Last post on blogspot

I'm moving my weblog back to http://www.entish.org/willwhim. Please make a note of it. There's likely to be a few twists and turns on the way.


I may be a Unitarian Jihadist

My Unitarian Jihad Name is: Brother Sword of Courteous Debate. Get yours.

(But I'm a trinitarian).


We th ppl f th US (Compressing the US Constitution)

As promised, a quick test of compressing the US Constitution to compare it to the compression rates seen by Jean Véronis for the European constitution.

Gains de compression - diagramme en bâtons

It's interesting to note that the compression ratio went down with the addition of the Bill of Rights. Not surprisingly, the other amendments have the biggest compression ratio There are a number of copies of "The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation." in the later amendments--I've never understood why some amendments have this proviso, and others don't.

In any case, even at its highest ratio (indicating the most redundant text), the US constitution does well in contrast to the European constitution. And taking the original constitutions head-to-head? No contest: 65% vs. 75%.

Of course, take this with a grain of salt. Compression was done using gzip. By the way, Jean Véronis's text compression (for his post in French) is 52%. Apparently, he's a good writer.


Compression as indicator of document quality

Jean Véronis describes an informal experiment in compressing different texts, including the European constitution. (Original in French, Auto-translated to English). He notes that normally, French texts compress at about 60-65% of the original, but the EU constitution compresses at about 75%. He puts this down to "jargon, puffery, redundancy..." in the constitution. I wonder what the US Constitution is (before and after any admendments added after the Bill of Rights). To be determined...

By the way, Google's translation provider translates ""jargon, baratin, redondance..." as "jargon, sweet talk, redundancy..." Which makes me wonder about the compression ratios achievable on flattery.


Dropping Lambda

Shriram Krishnamurthi, that bad boy of the Scheme community, announced today (April 1) that PLT Scheme plans on removing LAMBDA from PLT Scheme 3.0.

So I posted this note:

A group of us are pretty upset that the PLT Scheme Team has announced plans to drop LAMBDA from PLT Scheme v300.

We agree that dropping FILTER and MAP is a good idea, although for different reasons. We think that (filter P S) is almost always written more clearly as:

(((lambda (f)
((lambda (x) (f (x x)))
(lambda (x) (f (lambda (y) ((x x) y))))))
(lambda (f)
(lambda (r)
(if (null? r) '()
(if (p (car r))
(cons (car r) (f (cdr r)))
(f (cdr r))))))) s)

So, we are announcing that we will be forking the PLT Scheme codebase, into a new project, tentatively named "Lorenzo's Oil." Version 1 will remove MAP, etc. We expect Version 2 to further cleanse the language. We are embarrassed, for example, that we left in the IF statements.

-- The Lorenzo's Oil Team

So, are you in, or are you out?



I remember that once, when I was a little boy, my Ma was cooking a pot roast, and she started by chopping off both ends of the pot roast before putting it into the pot. I asked her, Ma--why did you cut off the ends of the pot roast before putting it in the pot? It seems to me that you cook pot roast differently every time you cook it.

Well, she said, my Ma always cooked pot roast a different way each time. Sometimes she'd cut off one end, sometimes both ends, sometimes neither; sometimes she'd use lots of pepper or garlic or tomatoes or even, one time, mustard, anise seed, and dill. Why did she do that, I asked. Well, you'll just have to ask her, she said. So the next time we went to Grandma's house I asked her why she always cooked the pot roast differently each time.

My Ma, she said, was a terrible cook. Her pot roasts were as tough as leather and dry as toast. I decided that when I had my own kitchen things would be different, so every time I cooked a pot roast, I'd try a little experiment. That's cool, Grandma, I said. Do you still do that when you cook?

Oh don't be silly, she said. I ruined a lot of perfectly good pot roasts with those crazy experiments. One day I finally went out and bought a decent cookbook, and now I make a pretty good pot roast. Maybe I should lend it to your Ma.


One suppon a time

I member when me an two a my brothers were walkin home late one night an we found ourself in a graveyard. Lookit here, said Dave -- this guy lived to he was 87 years old. Huh, I said. I seen a grave a minute ago had a guy who lived till he was 95. Stevie called us over and said here's a guy who was 250 years old! What was his name, I asked. Lemme see, said Stevie, lighting a match -- oh, yeah, here it is: His name was Miles, from Detroit.

(My brother Steve was almost complaining that my posts have been a little too erudite lately).

Kunonga watch I

From Archibishop Ncube Urges Mugabe Overthrow
Although Mugabe is regarded as evil incarnate by Zimbabwe's Roman Catholic hierarchy, he does have friends elsewhere in the Christian Community. Zimbabwe's Anglican primate, Bishop Nolbert Kunonga, has used his pulpit at St Mary's Cathedral in Harare to support Mugabe and his land reform programme.

He was rewarded by Mugabe with one of the farms, St Marnock's, outside Harare, confiscated from its previous white owner, 25-year-old Marcus Hale. The bishop installed his son in the 2000 acre farmhouse, which overlooks a lake and sweeping fields of wheat and soya. The bishop also evicted 50 black workers and their families to make way for his own staff.

From his pulpit, Kunonga has compared opponents of Mugabe as "dogs against an elephant" and described them as "puppets of the West". During one of his pro-Mugabe sermons, the choir began singing hymns to drown out his words. The choir was subsequently sacked by the bishop along with the cathedral wardens and cathedral council.

Anglican priests critical of Mugabe have been transferred to tough rural parishes and many have resigned. A plethora of legal cases between Kunonga and his disillusioned flock are stuck in Zimbabwe's chaotic court system. In place of priests who have resigned, he has appointed men who have pledged not to criticise the head of state.

(Kunonga used to be a friend of mine. He is now an Anglican bishop in Zimbabwe, and very supportive of dictator Robert Mugabe.)

Follow-up on "all lavish of strange gifts to men"

Warren Steel, who is at the Department of Music at the University of Mississippi, had access to the original poem, by Edward Young. His "Night Thoughts" was a popular series of poems--Blake illustrated them, for example. Steel wrote on the Sacred Harp mailing list:

I have a copy of Young's Night Thoughts handy. Night 4 is the Christian Triumph.

--in his bless'd life,
I see the path, and in his death, the price,
And in his great ascent, the proof supreme
Of immortality. --And did he rise?
Hear, O ye nations! hear it, O ye dead!
He rose! he rose! he burst the bars of death...

The theme, the joy, how then shall man sustain!
Oh the burst gates! crush'd sting! demolish'd throne!
Last gasp of vanquish'd death! Shout earth and heav'n
This sum of joy to man: whose nature then
Took wing, and mounted with him from the tomb!
Then, then I rose; then first humanity
Triumphant pass'd the crystal ports of light
(Stupendous guest!) and seiz'd eternal youth,
Seiz'd in our name. E'er since, 'tis blasphemous
To call man mortal. Man's mortality
Was then transferr'd to death; and heav'n's duration
Unalienably seal'd to this frail frame,
This child of dust--Man, all-immortal! hail!
Hail heaven! all-lavish of strange gifts to man!
Thine all the glory, man's the boundless bliss.

So, since the resurrection, the poet views man
immortal; it's he being hailed first. Then heaven,
or God is hailed as generous of gifts that are
strange (i.e. immortality). The glory belongs to
heaven, the bliss belongs to man. So I read it.

I think he's right. I'm also convinced now that "all-lavish of [strange gifts]" is a adjectival phrase, like "God almighty" or "God all-powerful". Note the parallelism in the poem to "all-immortal".

Thanks, Warren!