Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Summer Solstice

The sun at apogee, an empire all of light.
The sweet corn basks and ripens in its rays.
All memory of winter  has melted from our minds.

Yet even now the worm lies in the bud, one day to blast it.
The long limbs of daylight   that had stretched and stretched
now imperceptibly  begin to shrink:
even as the cosmos  attains its outmost limit,
and sighs back  to collapse.

Alas, the Elves of Ice  lurk still in northern forests,
plotting their return.

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Beasts: a post-Benthamite assessment (Take Two)

The Beasts:  a post-Benthamite  assessment (Take Two  Three)

[The Sage of Houndsditch, updated]

The question about animals is not, “Can they reason?”,
but  “Can they handle algebraic geometry  Hodge theory  motivic cohomology?”

[Note:  We have further updated this post, in an attempt to outpace the rise in cleverness  among the squirrels, which has been growing at an alarming pace.]

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Ex-Word of the Day: Toplinear

In her diligent book of epistemology, Evidence and Inquiry (1993), Susan Haack steers her bark between the twin cliffs of Foundationalism and Coherentism, before christening her own proposed juste milieu with the,  alas, ungainly name of :


There was something comical about the coinage which I could not quite put my finger on.

Then this morning, happening to dip into one of Serge Lang’s textbooks on Differential Geometry, discussing topological vector spaces, I re-encountered his own stillborn coinage:

“… a Toplinear isomorphism, referring to the topology  and the linearity”

It is gauche in much the same way.

Neither term has much caught on, outside the readership-circle of its coiner.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Contra Constructivism

“Only an atheist
 need fear infinity.”

Note:   In this place,
an unafraid theologian presents an Orthodox account of the doctrine of absolution and the remission of sins,  conscientiously noting  along the way  a possible mathematical objection to the Church’s handling of infinity in this connection, which he is not personally qualified to resolve.

Fortunately, I was able to reply in complete reassurance on this point:  the Church doctrine is fully consonant with set-theory in its post-Cantorian understanding.

For more:

Friday, June 15, 2018

A Dactylic Pentamer ad Differential Forms

Thése are the thíngs which occúr under íntegral sígns.”
-- Bárret O’Néill, Elementary Differential Geometry

[Note:  The author’s name is prosodically a choriamb.]

[Note:  In an alternative terminology, a quantity at home beneath the integral sign  is called a density.]

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Apophthegms of Physics

Hertz: “Maxwell’s theory is Maxwell’s system of equations.”
By itself, this is a witty, eminently quotable, and meaningless comment.
-- Abraham Pais, Subtle is the Lord (1982), p. 119


There may be such a thing as habitual luck.  It is like hidden parameters in physics.
-- Stanislaw Ulam, Adventures of a Mathematician (1976), p. 119

Or as Yogi Berra once put it:  That is too much of a coincidence to be coincidental.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

The Riddle of the Sphinx (mis à jour)

Contemporary Sphinx:  What walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon, and six legs at evening?

Modern Oedipus:  A person:   a crawling baby;  an adult with grown-up gait; and an oldster with a walker (which itself is a quadruped, like a rug-rat).

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Stately Monostich

Prince Albert,


of the Queen

[Prosodic note:
  Step  from line to line  using the gait traditional at royal ceremonies:
  Right foot forward; bring left foot up next to the right foot and no further.

  That will automatically assure a measured reading of this noble line.
  It should take about a minutge.]