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Math Problem: from 2007 Colorado Math Olympiad

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The problem: Each cell of an 8×8 chessboard is filled with either a 0 or a 1. Prove that if we compute the sums of the numbers in each row, each column, and each of the two diagonals, at least … Continue reading

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Chekhov’s Rabbits

The first time I fell in love with Anton Chekhov was when I read “The Darling” and other short stories. The second time was when I saw Wallace Shawn play Uncle Vanya in a movie. And the third time was … Continue reading

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To 80s Hong Kong Pop With Love

In the 80s, in June, when I was in graduate school, a friend called me up and asked if I wanted to make an impromptu trip from Berkeley, California to Vancouver, BC. He wanted to drive up and see his … Continue reading

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Cumin and Hammers

Once, I had a difficult plane flight from Frankfurt to Nairobi. I’d purchased my ticket from Bulgarian Airlines about 30 hours before departure, at the height of the summer travel season. The plane stopped in Sofia, where I was told … Continue reading

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Boost profits, analyze metrics

Once upon a time in math, I studied metric spaces, spaces for which there exists a way to measure distances between points. At first glance the non-mathematician might say: yuck, this is the genesis and justification of corporate bean counting … Continue reading

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says René Magritte

I despise the past, my own and everyone else’s. I despise resignation, patience, heroism and all the obligatory sentiments. This is a favorite quote from the Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte. As the author of a novel set in the … Continue reading

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Gender and The Hobbit

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It’s time to come out of the closet. I love The Hobbit. I love it so much that I love the movie too. And while I usually agree with articles that deplore the absence of women in popular media and … Continue reading

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How I nearly blew it (and ended up blowing it for good) #1

I started playing the alto saxophone when I was eleven. I chose the alto because a boy I liked picked the tenor, and I didn’t want to seem like I was copying him. I changed schools the following year, grade … Continue reading

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The Four Food Groups

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When I was a kid, four food groups competed in our house. Each group viewed the others with suspicion and claimed itself superior. My two grandmothers, and my mother, each stood like a pillar for a variant of Chinese food. … Continue reading

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‘Ockey Night du Canada

When I was a child, ice hockey was the bane of my TV watching. It pre-empted everything, for hours. And I didn’t care for it. I knew nothing about it, which made me the worst sort of philistine. There were … Continue reading

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