Philosophical Multicore

Sometimes controversial, sometimes fallacious, sometimes thought-provoking, and always fun.

Archive for the ‘Off-Topic’ Category

Is Knuckle Cracking Bad for You?

Posted by Michael Dickens on June 1, 2010

In life, one often runs into claims that many people make, but aren’t necessarily true. One such claim is the ostensible harm caused by knuckle cracking. Some say that it leads to arthritis, while others say that this claim is bogus. What’s the truth?

I found plenty of websites claiming one thing or the other, but I don’t really trust websites. You can put whatever you want onto one of those. So I did some more detailed research, and came across interesting results.

Using Google Scholar, I found several research papers regarding the effects of knuckle cracking. The consensus seemed to be that it does not cause arthritis. The most useful paper I found was published in the British Medical Journal. It found that knuckle cracking does not cause arthritis, but most likely does lead to reduction in finger dexterity.

So there you have it. Cracking your knuckles won’t lead to anything as severe as arthritis, but it may lead to loss of finger dexterity so it really should be discouraged.

Posted in Off-Topic | 3 Comments »

A Complete Absence of Posts

Posted by Michael Dickens on May 5, 2010

I apologize for the lack of posts this blog has seen recently. I am in the midst of studying for finals, and simply don’t have the time it takes to write a serious blog post. But perhaps more importantly, my single-mindedness has made it difficult for my mind to wander and come across interesting ideas; I am just so utterly focused on studying that I can hardly think of anything else.

If you’re looking for something to read, how about Cognitive Daily? It is a fascinating and thought-provoking blog on cognitive psychology which unfortunately has recently been closed down, but there is still plenty of material in the archives.

I hope to be up and posting again in a week or so. Until then, I bid you all adieu.

Posted in Off-Topic | Leave a Comment »

The Many Varieties of Paper

Posted by Michael Dickens on February 4, 2010

You might be thinking that this is a joke. And it a way, it is. But at the same time, think of how many types of paper we have. In particular, think about all the varieties of paper we use exclusively for wiping our bodies. We have paper towels for when our hands are wet, paper napkins for when our hands have food on them, facial tissues for our noses, and toilet paper for . . . well, you know. These are some rather interesting distinctions. I personally find that the right type of paper towel can serve any of these four purposes. Well, maybe except for one.

Kind of makes you wonder where the differences come from.

Posted in Off-Topic | 1 Comment »

Everything Comes in Threes?

Posted by Michael Dickens on January 18, 2010

Does everything come in threes? Is three the best number for a set of items? In fact, this is an elaborate illusion that has been perpetrated by our perspective on the world.

Look at it this way. First of all, sets of fewer items tend to be more common. And when we see a set of one item, we don’t really think of it as a set. It’s just one item. Sets of two items don’t really count either: it’s just one thing or the other, on or off, true or false. So a set of three items is really the smallest possible set that we think of as a set, and is therefore the most likely to show up.

Posted in Humor, Off-Topic | 1 Comment »

Objective-C is the Coolest Language

Posted by Michael Dickens on November 10, 2009

At least according to Numb3rs. After I saw another Objective-C reference, I figured that the writers must have something for Objective-C. Maybe one of the math consultants does Objective-C. But I think a very likely reason is that Objective-C just looks cool. It’s not my favorite language (I don’t even like it that much), but I definitely can’t argue with the fact that, if you don’t know what is going on, it looks freakin’ cool. You use brackets for method calls. Come on. How can you not love that? And the unnecessarily long method names that are supposed to make the language easier to read but really don’t. Those are just great. (I couldn’t find any good pictures, but check out this video.) Compare that to, say, Lisp.Lisp

Yaaawwwnn. Too many parentheses. But Objective-C has a real “hacker” feel to it.

(P.S. The actual coolest language is Scala.)

Posted in Computer Science, Math, Off-Topic, Programming | 2 Comments »

Blogging Month

Posted by Michael Dickens on August 31, 2009

I have officially written at least one post every day during August. Except one. But 30 out of 31 days is a pretty damn good record, huh?

Posted in Off-Topic | Leave a Comment »

Objective-C Reference in Numb3rs

Posted by Michael Dickens on August 14, 2009

I was watching Numb3rs when I came across something interesting. So I took a screenshot:

numb3rs objc
That language is almost definitely Objective-C. The giveways are: the commenting style, the use of brackets for method calls, and the unusual method syntax (for example, [cell addSubView:switchview]).

I thought that was interesting. Why are they using Objective-C? It’s not a very portable language. For the kind of stuff they are doing, I would expect C or C++.

And then, I found this:

If you pause at 0:35, there’s a line that says
NSArray *crayon
Like, what’s the deal with that? Why is there an array of crayons?

Posted in Computer Science, Math, Off-Topic, Programming | 2 Comments »

New Blog

Posted by Michael Dickens on July 15, 2009

Welcome to my new blog, hosted by I am unable to import certain features, so I will have to change some stuff manually and it is going to take a while. If you notice any discontinuity between this blog and the old one, please let me know with a comment on this post. I am aware that the theme is different. Additionally, all links to other posts still link to my old blog. If you happen to see any of these links, let me know where it is and I will fix it.

EDIT: Bill fixed the links. All links to my old blog now redirect to my new one.

EDIT 2: The blogroll and other links have been fixed.

Posted in Off-Topic | 1 Comment »

My Favorite Comedy Shows

Posted by Michael Dickens on June 19, 2009

This is a post just for fun.

1. The Simpsons
I’ve loved this show for years. Its classic multibrow comedy and wide range of characters (most of them portrayed by Harry Shearer) never gets old.

2. Family Guy
Seth MacFarlane is a comedic genius.

3. Scrubs
Funny show, that there.

4. The Daily Show/The Colbert Report
These are basically the same show, so they get the same spot.

5. King of the Hill
I’m from Texas, so I have to like this show.

Posted in Off-Topic | Leave a Comment »

New Sport: GoogleWin

Posted by Michael Dickens on June 12, 2009

Here’s a fun game for when you’re bored. Try to find a sequence of letters that, when searched in Google, returns no results besides this page. Whoever can find the shortest sequence with the least results wins. To calculate a score:

score = (30 – number of results) * (10 – number of letters)

I found “fyrxkqm”, which is only seven letters. It has zero results, for a score of 90. Try to beat that!

P.S. Searching “” for a score of 300 does not count.

Posted in Off-Topic | 8 Comments »

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