Jump to content

  • Log In with Google      Sign In   
  • Create Account


Member Since 19 Dec 2001
Offline Last Active Feb 20 2012 03:41 PM

Topics I've Started

Walk Like An American?

06 November 2010 - 02:13 PM

A discussion over at the Atlantic about "whether it can be "racist" to note that there are quick visual cues to people's nationality, even when the people involved are from the same racial group" has turned to the question of "the surprising ease of spotting Americans." (Field Guide to Identifying Americans). The claim is that it's not the clothes that are the give away but "how you carry yourself. Frankly it's confidence--upright posture, and a confident walk."

Is it easy to spot a Chinese-American in China? An Indian-American in India? An Irish-American in Ireland? Or Americans abroad in general?

Back in the 1980's I visited Italy for 10 days and people tried to speak to me in Italian a couple of times, so my own experience doesn't support the idea. But, given the international composition of the lounge community, I thought I would ask for comments. Is this the case? What do you think? What are your experiences in this regard?

SCOTUS Takes Up Violent Video Games Case

30 October 2010 - 05:10 AM

Supreme Court to hear case on violent video games (October 29, 2010)


WASHINGTON — Supreme Court justices will meet Resident Evil 4 on Tuesday in a divisive free-speech case that's rated M for mature.

Eleven states, including Florida and Texas, have joined California in urging the court to uphold a law that bans the sale of violent video games to minors younger than 18. These states say that young people need moral and psychological protection.

But in an intriguing political split, eight states — including Washington and South Carolina — want California's law buried. The interstate conflict foreshadows a provocative debate Tuesday, though the judicial odds seem to favor unfettered video gaming.
The hourlong oral argument Tuesday morning and subsequent court decision will move beyond the $10 billion-a-year video game industry. If the Supreme Court sides with California's law, the ruling could invite restrictions on books, movies and the Internet in general.

Kibitzers abound, reflecting the case's high visibility, and most side with the video game industry. Of 32 amicus briefs filed, 28 submitted by the likes of the motion picture industry, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund oppose California's law.
The law prohibits selling minors games that depict "killing, maiming, dismembering or sexually assaulting an image of a human being" under certain conditions.

The ban would cover games that lack "serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value," are "patently offensive to prevailing standards" for what minors should see and appeal to a "deviant or morbid interest" of minors.
The video game makers want the justices to consider the games in their entirety, so they submitted videotapes of more than two-and-a-half hours of excerpted game play. California, by contrast, provided five-minute excerpts of raw gore. Officials consider it sufficient to demonstrate why parental control is warranted.
Proponents of the California law cite studies that link video game exposure to, as state officials put it, "an increase in aggressive thoughts and behavior, anti-social behavior and desensitization to violence in both minors and adults." The social science link to misbehavior, though, is no longer the centerpiece of California's argument.

It will be months before the court publishes it's ruling, but would anyone care to make a prediction regarding the outcome?

NFL Plays London Sunday

27 October 2010 - 11:26 AM

The NFL International Series comes to London this Sunday with a game at Wembley Stadium between the San Francisco 49ers (1-6) and the Denver Broncos (2-5). Tickets for the game are reportedly sold out. Both teams are having a bad year, but with last week's crushing loss 59-14 to the Oakland Raiders, the Broncos are probably having a worse year even though they have a better record than the 49ers. At any rate, is any one here going to the game or planning to watch it on television?

World Series Predictions?

27 October 2010 - 11:10 AM

The first game of this year's World Series begins in about two hours. The Texas Rangers take on the San Francisco Giants tonight in San Francisco. I'll be rooting for the Giants, but I honestly have no idea who'll win the series. Who else plans to watch? What are your thoughts? Comments? Predictions?

Benot Mandelbrot R.I.P.

17 October 2010 - 08:13 AM

Benoît Mandelbrot, Novel Mathematician, Dies at 85


Benoît B. Mandelbrot, a maverick mathematician who developed the field of fractal geometry and applied it to physics, biology, finance and many other fields, died on Thursday in Cambridge, Mass. He was 85.
Dr. Mandelbrot coined the term “fractal” to refer to a new class of mathematical shapes whose uneven contours could mimic the irregularities found in nature.

“Applied mathematics had been concentrating for a century on phenomena which were smooth, but many things were not like that: the more you blew them up with a microscope the more complexity you found,” said David Mumford, a professor of mathematics at Brown University. “He was one of the primary people who realized these were legitimate objects of study.”

In a seminal book, “The Fractal Geometry of Nature,” published in 1982, Dr. Mandelbrot defended mathematical objects that he said others had dismissed as “monstrous” and “pathological.” Using fractal geometry, he argued, the complex outlines of clouds and coastlines, once considered unmeasurable, could now “be approached in rigorous and vigorous quantitative fashion.”
In the 1950s, Dr. Mandelbrot proposed a simple but radical way to quantify the crookedness of such an object by assigning it a “fractal dimension,” an insight that has proved useful well beyond the field of cartography.

Over nearly seven decades, working with dozens of scientists, Dr. Mandelbrot contributed to the fields of geology, medicine, cosmology and engineering. He used the geometry of fractals to explain how galaxies cluster, how wheat prices change over time and how mammalian brains fold as they grow, among other phenomena.

His influence has also been felt within the field of geometry, where he was one of the first to use computer graphics to study mathematical objects like the Mandelbrot set, which was named in his honor.
“He doesn’t spend months or years proving what he has observed,” said Heinz-Otto Peitgen, a professor of mathematics and biomedical sciences at the University of Bremen. And for that, he said, Dr. Mandelbrot “has received quite a bit of criticism.”

“But if we talk about impact inside mathematics, and applications in the sciences,” Professor Peitgen said, “he is one of the most important figures of the last 50 years.”

If you've got renderings of Mandelbrot sets to share, this would be a good time to do so.

[Edited by - LessBread on October 17, 2010 6:22:47 PM]