Just received: A Great Mathematica Reference

Today the UPS man dropped off my newest toy, Keikki Ruskeepää’s hefty guide, Mathematica Navigator, 2/e. Not only is it chock full of useful, well-explained examples [Bayesian statistics and MCMC algorithms in Chapter 27, oh joy!], but it’s great reading. Chapter 1 reels you in from the start:

In 1903 at a meeting of the American Mathematical Society, F.N. Cole read a paper entitled "On the Factorization of Large Numbers." When called upon to speak, Cole walked to the board and, saying nothing, raised two to its sixty-seventh power and subtracted one from the answer. Then he multiplied, longhand, 193,707,721 by 761,838,257,287 and the answers agreed. Without having said a word, Cole sat down to a standing ovation. Afterwards he announced that it had taken him twenty years of Sunday afternoons to factorize the Mersenne prime 2^67-1.

Based on Ruskeepää’s example, I tried it on my trusty home PC:

2^67 – 1
147573952589676412927

FactorInteger[%] // Timing
{0.015 Second, {{193707721, 1}, {761838257287, 1}}}

Ain’t computers wonderful?

The $69.95 price tag is about the going rate for a Mathematica book, but this one has a bonus: the entire book is also provided as a Mathematica notebook on a companion CD, gratis. What a deal.

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What a Pleasant Surprise

The wife and I just got back from the monthly big band dance at Fritzi’s Blue Bubble Ballroom. Those old warhorses, the Paul Elizondo Band, were playing up a storm–they play great Latin stuff, but Paul obviously never tried to dance to any of his swing or ballroom stuff (Paul–synchonize your metronome!). However, we were all in for a treat, because Paul had brought along San Antonio’s premier jazz singer, Joan Carrol. Joan sang a bunch of Ellington and Harry James, stuff that’s not on either of her CDs. Here’s hoping she has a new CD in the works!

Zhou GOT to be zhitting me!

Some folks at the University of Oregon are cooking up new pronouns. ze and hir. Linguistics major Pira Kelley describes them this way:

"For those who are not familiar with ze/hir, it is used rather than she/her or he/him/his for some people who identify outside of a man/woman dichotomy."

I, for one, welcome this addition to 21st century doubleplus goodspeak, and I suggest adding the second person pronoun zhou.  I predict this will quickly become the latest codeword for someone of nontraditional sexual orientation, replacing metrosexual, which replaced g-a-y a while back.

Thanks to Joanne Jacobs  for spotting this one.

Simplemente Lara

Unless you have reservations for the May 8 performance of Simplemente Lara at the Jump Start Theater, you’ve missed out on some wonderful Mexican popular music. Jose Ruben de Leon sings darn close to the original Augustin Lara, and Aaron Prado (yes, the KRTU music director) is note-perfect on the piano. Aaron’s dad, George Prado (leader of the Regency Jazz Quartet), was no slouch on the string bass, either. But all is not lost. JRdL tells us that Jump Start will reprise this show in the summer, and the guys are already working on a larger Augustin Lara show incorporating original film and photos, and lots more songs. My only gripe about the whole show: no CD on sale!

UPDATE: I received an email from Aaron Prado saying among other things "yes, there will definitely be more Lara in the future. My dad and I are hooked and are excited about continuing the project this summer. "