A weblog by Will Fitzgerald

Monthly Archives: November 2005

'Lining-out' in Huckleberry Finn

The first half of the manuscript of Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which was begun in 1876 and published in 1885, was discovered in 1990 ‘in an old steamer trunk stored in the attic of a Los Angeles house.’ It includes a description of a camp meeting that is more expansive than the published version. I thought the readers of this mail list would be interested in the published and manuscript versions of the beginning part of the story, in which a preacher is lining out a hymn. Twain is depicting a time ‘forty to fifty years ago’ (i.e., roughly 1835-1845):

Published version:

The first shed we come to, the preacher was lining out a hymn. He lined out two lines, everybody sung it, and it was kind of grand to hear it, there was so many of them and they done it in such a rousing way; then he lined out two more for them to sing–and so on. The people woke up more and more, and sung louder and louder; and towards the end, some begun to groan, and some begun to shout.

MS version:

The first shed we come to, the preacher was lining-out a hymn. He lined out two lines; everybody sung it–roared it out, they did, in a most rousing way:

“Am I a soldier of the cross,
A follower of the Lamb,”–

–then the preacher lined-out the next two:

“And shall I fear to own his cause,
Or blush to speak his name?”

–And so on. The people work up more and more, and sung louder and louder; and towards the end, some begun to groan, and some begun to shout.

This is from the Random House 1996 “The Adventures of Mark Twain: The Only Comprehensive Edition.” The dating comes from editors’ notes. [Note sent to the Fasola discussion list.]

Chiluly in Kalamazoo

We finally attended the Chihuly in Kalamazoo exhibit at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts. Lots of good color and forms! I think I liked one of the putti the best. Unfortunately, I can’t find a picture of the one I especially liked. Shown are some images from a movie of installing three works at the KIA. I did like the Finnish boat quite a bit, as well as the pergola ceiling.


Tim Converse reports on recruiting trip to Michigan he made–that is, Michigan the University. He asked the audience trivia questions, including “how many trailing zeros in 100 factorial?”

I remember seeing 100! for the first time:


I wondered where all those (24) zeroes came from, but I never took the time to figure it out.

Nor did I have time to figure it out as I read Tim’s post, but I did have a couple of minutes to write a Lisp program to compute n! and count the zeros in 100!; this is essentially what I wrote:

(defun f (x) (if (= x 1) x (* x (f (1- x)))))

(defun nz1 (x)
  (let ((str (princ-to-string (f x))))
    (1- (- (length str)
                 (lambda (ch) (char= ch #))
                 :from-end t)))))

(nz1 (f 100)) -> 24

Well, this was good enough to answer Tim’s question, but he (rightly) took me to task for being so non-explanatory. So I spent some time looking at the problem, mainly by looking at the factorials from 1 to 100 and looking for patterns. Eventually I realized that it was the sum of how many times multiples of 5^1, 5^2, 5^3 … appeared. As a Lisp program:

(defun nz (x)
  (loop for i from 1
           while (>= (expt 5 i) x)
           sum (floor x (expt 5 i))))

Essentially, these ‘pair up’ (as it were) with the 2s, 4s, 8s. … to produce the zero endings (eg 2*5, 12*15, …, 4*25).

I checked the wonderful On-Line Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences to see if this sequence appeared. At first, I couldn’t find it! Cool, I thought–I’ll have my own entry. Unfortunately for me, though, the sequence does appear, as sequence A027868 (I found this on a second search when I was looking to see if my entry had been accepted, Sorry to waste your time, N. J. A. Sloane). According to the MathWorld article on Factorial:

This is a special application of the general result first discovered by Legendre in 1808 that the largest power of a prime p dividing n! is … [formula omitted].

Nice to know I’m on the trailing edge of early 19th century number theory. I now promise myself a rest from Tim Converse and Joyce Park-related postings.

Interestingly, it’s a little difficult to search for 100! on both Yahoo Search and Google–and the Yahoo calculator doesn’t calculate factorial, and Google’s gives an approximation. But searching for “100 factorial is” on Yahoo and Google yields this page in Korean.

Very nice post on buggy bug reports

Tim Converse, on the Proper uses of bugzilla.

Joyce Park, alpha geek

O’Reilly is running a series on how alpha geeks got into programming; my friend Joyce Park is number 2 in the series. I knew Joyce back when she was just a beta geek :)

Great God, attend, while Zion sings

Another nice monthly Sacred Harp singing, with several friends back we haven’t seen for a while–Idy Kiser and Henry Schumann for example–and a return of Tom Malone, who moved to Michigan recently, plus some new singers. We sang a number of ‘fast’ tunes slowly tonight, such as Ballstown, which is usually sung at a very fast clip, but sang it slow, as it was sung by these folks in 1938 (See previous post on this). It’s interesting to see, as I understand Sacred Harp singing better, how individual singings take on a kind of personality; it’s not just a bunch of songs strung together.

Predicting election results

Interesting article Why are American presidential election campaigns so variable when votes are so predictable? (pdf) by Andrew Gelman and Gary King. First, I didn’t know that presidential elections were so predictable, but apparently they are (close races are predictably close, not-so-close races are predictably not-so-close) based on certain relatively well-known independent variables. Second, the authors make a good case about why voter polls are so variable. Basically, people eventually gather enough information to make a decision based on their real preferences; and at the point (which is usually near the election). Until then, they poorly estimate how they are likely to vote. Thus, the polls really are just snapshots of voters’ identification of a candidate’s match to the voters’ preferences. This means the campaigns and news coverage seem to actually provide the information voters need to judge candidiates; without them, the voters remain relatively clueless about how well candidates match their preferences.

A couple of notes: this doesn’t work for primaries apparently, and it predicts only the likelihood of a candidate winning. In the last election, I presume the fundamental predictions would have forcast about a 50/50 chance for Bush or Kerry to win; if so, the fundamental prediction was correct, even it if show a slight preference for Kerry. I wonder if this was behind the ‘get out the vote’ efforts by both sides in the last election–Bush probably won because he was better able to mobilize voters to actually vote.

(I was woefully wrong about the 2004 election, and this article helps me to understand why.)

Feast of Christ the King

Random thoughts and links in preparation for leading worship tomorrow:

Homily by a Fr. Jim Tucker:

Si algo toca nuestro vivir, tiene que ser sometido al imperio del Rey Crucificado.

What does “Viva el Cristo Rey” show up on serveral Persian blogs? For example, this one.

Can one be politically somewhat leftist and shout “┬íViva el Cristo Rey!” without too many echos of Francoist terrorism?

Good hymns for the Feast of Christ the King:

  • O, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing
  • All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name
  • Crown Him with Many Crowns
  • Rejoice, the Lord is King!
  • Jesus shall Reign

Sacred Harp recordings at the Library of Congress

Some recordings of Sacred Harp music at the “American Memory” project of the Library of Congress from the Fort Valley Folk Festival, recorded in the 30s:

These were apparently sung from the Cooper Book, since three of the songs are only found there, and the the Cooper Book name is given to ‘Newman.’ **

* Thanks to David Wright for the correction here.

New (old) euphemism

Listening to the wonderfully interesting Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project, I came across a euphemism that’s new to me (and, in fact, returns no results when entered into Google search, and only one at Yahoo search): “I don’t give a stamp!”