Wednesday, April 23, 1997

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

The Daily Gazette

Swarthmore College
Wednesday, April 23, 1997
Volume 1, Number 58


1)  Douglas Hofstatder lectures in verse

2)  Another Fulbright winner

3)  Pop culture madness this weekend


1)  Yesterday’s results:  baseball, women’s lacrosse

2)  Tonight’s and tomorrow’s contests


Today –    Cloudy, with rain possible in the afternoon. Winds of 10-15 mph.
          High in the upper 50s.

Tonight –  Cloudy and windy with periods of rain; low in the mid-40s.
   Stay indoors. Get some sleep.

Thursday – Cloudy and windy again, but the rain will come in the morning
          rather than the afternoon.  High in the mid-50s.


1) Douglas Hofstadter lectures in verse

Douglas Hofstadter, cognitive scientist and author of “Gödel, Escher,
Bach,” spoke yesterday on campus about “Is Musical Beauty Syntactic or
Semantic?” His talk, much of which was delivered in verse, focused on the
output of a computer program called EMI that has been programmed to imitate
the styles of famous composers.

Speaking to a packed Kirby Lecture Hall, Hofstadter, dressed all in gray,
began by explaining the techniques that EMI used to “create” imitation
classical music. EMI was fed numerous works by a certain composer, then
extracted certain patterns from that music. Then, EMI used a generative
grammar to create a skeleton, upon which it placed the patterns it had
drawn from the music.

To illustrate EMI’s powers, Hofstadter twice called upon a pianist to
perform a work by EMI and a real classical work, and then polled the
audience to figure out which one was human and which computer-generated;
a sort of musical Turing test. While the first EMI piece fooled only one
poor audience member, the second EMI piece, emulating Chopin, was harder to
distinguish from authentic Chopin: about 1/3 of the audience incorrectly
identified EMI’s music as Chopin’s.

Hofstadter had reservations about the implications of EMI’s power to
simulate real music: not only did he feel ashamed when a computer-generated
tune, but he thought it might reflect badly on humanity in general. “Either
Chopin is shallower than I thought,” he said, “music is shallower than I
thought,” or “the human mind is shallower than I thought!”

Hofstadter’s latest book is available in the College Bookstore. His lecture was
sponsored by Sigma Xi.


2) Another Fulbright winner

Miriam Shakow ’97 has won a Fulbright Grant for anthropological study in
Bolivia during the coming year. Shakow, a Soc/Anth major, plans to work
with CERES, a non-governmental organization based in Cochabamba which
focuses on economic and social issues. She plans first to study conditions
in the country, then to spend several months in anthropological field work.
The title of her project is Mountain Farming: Bolivia in the Global Economy.

Shakow has been President of the College’s Latin American Studies Group, and
led of Swarthmore’s student delegation to El Salvador. She previously had
won the College’s John W. Nason Community Service Fellowship.


3) Pop culture madness this weekend

Swarthmore appears to have gotten on the strange game show circuit: after
MSNBC’s “Remember This?” TV show came recruiting on campus earlier this
semester, now “Oddville, MTV” will be holding auditions on campus this
Friday. MTV had previously been recruiting for this show over the Internet
on the groups and through emailing down-on-their-luck actors.

This Gong Show hybrid is based on a long-running New York cable access
show called “Beyond Vaudeville.” The show focuses on “guests with unique or
bizarre talents as well as the occasional celebrity.” Among the people
featured on the original show have been a man who sings “Rock Around the
Clock” in Yiddish and someone who can blow smoke through his eye; MTV
promises us a yodeling pogo-stick champion.

Swatties who think they can compete with the human bowling ball woman
should try out for the show in Tarble this Friday, April 25, from 11 a.m.
until 4 p.m.

Meanwhile, Swarthmore’s College Bowl team is sponsoring a pop culture
trivia tournament this Saturday. Questions will focus on television shows,
movies, sports, and pop music. Teams of students will be coming from four
other schools; any Swarthmore students interested in demonstrating their
knowledge of useless knowledge just before finals should email fred@sccs.



1)  Yesterday’s results:  baseball, women’s lacrosse

Ursinus 5, Swarthmore 1
Pitchers Jeremy Bonder ’97 and Steve Farneth ’00 allowed only one earned
run in the game. Joe Aleffi ’00 went 2-4 and scored the Garnet’s lone run.
Pat Straub ’97 was 3-4. Swarthmore falls to 3-27 overall, 2-13 in the

Swarthmore 20, Bryn Mawr 7
The Garnet improve to 10-3 overall and 6-1 in the conference. Alicia
Googins ’00 scored five goals. Kristen Osborne ’97 and Betsy Rosenbaum ’98
each scored four. Osborne also tallied two assists.


2) Tonight’s and tomorrow’s contests

The men’s lacrosse team host Widener in a 4 p.m. contest.
Women’s tennis faces archrival Haverford at 4 p.m.
The softball team travels to Widener for a 4 p.m. game.

THURSDAY (24 April)
Women’s lacrosse hosts Johns Hopkins in a 4 p.m. matchup.
Softball travels to Franklin & Marshall for a doubleheader.


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