Each touch holds the memory of a thousand more
Each breath has been shared, your mouth to mine
I’ve seen your body through a microscope
I’ve traced every spot and every line.
When we share a glance and our faces soften
When a word or a phrase makes us laugh
Only we know the moments we’ve filled so often
Only they hold the joys of our past.
Do you remember how we sat in my car at night?
Do you know where we parked in the forest? …
She stood in the corner, a shadow upon her, smoking a cigarette.
And no one approached her; the party encroached her, but the living had not found her yet.
His face in the casket still managed to mask it — the cruelty with which he could hurt. She wanted to tell him how long Hell would have him wearing that Hawaiian shirt.
Her step-pa had planned this — his will specified it — a wake where no one wears black, but only bright hues and generous views of the kindness that he clearly lacked.
A girl she once dated and…
Our eyes are drawn to a redbird nesting
On a slender tree in the highest bough
Stick legs balanced, confidently resting
Where wind whips the leaves and tall branches bow.
“How can it stay so calm?” she asks of me.
I know the answer, but don’t want to say.
The redbird knows, if the wind fells the tree
She’ll live again to fly another day.
“If you leave me, I’ll surely die,” I chance,
My own stick legs feeling less than stable.
We’ve climbed through our lives to the tallest branch
A lofty perch where missteps are fatal.
“Why did you do it!?” her…
Today a package from a dear, old friend
(The unexpected postmark caught my breath)
Wrapped in paper and folded end to end,
It was sealed with wax the color of death.
Within it, a note to mark her passing
And a pair of confections, soft and sweet.
Delectable flesh belied its wrappings
To proffer a bargain with the deceased.
Long ago, she helped me to discover
The dark secrets with which she was obsessed
As my teacher, accomplice, and lover,
Shared her knowledge, her friendship, and her flesh. …
In youth of utter loneliness
A bloom unfurls in early spring,
The first to feel the wind’s caress,
To drink the gentle crystal rain,
Like strangers on adjacent trains
We share a smile and then diverge.
And though our tracks are not the same,
Our purposes begin to merge,
Two birds in flight, our paths enfold
A joyful dance of differences.
On high, our destinies are told
By accidental references,
Concentric wheels in tandem turn
Round common centers deftly rolled,
While flame and fuel together burn
To stave the winter’s cruel cold,
There are many problems in the field of distributed computation that are provably impossible to solve deterministically. But if you give processes access to a fair coin and allow them to flip it occasionally, voila! an efficient, reliable solution emerges that yields the correct behavior. Probably.
The first time I encountered this was with a canonical problem in distributed fault tolerance, called the Byzantine Agreement problem. Don’t Google it! There’s been so much written and so many results about the topic over the last forty years that you’ll never return if you vector off now. …
My father told us stories when we were kids. I guess that’s not very unusual. We really were a pretty typical family back then — my daddy and me, my mother, and my little sister whose name is Guinevere. My father named her after a character in one of his stories, but Momma thought it was too big a name for a little girl, so everybody but Daddy calls her Gwenny.
At the time, it seemed to me we were pretty well off. We lived in a portable home (though throughout my entire lifetime, it has never been moved), a…
Hollywood seems enamored these days with the superhero story. Movies about Thor, Spiderman, and Superman, abound. Of course, there are no superheroes in real life, but there was a man whose biography pretty much mirrors the superhero story — the British mathematician Alan Turing. Turing discovered his superpower, a genius for mathematical logic and computing, at the age of twenty-four when, as a graduate student, he published a paper entitled, “On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem.” Turing’s result is one of the most profound triumphs of rationality.
He soon took his superpower into World War II and…
There’s a bar on the Indian River
With a view of the rockets’ red glare.
The locals go there for the oysters and beer
And the woman with fire in her hair.
She says, I am an astronaut’s wife
As she slides a glass over the bar
He’s blasted aloft for the time of his life
On a mission to colonize Mars.
I’ll wait for him here in the marshes
Though I know his heart is up there
He’d rather spend nights with the moon and the stars
Than a wife who has fire in her hair.
In the bar…
Until fairly recently — 1931 to be exact — scientists and mathematicians believed we would someday find a theory that explains everything. By “theory” I mean a Formal Axiomatic System (FAS). A FAS is simply a relatively small set of given facts, axioms, from which a much larger set of theorems can be proven “by mechanical means.” The axioms in a FAS are so basic that we believe them to be true without the need for further justification. A famous and straightforward example of a FAS is the small set of axioms provided by Giuseppe Peano at the end of…
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