Wednesday, May 25, 2005

25 or 6 to 4

I've really never understood what the hell "25 or 6 to 4" means. Not a fucking clue. I've read the lyrics, and that part still makes no sense to me. From a mathematical standpoint, the ratio of six to four is one and a half, not twenty-five. Working from six at night until four in the morning is ten hours, so that can't be it, either. Like I said, I have no clue where they got any of this stuff, and can only chalk it up to Robert Lamm (of the band Chicago) being notoriously bad at math.

However, since that's not satisfactory to anyone, we have to leave it up to Cecil at the Straight Dope to tell us, as seen in this edition of the Straight Dope mailbag:
As for the curious title, Lamm says, "It's just a reference to the time of day"--as in "waiting for the break of day" at 25 or (2)6 minutes to 4 a.m. (3:35 or 3:34 a.m.)
So there you have it. 25 or 26 to 4 just didn't fit the meter of the song. I mean, the guy from the Psychedelic Furs could do it, but I don't think Lamm could. Peter Cetera could have, though! In your face, Lamm!

Anyway, I bring this up because I was just in my Computers forum over at That's Just Not Right, and one of the guys was asking about a program that apparently parses huge amounts of unsorted data, brings order from chaos and uses Bayesian probability analysis and general information-theory to ... do something or another. I don't remember. It was like associative searching or something, to search through a database with keywords that wouldn't necessarily be found in the returned documents, due to word-associations inferred by the computer; sort of like reading the Dead Sea Scrolls, even though nobody speaks the language.

I think my brother would have been satisfied with it, but I'm not going to force it upon the lot of you. I just figured that I had to try and do a daily post, and that post -which briefly hit everything from context to cryptography to pattern-recognition- just reminded me of the oldest numerical question in my musical life, which has now been answered. Thanks, Cecil.

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