Sunday, June 23, 2013

Botella al mar

Mario Benedetti

Pongo estos seis versos en mi botella al mar
con el secreto designio de que algún día
llegue a una playa casi desierta
y un niño la encuentre y la destape
y en lugar de versos extraiga piedritas
y socorros y alertas y caracoles.


I put these six verses in my bottle and set it adrift in the sea
with the secret hope that someday
it will arrive at an almost deserted beach
and a little boy will find it and open it
and instead of verses out fall pebbles
and aid and warnings and seashells.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Poema de Vapor

Poema de Vapor

Pedro Andreu

Cuántas ganas de darte mi corazón de barro,
mis desplegadas alas de papel pinocho.
O cosas más sencillas: una copa de vino,
las señas de mi casa, un trozo de mi cama.

Y mañana, café al despertarnos y este poema
dibujado en el espejo empañado del baño.


Many times I have wanted to give you my heart of clay,
my crêpe paper wings spread wide.
Or simpler things: a cup of wine,
my home address, a part of my bed.

And tomorrow, coffee to wake us up and this poem
drawn on the foggy bathroom mirror.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Geometry Definitions



  • point A: \( A \)
  • line passing through points A and B: \( \overleftrightarrow{AB} \)
  • ray starting at endpoint A and passing through point B: \( \overrightarrow{AB} \)
    • \( \overrightarrow{ST} \) and \( \overrightarrow{SR} \) are opposite rays if \( S \) lies between \( R \) and \( T \) on \( \overleftrightarrow{RT} \)
  • segment starting at point A and ending at point B: \( \overline{AB} \)
  • length of segment starting at point A and ending at point B: \( AB \)
    • the distance between any two points equals the absolute value of the difference of their coordinates
  • plane \( M \) defined by any three points in \( \{A, B, C, D\} \)
    A B C D M
  • space is the set of all points
  • colinear points lie on the same line
  • coplanar points lie in the same plane
  • the intersection of two figures is the set of points that are in both figures
  • postulates or axioms are statements accepted without proof
  • congruent ( \( \cong  \) ) objects have the same size and shape
    • congruent segments have equal lengths
  • the midpoint of a segment is the point that divides the segment into two congruent segments
    • a bisector of a segment is a line, segment, ray, or plane that intersects the segment at its midpoint
  • an angle ( \( \angle \) ) is formed by two rays with the same endpoint
    • the common endpoint is called the vertex of the angle
    • the measure (degrees or radians between sides) of angle \( \angle AOC \) with vertex \( O \) and sides corresponding to rays \( \overrightarrow{OA} \) and \( \overrightarrow{OB} \) is denoted \( m \angle AOC \)
    • an acute angle has measure \( \lt 90^\circ = \frac{\pi}{2} rad \)
    • a right ( rt. ) angle has measure \( = 90^\circ = \frac{\pi}{2} rad \)
    • an obtuse angle has measure \( \gt 90^\circ = \frac{\pi}{2} rad \)
    • a straight angle has measure \( = 180^\circ = \pi  rad \)
    • congruent angles have equal measures
    • adjacent ( adj. ) angles are two angles in the same plane with a common vertex and a common side but no common interior points
    • the bisector of an angle is the ray that divides the angle into two congruent angles

Axioms and Theorems

  • A1 : The distance between any two points equals the absolute value of the difference between their coordinates
  • A2 : If \( B \) is between \( A \) and \( C \), then \( AB + BC = AC \)
  • A3 : The difference between two angles that share a ray \( \angle AOQ \) and \( \angle AOP \) is the absolute value of the difference of their measures \( m \angle AOQ - m \angle AOP \)
  • A4 : If point \( B \) lies in the interior of  \( \angle AOC \), then \( m \angle AOB + m \angle BOC = m \angle AOC \) .  If \( \angle AOC \) is a straight angle, then \( m \angle AOB + \angle AOC = 180^\circ \)
  • A5 : A line is defined by two points, a plane is defined by three points, and a space contains four points not all in the same plane
  • A6 : There is exactly one line through any two points
  • A7 : There is at least one plane through any three points, and exactly one plane through three non-collinear points
  • A8 : If two points are in a plane, the line that contains the points is in that plane
  • A9 : If two planes intersect, their intersection is a line

  • T1-1 : If two lines intersect, they intersect at exactly one point
    • Pf. Given that two arbitrary (but distinct) lines \( l1 \) and \( l2 \) intersect at point \( X \), assume that \( l1 \) and \( l2 \) also intersect at point \( Y \).  This means that \( l1 \) passes through both points \( X \) and \( Y \), and \( l2 \) also passes through both points \( X \) and \( Y \).  Since there is exactly one line through any two points (by A6), \( l1 \) and \( l2 \) must be the same line.  This contradicts our given, so \( l1 \) and \( l2 \) must intersect at exactly one point (\( X \)).
  • T1-2 : Through a line and a point not on the line there is exactly one plane
    • Pf.  Given an arbitrary line \( l \) and an arbitrary point \( X \) not on line \( l \), let line \( l \) be defined by points \( A \) and \( B \) as \( \overleftrightarrow{AB} \) (by A5).  Since \( X \) is not on \( \overleftrightarrow{AB} \), points \( X, A \), and \( B \) are not collinear.  Since there is exactly one plane through three non-collinear points (by A7), points \( X, A \), and \( B \) define exactly one plane (call this plane \( M \)).  Since points \( A \) and \( B \) define line \( l \), point \( X \) and line \( l \) define exactly one plane (\( M \)).
  • T1-3 : If two lines intersect, then exactly one plane contains the lines
    • Pf. Given that two arbitrary (but distinct) lines \( l1 \) and \( l2 \) intersect at point \( X \), there is some point \( Y \) on \( l2 \) but not \( l1 \).  By T1-2, there is exactly one plane (call this plane \( M \)) that contains line \( l1 \) and point \( Y \).  Since line \( l1 \) is in plane \( M \), point \( X \) on line \( l1 \) is also in plane \( M \).  Since points \( X \) and \( Y \) are on line \( l2 \), and there is exactly one line through any two points (by A6), line \( l2 \) is also in plane \( M \) (by A8).


Basic Shapes

(from Dashing D3, mostly so that I have a reference for the SVG). W3C doc.







Sunday, February 24, 2013

¿Por qué tenemos Pikachu?

Why do we have Pikachu?
by ?

A question occurred to me a few days ago when I started to play Pokémon blue.  Normally I play Pokémon in English - so I hadn't thought that it would have been possible that the franchise would not translate all of the names.  The fundamental thing to know would be that the names in Japanese are different.  For example: Dragonite was Kairyu etc.  So, the question is "Why?"


It seems to me that the Japanese names are different because Pokémon is a product of Japan and for this reason, it contains idioms, jokes, and aspects of that culture.  My problem with that is: apart from Japanese, the Pokémon have different names in English, Chinese, French, and German!  But not in Spanish?

At least, the names of Pokémon in English, Chinese, and German are translated and the translation from Japanese takes into account the sayings, jokes and idioms of each language -- even in French,

"In the French version Nintendo took care to translate the name of the creatures so that they reflected the French culture and language." (Wiki)

"In the French version, Nintendo made an effort in translation of the names of the creatures, such that they reflect the language and culture of French." ((more literal trans))

They give such respect to those countries, but only some countries!  There is France (and clearly if there are many other ((countries)) that have French as the official language or second language) - but the number of Spanish-speaking countries is much greater than those that speak French or German -- and perhaps close to the size of English (when combined).

In America, the country that has the second largest market for Pokémon, there is a Spanish-speaking population that is almost 20 percent of the total!  So then there is no lack of interest or demand.

The problem is possibly due to the unity of the countries, in the sense that there are many Spanish-speaking countries, and they are far apart and unconnected.  But, at least you have Spain, Mexico and Argentina that are large countries, 'powerful', and have an economy to support video games.  (I know that realistically this isn't  true in Mexico and Argentina - especially the south of Argentina - but bear with me.)

Perhaps we have to ask the Spanish-speaking companies and our governments.  I know that France is focused on the development of its language and culture (this is reflected in the above quotation) and as a result the names of Pokémon and the language used in the games specifically includes cultural references.  So maybe the (Spanish-speaking) governments don't care about this - a big problem, I think.  Especially now, when there are still new versions coming out.  The fundamental issue should be that no emphasis is placed on the culture and history of Spanish speakers, but perhaps this is the problem:

[Map showing lots of Spanish-speaking countries.]

There are too many.  They would have to include the culture and history of three countries at least!! - but there is also the entirety of South America, all of Central America, Mexico, Spain, and the Caribbean Islands as well.  And each country has its own jargon.

This is also the case in English.  English is the lingua fraca (("lingua franca")) and with the number of Spanish-speakers in the United States, it makes more sense to change the names such that there are two versions ((of the game)) in the same country.

My conclusion?  Who knows?  But, I'm going to Catch Them All!

Un Nuevo Sistema Electoral para España

A New Electoral System for Spain
by Jesús Fernández-Villaverde on 24 May 2011

Today I'm going to propose a new electoral system for Spain.  Given that this is one of the core demands of the 15 million demonstrators, I want to be as practical as I can while staying away from simple slogans.  Equally, I want to be as specific as possible without being wordy.

Before getting into the details, allow me to clarify two things.  First, the system that I'm going to propose is derived from many years of studying electoral systems, teaching courses on the subject and reading the relevant literature.  In a post of a few hundred words, I hope that the reader will forgive me if I don't back up all of my assertions in detail.  Perhaps in future articles I would have time to do this (in Nada es Gratis I have published quite a bit on this subject, for example [one], [two], [three], [four] and [five]).  Second, the system that I'm going to propose is my own design and consequently, in this case, only, I only speak for myself.

The first thing we have to do is identify the basic objectives of a good design:

1) An electoral system that ensures governability.  At the end of the day the goal of an electoral system is to obtain a government in a reasonable amount of time without a minority having the power to influence the overall results.

2) An electoral system that reflects, approximately, the diversity of opinions in Spain.  In our country this has to include different ideologies but also, unpleasant as it may be (?), the undeniable geographic differences.  An equilibrium point must be found between objective 1) and this desire for diversity.

3) An electoral system that avoids the bureaucratic partisan excesses that we have seen in the past few years in Spain.

4) But also an electoral system that recognizes that the political parties are important, as they minimize information cost, exercise discipline when needed and that the great central party bureaucracies usually focus and moderate politics, doing this in a slow and perhaps frustrating way but also sensibly.

The second thing we have to do is recognize that EVERY electoral system is going to have serious defects (for once in this article allow me to be more technical: this can be demonstrated mathematically, assuming that all of the voters are sincere, serious and altruistic, this is a property of the systems of aggregate preferences).  Our task must be to find a system that minimizes, as much as possible, these defects given the structure of our society and the idiosyncrasy of Spain.

The third then that we have to do is forget for one moment what the Constitution and other laws do or do not say.  The legal system exists to serve society, not the other way around.  If it has to change, it will change and the change will be accomplished.  Equally, I'm going to ignore whether or not I the political parties could be convinced to accept the new system.  If you haven't decided where to go yet, it isn't possible to plan for bumps in the road.

Starting from these three considerations, and in what I think is the best constitutionalist tradition of checks and balances, my system is a mixture between majority and popular vote.  These are the details:

1.) The Congress of the Representatives will still have 350 representatives, as it does now.  I don't think that changing the number of representatives will do much and reducing it would create, as I will explain in a moment, constituencies too big (in reality it would be better to increase the number to 351 to avoid ties, but whatever...)

2.) Half of the representatives, 175, would be chosen from single-member districts by a single-round majority scheme.  This would allow a direct tie between the representatives and the voters and, most likely, over-represent the winning party in the elections in order to allow the majority of the government to work.

a) Each district, given its own population, would have some 200k votes (a reasonable ratio of constituency to representative).  An electoral commission of independent experts would design the districts to avoid manipulation, maintain districts of approximately equivalent size and use common sense when assigning districts' geographic boundaries (although there will surely be some exceptions).

b) The political parties can "support" one or many candidates, but this must always be on an individual level, such that the entry of independents is possible.  The position, if it is won, is of a representative, not of a party post.

3.) The other half of the representatives, 175, will be chosen by popular vote.  This second component of choice seeks to represent minorities and correct the possible defects of majority rule.

a) If the constituency is national, as seems simplest to me, the choice between a purely proportional system or a D'Hondt system is somewhat irrelevant as in constituencies with more than 50 representatives the results of both will be almost the same.  You might consider designing independent constituencies (the provinces with only 175 representatives would be almost all quasi-majorities, undermining the goal of correcting the problems of majority rule) but many communities (La Rioja, Cantabria, Navarra) would choose so few representatives as to defeat the purpose of the second half of the representatives.  For this reason I would recommend going with a national constituency.

b) Establish a minimum number of votes for consideration in the proportional allocation of votes would avoid excessive fragmentation of Congress and entry of more radical parties.  The 3% rule used in many elections now is sensible as it guarantees that each party has 5 representatives.  It's always possible to increase this to 5% to be precise.

c) The nationalist parties could be grouped together, as is done now for Europe, with joint listings.  On the other hand CiU and PNV would probably take many of the majority rule representatives and CC one or two (via Tenerife).  ERC, EA or BNG would have more difficulty and probably only enter into the proportional allocation on a joint list.

d) With 175 representatives on each list it is almost impossible to have openings but a limited system like that of Holland or Sweden, where the voter can choose 1 or 2 favorite representatives (or eliminate 1 or 2) may allow popular desire for control over the listings to be satisfied.  While I don't recommend it, it is a harmless option if implemented properly.

4.) Don't establish primaries for single-representative constituencies.  The experience with the EU makes it all too clear  that primaries mobilize the most radical constituents of each party (this happens even with presidential primaries).  Another option would be to have primaries but with a mandatory vote (to avoid radicalization) or what is called flash primaries: each constituent chooses a party ballot (for example, PSOE) and choosing his or her favorite from among the party members that have been nominated.  The district is won by the party with the most votes and, within that party, the candidate with the most votes among his or her compatriots.  I'm not in favor of any of the alternatives in particular but, given that we have 175 representatives elected by proportional vote, we can allow more leeway for the single-representative constituencies (especially if we don't introduce any element of favoritism on the national list).

5.) The election of the president of the government would be as it is now, by the Congress.  It's always possible to require that the president be the head of one of the national lists (or the second in the case of the first's inability to assume the role) to reinforce the sense of legitimacy.  A direct election of the President of the Government is complicated in a system like ours that isn't presidential ((focused on the president)).

6.) Get rid of the Senate, which actually doesn't do much other than waste money.  In the case of excessive opposition from the CC.AA. (although I would resist the temptation as much as possible), a Senate could be created with many fewer senators, 51 or so, elected by the independent Assemblies in proportion to the population of each constituency.  But if this is the case, the Senate should only address very specific issues directly related to the geographic structure of the State.

7.) Setting the date of the election in a systematic manner (for example, the second Sunday of October or so every 5 years).  If we want the representatives to be independent from the single-member constituencies, they have to have a clear timetable that allows them to organize without relying completely on the party.

8.) Eliminate restrictions like the prohibition of polls on the last week or the day of reflection, as these make little sense in the world of the internet.

9.) Establish a system of funding similar to the EU, with a percentage public and the rest private.  Private donations, limited to a reasonable amount, would be managed by a commission that would publish information on all donations.

I hope that I haven't left out any important party of the design.  A sharp reader will note that what I propose is very similar to the German system, borrowing from the American system as well.  It isn't incidental.  In the same way, we should be aware of how the system works in practice and allow adjustment with time.  Society changes and with it our political system.

On the other hand I haven't spoken of either the municipal elections or the independent elections.  I am leaving this for another day (although this is a post of mine about how to reorganize the municipalities).

In conclusion, I will only venture to say that I don't think the system I have proposed works miracles.  Although I think there is a reasonable possibility that it will improve the political system of Spain, there are many other important reforms and finally, whether we like it or not, modern democracies are always a bit "disheartening".  Let's be practical.

Así que lo odiaremos.

Así que lo odiaremos. Porque puede soportarlo. Porque él no es nuestro héroe, es un guardián silente, Un protector vigilante. Un caballero oscuro.

English: So we'll hate (him). Because he can take it. Because he isn't our hero, he is a silent guardian, A watchful protector. A dark knight.

Pursuit of Happiness - Lissie (cover of Kid Cudi)

Absolutely fantastic.  Lyrics:

Crush a bit, little bit, roll it up, take a hit
Feelin’ lit feelin’ light, 2 am summer night.
I don't care, hand on the wheel, drivin drunk, I'm doin’ my thang
Rollin the Midwest side and out livin’ my life getting’ out dreams
People told me slow my roll I'm screaming out fuck that
Imma do just what I want lookin’ ahead no turnin’ back
if I fall if I die know I lived it till the fullest
if I fall if I die know I lived and missed some bullets

I'm on the pursuit of happiness
and I know everything that shine ain't always gonna be gold
I'll be fine once I get it, I'll be good. x2

Tell me what you know about dreamin’ dreamin’
you don't really know about nothin’ nothin’
tell me what you know about them night terrors every night
5 am, cold sweats wakin’ up to the skies
tell me what you know about dreams, dreams
tell me what you know about night terrors, nothin’
you don't really care about the trials of tomorrow
rather lay awake in a bed full of sorrow

I'm on the pursuit of happiness
and I know everything that shines ain't always gonna be gold
I'll be fine once I get it, I'll be good

I'm on the pursuit of happiness.
I know everything that shines ain't always gold
I'll be fine once I get it, I'll be good. x2

I'm on the pursuit of happiness
and I know everything that shines ain't always gonna be gold, hey
I'll be fine once I get it, yeah, I'll be good

I'm on the pursuit of happiness
And I know everything that shines ain't always gonna be gold, hey
I'll be fine once I get it, yeah
I'll be good

Pursuit of happiness, yeah
I don’t get it, I’ll be good