Reporting biases in Genesis and Andrew Lloyd Webber

It’s always bugged me how in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Pharaoh hires Joseph rather arbitrarily to be his Vizier responsible for Egypt’s economic policies over the next fourteen years, based solely on Joseph’s (as yet unproven) ability to explain his dreams. Even if Joseph’s forecasting was accurate, as a lowly foreign-born slave-turn-prisoner would he have had the administrative skills to oversee such huge reforms?

Then, I realised: Assuming that Egypt had existed for centuries before the time of Joseph, then successive Pharaohs might have appointed lots of people to be Viziers in this way, based solely on their abilities to make predictions based on individual dreams. Those who turned out to be wrong, or who were unable to enact the appropriate policies, were disposed of and their stories were not recorded and have not been passed down to us.

The LaTeX psalm chant

LaTeX’s output, showing its hyphenation algorithms at work, makes me want to set my bibliography to plainchant:

[19] [20] [21] (./blasius.bbl
Underfull \hbox (badness 1210) in paragraph at lines 13--15
[]\OT1/cmr/m/sc/9 Andreotti, Bruno, Forterre, Yo[]el & Pouliquen, Oliver \OT1/c
mr/m/n/9 2013 \OT1/cmr/m/it/9 Gran-u-lar Me-dia\OT1/cmr/m/n/9 .
Underfull \hbox (badness 6396) in paragraph at lines 156--158
[]\OT1/cmr/m/sc/9 Peregrine, D. H. \OT1/cmr/m/n/9 1967 Long waves on a beach. \
OT1/cmr/m/it/9 Jour-nal of Fluid Me-chan-ics

Underfull \hbox (badness 5954) in paragraph at lines 180--184
[]\OT1/cmr/m/sc/9 Rajchenbach, Jean \OT1/cmr/m/n/9 2005 Rhe-ol-ogy of dense gra
n-u-lar ma-te-ri-als: steady, uni-form

Underfull \hbox (badness 10000) in paragraph at lines 180--184
\OT1/cmr/m/n/9 flow and the avalanche regime. \OT1/cmr/m/it/9 Jour-nal of Physi
cs: Con-densed Mat-ter
[23]) [24] (./blasius.aux)

Theresa’s pre-election patter song

Enter THERESA and chorus.

I seek power that your human rights I may impale,
And all th’intimate details of your life surveil,
Should the alt-right need placation, ban the Muslim veil,
And I’ll do this with the backing of the Daily Mail!

Yes she’ll do this with the backing of the Daily Mail!

That my Brexiteering actions shall not be derailed
We’ll lock saboteurs and judges in a trial-less jail.
Sans their nauseous interventions Britain shall prevail!
And we’ll do this in the name of the Daily Mail!

May she do this in the name of the Daily Mail!

If you hesitate to stop us, and we do not fail,
We will privatise the air and you will pay to inhale.
Yes the years to come will be quite a living Hell,
But I do this for the readers of the Daily Mail!

Yes she does this for the readers of the Daily Mail!


Infringing Beethoven’s copyright

A few years ago, I put a recording of myself playing a movement from Beethoven’s Tempest Sonata on YouTube:

There were quite a few mistakes, and I’m not overly proud of it. But it was one of the latest snapshots of my piano-playing before I stopped doing so regularly, and it was of one of my favourite pieces (to which I couldn’t do justice).

I went through my YouTube account today to look at some of the other videos that I have since put up, and found this message:

Infringing Beethoven's copyright

Somebody (‘one or more music publishing rights collecting societies’) has filed a copyright claim on my amateur performance of a two-hundred-year-old piano sonata composed in pre-Germany Germany. YouTube has unquestioningly taken their side, and is monetising my video by putting ads on it. The revenue goes towards whoever made this anonymous copyright claim.

Somebody is making money from my recording, simply by saying that they deserve it. The video has been up for 3 years and there have been fewer than 100 views, so I doubt they are making very much money from it. I have now filed a dispute, although I suspect that the claimant will, at most, have to take down the ads, and not even issue an apology. It’s part of a worrying trend on the Internet in which rights are being transferred away, from content creators towards publishers or aggregators.

Fluid dynamical chant

I have been invited to give a talk on fluid dynamics at Queens’ Mathematical Society this term. Details are yet to be decided, but the talk will be an introduction to fluids and a focus on boundary layers, including the mathematical notion of a singular limit.

While writing the talk, I thought it might be nice to have a little fun with it.


The flow of a | fluid is | govern├Ęd
By the interact-si | -on of | four main | forces:
Viscosity * gravity * inert-si- | -a and | pressure.
Depending on the context | one may | dominate an- | -other.

In fast flows | or large | lengthscales
Inert-si- | -a is | domin- | -ant
These include many im- | -portant | contexts
Such as household plumbing * oil pipelines * submar- | -ines : and the | upper | atmosphere.

Unfortunately * the | limit of | Reynolds number
Going to infinity | is a | singular | limit.
The behaviour of an in- | -viscid | fluid
Is quite different from | that of | one with low vis- | -cosity.