Archive for December, 2020

December 28, 2020

Squaring the Circle

Straightedge and compass construction

Squaring the circle is a problem proposed by ancient geometers. It is the challenge of constructing a square with the same area as a given circle by using only a finite number of steps with compass and straightedge. The difficulty of the problem raised the question of whether specified axioms of Euclidean geometry concerning the existence of lines and circles implied the existence of such a square.

It had been known for decades that the construction would be impossible if π were transcendental (not an algebraic irrational number or the root of any polynomial with rational coefficients), which was first proved in 1882 by Lindemann–Weierstrass theorem. The expression ‘squaring the circle’ is sometimes used as a metaphor for trying to do the impossible.

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December 22, 2020

Cozy Bear

Cozy Bear

Cozy Bear, classified by the U.S. as advanced persistent threat APT29, is a Russian hacker group believed to be associated with one or more intelligence agencies of Russia.

In June 2016, Cozy Bear was implicated alongside the hacker group Fancy Bear in the Democratic National Committee cyber attacks. While the two groups were both present in the DNC’s servers at the same time, they appeared to be unaware of the other, each independently stealing the same passwords and otherwise duplicating their efforts. A CrowdStrike forensic team determined that while Cozy Bear had been on the DNC’s network for over a year, Fancy Bear had only been there a few weeks. Cozy Bear’s more sophisticated tradecraft and interest in traditional long-term espionage suggest that the group originates from a separate Russian intelligence agency.

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December 21, 2020

Dogecoin

Doge

Dogecoin [dowzh-coin] (Ð) is a cryptocurrency featuring a likeness of the Shiba Inu dog from the ‘Doge’ Internet meme as its logo. Introduced as a ‘joke currency’ in 2013, Dogecoin quickly developed its own online community and reached a capitalization of $60 million within months.

It’s market capitalization peaked in 2018 at $2b; today it is pegged at $600m. In July 2020 the price of Dogecoin spiked following a TikTok trend aiming to get the coin’s price to $1.

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December 17, 2020

Going Postal

Going Postal by Slug Signorino

Going postal is an American slang phrase referring to becoming extremely and uncontrollably angry, often to the point of violence, and usually in a workplace environment. The expression derives from a series of incidents from 1986 onward in which United States Postal Service (USPS) workers shot and killed managers, fellow workers, and members of the police or general public in acts of mass murder.

Between 1970 and 1997, more than 40 people were killed by current or former employees in at least 20 incidents of workplace rage. Between 1986 and 2011, workplace shootings happened roughly twice per year, with an average of 11.8 people killed per year.

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December 15, 2020

Yoshoku

Tonkatsu

In Japanese cuisine, yoshoku [yoh-shoo-koo] (‘western food’) refers to a style of Western-influenced cooking which originated during the Meiji Restoration (1868, a period of rapid industrialization and Westernization). These are primarily Japanized forms of European dishes, often featuring Western names, and usually written in Japanese. It is an example of fusion cuisine. Another, more contemporary, term in Japan for the Western food is ‘mukokuseki’ (‘no-nationality’ cuisine).

At the beginning of the Meiji Restoration, national seclusion was eliminated and the Meiji Emperor declared Western ideas helpful for Japan’s future progress. As part of the reforms, the Emperor lifted the ban on red meat and promoted Western cuisine, which was viewed as the cause of the Westerners’ greater physical size. Yōshoku thus relies on meat as an ingredient, unlike the typical Japanese cuisine at the time. Additionally, many of the Westerners who started to live in Japan at that time refused to touch traditional Japanese food, and so their private Japanese chefs learned how to cook them Western-style cuisine, often with a Japanese spin.

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December 8, 2020

All Models Are Wrong

Ideal gas law

All models are wrong‘ is a common aphorism in statistics; it is often expanded as ‘All models are wrong, but some are useful.’ It is usually considered to be applicable to not only statistical models, but to scientific models generally. The aphorism recognizes that statistical or scientific models always fall short of the complexities of reality but can still be of use.

The aphorism is generally attributed to the statistician George Box, although the underlying concept predates Box’s writings. He offered the ‘ideal gas law’ as an example: ‘PV = RT relating pressure P, volume V and temperature T of an ‘ideal’ gas via a constant R is not exactly true for any real gas, but it frequently provides a useful approximation and furthermore its structure is informative since it springs from a physical view of the behavior of gas molecules.’

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