Archive for the Kids Category

a journal of the plague year² [not there yet]

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures, Travel, University life, Wines with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 27, 2021 by xi'an

Returned to Warwick once more, with “traffic-as-usual” at Charles de Gaulle airport, including a single border officer for the entire terminal, a short-timed fright that I actually needed a PCR test on top of my vaccine certificate to embark, due to wrong signage, a one-hour delay at departure due to foggy conditions in B’ham, and another ½ hour delay at arrival due to a shortage of staff and hence no exit stairs available! And got a tense return to B’ham as the taxi line in Warwick had vanished!

Read the first novel of P. Djèlí-Clark A Master of Djinn after reading a series of short stories and novellas of his, taking place in the same fantastic Cairo of the early 1900’s. This was enjoyable, mostly, again thanks to well-constructed characters (apart from the arch-villain) and the appeal of the magical Cairo imagined by the author. I did not feel the appearances of Raymond Poincaré or von Birsmark were really needed, though. Also kindled A history of what comes next, by Sylvain Neuvel, which I got as a free (Tor) book. Which is an interesting take on the space race, with a pair of (super-)women behind the entire thing. And a lot of connections to the actual history. I somehow got tired in the middle, even though I finished the book during my commuting to and from Warwick.

Watched within a week My Name, a dark Korean TV drama,  as I found it very good and rather original (albeit with some similarities with the excellent Jeju-based Night in Paradise). The storyline is one of a young woman, Ji Woo, seeking revenge on her father’s killer, by joining the criminal gang her father was part of and infiltrating the police (not really  a spoiler!). At the beginning, this sounded like gang glorification, hence rather unappealing, but soon things proved to be quite different from how they appeared first. The scenario is of course most unrealistic, especially the (brutal and gory) fights where the heroine takes down endless rows of gang members and where the participants almost always recover from knife injuries that should have been fatal or at least permanently damaging. And the ineffectiveness of the police in stopping the drug dealers. However, when watched as a theatrical performance, the main characters in My Name, most especially Ji Woo, are well-constructed and ambiguous enough to make this descent into darkness worth watching. (Given the conclusion of the series, I cannot imagine a second season being made.) Also had a short go at Night Teeth, which proved a complete waste of time!

more border policing won’t save lives

Posted in Kids, Travel with tags , , , , , , on November 26, 2021 by xi'an

It is just shocking that the widespread reaction to an increasing number of migrants’ deaths (whether at sea or in the Belarus wetlands) is a call for more policing… And for criminalising NGOs that bring basic help to those stranded in liquid or terrestrial no man’s lands. The EU should act to give migrants and asylum seekers just-as-basic rights, rather than delegating its border control to non EU countries with abyssal human right records and accepting that its member states breach asylum laws and deny the victims their humanity.

Misera Carta Privationis

Posted in Kids, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2021 by xi'an

Read in The Guardian of 18 November that the UK Government was pushing for a new bill on nationality and borders that would

  • open the possibility for said Government of stripping British citizens of their nationality without noticing them (and hence depriving them from appealing the decision)
  • barring anyone arriving in the UK by an illegal route from claiming refugee status
  • criminalising anyone trying save an illegal immigrant life
  • giving UK Border Force staff immunity from prosecution if their operations result in death

which are failing basic human right principles in the country that established the Magna Carta as a basis for a lawful government… (From a cynic perspective, the 1253 charter was only giving right to a very small fraction of the English population, while serfdom lasted until 1574.) And another illustration of how Brexit is more easily used to cut rights than to establish new ones.

dice and sticks

Posted in Books, Kids, R with tags , , , , , , on November 19, 2021 by xi'an

A quick weekend riddle from the Riddler about the probability of getting a sequence of increasing numbers from dice with an increasing number of faces, eg 4-, 6-, and 8-face dice. Which happens to be 1/4. By sheer calculation (à la Gauss) or simple enumération (à la R):

> for(i in 1:4)for(j in (i+1):6)F=F+(8-j)
> F/4/6/8
[1] 0.25

The less-express riddle is an optimisation problem related with stick breaking: given a stick of length one, propose a fraction a and win (1-a) if a Uniform x is less than one. Since the gain is a(1-a) the maximal average gain is associated with a=½. Now, if the remaining stick (1-a) can be divided when x>a, what is the sequence of fractions one should use when the gain is the length of the remaining stick? With two attempts only, the optimal gain is still ¼. And a simulation experiment with three attempts again returns ¼.

 

summit of the gods

Posted in Books, Kids, Mountains, pictures with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 17, 2021 by xi'an
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