24 July 2011

hot, cold, and chicken soup

New York is hot now, dense, and I have a cold. I'm confused as to how to care for a cold in this crazy heat - drinking hot lemon and ginger tea seems kind of perverse. I drink cold barley water and lament all the things I'm not doing, read up on housing law, and try to catch up on the escalating pile of email, and all the things I've promised to do but not had time to...  but it's not really so bad; Jazz plays in the background and sounds of Elizabeth making chicken soup drift through from her kitchen.

19 July 2011

The sum of their parts

I bumped into the phrase "the whole is more than the sum of it's parts", and I was reminded of how thirsty this sometimes leaves my mind...

Briefly, I think the key observation is that "the sum of their parts" is usually rather undefined. The question is often really about the notion of "sum"...

For instance, consider how 2 * 3 = 6, and 2 + 4 = 6. Addition (2 + 4) and multiplication (2 * 3) are both functions that result in 6, but with different constituents (2 and 4, vs 2 and 3). So the question is then, "what are the parts of 6?". The number 6 can be made by from 2 and 3, but it is certainly more than the sum of 2 and 3 (2 + 3 = 5), so 6 is more than the sum of it's parts!? On the other hand if 2 and 4 are the parts of 6, then it is exactly the sum of it's parts. If 2, 4, 2 and 3 are all parts of 6 then 6 is way less than the sum of it's parts...


The general point being that there is a special relationship between "parts" and "sums". If you use the wrong kind of sum, then you don't get the whole from it's parts. Sometimes you get more, sometimes less. So, if ever someone tells you that something is more than the sum of it's parts, it's interesting to ask, what kind of sum and what kind of parts are they considering.

In other news, I went to a Google picnic today, lots of sun, games, free drinks and super-soakers...

4 July 2011

a trip

There's a kind of squeeky cleanness, and a stiff unhappy look to the people; the painful look of money. Hiding out in a Moroccan cafe after the conference, drinking mint tea, I find myself next to the bravado of x-pat British lads, telling stories of their triumphs. I blank it out; indulge in my programming and tea. Waiting to compile, the evening arrives, clear blue, pleasant temperatures.