(Originally posted at http://joelnoche.multiply.com/journal/item/34/Logicomix on December 25, 2010 12:57 AM)

The graphic novel Logicomix (2009) has gotten good reviews and has won a few awards.  (I bought my copy from a BOOKSALE outlet.)  Some highlights of the book include Bertrand Russell’s discovery of the paradox named after him (“Does the set of all sets which do not contain themselves contain itself?”), Kurt Gödel’s talk (“There will always be unanswerable questions”) and Ludwig Wittgenstein’s realization that “the meaning of the world does not reside in the world” and his belief that “the things that cannot be talked about logically are the only ones which are truly important.”

Roy Lichtenstein

(Originally posted at http://joelnoche.multiply.com/journal/item/32/Roy-Lichtenstein on December 9, 2010 8:35 AM)

Roy Lichtenstein is one of my favorite pop artists.  I have two books that contain his work.

I bought Lichtenstein: Drawings & Prints (Wellfleet Books, 1988) at a National Book Store in the early 1990’s (I think).  While other art books cost more than a thousand pesos, I was elated to purchase this book for around 300 pesos (if I remember correctly).

The other book was given to me by my friend, Eduardo, much later.  Roy Lichtenstein’s ABC (Bullfinch Press, 1999) is a “mini-retrospective” for “art lovers, letter lovers, and those just cutting their teeth on the alphabet.”

The studies (Study for Nurse, 1964; Study for Frightened Girl, 1964) are from the Drawings & Prints book, while the paintings (Nurse, 1964; Frightened Girl, 1964) are from the ABC book.

Dick and Jane

(Originally posted at http://joelnoche.multiply.com/journal/item/31/Dick-and-Jane on December 7, 2010 9:36 AM)

I did not grow up with Dick and Jane.  (I was more of a Dr. Seuss kid.)  Believe it or not, the first time I ever read a Dick and Jane story was a few months ago when I bought the book Growing Up with Dick and Jane (New York: Collins Publishers, 1996) at a BOOKSALE outlet.  The book is supposed to contain a small booklet (a sampler of original stories) and cutout dolls of Dick and Jane, but my copy only had the booklet.  The book basically provides a context for the Dick and Jane series of reading books.  The series started in 1927, during America’s Great Depression, and ended with the 1965 editions being sold until 1970.  One of my most favorite lines in the book is on page 26:

Jane is smart in the way little girls were supposed to be smart in the 1950s, when boys could be boys, but girls had to be girls.

Another line that struck me is on page 102, where the authors discuss how changes in American society in the 1960’s led to changes in the series:

Father drove his big car over Sally’s little toy horse and crushed it in half.

Mystery Play

(Originally posted at http://joelnoche.multiply.com/journal/item/30/Mystery-Play on December 5, 2010 12:35 AM)

The Mystery Play (1994) is a graphic novel by Grant Morrison and Jon J. Muth about a detective investigating a murder committed during a mystery play:  the actor playing God has been killed, and the main suspect is the actor playing Lucifer. It has some beautiful lines taken from an actual mystery play:

I am the Alpha and Omega, first and most famous.
It is my will it should be so.
It is, it was, it shall be thus.
I am great God gracious, which never had beginning.

Now Lucifer and Lightburne, look lowly you be attending!
The blessing of my benignity I give to my first operation.
For craft nor for cunning cast never comprehending,
Exalt you not to excellency in no high exaltation.

Above great God I will me guide,
And set myself here as is my right:
I am peerless and a Prince of Pride,
For God himself shines not so bright.

And I am next of same degree,
Replete by all experience;
Methink if I might sit by thee,
All heaven should do me reverence.

Alas! Why make you this great offense?
Both Lucifer and Lightburne, to you I say:
You have begun a perilous play.
You shall well know the consequence;
This dance will turn to your dismay.

I charge you all, do me reverence.
That am replete with heavenly grace.
Though God come here, I will not hence.
But sit right here before his face.

I made thee Angel and Lucifer,
And here thou would be Lord over all!
Therefore I charge this order clear.
Fast from this place look that ye fall!

The Stable Marriage Problem

(Originally posted at http://joelnoche.multiply.com/journal/item/29/The-Stable-Marriage-Problem on December 4, 2010 4:33 AM)

I was looking for some good stuff at mathoverflow.net and I came across a question about the stable marriage problem.  It seems to have been first studied by Gale and Shapley (1962) (who presented it as a special case of the college admissions problem). They describe it this way:

A certain community consists of n men and n women.  Each person ranks those of the opposite sex in accordance with his or her preferences for a marriage partner.  We seek a satisfactory way of marrying off all members of the community. […] we call a set of marriages unstable […] if under it there are a man and a woman who are not married to each other but prefer each other to their actual mates.

Vate (1989) showed that the stable marriage problem can be modeled using a set of linear equations and inequalities and can be solved using linear programming.


(Originally posted at http://joelnoche.multiply.com/journal/item/28/Limericks on November 21, 2010 9:49 PM)

There are a lot of good limericks out there, but the following three are my favorites.

The first one is from John Barrow’s Impossibility:  The Limits of Science and the Science of Limits (Oxford University Press, 1998, p. 6):

There was a young man of Milan
Whose rhymes they never would scan;
When asked why it was,
He said, ‘It’s because
I always try to cram as many words into the last line as ever I possibly can.’

The next one is from Douglas Hofstadter’s Godel, Escher, Bach:  An Eternal Golden Braid (Vintage Books, 1979, p. 483):

A turner of phrases quite pleasin’,
Had a penchant for trick’ry and teasin’.
In his songs, the last line
Might seem sans design;
What I mean is, without why or wherefore.

This last one is from Douglas Hofstadter’s Metamagical Themas column in Scientific American (December 1982, p. 19) which he attributes to W. S. Gilbert:

There was an old man of St. Bees,
Who was stung in the arm by a wasp.
When asked, “Does it hurt?”
He replied, “No, it doesn’t—
I’m so glad it wasn’t a hornet.”

Original and Soothing Ideas

(Originally posted at http://joelnoche.multiply.com/journal/item/27/Original-and-Soothing-Ideas on November 20, 2010 6:46 AM)

One of my most favorite quotes is from O. Henry’s Heart of the West (Chapter IV, The Handbook of Hymen).  (I got this from pages 39 to 40 of the 2006 BiblioBazaar edition.)

“Well, ‘m,” says I, “it may be that Idaho’s invitation was a kind of poetry, and meant no harm.  May be it belonged to the class of rhymes they call figurative.  They offend law and order, but they get sent through the mails on the grounds that they mean something that they don’t say.  I’d be glad on Idaho’s account if you’d overlook it,” says I, “and let us extricate our minds from the low regions of poetry to the higher planes of fact and fancy.  On a beautiful afternoon like this, Mrs. Sampson,” I goes on, “we should let our thoughts dwell accordingly.  Though it is warm here, we should remember that at the equator the line of perpetual frost is at an altitude of fifteen thousand feet.  Between the latitudes of forty degrees and forty-nine degrees it is from four thousand to nine thousand feet.”

“Oh, Mr. Pratt,” says Mrs. Sampson, “it’s such a comfort to hear you say them beautiful facts after getting such a jar from that minx of a Ruby’s poetry!”

“Let us sit on this log at the roadside,” says I, “and forget the inhumanity and ribaldry of the poets.  It is in the glorious columns of ascertained facts and legalised measures that beauty is to be found.  In this very log we sit upon, Mrs. Sampson,” says I, “is statistics more wonderful than any poem.  The rings show it was sixty years old.  At the depth of two thousand feet it would become coal in three thousand years.  The deepest coal mine in the world is at Killingworth, near Newcastle.  A box four feet long, three feet wide, and two feet eight inches deep will hold one ton of coal.  If an artery is cut, compress it above the wound.  A man’s leg contains thirty bones.  The Tower of London was burned in 1841.”

“Go on, Mr. Pratt,” says Mrs. Sampson.  “Them ideas is so original and soothing.  I think statistics are just as lovely as they can be.”