Author Archives: Wyrd Smythe

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts.

How Do You Love Books?

The internet has always been a place of raging controversy, from the profound to the trivial. I’m not the first to observe that people, at least in our culture, tend to divide fairly equally over many issues. Be it about important issues (like guns or abortion), or about the trivial (like computer games or actors), we rarely agree on anything.

It starts when someone says something and people react. Then more people react to the people reacting (and new people get on board with reacting to what the first person said, starting new waves of reaction). More and more people react to reactions, and the epidemic spreads.

This mind virus was about hurting books, so lots of people had opinions.

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Political Pendulum

For those who value character and honesty, politics has become increasingly depressing. To put it mildly. There never really was any hope the enthralled and craven Republican members of Congress would defy their cult leader. It’s a pity the Democrats didn’t play their hand better, but at least we got the asterisk in the history book.

And then we get kicked in the nuts by Iowa in what, make no mistake, was a stunning case of incompetence and stupidity. This was an unforced double (or triple) error I’ll rant about more when I learn more details.

One thing is clear: This is going to be a very strange — and no doubt very ugly — 2020 political season.

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Flying Fireworks

I don’t know if YouTube’s algorithm handed me the Intel drones video due to all the aviation videos I’ve been watching or due to the Kīlauea volcano videos done using drones (which led to other using-drone videos — it’s amazing how the drone thing mushroomed).

Point is, the drones video probably isn’t synchronous with my recent interest in aviation — more a direct consequence. But I’ve followed Tom Scott’s channel for years, so his entry into this Wednesday Wow post definitely is a case of synchronicity.

It’s also an airshow I’d really like to see!

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TV Endings

This past Sunday I watched and very much enjoyed the last ever episodes of The Good Place (CBS). I’ve avoided articles about it in my newsfeed, but a headline or two suggested some fans weren’t satisfied. (A rant for another time: Clickbait headlines and headlines with spoilers. So annoying.)

Maybe some fans just didn’t want the show to end, which I get, but I appreciate knowing when and how to make a graceful exit. I like the way the show’s creator, Michael Shur, effectively said, ‘This much and no more.’

As it turns out, it’s not the only show I watch that’s ending. Several of them are. (And there’s one or two I really wish would call it quits.)

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BB #66: Aspects vs Properties

This post, and several that follow, veer into fairly trivial territory. Which, I suppose, is relative. To some, all my posts may be trivial, whereas to me none of them are. At least not totally, although some are less con carne than others. As it turns out, this week I’m serving salads.

More accurately, cleaning out my closet or, even more accurately, collection of — not even half, but — lightly baked post ideas. I’m one who jots down thoughts in case they grow into something interesting. Some do, but others never grow much beyond the seed.

Case in point: the difference, if any, between aspects and properties.

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Searle vs Gödel

In this corner, philosopher John Searle (1932–), weighing in with what I like to call the Giant File Room (GFR). The essential idea is of a vast database capable of answering any question. The question it poses is whether we see this ability as “consciousness” behavior. (Searle’s implication is that we would not.)

In that corner, philosopher and mathematician Kurt Gödel (1906–1978), weighing in with his Incompleteness Theorems. The essential idea there is that no consistent (arithmetic) system can prove all possible truths about itself.

It’s possible that Gödel has a knockout punch for Searle…

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Plane Reality

One bit of blogging advice is to pick a single topic and focus on that. The idea is to attract and keep those interested in the topic. I tried that with my first blog, a baseball blog, and I have a separate blog for computer programming. (For the record, neither attracted anyone, so maybe it’s me. 😮 )

This blog does have a central topic — “Stuff That Really Interests Me” — but my tastes are pretty eclectic. Math theory, 3D modeling, and basic physics fascinate me, but so does baseball, beer, and Hawaiian volcanoes. (Not to mention the Mandelbrot and science fiction, both very dear to my heart.)

Right now I’m into commercial aviation.

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Washer/Dryer Woes

Appearing soon at my place!

Monday is laundry day — a rare bit of regularity in my retired life. Faithful readers (all three of you) will recall I had a bit of electrical excitement last fall. (That’s been fine ever since, and I’m happy to have the new smoke detectors. I had no idea they are only good for about ten years. Their tiny radioactive source wears out eventually.)

I’ve known for months I needed a new clothes washer and a new clothes dryer. For one thing, they came with the place, so they’re at least 16 years old. More to the point, the dryer was taking two hours to get clothes completely dry, and the agitator in the washing machine was broken — it only worked with extremely light loads.

Yesterday, it died a definite death.

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The Eight Queens

One solution to the puzzle.

I’ve written a lot lately about the physical versus the virtual. I’ve also written about algorithms and the role they play. In this post, I revisit both by exploring what is, for me, an old friend: The Eight Queens Puzzle. The goal is to place eight chess queens on a chessboard such that none can take another in a single move.

The puzzle is simple enough, yet just challenging enough, that it’s a good problem for first-year student programmers to solve. That’s where I met it, and it’s been a kind of “Hello, World!” algorithm for me ever since.

I thought it might be a fun way to explore a simple virtual reality.

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Mandelbrot Reality

Math version 1.0

This image here of the Mandelbrot fractal might look like one of the uglier renderings you’ve seen, but it’s a thing of beauty to me. That’s because some code I wrote created it. Which, in itself, isn’t a deal (let alone a big one), but how that code works kind of is (at least for me).

The short version: the code implements special virtual math for calculating the Mandelbrot. That the image looks anything at all like it should shows the code works.

Yet according to that image, something wasn’t quite right.

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