15 November 2011

Funeral office windows, in Sweden

Windows of shops in Uppsala are not quite the most attractive sights of the town. If you have a visitor, don't take her (or him) for window shopping, (unless they happen to have fallen in coma in a remote Soviet village in the eighties, and just recovered from it). Many a times, they consist of nondescript arrangements of random objects, loosely resembling the products of the shop, e.g. a few scattered hairbrushes (often with hair) in a beauty salon, or dull collections of dusty clothes in a neighbourhood fashion shop, and so on--you get the idea. I will have to expand on this in a future email, because looking at shop windows in Sweden is like a time warp. It's like going back to the seventies.

But the most interesting kind of windows are of funeral offices. Typically, we don't see much of decoration in a funeral office window. In most places I've been to they are plain, simple or have religious messages, depending on the type. But in Uppsala (and I think, more generally, in Sweden) some (or all?) funeral offices have very interesting windows. Here is one from Uppsala:



It advertises its products: coffins. A closer look shows the "interesting" and "thoughtful" decoration: scattered stones underneath the coffin, a little (plastic of course) green bush, one side of the coffin standing on a (presumably empty) used can of sardines, a careful arrangement of (yes, you guessed it, plastic) flowers on top, next to a violin (not a Stradivarius, I'm sure). The coffin is locked (who knows why?).

"Interesting", I thought, when I first saw it. And I had to stop my car and take a picture.

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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