The origin of algorithm

The word “algorithm” comes up a lot these days.  We’ve spoken before about the origin of this word, in the name of Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi, author of The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing.

written around 820 CE in the city of Baghdad.

The man from Khwarizm.

source: Wiki user Fulvio Spada

The Khwarazam region today doesn’t look too great.

I’m talking about live the life.

Jonathan Gold talking to Ann Friedman:

JG: [Laughs.] There’s a taqueria in Santa Barbara I like that… most of what they serve revolves around a stewed cow’s head. You can order it by name or you can point to the part of the cow’s head that you’d like your taco to be made of. It’s pretty bland, but then you put salsa, cilantro, and onion and stuff on it, and it’s pretty good. There’s a couple of places in East L.A. that do that, but there you have to order it by name.

AF: Like, it wouldn’t be on the menu?

JG: It would be on the menu, but you wouldn’t be able to point at a whole cow’s head and say what you want.

AF: Ah, the visual.

JG: That’s one of the great things about L.A. You can decide that you want to eat essentially as if you live in Guadalajara, or you can decide you want to eat essentially as if you are in Chengdu. There are enough places around that you could probably manage it. I’m not just talking for a meal, I’m talking about live the life.

View at


Woke up and felt putting some pleasantness on the Internet could be a service.  Pic I took of Caleb and Hana’s alpacas.

Here is a Scottish fold from when I was researching how many famous Internet cats (Maru, Shrampton, Waffles, Taylor Swift’s cats) all have the same common ancestor in Scotland, 1961.

Here’s a comparison of the size of Netherlands to the size of LA, probably from OverlapMap or MapFrappe.  I’m not sure if the Netherlands is bigger or smaller than I expected.


via Curbed.  Impressed is such a great word.  “It made an impression.”

Is E. M. Forster “wrong”? (or, maybe, are our meanings different than his?)

Let us define a plot. We have defined a story as a narrative of events arranged in their time-sequence. A plot is also a narrative of events, the emphasis falling on causality. “The king died and then the queen died” is a story. “The king died, and then the queen died of grief” is a plot.

So says Forster in Aspects of The Novel.

But this is the exact opposite way I feel most professional TV writers talk about this.  Shorthanded, “plot” means the events and “story” is the emotional journeys of the characters.

Over here commenter Kenny Chaffin, a writer himself, puts it succinctly:

I’m not sure I’d say Forster was wrong, but these words seem to have an inverted meaning in 2018 Hollywood.  When you have plot and no story, the audience will be bored.

In The New York Times, there is a casual distance between story and truth

writer of this article says a number of wrong things, including confusing the 1994 Northridge earthquake for the 1992 Landers earthquake.  Easy to get a fact wrong, I do it every day, but it’s pretty funny to pair it with a cliché about how people in the desert are always making up stuff.

Weak, weak, weak

The Trump era will end when a Democrat can get in Trump’s face and confidently say this.  American politics is not structured for this kinda face to face thing so maybe it won’t be until 2020.

Jump to 3:42 in this director’s cut to see the almost sexual excitement that explodes when Blair drops the word “weak”:

Sherrod Brown is the Dem who physically resembles Blair here the most, imo.

Once a confident Democrat is calling Trump weak to his face, the fight will enter the pattern laid out by Randall Collins:

How does violence sometimes succeed in doing damage? The key is asymmetrical  confrontation tension. One side will win if they can get their victim in the zone of high arousal and high incompetence, while keeping their own arousal down to a zone of greater bodily control.

Trump will enter a state of high arousal and high incompetence.  Collins continues:

Violence is not so much physical as emotional struggle; whoever achieves emotional domination, can then impose physical domination. That is why most real fights look very nasty; one sides beats up on an opponent at the time they are incapable of resisting.

Unfortch a US president in a state of high arousal and high incompetence has a non-zero chance of ending human life on Earth, so that also must be weighed.