January 25th, 2013

agent

Most frightening dream ever

I was in a math class. And we were all handed a test composed of 'math puzzles'. And...

I could not do A SINGLE ONE! I was filled with confusion and dismay and panic.

One of them had something to do with finding the fifth power of 11. I scribbled on the page, but all the numbers just went wonky. At this point, we leave the dream proper, and venture into fictional reconstruction of brain-states.

And then... the math part of my brain shouted to the gibbering-in-fear dreaming hindbrain, "Hey, dummy, the powers of 11 are totally related to Pascal's Triangle."

Hindbrain: gibbers

Mathbrain: "Here, let me handle this. So we're looking at the fifth row, so that's 1-5-10-10-5-1. Uh-oh, there's some carrying to be done."

The mathbrain checks the current status of the Meat Difference Engine. Its fires have been stoked back for the night, and only a few gears are listlessly turning. The mathbrain shouts into the tube to the engine room, "More power."

Engine Room: "We cannae do tha. He'll come awake!"

Mathbrain: "MORE POWER!"

The Engine Room Attendant puts a few more zebras and unicorns on the treadmills running the Meat Difference Engine. Lights start coming on in formerly quiescent portions of the skull.

Mike wakes up, mumbling "161051".
atheist teacher

A Wicked Company, by Philipp Blom

A Wicked Company (a phrase due to Garrick, IRC) centers on the radical enlightenment crowd at Baron d'Holbach's salon, principally the Baron himself and Diderot. The book does a nice job of comparing and contrasting the Enlightenment of Voltaire and Rousseau with that of Diderot and d'Holbach. The latter are definitely more my kind of people (particularly since Rousseau turns out to have been a selfish, paranoid asshole). I enjoyed the first half or so of the book, but it was a little annoying that every time a new personage would appear, a mini-biography would ensue. But the last half came to be sort of a slog. After a time, the salon ceased to fizz with new ideas, but like this book, it went on and on.