Deep Simplicity and Iterations

I've been reading Deep Simplicity: Bringing Order to Chaos and Complexity by John Gribbin. I was hoping to glean more insight into the whole "levels of organization" problem
that has long fascinated me. I also used one of Gribben's examples of
what many call a "sensitive dependence on initial conditions" to use my
computer to plot the results. I was considering using Matplotlib / pylab - matlab style python plotting (plots, graphs, charts) but instead used Excel, which did the job fine.

What was the task in question? It was to iterate the function 2x^2-1,
where x is in between -1 and 1, to see how even a small change in an
initial x leads to diverging values as we go through the iterations.
That is, the small differences are magnified by the feedback loop of
iteration. (I know that the last two sentences are not terribly well
written alas....)

Besides getting to play with mathematically oriented computation, did I
actually glean any more insight about why there seem to be distinct
levels of organization in our cosmos? I don't know. At first, I was
going to write that the sensitive dependence on initial conditions can
give rise to boundaries -- but I can't say such a statement makes any
sense to me. Hmmm....back to the mental drawing board.

Notelets for 2006.08.08

I am definitely curious to know what Yahoo Research wants to get into, not only because Yahoo! Research Berkeley is only a couple blocks away from my office but because I know a number of bright folks working there.

Interfaith Power & Light, active in 21 states
and the District of Columbia, works at educating churches and their
members about how to make a dent in global warming. It's part of the
organization's way of caring for God's creation, and the work is done
on many fronts.
Indeed, Katrina's aftermath has not proved that
congressional Republicans are devoid of empathy, but rather that they
reserve it for states run by former party chairmen. As of late spring,
Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour had wheedled his old friends in
Washington into giving his constituents roughly the same sized block
grant as received by Louisiana--even though Louisiana suffered more
than three times the number of seriously damaged homes and lost one
more major city than its easterly neighbor. The Democrats, meanwhile,
have been disappointingly silent, preferring to focus on GOP
incompetence abroad rather than at home.

I enjoyed the film Yi Yi a lot and look forward to seeing the new Criterion Collection edition of the film: Getting the DVD Transfer Right the Second Time Around - New York Times. Will Netflix carry the new edition?

Me and the other guys?

When I saw Men Not Working, and Not Wanting Just Any Job - New York Times,
I wondered whether I'm part of a bigger trend by reducing my time to
write a book. The important difference between my situation and that
portrayed in the article is that the reduction in time is temporary and
that I'm working hard on projects during my time at home. Still, I was
unnerved to think that maybe I was a slow slide to indolence!

Word for my day: mephitic

Gore Vidal wrote in tribute of the recently deceased Barbara Epstein (The New York Review of Books: Barbara Epstein (1928-2006)):

Ultimately, in fact, she could accept almost
anything in the way of a point of view if she was convinced that it was
expressed in good faith: needless to say, she had a difficult time
dealing with the baroque lies of the neocons which have made mephitic
the swamps of bookchat.

I had to look up the word "mephitic," which was Dictionary.com/Word of the Day on June 23, 2001 in dictionary.com. One definition is "offensive to the smell; as, mephitic odors."

All that pain at Ikea was worth it…mostly

All that pain at Ikea was worth it...mostly