Tuesday, September 13, 2005

neither 42 nor 47 are interesting

Infected with an unfortunate meme of geekdom, I've grown unnaturally sensitive toward hearing the numbers 42 and 47. These numbers are almost mythical in nature, 42 for possibly being "the answer to the ultimate question", and 47 for supposedly having an anomalously high frequency of use in daily affair.

In a bid to cure myself of susceptibility to mind control by those who'd reap the awesome power of these two numbers, and under the premise that few enough netizens are infected with these memes to constitute any significant alteration to these numbers' use — a premise I'm sure we can all agree upon given the growing ubiquity of non-geeks online — I thought I'd query Google, our very own 'Deep Thought', on what it thinks about single and double-digit numbers. Here are the results:
x-axis represents the number queried, y-axis represents matched documents in millions under Google's Sept 13, 2005 corpus

Thankfully, there existed no easily roused DoS-prevention logic and so my perl script was sportingly allowed to run unimpeded.

Observing the data, we see that lower magnitude numbers reign supreme as expected, followed by their products by 10 and to a lesser extent theirs by 5. Our odd decision to make seconds and minutes base-60 probably encouraged the high popularity of 30. Shopkeepers who price everything one or two cents shy of a whole buck are the likely reason for the spikes at 98 and 99. Curse their financial legerdemain! I snuck in 100 despite it being triple-digit to show my solidarity with our love of base-10. If you must know, I originally had 0 as well but it made the scatterplot rather messy with its frequency being between those of 12 and 13. Notably apparent from the chart, there is nothing strikingly special about 42 or 47.

So there you have it, confirmation that the '80s really were boring, and incontrovertible proof that neither 42 nor 47 are in any way more spectacular than other numbers in the hearts and minds of sane, normal people. The atypically higher frequencies of 44 and 64 do on the other hand raise new questions...

After all this faux statistical analysis of 'cult-figures', it is perhaps prudent to reflect on the sagacious words of Homer J. Simpson.
1F09, 1/6/94 Homer the Vigilante
Kent: Mr. Simpson, how do you respond to the charges that petty vandalism such as graffiti is down eighty percent, while heavy sack-beatings are up a shocking 900%?
Homer: Aw, people can come up with statistics to prove anything, Kent. Forty percent of all people know that.

His eminence's eloquent words denouncing statistically based reasoning. Amen, Mr. Simpson, amen.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Attending a Desi Wedding in Cincinnati

Labor day weekend went by rather well! Whenever any sort of long weekend creeps up, my family begins by expressing a warm, embracing intention to vacation somewhere. This wishful thinking must be quite taxing because my parents seem to move directly onto appeased inaction, bypassing the entire stage where one normally would book a flight and a room. This brilliant tactic of omission allows a vacation "planned" a month in advance to disintegrate into ether, leaving my family panic stricken the week of our supposed excursion and ultimately resigned to satiate our wanderlust another time. Despite this, somehow, maybe when the stars align, we get our act together and manage to go somewhere. This labor day weekend owes itself to one such cosmic arrangement. And, oh, what a weekend it was!

The Groom as White Knight

The Bride and Groom

Weddings are always special occasions, but this desi wedding meant a three-day gala affair with the groom riding on a white stallion! In the picture to the right you can see the groom mounted on the steed. Truth be known, an equestrian trainer pulled it along, and it was for less than an hour, but still... a horse!

Since the groom is Tamilian and the bride is Gujarati, the wedding combined traditional North Indian style with traditional South Indian style. Hey, if it means more variety in sweets for the guests, I say combine away!

Unfortunately, owing to the paucity of Indian weddings I've attended, I'm not exactly sure which all aspects were Southern inspired and which all were Northern inspired. The ancillary use of the horse, by the way, is primarily a North Indian phenomenon, and may even be confined further to Gujarat. I know, I know, I'm a bad coconut with only a vague understanding of these things. I'm trying, right?

The photo to the left shows the general theme and the apparel worn. The guys in red on the rightside are mostly the groom's friends from Chicago. The girls in red saris are sisters of the bride. People are pumping their arms into the air as they dance to Hindi music in a procession behind which faint and gentle clacks of horseshoes emanate.

Arches and candles are among the more artistic items one can capture with a still; yet, some guy has the impeccable timing to get up and ruin my shot. Oh well.

I probably should cast a little of Cincinnati's limelight over on Kentucky since the latter is where most of the events actually took place. Barefaced about being a geography dunce, I never realized Cincinnati practically grows out from Ohio and into Kentucky! Makes me wonder, though, if Mr. Ed from the first photograph was ever in the Kentucky derby.