Popperi

Good King Wenceslas

Some folks who do traditional folk music in Ottawa assembled a rendition of "Good King Wenceslas" that I'm reasonably pleased with.

We were given an early version of the video with just a few voices and instruments, and asked to record ourselves performing along with it. I took an old SATB score sheet that I had, transcribed it into MuseScore, transposed it into the proper key, and relearned the tenor part. I'm disappointed by the number of takes it took me to get through it without a serious flub on the lyrics or pitch, but I got there eventually. I'm still not entirely satisfied, but I ran out of time, patience, and voice. I know that this reaction is partly due to being able to hear my part in isolation, and catching every tiny flaw in a way that ordinarily is covered by being part of a choral group. And, well, I haven't been singing very much over the past ten months or so, apart from the times when I was working on my own two videos. I'm out of shape.
Popperi

Heinlein x Mary Sue

A Mary Sue should be able to raise a perfect family, lead an invasion, teach all of the people and animals of the world to be vegetarian, command a fleet, design an architectural wonder, write a world-changing book, obviate the need for money, build an impregnable defense, cure an incurable disease, restore the dying to health, re-interpret "orders" to mean what she wants, give orders that save the day, show them show them all, overcome a tragic past, solve problems that have stumped experts, outsmart any attempt at trickery, change her eye colour, destroy a computer with illogic, create a food synthesizer from pocket stuff, defeat the villains, outshine the heroes. Anything less is for background characters.

Popperi

Concessions

Trump is unlikely to ever concede, so long as he is able to persuade people to send in money supposedly for his "legal fund" but in-the-fine-print partially diverted for other purposes.  This is not unlike the televangelists' financial scams.

Trump has:
  • Great debts
  • Enormous greed
  • No ethics
  • No loyalties except perhaps to his immediate family
  • Access to government documents with the highest level of security
  • Via the government security apparatus, probably access to enormous amounts of corporate and personal data
  • Devoted followers within the government

If someone breaks the rules for him and gets caught, is he able to grant pardons only after they've gone through the entire process of being charged and convicted?  Or are there short cuts?
Popperi

"Something like this..."

Listening to a Trump "press conference" is remarkably like hearing the other half of a Bob Newhart phone call sketch.

"... No, sir, the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic was a bit later than 1917."

"... But not as late as World War II.  No, sir."

"... 'Second World War'?  Sure, you can call it that if you want, sir.  It means the same thing."

"... No, 'Corinthians' doesn't work that way. ... I don't know why not."
Popperi

Fantastic noses

"The Eye of Argon", by Jim Theis, is mocked for... well, many things.  One of the speed-bumps in reading it is the description of the female protagonist as having a "lithe opaque nose".

I've just been reading The Complete Dying Earth, an SFBC 4-in-1 collection of novels by Jack Vance.  It's been sitting on my shelves, unread, for a couple of decades.  For some reason which escapes me at the moment, I was thinking about the classic D&D magic system, in which a magic user memorizes a spell, and then forgets it in the casting.  That premise originated in these stories by Vance, so I figured I'd give them a try.

They're pretty clunky.

I also don't care for the protagonist of many of them.  He's more than a bit sleazy, and has a high opinion of his own cleverness which is not borne out by events.

But I gather that they were popular in their day, so I'm curious as to how they'll play out.  Some were published in F&SF before being fixed up as a novel.

In one of those stories, I just encountered: "a man spare and taut, with a waxen skin, a fragile skull, hooded eyes and a meticulous nose so thin as to be translucent when impinged across a light".

Perhaps this is where Theis drew his inspiration.



Popperi

Fermat's Penultimate Theorem

In his copy of Diophantus’s Arithmetica, Pierre de Fermat famously wrote:
Cubum autem in duos cubos, aut quadratoquadratum in duos quadratoquadratos & generaliter nullam in infinitum ultra quadratum potestatem in duos eiusdem nominis fas est dividere cuius rei demonstrationem mirabilem sane detexi. Hanc marginis exiguitas non caperet.
Or, in English:
It is impossible to separate a cube into two cubes, or a fourth power into two fourth powers, or in general, any power higher than the second, into two like powers. I have discovered a truly marvelous proof of this, which this margin is too narrow to contain.
The first proof of that conjecture was published by Andrew Wiles in 1995. Given the mathematical “technology” it requires, Fermat’s proof (if valid) would presumably have been much shorter.

But Fermat’s penultimate theorem was that the margin of that book was too narrow to contain his proof. Although that was probably true at the time of that writing, advances in printing technology now permit such printing.

Page 85 of Diophantus' ArithmeticaPage 85 of Diophantus' Arithmetica showing margin spaceAn image of the edition of Diophantus’s Arithmetica in which Fermat wrote his conjecture shows that the page’s size is approximately 20.3 cm x 30.5 cm, a total area of 619 cm2. Of this, approximately 369 cm2 contain print, leaving approximately 250 cm2 of margin space.

Wiles’s proof in two parts was a total of 129 pages in length.  (Of this, some is not necessary to the proof itself: a couple of images of Fermat and Wiles, a bit of biographical stuff, the large-fonted title, some blank areas.  If we take this factor into account, the total length of the proof might be reduced by a couple of pages.)

In that document, the printed area of each page is approximately 14.5 cm x 23.9 cm, an area of 346.6 cm2.  This gives a total printed area of about 44,700 cm2.  Thus to print that proof in the available margin space in the original book, the proof must be reduced in area by a factor of (44700/250) or 178.8.  This corresponds to a linear scaling factor of √178.8 or 13.4 .

Wiles’s proof was, for the most part, printed in 12 pt, using fonts common to TeX.  So if it were instead printed in 0.9 pt (with diagrams, blocks of mathematical operations, etc. reduced proportionately), it would fit in the given area.  Legible printing at 0.9 pt isn’t within the abilities of standard consumer printers, as of this writing, but is easily handled by high-end equipment.

QED.

Popperi

Video: The COVID Connection

I finally got it done and posted.



Latest lyrics are:

Why are there so many songs about COVID
And why do they fill my queue?
People are lonely, and bored, and creative
And people need something to do
Making a video's really not hideous
Getting it perfect's a plus
Someday we'll beat it, the coronavirus
The doctors, the nurses, and us

Who said that ev'ryone should stay social-distanced
When PHYSICAL space is key?
People are social and we need those connections
Or we all go crazy
Pigs, frogs, and humans start coming unglued when
Close contact is too dangerous
Someday we'll beat it, the coronavirus
The doctors, the nurses, and us

All of us singing out loud
And putting our stuff up on YouTube

Have you gone on the net, and have you heard voices?
I figure that's why you're here
Is this a parody protected as satire?
Just watch this and hold my root beer
Spirits are feeling a need for some healing
And music is miraculous
Someday we'll beat it, the coronavirus
The doctors, the nurses, and us

La da da dee da da doo
La la da da la dee da doooo
Popperi

Filk: The COVID Connection

I've been poking at this for a few days, inspired by the recent "Special Performance of "Rainbow Connection" from Kermit the Frog"  video. I'm considering swapping my own audio into that video, though I'm not having much luck finding or creating a banjo accompaniment to match.

It's intended to be somewhat self-referential and meta. I'm trying to get the scansion good but am not fussed about it being imperfect.

The COVID Connection
by Joel Polowin, 2020, TTo: The Rainbow Connection by Paul Williams and Kenneth Ascher

Why are there so many songs about COVID
And why do they fill my queue?
People are lonely, and bored, and creative
And people need something to do
Sharing a video's really not hideous
Getting it perfect's a plus
Someday we'll beat it, the coronavirus
The doctors, the nurses, and us

Who said that ev'ryone should stay social-distanced
When physical space is key?
People are socialized, we need to have contact
Or we'll all go crazy
Pigs, frogs and humans need something to do when
The show's closed and we mustn't cuss
Someday we'll beat it, the coronavirus
The doctors, the nurses, and us

All of us singing out loud
And putting our stuff out on YouTube

Have you been net-surfing, and have you heard voices?
I figure that's why you're here
Is this a parody protected as satire?
Just watch this and hold my root beer
Spirits are feeling a need for some healing
And music is miraculous
Someday we'll beat it, the coronavirus
The doctors, the nurses, and us