marie has learnt a new skill: when I arrived home Thursday night (to work on taxes ... Beki called during one of my "I've got to get this third corporate form done on time!" spates and crowed: "I hate to tell you this, but I've already done my taxes -- I filed them in January. Teehee!" Me: "Okay, you must explain how you hated telling me that, because I heard what sounded like triumph." Beki: "*snicker*") she greeted me with "Papa, watch what I can do!" as I watched her skip away from me down the hall [Diane, soto voce, "She just learnt to skip today"]. So, everywhere we went this weekend, we did so at a stutter pace: to the baño, to church (Me: "Okay, Isabel, but no skipping in church", Isabel: "okay, Papa" skip-skip-skip), in church (Me: "Isabel, no skipping in church", Isabel: "okay, Papa", skip-skip-skip), at the restaurant for breakfast (Isabel: "Papa, I'm hungry" skip-skip-skip); yes, everywhere.

    It doesn't help that she has those big-big eyes (Isabel, correcting me: "Beautiful eyes, Papa"), and killer curls.

God, yes, it hurt driving away this morning to go to work 150 miles away.

See, like I said: a short post ... *cough*

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