Vi Hart’s superb analysis of “Happy B’day”

At the beginning of her analysis of the lyrics and music of of the familiar song, Vi Hart refers to recent news by saying, “So you might have heard that you can sing ‘Happy Birthday’ without getting sued….” That’s just the beginning. Click here to watch the video and learn a lot.


The image is linked, but if you’d prefer, here is a direct link.

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Filed under Amusements, Arts, Birthdays, Free speech, News, Tunes

Vi Hart out on a limb

Vi Hart, who is probably my favorite mathematician not named Robert Berry, released another wonderful video on 15 September 2015. Vi Hart muses about using a tree diagram to represent digits recursively in infinite progression (regression?). As usual, it’s smart, informative, amusing, and highly recommended. Snag a view from the Web page, Infinite Binary Trees, or from the YouTube page.

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XKCD survey Complete it yourself. Pass it along to others.

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Staying out of touch while traveling

When you are traveling, sitting in an airplane or walking through an airport, have you ever shivered when you think about all the places people put their yucky fingers? Thousands of people from lots of different places. People who are not perhaps as fastidious about washing their hands as I am? People touching lots of handrails, doorhandles, parts of the plane’s interior, etc.

Well the folks at TravelMath conducted a small study to assess the level of colony-forming units of bacteria on various surfaces in airports and airplanes. The results are shown in TravelMath’s infographic at the right.

My interpretation: Take wipes and hand sanitizer to address issues with

  • Tray tables,
  • Overhead vents, and
  • Seat buckles.

I’m already accustomed to grabbing a towel to flush the toilet in airplane lavatories. I use my elbow for the levers on urinals when they require flushing, and I simply avoid stalls in airport restrooms.

You might find full report at TravelMath worth reading. There’s a description of the study methods as well as a discussion of issues regarding boarding times’ effects on cleaning.

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Almost enough bacon?

bacon church robot

I have not knowingly eaten bacon in over 25 years, but I might be convinced to worship at the United Church of Bacon. Why? Well, the sensibility of the church’s teachings brought smiles to me at the same time as making sense. According to the church’s about page,

The United Church of Bacon holds to a list of 9 Bacon Commandments. We tried to make it 10, but ran out of space on the tablets and didn’t want to start over.

Our mission is:

  • We oppose supernatural claims. We are skeptics and atheists. In our religion, we doubt religion.
  • We fight discrimination. Atheists are not inferior and should not be hated and marginalized.
  • We raise money for charity
  • We perform legal weddings, always for free. How joyful!
  • We expose religious privileges as silly by claiming the same rights for Bacon.
  • We praise Bacon! If you don’t like pigs, praise Vegetarian Bacon or Turkey Bacon.

In the accompanying YouTube video, the church provides suggestions about the nearly miraculous powers of bacon. Prepare to be…well…be chuckling.

I’m adding UCB to the sidebar.

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Would this have happened if it had been a white woman?

Charnesia Corley was stopped in the Houston (TX, US) area for running a stop sign. Presuming these facts are accurate, fair enough. Let’s dig. There’s more to this story.

The officer alleges that he smelled marijuanna so he called back-up support. Ms. Corley is 21-year-old African-American. Female officers came and, despite Ms. Corley’s protests, they held her down and searched her vagina for drugs. According to multiple different reports it is way worse than I am describing.

So, I’m trying to imagine allowing gang a of cops holding me down and probing my privates. I’m an older white guy (note: WHITE.) They’re not likely to expect they’ll find a bag a drugs the size of a sandwich up any of my orifices. Would I—oryou—tolerate this?

To be sure, I don’t know what transpired between the officer and Ms. Coreley that night. Maybe one or the other of them said some nasty things that ignited a personal confrontation. (I hope police officers are prepared to defuse such situations, not to take things personally.) Would this have happened if Ms. Corley had done something differently? I don’t know.

Would something different have happened if the Police Office had behaved differently. I bet so. It smacks of confrontation. It’s his job not to escalate situations.

Let’s get over that! Hello. We are neighbors. We live in the same blocks, areas, precincts, city. Let’s work together.

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Black encounters with the justice system

So what happens if you’re Black and you have a police encounter and, lucky you, you don’t get killed? You just get stopped, detained, arrested….

Writing for Slate, Andrew Kahn and Chris Kirk explain “What It’s Like to Be Black in the Criminal Justice System.” They provide graphics illustrating statistical differences in how Black, White, and other non-Black AMERICANS (yes, I’m shouting) are treated in our American criminal justice system. It’ll only take a couple of minutes to read.

As Mr. Kahn and Mr. Kirk show, these days we don’t need John Griffin to expose how that old racism is lurking about in our society. We simply have to look at the data. Of course, some people will likely try to argue away the data and Mr. Griffin’s Black Like Me case study, but their arguments won’t actually hide contemporary racism, let alone mitigate it.

At the end of Mr. Kahn’s and Mr. Kirk’s article, if you have the strength, you can watch a video interview that Slate has been running during the last week of July and the first week of August 2015 (as I recall). It features a drive around Baltimore featuring an interview with Michael Wood, Jr., a former Baltimore (MD, US) police officer who has spoken out about problems with police training in urban environments. It’s about 12 minutes long, but it’s pretty informative. Mr. Wood explains why, he thinks, urban police officers are essentially trained to respond improperly to Black citizens.

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