Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day music

In Randy's own words: cheers, motherfuckers. Trigger warning (no pun intended) if you've been in combat.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


So I may have just closed the gap, ie understood a proof of the last lemma needed to prove what I'm using to organize my qualifying paper (and what will be the Main Theorem of the joint paper Ralph and I are planning to turn it into).

Holding off the champagne until I have a relatively complete proof and had Ralph look over it for goofs, but I'm feeling pretty good.

UPDATE: Damn thing doesn't work.

In which NRO pisses on my head and wants me to believe it's raining

It is a losing proposition to give a thorough response to every piece that comes out of the conservative internetosphere. Firstly, most of the content on the political internet is written for those who already agree -- it may be hortatory, but rarely closely argued with the skeptic as internal audience, one who wants every factual claim to be supportable or common knowledge.

Maybe that's where the problem begins -- there are factual propositions which are common knowledge on the right, or in certain subgroups of the right, which are simply false. Tax cuts increase revenue. The Paul Ryan budget plan cuts the deficit and/or pays down the debt. Illegal immigrants are taking jobs away from otherwise hard-working Americans. Barack Obama had the farthest-left record in the whole Senate. Hell, for that matter, the Democratic Party is leftist. (Or is it still the Democrat Party? I can't keep the ungrammatical silliness straight. In any case, that claim isn't linked to a patient explanation of why it's bollocks because it's a matter of definitions, and I'm not sure that the Right even agrees among themselves on what constitutes a "leftist".) "Republican" is synonymous with "conservative" (and the exceptions should be drummed out). "Republican" has always been synonymous with "conservative".

Yeah, you see that one a lot actually, sometimes expressed in a skillfully trollerific fashion and sometimes just stated baldly. And it's insulting, really, when a troll or an op-ed writer tried to pull that one out on you, because they're betting that I didn't learn a damn thing in high school history or afterwards. And the sad thing is, it's a pretty good bet.

All of which is a long introduction to why I'm writing about the latest bit of ahistorical gibberish infesting the virtual pages of the National Review. (And it probably ain't even the latest anymore.) I promise, I won't take this much time on every piece of ahistorical gibberish that pack of gibberers gibbers out. But among other reasons to make a special exception (aside from the obvious fact that I've been negligent on my bloggardly duties lately), I wanted to make a point to the Facebook friend who linked the story originally, about why National Review does not get much benefit of the doubt. Why it's almost never the wrong decision to not even bother clicking on a link to their website, and if one finds one has through some mischance, to CTRL-W without delay or compunction.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wednesday evening vegetarian experiment

Ms Heel-Filcher requested vegetarian tonight. Well, not actually, but she said something this morning about wanting to try to make more meals meatless, and simultaneously asked me to make dinner tonight. You do the math.

Anyways, I decided to wing something. It ended up OK, but I have no idea what to call it. Suggestions welcome.


This is to remind myself that I have two posts in my mental pipe, coming out of Scalzi's excellent piece about difficulty settings. The first is about "why should I feel guilty about my privilege" and the second is about mechanized infantry.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Caught a beer ad during Cubs-Brewers

... and realized that I'm not sure I ever picked up on the the Clydesdale-draught horse-draught beer double entendre before.

Evidently this means I need to both drink more beer and deconstruct said drinking of beer more thoroughly with all my friends.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

An elementary exercise in group actions

Let \(G\) be a group, \(T\) a normal subgroup, and suppose that \(G\) acts transitively on a set \(X\). Then the induced action of \(T\) on \(X\) may not be transitive; let \(T \setminus X\) denote the orbit space. Show that the quotient group \(G/T\) acts well-definedly and transitively on \(T \setminus X\).

 I plan to do this somewhat regularly... I know that I'm terrible about keeping up a store of problems and examples, which is a key component of mathematical pedagogy.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Finally standing upright on two legs

" a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.”

President Barack Obama

Friday, May 4, 2012

Real journalism is a threat to Politico

Politico is concern-trolling again (EDIT: that would have implied they'd ever stopped) with this story about a new biography of Obama. The takeaway?
The success of “Dreams” has given Obama nearly complete control of his own life narrative, an appealing tale that has been the foundation of his political success. But Maraniss’s biography threatens that narrative by questioning it: Was Obama’s journey entirely spiritual and intellectual? Or was it also grounded in the lower realms of ambition and calculation?
Look, Glenn: I realize that working for Internetpravda on the Potomac has dulled your instincts about what your job is, but out here in the reality-based community, 08's enthusiasm and 12's grudging support for Obama isn't based upon uncritical swallowing of his self-crafted backstory. It's based on a perception that Obama's values mirror in many ways our own, and the knowledge that the coalition he heads is much less bad for the vast majority of Americans than the Republican opposition. (Also: the "grudging" part of "grudging support" is frequently the result of us seeing that the president's values aren't always in line with where we think they ought to be.) It's the beltway media, with Politico in the lead, that spends every day running copypasta from the White House and the party offices, and I think that Politico might just feel a little threatened by the effrontery of a journalist like Maraniss writing a mostly-positive book which seeks "real insight" into a story that, I think everyone can agree, is not your everyday son-of-robber-baron-buys-senate-seat Horatio Alger political novel. Meanwhile, the rest of us out here paying attention are effronted by this drive-by insinuation that Obama's success is just a fraying sweater waiting for the Smashing Pumpkins to give it a good pull.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Favorite problem

from yesterday's exam (2nd semester calculus, targeted at students going into engineering and sciences:
For which \(x\) does \[ \sum_{n=1}^\infty \left( \arctan (1 + \frac{x}{n}) \right)^n\]converge?
(If it wasn't obvious before, I'm done grading. It may as well be officially summer.)