Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Spirit talker

Canada's Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) premieres tonight season 2 of Spirit Talker, "a documentary series that will follow Mi’kmaq medium Shawn Leonard as he travels from coast to coast using his psychic abilities to connect the living with the dead and bring hope, healing, and closure to indigenous communities" [hmm, they neglected to capitalize "indigenous"]. I've watched all of season 1 so I will certainly watch at least this first episode — not so much for what Shawn says and does (which is all fairly predictable, tired old shtick) but more for enlightening glimpses of behind-the-scenes. And of course I always appreciate drone footage for letting us know that no matter how natural a scene might appear, it is staged. CTV News Atlantic (Halifax NS) did this promo piece (Keeping Up with Katie Kelly) introducing the series:

Katie: When you watch the show, you you [unintelligible] ... You know so much. People are shocked by what you say. Is it real? Is it all real?
Shawn: It's absolutely 100% real, yea. This isn't like a scripted show in any way. This is like... They just put me in front of people and let me do my thing.

In spite of being unscripted, Shawn's on-site production team includes some seven other people whose bread and butter depends on how good they can make Shawn look. Shawn himself is not of course an unwitting pawn of the deceased. His art, such as it is, likely goes back to his 1995 marriage to Melissa McClinchy who brought a dabbling in pseudoscience to their relationship. At some point, the paranormal pastime became a public persona focus as Shawn strove* to incorporate his Indigenous ancestry into the act, dropping (for example) his Beaupre surname. Melissa herself was dropped by 2014 and an attempt at an Indigenous wedding in 2015 to a Bonny Martell ended bitterly a mere eighteen months later. The current status of his subsequent relationship to a Michelle Belanger (not the occult author) — though touted at one point as his fiancĂ©e — is unknown to me.

Perhaps a good indicator of Shawn's reach is this photograph ...

... taken from his Facebook header, impressive for the sheer number in his pre-pandemic Spirit Talker "Tribe" online course group and (of course) their gender bias. I have mentioned Shawn once before in my blog, here. Apparently season 3 of Spirit Talker (with an Ontario focus) is already half-way done.

* Even today Shawn attempts to consolidate his public persona by attempting to nuance his biography. In the Katie Kelly interview he states: "I'm a very proud Mi'kmaq person. I never grew up on reserve. I grew up near to the reserve in Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia." It is actually a pretty clever utterance in leaving the listener with the impression that even in childhood his Aboriginal ancestry was influential. With his mixed parentage and his mother's casual approach to her own Indigenous identity, that is unlikely to have been so.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Hurricane Larry

Hurricane Larry landfall @ 1:20 AM, local time
This image shows the "Larry makes landfall on Newfoundland" advisory location as we moved this morning into the 20th anniversary date of the 9/11 attacks. It is not lost on me that on the attack's 9th anniversary, 11 years ago (also a Saturday), my brother-in-law Larry passed away. The hurricane's landfall is 37 km east-southeast of St. Bernard's.

A CBC news story on the hurricane mentions a "statement" that said "Larry made landfall at 1:30 a.m. NT just west of Long Harbour, N.L., on the Avalon Peninsula." I have no reason to suppose that my National Hurricane Center landfall location is incorrect, so the "just west of Long Harbour" translates to "50 km west of Long Harbour". That's on the other side of Placentia Bay at that latitude, on the Burin Peninsula. So not really a very good description. I'm aware that the official location coordinates might themselves be subject to error bars (especially this far north when much of the eye wall will have dissipated) but that is an entirely different discussion.

CTV's (Canadian Press) version of the event has Larry "arriving near South East Bight around midnight local time, according to the National Hurricane Centre in Miami." South East Bight is very close to the landfall coordinates and when one is looking for a location place-name, it will do. But what about the "midnight local time"? The NHC's summary has "1150 PM AST" (Friday) ... "0350 UTC" (Saturday). Why did the NHC use AST? Likely because that (currently) is Miami time. Technically Miami is in the EDT time zone, but Eastern Daylight Time = Atlantic Standard Time. Coordinated Universal Time is 4 hours ahead of Atlantic Standard Time. But right now, Atlantic Canada is observing Atlantic Daylight Time so landfall would have been at 12:50 AM ADT. Furthermore, Newfoundland Time is an additional half-hour ahead, so 1:20 AM local time. What made the Canadian Press think that AST was local time? It's an easy mistake to make if you have no patience for diligence.

Thursday, September 09, 2021

My 1500th Leyland prime find

This morning I found my 1500th Leyland prime. My 1000th was only eight months ago! I have 579 red values found using Mathematica (from 3 October 2015 to 3 July 2020), followed by 921 blue values found using xyyxsieve & pfgw64 (from 6 July 2020 on). Compared to my graph for the 1000th, everything is compressed: horizontally by the addition of eight months, vertically by the addition of eighteen integers ranging from 300000 to 301441 decimal digits and two more composed of 386548 and 386561 decimal digits.

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Ad war

I had been fighting a battle with Google ads for I don't know how long. If it was an animated gif and had an x in the top-right corner, I would smash that x, click "send feedback" and choose "not interested in this ad" from the four options.

When I initially started this, I chose "ad was inappropriate" to more properly indicate my feeling that anything animated was an annoyance — distracting me from reading the page — but the nuance was always that there was something more politically incorrect about the ad and I gave up on the sentiment. Sometimes, after I had flagged a handful of identical such ads on the same page with "not interested", I would finally do a "seen this ad multiple times". And in spite of Google assuring me that it would try to stop showing me these ads, I would in fact see the same stupid ads from the same advertisers again and again.

Early this morning I finally gave up on the experiment. The only noticeable change over all these many months had been that I was seeing more ads for women's apparel. So much for artificial so-called intelligence. I'm now using the Magic Lasso ad-blocker extension in Safari and all I can say is: Why didn't I do this a long time ago?

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Opening day

The FreshCo that (two months ago) I anticipated opening, opened today. I was there just after 9 AM checking it out. I had washed my hair and changed my hole-riddled T-shirt so that folk wouldn't mistake me as a harbinger of a zombie apocalypse. It was the first time in over seventeen months that I have been inside a grocery outlet! I picked up a couple of 2L milks, a couple of 750G yogurts, one head of lettuce, a chunk of beef, and a few smaller items. These were distributed in two bags that I had brought to the store. The ten-minute walk home was somewhat tiring, my back apparently no longer suited to such a task. One sour note (noticed after I got home) was that the box of Milk-Bones I purchased only because it was shelf-tagged at $1.25 (a very good price) showed up as costing $2.49. The $5-off opening special (on orders over $35) made up for that annoyance.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

The Huron and Ontario ship canal

After the Frederick Moffat house aside in my last blog article, I wondered about other early settlers in my neighbourhood, in particular those on my street: Sykes Avenue. Additionally, I wondered about the street name's origin. A possibility soon emerged: William Sykes (1815-1872) who in his later years became resident engineer of the Huron and Ontario Ship Canal Company in Toronto. An 1869 prospectus of that venture is made available by Kingston's Queen's University, here. A more-than-interesting aspect of the proposed canal was its debouchure near Toronto:

"The Southern division will commence in the Humber Bay, at a point about 25 chains west of the mouth of the Humber River, where it is proposed to make three lift locks in the solid ground, elevating the canal 45 feet and carrying it, by means of a stone aqueduct, over the Lake Shore Road, Great Western Railway and side road. From the Northern extremity of this aqueduct, the canal will be continued, through the solid ground, to the village of Lambton, a distance of three miles, where it will join the river and receive its water supply. Following the valley of the Humber River for about three miles farther, to Weston, it will there intersect the Grand Trunk Railway, which is carried over the valley of the Humber by a viaduct about 60 feet above the water level. There the canal will be brought, by the necessary excavation in the bed of the stream, underneath the Railway, at a level to afford 100 feet clear headway for the passage of masts of vessels; its elevation to the natural level being effected, after passing beneath the viaduct, by three lift locks."

It is difficult to imagine the plan's impact on Weston had it ever come to pass. How might history have been changed, for example, in light of the flooding caused by the hurricanes of 1878 and 1954? This section of the canal's meander ends up in Lake Simcoe, called "Lac Taronto" by early French map-makers who appropriated an Aboriginal word referring to the area between the eastern part of Orillia and Atherley. The proposed canal's waterway route from Toronto to Lake Simcoe (shown in red) mirrors in part a supposed Toronto Carrying Place trail.

There exists a perceptual mechanism known as "figure—ground": We focus on the former to the exclusion of the latter. I believe now that the Carrying Place trail is such a figure, the ground (ironically) being its nearby waterways. This figure has been honed by far too many occasions of uncritical thinking, relying largely on the portion of the trail (from Bloor Street to Weston) with which we are most familiar. I gave a hint of the problem that this entails in my 2017 article on Weston's origin "across the river":

"There's another plaque at the northwest corner of Little Avenue and Weston Road ... detailing — in a map — the 'Toronto' Carrying Place, a portage trail running from the Humber River at Bloor Street to the Holland River, a considerable journey. You may be forgiven if you think that the dashed line segments represents an actual path, but in fact we know very little about the journey. The trail is just a supposed connection between the start and end points, ignoring the many places along the way where a canoe might sensibly be set in water."

In fact, the trail isn't the figure; it's the ground. The waterway route is the real figure! The supposed "trail" is really just a bunch of portage elements, of which the stretch from Bloor Street to Weston misleads one into thinking that this is all about walking, not canoeing; that this is all about a land route starting in Toronto, not a waterway route ending in Taronto.

Update: I have discovered that the Huron and Ontario ship canal is a decade-later rehashing of the Georgian Bay canal proposed by R.B. Mason and Kivas Tully in 1858. The chart/map "shewing the several proposed routes of the Toronto & Georgian Bay ship canal between the city of Toronto and Lake Huron" is from their survey. Embarrassingly, what I had taken to be the figure of Indigenous roads in the Huron & Ontario ship canal folded-map segment (which lacked the legend) turned out (by reference to the Toronto & Georgian Bay ship canal map) to be the ground (ridges) of watersheds. It is actually an interesting correspondence: The ridge of a watershed is high terrain that encounters no flowing water. This is ideal for a no-maintenance transportation corridor!

Friday, August 06, 2021

The recycling ghost

My pre-dawn walk with Bodie this morning was to go (on the sidewalk, left to right in the photo) past these two bins on the Sykes-side of the once Frederick Moffat house. [The linked obituary suggests that his Denison (not Dennison) Rd. W. residence was "Corralyn" which (instead) appears to have been his cottage on Peninsula Lake.] The sloping-concrete section in front of the driveway is noteworthy to me because back on February twenty-second I apparently slipped here on the ice. As I regained consciousness that morning, a sore spot on the back of my head was firmly planted into the sidewalk. Bodie, dragging his leash, was several metres ahead so I hadn't been out long. It did not appear that he was the least bit concerned, nor that he was about to help get this Timmy out of the unwell.

The overturned green bin is a known sign of raccoon mischief. As I approached, the lid on the mostly-closed blue recycling bin opened up. Slightly startled, I decided to traverse the terrain on the street side of the bins, instead of the sidewalk. I snapped the photo of the still-dark crime scene after I had gone past, hoping to illuminate the perpetrator.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

What goes up

My previous post managed to ensnare Ray Chandler into helping extend OEIS sequence A293355, which had reached term #384. Ray has access to "yafu" which allows him to factor large integers quickly. Sadly, I don't know how to get that program to run on my Mac. At any rate, thanks to Ray's persistent effort, he was able to extend the sequence past a local maximum at #398 and then down the other side to a point where the numbers were finally small enough that I could once again automate the procedure in Mathematica. The downslope reaches a local minimum at #923, then rises again, slowly and erratically:

click to enlarge
The ratios graph (that I had previously posted to term #384) extends now past term #3280:
click to enlarge
It clearly shows the differing "resonances" about which I had speculated.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

The unknown soldier

I have been cleaning up my primary iMac's virtual "desktop" for a week or so. One of the files thereon was a tabular listing of OEIS sequence A293355 up to term #291. When I submitted the sequence back in 2017, I included a listing of terms only up to #250, so clearly it was something I was extending at the time and hoping to extend even further. But other projects got in the way.

I had a look at term #291 and found that factordb had it fully factored in its database. If we have the full factorization of a sequence term, one may find the subsequent term by applying an algorithm to that factorization. If it's an easy factorization I can even automate the procedure in Mathematica and have it determine several terms at once. Unfortunately when one is trying to fully factorize a 90-plus-digit number, chances are that the second-largest factor is itself large (say, > 30 digits) and this makes it difficult for Mathematica to find in a reasonably short amount of time.

So I went back and forth (between Mathematica and factordb) yesterday trying to extend A293355 beyond term #291. Incredibly, every time I put a difficult-to-factor term into factordb it came back with the number fully factored! This was, clearly, no coincidence. Someone, three-or-so years ago, was also extending the sequence. Except that when they entered a term it did not come back fully factored. Instead they had the time-consuming task of factoring the number by other means. Whoever it was soldiered on, extending the sequence to term #384 which contained a 115-digit composite that my hero was apparently unable to resolve (unless, tragically, they succumbed in the battle). I submitted the updated, much larger "b-file" (an indexed tabular listing) to OEIS. The point of A293355 was to present an infinitary aliquot sequence (the one here starting with 6216) that seemed to evolve into monotonically increasing (never decreasing, by magnitude) terms. The actual term-by-term increases are much more interesting than the conjecture might suggest:

click to enlarge
Perhaps the sequence is just in some sort of "resonance" (for lack of a better word) that will eventually be disturbed by an unkind factorization — one that portends a much more chaotic future.

An abundance of additional terms (July 17): What goes up

Thursday, July 01, 2021

O Canada!

The Globe, Toronto, Saturday, 13 May 1911
Historic Home of a Vanished Canadian People
by Janet Grant Needham (1866-1939)

Canada is making history every day through her wealth of natural resources, agriculture, mines, and her tide of immigration. "Forward" is the keynote of our land from sea to sea. Nevertheless there is a spot in the very heart of this great Dominion where history has been made already; the thousands of her inhabitants have come and gone, their records sealed and closed. We, too, have our Herculaneum and Pompeii offering a rich treasure to the excavator. The savage Huron people are gone, but they have left traces of their race.

It seems a far cry to the summer of 1615, when Samuel de Champlain, in response to a promise he had made to a band of fur-trading Hurons at their rendezvous, "Falls of St. Louis", set out to assist them in their wars against the fierce Iroquois ("Voyage de Champlain", page 276). Besides giving aid from a sense of duty against these raiders, who terrorized every other tribe, he thought it would open a way for their conversion, for to Champlain "the saving of a soul was more than the winning of an empire". Notwithstanding, this promise was the fatal mistake of his Indian policy, producing the lasting enmity of the Iroquois and the ultimate extermination of the Huron race. He brought out from France the same year four Recollect friars, one of the three branches of the Franciscan Brotherhood. Father Joseph Le Caron elected to come to the Hurons. Arrayed in the habit of his order, a coarse grey garment girdled at the waist by a stout cord, a peaked hood, sandals of wood an inch in thickness, he gathered without delay his church equipment and left the spot where now stands Montreal, accompanied by twelve Frenchmen and a few savages. Eight days later, early in July, Champlain, with two Frenchmen and ten savages, followed. Both parties journeyed up the Ottawa and Mattawa Rivers, over a short portage to Lake Nipissing, near the spot where North Bay is built, down the French River, past Byng Inlet and the rocky east coast, and through the island enchantment of the Georgian Bay to its extremity, landing on the first day of August a few miles west of Penetanguishene. Passing through a country abundant with raspberries, grapes, plums, squashes, Indian corn and wild rice, through village after village of unpronounable names where now are Sturgeon Bay, Fesserton, Victoria Harbor, Coldwater and other towns, they reached a large village, Carhagouha, with triple palisades thirty-five feet high, situated near the locality where Waubaushene now stands. There they overtook Le Caron. In these wilds on August 12 Father Joseph said the first Mass in the Huron country, holding the Host high above his kneeling countrymen and the awe-stricken savages. A cross was planted at this spot. The explorer proceeded thirty-five miles to Cahaigue, the capital, with 200 cabins. The warriors assembled gladly welcomed him.

On September 1 all was in readiness, and 2200 warriors, decorated with war paint and with small supplies of smoked fish and wild rice, passed by Lake Couchiching through the Narrows connecting it with Lake Simcoe, out by the Trent waters to Lake Ontario. They crossed at the eastern end and soon stood before the camp of the astonished Iroquois, who defeated and put to rout the panic-stricken Hurons. The Iroquois never forgave this assault. Champlain, twice wounded, wintered with a friendly chief on the shore of Lake Simcoe. Towards spring he visited the Tobacco Nation, or Petuns, in the Collingwood district, then finally left these parts. This is our first knowledge of the Huron Nation.

"Quelles hures!" (What hyenas!) exclaimed an astonished Frenchman, attracted by the fantastical modes of dressing their hair, chief of which was the head shaved, leaving a ridge of bristles from the forehead over the crown to the neck, hence the word "Hurons". The original name was Ouendat. Tourists or the curious may see to-day at the Narrows (two and a half miles from Orillia) the "fishing weirs" used in Champlain's time and to which he refers. They are of heavy tamarac driven into the mud a great depth, exposing only six inches, and in an excellent state of preservation considering the lapse of nearly 300 years. The population at this time was 10000 huddled in eighteen villages varying in size from three or four hamlets to twelve acres, one even fifteen.

Let us look into a Huron cabin or long house. It is 100 feet long, built of young sapling supports placed at intervals, curving towards the centre, and over which are laid sheets of bark. A foot space is left the entire length at the top to admit light and for the escape of smoke more or less always present. The place is thronged with beings, for it is the home and common property of ten families, each averaging six. On the ground, at intervals down the centre, are five fires fed with fat pine logs. Round about are hung weapons, ornaments and clothing on long arms of wood. A broad shelf of bark, on supports, is built along both sides three feet from the ground, under which is firewood. Around the fitful gleams of the fires are grouped on a winter's night battle-scarred warriors and women, feasting, cooking, gambling, dancing or idly jesting; young men eager for the fray, girls decorated with ornaments, unruly children, aged, feeble squaws, the "burden-bearers", besides numerous half-starved dogs. During a snow-storm the smoke is so dense the inmates breathe with nostrils to the ground.

The brain of the Huron-Iroquois has been proved to be larger than that of any other tribes of American aborigines, with doubtful exceptions. They spoke the same dialect, used the same system of warfare, customs of marriage and ceremonies in burial of their dead; besides, their long houses were after the same style — all indicating that they were descendants of one common stock, though deadly enemies. The Huron Nation was divided into four great tribes or clans, located in townships as follows: — Bear clan in Tiny, Wolf in Tay, Heron or Cord people in Medonte, and Falcon or Rock people in Oro — overlapping, naturally others. (Tiny, Tay and Flos townships are named after Lady Colborne's three lapdogs.) The 35th Regiment, Simcoe Foresters, carry on their uniforms to this day the Bear totem. The Hurons were an agricultural people, clever and ingenious, but much behind the Algonquins in the work of ornamentation and bone needle work. Established custom with them was law, and, though proud, vindictive, selfish, great thieves and gamblers, they were witty and social. Much generosity and harmony prevailed amongst them, thus enabling thousands of these untamed creatures to live in peace. Sagard ("Le Grand Voyage aux Pays des Hurons, 1632") distinguishes the Hurons, Algonquins and Montagnais as the nobles, burghers and paupers of the forest. The Iroquois, more than the Hurons, reached the highest civilization possible under benighted conditions; in short, they were the aristocracy, yet this raised them very little above the animal. Mission work among the aborigines has many dangers and much to shock the finer feelings of the cultivated missionary, and that at our own doors proved no exception. The first settlers came in 1819, a band of fugitives from Lord Selkirk's Red River expedition. This was added to greatly in 1832 by other settlers. With the agriculturist at work, comes definite information regarding the haunts and habits of these people. Soon were brought to the surface great quantities of pottery, cooking utensils, strings of wampum, arrowheads, stone and French tomahawks. After the troubles of 1837 a great flood of immigration took place. So thickly settled now is the county that one is safe in saying the average farmer has given or thrown away bushels of curios and relics, apart from collections made by interested persons.

The public is greatly indebted to Mr. Andrew Hunter, M.A., of Barrie, for constant archaeological research in securing accurate information in Huron locations and "finds". The late David Boyle, and Mr. J.H. Hammond, Orillia, have also given valuable services. The latter has most of his collection of 3000 pieces in Toronto Museum. Perfect relics are now becoming rare. The Hurons occupied the higher lands and ridges. Over 400 sites have been located, though not all inhabited at the same time. These can easily be detected by the very black soil and ash pits three or more feet thick, though covered by forest. Farmers frequently come upon mounds or depressions in the ground which prove to be ossuaries or burial pits containing human skulls averaging 200, face downwards and to the east, justifying the belief held by many, from this and their ashpits, that the Hurons were sun worshippers. Their custom was to place bodies on scaffolds. At intervals of ten years the remains were collected by the clans and deposited in pits ten feet square, with wampum, axes, pipes, beaver skins, colored beads, native beads, French articles, parcels of hair, brass kettles (tomahawks in the bottom), and whatever was held most precious by them. The whole was accompanied by solemn yet frenzied ceremonies; says one "like demons from the lower world let loose". Strange to say, numerous Mexican shells were often found in these pits. An ossuary on the farm known as the Michael Braden property in Medonte was fifteen feet in diameter, containing from 700 to 1000 remains, also seventeen copper kettles two feet wide at the top, in good condition, and later used by the early settlers. An ossuary equally large, containing 1000, was found on the Oliver farm near Barrie. A great tree had grown over it. To date 140 of these ossuaries have been carefully catalogued, indicating a population of at least 25000.

The Algonquins, inhabiting more the southern district in small numbers, used single burial in circular pits, sufficient only for a crouching position. Only once is this found among the Hurons, and that in Medonte. There are evidences, too, of hasty burial conforming to neither form — where battles have been fought, arrows and tomahawks found.