### Stuck in my head: Broken Social Scene

Back in The Day, which was around 1987 for me, one's music collection was a well-defined entity comprised of discrete, easily counted units. For example, one might have 20 cassettes from one's favorite artists. Everything was predictable and if you wanted new music you turned to the radio. But since it was radio, there were rarely musical surprises that came out of nowhere. Especially not at 1 AM while working on your computer, as was the case for me last night. But more on that just a bit later.

These days music collections are vast, sprawling things kept on compact hard drives and portable music players. My MP3 collection takes up 30 Gigs, and this is pretty small compared to most people's iTunes music directories. So last night I had my iTunes set to shuffle-all and up popped a wonderful surprise. I recognized the band as Broken Social Scene, one of my favorite Canadian rock bands (described on Wikipedia as an "indie rock supergroup"). But the song was completely new to me. The name of the track was 7/4 Shoreline but no album name was listed. So I looked it up on the various internets and found out that Broken Social Scene released a self-titled extended album back in 2005 that I somehow missed.

So I have no idea how this track ended up on my computer. Maybe one of you cross-pollinated my library while I was in Berkeley. Perhaps Owen downloaded it (his answers to my queries alternate between elusive and cryptic). Or maybe aliens are trying to communicate with me through my favorite music.

Whatever the explanation, I love this album! Here's a video for the song:

Not long ago I went to a venue called The Varsity Theater here in town to see a Canadian band called "Do Make Say Think." It turns out their performance that night was one of the best live shows I've ever seen. Also on the bill was another Candian group called, "Apostles of Hustle." That band is composed of member[s] of "Broken Social Scene." Where Do Make Say Think did, made, said (in a limited way - they are largely an instrumental group), and thought, Apostles of Hustle managed to bore, choke, dull, and (gasp!) lecture. Just so you know, Apostles of Hustle also make a point of singing in Spanish. I think they might have spent some time down in Cuba. Aside from the fact that I don't know enough Spanish to criticize what they were singing about, I will say that there are few things more obnoxious than a band of Canucks getting up there and droning on in another language. I don't trust them. It would have helped if their music didn't remind me of Sublime meets The Buena Vista Social Club. In a word: icky.

### On the Height of J.J. Barea

Dallas Mavericks point guard J.J. Barea standing between two very tall people (from: Picassa user photoasisphoto).

Congrats to the Dallas Mavericks, who beat the Miami Heat tonight in game six to win the NBA championship.

Okay, with that out of the way, just how tall is the busy-footed Maverick point guard J.J. Barea? He's listed as 6-foot on NBA.com, but no one, not even the sports casters, believes that he can possibly be that tall. He looks like a super-fast Hobbit out there. But could that just be relative scaling, with him standing next to a bunch of extremely tall people? People on Yahoo! Answers think so---I know because I've been Google searching "J.J. Barea Height" for the past 15 minutes.

So I decided to find a photo and settle the issue once and for all.

I then used the basketball as my metric. Wikipedia states that an NBA basketball is 29.5 inches in circumfe…

### The Force is strong with this one...

Last night we were reviewing multiplication tables with Owen. The family fired off doublets of numbers and Owen confidently multiplied away. In the middle of the review Owen stopped and said, "I noticed something. 2 times 2 is 4. If you subtract 1 it's 3. That's equal to taking 2 and adding 1, and then taking 2 and subtracting 1, and multiplying. So 1 times 3 is 2 times 2 minus 1."

I have to admit, that I didn't quite get it at first. I asked him to repeat with another number and he did with six: "6 times 6 is 36. 36 minus 1 is 35. That's the same as 6-1 times 6+1, which is 35."

Ummmmm....wait. Huh? Lemme see...oh. OH! WOW! Owen figured out

x^2 - 1 = (x - 1) (x +1)

So $6 \times 8 = 7 \times 7 - 1 = (7-1) (7+1) = 48$. That's actually pretty handy!

You can see it in the image above. Look at the elements perpendicular to the diagonal. There's 48 bracketing 49, 35 bracketing 36, etc... After a bit more thought we…

### The Long Con

Hiding in Plain Sight

ESPN has a series of sports documentaries called 30 For 30. One of my favorites is called Broke which is about how professional athletes often make tens of millions of dollars in their careers yet retire with nothing. One of the major "leaks" turns out to be con artists, who lure athletes into elaborate real estate schemes or business ventures. This naturally raises the question: In a tightly-knit social structure that is a sports team, how can con artists operate so effectively and extensively? The answer is quite simple: very few people taken in by con artists ever tell anyone what happened. Thus, con artists can operate out in the open with little fear of consequences because they are shielded by the collective silence of their victims.
I can empathize with this. I've lost money in two different con schemes. One was when I was in college, and I received a phone call that I had won an all-expenses-paid trip to the Bahamas. All I needed to do was p…