29 February 2008

“Tengo una remera del Che y no sé por qué,”

An Argentine expression, meaning, "I have a Che T-shirt and I don’t know why." That's from an excellent article by Alvaro Llosa called The Killing Machine: Che Guevara, from Communist Firebrand to Capitalist Brand.
No man is without some redeeming qualities. In the case of Che Guevara, those qualities may help us to measure the gulf that separates reality from myth. His honesty (well, partial honesty) meant that he left written testimony of his cruelties, including the really ugly, though not the ugliest, stuff...
In April 1967, speaking from experience, he summed up his homicidal idea of justice in his “Message to the Tricontinental”: “hatred as an element of struggle; unbending hatred for the enemy, which pushes a human being beyond his natural limitations, making him into an effective, violent, selective, and cold-blooded killing machine.”
See also: A list of people Che had executed
Just to keep things linked up, see also, a past blog on Communism and Che

26 February 2008

Now do you believe? -Morpheus

He's the One. And by he, I mean 0.999...

When I first encountered the seeming paradox, in 9th grade, that 0.999...=1, my mind was "blown." I kept wanting to say, "Yeah, it is close to one... but it is not identical." I mean, if it were true, my whole world view would be shaken. On Judgement Day, I could justify zoning out during a looong Sunday School class on Isiah with the argument... "I really wanted to pay attention. Really really wanted to. So technically I was paying attention... 0.999...=1, as you well know Mr. God."

Of course, I really just didn't understand infinity... or Isiah for that matter. For lost souls, like me, Wikipedia comes to the rescue. I like the simplest definitions best:

\begin{align} 0.333\dots          &= \frac{1}{3} \\ 3 \times 0.333\dots &= 3 \times \frac{1}{3} = \frac{3 \times 1}{3} \\  0.999\dots          &= 1 \end{align}

An even easier version of the same proof is based on the following equations:

\begin{align} \frac{9}{9} &= 1 \\ \frac{9}{9} &= 9 \times \frac{1}{9} = 9 \times 0.111\dots = 0.999\dots \end{align}

But, behold, Wikipedia lists many others as well that range from infinite series (something that I know something about) to Cauchy sequences (of which I know nothing).

Note: The Wikipedia article also has a good section on why students often reject the equality of 0.999... and 1. My favorite:
Some students interpret "0.999…" (or similar notation) as a large but finite string of 9s, possibly with a variable, unspecified length. If they accept an infinite string of nines, they may still expect a last 9 "at infinity".

The Power of Obama Compels YOU!!!!

I mean this is bound to happen, but seriously... Obama should get EMT training. Heck, I'd say he is on pace for an honorary certificate by the time the general election comes around.

See also: Why having a cult following isn't a problem. Basically, it worked for Bush.

08 February 2008

Color Illusions

Seeing is NOT believing.

If you don't believe the masks provided by the artist... you can always use a photo editor.

05 February 2008

World War III will be Humans vs. Zombies (guess which side you're on)

I've recently taken interest in the apocalyptic genre of movies/books. Whether it be by cosmic forces (Deep Impact), climate change (The Day After Tomorrow), a deadly virus (I am Legend, 28 Days Later, etc.), or aliens (Cloverfield, Hitchhiker's Guide 2tU), the idea of being among the few remaining is intriguing, even if the movies rarely live up to their potential. If any of these outlandish scenarios came to pass, more than likely you and I would be one of the zombies, or the guys that got crushed by the Statue of Liberty's head, rather than one of the heroes.

World War Z is an entertaining look at what a zombified world might look like. It is a collection of stories about the wars beginnings, its terrible carnage, and its final resolution, as recounted by those who survived. Max Brooks writes in a incredibly engaging style that gives an old B-movie genre fresh legs (or rotten ones). It is utterly believable, if you can get over the whole zombie thing, which many of the books characters find difficult themselves (a deadly mistake). Highly recommended as an intelligent and fresh bit of sci fi!

Okay, am I done with book reviews yet?

04 February 2008

Why is chicken meat white and beef red?

The quick n' dirty here. Basically, it comes down to myoglobin,
Red, or dark meat is made up of slow-twitch [muscles]. These muscles are used for extended periods of activity, such as standing or walking, and need a consistent energy source. The protein myoglobin stores oxygen in muscle cells, which use oxygen to extract the energy needed for constant activity.

White meat is made up of fast-twitch [muscles]. These muscles are used for quick bursts of activity, such as fleeing from danger. These muscles get energy from glycogen, which is also stored in the muscles.

In dark meat, myoglobin helps us determine when cooked meat is done
When dark meat is cooked, myoglobin's color changes depending on what the meat's interior temperature is. Rare beef is cooked to 140° F, and myoglobin's red color remains unchanged. Above 140° F, myoglobin loses its ability to bind oxygen, and the iron atom at the center of its molecular structure loses an electron. This process forms a tan-colored compound called hemichrome, which gives medium-done meat its color. When the interior of the meat reaches 170° F, hemichrome levels rise, and the myoglobin becomes metmyoglobin, which gives well-done meat its brown-gray shade.
In white meat, again it is protein that helps us tell if it is done, but since there is little myoglobin, we use another mechanism to tell if it's done

White meat has a translucent "glassy" quality when it is raw. When it's cooked, the proteins denature and recombine, or coagulate, and the meat becomes opaque and whitish.