## Statistics Saturday: Toto’s ‘Africa’ By Parts

Because sometimes you just run up to deadline and you have to go with what you have and those are always the bits people like best anyway and sometimes I wonder why I go into writing a second hundred words anyway and I just want a hug thank you.

Meanwhile: if you need to score a movie or TV scene and want to evoke mid-80s nostalgia without digging deep you’re going to pick “Out Of Africa”, sure. But what’s the equivalent for other decades? If you just want a wash of mid-90s nostalgia without digging deep then, sure, Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic”, or maybe Nirvana’s “Oh Whatever You Have On Hand”. But what about the 70s? The 60s? For the 50s I’d say “Mister Sandman” but that might just be Back To The Future talking. For the 40s there’s Glenn Miller’s “American Patrol”. How about the rest? Yes, start from the 1750s.

Also not depicted: realizing like thirty years after that of course the song isn’t called “Out Of Africa” and you’ve been naming it wrong all this time.

## Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index dropped two points as traders got around to watching Wednesday’s The Price Is Right and it was another double overbid in the Showcase and it sure seems like there’ve been a lot of them this season. There was even one on, like, the Mother’s Day show. Everyone’s all cranky about this now and trying to undrestand how this keeps going wrong.

# 199

## An Apology In My Dreams

So to the seagull in my dream who was trying to apologize by delivering a fully functional rocket to my backyard: I appreciate the gesture. It’s a most impressive gift. And I do appreciate the work gone in to getting a Saturn I — not a V, not even the more hip I-B but an actual Saturn I as used in flight testing and development from 1961 through 1965. It’s a true connoisseur’s choice of rocket vehicle. Nevertheless, while I’ll accept presents as tokens of reconciliation they are not, by themselves, reconciliation. It is harder to deliver a simple “I’m sorry” from your own beak, but it would mean something that no present ever could, and I promise to accept it with as much grace as possible given our history. And I do thank you for the gesture.

Still, on another level, I can’t see any way to launch the blasted thing from my backyard, what with how the goldfish pond isn’t nearly deep enough a water trench for the necessary sound suppression. Not to mention not being deep enough for the goldfish to come out well afterwards. Plus who’s got a launch gantry in mid-Michigan anyway? I’ve got too much stuff just hanging around to show to accept something that hasn’t got practical use.

## Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

Traders showed a sharp loss of confidence today when they learned that contestants on The Price Is Right are not drawn randomly from the audience but are instead screened while entering to see if they’d probably look good on camera and have a bunch of people cheering specifically for them.

# 128

• Carrots are good for the eyes. Myth started by the British during World War II as cover for radar’s abilities to detect airplanes.
• Carrots are good for the ears. Myth started by the British during World War I as cover for sonar’s abilities to detect submarines.
• “Carrot” the plant is the same word as “carrot” the vegetable. These are etymologically completely separate words that happen to be spelled alike, much like “bear” the animal and “bear” meaning to-put-up-with, that were merged in the one act of simplifying English that anyone was ever able to agree on.
• Carrots are good for the sense of touch. Myth started by the British during the Franco-Prussian War just in case they had to get involved and needed cover for their long-stick technologies.
• Carrots are naturally orange. They were bred to be orange; in their natural state they are polka-dotted.
• Carrots are good for the sense of taste. Myth started by the British immediately after the Battle of Austerlitz because apparently you can get Germans at war to believe anything about carrots.
• Carrots are kind of long, tapered candle-shaped things. They are actually five-dimensional spheres and this is just how they appear projected into our three-dimensional Euclidean space.
• Carrots are good for the smell. Myth started by the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War because they wanted in on this fun too as long as they had to deal with Hessians.
• Carrots have never started forest fires. Well, often myths have an element of truth to them. In fact carrots have never put out forest fires, but not for want of trying.
• It’s interesting whether Mel Blanc liked carrots or not. He was an actor hired to play someone who liked carrots.

## Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index dropped nearly ten percent in trading due to panic from the discovery that the DVR has suddenly stopped recording The Price Is Right and nobody knows how to get it through its head that these are so new episodes that it should be recording.

# 85

## This Sort Of Observation Was More Merry Whimsical Fun Last Year

But once again Weather Underground seems to think something we should probably know about is happening in the middle of next week. (It’s a road trip to Baltimore.)

For today, my mathematics blog had some more comic strips to review for yesterday, for you, if you’ll have it. How’s that?

## Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index dropped two points over uncertainty inspired by the DVR having decided The Price Is Right is in reruns this month even though the show is not and now they have to send someone to watch each episode and say if there’s a particularly good round of Rat Race and they’re all so good how do you make a choice?

# 96

## And It Was Just A Flyer For Cheap Tires Anyway

So we forgot to check the mail, and left it in the surprisingly leaky mailbox while something like 400 feet of rain came down in some rain-like process. We’ve had that kind of spring. And yet somehow the mail remained dry enough that NASA wanted to research it for possible Martian bacteria. Unfortunately, they told us of this interest in a letter they sent the next week, where it was out in a mild drizzle for four minutes between the time it was delivered and the time there was a convenient break in The Price Is Right so I could get it. And in that time the letter was dissolved into postage soup. Ah well. I don’t know who on Mars would even be writing us in the first place. Maybe that would’ve been one the things NASA studied.

## Statistics Saturday: April Fool’s Day, By Content

But you can understand people being angry at April Fool’s Day, what with the Internet being flooded with dubious news stories, jokes in questionable taste, ill-considered surprise changes in web sites, and causes for phony outrage, only we know ahead of time the day’s going to be full of them.

## The Big Picture

We’ve started looking at maybe buying a new TV. Our current TV is working fine, which has been part of the problem, since it’s your old-fashioned standard-definition tube-model TV screen hewn by Alan B DuMont himself from his shadowy hidden laboratory deep in the highlands of North Jersey. It was a fine TV in its time, and it’s clearly determined to outlast the entropic heat-death of the universe, but it’s starting to get annoying watching TV shows that assume screens are wider, like they are anymore. The Daily Show is pretty good about not putting stuff outside the bounds of the standard-definition screen, but it’s getting tiresome to guess what’s happening on the missing edges of Cona O’Brie.

The obvious change in TV technology since our old set was made has been the size, of course. There’s now no way to buy a TV set smaller than a tennis court in area, which will demand we rearrange the living room so it fits. We might have to have a carpenter come in and take out the stairwell, and just get to our bedroom by way of a rope ladder, trampoline, or perhaps a very patient giraffe (possibly mechanized). On the bright side modern TVs are only half as thick as other units of the same model, so if we buy a flatscreen we’ll be able to slip it in-between the wall and the paint on the wall.

The other thing is that shapes have changed. Picture-tube TVs all had that slight outward curve made. That curve was great as you could just place a large enough number of picture tubes near one another and automatically form a ball of television sets thirty feet across, allowing anyone to create an art installation about the disposability of modern pop culture whenever they wanted. But then they started making screens flat, so that every TV show you looked at seemed to be weirdly impacted in the middle, like someone had smooshed Bob Barker right in the belly. They’ve fixed that now, by finding a pre-smooshed host for The Pric Is Righ, and I suppose they’ve worked out what to do for other shows too.

And now the stores have innovative new shapes, too. The big one at the store last week was screens curled inward, giving us the experience of watching a couple seconds of a waterfall then a roller coaster then fireworks then the Grand Canyon while staring at the inside of a bowl. I guess that’s got advantages in how it makes the picture look curled inwards, and how the eyes of the Best Buy sales associates follow you wherever you go until in a fit of shyness you curl up behind the bin of \$4.99 games for the Wii.

Besides these inverted-bowl shapes there’s exciting new concepts in solid geometry coming, such as the saddle-curve hyperboloid which wowed people at the Consumer Electronics Show. It expertly suggested the experience of horse-riding, what with how as you get closer to the screen it looms higher and higher over you, until you get right up close to it, at which point the it bites your hair, covers your head an inch deep in horse boogers, and stomps on your foot, which any horse-expert person like my sister will tell you is a show that the horse likes you and it’s all your fault anyway. I didn’t even know my sister watched that much TV, what with her horse-experting to do. Anyway, television boogers clean up easily, but cleaning them off leaves you open to charges you’re one of those people who announces “I never watch television” every four minutes, even to empty rooms.

Personally, I think the most exciting new TV shape is one that projects the image onto the contact surface formed in the tangent space $M \times \textbf{R}^{2n+1}$ so that for any fiber bundle $\alpha$ you can find a sympletic coordinate pair perfectly matching, say, the statistical entropy to the chemical potentials of the system. I think most of you agree with my assessment because you’re hoping if you nod vigorously enough I’ll stop talking what might be mathematics or physics or possibly some conspiracy theory linking Nikolai Tesla to the Knights Templar and go on to literally any other topic at all. (Hi, LFFL!)

Anyway, this is all very thrilling stuff and it makes me figure that I should go back to watching narrower programs on the old TV set.

## Is Yoghurt Deliberately Slowing Down Internet TV?

Advertising has always been driven by a pathological hatred of the consumer, on the grounds that if people really, really hate the commercial they’re going to remember that hatred, and therefore buy the product sponsoring it because the name is kind of familiar-ish from somewhere. The theory is incredibly sound, based on longrunning experience like the time the advertisers themselves bought their homes from a guy they knew nothing about except that one time he leapt out of a dark alley and bludgeoned them with a small caribou. They were so impressed they spent decades searching out their assailant and talking him into taking up a career in real estate just so they could buy homes from him. This is how powerful a sales and skeletal impression the caribou made.

Being annoying used to be a scattershot business, advertisers just guessing at what would irritate the viewer, but now that computers make it easy for them to harass web site users into describing their demographic niches exactly (“no, we can’t POSSIBLY set up an account recording what birds you saw in the yard unless we know whether you’re male or female, your age to within five years, and whether you’ve ever been bludgeoned by a caribou with a postgraduate degree”) they can get much more exactingly infuriating. For me, this involves making me sit through yoghurt ads when I’m just trying to watch The Price Is Right online.