April 28th, 2005

red panda eating bamboo

answers to 'ask me anything' questions

How many extra-long penguins can dance on the head of aardvark's nemesis? And why? WHY GOD, WHY?!?

It depends on which which head Salamagrundy (Aardvark's nemesis) is wearing. It also depends on whether the extra-long penguins' volume is the same as regular-length penguins. I don't know, because I'm not a Linux theological philosopher. As for why - I'll page God and get back to you. It might take several zillion years, of course.

What is most interesting non-fiction book you've read in the past 6 months, and why?

I can't really pick just one. There are the knitting books - Knitting Without Tears by Elizabeth Zimmerman - and the mathematical knitting books at Woolly Thoughts, such as Cushy Numbers. Knitting Without Tears has a wonderful "cranky old British lady" authorial voice as well as excellent advice for how to make a transition from the kind of knitting where you laboriously follow line-by-line instructions to the kind where you can improvise. Woolly Thoughts' books explore mathematical patterns through knitting. Some mathematicians have begun making topological shapes out of yarn and there are even workshops and knit-alongs at some math conferences.

There's The Big Book of Sumo by Mina Hall. I am fascinated by sumo primarily as an example of a sport where large/fat people can excel and also as it fits into Japanese culture. (And more pruriently, because I like to look at big strong men wearing nothing but loincloths.) The book explores all of this; it's written in a very engaging and easy-to-read style, with lots of photographs, and cute line drawings.

Finally, there's The Quantum and the Lotus: A Journey to the Frontiers Where Science and Buddhism Meet by Matthieu Ricard and Trinh Xuan Thuan. This subject can become overly dumbed down and woo-wooed, but this book is hardcore philosophy and science, explained very clearly. It's in the form of a dialog between the authors. I'm learning an enormous amount about the depth of Buddhist philosophy. (I haven't finished the book yet.)

Suppose that all human beings had the power to, just once in their entire lifetime, teleport themselves from one place to another -- any other. How do you think you would use it? Would you have used it already? Would you try to find a great way to use it and use it? Would you hang onto it forever, just in case you needed it for an emergency? (Teleporting to the ground from a crashing airplane, etc.)

Oh, knowing me, I would save it "just in case" indefinitely and would not have used it yet. Unless I had used it without thinking things through, during one of my panic attacks that involved feeling trapped somewhere.
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