Friday, January 13, 2012

The UNO T-Shirt Offer

Back in November 2011, my wife and I spent Thanksgiving at her parent's house. While there, we played an old fashion game of UNO. I don't think I won the whole time.

Although the cards appeared to be in mint condition, I couldn't help but notice that they were older than me!

Check out that expiration date: 2/28/82!

Ah, the good-old days...when you could buy a t-shirt for $4.95 and that INCLUDED "postage and handling".

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Compliance Suggestion for Google

A court in Paris, France has fined Google $65,000 because its search engine's autocomplete feature brings up the French word for "crook" when users type the name of insurance company Lyonnaise de Garantie, which brought a suit against Google.

(Source: Ars Technica - French court frowns on Google autocomplete, issues $65,000 fine)

First of all, that is not Google's choice. The autocomplete suggestions are based on what other people are searching. Thus, loads of French people already associate Lyonnaise de Garantie with "stealing their money".

Ok, so the French court is foolish, but Google still needs to comply with the ruling. It appears they did the obvious and now prevent their autocomplete from displaying any query containing both "Lyonnaise de Garantie" and "escroc" (the French word for crook). I have a better idea.

Google should
  • prevent their autocomplete from displaying any query containing "Lyonnaise de Garantie",
  • prevent their search engine from accepting any query containing "Lyonnaise de Garantie", and
  • remove search results (from allowed queries) that contain any reference to "Lyonnaise de Garantie".
That way, Lyonnaise de Garantie can't be offended and sue Google for connecting their name with any negative connotation this world has to offer.

Sounds like a good idea to me.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Closing Time?

Over the previous year, I went to two restaurants with the following posted hours, respectively:

Of course the object of interest is their closing time, or lack thereof.

I can just picture an Abbott and Costello bit going something like this:
Me: What time do you close.
Waitress: When we close.
Me: Yes, when do you close.
Waitress: When we close.
Me: Yes, yes. That is my question. When does this restaurant close?
Waitress: Our restaurant closes when it closes.
Me: Of course it closes when it closes. I am asking you at what time it closes.
Waitress: The closing time is when it closes.
Me: *sigh*

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Above the Law

Some people must think that they are above the law.

Here is the closeup:

(In reality, this is at the beginning of a walking bridge over a busy street and the city probably does not want signs to distract drivers. However, the plan reading is so much funnier.)

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Trinity is Antitransitive

I grew up going to St. James United Methodist Church in Sioux City, Iowa. Every time I return home and attend church there, I rethink many of the thoughts that I have had in that building over the years.

One of those thoughts is that I have always liked one of the stained glass windows next to the pew in which my family regularly sits.

In particular, I have always liked the visual representation of the relationships in the trinity.

However, I have never known why I liked it...until now!
The Trinity is an antitransitive relation.
Now, to explain what that means.

A relation is the formal mathematical notion most closely related to the word I used before, "relationship". In the case of the Trinity relation, each pair of (distinct) words (i.e. God, Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit) is ascribed either "is" or "is not" (so the Trinity relation is a binary relation). (For each pair of identical words, the window does not state the relationship but it is implied that each word is related to itself, thus ascribed an "is" and making it a symmetric relation.)

To understand an antitransitive relation, it helps to know what a transitive relation is. A (binary) relation is transitive if
for all words x, y, and z, if x is related to y and y is related to z, then x is related to z.
The most commonly known transitive relation is the equivalence relation. As everyone knows, if x is equal to y and y is equal to z, then x is equal to z.

An antitransitive relation has the exact opposite conclusion about every triple of words. A (binary) relation is antitransitive if
for all words x, y, and z, if x is related to y and y is related to z, then x is NOT related to z.

Although somewhat counterintuitive, I believe it is the mathematical beauty of the Trinity that drew me to this window all those years ago.

(Or maybe it is because it also looks like a planar embedding of K4...nah.)