More from the Mailbag – God of the Machine
Aug 092003

Cryptographic revolutionary Alan Bruzzi writes:

I was wondering where my reading level program would fit into cryptography. It takes a sentence out of a book, and computes its reading age. For example, John 3:16, spoken by Jesus Christ, would give a reading age of 33, because that’s when He died. Also, my program computes the age of the Virgin Mary, when she got married, to be 14. It’s an incredible program, but I just can’t figure out where it would be classifed under cryptography, because it converts a whole ASCII sentence into a single value, which would be the person’s age. Please help…

Dear Alan:

It is unfortunate that cryptography is already perfect, pending quantum computing, which offers a theoretical attack on RSA via Shor’s Algorithm, for this sounds like a remarkable program indeed. John 3:16 computes to 33, you say. John 3:17 through 21, also spoken by Jesus, also compute to 33, I assume. The entire Sermon on the Mount? Let me guess: 33. The number of words in the Rolling Rock legend? 33. I assume that computing marrying age, as in your example of the Virgin Mary, is a simple matter of a command-line switch.

Your program will shed light on many important historical questions. No one has been certain how old Homer was when he died or if he lived at all — until now, when we can feed a few lines of The Iliad (Pope’s translation, or Lang’s, or Butler’s, or Fitzgerald’s, I’m sure it doesn’t matter) into the computer, and voilà. If Homer should turn out to fictional, or an amalgamation of authors, will the program return zero, or an error code?

I have a few questions. Does your program require an English translation, or will other languages, say Greek or Aramaic for John 3:16, work equally well? For living authors, does it return their current age, or the age at which they can be expected to expire? Most important, do you reboot your computer by turning it upside down and shaking it until the screen goes gray?

In my professional opinion your program is unclassifiable. It is unique in the history of the cryptography, and I look forward to reviewing the source code.

I remain at your service.

  4 Responses to “More from the Mailbag”

  1. Hello, I tried leaving you e-mail before, but your server was down. Anyway, I’ve found that my reading level program works almost flawlessly, in either English or Spanish. There really isn’t much to the source code, so I won’t post it here. All I can say is that, if you type in the following sentence: "THE QUICK BROWN FOX JUMPED OVER THE LAZY DOG.", it will report the number 15, because that’s when I learned about that sentence. Also, John 3:16 reports 33 years, whether it’s in English or Spanish. Once in a while, you may have to round off the answer, or take its average over more than one sentence. I guess you would say that this program works based on my kind of thinking only. However, I’ve found that it had proved extremely hard to beat with some people. For example, I tried it with a 25-year-old, and his sentence reported 25 years. I don’t know much about Homer, but I took his book out of the library, and I analysed his sentences. Note that the program has a limit of 44 years old, so it could NOT accurately predict Homer’s age.

    Alan Bruzzi

  2. Here is the QBASIC source code to my reading level program. I would like to hear from you how well it works. Thanks in advance.

    ALPHA = 26
    SPACE = 0
    VOWEL = 0
    SUM10 = 0
    SENTENCE = 0
    PRINT "(C) 2003 By Alan C. Bruzzi"
    FOR T% = 1 TO LEN(UCASE$(A$))
    CASE IS = 32
    SPACE = SPACE + 1
    CASE IS = 33, 44, 46, 63
    SPACE = SPACE – .5
    CASE IS = 65, 69, 73, 79, 85
    VOWEL = VOWEL + 1
    NEXT T%
    SUM10 = VOWEL + ALPHA – 9 * INT(ALPHA / 10)
    SUM10 = SUM10 – ABS(VOWEL – (ALPHA + SPACE) / 2)

  3. I finally got around to typing in different versions of The Illiad in my reading level program. The ones by Lang and Rousse were similar, but the one by Pope was different. So, therefore, I am making the assumption that Homer was _alive_ when he wrote The Illiad. Also, my program said that Homer was probably in his mid-20’s to early 30’s when he wrote that book.

    Alan Bruzzi

    P.S. What do I get for making this important discovery?

  4. Here is an update about my reading level program. I typed in Revelation 7:4 from the Bible into my program, and it gave an age of 32.5, or 33 rounded off. That must mean that Jesus Christ will only allow 144,000 people into Heaven, since Jesus was around 33 when He died. Also, it proves that God (or Jesus) dictated this verse to John the Baptist. I know this to be true, because when I also typed in John 3:16 into the program, it gave a result of 33. So, I guess the rest of us are all doomed. What’s your opinion on this?

    Alan Bruzzi

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