The Page Formerly Known as Random Comments

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  1. “I’m more than willing to believe that estimate, but I’d love to know how you calculated it.”

    A long time back I wrote a programmable calculator in REXX. REXX will handle an indefinite number of digits, but mine is limited to 30. I typed “!(2019)” and the result was, “1.91137104864715283355211760081E+5798”.

  2. @ Arthur – The embarrassing thing is that I knew what REXX was without having to look it up. I played with it a very tiny bit, but never actually wrote anything useful in it. I still have an old PC (in the attic) that would boot up OS/2 if I turned it on.

  3. ” The embarrassing thing is that I knew what REXX was without having to look it up. ”

    I was familiar with the Commodore implementation, AREXX. Never did anything with it, though.

  4. Kilby: If you want to approximate large factorials with just a hand calculator, you can always use the Stirling series. Using just the first term gives 2019! as 1.9113 * 10^5798, as Arthur and Wolfram Alpha said. Adding in just the first correction term gets the first nine digits correct.

  5. Kilby: Also, the number of zeroes at the end is Floor(2019/5)+Floor(2019/5^2)+Floor(2019/5^3)+Floor(2019/5^4)=502. The proof is left as an exercise for the reader.

  6. @ B.A. – Questions like that should be submitted to CIDU Bill so that they get their own thread and can be discussed by everyone therein.

  7. @ WW – At least you had the decency not to use the tiresome adjective “alert” when describing the “reader”. I always hated that word in physics and math textbooks.

  8. Kilby: I figured the reader didn’t need to be that “alert,” since the proof is “trivial.”

  9. According to Feynman, that statement is a tautology — he discovered that mathematicians used the word “trivial” to mean “proved”, so he taunted them by saying that mathematicians could only solve trivial problems. And chiming in, it is annoying how all proofs in text books are “trivial”, but I guess I’m not a mathematician — the only interesting things are things not yet proved, I guess.

  10. larK: I was once in a math class (for math majors) where we (the students and the professor) were all working through a paper together. One of the students said “the paper says that this step trivially follows, but I don’t see why.” The professor looked at it and couldn’t figure it out, so we spent about 15 minutes in class with everyone coming up with, and shooting down, different explanations for the step. Finally, one of the students figured it out, and said “Oh, it is trivial, here’s why,” and explained it. Everyone (including me), nodded, and said “Oh, right, it is trivial,” and then we went on with the paper. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized (1) it had been silly to call something “trivial” that the whole class had been stumped by for 15 minutes and (2) we had done an approximate recreation of a common joke about mathematicians and “trivial” problems.

  11. ‘Trivial’ is in the eye of the beholder, as it were. Once in a 400-level math class the book gave a two-line proof of a theorem, and the professor felt that was inadequate, so he gave us a handout with his proof. Two pages.

    One man’s trivial is another man’s two pages, I guess.

  12. How to solve a difficult math assignment in 3 easy steps:
    1) Work down as far as possible from the initial equation.
    2) Work up from the final answer given in the back of the book.
    3) In the unsolvable gap remaining between 1) and 2), insert the magic formula: “It is intuitively obvious that…

  13. P.S. Although it has been claimed that this method has worked with certain professors, I heard of one case in which the paper came back with the comment “It is to me, but I don’t think it is to you!” (and points deducted).

  14. I’m not going to mention anybody by name, but if you’re going to reboot a long-running comic strip, and you have months to prepare, I really think you should be able to hit the ground running.


  16. It’s hard to tell these days: When people make “If there’s Global Warming, then how come…?” comments, are they being truly ignorant, or just repeating a long-stale joke?

  17. So shouldn’t it read: “Okay, I think it’s about time to take “” out of the description box”?

  18. ” reminds me of “The day after tomorrow”(this movie was so bad!).”

    Hollywood doesn’t have any confidence that audiences will watch science fiction movies that are actually science-fictional. But they DO know that disaster movies sell, no matter how ridiculous the disaster actually is.

    OK, but why do they buy perfectly good stories, and then Hollywoodize them. (Compare “Mimsy were the Borogoves”, an all-time great science-fiction story, to what Hollywood did to it, “The Last Mimzy”. Actually, please don’t, because Hollywood interprets that as wanting more movies like “The Last Mimzy”.)

    Paul Verhoeven made a serviceable movie and called it “Starship Troopers”, despite dispensing with almost the entirety of Heinlein’s work. Then they made a sequel, which is a horror movie that uses none of the characters or settings of the first movie, and is a completely different type of movie, besides. People who liked the action-adventure war story of “Starship Troopers” want a horror movie, right?

    Meh. The best-selling movies of the last decade are almost all based on comic-books. That’s a pretty deep mine of good stories, but they’re already wearing thin. It won’t be long until they decide what we really need is the spider-clone saga. They used Starro for a TV show, but they did it KNOWING it was dumb.

  19. Just was reading Tim Dorsey’s newest, “No Sunscreen for the Dead”, in which he discusses . . . Mold-A-Rama. Which we were discussing several months ago. Just had to toss that in somewhere.

  20. Like someone else mentioned, but I don’t recall where, I’ve started to have to fill in the posting information each time (or they want me to get an avatar but that ain’t happening).

  21. Brian, that sounds like a browser glitch: I can’t see how it can be anything on the WordPress end.

    I had the same thing happen to me on my phone’s browser: I have to log into CIDU each time, and I can never remember whether my official login is CIDUBill or CIDU Bill (and I always guess wrong).

  22. Brian’s problem might very well be on WordPress’s end. I’ve encountered this in a few places where I’m not actually logged in to an account. It could be a response to the EU-GDPR, which places some responsibilities on companies for setting cookies that hold personal information. Could be WordPress, could be the browser, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s by design.

  23. I hadn’t changed anything, in fact it happened between posts. However, a restart of Firefox seems to have cleared the issue.

  24. I take it back. When I posted the previous reply, all was in the past. But after posting it’s the “new” empty form. It’s not a big deal filling out the boxes again, because the browser will recall old entries for the form. However, it also looks like all my posts are going to moderation now. Something changed, and I don’t think on my end.

  25. Sounds like several people are experiencing this problem. Is anyone NOT?

    As far as moderation, I’ve been using the Firefox saved form data, and I might have used the wrong email address from the pulldown list.

  26. With all the comic book film adaptations, when will Classics Illustrated characters get their own movies? 😛

  27. “it also looks like all my posts are going to moderation now”

    As we’ve seen in the past, WordPress will occasionally take a dislike to someone for no known (or knowable?) reason and require all posts to be pulled from moderation for some time period. It was my turn a week or so back. I doubt it has anything to do with it forgetting who you are.

  28. Way OT: If you saw somebody carrying one of these, would you think she’s a reporter, or somebody who wanted to be a reporter when she grew up (if “ballerina” and “princess” fell through)?

  29. @ Brian in StL – I am not having any problems at the moment, but this may be because I had a lot of trouble shortly after GoDaddy torpedoed the old CIDU server. Back then I solved the issue by switching over to using a WordPress account to submit CIDU comments (I already had the account, all I had to do was log into it). I didn’t like it much at first, but since then it’s been working very well, and I’d rather not fiddle with it.

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