Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Mutually Assured Heresy

Tonight, after some nature and the like, and some good lazing around at home, I went out for a late dinner at India Garden. The trip seemed kind of surreal, perhaps because I was kind of tired when I left. When I made it there, it was around 12:40, and the place was pretty empty. On the big TVs was a rather cool musician by the name of Malkit Singh, the song being Jago Aaya. The video was rather surreal.. Partway through my meal, all the rest of the customers had left and it was just me and the staff (who all have seen me enough that I say hi to them and sometimes chat a bit). Eventually I wandered out and waited for a bus (which never came -- I forgot that in the summer, the schedule is different). A couple of students wandered up from a bar and started to chat, and I was amused to be reminded that, like children, drunk people say the funniest (and often surprisingly honest) things. The guy talked more, was drunker, and initially started going on about Ayn Rand (Argggghhh!). Eventually, after making clear that my thoughts on Rand are unprintable, we chatted for a bit, he said I was way too uptight, and told me that he thought I must be intelligent by the way I talk, but had poor taste because I don't think Rand is a genius. Him being drunk, I was more amused than anything else, and we continued to chat for a bit while I kept a lookout for the bus. It was pleasant and eye opening, in the sense that I don't ordinarily pay attention to how different my speech habits are from non university folk and his mentions of it made me a bit more aware. Eventually, I walked back to CMU and took the shuttle from there to my place, and I did notice, while chatting a bit with the driver, that I use a set of words in my everyday speech which I couldn't imagine hearing him use. It was odd..

The book that was keeping me company at IG, Recursive Techniques in Programming, made use of the Ackermann Function to illustrate some points of recursive theory, and I spent some time playing with it in my head to see if I could think of any interesting simplifications or insights about it. During this exercise, I was reminded how my intuitions are much stronger for iterative functions than recursive ones, and I didn't get anywhere (but it was a good exercise). I now note that Wikipedia has a good article on it. As is usually the case with wikipedia, this pointed me at two other interesting articles.

I realise, over the last few days, that Pittsburgh actually is a pretty cool place. On the way to IG, I thought that a good way to explain it would be to imagine a hilly national park mating with a mid-sized American university city. It's easy to forget exactly how much of a selling point the blend of city and nature is here. Of course, this is only true of the right neighbourhoods in Pittsburgh, but Pittsburgh is overall pretty well mixed with nature. This felt less true in Columbus because the land, being so flat, is easy to build on and so there's less incentive to leave bits alone for nature. Difficulties in land use in Pittsburgh are a kind of blessing for the inhabitants here. Things are also at least somewhat friendly to non-driving night owls.

Other discoveries and misc:

  • I finally identified the original song that was used as the basis for "The Battle of Kookamonga", a fun camping song I heard on the Dr Demento show ages ago. The original was called "Mexico", by the Humphries Singers.
  • While verifying that, I found that that was in fact an adaptation of "The Battle of New Orleans" by Johnny Horton.. and in fact "Mexico" was probably just another child of the original song, a sibling rather than parent to the Kookamonga song. It's a pretty catchy tune.
  • With more research, it gets better. While the lyrics are recognisably based off of "The Battle of New Orleans", Johnny Horton, it turns out, just recorded the most popular version of the song, whose lyrics were written by Jimmie Driftwood. The tune comes from an older folk tune called "8th of January" with unknown origins. With a bit of work, I now have samples of each version of the song. I'm not a big fan of the Driftwood version -- the rest are all pretty nice.
  • It gets no more complex. :P .. onto the misc..
  • Lebanon will "deal firmly" at anyone launching rockets into Israel. Hopefully.
  • Quirky, but possibly wrong
  • AOL: Oops! (and a search site someone set up to help people visualise the accidentally released data. Helpful? Cruel?)
Hooray for upcoming visits!

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