It’s not all that long since I last (and indeed first) referred to the Math With Bad Drawings blog within these pages.
However, a post that appeared there the other day is such a peach of a short story that I couldn’t refrain from bringing it to your attention. It is, as befits the nature of that blog, quite mathematical in character (and, more specifically, about differential calculus – though it doesn’t really go into the gory details) so if that sort of thing scares you too much, feel free to run away and hide behind the sofa until my next post (which almost certainly will be about something completely different).
Assuming you’re still here, the story is called The Differentiation: A Survivor’s Tale and is, uniquely among all the mathematical fiction I have ever read (which is a fair amount, over the years), told from the perspective of the exponential function. The whole thing is firmly based on the behaviour of different classes of functions under the operation of differentiation and I suspect it would be fairly incomprehensible to anyone without a reasonable grounding in calculus, though it could be quite a useful way of helping to remember the general principles, without getting bogged down in the technical details, for somebody who is just learning the subject. Given the pedagogical nature of the blog as a whole, I suspect that may have been at least partially the author’s intent.
The story also has a nice twist in the tail that makes it almost work as a social commentary on something or other (though I can’t say more without spoiling the punchline for anyone with sufficient mathematical background to follow the story in the first place).
Perhaps the best categorisation of it is as a mathematical horror story, which is one of the ways it’s been tagged on the original blog. That works on at least two levels as for the mathematically inclined it is quite a chilling tale and for anyone else the very fact that it is mathematical is probably sufficient to induce a cold sweat.
Anyway, I should probably refrain from further analysis and let the story speak for itself, to those who have ears to hear.
(And, yes, there was a stealth pun in that last sentence, since differential calculus is one of the major subdivisions of the branch of mathematics known as real analysis.)
Posted by Magnus on 2015/10/31
My latest category on this blog is apparently going to be a particularly short-lived one.
I set up a knitting & crochet category a few weeks ago as a result of my renewed interest in these (and related) crafts, which was a mainstay of my previous blogs but had waned by the time I started this one.
My interest in them is still going strong (at least for now – past experience suggests it will probably continue to be somewhat up and down) and I’ve decided to set up a separate knitting blog in order to be able to post as much (or as little) as I like about knitting and other fibre crafts without drowning my main blog. I’m also intending to repost all the knitting-related articles I can still find from my previous blogs, so that I have them all in one handy place (this was prompted by the recent realisation that one of the old blogs no longer seems to be online – fortunately I have an offline backup of the text).
As a result, this blog will probably feature few, if any knitting posts. I’m planning to keep the category open, though, just in case. If there’s anything particularly notable – like my cunning new Firefly hat – I may put a note up here to direct you to the other blog.
The new blog is called Ar y Gweill (Welsh for “On the needles”, though the blog itself will be written, at least mostly, in English). Unlike this one, posts won’t be automatically published to my Facebook wall. If you want to follow my knitting posts, that blog (like this one) has an RSS feed available – or you can follow it directly on WordPress or just bookmark the site in your browser.
One of the reasons for keeping my knitting blog separate is so that I can link my knitting posts to my Ravelry profile. Ravelry is a pretty big online fibre arts community, of which I’ve been a member for quite a few years. It’s free to join and well worth checking out if you’re at all interested in knitting, crochet or similar crafts. To see anything there (apart from a login screen) you’ll need an account. On my knitting blog, I’m making the assumption that anyone sufficiently interested to want to see the details of my Ravelry profile or project pages etc. will either have an account already or be willing to get one. If you are a member of Ravelry, feel free to give me a shout on there.
Posted by Magnus on 2015/06/13
Just over a year ago, I started a second blog. The purpose of that one was to enable me to write in Welsh (mainly for the sake of practicing my written language skills) without cluttering up this blog with posts that most of my readers couldn’t follow (I’m assuming that most vistors here can speak English but not that many will know Welsh).
As I expected, my writing on that blog has been much sparser than on this one. In fact, I only wrote my 5th post there yesterday, after a gap of over a year! Still, it’s nice to have the blog and feel I’m doing a little bit to increase the amount of Welsh in cyberspace as well as keeping my own language skills reasonably rust-free if not exactly finely honed.
Last week I had my second ever visit to Spain – a lovely week in Catalonia with some most excellent friends (including some I’d never met before I went there). In preparation for this, I’ve spent quite a lot of my linguistic energy over the past few months on trying to brush up on my (woefully limited) Spanish. I got plenty of opportunity to speak Spanish (and learn a few words of Catalan) while I was there, and this has fired my enthusiasm to keep working on the language, partly in the hope that I’ll be visiting the area again before too long; I also hope to be able to visit other bits of Spain and perhaps Latin America and to continue to explore Spanish literature and films, as well as being able to talk to Spanish speakers who cross my path in North Wales or elsewhere.
I was very conscious while I was in Spain that, although I could understand a reasonable amount of written and (to a lesser extent) spoken Spanish, I was severely limited in what I was able to say (or write, not that I had very much occasion to write while I was there).
Therefore, I have just started yet another blog. This one is similar to the Welsh one but in Spanish and purely to give myself *cough* regular practice at actively using the language. Since I speak a lot less Spanish than Welsh, the posts are likely to be fairly short and I’ll try to keep them simple. I’m hoping that I might get some useful feedback from Spanish speakers but even if I don’t, the simple act of forcing myself to write (and as far as possible, think) in Spanish on a fairly regular basis should be immensely helpful in my efforts to learn to speak and not just vaguely understand it.
As with the Welsh blog, this is actually my second attempt at a blog in Spanish. (One of my first posts on this blog was a potted history of my earlier blogs, including both of these, if you’re interested.) Similarly, the posts on the Spanish blog, like the Welsh ones but unlike the posts on this blog, won’t be automatically publicised on Facebook or Twitter but can be accessed via an RSS feed if you want to be able to follow them.
Posted by Magnus on 2014/09/02
You may have noticed that I occasionally like to write blog posts in Welsh.
Since I’m aware (if slightly surprised) that several people follow my blog and that not all of them speak the language of heaven, I have generally tried to refrain from writing too often in Welsh and, when I do, to provide an English translation or at least a summary of what I’ve written.
However, I have for a while been considering the alternative solution of setting up a separate Welsh-language blog, to enable me to keep writing stuff in English for the benefit of my family, friends and other random blog followers and also to write a bit more in Welsh without having to worry about translating stuff. To that end, having discovered that I can register multiple free blogs at WordPress, I have now set up Gofod-M – the Welsh M-Space blog. Of course, any Welsh-speaking members of my family, friends or other random blog followers are welcome to follow that blog as well as this one.
I may well continue to write occasional snippets in Welsh on this blog (with translations) and I’ll probably occasionally cross-post between the two blogs, although I envisage them having quite separate (though probably equally random) content.
If this experiment goes well, I may think about (or actually do, since I’m clearly already thinking about it!) setting up one or more further blogs in other languages so I can practice writing in those too.
NB: Unlike this blog, I’m not planning to automatically publicise posts on my Welsh blog on Twitter and Facebook, so if you use one of those to get updates on my blog and want to follow my Welsh blog too you’ll probably want to explore alternative means of doing so. I recommend the RSS feed.
Posted by Magnus on 2013/06/03
I’ve now had this blog for just over a year. As soon as I set up my shiny new WordPress site, I put up an “about” page with a quick bit of placeholder text to say that details would follow soon. A few months later I amended it to warn the reader not to hold their breath…
I have now, at last, got round to updating the about page to actually say something (admittedly, still not very much) about me.
[Grammar fans may like to pause to consider the different shades of meaning in the word “now” at the start of the two previous paragraphs.]
If you are especially interested in my blogging history, you may like to read one of my earliest posts on this blog, which was a history of my earlier blogs (but I won’t be mortally offended if you don’t bother).
Today is another landmark in the history of my blog as it’s the first time (at least in the current blog) that I’ve posted twice in one day (judging by my usual track record, twice in one month is above average:) I must admit that I’m doing this more out of curiosity to see how WordPress handles multiple posts on one day than out of a belief that anyone will actually be that interested to know that my About page has been updated, so I hope you’ll bear with me. (While in confessional mood, I should probably also admit that I just couldn’t resist the obvious title for this post that sprang to mind as soon as I’d finished the page update – that’s really the main reason for posting!)
Posted by Magnus on 2013/02/20
Evidently my initial momentum for posting on my new blog has pretty much dissipated by now, as it’s been almost a month since my last post!
As usual, I’ve been too busy living to worry much about blogging, but I have a few ideas for stuff to blog about in the next few days, so watch this space for more information.
Posted by Magnus on 2012/04/19