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If sports got reported like science

26 March 2011 Leave a comment

An awesome parody of jargon in sports reporting.

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Categories: humour Tags:

Liar paradox in novel “Don Quixote”

14 February 2011 Leave a comment

While reading Cervantes’ novel Don Quixote [1], I came across the following version of the liar paradox. The quote is from Part II, Chapter 51, page 798.

Sir, a deep river divides a certain lord’s estate into two parts… Listen carefully, your worship, for the case is an important one and rather difficult. I must tell you, then, that over this river is a bridge, and at one end a gallows and a sort of courthouse, in which four judges sit to administer the law imposed by the owner of the river, the bridge and the estate. It runs like this: “Before anyone crosses this bridge, he must first state on oath where he is going and for what purpose. If he swears truly, he may be allowed to pass; but if he tells a lie, he shall suffer death by hanging on the gallows there displayed, without any hope of mercy.” Though they know the law and its rigorous conditions, many people cross the bridge and, as they clearly make true statements the judges let them pass freely. Now it happened that they once put a man on his oath, and he swore that he was going to die on the gallows there—and that was all. After due deliberation the judges pronounced as follows: “If we let this man pass freely he will have sworn a false oath and, according to the law, he must die; but he swore that he was going to die on the gallows, and if we hang him that will be the truth, so by the same law he should go free.”

[1] Cervantes. Don Quixote. Penguin Books, 1950.

Categories: humour, logic, philosophy Tags: , ,

2005 is not the 20th anniversary of 1975

5 September 2010 Leave a comment

An NPR story on the fall of Saigon in 1975 has this quote:

NPR Senior Foreign Editor Loren Jenkins witnessed the fall of Saigon. He wrote this essay in 2005 to mark the 20th anniversary.

The year 1995 is the 20th anniversary in question, whereas 2005 is the 30th anniversary. Thanks to Dan Drake for pointing out this story to me. Just in case the typo is corrected in a future edited version, I have attached a screenshot of the relevant quote below. Enjoy.

Sage humour: Patch management

3 February 2010 Leave a comment

An email on sage-devel asks about how to use Mercurial for managing patches. I replied that tickets #8108 and #8147 have some introductory materials on that topic. However, I didn’t pick up the irony in my reply, hence the following insightful remark:

> See tickets #8108 and #8147 for introductory materials on patch
> management with Mercurial:
> http://trac.sagemath.org/sage_trac/ticket/8108
> http://trac.sagemath.org/sage_trac/ticket/8147

To learn more about patch management, please apply the following
patches…. 😉

Sage humour

24 January 2010 Leave a comment

Developing Sage can be serious fun and Sage has been used for serious work in mathematics and computer science. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t use the CAS for some light-heartedness. Observe the following Easter egg:

sage: import this
The Zen of Python, by Tim Peters

Beautiful is better than ugly.
Explicit is better than implicit.
Simple is better than complex.
Complex is better than complicated.
Flat is better than nested.
Sparse is better than dense.
Readability counts.
Special cases aren't special enough to break the rules.
Although practicality beats purity.
Errors should never pass silently.
Unless explicitly silenced.
In the face of ambiguity, refuse the temptation to guess.
There should be one-- and preferably only one --obvious way to do it.
Although that way may not be obvious at first unless you're Dutch.
Now is better than never.
Although never is often better than *right* now.
If the implementation is hard to explain, it's a bad idea.
If the implementation is easy to explain, it may be a good idea.
Namespaces are one honking great idea -- let's do more of those!

You could also execute the above command from within a Python or IPython shell. While managing the release of Sage 4.3.2.alpha0, I noticed the following humourous bug report from Tom Boothby at ticket #5501:

The following explodes in sage 3.4:

sage: R = RealIntervalField(4000)
sage: s = 1/R(3)
sage: t = loads(dumps(s))
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "pikltest.py", line 6, in 
    t = loads(dumps(s))
  File "sage_object.pyx", line 623, in 
sage.structure.sage_object.loads (sage/structure/sage_object.c:6159)
RuntimeError: ('Unable to convert number to real interval.',
 , 
(Real Interval Field with 4000 bits of precision, 
'[a.lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala
lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala
lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala
lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala
lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala
lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala
lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala
lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala
lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala
lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala
lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala
lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalal0@-1 .. 
a.lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala
lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala
lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala
lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala
lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala
lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala
lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala
lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala
lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala
lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala
lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala
lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalg@-1]', 32))
invalid data stream
invalid load key, 'x'.
Unable to load pickled data.

Furthermore, it dumps the contents of dumps(s) to the console, which I’m told is a no-no because when one uses ~20kbits of precision with 24 processes via @parallel, the error messages are ridiculously huge.

On a personal note, I’d prefer if my CAS didn’t stick its fingers in its ears and chant “lalalala…” whenever it doesn’t like what I’m doing. This is *not* how a mature system should behave.

OO downloaded 60 million times since October 2009

5 July 2009 Leave a comment

The BBC has a story called “How open source is growing up” about the growth of open source software. That is no laughing matter. However, what’s funny about the story is that under the section “Catching up”, it claims that, and I quote:

For instance, statistics suggest that there are about 40 to 50 million users of Linux desktops, while Open Office has been downloaded 60 million times since October 2009.

That’s “since October 2009”. It’s July 2009 now, so somehow a time machine has been stashed away somewhere. Here’s a screenshot of that hilarious typo, or you can visit the above link and read the story for yourself.


Journal of Craptology, volume 6 released

20 May 2009 Leave a comment

Are you studying or involved in cryptography? Looking for some fresh academic literature besides PHD Comics? Then look no further than volume 6 of the Journal of Craptology.

In this latest installment, M.P. Abramson and W.J. Layton detail an idea to delay any attack against a cryptographic algorithm. The idea is very simple and most if not all people involved in computing would have come across it. I’m talking about none other than patents (well, food and sleep come to my mind as well). First, if you’ve designed a really cool new hip cryptographic algorithm that you think beats the bit bucket out of all existing competing algorithms, then you can patent your algorithm. To collect royalties on your years of toil, you can license your patented algorithm to anyone or any organization who’s willing to fork over the cash. As an added protection, you can specify in the licensing terms that users are not allowed to cryptanalyze your algorithm. But if somehow an attack against your algorithm emerges in the literature, then you can implement that attack and apply for a patent claiming that the idea is now on how to recover lost keys. These brilliant ideas are just the tip of an iceberg. Abramson and Layton also suggest that you patent the method of patenting an attack against a cryptographic algorithm. For further details, refer to their paper On Repairing Broken Cryptographic Algorithms.

The paper How to Trivially Perform Identify Theft, and How to Prevent It by R.R. Martin shows in just one page how you can prevent identity theft against yourself. The two most famous people in the cryptology world are Alice and Bob. If your name happens to be either Alice or Bob, then you should definitely change it to something else. I suggest “Jane Doe” or “John Smith” as these names rarely, if ever, occur in cryptology.

D.A. Madore’s paper Perfect Localized Security of the Fourtytwofish Cipher in the Delphic Oracle Model talks about how to achieve a great measure of security with the Fourtytwofish cipher. The paper starts off with the venerable history of Fourtytwofish cipher, whose world-famous predecessors were the Blowfish and Twofish ciphers by Schneier. It then goes on to discuss in some details about security, with a particular focus on localized security, and then moving on to the notion of an oracle. The latter concept is a very powerful theoretical tool for cryptology, not least because it has recently demonstrated its prowess by subsuming (the) Sun. Some experts have speculated that the fish family of ciphers actually has its origin in Dr. Seuss’ classic cipher One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, which didn’t catch on because of the fiendishly long name.

Finally, J. Birkett discusses the problem of the travelling cryptographer. The author does so not by using arcane publication technologies like books or journal papers, but by distributing the research result via a (MeAnd)YouTube video. Known as the travelling cryptographers problem, it was believed to have been proposed as a method for travelling salesmen and women to solve the problem of wifi insecurity. This common computer and network security problem that travelling salespeople encounter is commonly referred to in the literature as the travelling salesman problem.

Categories: cryptography, humour Tags: ,