"Computers represent numbers as...

sequences of 0s and 1s."

It is amazing how many times I have heard the above nonsense. Folks, there are no 0s or 1s inside your computer: There are flows of electricity and magnetized plates. Humans interpret those electro-magnetic states as 0s or 1s. The only 0s or 1s your computer has are in the serial number written on the outside of the box, or on the surface of a microchip inside it, giving its model number!

Another web course

I've almost completed cutting my course materials for statistics and probability over to HTML stored in GitHub. Here is the course as it stands.

UPDATE: I had to move the site. The old way of serving pages proved to be buggy.

Can globalization be stopped?

I heard a student ask an economics professor the above recently.

His answer was, "No, of course not!"

The best way to get someone to passively accept the beating you are giving them is to get them to think it is inevitable.

The right question is, "HOW will globalization be stopped?"

The possible answers are:

1) The globalizing elite will be defeated politically.

2) We will suffer a global economic or ecological catastrophe.

Reference: See Babel, Tower of.

I know that the hypnotized never lie

If you've been hypnotized by a good persuasion campaign, you can be certain of this: whatever it is they want to make you believe, you will be quite certain that you came to believe it all on your own, and you will be convinced you have very good reasons for believing it. That's what makes it hypnosis, rather than just ordinary marketing.

The tell is how contrived those reasons turn out to be if they are examined closely: in fact, you are drawing on your clothes in green magic marker not to show solidarity with imprisoned environmentalists, but because you are hypnotized.

Playing a machine

When I play my computer chess program, at a certain point in the game, it will begin to simply throw pieces at me: "Here, have my queen! Here, have my rook!"

It does this when I have a forced checkmate, in order to delay the checkmate by a couple of moves. This is silly, because:

1) If I have seen the check mate, it should not matter to my opponent whether it happens in five moves or in seven.
2) If I haven't seen the checkmate, the computer has just alerted me to the fact that there is one.
3) If I still can't find the checkmate, the computer has handed me the game anyway, since it's given up all its pieces except the king.

Of course, I excuse it: it is just a machine. It doesn't even know that it is playing chess. It doesn't know what an opponent is. It doesn't understand the idea of winning. Like a marble rolling down an inclined plane, it is just mechanically doing exactly what it was built to do.

And Silas, just relax and watch a football game or something: it will be a better use of your time.


I was dictating posts from my phone today! Siri was clearly having an off day.

Did any new rock group ever...

(setting aside groups made up of well-established musicians, like Crosby, Stills, and Nash) ever come out with a first album as sophisticated as Steely Dan?

Put on some earphones and check this track out:

One good thing about pseudocode

It never hangs your pseudo-program, nor makes your pseudo-computer crash!


An interesting post from Scott Adams. As usual, as soon as he talks philosophy, he talks nonsense. But his point about hypnotism is good.

An example: Trump says that because he is a celebrity, women let him do anything: even grab their... Women (celebrity obsessed women, at least) don't mind if he does this. Now this is all pretty crude and doesn't show Trump in a good light.

Well, almost immediately, Team Clinton and its allies (meaning 95% of the media) began repeating, again and again, that Trump had boasted of sexually assaulting women. And even though Trump quite explicitly said that women let him do these things, many, many people are actually sure that Trump said that the women were unwilling, and that he was assaulting those women. After all, if something is said again and again in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Slate, CBS News, CNN, etc., etc. how could it possibly be false?

That's hypnotism!

Open Course Management

As part of my effort to open up course management software, I am starting to compose main pages for my courses. Next, we plan to build an interface to make creating such pages as well as the lecture pages they link to, and storing them in GitHub, easy for non-programmers.

Here is my first main page, with links to the lectures already given. Let me know what you think.

Our precious

I tried to leave my smart phone in my office before a lecture.

But I got to the lecture, and lo and behold, there it was in my pocket.

I was reminded of Bilbo trying to leave the One Ring behind when he was leaving the Shire at the beginning of The Lord of the Rings.

I suggest that when you see people wandering around paying attention to their phones while neglecting the date / friend / child / spouse who is with them, picture them hissing "My precious," kind of like Gollum.