The Most Awesomest Graphs in the World

When I was poking around on Valentine’s Day, I came across the coolest mathematical pictures to illustrate love. It got me thinking about how visually representing the information that we want to convey is so important.  Now, I totally dig numbers. And I dig artwork. I took that test this week on whether you are more left or right brained, and I scored a 53 – ambi-brained. My undergraduate study was equal measures of English Literature and Accounting, but that shouldn’t be surprising. I worked with many excellent banking and finance professionals who had degrees in English, Religious Studies, Music, Art History, and Humanities. People who analyze often appreciate the aesthetic beauty of analysis for its own sake.

Hence, it’s no surprise that pictures of numbers and data can be inherently beautiful. For example, I found this one posted by Utsav Goyal,  named “The Love Function.”  LoveFn

Change one of those squares to a 3 or a 1, and you’ve just got a squiggle. There are also tons of beautiful patterns in the natural world – the whole science of fractals blossomed a few decades ago to show just that. The Greeks understood the connection of beauty in math and aesthetics as they were passionate about both. Aristotle, for instance, coined the concept of the Golden Mean, a ratio in nature which would reveal everything from the structure of a nautilus shell to a rose to the human ear.

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Stay Together for 39 Years with this One Simple Trick…

Let’s throw away anxiety, let’s quite forget propriety,
Respectable society, the rector and his piety,
And contemplate l’amour in all its infinite variety,
My dear, let’s talk about love

–Cole Porter

It’s February and there’s spring in the air. That means this past Sunday there were long lines of men standing outside the See’s candy store, roadside stands full of red hearts and teddy bears, and women with a particular gleam in their eye and a knowing smile. February is also the month that Karin and I celebrate our anniversary, so it’s the love month for us, too. This upcoming one is #39 – poor 39, such a lonely number, being right under the shadow of 40 and neither even nor prime. It’s still a pretty good number as longevity goes, so it seems appropriate to discuss the question I often get: What’s the secret to such a long relationship?

lastinglovehandsOddly enough, I feel both expert and novice in this. I can speak with superior knowledge about how to make it last, and I have the statistically significant number of years to prove it. Having been in only one relationship, though, I don’t really have a clue about what attracts people to each other in the first place, so I can’t offer any advice on that. (Sorry, I won the multi-billion dollar lottery on that one.) I only know how to get your hooks in good and tight once you got ’em.

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An Opera Lesson

How ‘bout that Super Bowl and those ____? Wasn’t that play amazing when _______ the ball and then ______ took it in the end zone for the touchdown? Of course, the commercial by _________ was kind of stupid and offensive, but I sure liked the one about the dog ____. [Note to self: remember to fill in blanks after the game is over.]

Speaking of grand and potentially ridiculous spectacles, I’ve been studying opera this month. This is the time of year when the NY Metropolitan Opera provides live showings in local movie theaters, and they are a huge treat. Not only is the singing the world’s best, but the sets and costumes are fabulous, and the intermission interviews very entertaining. Think of it like boxing pay per view. It’s not exactly like being in person, but you can see a lot better and it’s much less expensive (especially excluding the Vegas flight and hotel).

Now, if anyone actually knows something about opera (which means you probably know far more than I), please correct me gently as I share my recently learned wiki-facts. For the few of you who might consider it but have shied away due to lack of knowledge; let me see if I can spark interest. And if you still detest the thought, I can at least give you a few buzz words and factoids to sprinkle in conversations. Continue reading “An Opera Lesson”

What’s so Super?

50 is here, and in this case it’s not so pretty. The 50th Super Bowl will be held in the Bay Area this Sunday amid pomp, ceremony, and controversy. A longtime 49er fan myself, the event stirs mixed feelings. Both of our local teams sucked bilgewater, and the clueless rookie 49er coach was fired five minutes after the losing season ended. I enjoy the game, especially debating the merits of players and games with friends, but there’s always been a dark side to that enjoyment that’s grown darker in the last few years.

The NFL has been grappling with an increase in incidents of player violence – domestic violence in particular – over the past few years. In late 2014, there had been 48 players involved in incidents, with 88 percent receiving no or minimal suspension. At the beginning of the 2015 season, there were 27 active players who had been arrested for domestic violence, DUIs, or other infractions. There’s also a correlation between an increase in domestic violence and games in general, with one study showing across multiple cities following a loss, violence in the home increased 10%.

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The Dreaded Senior Center

Bette Davis famously said, “Old age ain’t for sissies.”

The scariest thing I’ve done this month is to start taking a yoga class at a local Senior Center. After the first class, I couldn’t shake the disquieting feeling that there was something wrong about the whole thing. The room was too dark; the instructor went too fast; other people blocked my view, whine, whine whine. I had only paid for half the sessions and resolved after only one class not to see it through. Forget that the stretching made me feel better, that other returning members graciously lent me their mats and pillows, or that I discovered a beautiful Japanese garden next door. Clearly being there wasn’t for me!

Upon reflection – you know, that part of you that knows better – (Freud called it the Supergo) –the part that says you shouldn’t eat that or you’re going too fast – that part called bs on my lame rationalizations. I didn’t want to go because it was in the Senior Center.

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