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Thursday, May 28th, 2009
1:29 pm

It is a logical impossibility to prove to an illogical man that he is illogical.

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Saturday, May 23rd, 2009
3:57 am

The following was on a friend's blog, and is far too good to be kept secret

The geek way to tire your child out:

Let him type a message in Skype to Daddy. Make him run to Daddy's laptop to make sure it got there. Repeat ad infinitum.

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Saturday, May 9th, 2009
12:49 am

My first ever passport photos, and I lost them within ten minutes of getting them done. Mind you, this may not be a totally bad thing. A neatly trimmed beard is probably a better thing to present to officials in Sydney than the Death-to-America mugshots that went missing.

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Monday, May 4th, 2009
5:21 pm - 'Tis the season to be silly...
May the 4th be with you.

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Friday, April 24th, 2009
1:35 pm

Can I please ask my Kiwi friends to read this article from the Otago Daily Times, and write to Tony Ryall, the Minister of Health, using the email form on his Parliamentary web page. It would be good if it could be spread around. I suggest everyone putting a time limit on it in their communications, as these things have a way of circulating for years after the original issue has ceased to be one. I suggest May 4. If a resolution is announced, we should circulate everyone again.

I have sent the following email to Mr Ryall—

Mr Tony Ryall
Minister of Health

17 Chambers St
North East Valley

Phone numbers:
03 473 8200
021 142 5763

Dear sir

This morning’s Otago Daily Times carries the story of Mr Joe Noon who is being denied funding to be prescribed Infliximab, a drug which has the potential to relieve his chronic extreme pain and allow him to live a normal life. The story is online at http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/52728/no-access-drug-crohn039s-disease-sufferer
The following is the text of a letter I have sent to the ODT editor—

"In 1973 I had Crohn’s disease. It was the most extreme pain I have ever experienced. Very luckily I got it in the appendix, and it was quickly removed. If Joe Noon (ODT 24/4/2009) is suffering long term what I suffered for only two or three hours, then whoever is making the decision denying him funding should be prosecuted for torture. If this decision really can't be made at regional Health Board level, it should go straight to the Health Minister, and funding granted at once."

While the sentiment expressed here is extreme, it is not exaggerated. I am asking you, sir, please make a decision quickly on Mr Noon’s case, and move things so that he can have funding for this pain relief as soon as possible—within hours if at all possible, rather than days or even longer.

I do not know Mr Noon personally. I did recognise him by his dress as a patient I have seen in the lobby of the hospital a day or two ago when I was there for treatment.

Yours truly,
Neil Copeland

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Thursday, April 23rd, 2009
12:08 am - Think about it

I'd love to be a ventriloquist—I'd go to a lot of funerals.
—quote from ventriloquist's dummy on tonight's Late Show

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Wednesday, March 25th, 2009
12:50 am - Scandentia

Tree shrews are not true shrews.

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Wednesday, March 11th, 2009
9:38 pm

Not the kick-off of radiotherapy after all. Just a consultation. Only, the hospital's new i-soft computer system was down, and after telling me how embarrassing it is to be put in the position of asking a patient, "What are you here for?" Dr Costello asked me what I was there for. It didn't even occur to me to give him the real answer, which was, "Because I have an appointment to see you." We muddled through the time somehow, and I will presumably be notified soon when treatment begins.

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Thursday, March 5th, 2009
10:55 pm - A day to celebrate

Yesterday, Wednesday: Isaac's sixth birthday. Also the day of my CT scan. I now have an appointment for next Monday with Shaun Costello, the radiologist, and I think this will be the kick-off of my radiotherapy. According to the lady in charge of the scan, it should be pretty much life as normal—folk festivals included.

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Thursday, February 12th, 2009
11:06 pm

Little highlights from the past week:

Saturday, at the Waihi Bush Folk Festival, An old guy comes up to me and says, "Were you at the Tui Festival? Are you going to sing? I really like Flanders and Swann." I put my name down on the board for the blackboard concert.

While I'm standing by, waiting for my turn on stage, Martin Curtis comes up to me and says, "Are you on next?" I tell him I'm either the one after next or the one after that. He says, "I'll go and get Kay." My hopes of a Cardrona concert some day are rising.

Sunday night at Folk Club at St Lees Restaurant, world class harmonica player Brendan Power has me up playing blues guitar for him. Brendan does this sort of thing.

He also gets Erin, of Tui Award winning Del Girl, to get up and do a couple of songs, accompanied by him. I had never heard her sing solo before. She is good.

Monday and Tuesday. Baby-sitting my 10-month-old granddaughter Maia.  Three times she fell asleep on me—an hour and a half on Monday, two shorter sleeps of 30 and 40 minutes on Tuesday.  On waking, she pushes herself up off me, looks puzzled for a few seconds, and then gives me a huge smile.

Tonight. Hearing that Black Books is starting on Prime TV on Monday nights.

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Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009
10:20 am - Fifty years ago today...

The Day the Music Died.

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Thursday, January 29th, 2009
5:08 pm - Two great crimes against art

1: Putting words to Lara's Theme
2: Putting music to the Bricklayer's Letter.

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Thursday, January 15th, 2009
12:04 pm - First it was Richard Dawkins advocating teaching everyone the Bible...

As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God"—article in The Times by Matthew Parris.

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Friday, January 9th, 2009
11:08 am

Three weeks ago I finally created a much-needed Wikipedia article on Ngoi Pēwhairangi. I have watched its progress down through the new articles list, and checked its history from time to time. No-one else has edited it so far. By the time we left for Tui on Dec 29, it still wasn't registering on Google. We arrived back yesterday, and I find it is now showing up. I've even found it reduplicated in three places—on a military history website (where the deletion of red links leaves it a little disjointed), on a Pakistani music website, and even, rather mysteriously, in an encyclopedia of plants. The original page will probably stay in place until it's a month old, when it reaches the bottom of the new pages list, at which time it will be spotted by those patrolling the new articles. Pages that make it through the first day are generally pretty sure to stay on the list for a month. Much of the patrolling happens at the bottom of the list, as there is far less chance of spotting trash once a page disappears from the list.

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Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008
3:03 am - Some people use the holiday time and the upcoming New Year to reflect, evaluate and prioritise...

Whatever you do, don't party with these people.

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Wednesday, December 10th, 2008
12:11 am - Recent developments in Māori lexicography

>I have recently bought a couple of substantial Māori lexicons (Sorry cajetan65, I refuse to say "lexica"), quite different in their function and approach.

A few months ago I bought Sally-Anne Lambert's Māori Word Encyclopedia, which is an 800-plus-page compendium of a vast amount of Māori vocabulary, arranged topically—a thesaurus rather than a dictionary. Rather quirky in its approach, it gives the English first, and then one or more Māori equivalents. This is not unusual in itself, except that it looks as if she has taken her definitions from a Māori-English dictionary, and flipped the two languages around.

For example:
A type of fish—maire / toke / kuruhunga ... (and more than 60 more)
A type of fresh-water fish—rāwaru / more / pakewharu... (and 12 more)
A type of small fresh-water fish—pāriri / pokotohe... (+ 6)
A fish about 9 inches long—kōkopu ururoa
A type of small fish—(10)
A type of large fish—(1)
A small scaleless fish—(3)
A small fish which hides under stones—(1)
A small fish which buries itself in the sand—(1)
...and so on

The typeface for the English phrases looks like that of an old-fashioned typewriter, while the Māori words are in something resembling Times New Roman.

The thing I find strangest is the theory she puts forward in the introductory chapter and in some of the appendices, that each of the 51 possible Māori syllables (undifferentiated by vowel length) has its own meaning. For example, ki = "other", wi = "back", so kiwi means "other back". The explanation is that the kiwi has an animal-like hairy look; the male comes back to get the female to go find food at night; he puts his back into taking care of the couple's egg - he is steady; symbolizes the strong, stern yet kind culture of Māori society. By a similar process, moa means "change spirit", tui means "onward become", and so on.

This system is called mātātara. The author advocates using it to check the suitability of transliterations. The usual word for table, tēpu, is rejected, because its mātātara meaning is "power against"—"not the kind of meaning that you need in the furniture that you eat off." She offers instead an older Māori word for table, paraparahua, which unfolds its meaning as "there together there together gather spirit".

As I say, I find the book quirky. But it does reflect a thoroughly Māori world view, and contains an astonishing wealth of Māori terminology for their own material culture and the natural world. It would be an invaluable source for other lexical works. The $50 price is money very well spent.

Last week I bought a tome called He Pātaka Kupu: te kai a te rangatira. This is a Māori dictionary of Māori, all 1180 pages of it, beautifully produced, and it looks as scholarly and careful as Williams's Māori-English dictionary. Unlike Williams, it includes words borrowed from English (with the note, reo kē).

This dictionary too has a feature that I find as incomprehensible as the mātātara system in Lambert's work. For each entry you have the head word, followed by passive and verbal noun endings if it's a verb, and then, in square brackets, the name of an atua. Tāne seems to be the most frequently occurring one, but the others feature as well—Papatūānuku, Ranginui, Tūmatauenga, Tangaroa, Tāwhirimātea, Rūaumoko, Rongo and Haumia. Some are Ranginui & Papatūānuku. In the explanatory apparatus at the beginning of book, there is an outline of the different parts of each entry. The relevant one says simply, (3) Tōna atua; kei ngā taiapa pēnei [  ]. This translates as, "(3) Its atua (god/ancestor); in brackets like this [  ]." Information on the internet about the book says, "For each entry, the dictionary gives the atua category, parts of speech, definitions, examples of the word used..." So I'm no wiser. A very cursory glance through indicates that those words you would expect to be associated with a given atua generally are, but every single word has an atua, right down to the smallest verbal particle and preposition.

Anyway, all this gives me hope that a comprehensive two-way dictionary may appear in my lifetime.

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Saturday, December 6th, 2008
9:16 pm - Break for music...

Today I had a go at jazz accordion accompaniment, and there is some absolutely lovely stuff in it. In All of Me, there is a point near the end where you maintain an E minor chord on the right hand while going from a C major to an A7 on the left, and then, couple of notes later, conversely, you maintain a G7 on the left while going from D minor to E minor on the right just before the final triumphant C6. It is totally sweet!!

Don't know that I'll be totally up to scratch for playing with the band at Rose's wedding at Woodhaugh Gardens tomorrow, but it's definitely something I'd like to see a whole lot more of in my future.

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5:37 pm - Factorials III

And then there's the quasi-factorial sequence (I have been calling them "factorial sequences", until I decided I needed a term for the single numbers). This is a sequence of consecutive integers whose factors collectively include all the prime numbers up to the highest prime factor of any of the numbers in the sequence. The product of all members of the sequence is a quasi-factorial (or factorial in some cases). The factorials and quasi-factorials themselves can be regarded as single-member sequences.

Examples of two-member sequences are: 2–3, 3–4, 5–6, 8–9, 9–10, 14–15, 15–16, 20–21, 24–25, 35–36, 80–81, 125–126, 224–225, 384–385, 440–441, 539–540, 714–715 (my favourite in the series).

With one exception, any sequence of consecutive integers in which the highest is equal to or greater than double the prime next below the first in the sequence will be a quasi-factorial sequence, e.g. 3–4, 4–6, 5–6, 6–10, 7–10, 8–14, 9–14, 10–14; but not 11–14, which has no multiples of 5. Any of these sequences can be extended forwards or backwards, and the result is still a factorial sequence.

A three-member sequence always yields a higher two-member one consisting of the product of the first and last member of the sequence followed by the square of the middle one: 1–3 (3–4), 2–4 (8–9), 3–5 (15–16), 4–6 (24–25), 5–7 (35–36), 8–10 (80–81), 14–16 (224–225), 20–22 (440–441), 48–50 (2400–2401), 54–56 (3024–3025), 98–100 (9800–9801), 350–352 (123200–123201), 440–442 (194480–194481),

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Thursday, December 4th, 2008
3:56 pm - Factorials II

I side-tracked myself last time. Where I intended to head was in the direction of something I call quasi-factorials, for lack of a better name. If anyone can can come up with something better, I will be grateful. If you are American, or have learned English in its American form, remember that as a kiwi, I pronounce the prefix as "quozzee" rather than as "quayze-eye".

One subclass of quasi-factorials, which forms a basis for all other quasi-factorials, is what I call prime factorials (for which I don't feel the lack of a better name). Prime factorials are generated by starting with 1, and multiplying successively by consecutive prime numbers, beginning with 2. The list of prime factorials begins:

1 × 2 = 2
1 × 2 × 3 = 6
1 × 2 × 3 × 5 = 30
1 × 2 × 3 × 5 × 7 = 210
1 × 2 × 3 × 5 × 7 × 11 = 2310
1 × 2 × 3 × 5 × 7 × 11 × 13 = 30030
1 × 2 × 3 × 5 × 7 × 11 × 13 × 17 = 510510 (my favourite number)
1 × 2 × 3 × 5 × 7 × 11 × 13 × 17 × 19 = 9699690
1 × 2 × 3 × 5 × 7 × 11 × 13 × 17 × 19 × 23 = 223092870
1 × 2 × 3 × 5 × 7 × 11 × 13 × 17 × 19 × 23 ×29 = 6469693230

A quasi-factorial can be defined as a prime factorial or a quasi-factorial multiplied by one of its own factors. Despite the seeming partial circularity, this is a valid and workable definition. Another way of defining a quasi-factorial is as a number whose factors include all prime numbers up to its highest prime factor. One problem with the quasi- prefix is that the definition includes factorials as part of the class of quasi-factorials, which is less than satisfactorialy.

The list of quasi-factorials up to 1000 is as follows:
2, 4, 6, 8, 12, 16, 18, 24, 30, 32, 36, 48, 54, 60, 64, 72, 90, 96, 108, 120, 128, 144, 150, 162, 180, 192, 210, 216, 240, 256, 270, 288, 300, 324, 360, 384, 420, 432, 450, 480, 486, 512, 540, 576, 600, 630, 648, 720, 750, 768, 810, 840, 864, 900, 960, 972

Another sub-class of quasi-factorials is what I call minimal factorials. The minimal factorial of n is the lowest number divisible by all numbers up to and including n.

2 2
3 6
4 12
5 60
6 60
7 420
8 840
9 2520
10 2520
11 27720
12 27720
13 360360
14 360360
15 360360
16 720720

The minimal factorial of n is greater than that of n-1 if and only if n is a prime number or a power of a prime number. In either case the previous minimal factorial is multiplied by that prime number.

One respect in which these quasi-factorials differ from factorials proper is that they cannot be applied to non-integers. Non-integers may sometimes be prime numbers (e.g. 1.2 or the square root of 6), but they cannot have prime factorials or minimal factorials, though they can have factorials.

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Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008
12:06 pm - Factorials I

I have a fascination with factorials that matches my fascination with the Fibonacci and Lucas series. The factorial of a real non-negative integer is calculated on the basis that the factorial of 0—conventionally represented as 0!—equals 1, and n!=n((n-1)!).

1! = 1
2! = 1 × 2 = 2
3! = 1 × 2 × 3 = 6
4! = 1 × 2 × 3 × 4 = 24
5! = 1 × 2 × 3 × 4 × 5 = 120

Some years ago I realised that non-integers should also have factorials. With the help of my computer, and using progressively refined formulae I worked out ½! to fifteen decimal places. It came to 0.886226925452758. Subsequently, acting on a tip from my son-in-law to be, I worked out that this number is half the square root of pi. Lately I've been working on the factorials of real negative non-integers (the factorials of negative integers being infinite). I've also been wondering about the factorials of complex numbers. I have a calculator that can operate with complex numbers, and the Windows calculator can work out factorials of non-integers, but I have no way of combining the two.

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