Assorted links

by on August 7, 2008 at 4:55 pm in Web/Tech | Permalink

1. West Side Story: the truth

2. Discover your gender, using the web

3. Backyard nukes?  A scary joke, or is it?

4. Quantum mechanics gets even weirder

5. Business cycles: the current frontier

6. Measuring the value of NBA players

1 Christopher M August 7, 2008 at 4:30 pm

I haven’t read the paper, but from the summary it sounds like this is actually a matter of quantum mechanics getting less weird. The whole “collapse of the wavefunction” thing has really not made much sense for a long time — no one has ever come up with a plausible way to separate “observers” and the “observed,” or even “micro-” and “macroscopic,” in any way that doesn’t just turn into a sort of poor man’s mind-body dualism.

The best book on the hard-core philosophy of physics issues (and I’m not talking about the bullshit “everything is connected to everything, mind rules the universe” version of the philosophy of Q.M.) is David Albert’s “Quantum Mechanics and Experience.” You’ll either hate Albert’s style or love it. He doesn’t assume any formal mathematical training — though that isn’t to say there isn’t a lot of formal mathematics involved in the issues and arguments. It’s good stuff, though — there are no more basic questions out there.

2 d.cous. August 7, 2008 at 5:11 pm

Christopher Espinal, I’m not sure whether your assessment of the declining racial happiness gap is really optimistic, or really cynical. I think I like it either way, even if I don’t buy it.

I’m not sure what I’m supposed to glean for the West Side Story bit. I already knew it was really corny, didn’t everyone? I’m not sure that makes it a bad musical, though I admit that my enjoyment of it is perhaps more comical than the producers’ intent. Perhaps not. I guess I’m just not sure why I should care what Geoffrey Wheatcroft thinks of it, despite his possession of a really awesome name.

I saw ‘The Music Man’ on stage recently, and it may be the most fun I’ve ever had at the theatre, though I’m no theatre buff.

3 Dick King August 7, 2008 at 6:44 pm

Is Hyperion claiming an electrical efficiency generation of 35% ? That would be impressive for nuclear power, which typically runs at 30%.


4 Sol August 7, 2008 at 10:39 pm

Somewhat mystified by the comments on West Side Story. That music is absolutely brilliant, both tuneful and sophisticated. The setting is as (in-)authentic as Shakespeare’s Italy in Romeo and Juliet, but so what? It’s not perfect, but it’s still probably in the top five musicals all time, certainly in the top ten.

Mind you, I do like My Fair Lady and Music Man better as musicals. But IMO they’re as good as it gets, clearly #1 and #2 all time. Which I would put first depends on my mood.

I always thought it was odd and wonderful the three shows came out so closely together.

I don’t get the Rogers and Hammerstein hate either, their best is clearly head and shoulders above the bulk of their generation. Except for the above mentioned, Guys and Dolls (oh no — its mobsters are not authentic!!), and Camelot, I can’t think of another show 1940-1960 I’d rank higher.

5 mouse August 7, 2008 at 11:35 pm

weak measurements weren’t invented in 2006 or by folks in rochester. weak measurements have been known and understood for decades. aharonov underrstood them in the 80s. he and vaidman published on them in the 80s and 90s. S. Popescu has been writing about them for years. even wikipedia knows this.

6 Brian Courts August 8, 2008 at 1:06 am

Is Hyperion claiming an electrical efficiency generation of 35% ?

No. From their website:

What is Hyperion’s output?
Approximately 70 megawatts (MW) of heat (thermal energy) and 25 megawatts (MW) of electrical power via steam turbine

That looks like about 26% thermal efficiency.

7 Dutch August 8, 2008 at 7:18 am

When I played in an orchestra we performed West Side Story as well as Porgy and Bess. West Side Story is much more difficult to play. Ironically, it’s in the rhythms.

8 JJRG August 8, 2008 at 10:08 am

Does this mean you can resurrect Schroedinger’s cat if you only took a quick peek before it died?

9 Sol August 8, 2008 at 10:24 am

Dutch — I presume you’re thinking of orchestral medleys of those shows? (If you mean you’ve gotten to play in the pit orchestra for those shows, I’m really jealous.) I’m guessing maybe the Robert Russell Bennett arrangement of Porgy and Bess and the Symphonic Dances from West Side Story? At the very least, all the arrangements I’ve ever seen of Porgy and Bess skip the really challenging bits in favor of the more tuneful songs. Whereas the Symphonic Dances are some of the harder bits from West Side Story.

The rhythms in the Symphonic Dances are killer, for sure, but in the complete score for West Side Story there are bits in the bassoon part, at least, that are fiendishly hard because they are so high. Legend in the bassoon community is that Bernstein wrote them that way because one of his bassoon-playing buddies could play that high, and he was essentially guaranteeing his friend would get the job.

10 meter August 8, 2008 at 10:48 am

Having engraved the score for WSS along with other Bernstein and non-Bernstein musicals, I can tell you it’s fairly complicated rhythmically.

11 Phil P August 8, 2008 at 12:32 pm

West Side Story is my favorite musical. In fact,it’s the only one I really like a lot. Maybe it’s the musical for people who don’t like musicals?

12 Brian Courts August 8, 2008 at 4:04 pm

1) I don’t know where a couple of the above commentators are getting the quote saying 70 MWt AND 25 MWe (leading to 26% thermal efficiency).

You don’t? I’m surprised considering I provided a link (which I repeat here) that took you to the FAQ page where the company says what I quoted (third question):

What is Hyperion’s output? Approximately 70 megawatts (MW) of heat (thermal energy) and 25 megawatts (MW) of electrical power via steam turbine

13 Steve August 9, 2008 at 1:36 am

I guess I’m the only dumb jock reading this, but I really enjoyed the basketball article. Basketball stats have been pretty useless to determine a players usefulness. Often it is because some players create zero-sum game situations with their play (i.e. I shoot more so you get to shoot less), while others create more opportunity by getting others involved. Obviously, the latter is more preferrable, but their stats often don’t stand out from the formers.

14 Sean O'Se August 11, 2008 at 8:58 pm

Odd that Wheatcroft considers “There’s a Place for Us” to be diatonic…it is indeed all white notes, but the key is pretty hard to pin down. (Try it–if you guess the starting or ending notes, you’re wrong–keep trying.) The reason the key is surprising, and the reason the song has some surprising notes, is that it’s not in the typical Lydian mode: “peace” of “peace and quiet and open air” is especially beautiful, and sounds chromatic, even though it is in fact in the key. And of course, there’s the opening interval of “there’s–a”, a minor seventh, which is very effective and unusual for a “diatonic” show tune. The opening interval of “Maria,” too, is very unusual for a show tune: a tritone. It’s the song a lot of sight-singers use to remember the interval, and quite a pretty piece.

I think Bernstein is a good composer in part because of his odd intervals. The trumpet solo from the Pas de Deux from “Lonely Town” is about the wildest most beautiful set of intervals possible on the instrument. And the Wrong Note Rag from “Wonderful Town” has just about every interval at once in a post-modern arrangement.

Whatever one’s criticisms of Bernstein, being diatonic really isn’t one of them. Wheatcroft should listen again.

15 vakum pompası November 2, 2009 at 12:30 pm

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16 geciktirici sprey February 19, 2010 at 3:07 pm


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