28 March 2013

Another prestigious conference....

A colleague recently forwarded to me the following call for papers. It is, undoubtedly, one of the funniest announcements I've ever seen. What I like most is that they welcome submissions in all academic fields! Also, notice that the deadline for submission of papers is 3 weeks before the start of the conference!

Tbilisi, Georgia 24-26 October 2013


Distinguished Colleagues,
    We have the pleasure of inviting you to submit your scientific work for the EMF, Eurasian Multidisciplinary FORUM, 24-26 October 2013 which will be held at the "Grigol Robakidze" University, Tbilisi, Georgia.
    All accepted papers will be published as a special publication with an ISBN number. The author will be sent a printed copy of the publication after the conference finishes.
    The papers will be also published in a special edition of one of the most Influential international scientific journals in South Europe, The European Scientific Journal (ESJ).
    Authors of the accepted papers that will not be personally present on the event will be given the opportunity, on their request, to make an online presentation for the conference participants.
    The authors are not obliged to present their works (personally or online).
    EMF 2012 is organized by: European Scientific Institute, "Grigol Robakidze" University and the  University of The Azores, Portugal.
    Supporting the concept of interdisciplinarity we welcome submissions in all academic fields.
    European Scientific Institute
    "Grigol Robakidze" University
    University of The Azores

27 March 2013

Color Photographs of Greece, 1920’s

This is taken from here. Click for more photographs.

YouTube: searching for playlists

As is well-known, YouTube is a good medium but it is surprisingly monolithic, difficult to use, hard to organize. This is, of course, not a coincidence. The hackers of YouTube are no idiots. Most likely, they have clear instructions to make the system inflexible so that people (you and I) keep always clicking for new videos. Their dominant term in their utility function is the maximization of clicks by the average user, in the hope that the user will become victim of some advertisement once in a while.

The inflexibility of YouTube includes:
-- inability to organize playlists in different order (say reverse chronological order)
-- impossibility to shift items from one playlist to another
-- very limited search
-- impossibility to search for playlists

However, there are some things you can get around, and here is my one-time contribution to the art of hacking: Here is how to search for playlists.

Copy and paste the following into the URL field of your browser
after replacing the items in yellow by what  you need them to be:
KEYWORD : a search term, case-insensitive
N : start index, an arbitrary positive integer
M: number of items to be listed, an integer, 1 ≤ M ≤ 50
 N.B. No, this is not my thing. I got it from here.

21 March 2013

Swedish pedestrian crossing signs: an update

Ever since I posted my famous Swedish pedestrian crossing signs post on this blog, pointing out that a major step towards gender equality was taken by converting several pedestrian crossing signs in Uppsala (and elsewere in Sweden) from male to female, there has been further progress to reflect the diversification of gender. Here are some examples from various locations in Uppsala.
The original sign. It still exists.
Some original ones were replaced by this,
but they were soon removed as being too
sexually explicit.
The previous ones were replaced by this,
which is modest and decent.
Appeared several months ago in front
of Carolina Rediviva.
Appeared several months ago in front
of Carolina Rediviva.
A new sign.
An even newer one.

Still, a lot of work remains to be done, but the above steps clearly reflect progress.

15 March 2013

Manolis Kalomiris: mother's ring

An excellent piece by Manolis Kalomiris, most representative of his works, "mother's ring", in three acts:
Manolis Kalomiris (1883-1962) was a post-romantic composer, whose rather dramatic work incorporates folk music elements and an idiosyncratic counterpoint. The libretto for "mother's ring" can be found here.

When the world was created

I was looking for a picture of the following but couldn't find it on the Internet. Last week however, I was in Austin, Texas, and took one myself. It is a plaque sitting in front of the Texas State History Museum giving the date of inauguration of the museum:
You see, the date is given in two ways, the first one being the conventional date (2001), but the  second one being something strange: A.L. 6001. What is this? Well, there is a group of people who believe that the world was created at the year 4000 BCE. In this respect, they are similar to young earth creationists who believe that the world was created between 5700 and 10000 years ago. They are both making a huge error, and their belief is 5 orders of magnitude different from the actual date of the creation of the world (defined as the age of the universe) which is about 13,000,000,000 (13 billion) years ago. The guys who put the plaque in front of the museum are the so-called freemasons and "AL 6001" means "Anno Lucis 6001", i.e. 6001 years after the light was created.

Arbitrary nonsense, of course. But when that nonsense is used in a history museum one wonders about the accuracy of the contents and information inside the museum.
By the way, the museum is not a bad looking building, but someone had the strange idea to stick an immense star in front of it which covers the view almost entirely.


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