Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere, even Redmond

I'm still working on that Shinteki Decathlon write-up. I got a draft ready, sent it out to my team-mates. Emily wrote back with a bunch of cool jokes that I'd forgotten. Yeah, I forgot plenty; usually I take better notes. I lost my little audio-recorder dealie, so I was taking notes by writing in pencil on these big purple index cards. But there was aheat wave going on. My hands were sweaty, the cards were smeared when I tried to read the notes and... what? Gross? You don't want to hear about my sweat? Hmm, maybe you're not going to want to read that write-up when I finish it, then. Meanwhile, I'll just talk about some other puzzle-game-thingie related links to distract you from my slow writing.

When I posted a bunch of Microsoft Intern PuzzleHunt links a while back, I overlooked one. Why? Because it was in Chinese. But then I tried looking at it again. And thanks to Google Language Tools, I can read the gist of it. I think (s)he liked it:

Saturday is the Puzzlehunt Microsoft interns. I do not want to, but in looking at the last persuasion, or joined H-bomb team (hey, the team members understood the significance of : :). Saturday only to find the original guess was quite interesting, and a total of 32, I play a high level, at least in the title of the settlement process 1/4 played a key role -- or even four or five that I alone completed. (a total of 12 of our teams. ) H-bomb team has far ahead is the only cut more than 40 teams created all the teams. Unfortunately, the number of rounds is not the key to the final title. Since some inadvertent errors and communication, and we lost the championship (final hurdle only five minutes !!! worse than the first), but placing him second. The prizes better, a block and a Chinese chess pieces.

From Jessica Lambert's blog, I learned something. Microsoft interns get a weekend puzzle game in addition to a day-long puzzle game. That's, like, three days of puzzle-hunting. Very impressive. So now I'm working on a little speech. "To keep up with the competition, we must close the 'intern puzzle-hunt gap'." "To keep up with the competition, we must close the 'intern puzzle-hunt gap'." "To keep up with the competition, we must close the 'intern puzzle-hunt gap'." I'm going to keep repeating that until I can say it with a straight face to the Google Intern Recruiting College Morale Wacky University Fun Times Department.

Then again, if a Google intern is working at the Google Mountain View office, they can participate in a variety of San Francisco bay area events, enjoying a fun mix of puzzle-huntish activities out of the frickin' office. So maybe the Microsofties should be saying "To keep up with the competition, we need some time to work on our puzzle-related community outreach program, working with SeattleGC.com and other agencies to close the 'local puzzle-hunt scene gap'." to their Microsft Intern Recruiting College Morale Wacky University Fun Times Department.

If this escalates, both companies will spend three months out of each year having their interns decode Morse by hand. As those interns return to academia, this will lead to changes in the underlying IP protocols moving to a sort of dah-dit-based packet structure and... Sorry, what was the question?

In other news, Remote Mystic Fish Joe DeVincentis had a fun report on a big National Puzzlers' League convention. Where by "fun," I mean "better him than me." I visited my folks yesterday, and they'd clipped out this newspaper article about a display of mechanical puzzles with some pretty photos.

The other thing I did yesterday was buy a new audio recorder dealie. So, barring disaster, I should be able to take good notes for that writing project I mentioned earlier. Not that I can be sure of barring disaster. I'm hoping to play with not-my-usual team. The first team I signed up with filled up and gently said "no". The second team thought they were playing, but weren't really. The third... well, the third time's the charm. (Now please excuse me while I go knock on wood to keep from jinxing it.)

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Book Report: Out of Control

Interesting reporting and interviews about bottom-up organization, order from chaos, and emergent behavior. Plus some talk about What It All Means. Unfortunately, it doesn't take much talk about What It All Means to ruin a book for me. I gave up on this one about 2/3 of the way through.

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Link: Lectures on Authorization Based Access Control

If you're a programmer, you might be interested in watching some lectures about Authorization Based Access Control. Some folks from an HP research lab lectured at the GooglePlex about better & easier security through fine-grained access control. Maybe if I followed security literature closely, this would be all old news to me. But I don't. And these lectures were pretty good. Well, at least three of them were. I was out of town for one of them, and haven't seen it. Anyhow, links to the lectures:

These lectures were dangerous in that they made me want to go join a startup to create a new operating system. But I know better than that by now. So I got over it.

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Book Report: Political Fictions

In theory, American politicians choose policies which will find favor in the eyes of the electorate. In practice, American politicians choose phrases which will find favors in the eyes of the electorate as mediated by television. Then the politicians do whatever the heck they want. Joan Didion spells out what's wrong with our politicians, politics, media, and voters. When our military finally rises up for a great coup, I hope they make Joan Didion Generalissima-for-Life. They probably won't do that, though.

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Book Report: The Google Story

Now I've read two books about the history of Google: The Google Story and John Batelle's The Search. Of the two, I recommend The Google Story. It picks up on some things which Batelle overlooked. When you read that previous sentence, you might think Oh no, I don't know if I want that detailed a history of Google. But it's not that this book is longer, more that its analysis seems better.

(My opinions are mine; they're not necessarily my employers'.)

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Book Report: Spam Kings

The Shinteki game was fun! But I'm not going to write about that now because (a) I couldn't post it now, since more people are going to play, and shouldn't have their surprises foiled and (b) if today's as hot as yesterday, then i really want to shut down my computer now so it doesn't heat up my apartment any further. Meanwhile, please enjoy this book report about Spam Kings:

We're doomed. The only reason that anyone tracks down spammers is that most spammers are crazy and/or dumb. They accidentally leave their business records on wide-open web-sites. Someone spots the information, figures out who they are, and reports them to ISPs. Occasionally, an ISP shuts down a spammer's account. That's not really the picture that this book paints. But it does make it clear that spammers keep spamming. Push them down, they pop back up again. They can tear down and set up an operation so quickly, catching them is nearly impossible.

Oh, what a discouraging book. Interesting, though. The personalities of some of the spam-fighters are interesting. And how often do you get to read a history book published by O'Reilly?

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I Don't Know as much Braille as I Thought

Today Google announced Google Accessible Search, which favors web pages which are compatible with web browsers that visually-impaired people use. You might think that's pretty awesome, a great step towards making the world's information accessible to all the world's people, not just to the people with 20/20 vision.

But because I've devoted so many of my precious neurons to puzzle hunt games, of course I overlooked the whole world-improvement aspect and immediately tried to read the Braille in the logo:

[Logo: Google Accessible Search]

The first two characters were S E. Oh, obviously this must spell out "search"! Except that I didn't recognize the next two characters. And why were there only four characters? SEARCH has six letters. Oh no--four letters, SE blank blank, neither of the blanks a common letter... Had someone snuck the word "SEXY" into a Google logo? I was reminded of Julien Torma's plan for Braille p0rn. (I do keep talking about Braille p0rn. Is that insensitive? I suppose if any blind people get offended, I'll never know it--I think the Blogger.com commenting system asks them to solve a visual captcha to prove that they're not evil spambots.)

So I did some searching around. And it turns out that I didn't know Braille as well as I thought I did. I know the Braille alphabet. Well, uhm, I know of the Braille alphabet, I know some letters, I can muddle my way along with a cheat sheet. I thought that was all there is to Braille code. Well, I knew there was a special character to say "the next letter is capitalized". And another special character to say "the next letter isn't really a letter, it's a number". But today I learned that there are other special characters, contractions.

For example, ..OOO. when it appears in the middle of a word, means "AR". And O....O in some context means "CH". So that Braille in the logo does spell out SEARCH after all.

In addition to these tricky contractions, there are some common abbreviations, which might be something like the OMG LOL IM language... or maybe not. Apparently Braille is a very rich language. So I used to think I knew Braille. But now I know that I don't know. And not-knowing is half the battle!

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Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere, Even at Work (Maybe Especially at Work)

The other day at work, I caught up to my mentor on the way to dinner. He was asking Wei-Hwa why Wei-Hwa wanted to borrow a baseball bat. And I'm looking around the table, and it's mostly folks from the Burninators team. So I figured that they probably wanted a baseball bat for the same reason that I did: photos for Shinteki.

(such a photo)

Conversation around the Burninators' table turned to the upcoming Hogwarts game. Apparently, the waivers had some interesting clauses. Something like: players can't sue if harmed by magical forces. Someone raised the dire possibility of getting impaled by a unicorn. Someone else pointed out that this would be really bad torture: the touch of a unicorn's horn has healing powers. So you'd be stuck on this horn, constantly healing and re-injuring. Then the hallucinations would begin. And then, you'd see unicorns.

Today at work, the fancy-pants video-conferencing equipment between here and the Kirkland office wasn't working. Actually, the video was working fine. And the Kirkland people could hear the California people just fine. But we couldn't hear the Kirkland people. And one of them wanted to ask a question. He tried writing his question down and holding it up to the video... but no-one could read it. Folks made silly suggestions. One person suggested charades. Giggles. And another person said, "Does anyone here know semaphore?" Giggles. And I said, "Uhm, I know semaphore," and I tugged out my always-handy code cheat-sheet, gestured at the column of semaphore letters. And there were surprised gasps. So I racked up some serious geek cred today. I guess I would have racked up more geek cred if I'd actually memorized semaphore, but I'll take what I can get.

Speaking of which, Vincent Cheung reported on the Google Intern Scavenger Hunt without giving away any pertinent details. I don't know him, but I guess we can trust him to work on secret projects.

Speaking of high-tech company intern puzzle hunts, here are some reports on Microsoft's intern puzzleday, which was just this last Saturday. Julia, Canagape, Colin.

It's a wonder any of us ever ship any software. (Ha! Just kidding! Uhm, did I ever tell you that my opinions are mine and may or may not coincide with those of my employer?)

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Book Report: Hidden Order

It's a economics book aimed at non-economists. It introduces terms and sets up some interesting thought experiments. E.g., what is a good way to divvy up chores between roommates if those roommates don't have equal chore-ing abilities? I don't know that I learned any facts from this book, but it was a good cranial work-out.

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Two More by Curtiss Anderson

I was out late last night at the Ozric Tentacles/Particle concert. I only stuck around for one song by Particle, didn't like it, and it was past my bedtime. This morning was the AIDS walk. Drivers honk to encourage the walkers, which is good. But they kept me from sleeping in. I've been a wreck all day. I tried to write about things, but I couldn't concentrate. So I went to see the movie "Cars" which was just gorgeous. And I typed in two more of Curtiss Anderson's essays:


Two More by Curtiss Anderson

I typed in two more of Curtiss Anderson's essays:


Book Report: The Collected Castle Waiting

Castle Waiting was one of the best comics ever. It's by Linda Medley. It's set in the world of fairy tales, but it's so smart and so funny. It's not scary like fairy tales are scary, because it's not about little kids wandering lost in the woods. It's mostly about groups of friends sitting around and bantering. Well, that and bearded ladies, and adventure, and freedom, and derring-do, and... and... Anyhow, I already had a lot of Castle Waiting books, but there were gaps. So I was really happy when I saw this collection. I read the whole thing from beginning to end pausing only to laugh like a donkey.

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Milestone: 6 Million hits

Today, this website enjoyed its six-millionth hit. That hit was all about Amazingly Big things up in the Seattle area. I'm talking about the Pier 86 Grain Terminal and Microsoft. Let's take a look: - - [13/Jul/2006:18:23:59 -0400] "GET /departures/Seattle/10/36views.html HTTP/1.0" 200 16858 "-" "msnbot/1.0 (+http://search.msn.com/msnbot.htm)"

This is the "msnbot" search crawler, scouting the internet for content to display in MSN Search results. It just crawled a page of my not-so-recently-updated travel photos, carefully confirming that they haven't changed.

(My opinions are mine, not my employers'.) Internet search geeks talk a lot about Google Search versus Yahoo search; they don't talk so much about MSN Search. But in one important regard in June 2006, MSN did even more to help internet users than Google did. So three cheers for MSN Search, a pocket of goodness buried in a big company, crawling the web so that they can show people of many nations some photos of huge grain silos.

I don't know how coherent that was. It's past my bedtime. Good night, wonderful internetty people of many nations. I hope you continue to find the Japanese ska reviews useful and/or inciteful.

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Book Report: The untold story of the THE TRUE VALUE OF PI

Today I tagged along on the Google Intern Scavenger Hunt. But I am sworn to secrecy about on that topic. So I will not write about that. It wouldn't work to say, "Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere, including an undisclosed starting location" Thus, instead, this book report.

A few months ago, I started receiving envelopes of mail from India. The first few weren't signed, but the next few were. They were from Reddivari Sarva Jagannadha Reddy, sometimes known as R. S. J. Reddy. They were about geometry and Pi. They suggested that he'd found a proof that Pi is 3.1464466. I don't know why he sent me mail. Maybe he saw the Book report on Beckman's History of Pi? Maybe he saw my Python program for computing the value of Pi (slowly) by the Monte Carlo method? Neither of these things suggests that I am a Pi expert. (Indeed, I am not). I filed away the the mail with vague plans to look more closely "later."

Then the book arrived. The book by that same Reddivari Sarva Jagannadha Reddy, The untold story of THE TRUE VALUE OF π. OK, I'm not a mathematician. But maybe it was up to me to look at this book. And if this book had some merit, maybe I could bring it to someone's attention. Like, I could show it to a real mathematician and then they might say, "Hey, he's right, the accepted value of Pi has been off a little all these years."

So I went to a cafe, and ordered a big cup of coffee to excite whatever math-related neurons still survive in my brain. And I read. Now I was being very careful as I read because I'm not a mathematician and a lot of those fallacious-proof puzzles trip me up, and I didn't want to fall for a fallacious proof, but I didn't want to ignore a true proof. OK, so, coffee at the Blue Danube cafe on Clement Street, a nice spot to sit and read and draw circles and squares on a piece of paper.

As it turns out, I didn't need the coffee. The proof had a flaw. I was all set for something subtle. Mr. Reddy has spent years of his life developing this theory, so I figured if there was something wrong with it, it would have to be something that one could overlook for a few years. But it wasn't. Here is Reddy's proof:

[Draw a circle inscribed in a square; draw a sqare inscribed in the circle. These squares have different length sides. That difference is 2/6.8284275.] "It is clear from the diagram and deductions based on this the [difference between π and 3] one is forced to accept is 1/6.8284275."

My counterproof: It is not clear from the diagram. He describes the diagram. I drew the diagram. It is easy to see that he has found something close to π. But it is not clear that it is π.

The book contains several more "proofs." In each case, he "proves" that π is 3.1464466... if you accept that his original diagram correctly shows π. Or if you accept a new formula for the tangent function--based on his value for π. Of course, I can "prove" that π is equal to three if I'm allowed to use a tangent function which is based on the premise that π is three. I skimmed about ten of these proofs.

In his article "The Transcendental Number Pi," (collected in New Mathematical Diversions) Martin Gardner wrote

Early attempts to find an exact value for pi were closely linked with attempts to solve the classic problem of squaring the circle. ... Conversely, if the circle could be squared, a means would exist for constructing a line segment exactly equal to pi. However, there are ironclad proofs that pi is transcendental and that no straight line of transcendental length can be constructed with compass and straightedge.

It's too bad Gardner didn't provide any references to those ironclad proofs. Though I can look at Reddy's proof and say "Hey, that doesn't prove it", I don't have a real counter-proof.

Maybe RSJ Reddy sent me these proofs, not because I am a π expert, but because I am a non-expert π enthusiast? Perhaps he's had some luck winning such over in the past?

Looking at the author information, I saw that he was a Zoology teacher. Looking at the inside front cover of the book, I saw that he had another book, a theory of evolution, of "organic bloom". If this theory had as little foundation as his π theory, then I felt sorry for his students.

Still, it was a nice day to sit in a cafe. Mr Reddy had tricked me into wasting some time, but not much time. The coffee and music were good. If the worst problem in your life is that you're worried about some far-away Zoology students getting a bad education, your life is pretty easy.

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Book Report: the Book of Illusions

Wow, this novel is certainly literature. There are echoes and themes throughout the work. There are worlds within worlds, with parallels between the worlds; the obsessions of creators appear as shadows in their creations. There are authors, there are movie people, there are figments, there are real bits; they are mixed and matched.

In spite of all that, I guess this book was worth reading. It was quick, light, and had a few good jokes.

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Three More by Curtiss Anderson

I typed in three more of Curtiss Anderson's essays:


Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere, Even New Zealand Again

Ages ago, I went to New Zealand and observed that Puzzle Hunts are everywhere in New Zealand or at least Christchurch and Nelson. Now it looks like some outfit wants to run a Big Game in New Zealand: a week-long game around Thanksgiving 2007. And they're hoping to bring in U.S. players. Oh, wait, now that I look at the details, they say that the game will last 2-4 days, but that the length of ?something else? is eight days.

I'd love to head back to New Zealand. I don't know if I want to attempt a four-day-long game, though. Or maybe I'm just saying that out of sour grapes--I couldn't finish off their application puzzle. Maybe if I was smart enough to solve that in a timely manner, then my hypothetical team would only take two days to get through the puzzle hunt.

Update: I got some nice mail from the organizers:

The game we are doing in New Zealand will most likely be 3 days which is just a little longer than what is played in the states only because we are doing it out of the country. We couldn't really see asking people to come to NZ for just three days so we made the trip longer so that when people aren't racing across country focused on puzzles, they can really see NZ on their own time. That's why the dates are longer than the actual game time.

We would love for you to play if you would like to. We have had a few teams solve the puzzle for the application but we haven't heard back from anyone that it was too hard. We were surprised to read that you were unable to solve it but glad because otherwise we would never have known. It's just a game and we are trying to have a little fun and not make it so serious. We happen to travel a lot and always thought it would be fun to have puzzle or role playing games in other countries.


Update on the Update: after they got tired of me whining, they made the application puzzle easier. I can solve this one, yay!

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Curtiss H. Anderson: Three more / Lea W., one for the Road

I continue to type up these Curtiss Anderson essays which fell into my possession. Today, three of his travelogs:

Speaking of travelogs, you might remember that the first time I went to St Louis, one of my favorite spots was The Chocolate Bar, a bar that served hot chocolate instead of, you know, real drinks. I lamented that San Francisco didn't have anything similar. Now we have something sorta similar: Bittersweet, a cafe that serves chocolate instead of coffee. No live DJ. But their spicy hot chocolate is sufficiently spicy and chocolatey for my standards.

Speaking of travel notes, we were at Bittersweet for Lea W.'s send-off party. Lea's moving to Cincinatti, of all places, to do more awesome medical research. One person at this gathering had family in Cincinatti and had thus been there. But she was on call, and thus didn't get to join in the conversation to let us know what Cincinatti was really like. But her husband, Andy, had accompanied her there. He talked about driving out of town to see the rust belt towns. Ironton had been a big steelmaking town; now there were a few people hanging on--but not many. Portsmouth had some big murals--but most of the people were gone. So it was kind of scenic, kind of eerie checking these places out.

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Book Report: 109 East Palace

July 4th is a holiday in the USA, celebrated with fireworks. On July 5th, I was looking at a stretch of road next to Candlestick Park on the southern edge of San Francisco. It was covered with cardboard debris. Had a truck overturned?... no. No, this was the packaging for fireworks. For many, many fireworks. Someone had come to this quiet spot to launch many fireworks. No doubt it had been very impressive. Several yards away, there was a patch of grass and trees, black and smoking. One or more fireworks had strayed. No doubt the brush fire had been very impressive. Sometimes, our love of freedom and nation causes us to create explosions; sometimes we get so caught up in the explosions that we forget that they can hurt our nation. Maybe we should ask people to study the history of the Manhattan Project before they set off fireworks.

Every so often, I read some book or other about the Manhattan Project. How often should one read a book about the Manhattan Project? Maybe once a year? I don't know. It had been too long since I last read a book about the Manhattan Project, and the details were fuzzing out of my brain. 109 East Palace did a fine job of blowing away the dust. It focuses more on the people-history than on the science-history. This book contained, for example, the most detailed timeline I've seen of the betting action that went on in the scientists' bunker during the Trinity test.

This book was pretty good. If I was just going to read one book about the Manhattan Project this year, I'm glad it was this one.

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Book Report: Servants of the Map

If I were king, I would declare a national holiday: Andrea Barrett is Awesome Day.

If I were king, I'd be a cruel despot; soon a resistance movement would form. One of their pet causes would no doubt be: Every day should be Andrea Barrett is Awesome Day.

Servants of the Map is a book of short stories full of scientists and explorers. Andrea Barrett writes good characters, and I think she's getting quicker and better at describing them.

Oh, just go read it already.

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Book Report: 4 Dada Suicides

Dada is not art; art is dada. Before I talk about the book 4 Dada Suicides, I want to plug an art show I saw yesterday, by the artists' group Fiber Dimensions. As you might guess from the name, these people do weird stuff with textiles. This show is going on through, uhm, tomorrow, so maybe instead of talking about the show, I should just provide a link to their web page so you can look them over, send them mail, and ask to get on their mailing list to get word of future exhibits. My favorite was probably a couple of colorful baskets assembled from zip-ties and other materials by Emily Dvorin. Anyhow, the book. Yes, that's why you're here, right?

This book has mini-biographies of 4 dada suicides. It's not clear that they were all suicides. Some folks think that Arthur Cravan faked his death to escape surveillance. Anyhow. This book doesn't talk about the squalid suicide details, but has mini-biographies of 4 dadaists, excerpts from their writings, and reminiscences by friends.

Art is dada, but not all art fans enjoy dada; if you don't think you'd like this book, you're probably right.

I would like to point out one bit of brilliance from the Euphorisms of Julien Torma:

To write erotic novels, to be read in the dark, in Braillette.

In French, apparently, this is a pun. But in any language, the idea of publishing p0rn in Braille is awesome marketing.

A friend-of-a-friend of mine edited a couple of anthologies of erotica. Big deal, you're thinking, Everyone's done that. But the thing that was brilliant about these was that they were printed on waterproof paper so that people could read them in the tub. Apparently, a lot of people like to sit in the tub and... uhm... anyhow.

Although I haven't conducted any surveys, I'm guessing that a book of erotica marketed at people to read in the dark could do even better than that book marketed at people in the tub.

Yes, yes you can read Braille one-handed, thank you for asking. Maybe I just think that this is a brilliant idea because I've been in so many puzzle-hunts.

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Book Report: Bury the Chains

If you're from the USA, then happy Independence Day! I can't think of a less appropriate day to publish this book report on Bury the Chains, which has charming stories about slaves in the American war of independence who fought because they were promised their freedom--and in a few cases those promises were even kept. Ah, sweet independence. But Bury the Chains isn't really about the American war of independence. It's about the history of the British abolition movement.

For a long time, the British Empire was big on slavery. Many people in the Empire were against slavery, but most of them were slaves (not worth listening to, apparently) or Quakers (perhaps the only group of people less worth listening to than slaves). Then an abolition movement started. Over the course of forty years, they swayed public opinion.

They started by abolishing the slave trade. Abolitionists figured that this would end slavery--slavers worked slaves to death before breeding them. Slavers claimed that this was necessary for slavery to be profitable, and abolitionists believed the slaers. Slavers responded by treating slaves somewhat better--slaves started living long enough to breed. Wow, I guess the slavers were wrong about the necessity of their previous wasteful practices. Echoes of the lumber industry, the oil industry,... ahem, anyhow.

The abolitionists kept going and eventually stomped out slavery in the British Empire. It took a long time. Meanwhile, France abolished slavery--enticing some British slaves to revolt--and restarted it again. Meanwhile, the British fought the Maroons of Jamaica, who were a tough crew. I always assumed that "Maroontown" was named after some folks who had been marooned, but I guess it was named after some tough fighters.

Fans of pressuring big government to outlaw practices that harm society may find this book heartening. I know I did. Then again, it only takes a few days to read. It must take some real determination to struggle for forty years.

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Curtiss H. Anderson += 3

I typed in three more articles by Curtiss H. Anderson:

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Book Report: Mathematical Snapshots

I just went out to see that crossword puzzle movie "Wordplay" with my parents and their friend Carol Kare. Carol is a crossword puzzle enthusiast, but she wasn't always. But the first time she picked up a New York Times crossword puzzle, she solved it all the way through--and thus she was hooked. A while later, she was with some friends. They had a copy of the paper, she had a copy of the paper. They worked on the puzzle, she worked on the puzzle. She finished first. And thus she was double-hooked. Now she buys books full of crossword puzzles; she feels most comfortable if she has a crossword puzzle handy.

It's all about making the first few puzzles accessible, that's how you reel the people in. That is not the approach taken by the book Mathematical Snapshots

I picked up this Hugo Steinhaus book because it was referenced by some old Martin Gardner "Mathematical Games" articles. Wow, this book contains a lot of recreational mathematics, so it's not surprising that a recreational math magazine column would explore some of its ideas. Wow, this book is short. It throws ideas at you very quickly. There'll be some diagram and a paragraph about the diagram...

This book was pretty much over my head. It was too dense for me and/or I was too dense for it. There's like, some photo of a screw and a paragraph about helices and it seems like I'm supposed to be getting something out of it... Oh man. I was glad that there were items in this book which Martin Gardner had written about, because for those I could understand the diagrams and figure out what the explanatory paragraph was trying to tell me--because it was telling me the same thing that Gardner did. Fortunately, Gardner allowed himself several paragraphs, enough space for his words to penetrate my thick skull.

If you already know plenty of recreational math and you'd like a thin book you can flip through to remind yourself of many tricks, then this book might be good. But I don't recommend it as a way to learn new math tricks unless you're way smarter than me.

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Site Update: The Curtiss H. Anderson File

Lately, I haven't done anything worth writing about. Instead, I typed up some essays hand-written by someone else, namely Curtiss H. Anderson of Roseville, California. I've got a bunch of these handwritten essays, but so far I've only typed up three of them:

If I get my act together, I'll type up more of these in the future. But it took me over a year to get my act together to type up three of them, so don't hold your breath.

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