catsidhe: (Default)
Churches have the right to publicly opine on matters of public policy. Even when such opinions happen to have startling alignment with certain political parties' platforms.

But here's an idea: when a religion starts actively campaigning for one party or another, they lose the right to be recognised as a tax-exempt entity. Squared if they're doing it by lying.

You want to play partisan politics? You get to pay tax on your property and income, like the rest of us.
catsidhe: (Default)
For the love of Rational Thought, can't you even pretend like you give a fuck?

(The second link was unavailable as I wrote this post, because the was down, but it is nothing more or less than a collection of people's tweets and facebook posts about what Christopher Pyne said in his appearance on the ABC last night. Roughly grouped into Pro and Con. It's back now.)


Editors of every news portal on Earth, please memorise this before I have to come round there.

(Note: productions are exempt from this requirement, because reporting that people talk about articles about opinions about stuff is still an improvement on all the other crap they print.)

Argh, ouch.

Jul. 5th, 2012 10:24 pm
catsidhe: (Default)
The Eustachian tube on the right side of my head has become irritated.

I can feel it; I can feel it inside my head. It feels like a toothache from the back of my sinus to the back of my throat, and an ache in my neck.

It hurts, and there's nothing I can do about it.
catsidhe: (Default)
Primary achievement: still not dead.

Looked at the weather reports and decided not to go to the tournament on Saturday. Mostly because all of us were still coughing and drugged up. We got to the tourney site in time to help pack up, and to the feast site to help set up.

There was an Arts and Sciences competition, which featured painting a portrait in Italian style. I was handed the task of painting a portrait of Her Majesty. I had a couple of handicaps in this: I had white, blue, red, green and yellow paints, and the darkest mix I could get was a dark purple; they were somewhat gloopier in consistency than I am used to; I had to finish the last few details by candlelight; the table kept getting bumped by curious children; and I have face blindness, so I was painting a portrait from memory of a face which I could not picture to save my life.

I think the painting took about half an hour... maybe 45 minutes, go to whoa.

Miss A was snarking about how much she wanted to be a member of the Mouse Guard, and it was gratifying to see the look on her face when she and Miss S were summoned in court and given their Mouse Guard pouches.

Mim and I were somewhat more surprised when the girls' first duty was to bring us in front of Their Majesties, where Mim was awarded the Star and Lily (for her Guild), and I was made a member of the Order of the Cockatrice (for Linguistics, especially as applied to Heraldic Commentary and Consultation).

Friða also was hunted down and forced to join the Order of the Cockatrice. And at that there was general acclaim and much rejoicing.

When the Arts and Sciences was announced, it turns out that my portrait won, despite having no resemblance to Her Majesty whatsoever. Her Majesty even requested the portrait. The portrait which my girls and the elder daughter of B&B Kraé Glas painted of His Majesty was also given to him. He was very gracious.

Sara's Pelican ceremony was grand and dignified, and the hall was completely silent, except for the sounds of a very bored and tired toddler, but no-one held it against her or her family.

Today was simply too miserable, and we are all still too unwell, to have considered going to Bash, even if it weren't cancelled because of precisely that bad weather.

And although I'm still not recovered, and probably still sicker than anyone else in the house, the doctor's certificate has run out, so I'm back at work tomorrow to see if I can stick it out.
catsidhe: (Default)
Because my childrens' friends like to share, and my children like to share, and I have decided to be selfish.
catsidhe: (Default)
  1. Set a problem for homework.
  2. Provide a suggested method for finding a solution of, essentially, "randomly shuffle these numbers until it kinda looks right".
  3. ...
  4. Profit! End up with children who are frustrated and angered by the sight of numbers, and have little to no idea that there are ways in which this sort of problem can be approached, let alone relatively simple and rigorous ways to prove them correct, let alone that the solution raises all sorts of other questions, which can themselves be answered...

The actual problem was "Take the nine numbers 2 to 10, and arrange them in three groups of three so that each group adds to the same number."

The suggested approach was to "write the numbers on pieces of paper, and arrange them into the right groups."

No, seriously, the suggested approach was to randomly shuffle the numbers until they (magically) come out in the right order. Personally, I'm wondering if there is a worse possible approach to the problem.

When I sat down with Miss A to approach this, my first question was: so, what is the number they have to add up to?

What you're looking for is
x = a + b + c
  = d + e + f
  = g + h + i
So the first thing to notice is that
a + b + c + d + e + f + g + h + i = 3x

The sum of 2..10 is 54, so the answer to each group of three must be 54/3 = 18.

So then we need an algorithm to fill in the blanks. Start with the biggest number, so
18 = 10 + b + c
b≠9, because that is already too big. And while 10+8 = 18, that only works if c=0, which isn't an available value. Neither is 1, so b≠7. So by elimination, we have a=10, b=6, c=2. Then do the same with the remaining numbers (d=9, e=5, f=4), and the remaining three must be g, h and i. Luckily, when you check, they are.

There was a secondary part to do the same thing with the set B = [3..11]. And yes, we showed that the algorithm still works. Only now the sum to each group is 21.

Hang on, 21 = 18+3, and we're dealing with groups of three... that can't be a coincidence, can it? It turns out, if you compare the ordered sets, then you see that each number Bx is just Ax+1. So if each number has 1 added, then each group must have 3 added to the total for it to work out.

And if we've just solved this problem for the set N2 = [2..10], and for N2+1, then we've demonstrated that the solution will work for Nx, where x is any positive integer. So for the set [1..9], the sum to each group should be 15... and when you check, it is.

But wait... what we've got can be drawn in a grid

If we re-arrange the numbers within each row, then we get

And if you do a bit of matrix manipulation, then you get a Magic Square, where the rows, columns and diagonals all add up to the same magic number.

And we've proved that this pattern is a Magic Square whether you pick your nine numbers starting from 2, 3, 1, 512, 100473, or whatever. I wonder if it works for other progressions? Say, N55 = [5, 10, 15, ..., 45]? (It does, but proof is an exercise for the reader.) Or for negative integers? What would we have to do to the algorithm to make it work? What about magic squares of order 4, 5, 19? What about...?

Just look at all this number theory we got from a question where the suggested approach was to "fiddle randomly and hope you trip over the right answer."

I'm sure there's some sort of pedagogical approach which calls for the systematic frustration of children, and the comprehensive murder of any potential joy of mathematics, but for the life of me I can't think what it is.

The Fear

Jun. 18th, 2012 01:55 pm
catsidhe: (Default)
The Fear is that dawning and lasting realisation that something, somewhere, is horribly wrong. And it's all your fault – if only you could remember what the hell it was that you have screwed up so badly. There's that yawning sinking feeling in the gut that there's something really important you should be doing right now, otherwise everything will go to hell, and not only is it your fault that the horrible thing is going to happen, it's also your fault that you can't remember what is wrong, and it's your fault that you can't remember what to do about it, and it's your fault if whatever you do is futile anyway. But even if it's futile, and you know it is, you should be doing it, and you're a horrible person for doing nothing.

So what you have is a lead ball in your gut, impelling you to increasingly desperate and frantic and random action (in the hope that you'll do what you should have been doing all along by accident), or else to lethargy and despondency and despair that there's no point, because even if you knew what to do, it's too late now.

Whatever it is you're supposed to have been doing.

That's the thing: there doesn't have to be anything actually wrong, the feeling that it is is enough. And the intellectual knowledge that you've actually got your bases covered does not help in the slightest, because it's undercut by the feeling, the deep indescribable certainty, that you don't, you just don't know what it is you've missed.

The Fear is that nagging feeling that just on the edge of hearing is the whistling sound of the Other Shoe Dropping from out of orbit, and it's going to land on you, and it's all your fault.

What makes it worse is when you have a long and increasing list of things which you do know you should be doing, and are increasingly unable to face.

Welcome to the world of chronic episodic nonspecific anxiety.
catsidhe: (Default)
Mim's desktop was getting more and more unreliable. First it started playing sillybuggers on boot by turning the CPU fan full blast and refusing to turn it down unless the box was soft-rebooted. Then it started refusing to turn on unless the button was mashed for a while.

Then, on the Queen's Birthday, it decided to refuse to boot at all until I started futzing with it.

So I went looking for a new power supply. Only to find that while the required model of PS costs a bit over $30 on the internet, no-one in Melbourne has one to sell. The nearest I could find was a $99 case of the right sort, with the power supply included.

And then, this evening, when I opened it up, not only was that PS of a subtly different model, but I couldn't get the old one out without removing the motherboard anyway. So I did a full transplant of the old guts into the new box.

And, sure, I've been doing this sort of thing for twenty years, but there's always a held breath when booting a computer you've done this sort of work to, and a long sigh of relief when it boots.

And a happy little skip when it works better than it used to.
catsidhe: (Default)
I am typing this on my phone with my left hand, as my right arm is attached to a plasma donation machine.

It's already more fuss than I'm comfortable with, even at once every 6 months frequency, let alone every fortnight.

And that's not including the (slightly) greater risk of side-effects.

I wonder if i will regret this.

I don't remember feeling this crap after any whole blood donation. And it took two hours out of my day. And it was, if not painful, distinctly uncomfortable.

I don't think I'll be doing that again -- not fortnightly, six-monthly, or at all, TYVM.
catsidhe: (Default)
Last night, about 19:15-ish

»Ringring ringring«

Heavy Indian accent: "Hello, my name is Florence, from the Maintenance Department of IT. Your computer is putting up a warning on the Internet from a Virus."
Mim: "Oh, really? What sort of warning?"
"Florence": "A warning about a Virus. We--"
Mim: "Yes, but what is the actual warning? My husband's a System Administrator, you see, so he can--"
"Florence": "-- and we can... I'm sorry, a what?"
Mim: "My husband is right here. He's a System Administrator: that's his job. I'm sure you can explain to him what the warning is."

Mim hands the phone to me.

Me: "Hello?"
Me: "Hello? Are you there? I can't hear you. Hello?"

Queue Mim literally doing a happydance from pure glee.

Postscript: Today Mim got another phone call.

Heavy Indian Accent: "Hello this is Peter from Windows¹ IT and we have alerts from your computer."
Mim: "You guys tried this last night."

[1] there is a Windows computer in the house, as it happens. It's not connected to any networking. Nor has it been turned on in about ten months.
catsidhe: (Default)
They hired some biologists for this, didn't they.

They also hired some linguists.

What does it say that I can watch this, and come out with grammar. (Na'Vi means "The People", and one of the first things I hear is Na'Vi'a, which is obviously the vocative case, and I wonder if Na' is the definite article.)

And yet... maybe they did too good a job. Because I notice patterns. The Na'Vi language is human... it can be pronounced by a human throat, it contains no alien sounds, no alien combinations, from the sounds of it a fairly normal human grammar. (It doesn't seem as alien as Klingon, or even Sindarin, for that matter.)

And then there are the Na'Vi themselves. There is a pattern with the body pattern: they are hexapedal, quad-ocular, their nostril analogues are where the chest and neck meet. And this is regular. Even the flying creatures have two sets of wings and a pair of legs.

Except the Na'Vi.

Are they mammals? The women have breasts. Or at least fleshy bumps in the right place. They have nostrils in the Earth-normal place. They have four limbs, and no signs of an even vestigial third pair. They gesture with their hands. They cover their groins. They smile and laugh like apes. And they have human teeth when they do.

They're tall blue monkeys.

And yet they have that neural connection tail thing. All I can wonder is if they are ret-connable as genetic constructs in the first place.

Because all the efforts they went to to make it biologically plausible combine with the necessities of making protagonists humanoid enough to empathise with to almost make it worse than if they hadn't gone to all that trouble.

That's not even going into all the "Corporations would burn the world for a profit", "Savage natives can only be saved by the Great White Hero" competing plots, pissing off the Left and the Right in almost equal measure.

But all that aside, it sure is very, very pretty.
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She sent me a $50 voucher from

I went searching for something I'd like, and found a veritable trove of books on Deep Linguistics, many of the really interesting ones starting at $250, and working up (I remember seeing one there with a price in 5 digits!)

But I found a couple of books, and another for Mim, and took advantage of a free delivery promotion as well. And the last has just arrived. I am now, after almost two months wait, the proud owner of Old Irish Paradigms and Teach Yourself Babylonian.

Who would have thought they wouldn't have those in stock?
catsidhe: Per pale sable and vert, two chevronels argent (SCA)
The SCA in Stormhold was on TV.

There's some bearded fool being interviewed at 20:49.

Miss S features at a couple of points. It's almost like she's photogenic or something.
catsidhe: Per pale sable and vert, two chevronels argent (SCA)
A question: what the hell should I teach?

I'm down to do Heraldic Consultation, and I've suggested that I could do an Introduction to the Irish and Old English Annals (ie., what they are, when they're from, what sources were used, when our existing transcriptions are from, what we can learn from them, difficulties in extracting useful data from them, ...), and Write your own name in an appropriate hand, ie., beginner's calligraphy to bring people up to the level of literacy most of them could have expected in period.

Mim suggests Beginners Knotwork again... but I don't know how much interest there is, and most of what I would be doing is pointing to Aidan Meehan's books, and saying "do what he says."

I could teach Latin, or Old English, or Middle English, or Irish, or an overview of European linguistics, but ... how many people would show, and what would I need to assume of existing knowledge, and how far could I meaningfully get in even a two hour session anyway?

Gah. Suggestions?
catsidhe: (Default)
Apropos some comments I made on the Pure Poison blog today, I propose an update for Bierce's seminal work:

DEMAGOGUE, n. – 1. someone in possession of a voice, a soapbox, and an unwillingness to be parted from either.
2. a dog employed by wolves to persuade sheep.
catsidhe: (Default)
Shorter Rick Perry (at the end of the article): Gay people don't have Human Rights. My Invisible Friend said so.
catsidhe: (Default)
So I've had this idea running through my head recently: taking the images in my head which encode my understanding of mathematics, and either writing the down or (better) animating them.

If nothing else it might provide a useful resource for students who think as visually as I do, or even for those who have difficulty decoding the static drawings and too often stilted and/or formal descriptions which are a plague upon those who have language difficulties. (It would still have a voice-over, but if it were done really well, it might not even need one.)

Here is a rough idea of a script for such an animation... )


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