And by a prudent flight and cunning save A life which valour could not, from the grave. A better buckler I can soon regain, But who can get another life again? Archilochus

Friday, June 27, 2014

THE United States

There’s a proverb
'United we stand divided we fall'
Ten’s sticks together unbreakable
Can be broken easily if given to all.

Wind easily blows the dust
But cannot move the rock;
Birds trapped in net, united,
Along with net, flew the flock.

As well, If people are united
For valid and right cause,
There can't be any reason
Their efforts will pause.
- S.D. Tiwari

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Rhyming Mariners


How a Ship having passed the Line was driven by storms to the cold Country towards the South Pole; and how from thence she made her course to the tropical Latitude of the Great Pacific Ocean; and of the strange things that befell; and in what manner the Ancyent Marinere came back to his own Country.
- Samuel Coleridge

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Theories of Space-Time

*Is Geometry the science of space, and algebra the science of time?
What the Tortoise Said to Achilles

Achilles had overtaken the Tortoise, and had seated himself comfortably on its back.

“So you’ve got to the end of our race-course?” said the Tortoise. “Even though it DOES consist of an infinite series of distances? I thought some wiseacre or other had proved that the thing couldn’t be done?”

“It CAN be done,” said Achilles. “It HAS been done! Solvitur ambulando. You see the distances were constantly DIMINISHING; and so—”

“But if they had been constantly INCREASING?” the Tortoise interrupted. “How then?”

“Then I shouldn’t be here,” Achilles modestly replied; “and YOU would have got several times round the world, by this time!”

“You flatter me—FLATTEN, I mean,” said the Tortoise; “for you ARE a heavy weight, and NO mistake! Well now, would you like to hear of a race-course, that most people fancy they can get to the end of in two or three steps, while it REALLY consists of an infinite number of distances, each one longer than the previous one?”

“Very much indeed!” said the Grecian warrior, as he drew from his helmet (few Grecian warriors possessed POCKETS in those days) an enormous note-book and pencil. “Proceed! And speak SLOWLY, please! SHORTHAND isn’t invented yet!”

“That beautiful First Proposition by Euclid!” the Tortoise murmured dreamily. “You admire Euclid?”

“Passionately! So far, at least, as one CAN admire a treatise that won’t be published for some centuries to come!”

“Well, now, let’s take a little bit of the argument in that First Proposition—just TWO steps, and the conclusion drawn from them. Kindly enter them in your note-book. And in order to refer to them conveniently, let’s call them A, B, and Z:

(A) Things that are equal to the same are equal to each other.
(B) The two sides of this Triangle are things that are equal to the same.
(Z) The two sides of this Triangle are equal to each other.

Readers of Euclid will grant, I suppose, that Z follows logically from A and B, so that any one who accepts A and B as true, MUST accept Z as true?”

“Undoubtedly! The youngest child in a High School—as soon as High Schools are invented, which will not be till some two thousand years later—will grant THAT.”

“And if some reader had NOT yet accepted A and B as true, he might still accept the SEQUENCE as a VALID one, I suppose?”

“No doubt such a reader might exist. He might say, ‘I accept as true the Hypothetical Proposition that, if A and B be true, Z must be true; but I DON’T accept A and B as true.’ Such a reader would do wisely in abandoning Euclid, and taking to football.”

“And might there not ALSO be some reader who would say ‘I accept A and B as true, but I DON’T accept the Hypothetical’?”

“Certainly there might. HE, also, had better take to football.”

“And NEITHER of these readers,” the Tortoise continued, “is AS YET under any logical necessity to accept Z as true?”

“Quite so,” Achilles assented.

“Well, now, I want you to consider ME as a reader of the SECOND kind, and to force me, logically, to accept Z as true.”

“A tortoise playing football would be—” Achilles was beginning.

“—an anomaly, of course,” the Tortoise hastily interrupted. “Don’t wander from the point. Let’s have Z first, and football afterwards!”

“I’m to force you to accept Z, am I?” Achilles said musingly. “And your present position is that you accept A and B, but you DON’T accept the Hypothetical—”

“Let’s call it C,” said the Tortoise.

“– but you DON’T accept

(C) If A and B are true, Z must be true.”

“That is my present position,” said the Tortoise.

“Then I must ask you to accept C.”

“I’ll do so,” said the Tortoise, “as soon as you’ve entered it in that notebook of yours. What else have you got in it?”

“Only a few memoranda,” said Achilles, nervously fluttering the leaves: “a few memoranda of—of the battles in which I have distinguished myself!”

“Plenty of blank leaves, I see!” the Tortoise cheerily remarked. “We shall need them ALL!” (Achilles shuddered.) “Now write as I dictate:—

(A) Things that are equal to the same are equal to each other.
(B) The two sides of this Triangle are things that are equal to the same.
(C) If A and B are true, Z must be true.
(Z) The two sides of this Triangle are equal to each other.

“You should call it D, not Z,” said Achilles. “It comes NEXT to the other three. If you accept A and B and C, you MUST accept Z.”

“And why must I?”

“Because it follows LOGICALLY from them. If A and B and C are true, Z MUST be true. You can’t dispute THAT, I imagine?”

“If A and B and C are true, Z MUST be true,” the Tortoise thoughtfully repeated. “That’s ANOTHER Hypothetical, isn’t it? And, if I failed to see its truth, I might accept A and B and C, and STILL not accept Z, mightn’t I?”

“You might,” the candid hero admitted; “though such obtuseness would certainly be phenomenal. Still, the event is POSSIBLE. So I must ask you to grant ONE more Hypothetical.”

“Very good, I’m quite willing to grant it, as soon as you’ve written it down. We will call it

(D) If A and B and C are true, Z must be true.

Have you entered that in your note-book?”

“I HAVE!” Achilles joyfully exclaimed, as he ran the pencil into its sheath. “And at last we’ve got to the end of this ideal race-course! Now that you accept A and B and C and D, OF COURSE you accept Z.”

“Do I?” said the Tortoise innocently. “Let’s make that quite clear. I accept A and B and C and D. Suppose I STILL refused to accept Z?“

“Then Logic would take you by the throat, and FORCE you to do it!” Achilles triumphantly replied. “Logic would tell you, ‘You can’t help yourself. Now that you’ve accepted A and B and C and D, you MUST accept Z.’ So you’ve no choice, you see.”

“Whatever LOGIC is good enough to tell me is worth WRITING DOWN,” said the Tortoise. “So enter it in your book, please. We will call it

(E) If A and B and C and D are true, Z must be true.

Until I’ve granted THAT, of course I needn’t grant Z. So it’s quite a NECESSARY step, you see?”

“I see,” said Achilles; and there was a touch of sadness in his tone.

Here the narrator, having pressing business at the Bank, was obliged to leave the happy pair, and did not again pass the spot until some months afterwards. When he did so, Achilles was still seated on the back of the much-enduring Tortoise, and was writing in his notebook, which appeared to be nearly full. The Tortoise was saying, “Have you got that last step written down? Unless I've lost count, that makes a thousand and one. There are several millions more to come. And WOULD you mind, as a personal favour, considering what a lot of instruction this colloquy of ours will provide for the Logicians of the Nineteenth Century—WOULD you mind adopting a pun that my cousin the Mock-Turtle will then make, and allowing yourself to be renamed TAUGHT-US?”

“As you please,” replied the weary warrior, in the hollow tones of despair, as he buried his face in his hands. “Provided that YOU, for YOUR part, will adopt a pun the Mock-Turtle never made, and allow yourself to be re-named A KILL-EASE!”
- Lewis Carroll

* * *

Carroll’s humor in this piece disguises a point that is essential to understanding modern logic. Unlike in the classical, Aristotelian conception, modern mathematics relies ultimately on pure formalism in its use of logic. This avoids the infinite regress in which the Tortoise traps Achilles.

This trap is impossible to avoid if logic is not formalized, because, as Douglas Hofstadter points out in Gödel, Escher, Bach (p. 170), in order to know how to use a rule (such as a rule of inference) you need a rule telling you how to apply the rule. And then a rule telling you how to apply that rule, and so on. By contrast, in formal logic, rules of inference are reduced to rules of symbol manipulation. Since the symbols themselves are uninterpreted (which is what we really mean by “formal”), we have a system as austere and elegant as chess, where it is understood that the game arises from—and entirely consists in—the rules for moving the pieces on the board.

The formalist solution, while effective, has its own philosophical drawbacks. Not the least of these is that, by reducing logic to uninterpreted symbols, all semantic content is removed from the conclusions of formal logic. In other words, what we would ordinarily consider meaning is lost. How to restore meaning to systems of inference while still avoiding difficulties such as Carroll’s Paradox remains a thorny question for philosophers of mathematics.

*Where geometry allowed the exploration of space, Hamilton believed, algebra allowed the investigation of "pure time", a rather esoteric concept he had derived from Immanuel Kant that was meant to be a kind of Platonic ideal of time, distinct from the real time we humans experience. Other mathematicians were polite but cautious about this notion, believing pure time was a step too far.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


“If Peter was nine, and a new boy came to St. Norbert’s Home for Wayward Boys who said he was ten, why, then, Peter would declare himself eleven. Also, he could spit the farthest. That made him the undisputed leader.”
― Dave Barry, "Peter and the Starcatchers"

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Flashback to 1970

How many dawns
have I greeted?
How many more
Remain for me?
Why do I feel
the seasons
so plainly
at this hour?
The tingle
of colder air
brings with it,
a haunted mood
and half memories
of what used to be.
Waking up to
winter morns,
a child raised
on a farm.
The smell of biscuits
cooking, steam
from hot oatmeal.
I don’t remember
aching or dreaming
of you. Just the
innocence of youth.
The innocence of youth.
- Emma Beverage

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Hit Me Again, Bartender!

He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity's sun rise.
- William Blake, "Eternity"

Monday, June 9, 2014

A Poet

Aye! I am a poet and upon my tomb
Shall maidens scatter rose leaves
And men myrtles, ere the night
Slays day with her dark sword.

'Lo ! this thing is not mine
Nor thine to hinder,
For the custom is full old,
And here in Nineveh have I beheld
Many a singer pass and take his place
In those dim halls where no man troubleth
His sleep or song.
And many a one hath sung his songs
More craftily, more subtle-souled than I;
And many a one now doth surpass
My wave-worn beauty with his wind of flowers,
Yet am I poet, and upon my tomb
Shall all men scatter rose leaves
Ere the night slay light
With her blue sword.

‘It is not, Raana, that my song rings highest
Or more sweet in tone than any, but that I
Am here a Poet, that doth drink of life
As lesser men drink wine.’
- Ezra Pound, "And Thus In Nineveh"

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Who is the Rock Being Worn by the River of Time?

We are the time. We are the famous
metaphor from Heraclitus the Obscure.

We are the water, not the hard diamond,
the one that is lost, not the one that stands still.

We are the river and we are that greek
that looks himself into the river. His reflection
changes into the waters of the changing mirror,
into the crystal that changes like the fire.

We are the vain predetermined river,
in his travel to his sea.

The shadows have surrounded him.
Everything said goodbye to us, everything goes away.

Memory does not stamp his own coin.

However, there is something that stays
however, there is something that bemoans.
- Jorge Luis Borges, "We are the time"

Hating on Necessity - the Liberal "Capitalist" Scapegoat

When the other fellow takes a long time, he's slow.
When I take a long time, I'm thorough.
When the other fellow doesn't do it, he's lazy,
When I don't do it, I'm busy.
When the other fellow does something without being told, he's overstepping his bounds,
When I do it, that's initiative.
When the other fellow overlooks a rule of etiquette, he's rude,
When I skip a few rules, I'm original.
When the other fellow pleases the boss, he's an apple polisher,
When I please the boss, it's cooperation.
When the other fellow gets ahead, he's getting the breaks,
When I manage to get ahead, that's just the reward for hard work.
A man may fall many times but he won't be a failure until he says someone pushed him.
- Elmer G. Letterman

Friday, June 6, 2014

Still Socializing Gender

My superman is strong and brave
He’s always there when I need to be saved
My superman is friendly and tall
He’s always saving my world and never does he fall
My superman’s always there day or night
He’s always fighting for what is right
My superman never gives up
Even in the hardest parts he’ll give more than enough
My superman flies so high
He takes it to the top all the way to the sky
My superman will always care
Because I trust him and know he’ll always be there
Lisa French