Photons & Fillies (Photon Series Book 3)

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This isn't the only baseball-related mistake I've made.

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I once took a whole season's statistics and wrote a program to calculate the average number of innings each pitcher pitched. Okay, no problem yet. But then I realized that the average was being depressed by short relievers; I really wanted the average only for starting pitchers. But how to distinguish starting pitchers from relievers? Simple: the statistics record the number of starts for each pitcher, and relievers never start games.

But then I got too clever.

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I decided to weight each pitcher's contribution to the average by his number of starts. Since relievers never start, this ignores relievers; it allows pitchers who do start a lot of games to influence the result more than those who only pitched a few times. I reworked the program to calculate the average number of innings pitched per start. The answer was 9. Not exactly, but very close. It was obviously 9. There was no other possible answer. There is exactly one start per game, and there are 9 innings per game, 1 and some pitcher pitches in every inning, so the number of innings pitched per start is 9.

Anyway, the real point of this article is to describe a more sophisticated mistake of the same general sort that I made a couple of weeks ago. I was tinkering around with a problem in pharmacology. Suppose Joe has some snakeoleum pills, and is supposed to take one capsule every day. He would like to increase the dosage to 1. On what schedule should he take the pills to get an effect as close as possible to the effect of 1.

Every so often, Joe takes a pill, and at these times d 0 , d 1 , etc. I wanted to compare this with what happens when Joe takes the pill on various other schedules. For some reason I decided it would be a good idea to add up the total amount of pill-minutes for a particular dosage schedule, by integrating f. That is, I was calculating!! Doing this for the case in which Joe takes a single pill at time 0 is simple; it's just!!

But then I wanted to calculate what happens when Joe takes a second pill, say at time M. The graph looks like this:. In retrospect, this is completely obvious. This is because of the way I modeled the pills. When the decay of f t is exponential, as it is here, that means that the rate at which the snakeoleum is metabolized is proportional to the amount: twice as much snakeoleum means that the decay is twice as fast. Put two pills in, and an hour later you'll find that you have twice as much left as if you had only put one pill in.

Since the two pills are acting independently, you can calculate their effect independently. Anyway, I think what I really want is to find!! But if there's one thing I think you should learn from a dumbass mistake like this, it's that it's time to step back and try to consider the larger picture for a while, so I've decided to do that before I go on.

Legal status of corpses in England As you might expect from someone who browses at random in the library stacks, I own several encyclopedias, which I also browse in from time to time. You never know what you are going to find when you do this.

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I got rid of one recently. It was a Grolier's. Obviously, it was out of date, but I was using it for general reference anyway, conscious of its shortcomings. But day I picked it up to read its article on Thurgood Marshall. It said that Marshall was an up-and-coming young lawyer, definitely someone to watch in the future. That was too much, and I gave it away. But anyway, my main point is to talk about the legal status of corpses. This contains the complete text of the famous Eleventh Edition, plus three fat supplementary volumes that were released in The Britannica folks had originally planned the Twelfth Edition for around , but so much big stuff happened between and that they had to do a new edition much earlier.

The Britannica is not as much fun as I hoped it would be.

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But there are still happy finds. By the common law of England a corpse is not the subject of property nor capable of holding property. It is not therefore larceny to steal a corpse, but any removal of the coffin or grave-cloths is otherwise, such remaining the property of the persons who buried the body. It is a misdemeanour to expose a naked corpse to public view. The complete article is available online. There were only two responses, but they were both very helpful, and solved the problem. Neil Kandalgaonkar was braver than I was:.

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However, the concept I decided to go with was suggested by David Eppstein, who provided this attractive interpretation:. To explain this, I need to explain my domain name, which I haven't done here before. For nine years I was an independent consultant, working under the name Plover Systems.

Why Plover? Many people assume that it is an abbreviation for "Perl lover"; this is not the case. The plover domain predates my involvement with Perl. Some people have also interpreted it as "piss lover", a veiled statement of a fetishistic attraction to urination. It is not. A plover is a small bird. Typically, they make their nests on the seashore. The Egyptian plover is the little bird that is reputed to snatch food scraps from between the teeth of the crocodile.

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The American golden plover migrates all the way from Alaska to South America, and sometimes across the ocean to Europe. Immediately prior to my becoming an independent consultant and setting up Plover Systems and the plover. I did not like this job very much. After I quit, I joked that my company had grown too big, so I downsized most of the management and employees, divested the magazine business, and cut the organization's mission back to core competences.

Time Warner, the subsidiary I spun off to publish the magazines, was very large. I named my new, lean, trim company "Plover" because the plover is small and agile. There is another reason for "Plover". For about thirty years, I have been a devoted fan of the old computer game Adventure. When time came to choose a domain name, I wanted to choose something with an Adventure connection.

Here the obvious choices are xyzzy , which was already taken, and plugh , which is ugly. Both of these are magic words which, uttered at the correct spot, will teleport the player to another location. The game has a third such magic word, which is "plover"; from the right place, it transports the player to the "Plover room": You're in a small chamber lit by an eerie green light.

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An extremely narrow tunnel exits to the west. A dark corridor leads NE. This room, with its green light and narrow tunnel, is depicted in David Eppstein's icon. The Plover room is so-called because it contains "an emerald the size of a plover's egg". A plover's egg is not very big, as eggs go, because the plover is not a very large bird, as birds go.

But an emerald the size of a plover's egg is enormous, as emeralds go. The description is a reference to an off-color joke that was current in the early 's when Adventure was written: a teenage girl, upon hearing that the human testicle is the size of a plover's egg, remarks "Oh, so that's how big a plover's egg is. For his contribution, M. Eppstein has won a free two-year subscription to The Universe of Discourse.

Neil Kandalgaonkar gets the runner-up prize of two free six-month subscriptions, to run concurrently.


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Thank you both! Baseball team nicknames, again Some addenda to my recent article about baseball team nicknames. My apologies for the error. Phil Varner reminded me that the Chicago Bulls are in fact a "local color" name; they are named in honor of the Chicago stockyards. This raises a larger point, brought up by Dave Vasilevsky: My classification of names into two categories conflates some issues. Some names are purely generic, like the Boston Red Sox, and can be transplanted anywhere.