May 2007


I spent about 3 hours in the last two days trying to figure out how to switch from TeXShop’s terrible editor to Aquamacs, because Aquamacs has AUCTeX support. Unfortunately, I use dvips and psp2df since I do figures in pstricks, and AUCTeX comes in two modes — just latex with xdvi and pdftex. What’s even stupider is that if I do C-c C-c view it won’t even properly call the external DVI viewer (TeXniscope.app), so I have to futz around with the AUCTeX configurations, which still doesn’t seem to do anything. Furthermore, I don’t get any diagnostic information, and if I just bind the xdvi command to dvips it fails to even run that. This suggests to me that something even more screwed up is going on…

It seemed for a bit that this guy was trying to do the same thing as me, but when I tried applying his solutions I still got nothing. I really don’t see why this should be difficult, but it’s now well-exceeded the amount of time I’m willing to spend on it. Are my needs too niche? Does everyone use pdftex these days?

My officemate Pulkit Grover seems to have a super-secret blog that he hasn’t officially told anyone about but appends to his signature file. Sneaky…

Terence Tao, super-genius, also has a blog, where he talks about many things of a mathematical nature that I can almost grasp.

This is the last concert I have lined up for a little while, and it’s with an outstanding group of singers. Of course, most people who read this blog and could go have already been spammed by me, but linking helps with choralissf.org’s page rank, right?

Choralis Photo

From Renaissance to Romantic to Recent

Saturday, June 2, 2007 -8pm
Trinity Episcopal Church
1668 Bush St, San Francisco

Choralis, the Bay Area’s newest vocal ensemble, will make its debut in San Francisco performing a selection of a capella choral works for chamber choir. Conductor Richard Sparks will lead the ensemble through both beloved and commanding works of Tallis, Lotti, Kuhnau, Rheinberger, Thompson, Lauridsen, Mäntyjärvi, and others.

Admission: suggested $10 donation

To learn more or to reserve seating, visit the Choralis website or e-mail choralissf@gmail.com.

Rebekah Wu, Manager – 415-439-4498

Sunday was my last SF Symphony Chorus concert. We performed Beethoven’s 9th Racket with the SF Youth Orchestra under the baton of Benjamin Shwartz, who is also 27 years old. Food for thought, that.

Oh, and those kids can play.

I’m having some technical difficulties and trying to resolve them — hopefully the site will be up and running again soon…

UPDATE : The problem appears to be with my cache and/or the template I had been using before. So bear with this one and maybe I’ll find something prettier in my copious spare time (har har har).

So I was reading the science news over at the BBC when I came across this article:

Although there are still those who argue over the US and “former UK” definitions of figures such as a billion and trillion, according to Michael there is now basic agreement that a trillion is a thousand billion and a billion is a thousand million.

Maybe it’s my American-centric upbringing, but was there really a debate about this? I went and consulted a few dictionaries. Merriam-Webster says:

1 — see NUMBER table
2 : an indeterminately large number

The “number table” gives the following (American, British, integer) triples: (billion, milliard, 109), (trillion, billion, 1012), and (quintillion, trillion, 1018). Apparently 10n where n = 3 (mod 6) and n > 14 don’t warrant their own name — they can be a “thousand 10n – 3.”

The regional bias is clearer in the American Heritage versus OED. The American Heritage Dictionary puts 1012 first:

1. The cardinal number equal to 1012.
2. Chiefly British The cardinal number equal to 1018.

The OED has its own bias:

The third power of a million; a million billions, i.e. millions of millions. Also, orig. in France and local U.S., a thousand ‘billions’, or 1012 (i.e. the traditional English billion: see BILLION): this sense is now standard in the U.S. and is increasingly common in British usage.

Via the inestimable ineffable John N., here is Herr Bar, an awesome video.

The animation style reminded me a bit of Rabbit, an odd cautionary tale, complete with labels.

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