The Handwriting on Belshazzar’s Wall

'Golden Rectangle,' by 'Greg' (user 'sightrays') on Flickr

[Image: “Golden Rectangle,” by “Greg” (user “sightrays”) on Flickr. (Used here under a Creative Commons license; thank you!) The explanation at that page provides much more detail than I can here. The gist, though, is that a “golden spiral” appears to home in on a particular point — where the diagonals of the two rectangles making a golden rectangle intersect — but in fact, never really reaches that point: the spiral is infinite in length.]

Not from whiskey river:

Nature Knows Its Math

the year
into seasons,
the snow then
some more
a bud,
a breeze,
a whispering
the trees,
and here
beneath the
orange poppies

(Joan Graham [source])


[Let us consider] the common idea that mathematics is a dull subject, whereas the testimony of all those who have any dealing with it shows that it is one of the most thrilling and tantalising and enchanting subjects in the world. It is abstract, but so, to all appearance, is theology. Men have hurled themselves on the spears of their enemies rather than admit that the second person of the Trinity was not co-eternal with the first. Men have been burned by inches rather than allow that the charge to Peter was to be a charge to him as an individual rather than to him as a representative of the Apostles. Of such questions as these it is perfectly reasonable for anyone to say that, in his opinion, they are preposterous and fanatical questions. And what men have before now done for the abstractions of theology I have little doubt that they would, if necessary, do for the abstractions of mathematics. If human history and human variety teach us anything at all, it is supremely probable that there are men who would be stabbed in battle or burnt at the stake rather than admit that three angles of a triangle could be together greater than two right angles.

The truth surely is that it is perfectly permissible and perfectly natural to become bored with a subject just as it is perfectly permissible and perfectly natural to be thrown from a horse or to miss a train or to look up the answer to a puzzle at the end of a book. But it is not a triumph if it is anything at all, it is a defeat. We have certainly no right to assume offhand that the fault lies with the horse or with the subject.

(G.K. Chesterton [source])

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At Root

[Video: launch trailer for the puzzle game Antichamber. I haven’t played it (yet), but the object
seems to be to keep moving forward — when the answer to the question, “Move forward
where?” changes constantly. The game’s designer says that it has an end… despite the appearance
(to me) of an edgeless, centerless geometry of edges and centers.*]

From whiskey river (italicized portion):

Isle of Mull, Scotland

Because by now we know everything is not so green elsewhere.

The cities tied their nooses around our necks,
we let them without even seeing.

Not even feeling our breath soften
as clumps of shed wool scattered across days.

Not even. This even-ing, balance beam of light on green,
the widely lifted land, resonance of moor
winding down to water, the full of it. Days of cows
and sheep bending their heads.

We walked where the ancient pier juts into the sea.
Stood on the rim of the pool, by the circle
of black boulders. No one saw we were there
and everyone who had ever been there
stood silently in air.

Where else do we ever have to go, and why?

(Naomi Shihab Nye [source])


The secret of the mountain is that the mountains simply exist, as I do myself: the mountains exist simply, which I do not. The mountains have no “meaning,” they are meaning; the mountains are. The sun is round. I ring with life, and the mountains ring, and when I can hear it, there is a ringing that we share. I understand all this, not in my mind but in my heart, knowing how meaningless it is to try to capture what cannot be expressed, knowing that mere words will remain when I read it all again, another day.

(Peter Matthiessen [source])


Someday, sometime, you will be sitting somewhere. A berm overlooking a pond in Vermont. The lip of the Grand Canyon at sunset. A seat on the subway. And something bad will have happened: You will have lost someone you loved, or failed at something at which you badly wanted to succeed.

And sitting there, you will fall into the center of yourself. You will look for some core to sustain you. And if you have been perfect all your life and have managed to meet all the expectations of your family, your friends, your community, your society, chances are excellent that there will be a black hole where that core ought to be.

I don’t want anyone I know to take that terrible chance. And the only way to avoid it is to listen to that small voice inside you that tells you to make mischief, to have fun, to be contrarian, to go another way. George Eliot wrote, “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” It is never too early, either.

(Anna Quindlen [source])

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“Yes, But Isn’t the Obvious Wonderful?!?”

Headline and lead-in from the home page as of this morning:

10 of the weirdest-
shaped homes around

One owner lives in a home modeled after Tolkien hobbit
houses & another used geometry to design her abode…

Yes, I know it’s nit-picking. But I am trying (and failing, in a major way) to conceive of a house whose design and construction did not rely on geometry. :)


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These Eyes…

Just got back from Chris & Jess’s wedding weekend…

The Missus and I stayed at a lovely hotel in DC, the Sofitel on Lafayette Square. The bathroom was especially well appointed, and among its attractions was the mirror over the sink — which, as I understand it [cough], had obviously been designed by someone who sometimes needed to apply makeup. What made it suitable for this activity was the lighting: the mirror was a large square, and every single edge was brightly lit.

At first, though, it sort of disturbed me to use the mirror but I couldn’t quite figure out why. I just wanted to conduct my business (none of it, I hasten to add, involving makeup) and get the hell away from it. It just sort of… sort of… creeped me out.

Then I realized the problem.

To wit: see anything unusual here?

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