Random Thoughts

Architectural Folly And Trumpery

In 1984 Prince Charles provoked controversy when he called a proposed extension to London's National Gallery a "monstrous carbuncle".

What is good and what is bad about architecture?  Science and engineering can tell us how strong a building is, but not how beautiful or ugly.  Psychology might help, but should we have regard to science when we design a building ?

...  there is one prize that the profession does its best to avoid winning. The Carbuncle Cup, for the ugliest building of the year, was launched by Building Design magazine in 2006, "for crimes against architecture".
My readers may wonder what I have been doing.   The answer is I have been working on my thesis is the area of astrophysics.  With much help from my advisor Dr. Anuj P. Sarma I am finally finishing. 
Compassion in Adversity

It is not our petty squabbles that define what it is to be human: it is our compassion in the hour of adversity.  The Oklahoma tornado demonstrates this.

"There are empty spaces where there used to be living rooms, and bedrooms, and classrooms. In time we'll have to refill those spaces with love, support and community."
President Obama.

I wish to express my sympathy to all those affected by the tornado, and my admiration for all who are engaged in rescue and assistance.

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
Fred Astaire is, of course, beyond compare. As a dancer, he had already set the bar for everyone and then he set it a lot higher when he appeared in 1951's "Royal Wedding" at age 52. Echoing a Voodoo shaman, he animated what most of us regard as inanimate and poked a little fun at younger competitor Gene Kelly in the process when he danced with a hat rack the way only a genius can.(1) 

But he blew minds when he danced on the ceiling in that same movie, to the tune "You're All The World To Me", written by "Brigadoon" lyricist Alan Jay Lerner.

Like all great illusions, it relies on our grounding in science. Gravity works, people don't dance on the ceiling. Audiences raved over it.
Richard Feynman was born on 11 May 1918. Today would have been his 95th birthday. This isn’t a paean to a physicist – it could be, but I’m sure millions of words have been published on this – but a game for wordsmiths and numberphiles.

Within the highly restricted format of the Pilish Poem, the aim is to be both enlightening and eloquent; plus to have some fun playing around.You can follow my train of thoughts at my first article on this so, without repeating myself, I’ll jump right in with the basic rules of what constitutes a Feyman Point Pilish Poem.
Hopefully You Will Get Smarter


Despite the wide use of sentences beginning with a word ending in -ly  and despite the acceptance of such usage by people who know how language is used in the real world: despite these facts there are still some people who throw up their hands in horror at such "abuse" of language.  Having been taught no doubt by repeaters of that Latin-based snobbery which was once peddled as English grammar, such people insist that -ly words are adverbs and as such they must, must, must - on pain of death - modify a verb.  "Where is the verb?", they cry.  That is woo of the first water.


With the recent rescue of three young women in Cleveland, held for over a decade by a kidnapper, we are now subject to the useless speculations of the media.

Why the news media feels compelled to ask inane questions and foment greater misunderstandings isn't clear.
In light of some recent posts that have introduced an increasingly diverse set of viewpoint through music links, I thought it would be interesting to see what kind of music surfaces.  So, I don't have any specific criteria, except that whatever song you post it should be one that has somehow impacted your thinking, or been something you consider influential on yourself.

Perhaps it will introduce some new music to people, or help in conducting an informal study about what the general themes are that people post.

I'll begin with four that I have always felt were a significant influence [yeah ... today is a Rundgren kind of day].

Trouble Coming Every Day
Lyrics
Your Move

Your Move

May 02 2013 | 2 comment(s)

Last weekend I participated in a chess tournament in Mogliano. This year the event was not as strong a tournament as this used to be - only 24 players, two of them international masters.  Anyway there was room for fun, since the time control was of 90 minutes for the whole game, with 30 second increments per move. This fostered a livelier play with lots of blunders especially during the second half of the games: of course the quality of the games was low with so little time to think, and younger players were favoured with respect to older ones like myself.
Love: An Almost Scientific Investigation


What Is Love ?

If I could answer that long-standing question in precise scientific terms with error bars I would be sure to get a Nobel prize and lynched.