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Monthly Archives: March 2009

Worio on TechCrunch!


A couple of days late, but I just wanted to brag that on Friday, Worio was featured on TechCrunch. We’re all very proud. I don’t have much to add, except to say if you’re curious about what Worio does (and how it does it), the article is probably the best explanation of our product available.

Watchmen link roundup


You know, for a movie I thought was pretty flawed, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and reading about Watchmen. If you ask me nice, maybe I’ll tell you more of my thoughts, but for now, here are some links I liked.

  • Patton Oswalt (who should just go ahead and crown himself the king of 30-something comic-book nerds) hasn’t seen Watchmen yet, but he thinks you should. He also thinks you should watch more TV.
  • The AV Club’s Tasha Robinson compares the book to the film, and comes away loving both. Though I do disagree with her take on the film’s ending, which I like more the more I think about it.
  • Roger Ebert makes Watchmen the focus of one of his patented brilliant, rambling essays, talking about the metaphysics of Dr Manhattan.
  • And finally, Saturday Morning Watchmen! It’s short, but awesome and funny and a little creepy! Kind of like me.

happy pi day!


Is it really Pi Day again already? Happy 3.1415926535897932384626433832795028841971. Happy 3.1415926535897932384626433832795028841971, everyone. I considered watching the movie Pi (which I love, even though it doesn’t have much to do with the number), but I couldn’t find my DVD. So instead, I watched Vanishing Point, which has fast cars and a naked hippie chick on a motorcycle.

Anyway, here is a proof of the irrationality of π. (Proof of the transcendence of is π left as an exercise for the reader. Hint: first prove e is transcendental, then use Euler’s formula!)

In other news, the last few years of grad school have led me to the conclusion that advanced math is essentially a black hole into which time and self-esteem are sucked, and from which nothing good ever escapes.

Assume π = a/b with positive integers a and b.

Now, for some natural number n define the functions f and F as follows. Strictly speaking, f and F should each have n as an index as they depend on n but this would render things unreadable; remember that n is always the same constant throughout this proof.

Let

  • f(x) = xn(abx)n/n!

and let

  • F(x) = f(x) + … + (-1)jf(2j)(x) + … + (-1)nf(2n)(x)

where f(2j) denotes the 2j-th derivative of f.

Then f and F have the following properties:

  1. f is a polynomial with coefficients that are integer, except for a factor of 1/n!

  2. f(x) = f(π-x)

  3. 0 <= f(x) <= πnan/n! for 0 <= x <= π

  4. For 0 <= j < n, the j-th derivative of f is zero at 0 and π.

  5. For n <= j, the j-th derivative of f is integer at 0 and π
    (inferred from (1.)).

  6. F(0) and F(π) are integer (inferred from (4.) and (5.)).

  7. F + F ” = f

  8. (F ‘·sin – F·cos)’ = f·sin   (inferred from (7.))

Hence, the integral over f·sin, taken from 0 to π, is integer.

For sufficiently large n, however, inequality (3.) tells us that this integral must be between 0 an 1. Hence, we could have chosen n such that the assumption is led ad absurdum.

Blatantly stolen from here.

new look = no more downtime?


Okay, I think I figured out why my site was going down, and it had to do with the theme I was using. So I’ve switched to this very pleasant, minimal theme, Barthelme. I’m not sure yet if I’ll try to restore the old theme, personalize this one, or try out yet another one. Anybody have any thoughts on that?

Watchmen (2009)


watchmenAll the cool nerds are weighing in on Watchmen, so I figure I might as well, too.

Up front, and as a big fan of the graphic novel, I’ll say I liked it quite a bit, but I didn’t love it. Director Zack Snyder clearly worships the source material and makes his movie as uncompromisingly faithful as any $120 million movie could ever be, but that doesn’t mean it’s a great flick. To be honest, I’ve never really bought into the ideas that (a) no work of art is complete until it’s been made into a movie; and (b) fidelity to the source material is a sensible criterion for success. It always seems to me that the supposition is that the film is somehow supposed to be taking the place of the original, but of course, it never works that way and it seems disrespectful both to the original work and the idea of film as its own artform. With Watchmen-the-comic, you can take your time with the many dense, expository pages, and take in the details, but use the same pages as a storyboard and put them up on the screen, and it seems congested.

Also, in spite of the fidelity to the plot, there are a few major changes. The one that bugged me most was more tonal than anything, and that’s the whole slow-mo, violence-is-cool Zack Snyder-thing. Anywhere the book could have had an action sequence became an action sequence. And anywhere there was an action scene, it became both physically implausible and gory. The comicbook Comedian doesn’t go face-first through a granite counter and come up fighting, and the comic Night Owl and Silk Spectre don’t enthusiastically snap necks and cut throats. It’s the same aesthetic that puts “Hallelujah” in a sex scene and “All Along the Watchtower” into a scene involving a watchtower. So that, I found jarring. At the same time, subplots that don’t move the main story forward were jettisoned, which speeds the action along, but gives the story even less room to breathe. Especially since the missing material is mostly about non-costumed characters. The world of the film seems to be entirely populated by superheroes and Richard Nixon, which robs the ending of a lot of its impact.

On the plus, side, though, the one completely new scene — the credit sequence showing scenes of alternate history — was pretty damn brilliant. It hints at what a looser, less reverent adaptation might have been like. And the one major change — the squid-less ending — may (blasphemy!) work better than the book’s version, which felt awkward pre-9/11 and naive post-9/11.

I’m actually looking forward to the supposed 4-hour DVD version, which would restore a lot of the missing material. It might be long, but you can spread it out over a couple of evenings, just like reading the book. I almost felt the movie was striving toward that, and I wonder if the DVD version might, in fact, be Snyder’s ultimate goal?