November 2007 - Posts

  • Littlewood's Law of Miracles

    "The Scientist as Rebel" by Freeman Dyson is a collection of essays on how science resists authority --
    "the best way to understand science is by understanding those who practice it". It's an interesting
    approach to a subject I wouldn't otherwise be inclined to read up on. Notable essays include
    "On Beauty and Consolations" and "One In a Million", an essay that discusses the "Law of Miracles".
    Talk about an oxymoron.

    "Littlewood's Law of Miracles states that in the course of any normal person's life, miracles happen at
    a rate of roughly one per month. The proof of the law is simple. During the time that we are awake
    and actively engaged in living our lives, roughly for eight hours each day, we see and hear things
    happening at a rate of about one per second. So the total number of events that happen to us is
    about thirty thousand per day, or about a million per month. With few exceptions, these events are
    not miracles because they are insignificant. The chance of a miracle is about one per million events.
    Therefore we should expect about one miracle to happen, on the average, every month"


    A Miracle, it should be noted, is defined here as "an event that has special significance when it occurs,
    but occurs with a probability of one in a million"


  • Reading & Writing

    because birds are alphabets and bodies a protectorate
    and "you hold a girl's face in your hands like a vase"

    because life is really no good without it...

    this blog is about reading and writing
    (and all other clever things)


    *Heather McHugh's "Ghazal of the Better-Unbegun"

    (wins from the very start-- "Too volatile, am I? Too voluble? Too much a word-person?")

    Ghaz"al\, Ghazel \Ghaz"el\, n. [Ar. ghazal.]
    A ghazal is a poetic form consisting of couplets which share a rhyme and a refrain.


    Malcom Gladwell on "What We Can Learn From Spaghetti Sauce"-- genius, no one could better convince me
    that sauce is really a metaphor for American individualism, the pursuit of happiness, pleasure,
    and one man's understanding of our "basic" needs (this is as ridiculous and it is incorrect, in some ways).
    TEDtalks = smart, articulate people discussing smart things = just about the most phenomenal idea ever.

    "Today Has Been Okay" by Emiliana Torrini