More absurd, horrifying, and downright inexplicable shorts from the author of "The Man Who Stands in Line." Included are such soon-to-be classics as Buzz-Saw Bob, the sport of pendulum watching, yet another secret to ultimate success, the art of gasping, a neighbor who is definitely not Mr. Rogers, and Buddha's morning commute.
"A pitch-black global thriller that is nevertheless supremely intimate." — Kirkus Review
A mysterious Front, originating in Scotland and slowly expanding outward, threatens humanity's existence. In defiance of the known laws of physics, it only kills humans and is otherwise undetectable. Panic-stricken nations struggle against both the advancing menace and a tide of civil unrest. Desperate individuals must find their own paths, and find them quickly. Although very slow, the Front can be deceptively difficult to escape. Mankind has only a few years to pool its rapidly dwindling resources and prevent its own extinction.
“... the lasting impression of the writing within is without question. Don’t let their brevity fool you; these works are tenacious, earnest, and overflowing with gloom.” — Kirkus Review
Killer flies, amorous dinosaurs, angry buildings, and one very large fish --- all in a single volume. THE MAN WHO STANDS IN LINE takes a surreal and humorous view of the usual questions of self, purpose, and society. This quirky collection of flash fiction, vignettes, and poetry is variously absurd, dark, and comic. A monstrous blister, the secret to immortality, and a lost piece of brain are just a few other oddities you will encounter in this one-of-a-kind book.
While toying with automated Fantasy Sports trading systems, I ended up designing a rapid state search algorithm that was suitable for a variety of constrained knapsack-like problems. Here is a discussion of the algorithm and a link to a reference implementation on github.
In this piece we play with two incredibly counterintuitive puzzles involving a pair of envelopes which contain unknown amounts of money. First we describe a famous fallacy when it is known that one envelope contains double the money in the other. Then we discuss an actual mechanism (probably first discovered by Thomas Cover in the 70’s) for achieving a better than 50-50 chance of picking the larger amount. This latter is one of the most stunning puzzlers in probability theory, and we dissect precisely what is going on there.
Ken's Summary of Semidirect Products and Split Exact Sequences.
This is a scary piece in which I analyze precisely how many voters would be required to trigger a Constitutional Convention and ratify any amendments it proposes. Because the 2/3 and 3/4 requirements in the Constitution refer to the number of States involved, the smaller States have a disproportionate effect. In Congress, the House counterbalances this – but for a Constitutional Convention, there is no such check.
Especially in urban areas, two locations may be quite close geographically but difficult to travel between. I wondered whether one could create a map where, instead of physical distances, points are arranged according to some sort of travel-time between them. This would be useful for many purposes.
We examine the real effective inflation that individuals experience and offer suggestions to mitigate it.
A system of direct attribution is proposed, to allow taxpayers to understand where their money is going.
I propose adopting a sentencing mechanism based on a probabilistic assessment of guilt or innocence. This allows jurists to better express their certainty or lack thereof than does our traditional all-or-nothing verdict.
We consider the components which support the popular conception of democracy, and whether these are present in our society.
We often hear of cases that offend our sense of fairness – excessive sentences, minor crimes that are punished more severely than serious crimes, or two equivalent crimes that are punished very differently. We consider the question of whether mathematically a well-intentioned individual can assign sentences in a way that seems reasonable and consistent to him.