Jack Reacher

It started when I watched Jack Reacher (2012), starring Tom Cruise. It was pretty good, and it’s as much fun seeing Robert Duvall in something as it is Christopher Walken. Plus, the bad guy is Werner Herzog! As it turns out, casting Cruise as Reacher is… interesting, but I’ll come back to that.

The movie is an adaptation of the 2005 Lee Child novel, One Shot, the ninth book in his Jack Reacher series. I enjoyed the movie enough that I thought I’d check out the book — my library had it (as well as the others in the series).

I’ve been binging on them ever since. To the point I’ve now read 16 of the 24 Lee Child Jack Reacher novels.

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FTR: Free Will

At one point I had the idea that I was going write a bunch of For The Record posts — position papers that attempt to be final words on a topic (at least until new considerations came into play). Other one about guns (back in 2015), I never really followed through.

In a sense, all posts, are final words (until further consideration), so all posts can be seen as FTR. The question is whether it makes any sense to mark an expressed opinion as more official or duly considered rather than off the cuff or casual. That was my thought, anyway.

So, seven years later, FTR take two: Free Will

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Sci-Fi Saturday 5/14/22

There have been good science fiction movies and TV shows going at least back to Metropolis. Of course, there is always Sturgeon’s Law, so we’ve also had ten times as many that were bad in one way or another. A few were memorably awful; a few are remembered as classics.

When it comes to fantastical material, I’m convinced books are best. Animation is a distant second, and live action can often be a mistake, depending on the material. Too much realism in visualizing the fantastic collapses the wavefunction of our imagination.

But our imagination is the best part, and it needs exercise!

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Friday Notes (May 13, 2022)

Not that anyone should care, but it’s Friday the 13th today! More to the point, it’s Friday, and I’ve been remiss about Friday Notes this year. The one last January is the only one I’ve posted so far. Big part of that is having, at long last, reduced my note pile enough that I don’t feel so (word) pressed.

Some of it is the ongoing problem of ennui. The eleven-year blog anniversary is approaching, and that tends to ignite old questions about why I bother to do this. By now I’ve left some sort of small scrawl on the internet wall and explored many of the topics that drove me to blogging.

On the other hand, the pile isn’t by any means gone, so let’s get to it…

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BB #81: Animal Gods

I’ve lived with a Beagle, a Keeshond, a Belgian Shepard, a Great Dane, and a Black Labrador. I’ve dog-sat a German Shepard, two Black Labs, and the delightful Bentley, an American Bully.

I’m not bragging or claiming expertise (many have much more and far broader experience living with dogs). Just saying I’ve spent some solid hours with dogs pondering what the world looks like to them, how they perceive things.

It’s often struck me that, while humans may imagine and believe in gods (or not), animals live in a world where apparent gods walk among them. Dogs, and some other animals, live with their god(s) — depend on them and are subject to their every whim.

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Our Robot Friends

We live in an era of unprecedented change. My grandparents’ generation saw the rise of the automobile. My parents’ generation saw the rise of space travel. My generation saw the rise of the digital world and social technology. The current generation is seeing the rise of the robots.

A bit over two years ago I posted An Uprising of Robots. (We haven’t picked a collective noun for robots, but my submissions are an uprising of and a clank of.) That post featured Atlas, the Boston Dynamics humanoid robot, and Spot, the four-legged “dog” robot (seen in the image here).

Since I posted that, Spot has become a hit on YouTube and has entered the work force, so here’s a Wednesday Wow starring Spot, the $75,000 robot dog.

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TV Tuesday 5/10/22

One of many benefits gained when I cut the cable and subscribed to Netflix and Hulu was access to a very large catalog of Japanese anime. Until then I was largely at the mercy of the Cartoon Network cable channel and rented videos. While I’ve so far barely scratched the surface of the Netflix catalog, I have been steadily working my way through Hulu’s.

Recently I’ve enjoyed two there: Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? and xxxHolic. The former is a fun medieval fantasy adventure series (with expected twists and unexpected depth). Saying the latter is about a beautiful hard-drinking witch who grants wishes is accurate but misses the point.

It’s a lot more interesting than that.

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Euler Spirals and Pi Paths

I posted a while back about the wonders of Fourier Curves, and I’ve posted many times about Euler’s Formula and other graphical wonders of the complex plane. Recently, a Numberphile video introduced me to another graphical wonder: Euler Spirals. They’re one of those very simple ideas that results in almost infinite variety (because of chaos).

As it turned out, the video (videos, actually) led to a number of fun diversions that have kept me occupied recently. (Numberphile has inspired more than a few projects over the years. Cool ideas I just had to try for myself.)

This all has to do with virtual turtles.

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Back to Plato’s Line

Last February I posted about how my friend Tina, who writes the Diotima’s Ladder blog, asked for some help with a set of diagrams for her novel. The intent was to illustrate an aspect of Plato’s Divided Line — an analogy about knowledge from his worldwide hit, the Republic. Specifically, to demonstrate that the middle two (of four) segments always have equal lengths.

The diagrams I ended up with outlined a process that works, but I was never entirely happy with the last steps. They depended on using a compass to repeat a length as well as on two points lining up — concrete requirements that depend on drawing accuracy.

Last week I had a lightbulb moment and realized I didn’t need them. Lurking right in front of my eyes is a solid proof that’s simple, clear, and fully abstract.

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Objective Collapse

In the last four posts (Quantum Measurement, Wavefunction Collapse, Quantum Decoherence, and Measurement Specifics), I’ve explored the conundrum of measurement in quantum mechanics. As always, you should read those before you read this.

Those posts covered a lot of ground, so here I want to summarize and wrap things up. The bottom line is that we use objects with classical properties to observe objects with quantum properties. Our (classical) detectors are like mousetraps with hair-triggers, using stored energy to amplify a quantum interaction to classical levels.

Also, I never got around to objective collapse. Or spin experiments.

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