Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Ron Paul on American policy

February 28, 2010

60 Minutes piece on cold fusion

April 21, 2009

This is an excellent piece.

Is factoring really a hard problem?

April 8, 2009

Here is a very interesting blog post on this question.

I’ve often wondered how and why factoring was chosen as a standard for public key cryptography. There are the obvious reasons, ease of implementation etc. but given that there is no hardness proof it seems risky to standardize on it.

One possible explanation is that it is not really hard at all, and the expertise and machinery required to factor the usual sizes of numbers used in standard encryption schemes is readily available to some, but for some reason this capability is thought to be out of reach for most everyone else. This could be in the form of different algorithms with better scaling, but somehow I doubt it. This would be too hard to keep secret. I think it’s more likely that some types of special hardware implementations vastly reduce prefactors in algorithms similar to those publicly known. This would  make factoring feasible for moderate sized products of primes if you had the resources to develop such special purpose hardware.

In other words, when you want to really do something properly, the scaling of the algorithm is of course important, but speeding everything up by a factor of a million can make the difference between “forget it” and “easy”.

Canadian VC on the rocks?

April 6, 2009

Some points of view.

One of my favorite science papers of all time

April 3, 2009

This is a classic paper I read a few years ago, and came across recently in doing some research. It is extremely funny, and no matter your occupation, you will recognize the characters described. This is an article that should be Required Reading.

unskilled

Christy Moore: Smoke and Strong Whiskey

March 31, 2009

Here’s a noble call down de hall dere…

The greatest thing on the internet

March 15, 2009

Is this freestyle session with Tom Green featuring Jurassic 5.

Dey snakes dis big?!?

February 5, 2009

[Obscure Anaconda (worst/best movie ever) reference]. Ahh Ice Cube is there anything you can’t do.

Check this out: Titanoboa. BIG SNAKE!!! BIG SNAKE!!!!

titanoboa

Christmas in Vancouver with Nacht Ruprecht

January 26, 2009

Reflecting on the true meaning of Christmas with neighbors.

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Speaking of which. I meant to post this on Christmas day but was otherwise occupied. So I was reading the other day about an old German legend about a guy named Nacht Ruprecht. Here is an excerpt from the book:

The woodland depths were alive with all kinds of foul creatures who could threaten humankind….Many of these were believed to be ‘little people’ who went under the general classifications of goblins, elves, dwarves, or trolls. The most vicious of these were the tomtin, little men dressed in red (the color of blood) who were known to attack travellers on lonely forest roads.

Sadistic creatures, the tomtin were associated, in Germanic folklore, with a number of ancient beings who were said to live even deeper in the forest, venturing out into the world of men only at certain times of the year. These entities were probably the embodiment of old, nearly forgotten forest or fertility gods that had been worshipped by the early German tribes and bore such names as Nacht Ruprecht (a bizarre and alarming figure, adorned in straw and antlers) and Schwartz Peeter (a grim, black, muscular figure, like a giant blacksmith). The tomtin were considered to be their servants, murdering travellers at their behest. Pulling travellers to the ground, the tomtin beat them with chains or with barbed sticks or poles until they were dead and then commenced to lap up their blood like dogs. They bore back the hearts and livers of those they killed as sustenance to their ancient masters amongst the trees.

Many of the entities chose to manifest themselves during the winter months. Nacht Ruprecht, for example, would come to the windows of the cottages and peer in, generally terrifying those within. Accompanied by his close servant, George Oaf, who was armed with a great whip or flail, and with the tomtin thronging after him, he travelled the snow-covered roads, beating and often killing those whom he met. To those who worshipped him, or kept old faiths alive, he offered rewards.

The veneration of these ancient deities alarmed the Church so much that they decided to supplant the idea of a supernatural pagan being travelling around dispensing gifts and rewards with a Christian counterpart. And the person whom the Church chose was St. Nicholas. Ironically, the bloodthirsty, blood-drinking tomtin were now attached to this Christian saint.

They did not, however, initially lose any of their brutish and depraved ways. In parts of Germany, St. Nicholas was known as “Buller Claus” (Belled Nicholas) because of the chains and bells that he carried. When he approached a house, the tomtin went ahead to rouse sleeping children, drag them from their beds, and ask them questions on the Christian catechism. If they could not answer or answered incorrectly, the tomtin beat them with sharp sticks whilst St. Nicholas pelted them with hard coal until they bled and the tomtin licked the blood from their wounds. If they were able to answer correctly, they were (grudgingly) rewarded with an apple or sweetmeat. Later, the image of the tomtin softened, and in a move of supreme irony, they became ‘Santa’s little helpers’ or ‘Christmas elves.’

I always wondered why you got “coal” in your stocking if you were bad.

Note that I am not sure any of the above is actually true. I looked for independent confirmation that this story was correct and didn’t find any. Also the description of Nacht Ruprecht is very similar to the Master of the Hunt, which is Celtic, which makes me wonder if the author just made it up.

cernunnos_tekening

I really like Ron Paul

January 25, 2008

I’m not an American citizen but if I were I’d vote for Ron. It’s so refreshing to hear someone with a specific point of view who is passionate about real issues. I don’t agree with everything he says but damn it’s nice to know where someone stands at least.