27 August 2014

Bullets and Burgers

Anyone who is right in their mind will tell you not to give an Uzi submachine gun to a child. But there are lots of cretins out there, in Arizona this time (last time it was elsewhere), who take their kids to places where they can stuff them with hamburgers and shoot Uzis at the same time.

The establishment is called Bullets and Burgers and has great reviews on tripadvisor. It would have gone unnoticed, in the same league as other American weird "fun" parks, such as the Holy Land Experience and the Disney World (the last two are next to one another), had it not made the news today: Someone gave a nine year old girl an Uzi and taught her how to shoot. The girl lost control of the assault weapon and killed the instructor.

No wonder. Why would a nine year old child be taken to a place to be taught how to use submachine guns and eat hamburgers (and freedom fries)? I think the answer is: because it usually is fun! Well, it is so, until, one day something goes wrong.

But we know the response of most Americans, don't we?
Some of them will say:
Guns don't kill, people do. The girl was not properly taught. Instructors need more pupils of that age in order to teach properly. So, more guns are needed and more children who will shoot them.
Others will say:
It is Satan conducting spiritual warfare. It's an attack on Christianity in general, on Christians, and it's Satan trying to stop God's work in the earth. He'll use whoever he wants, whoever he can. It was Satan who guided the girl's hand.
In all cases, the response to this sad incident will be: More guns, more children using them, and prayers to god so that Mr Satan goes away. Actually, they're probably right. Because if you look carefully at the video below (someone thought it would be so cute to film the nine year old girl with the Uzi) you will see Satan at the upper left corner. Remember that, after all, Satan was seen again during the 9/11 attacks.



And, by the way, educate your kids:


According to Arizona law, it's OK for a child above 8 to have a machine gun (under the supervision of an adult). The law doesn't care if the adult or the child gets killed. "A nation, trained to arms, is an American linchpin of freedom, and is respected in Arizona like nowhere else." "We in Arizona seem destined to set [...] a shining example of gun rights for all free peoples of the Earth."

26 August 2014

Scandinavian airlines and the refusal or responsibility

I was recently invited to go to the Stochastic Processes conference in Buenos Aires. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to go because of a delayed flight and the refusal of Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) to assume any responsibility in helping me. The actual description of the events is here, but here is a short summary:

On 25 July 2014, I went to Stockholm airport to catch a Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt, followed by a flight to Buenos Aires. The flight to Frankfurt was delayed and so I would miss the flight to Buenos Aires. SAS represents Lufthansa (both members of Star Alliance) at the Stockholm airport. When I asked for help to find a next flight they replied:
We can't help you, we have no responsibility, get on the plane and go to Frankfurt to find out what will happen to you.
When I replied that it is irrational to go to Frankfurt and, possibly, get stranded, they repeated the same. When I asked them to find out when the next flight would be before I went to Lufthansa they repeated that they have no responsibility. When I insisted that they should, being a partner of Lufthansa and member of Star Alliance, take on the responsibility of finding out when the next flight is (so I don't have to wait in Frankfurt), they looked at my passport and said:
Who speaks of responsibility, a Greek?
I then contacted Lufthansa myself on my mobile phone and told me there would be no available seat for me for the next 5 days and there would be no point in me going to Frankfurt. They also said that SAS is clearly responsible for helping me in this situation. I had my mobile phone on speaker-phone mode so that the SAS people could hear Lufthansa's response.

They still insisted they had no responsibility whatsoever.

I have, through our university travel agent, filed a complaint and ask for compensation. Let's see what happens. Responsibility seems a word which is despised by SAS.


31 July 2014

La filla del marxant and Miguel Llobet

I've heard "complaints" that I haven't posted anything for a while. This is true. But times have been busy and tumultuous.

This little posting, however, was motivated by a double encounter of Spanish speaking people today. First, at the optician's shop where I was helped to choose glasses by a friendly and pleasant Spanish girl from Segovia. Second, at a restaurant where I helped three Catalan ladies choose food (they didn't speak English well and the Indian waiter was confused).

I spoke about guitar during both occasions. In the second instance, I had a short discussion about Catalan folk songs and when I was asked what my favorites ones where I mentioned, among others, "la filla del marxant".

Here is the version I know by Miguel Llobet.



I discovered the following recording of Llobet himself playing guitar! This is quite rate. At the time (1920s) there was no Andrés Segovia and classical guitar had not become popular yet. Llobet was a student of Tárrega, both great guitarists and composers. The great thing about the recording is that we can hear something about the Tárrega style. This is quite amazing.



Two chance encounters led me to post this. Unfortunately, these people don't know my blog so they'll probably never find out I've been speaking about them here and will never read this. 

6 May 2014

Voltaire

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.


27 April 2014

My Kalavryta pictures

Mary asked me to post them here. Pictures I took last week. In Kalavryta.
Kalavryta is known as the place where one of Wehrmacht's worse war crimes took place.
Here is the account of an Irish agent's personal story. He was there when the mass killing took place in December 1943.




T H E B O T T O M L I N E

What measure theory is about

It's about counting, but when things get too large.
Put otherwise, it's about addition of positive numbers, but when these numbers are far too many.

The principle of dynamic programming

max_{x,y} [f(x) + g(x,y)] = max_x [f(x) + max_y g(x,y)]

The bottom line

Nuestras horas son minutos cuando esperamos saber y siglos cuando sabemos lo que se puede aprender.
(Our hours are minutes when we wait to learn and centuries when we know what is to be learnt.) --António Machado

Αγεωμέτρητος μηδείς εισίτω.
(Those who do not know geometry may not enter.) --Plato

Sapere Aude! Habe Muth, dich deines eigenen Verstandes zu bedienen!
(Dare to know! Have courage to use your own reason!) --Kant