ScrimismsPresently suffering a dearth of witticisms

March 2006


News26 Mar 2006

I’m headed into lands unknown (to me, at least). I won’t actually be arriving in Crete until late Monday sometime, after having visited 5 airports in 3 countries. Fun stuff.

I’ll try not to get lost in a minotaur or eaten by a maze.

Music and News25 Mar 2006

Took the bus to Nova Scotia today, which was long, boring and tiring, as usual.

Mom picked me up at the bus station and we went and caught Spirit of the West playing live at the Casino.

More about the show in a minute. First: the casino. I’d been there before (for a Jeff Healey concert a few years ago) but had kind of forgotten. It’s a bit dreary, lots of older people in sweatpants sitting at slot machines. Mom said “In the ads, they always show people having lots of fun”. She insisted we walk around and look for people having fun. We saw a couple smiling faces at the blackjack tables and in the poker room, but mostly the mood was pretty sombre.

Friday nights at the casino are special nights: they have a chorus girl on floor. One solitary girl in a feathery green bikini and headdress. I always thought chorus girls operated as a group? As a chours, even? Apparently at the Halifax Casino chorus girls fly solo. And hand out strings of beads.

Anyway: the concert. We found our seats about 20 minutes before the band came on stage and looked around. And saw a lot of grey hair. I estimated I was the youngest person in the room by a good ten years. It looked like the crowd was just gamblers from the casino and not SoTW fans. I was worried there would be no energy for the band to feed off of and as a result the show would suck. I’ve liked Spirit of the West my whole life (that’s not hyperbole: they’ve been playing together for 23 years) and always wanted to see them live but never had the chance.

As they start time approached a few younger folks made their way into the room. Mom ran into a former student and two of her friends, and they sat with us. One of the girls knew the band and the another “had followed them on tour when I was fifteen”. Being there with a group of other fans really added to the experience.

The band played a great, high energy set. They mostly played their well-known stuff, but mixed in about five songs from their latest album. They are a fantastic live act and their songs have a whole new kind of life when being performed in front of you.

By the end I was up and dancing in front of the stage. Yes, you read that right: me, dancing. I was so close to the band I could have spit on John Mann’s shoes if I’d wanted too (he was drinking red wine between songs, hehe). I even slow-danced to a song. With a cute girl. :D

Musings23 Mar 2006

(With apologies in advance to my non-nerdy friends).

My friend and fellow student Dave told me about this nifty little sorting algorithm:

Function BozoSort(array a){
    while a.notsorted(){
        randomize(a)
    }
    return a
}

The complexity analysis (ie: how long it will take to run) of that algorithm is kind of strange. The average case is obvious: O(2^n), where n is the number of bits in the array. Best case is also obvious: O(1).

It’s the worst-case complexity that is interesting. In the worst case, Bozo Sort never actually finds the solution. Does that make it O(infinity)? Is it NP-Complete?

Actually, I think the answer is that it isn’t appropriate to apply big-O to Bozo sort: it isn’t guaranteed to find a solution, and as such, isn’t technically considered to be an algorithm.

Edit: I realized the average case is actually worse than 2^n, since there is no guarantee that each guess will only appear once. Also, there’s a wikipedia article on this and related “algorithms”.

Movies21 Mar 2006

I saw C.R.A.Z.Y. tonight. Ended up going with my supervisor, since he was keen to see the “best Canadian Film of the year”. He didn’t like it much, something about it being too entertaining. I got an off-the-cuff lecture on the superiority of Russian Literature on the ride home. Fair enough, I’ll have to read some Tolstoy one of these days.

I liked the movie quite a bit. Not the best I’ve ever seen but it had some interesting characters and a neat mystical/catholic undercurrent. And Patsy Cline! The main boy (“Zac”) has a gift from God, a case of asthma, and a penchant for pushing prams and wearing dresses. In 1960-1980s Québec.

The casting was pretty solid. Michel Côté was great as the father (they did a good job of aging him as the time passed) and the director’s own son was very expressive as Zac aged 6 to 8.

See it if you get a chance.

Games and Links16 Mar 2006

This is pretty neat. It’s an hour long though, be warned.

Will Wright on the future of game content and his new game “Spore”.

Musings09 Mar 2006

I respectfully submit that Baseball should be declared Canada’s game for a while. It’ll give the Canadian men’s hockey team get their house in order and we can cheer for team Canada in the World Baseball Classic.

Yesterday I watched the Canadians take on the American All-Star Dream team. I thought “It’d be nice to see a game that the Canadians are in, and it’ll be fun to watch all those great American big-league players in action, even if they are trouncing the poor boys in red and white”.

Picture, if you will, yours truly grinning maniacally with the Canadians up 8-0 in the 5th inning. The commentators were actually talking about the “mercy rule” (If you’re leading by 10 runs after 7 innings the game ends right there). The star American sluggers had been held in check by a kid from Surrey, BC who pitched in single-A ball last year. Meanwhile the Canadians had managed 3 triples and an inside-the-park home run against some of the best pitching there is.

Unfortunately the Canadian bullpen isn’t that deep and the Americans were able to get 6 runs and get back in the game, thanks largely to a Jason Varitek grand slam. The late innings were tense but the Canadians managed to hold on and win 8-6.

Yes, the great American National Baseball Team was bested at their own game by a bunch of Canadian upstarts. Weeeeeee!

Music and News03 Mar 2006

Today I bought my first ever album from iTunes: “What the Toll Tells” by Two Gallants. I heard their song “Las Cruces Jail” on cbc the other week and was initially alarmed, convinced that the singer’s throat was going to explode at any moment. At the same time I was struck by the lyrics. “That’s some very assured song-writing for a couple 20-year-olds”, I said to myself.

After listening to the steaming audio from their website a few times I became less bothered by the vocal-chord-shredding singing and more taken with the music. There’s a wicked lyric in “Las Cruses Jail” (which is about a young man sentenced to die): “Desperate times call for desperate men / I’m just a kid but I’ll pretend”.

My rationale for buying the album was that I’d finished my marking early this week, and endured the form-filling-in that goes along with applying for a passport. Clearly I deserve a reward.

On the subject of exploding throats, I’ve had a sore throat since last Sunday which I’ve been expecting to turn into a full blown cold any day now. So far it hasn’t, and in fact the throat-soreness itself seems to be on the retreat. Hooray for drinking orange juice by the gallon.

Completing the passport application process necessitated a trip to the local passport office. I quite like government offices. The air inside somehow smells Canadian and every aspect of the place feels like it was very carefully constructed to specifications written over the course of 18 months by a six-member committee. In English and French.

The surveillance camera had a big sign under it that said “This area is under surveillance” for crying out loud.

So, why was I applying for a passport? Thought you’d never ask.

I’m going to Crete at the end of March! I didn’t really plan it, it just happened. My dad is going for work and I’m going to tag along and soak up all things Greek for a week. I’m quite excited.

That covers half the rationale for buying the new album. The other half (getting my marking done early) is because I’m leaving on Saturday to go to Nova Scotia for a few days. This, of course, means a long and tedious bus ride, but I can listen to my new music and read my new book on evolution (not to be confused with my old book on evolution. I know it would make sense to finish the old book before starting the new book, but the new book is thinner and thus more convenient for the bus. Besides, I’m in the middle of Copleston’s History of Philosophy Volume 1 Greece and Rome as well (speaking of Greece) so I figured that if two books on the go was good, three was better).

The new Evolution book came from my supervisor. I ran into him in the hall the other day and he said “Do you have any books on Evolution?”

“One or two” I said.

“Here, you can have this one” he said, and pressed a copy of The Theory of Evolution by John Maynard Smith into my hands. It’s a bit of a classic, which Smith says he wrote “for myself aged twenty, when I had a great curiosity about evolution but no formal training in biology.” Perfect for me, in other words.

The downside of the trip to Nova Scotia is that I’m going to miss Paradise Now at film co-op. Dang it. There are always trade-offs.