Category Archives: People




It’s also Canada’s 150th birthday, but Leibniz day takes precedence for me. The guy invented calculus, yo. Would Canada even exist without calculus?


(Sorry, I’m hyper.)

I also did a 30-mile walk this afternoon/evening. It took me 6 hours and 18 minutes, but I kept a pace of 4.77 MPH despite it being obscenely hot and then obscenely thunderstormy. My feet/legs didn’t feel any worse than they do after a typical 15-mile walk, so hey, that’s cool. I’mma try it again on Monday.

(I spent most of my walk thinking about Leibniz, not gonna lie.)




Wow, hey, so the other day (Saturday?) when Nate and I were out walking, we stopped to sit on a bench down in Eau Claire to chill out for a few minutes, and there was this guy across from us busking. The song he was singing was super catchy, but I didn’t get the chance to look up the lyrics until this evening.

I was thinking it was a Jimmy Buffett song or something (it had that style), but it’s actually a song he wrote himself! And when I found the song and Googled his name (Perry Wilson), I found this video about him:

How cool is that?

Here’s a good recording of the song that you can buy for $1 if you like it.


Edit: man, all the songs on that album are good. Just buy the album.

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RIP Bill Paxton

So I’d thought the only movie I’d seen Bill Paxton in was Apollo 13, but apparently I just really suck at recognizing Bill Paxton.

But anyway, since Apollo 13 is was the best movie Bill Paxton was in (it was, fight me), in honor of his passing, here’s the best song from that movie. And probably one of the greatest pieces of music in the history of movies, in my opinion.

Chills, man. RIP, Mr. Paxton.


So today I did a dumb and took a 15-mile walk in -11℉ weather. And how does my amazing husband reward such ridiculous behavior? He cranks the heat up in the condo and warms up my towel in the dryer while I shower.

I don’t deserve this man.

In other more depressing news, Dr. Hans Rosling died today. A Swedish statistician and educator, he pushed for truth in statistics, data visualization and accessibility, and was big on understanding global development. One of my favorite videos of his is one I showed on the first day of each of my STAT 251 classes back at UI (and to my students last semester, too):

RIP, Dr. Rosling.

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Love, love, love.

It’s too bad I feel like an absolute worthless bag of trash today. Leibniz day is a day to be happy.

BOOSH boosh BOOSH boosh BOOSH I’m gonna go cry for a little while.

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Which Philosopher would Fare Best in a Present-Day University?

Who do they pick?


Man, I’d get a study group together right away. And by “study group” I mean “just Leibniz and me, somewhere quiet where he can do his genius stuff and I can guard him ‘cause he’s precious.”

I can’t help it, I’m obsessive. Seriously, if I was ever given the option to, say, time travel back to any year (and location) of my choice, I would with zero hesitation pick something involving Leibniz.

Witness the signing of the Declaration of Independence?


See man first create fire?


Observe the dinosaurs?



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Flash Party

As long as we’re revisiting some old internet stuff (like we did with Ronald Jenkees), I should mention Tom DesLongchamp, since I don’t think I ever have on here.

I don’t remember quite how I found this guy (AlbinoBlackSheep…maybe?), but I found him back in like 2003 and loved his dorky little animations. My mom and I still quote a few of them, haha.

The above link sends you to his current page; this one sends you to his archives with all his old stuff posted.

I recommend:

But I Like It

Mentally Disturbed Hotdog

Green Thing (I love that song)

I Go (And So Does Gloppi)

Modest Mouse Music Video



I’d just like to use today’s post to wish the love of my life a happy birthday. You are an amazing and wonderful person.

(And hopefully I’ll get this blog posted before your NEXT birthday, haha.)


This found its way onto my Tumblr dash. It’s an interesting read. It seems unlikely that he would fabricate all of this, but there’s something about it that seems a little extreme. Having worked as a lecturer at the U of I (which, as we all know, is just as prestigious as UC Berkeley) and having worked WITH lecturers at the U of C, I’ve seen things done both ways: lecturers get basically complete freedom with how/what they teach and as long as they get good reviews, it’s all fine (U of I), or they have to teach to rather specific rules/guidelines, to the point where their instruction has to be similar enough to other lecturers so that there can be a common final for all sections of a particular class, even if the sections are all taught by different people (U of C). It can be hard either way, I think.

But either way, that seems to be only part of what this guy’s saying in his statement.

Edit: here’s a different perspective.

Petition for General Mills to make a cereal called “Bernoulli-O’s”

Happy birthday, Johann Bernoulli!

Johnann is one of the eight math whizzes of the Bernoullis, a Swiss family that somehow kept birthing amazing mathematicians into the world over a few generations.

This particular Bernoulli spent a lot of his time studying (and teaching!) infinitesimal calculus way back when calculus was at its very beginnings. He tutored both L’Hopital and Euler in math and was specifically thanked in the very first calculus textbook (written by L’Hopital). He also worked with his brother Jakob on a lot of problems, though there was a good deal of friction and the two often fought.

Johann is extra badass, though, because he was a good friend of LEIBNIZ and a student of his calculus. He was also one of the few who took Leibniz’ side and defended him when the whole Newton-Leibniz calculus controversy began. He actually took several problems and showed that they could be solved using Leibniz’ methods, but not Newton’s. A pretty cool guy, if you ask me.

Leibniz vs. 2015

On occasion (read: every day), I find myself wondering what Leibniz would think of our modern world nowadays. Like, if we were somehow to manage to bring him back to life at age 40 or so and got someone (read: me) to show him around and calm him down when all the new stuff freaked him out, I wonder what he would really think of things.

  • What would he think of modern calculators? His Stepped Reckoner weighed like 80 pounds and could only add, subtract, multiply, and divide. I can buy a palm-sized calculator from the dollar store that can compute any given square root in about the time it takes to blink. And what would he do with a graphing calculator?
  • On the larger scale, what would he think of computers? He may have not come up with the original idea for binary, but he certainly refined it enough so that it could be easy to understand and use. Would he be surprised at how far we’ve come technology-wise just based on binary, or would that be something he may have anticipated?
  • And what would he think about technology in general? Like, I’m sure if we just recreated 40-year-old Leibniz and dropped him into the modern world, he’d likely be VERY freaked out, but barring that—say we were able to calm him down and explain things to him—what would he think of our technology now? I’d bet he’d want to deconstruct EVERYTHING to see how it all works, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he just came up with a few improvements off the top of his head. ‘Cause, you know, Leibniz.
  • How would he feel about the fact that now, in 2015, we still use several of his original symbols in calculus? If I were to show him a college calculus textbook, flip to the first section on integration, and point to his elongated “s” symbol, what would his reaction be? Would he think the textbook was from some previous century? Would he realize that the time he spent thoughtfully considering appropriate and intuitive symbols to describe math was not wasted? I wonder if he’d approve or disapprove of the modern calculus textbook in general.
  • WHAT WOULD HE THINK ABOUT GLASSES? The poor guy was ridiculously near-sighted by the time he was about 20. Reading and writing must have been quite difficult for him. A good pair of specs would allow him to see clearly, both near and far. I wonder what his reaction to that would be.
  • What would he think about his Wikipedia page, or any other brief history of his life/accomplishments? Would he feel proud seeing the long list of accomplishments that he’d achieved during his life? Would he wish he’d had more time to do more things? (Probably.) I wonder if he’d be happy with how people see him nowadays and/or how they interpret his philosophical contributions and his general view of the world.

Interesting things to think about. I also like the idea of him impulsively shunning the fashion of his day in favor of some outfit he saw at H&M or something. He’d go running through the store towards it, shedding clothes and knocking over all the displays along the way.

Everyone else: Leibniz, no!
Me: Leibniz, yes.



You know what the only downside is to LeibnizFest?* Reading the last chapter of that Antognazza biography.

Man, is it sad.

Leibniz did not have a very good time at the end of his life. “Leibniz’s last years were marred by frustration and loneliness,” is the first sentence of that last chapter, and unfortunately it is a very fitting first sentence. First, he’d outlived almost everyone he’d ever communicated with (most of them died in the 1690’s; Leibniz lived until 1716) and thus had very few people to communicate with. Second, he was still trying to recover his reputation after the whole calculus debate with Newton (and actually, I shouldn’t say “after” yet because Newton and his cronies (mostly his cronies) dragged that thing out well past Leibniz’ death). Third, he wanted desperately to keep traveling, but injury, poor health, and prior obligations basically forced him to stay put for a good several years. A quote of his from the bio: “I am shut in my room working and I hardly ever leave it.” This is coming from a man who took on innumerable projects just so that he’d have the excuse to travel and converse with people of different backgrounds and skills, so it’s super sad. And then, of course, there’s the fact that he basically died alone and was given very little recognition for his accomplishments until well after his death.

It’s heartbreaking to me to hear all the crappy things that happened to him in the last five or so years of his life. Someone with such a great mind, such compassion, and such good spirit deserved something better at the end.


To end LeibnizFest on a lighter note, have a look at this Leibniz-centric website that has pretty much everything you could ever want on the amazing polymath. I have it bookmarked. I visit it a few times a week.

It’s a healthy obsession.



*I’m totally calling mid-June to mid-July LeibnizFest now; it’s gone beyond just celebrating on his birthday, let’s be honest.

RIP James Horner

SAD NEWS: the amazing composer James Horner was, in fact, killed the other day when his plane went down in California.

Who is James Horner, you ask?* He’s the conductor/composer behind a lot of really fantastic film scores. Examples:

  • The Land Before Time
  • An American Tail: Fievel Goes West
  • We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story
  • Braveheart
  • Titanic
  • The Perfect Storm

He also did the score for Apollo 13, which has my favorite movie song ever (listen to it here!). Seriously. Awesome.

R.I.P. James Horner. You were an awesome composer.


*Or maybe you don’t ask this. Maybe more people are familiar with his name and works than the news would have us believe.



Awwwwww yeeeeeeeeeeeeah.

Yes, I’m going to read this every June/July until I die.
No, I don’t think that’s a sign of an unhealthy obsession.

Also, I posted this awhile back, but I’m going to post it again because it’s a really good discussion of a good amount of Leibniz’ philosophical viewpoints.

Good Luck, Ray!


I will watch this at some point, but not right now.
Instead, I shall post the best Ray compilation vids (some of which I’ve posted here before) because that’s what I need right now.

Good luck, Ray!