Category Archives: Glee!

Why Number Theory is Cool

I’ve started doing an intro to number theory, and one of the cool things about it is that it examines some simple questions with complicated answers. Here’s a quick example:

Show that $$n^2 – n$$ is even, for any given integer n.

And here’s the proof: we can easily see that $$n^2 – n = n(n-1)$$. Since either $$n$$ or $$n-1$$ must be even, and the product of an even number with any other number is even, their product must also be even.

This sort of problem has a property similar to many geometry problems, which is that the original statement is easily comprehensible to people without a mathematical background. In this case, the solution also is widely accessible. There are some more complex proofs, though, and I’ve put one below the fold if you’re interested.
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PHP-Generated Comic Test

I’ve been toying with this idea for a while, and hopefully this summer I’ll get to work on it more. The idea is that I create a database-driven comic strip. All the characters, plots and so on are stored in a MySQL database, and get interpreted by PHP and turned into SVG.

The amusing thing about this is that, as I work on it and tweak it, the art will retroactively get better. For instance, if a particular character’s template is badly drawn, and I update it as I create new strips, the old strips will automagically get an art update as well :)

Anyway, I’ve been having fun so far, working on this for an hour at a time, once every couple of months over the past year. Now I’ve got a framework that looks like it’ll speed up development immensely. So long as I create a database schema that conveys all the information I need it to.

Gained in Translation

Last night I was given a fortune cookie. The English side was a little harsh:

“Enjoy your own company. If you don’t, who will?”

But the French side was sexay:

“Il faut savoir se plaire à soi-même. Sinon, qui d’autre peut le faire?”

New Horizons

Hey, is anyone as excited about New Horizons as I am? It’s a supplement for Spirit of the Century, and aims “to show some of the real failings of the pulp era when it comes to fairness and justice in order to provide rich and vibrant new possibilities for adventure roleplaying in a bygone era.”

Until recently it seemed like a cool project that wasn’t really going anywhere, but the author has been writing a bunch of production notes on his blag, and the Evil Hat folks are on board too. This look like it’s going to not only be a real, live product but also be the sort of professional, good-looking product we have learned to expect from Evil Hat Productions.

Check this summary out:

She is the strongest human being alive, her muscles super-charged by her own scientific processes. She’s fought dinosaurs barehanded and lived to tell the tale. But she can’t join any professional society for engineers, or even hold the patents for her inventions in her own name.

He is a supernaturally good poet. He can smell truth and lies from across the street. He’s saved the life of one president, two prime ministers, and a future pope. But if he goes out for a gourmet meal with friends, managers will insist he go in through the servants’ entrance.

Two men share a mystical union, pooling their health, knowledge, and magical essence. They bind demons and champion the falsely accused in courts on three continents. But if they ever once acknowledge the love they share along with their power, they’ll be disbarred and shunned by decent people everywhere.

The band of five fought in two wars for liberty, first against invading armies and then against tyrants at home. They free serfs, fight the architects of murder, and have twice stopped mad schemes of genocide. But they’re communists, and can’t even get visas to visit other heroes and scholars in the US.

Brother and sister are heirs to a millennia-old family tradition of serving justice and knowledge. Their ancestors commanded armies, delved into ancient tombs to lay ghosts—and worse things—to rest, taught the founders of new schools of philosophy and military strategy. But in the New World, he’s barely tolerated as a ditch digger—and she’ll be deported if she teaches English to other immigrants.

These are the other heroes, the ones who must fight for their dignity and liberty just as fiercely as they take on the challenges all pulp heroes face.

New Horizons is a new supplement for Spirit of the Century. Each chapter addresses a marginalized group from the pulps, kept outside by their sex, their race, their lifestyle, or their beliefs. In New Horizons you’ll find information about real-life heroic individuals and teams, the challenges they face and some of the solutions they find to the problems of dealing with 1920s society. You’ll also find heroes and villains ready for use, plot hooks, and ties to the mysteries around the Century Club. The life of heroes outside the mainstream may seem as strange as the secret language of Atlantis, but can be as exciting and powerful in play as a zeppelin armada.