nerd humour

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Shitty Airlines

It's the holiday season. And that means I get to be reminded of how logical air travel is. One of the most annoying things is that I can't take everything as carry-on luggage. Don't get me wrong, I hardly bring anything. But two things I usually bring are a razor and shaving cream which security guards tend to take away. Because of that, the idea of checking in online saves no time at all. Here's what the screen should really say:

A chart showing that you must be a female or a male who doesn't shave in order for the online checkin process to serve a useful purpose.

Nevertheless, I got to the airport on time and was able to stay relatively occupied on the plane.


Happy leap-day to anyone reading this! How often does a leap-year occur? It is not once every 4 years anymore. It is more like 97 times every 400 years! Adding a day once every 4 years would be correct if the year was 365.25 days long. This is what the Julian calendar did. But then it was discovered that a year is more like 365.2425 days which led to the Gregorian calendar. I like the story of how this was implemented. Centuries of not accounting for this difference caused a 10 day discrepancy between the night sky of 4 October 1582 and the night sky of 4 October in the year that the Julian calendar started. Therefore Pope Gregory XII pronounced that the next day would be 15 October 1582 making the month have 21 days.

The system now is to add an extra day to years that are divisible by 400 and to years that are divisible by 4 but not 100. This means that while the year 2000 was a leap-year, the year 2100 will not be. My prediction is that at least a few printed calendars will be incorrect in the year 2100.

Anyway, what I actually want to talk about is a series of Pronunciation Manual videos on YouTube. The channel parodies instructional language videos by telling you the worst possible way to pronounce something. The meme started in April 2011, I think as a way to take advantage of video monetization. It is stupid simple to make a PronunciationManual video. Each one is 8 seconds long and just consists of a printed word with a voice over.

Reverse Engineering Star Wars Music

First of all, happy holidays to anyone reading this! You didn't think I was going to let Christmas / Grav-mass go by without a post did you? Well I absolutely would have if I didn't have this post ready in time. Spreading the spirit of the season can be done in a small number of words - and all of the posts I write have to be long. No exceptions!

Anyway, like many people who have a piano at home, I sometimes hear a great piece of orchestral music in a movie and try to play an approximation to it on the piano. Usually what I try to play is full of mistakes and I lose interest after half an hour. However, my approximations to two Star Wars songs have evolved into fairly well defined pieces that I can play from start to finish. Want to guess which ones?

The first measure of music that plays for a set of Star Wars end credits.

Both pieces are ending themes so they have to merge into this music that plays during the black and blue credits of every Star Wars movie. That should narrow it down significantly. Anyway, in the rest of this post you can find audio files and sheet music. Learning to play this was satisfying enough. But then I realized that this was a perfect opportunity to learn the music TeX packages so it's a win-win situation.

Yo Dawg, I Heard You Like Guns...

Awhile ago, my friend showed me Pimp My Gun. This site has a Flash driven app that lets you assemble the weapon of your dreams. It is basically a drawing program that has a library of hundreds of firearm components. There is so much room for customization. I tried it out and came up with the following guns:

So we sent a gun salesman to your mother's house, so you can nag mum to buy a magnum!

Jungle camouflaged AUG

Stupid Math Questions

I never turn down a chance to be a smart-ass. One of the best things higher mathematics can teach you is how to go back and correct almost everyone who claimed to be teaching you math. It's almost impossible to a cover a decent amount of material in a math course without sacrificing correctness. This is true in grade school when you learn tons of stuff that isn't real math and it is true in grad school when writing one proof that is perfectly rigorous takes two weeks. Here are some common questions that need to be rephrased before they make any sense. The links point to where I found the questions but they could've come from anywhere. If they look like they were taken straight out of your high school calculus textbook, they probably were.


Original version of question 1


Better version of question 1

My e-Raven Poem

About ten years ago, when I first developed an obsession with browsing the web and an obsession with the number $ \frac{1}{2} \tau $ (some of you know it as $ \pi $) I discovered Near A Raven and gasped at the ingenuity of it. This type of poem is called a piem and many of them have been made. The idea is simple - set up the poem so that the number of letters in each word is equal to the corresponding digit of the decimal expansion of Pi. The first word should have 3 letters, the second should have 1, the third should have 4 and so on. Put it all together and you have 3.14159265358979...

When I learned about Euler's number in high school, my mind was made up. I simply had to make a similar poem for $ e $. Like Near A Raven this has the advantage of being a faithful retelling of The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe with the same rhyme scheme. Even though I had to use some archaic words to make the poem rhyme, I am happy that I was able to consistently put the word "nevermore" at the end of each stanza. Hope you like it!

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