I Could Do Worse
I am sitting today on the upstairs balcony, communing with our three useless but agreeable dogs and ingesting the mortal remains of innocent grapes. I am conducting a veritable holocaust of grapes. It comes of following the news. My favored instrumentality of inebriation is Padre Kino, cheap Mexican red that you could remove barnacles with. Think of it as the poor man’s Lethe, a two-carbon Mickey Finn.
Trying times call for desperate measures. Things being what they are, immoderate sobriety suggests mental imbalance.
The Great Purple Father incites me to physics. I have spent the last half hour on the back of an envelope, trying to calculate the Schwartzschild radius of Detroit. In my current state it is too much for me.
This is not going to be an organized column. Deal with it.
When I was fifteen and read New Scientist, which was then well-written, someone wrote in and asked, “Why does a mirror reverse things horizontally, but not vertically?” A couple of weeks of discussion ensued with weird mathematical explanations. Really. It may be why I didn’t become a scientist.
The worthy grape cannot actually eliminate the horrors of today, such as Justin Bieber, but it can make them harder to remember. And absinthe makes the tart grow fonder, a service to the young.
Oh god, I feel poetry coming on.
Vatican, Vatican, shining bright
Are your cardinals transfinite?
I wish I may, I wish I might
Trace my descent from a trilobite.
I rather like trilobites. I am a serious traditionalist, harking back to primeval seas. Cambrian arthropods at least had dignity. And if girl trilobites didn’t have very good legs, they had lots of them.
Obama. We should think about Obama. Some students of IQ have estimated his at 126 to 129. It’s hard to know. The first thing a president’s ventriloquists do is hide his tracks, SATs, IQ, and grades so as to make him an amorphous plastic concept suitable for sculpting. Actually, presidents do not exist. A “president” consists of four advance men, three pollsters, two speechwriters, and a partridge in a pear tree. No, I meant to say, two speechwriters, a make-up artist, a gestures coach, and assorted fixers.
You could do them in software—you know, a slider marked Firmness and Resolution at one end, and Compassion and Empathy at the other. Another saying Confidence-Inspiring Calm at one end and Human Emotionality at the other. Intelligence at one end, and Jes’ Folks at the other. Dial in a corn-pone accent for campaigning in the South, and, for Boston, make him honk through his nose like a Canada goose. Poll results would come in over WiFi and the software would adjust appropriate values.
The only part missing is three-D holography. Then, instead of spending fortunes on air fare to places like Beijing, we could email him as an attachment.
Anyway, Obama. A 128 IQ is respectable, well up in the 90th percentile, suitable for being a pretty good doctor, or student in a fairish university, or a door stop in Silicon Valley. There you find numbers like 190, which might be better for running a nuclear-armed country with pugnacious kindergarteners in Congress.
Now we come to CERN, which is Frog for Center European for Research Nuclear. Latins always talk backward like that. Anyway, under Switzerland CERN has a supercollider, which is like a huge hatband for a man with a round head, that cost more than a billion shaky green ones and makes subatomic particles go round and round and run into each other. Why would anyone in his right mind want to do it? Never has so much money been spent to make so little go so fast. (All right, for pickers of technical nits: It makes them go minutely faster but lots heavier.)
Anyway—the world is swirling strangely, must be some sort of gravitational flux—I wanted to tell you about a song to the Biggs Hoson, which is a sort of Heffalump particle, which if you go around the bush however many times, or the collider, you never find it, just its tracks. But the song is great.
Come to think of it, you could use Padre Kino as pretty fair rust-remover, I think. Or as anvil-dissolver. It poisons flies.
Onward. For the technically minded: I have found a way to make programmers obsolete. Yes. Mumbai will fall back into rag-picking and Google shares will tank, but there is no stopping progress. Anyway:
We can regard the entire memory, RAM and disk, of a computer as one long binary number. We set it to zero, and then increment it repeatedly by 1. This will eventually generate all possible memory states, and thus all possible programs, plus a great deal of trash.
We feed each state into a disassembler program, which will turn the binary into assembly language, LOAD, ADD, STORE, MDX, SPSW, that sort of thing. Then an identical computer will endeavor to execute the resulting code, to find out what it does. Most strings will do nothing at all. Many will do something useless, such as loop forever. These can be stored in a file for sale to the federal government.
Those remaining will be the set of all useful programs possible for the computer. It will be necessary only to catalog each with a description of its function. Then, instead of importing geeks named Khan and Wong to write programs that our increasingly useless young no long can, we just use a look-up table. See? It’s brilliant.
Skeptics will say that on a computer with a terabyte drive, there will be more than 10 12states and the process would take too long. Actually, more than 2 raised to 8 x 10 12. Pfah! That’s what graduate assistants are for.
Padre Kino is said to lead to brain damage, causing psychosis and separation from reality. I’m hoping. It must be true. It seems to me this headline actually appeared in the Huffington Post:
”Vaginal Knitting Is Here To Make Everyone Afraid Of Performance Art Once Again.”
If I were a woman, that would definitely make me afraid. I’m clearly delusional. The story seemed to say that some silly wench, one of those eternally-thirteen self-absorbed tediously-outraged feminists, stuffed yarn into her, uh, self, and now pulls it out, as if she were a spinning reel, to knit things. Wouldn’t a knitting bag be more comfortable?
This is happening in Darwin, Australia, which confirms all my fears about human evolution. The evolution part is right, but we got the direction wrong. And we think the English-speaking world is going to compete with China?
The delusions are coming on again. I am imagining that colleges are offering scholarships for video-gamers. See? Padre Kino is like the better grades of peyote. Onward into the fog.