So there's apparently a new PFC running. It's a hairy integer programming problem, which I suspect is NP-hard in the number of suits. However, we have a fixed number of suits, so there's hope.
Not being strong on discretes, I cooked up a wacky technique based on Lagrange multipliers and the fact that
2 / π tan-1 ( x / Δ ) → sign(x) as Δ → 0+
and tried to pull out a solution that way. To my surprise, I arrived at a correct algorithm! The algorithm is: Try each permutation of cards into piles. Heh.
The tendency of crackpots to, if not believe other crackpots, at least bemusedly humor each other's theories (his reaction to a question about making homeopathic preparations of psychedelic drugs being a particularly nice example)
The tendency of "fringe" theorists to put credence in other people's fringe theories (Much of what McKenna said was clearly informed by Jaynes, with the obvious caveat that Jaynes was materialist and McKenna held dialogues with elves.)
That the theory of psilocybin mushrooms influencing human evolution is as good as a lot of what gets slung around the evolutionary psych journals.
The fact that you can fit a curve or a model to anything (actually, I'm not sure if this last insight was worth sitting through the tape about I-Ching fractal numerology--though I'm sure Jaynes, had been there to provide commentary, could have said some things about the voice that inspired the theory)
The inherent nonrationality of scientific advance (actually, I'm getting a double dose of this already, from Polya and Kline. McKenna tells a fun story about the angel who appeared to young Descartes, declaring that the conquest of nature was to be achieved through measurement and number. Not sure if this is apocryphal or not.)
That hallucinogens are fun (well, it's true.)
Reading about Python. Wow, it looks simple and well-designed. They seem to have snuck the good bits of Lisp into a language that's actually usable.
I also scored a season of Penn and Teller's "Bullshit!" The concept is good, but the execution is... flawed. It tends to stray away from debunkings and more towards shouting contrary abuse. Amusingly, the more politically charged an issue is, the less likely they are to get anyone credible to speak about it. For the segment on near-death experiences, they got a highly regarded neuroscientist, in his trademark gaudy Santa Fe vest. For the segment on climate change, they got a ... journalist ... and a ... policy analyst.
Got through thirty more pages of Hamming this weekend. He finally did a section on complex Fourier series, and showed that they are much easier to work with algebraically. Then he went right back to mucking about with sines and cosines. I'm beginning to think I got what I paid for with this book.
I need a better task chair. The guy over there, in the chair that creaks and groans loudly at every movement, needs a better chair too.
Putting the Zelda theme on your phone is cool, but letting it ring for the entire duration of the song is not.
Our heroic consultant was discussing practices with the firmware folks. It seemed to be getting rather heated. I didn't stick around, but I bet I can paraphrase the exchange:
"Description of basic software engineering practice that everyone uses."
"Outrage at suggestion of imperfection! Disbelief that any knowledge from outside the domain of electrical engineering is applicable to writing firmware!"
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