July 29th, 2007

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Intuitions of weirdness

[Happy birthday to shava23!]

I'm beginning to suspect that I'm rather weird. That's not going to surprise folks, but I'd like to take a quick survey. Note that the following questions are entirely about intuition -- not what you intellectually think, but what, at a *gut* level, seems correct to you, so don't spend a lot of time thinking about it. Yes, I'm being intentionally simplistic in the replies: I'm curious whether, when pushed into a black and white answer about their gut reaction, folks find these ideas sensible.

The Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics indicates (basically) that everything that possibly can happen does happen: that at each possible moment of variation, the universe "splits", resulting in more universes. The result would be that there are a practically infinite number of universes out there -- indeed, there are a practically infinite number of variations of yourself. Intuitively, does this seem reasonable?

Yes
26(52.0%)
No
24(48.0%)

The Strong Anthropic Principle indicates (among other things) that we make the observations we do just because we happen to live in the world where those observations prove true -- that the world seems surprisingly well-suited to our existence because it just happens to be the world in which can exist. Does this sound likely to you?

Yes
36(73.5%)
No
13(26.5%)

Some interpretations of physics would indicate that free will as we think of it is an illusion at the physical level: that at a fundamental level, our decisions are just as determined by basic physics as everything else. At a gut level, do you find that plausible?

Yes
19(38.8%)
No
30(61.2%)

If all three of the above and their apparently consequence were to be true -- there are an infinite number of worlds, we just happen to exist in one among them, our decisions are just a result of physics, and therefore every decision you possibly could make you *do* make in some world -- do you find this to be a happy prospect, a sad one, or indifferent? (Remember, I'm looking for gut reactions here.)

Happy
9(18.0%)
Sad
14(28.0%)
Neutral
27(54.0%)
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Little triumphs

After *years* of struggling with it, I've finally figured out how to make Django (the program I'm using to transcribe the lute tablature from Caroso) spit out music that actually sounds halfway decent. No one would mistake it for Renaissonics, but it's reasonably pretty, and better than much SCA dance music. This pleases me remarkably.

(And thanks to ladysprite for coming up with a project that made me try a little harder on this...)
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Message in a Bottle

We went to see the Police concert last night, and I was reminded of another of those Great Cosmic Questions: why does the sound mix for the opening act always suck so badly?

I mean, my impression is that the band, Fictionplane, was fairly decent. Granted, they were basically The Police Jr. (with Sting's son fronting as the lead singer and bassist), but they had their own sound, and I think I would have liked it if I could have *heard* any of it. But I just got the usual muddy wall of sound. Their last number featured a trio of saxophones, but you couldn't have proven that they were even there in the mix. Pity: I suspect they deserved better.

That said, the rest of the show kicked ass. It was a solid, straight-up rock concert, running nearly two full hours, and aside from the obligatory 50-foot-tall screens showing semi-random CGI it was pretty free of frills and gimmicks. The band mainly focused on their hits, but that was what the crowd was there for, and they were full of energy and life. All three of the band members were on top of their game, and did a great job, including a really delicious "drum" solo in Wrapped Around Your Finger, that must have included about three dozen different instruments ranging from gongs to strings of marimbas. On the way out we were regaled by a 20-something who completely failed to find the synonyms for "suck" that he was looking for, but I think he simply wasn't the target demographic.

The venue did well by us, as well. It turned out that our original tickets were partly blocked by the sound booth, so we were met at the top of the section by a girl who pushed new tickets on us. No loss there: the new seats were in the front row, midway between third base and home -- probably the best seats I'll ever have at Fenway Park. Granted, that was still all the way across the park from the musicians (who were out in right field), but it meant that I didn't have to spend the whole time trying to peer around people standing in front of me. We even wound up sitting next to an interesting pair -- they struck up the Battlestar Galactica conversation with us, rather than vice versa.

The weather held up nicely: despite the weathermen's predictions of possible thunderstorms, things cleared up pretty completely by game time, and stayed that way all evening. So instead of joining the crush, we walked back to Park Street station to get on the T. For future reference, this is a pleasant walk when we don't have standing-room-only tickets (and thus, haven't been standing for three hours already). And at that time of night, the Common is *full* of ducks and geese making their way to sleep, which is a downright lovely way to end the evening...