Wednesday Hodgepodge: 20-24 September 2017

So I'm four days late ... add this to the list of other things I can't get done on-time ...

The Wednesday Hodgepodge appears courtesy of From This Side Of The Pond.

1. What's something you'd rate a 10/10? Tell us why.

There aren't a lot of things that I rate that highly.   I could go with the obvious answers, but what's the fun in that?   So I'll pick an academic answer.

Some of y'all know the story of Alan Turing, the British computer scientist.   His story hit popular culture a few years ago when the movie The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, was released.   (The movie is well worth seeing, though I'm forced to point out that there are some significant adult themes discussed in the movie --- in fact, which lie at the heart of the movie.)

What isn't really discussed by the movie (because of its obscurity) is the seminal paper Turing wrote in 1939.   The title is long and boring ... but, basically, in the paper, Turing gives a mathematical definition of what a computer is, and shows the theoretical limits of what computers will and won't be able to achieve.   Computers are not limitless; there are tasks that computers will never be able to achieve, no matter how advanced our technology becomes.   

As I said, Turing wrote this paper in 1939.   Think about that for a minute.   What do computers look like in 1939?   If they exist at all (and that's a matter of debate for another time), they look nothing like the modern tools we use today.

In 1939, Alan Turing defined what a computer would look like, and what it would be capable of doing, and what it would never be capable of doing --- before anyone had ever actually invented a modern computer.   

That sounds like a 10/10.

2. What job would you be terrible at? What makes you think so?

Manual labor.   Mostly because I'm a physical wreck --- the result of being forty pounds overweight, having little-to-no exercise in my daily routine, and working for decades at sedentary jobs.   I have the utmost respect for those whose daily jobs are filled with physical labor.

3. When did you last take a fall? What's something you're falling for (in a good way) these days?

My last fall?   Probably while walking some path outdoors, trying to get to a geocache.

What am I falling for?  It's hard to say.   Maybe it's the group of young faculty who've decided to start encouraging me to pick up my academic writing once again.   They've been a blessing.

4. According to the Travel Channel here are some of America's best fall festivals-

National Apple Harvest Festival (near Arendtsville PA, close to Gettysburg), Harvest on the Harbor (Portland Maine), German Village Festival (Columbus Ohio), Wellfleet Oyster Fest (Cape Cod), and Wine and Chile Fiesta (Santa Fe NM)

Have you ever been to any of the festivals listed? Which one appeals to you most? Does your hometown have any sort of fall celebration, and if so will you make it a point to attend?

No, I haven't been to any of them.   Right now ... maybe the oyster festival?   I'm usually a sucker for seafood

Local festivals?   The Catholic church in town runs an "Applefest" fair every September, and the town nearby has a Renaissance festival that runs for six weekends in August/September.   We attend occasionally, but not regularly.   

In my grumpy middle age, I'm starting to discover that I like these events less than the idea of the events.   I sometimes feel like the events simply an opportunity to try and separate me from more of my money than I really want to give up.   And then there's big crowds, and hot environments, and long walks from the parking lot, and ... I dunno.   Lately, my introvert side tends to take over when I think about these things.

5. What is your goodbye message to summer?

See you in nine months, I guess.   To everything there is a season.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

When I joined my university 20 years ago, as a young, energetic, freshly-minted PhD, I saw a group of old, grumpy faculty and resolved that I'd never become like them.   Twenty years later ... and I understand how they got that way.   I don't think I've become them yet, but there are days ...


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