Logicomix

 

Logicomix

Image via Wikipedia

 

 

Logicomix is a simply brilliant book written by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos Papadimitriou and coloured/designed by Alecos Papadatos and Annie Di Donna. It is about Bertrand Russell‘s quest for the Foundations of Mathematics and the (tenuous and rather loosely interpreted) connections between the study of logic and madness. It also spends a lot of time on Russell’s life. It is not only self-referential, it has layered self-reference: we see the authors talking about the story, in their book, which features Russell giving a lecture where he recounts most of the major scenes in the book. The narrative structure even includes some rather edifying “time-outs” in between where the authors write pages of themselves arguing over the story and how they are presenting it, and also time-outs on the “middle level” where Russell pauses his story to explain some necessary background information or is interrupted by a question. (1) The authors do take a few liberties with the text, as they explain at the end, making up fictional encounters where the characters only corresponded or dramatizing certain elements of their personal lives.

The book is beautifully drawn -more should be said here, but I’m just not the right person to say it- and it’s very impressive how well they give a general idea of all the mathematical discussions going on at that time without actually using any maths, although for my part I would have gladly dealt with a few more symbols and numbers in exchange for some more detail on the substance of their debate. This is, however, a perfectly reasonable level of detail for a popular book and the fact that it deals with logic rather than another aspect of mathematics does mean that it manages to make the central arguments sufficiently clear.  When the package first arrived from flipkart I was pleasantly surprised at the heft of it, because I’m not used to graphic novels this size, but it certainly doesn’t go on any longer than it has to, and they manage to end a story that has such an inconclusive-at-best ending in a very pleasantly self-aware way, by picturing and commenting on the ancient Greek tragedy of Oresteia. (It makes sense in context.) Overall, definitely recommended.

PS: This was originally supposed to be part of a much longer post in which I also mixed in where Wittgenstein picked up from Russell, reviewed A.C. Grayling‘s “A Very Short Introduction to Wittgenstein” and explained very, very briefly all the little things I jotted down while reading that book, most of which Grayling also uses at the end when he criticises Wittgenstein’s theories. Then I realized that a) the dude wrote a lot of stuff and a lot of it is, quite frankly, meaningless, b) Logicomix is actually not very related to the sort of thing Wittgenstein was primarily concerned with, even though it’s about the Foundations of Mathematics and Wittgenstein ostensibly started off concerned about the Foundations of Mathematics(2) and c) at the end of the book even Grayling says that “the dude wrote a lot of stuff and most of it is, quite frankly, meaningless”.

OK, actually he points out a few fairly fundamental contradictions in Wittgenstein’s work, which for all his assertions and vagueness does contain some sort of positive theses, and says Wittgenstein is important in the sense that a small minority of dedicated “Wittgensteinians” wrote copious amounts of material where they praised Wittgenstein in very enthusiastic terms, but not important in the “perhaps more accurate” sense that his work meaningfully changed the future direction of philosophy, even though it’s too early to predict that at this point. Wittgenstein’s work (both early and late) is certainly quite exciting, in many ways, and it’s easy to see why his later work might be very appealing to some people, especially for rationally inclined people who feel the need to be at ease with their religious impulses. It certainly seemed appealing to me while I was reading it the first time around. I’m also very happy that I didn’t attempt to read Wittgenstein in the original, judging by the quotes in this book, although of course if Grayling had any insidious motives it could easily have been cherry-picking. And now that I’ve said all this, I don’t believe I’ll be doing a separate post either, if only because d) it would be real hubris to try to critique a philosopher’s ideas in just one blog post when the very notion of reading his unabridged work fills you with dread.

 

Footnotes: (Which wordpress should really provide a better way of using)

  1. Christos argues with Apostolos on 2 major points, namely the tenuousness of that connection and the extent to which the main quest was a failure and, therefore, the extent to which this book is a tragedy:
    Apostolos: “Russell himself called it a failure, and they never really got to the Foundations of Mathematics.”
    Christos: “But it provided a framework, and it led to the development of computers!”
    And it certainly seems likely that computer science would not have developed in the way that it did without all this as background, so yay! I guess?
  2. In fact, in the book Wittgenstein really only figures as yet another Giant of Logic who was “eccentric”/maybe the teeniest bit off his rocker, but as I already mentioned they do stretch this link between logic and madness quite a bit.

Who’s Screwing Who in Bleach (And Who Wants To)

Bleach is the anime series that I’ve been watching obsessively- I started on the 24th of May, right after I got back, and (although I’ve skipped between 30 and 40 episodes) I am now at episode 253. Considering that these are 20 minute episodes, that means I’ve been watching for roughly 5 hours a day. Because sometimes that’s just what you do.

I get the feeling that there’s a lot of romantic/sexual tension in this storyline, but at the same time, literally none of the characters have formal relationships with one another. There are, however, several implied relationships. I can’t find a place online where these are described on one page, and I’m sufficiently bored that I care about filling that void.

This list is clearly not exhaustive. Quite a few of these are not very obvious, and some people will just about ship anyone.

Anyway! All that was by way of saying that most of you probably don’t want to read this if you don’t already like (or watch despite not liking) Bleach, which I’m willing to bet is a very small percentage of my current readership. On to the list!

1) Yoruichi Shihōin

Is screwing: Urahara Kisuke.

Now, this is never even mentioned in the series so far, but it’s pretty damn likely, isn’t it? Not just screwing, but probably in some sort of long-standing arrangement with. I’m predicating this on my Non-exclusivity of Other-Gender Friends theory, which essentially states that if your bestest friend in the whole wide world is a girl (and you’re not), sooner or later you’re going to have to either add a romantic dimension to your relationship or pull back, at least a little bit. This does not, I hasten to add, mean that you can’t have really close friends of the opposite gender. It just means that if your closest friend by a wide margin is someone who you might conceivably be sexually attracted to, then, well, you will be. This is also really only applicable considering traditional concepts of “gender” and sexual attractiveness, but I think that’s wide enough for now.

2) Urahara Kisuke

See above.

3) Ichigo Kurosaki

Wants to screw: er, Rukia Kuchiki, I guess? But the theory doesn’t actually call for this, considering that he has a lot of other female friends, who are probably closer, too. Inoue Orihime would be the other candidate, of course. You do get a certain sense that there’s some sort of tension within him, but nothing even remotely definite.
Is Desired By: Inoue Orihime.

4) Inoue Orihime

Wants to Screw: Ichigo Kurosaki, of course, and this is made about as clear as it could be, given the constraints of their relationship. (Citation: the episode where Ulquiorra allows her to bid farewell to one person.)
Is Desired By: Every red-blooded male in her class and the sole aggressive lesbian. (Aggressive but harmless, which I thought was a somewhat new stereotype.)

See What I Mean?

5) Rukia Kuchiki

Wants to Screw: Very unclear. Either Renji Abarai or Ichigo.
Is Desired By: Defintely Renji, maybe Ichigo.

6) Renji Abarai

Wants To Screw: Rukia Kuchiki, who he finally almost asks out before all the fighting takes over.
Is Desired By: I want to be kind here and say maybe Rukia?

7) Uryu Ishida

Wants to Screw: I’d say Yoshino Soma, but I have no idea if that’s supposed to be sexual or if she’s some sort of mother figure, which is hinted at rather strongly. It’s quite clearly one of those two. I really hope it isn’t both.
Is Desired By: Several of the girls in his class, apparently.

Sui-Feng (Soi-Fon)

Wants to screw: Shihouin Yoruichi. Again not implied strongly in the text but definitely there in some of the omake bits…  and well, it’s always possible that I just have a dirty mind.

9) Momo Hinamori

Wants to screw/was screwing: Captain Sosuke Aizen. Maybe?

Penny Arcade! – I Hope You Like Text

Don’t say another goddamn word. Up until now, I’ve been polite. If you say anything else- word one– I will kill myself. And when my tainted spirit finds its destination, I will topple the master of that dark place. From my black throne, I will lash together a machine of bone and blood, and fuelled by my hatred for you this fear engine will bore a hole between this world and that one.

When it begins, you will hear the sound of children screaming- as though from a great distance. A smoking orb of nothing will grow above your bed, and from it will emerge a thousand starving crows. As I slip through the widening maw in my new form, you will catch only a glimpse of my radiance before you are incinerated. Then, as tears of bubbling pitch stream down my face, my dark work will begin.

I will open one of my six mouths, and I will sing the Song that ends the Earth.

For people who are as good with words as Gabe and Tycho, it’s amazing how far they have managed to dig themselves into a hole with this dickwolves thing. (A lot less amazing is how almost masturbatorily self-indulgent comments on Shakesville et al seem to be, but then I’ve rarely seen different from there.) It was a funny strip! It was a funny response strip, too, although I can see how that one comes off as insulting. Where they really screwed up, of course, is the t-shirt and the subsequent doubling down, where they unleashed (implicitly, I suppose, but until recently it sounded like they were encouraging it) all the worst that the internet has to offer against the shrill but perhaps less outrageous feminist blogosphere. At least they let off in the end- Tycho’s post certainly strikes an apologetic note.

PS: I find myself quite unable to talk about rape culture without talking about the rather troubling popularity of “rape” as a metaphor for “dominate” in “insti lingo” here in IIT Madras, and that’s going to be a rather long post, so I’ll just leave that for now, except to say that some responses some people here have to the actual occurence of rape serves as a disgusting testimony to the existence of such a thing as “rape culture”.

A Greeting Card

I just wanted to see if any one would actually use something like this, so I took the 5 minutes to make it. Please tell me if you do :). Idea courtesy dinosaur comics.

Click through for the full image. I don’t think the teddy image is free, but I also don’t think they’re going to sue me for this. Just in case they do, here’s the link to the site where you can select from a whole bunch of teddy bears.

Quote of the Week: Continuances

“We are a boatful of monsters and miracles, hoping that, somehow, we can
survive a world in which all hands are against us. A world which, by
all evidence, will end extremely soon. Yet, I posit we are in a
universe which favors stories. A universe in which no story can ever
truly end; in which there can be only continuances. If we are in such a
universe, as I hope, then we may have a chance.”

–Reed Richards, 1602

1602 was actually surprisingly decent, overall, for what is essentially just another Marvel Mashup. Induces a wave of expected future nostalgia on seeing the inevitable “High School Musical at the Xavier Institute!” special editions. Oh God, what if someone at Disney sees this post and thinks that’s a good idea!!?

Quote via Alyssa Rosenberg.

PS: I feel lonely. If you’re reading this, say hi, won’t you?

Dangerous Dungeons and Dragons

So, I was reading these, which are truly, amazingly fantastic, and I got really excited about Dungeons and Dragons, and then I went and found I had a complete collection of the rulebooks for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2, and then I found that it’s really, really tedious. Which made me give it up.

And then I saw these, and I’m thinking, cool 😀 :

dd2

Hey, I sympathize. The D&D manual is a pain in the ass

Ok, I know Chick tracts are just “easy game” and everyone’s probably seen it already and I shouldn’t even link to one any more. But DUUUDE! Can you believe it? This guy was serious!

One of many such panels

One of many such panels

PS: OK, no more Iranian solidarity. I never intended it to be permanent anyway. This is better, right? Anyone out there wants to suggest ideas for a new blog header?

Quote of the Week: Apocalyporn

I don’t know if we’re so much inured to apocalypse as almost sexually obsessed by it. We could only love apocalypse more if it had 4 liters of silicone in each tit.

–Grant Morrison, on “Final Crisis”

Ok, ok, not the most general or enlightening statement you’ve heard all week. But surely, one of the most INTERESTING ones, wouldn’t you say?

Tentative Plans for December

The key word being tentative.

“Constructive” Stuff:

Where constructive is defined fairly loosely.

  1. Do my own version of NaNoWriMo, in December*. Wish I could have done it in November with everyone else, but endsems are a pain.
  2. “Prepare” for next semester. Yeah, really. All my courses depend to a very large extent on prior knowledge which I’m supposed to have gained sometime during the last 2 and a half years, but almost certainly haven’t.
  3. Find something to do for the summer. This deserves a bullet point, for reasons that shall be explained later.
  4. This may not really fit, but: get both computers working the way they’re supposed to. Which includes mailing the Dell service center guys and asking them if they can come to Kottayam instead of Chennai to fix the display for the laptop, fixing whatever the reason is for me not being able to play practically any games at all on the laptop, and getting a whole new keyboard,mouse and possibly speaker system for the desktop. All dependent on what my father’s willing to pay for, of course.

*I DO plan to do this, but it’s more of an exercise to see if I CAN still write any longish(and this will be longer by far than anything else I’ve tried) story, rather than actually trying to write The Novel. I have no intention of putting it up for review by anyone else, at least not under my own name, which means not on this blog. I haven’t really decided the plot -which is bad, because as of an hour back this is officially December- but this will almost certainly be SF/F (by which I mean, it’ll be far-future SF, but whether I make it sound scientifically plausible is a whole other question), very likely some sort of a cliche, and almost certainly bad.

Reading List:

Fiction:

Any recommendations? I have a whole bunch of pulpy stuff that I plan to read if there aren’t, but I was hoping for something solid which is still fun. And preferably easily available. Classic SF/Fantasy would be good, because there’s a chance that any reasonably famous book is somewhere within my 4 GB collection, or can be found on the net. Although, looking to expand, so try me anyway.  Meanwhile, will try and finish Snow and The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

Non-fiction:

  1. The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, by John Maynard Keynes. By all indications, something I should be reading at this time. Should be particularly helpful if Tyler does in fact go ahead with the Book Club. Also have Capitalism and Freedom to browse through, however. 🙂
  2. The Road to Reality, by Roger Penrose. I’ve had this for a VERY long time now, and still haven’t got past the first few chapters, partly because it felt a little too much like a textbook. More specifically, because I peeked ahead and read from in between and those chapters feel exactly like a textbook. But since I’m quite determinedly and shamefully jobless, I guess I’ll try harder.
  3. Guns,Germs and Steel, by Jared Diamond. Ditto. Although I didn’t really try very hard on this one.

Graphic Novels/Comics:

  1. The Preacher (only because it was there. I have no idea how good it’ll be.)
  2. Marvel 1602
  3. JLA Elseworlds
  4. Batman (specifically, re-read Arkham Asylum, Year One,The Dark Knight Returns, TDK Strikes Again, and the Killing Joke)
  5. The Dreaming*
  6. Fables*
  7. Lucifer*

*Found a great website through a hacked google search that has the entire collectionof all these, plus a lot more. Actual reading will depend on how much I can download. Thankfully, net at home is between 5 and 20 times faster than the connection here, depending on the time of day, so this SHOULD work.

Movies I Downloaded:

Not picked or ranked in any way, just a random assortment of movies that I’d like to see, or see again.

  1. Tortilla Heaven
  2. The Jesus of Montreal
  3. The Breakfast Club
  4. Burn After Reading
  5. Broken English
  6. A Cinderella Story(Yeah, I know. But I NEED something like it sometimes.)
  7. Trainspotting
  8. Fast Times at Ridgemont High
  9. Love Actually (Hey, it’s SWEET! I need something I can watch when I badly need to get the warm fuzzies. Summer of 2007 I went with “You’ve Got Mail.” Hopefully, this’ll work,too. )
  10. Return of The Jedi 😀
  11. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade 😀

Games I’m taking in the faint hope that they’ll work on the desktop back home:

  1. SPORE!!! (Oh, please,please,please work!)
  2. Caesar 4 (Only because I remember Caesar 3, besides being the very first game I ever bought for myself, as the only computer game my father ever liked playing, a long,long time ago… back when I was actually into playing games while others offered helpful comments from the sidelines.)
  3. The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind
  4. Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri: This, and the next 2, mostly because they actually work on my laptop.
  5. Monopoly -just the board game, nothing special, but good when you just want to waste time.
  6. N! Best flash game ever! Tough, and addictive. Mostly good when your fingers start to itch. Also has the advantage of being something to do when you want to listen to music, but not “just”.

Also have a bunch of TV shows/anime that I don’t really want to bother listing. And I’d like to go somewhere for the hols, even if that doesn’t seem very likely right now, especially alone. Also hope they’ll finally let me take the car out on my own. Wish me luck!

Verse of the Week:Madness

Something copied from a friend’s blog, although the contents are not likely to be similar.

On madness, from someone who knows it very well:

When the world is full of care
and every headline screams despair,
when all is rape,starvation,
war and life is vile;
Then there’s this certain thing I do
which I shall pass along to you
that’s always guaranteed to make you smile.
I go loo-oo-oony as a light bulb battered bug,
simply loo-oo-oony sometimes foam and chew the rug,
Mister,life is swell in a padded cell,
It’ll chase those blues away,
You can trade your gloom for a rubber room and injections twice a day.
Just go loo-oo-oony,
like an acid casualty or a moo-oo-nie
or a preacher on TV.
When the human race wears an anxious face,
when the bomb hangs over head,
When your kid turns blue it won’t worry  you,
you can smile and nod instead.
When you’re Loo-oo-oony, then you just don’t give a fig,
man’s so puu-uu-uny, and the universe so big!
If you hurt inside,get certified,
and if life should treat you bad,
don’t get ee-ee-even, get mad!

I’ll put up the origin, but it should be obvious enough. Anyone care to have a go? Try and get it without looking at the categories.