Today is really Square Day!

——– Original Message ——–
Subject: Happy Square Day!
Date: Thu, 05 Mar 2009 17:24:39 -0600
From: Roger Hill
Reply-To: Handheld Computing Conference discussion list
Organization: Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville
To:, ****

Hi all,

Recently there was something in the news about “Square Root Day”,
03/03/09, and Richard Nelson circulated an E-mail about it. I was
corresponding with a friend about this, and he suggested asking what
you would get if you just ran the day, month, and 4-digit year
together as MMDDYYYY and looked for perfect squares. For example,
today in American-style notation is 3/05/2009 which runs together as
the number 3052009.

So I checked on that, and was rather startled to discover that the
nearest “square day” is actually TODAY! Happy Square Day!!

Naturally I had to turn a computer loose on the problem, so using
Excel I found that today is only the 6th square day since 1900 (which
is as far back as Excel deals with dates). The last one was
9/01/2004. But the next one is only a few weeks away, 4/01/2009 (no
fooling!). After that, you’ll have to wait till 2/26/2016.

If (like me) you favor the YYYY/MM/DD notation, today is not a square
day but the next one will be 2015/11/21. I have not yet tried to
figure it out for the European-style (DDMMYYYY) format.

— Roger

(P.S. I’m sending this to both the HHC and the CHIP lists; sorry if
you get it twice as a result.)

HHC mailing list

More Randomness

Tonight, a friend asked me, “What pervades everything?” I thought about it, and I don’t know. In the past, I have thought about what goes through everything. I gave that earlier question the answer “information”. Although one can say it isn’t information, because information is not necessarily all pervasive — but then maybe it is. Information triggers the creation of more information. The movement is from information to information. Is there a moment where there is no pure information in the system and it is a heterogeneous mixture of information and something else? That something else can be described in terms of information and this is what introduces the creation of information. I do not believe that information only changes from one form to another. The amount of information continuously increases — this is entropy. Then, of course, there is a relationship between the measure of entropy and work. Both are time dependant and increase with time. Work is essentially (simplification!) the energy used summed over time. The actual energy in the system remains the same. Entropy measures the increase in information content, but if, by analogy, there is something like energy — say a state — then states are conserved. States merely transform from one configuration to another based on the information content. Entropy increases as states change from one to another — just like work increases as energy changes from one form to another.

Basically, the act of being permeates everything. However, this is not what I’m going to write about.

I was also thinking about our past — the pioneer days, the colonization of America, the rise and fall of empires, the conquest of the new, and the excitement of establishing things. Where have these days gone? I know that we have a society that is adverse to violence. It would seem as though our conception of pioneering includes plight and plunder, but does it have to be that way? If there were no struggle in action movies, they wouldn’t be quite as exciting. I’m sure this has to do with the way we have evolved over time. It doesn’t seem as though we have entirely domesticated ourselves, and it might take an excruciatingly long time to do so. Still, when will the next county be chartered in a state? Will there be a 51st state? The only real amazing thing one can do these days is charter a city or corporation.

Of course there are those modern day stories of people who have started their own countries. Countries are things that seem to always change, they are destroyed, they are conquered, or they just dissolve. In most cases there is some sort of struggle or war. It seems as though modern civilization (in first world countries) has either restricted people from, or taught most people not to fight against the government. There are probably hundreds of reasons for this. A few are: People don’t always know much about their government. People are indoctrinated that their government is the best government and allows them more freedom than the other countries’ governments. People don’t to do things that they used too. People have become complacent and apathetic toward anything save what they are interested in (which often times doesn’t include anything besides the normal).

Addendum: I think there is still some truth to the last paragraph, but at the same time. I wonder about all of our systems, they seem to always end up disenfranchising a group of people. How can there be a system that continuously grows like entropy or work in physics? How can we take a rather closed economic system with certain resources and make into something more. Is this where the concepts of space industry and the singularity come into play? Virtual goods, aside from the work required to make their bits flow from place to place, really don’t require many resources. Is the vast infinite frontier a digital paradise?

A Saturday’s Adventure

I had a fun excursion today and here are some pictures and a map to go with it. First I’ll tell you why I wanted to do this. As you might know, I used to drive a taxi (I think I still need to update that on the about me page). There was a faire that we would pick up close to the top of Vineyard Mountain. Every time I passed by certain points, I would think to myself, “I really need to come up here and take some pictures.” So, I did. Unfortunately, they were only taken with my cellphone. I hadn’t premeditated doing this. I just decided I would as I was biking away from my apartment. I didn’t really have a plan, it just happened.

I would compare this to my random journeys I’ve taken in the past. I randomly decided to walk to the capitol building when I was in Lincoln, NE. I didn’t have a bike so, I walked. It turns out that the building should have been closed. It was Memorial Day. But apparently, someone left a door open and I got to take an unguided tour all the way up to the fourteenth floor balcony. I also randomly went on a 30 mile bike ride with my buddies in college a few years later. It has been enough time (only about five years).

So, without further ado…

A map of my adventure (almost)
According to Google Maps, this route is exactly six miles (that’s just one way). However, I’m sure that since I took a longer route it was more than that. I took the bike trail from my place south to Harrison, then went to 29th street and stopped at the Co-op for lunch, and then continued on to Walnut. That’s where the map becomes accurate.
When I got to the top of the hill on Highland Dr, right by Lester Ave, I snapped this picture:
Atop the hill off Highland Dr.
Then I continued down the hill and past Crescent Valley High School. I then snapped this as I was biking past it:
James Ave.
I continued down and then up to the base of Vineyard Mountain.
At the base of Vineyard Mountain
I then looked up and saw this:
The Ascent
I biked up this for a while until I came to a really steep part. I then walked up that hill since I couldn’t bike up it without my chain slipping off my rear gear assembly. When the slope approached what I thought would work I got back on my bike. I stopped when I was almost to the overlook that I wanted to get to and took some pictures:
I continued on and finally made it:
I then proceeded to eat a protein bar and then coast down the mountain. It was quite a ride down on a bike. It was much faster than going down Witham Hill where I live. I’m sure that I reached speeds in excess of 35 MPH.

My Now Rinky-Dink Laptop

Every now and then something happens to a device that you have and it stops working like it originally did. There are two options: buy a new device, or adapt to the new functionality of your present device. Being a complex adaptive system with meager funds, I naturally choose to adapt. This means that, presently, I have only one place in town to connect to the internet. This would be Fred Meyers. Here is a picture of my set up:
Laptop Setup
I dropped my laptop a couple months ago on a tile floor from one foot off the ground. It chipped my case. That’s all I thought happened. Then, my built in wireless stopped working two weeks later. I eventually bought a USB adapter and that worked just fine. Just fine until, my USB ports stopped working consistently. I have backed-up everything on my laptop onto (miraculously) an external USB hard drive. It just worked to back up my files. Afterword, I couldn’t access my files on it, unless I took the drive over to my desktop. However, everything is safe and eventually I’ll have funds to buy a new laptop. Perhaps I’ll find that receipt and be able to claim it under the limited warranty since it worked for properly for such a long time after the fact. We’ll see…

I got a new job!

My New Workplace
I am very happy today. I had an interview at 10:00am. I found out that I got the job at 3:22pm. I will be working at a place called Community Services Consortium. I will still be working as a taxi driver for two more weeks, but I start working at CSC tomorrow at 8:00am. I will finally have a normal work schedule with weekends off. Plus, I’ll make more money.

The best and coolest part about this job is that I will be working with youth to help them find jobs, get education, and get remedial education. I will have great fun in this job. I also believe I will do great things. Hopefully things just as great as Alexander Graham Bell. Speaking of him, it’s his birthday today.
Happy Birthday Mr. Bell

Out of Chaos: Order

Many creation myths contain an element that chaos reigned before order emerged. There’s the Enuma Elish, Genesis, and Ovid’s Metamorphosis. They all imply that there was some sort of chaos until a god (ruler) commands or acts to create order by establishing laws. In Genesis the words used are tohu (toe-who) and bohu (bough-who), which mean unformed and unfilled more or less. They imply a certain amount of disorder. God is introduced using the word elohim, which is normally translated as God. However, this word is definitely broader than that. In few places, and there might only be two, it is used to designate the word rulers or kings.

If you dig deeper in your Biblia Hebraica Stutgarttensia (that’s the gold standard used for researching the old testament; it contains all the known variant readings in their original language), you will find more textual evidence pointing towards the meaning of elohim being rulers. Genesis 6 talks about the sons of God (benai ha’elohim) and the daughters of man (benot ha’adam). This passage has been misunderstood to say that angels were having sexual relations with human women. However taking the meaning of elohim to be rulers, we can safely say that this passage means the rulers were hogging all the women (just in a very different tone). This makes much more sense. It also means that Genesis 1 describes the rulers establishing boundaries, creating names, and decreeing order upon the chaos.

I think the fact that well developed societies had this type of creation myth tells us something about ourselves. Once a society has built a hedge against the randomness of life, they feel as though they have established order. As the generations progress, they begin to feel as though everything is orderly and that order should be demanded of everything. However, there is now a glaring crack growing, bifurcating the facade of that security. In quantum mechanics everything is a probability, nothing is certain until it is measured. Einstein spoke against this negative feature of the quantum by saying, “God is not a pair of dice.” normally translated, “God does not play dice.” Everything is based on randomness. This is a stochastic universe.

Mathematics is begining to tell us the same thing: Everything is based on randomness. The sequence of the prime numbers is random. Algorithmic information theory tells us that the closer to random something is the more dense the information content. A truly random number sequence cannot be compressed. This means that randomness is pure information.

It is the nature of order to emerge from chaos, because chaos represents dense information. Nature’s order comes from a careful balancing act of the creation of information, increasing entropy, and nature’s self organization. Nature, being a complex adaptive system, must let information occupy the most stable state it can form. Randomness is the engine that drives creation (in the present tense). It is probably even the explanation for the arrow of time. All this leads me to believe that order is an emergent property of randomness.