Fact and Fiction

Thoughts about a funny old world, and what is real, and what is not. Comments are welcome, but please keep them on topic.

Saturday, April 01, 2006


By now you know me well for my analysis of Kate Bush's song π (Greek letter p) on her new album Aerial. Here is a foolish one from another song called Bertie on the same album.

The chorus of Bertie goes like this:

Sweet kisses
Three wishes
Lovely Bertie

Now let's highlight the characters:

Sweet kisses
Three wishes
Lovely Bertie

We know who KB is, but who is SL?


At 5 April 2006 at 20:49, Blogger Dennis Dale said...

Ah, wishful thinking.

At 5 April 2006 at 23:04, Blogger Steve said...

Yes, it was too foolish of me!

At 28 June 2006 at 19:16, Blogger caterpillar said...

Hi Steve,

I have another little offering for you. I hope you will enjoy it, even if it's not really well written. You got me on the April Fool's joke, but this isn't a joke... at least not one perpetrated by me :-)

I have the details on a couple of permalinks on my own "blog-oid thing".

PS I'm not a crank!
PPS (oops, used that one already)
PPPS I'd really like to get in contact with you to find out more about this KB story. I'm actually going to Cornwall to take a look around, and I'd love to hear some more of your theories about Pi and Bertie before I go...

At 29 June 2006 at 17:50, Blogger Steve said...

For those who are wondering where the previous history of this thread is to be found, it started out as an off-topic comment here.

Firstly, about the Morse code tree here, and whether the comments that you point to here have any statistical significance.

I suspect that when looking at the chart the letters "WRUS" jump out at you because they nearly make "WALRUS", then you notice that the missing "AL" are right next door, then you retrospectively claim that the whole word "WALRUS" composed of random letters, so it it then seems to be amazing that they are closely clustered in the Morse code tree. Nothing could be further from the truth. The word "WALRUS" was arrived at by a highly selective process so it is highly non-random.

As for the code for "Q" being self-referential, here are some more self-referential codes which alliteratively use the same letter that they Morse-encode:
1. M muuh muuh
2. O oooh oooh oooh
3. N Naah nuh
4. Y yeah yuh yeah yeah
and so on... There is nothing uniquely self-referential about the code for Q.

On the other hand, in my own work on decoding Kate Bush's songs, I have gone to great lengths to make sure that each decoded piece of information was originally encoded in two or more independent ways in a song, which greatly lengthens the odds that I am being fooled by random coincidences. The more interlocking constraints there are, the more likely it is the result of deliberate design by KB. Some of the things that I have found are so extraordinarily unlikely to be the result of random chance that I am certain that KB designed them into her music.

Have you visited my "Pi" web site here where I have posted quite a lot of details about what I found in "Pi"? I have not yet created a web site for "Bertie", but I have enough interesting material to do so when I have time. I don't want to share this information prematurely in a face-to-face dialogue, especially as I am unsure which bits of information are sensitive and which are not.

At 30 June 2006 at 05:35, Blogger caterpillar said...

Hi again Steve,

In no particular order...

Thanks for the criticism.

I understand you wanting to release the info at the right time. I will respect that.

Apologies for the length of this comment. Feel free to stop reading here safe in the knowledge that, though long, you might suffer to leave it on this page, since it will be my final post on the topic here.

I'd like to correct some things you said about the story, but since this is your blog, I'll move my future comment line on the topic over to my blog entry apart from a few comments I'll leave below. By default, everyone can assume this is my last post here on the topic of Walruses. You can also stop reading at this point.

My first comment is that I think it was John and not me who discovered some co-incidences that were significant to him within the area I'm mapping out.

He might have started with any random co-incidence there. Maybe he combined "Morse is French for Walrus", "Morse is a language that can be expressed as a tree", and "it looks like the morse language, when expressed as a tree has the word Walrus in it".


I'd like to call this a true and significant co-incidence. You can pick suitably low values for "true" and "significant", but you can't deny there is some sort of co-incidence and probably non-zero values for "true" and "significant". Or maybe you do deny it, and argue that this triple or the Q, daw/dit, coo/ka/choo triple aren't even co-incidences at all and hold off until you can see how it reflects in the light of all the rest of the evidence.


Or maybe he saw some other co-incidence to begin with. It doesn't matter which one came first, and maybe we can never tell unless we have a reliable history/historian.

So, lacking a history/historian, any proof is bound to be based purely on contingencies and not on a timeline. In other words, I can't say "X implies Y" in my theories, only "where X, also Y". That's just to answer your comment about my proof being based on "retrospective" logic.

Second, the co-incidence of Q (as both sound pattern and path within the morse tree), daw-daw-dit-daw, and coo coo ka choo is, I'm arguing, a manufactured co-incidence that only exists in the possible world where JL spots some sufficiently significant co-incidence about the Walrus and decides to send a coded message about it and uses sound changes of the Q co-incidence to effect that.

One co-incidence that JL might have spotted was the 3 letters beneath the W in the morse tree: J, P and 1. This might have been personally significant enough for JL to create a bridge between spotting the Walrus/Morse connection and expressing his idea of the whole structure through the "IATW, coo-coo-ka-choo" utterance.

The significance he might see? The obvious one that J = John, P = Paul, and the 1 hanging off could be that it is he himself that discovered "the Walrus".

Or the 1 could mean "oneself". The co-incidence of the three connected steps 1:J:W on the graph could have translated into I [1] [John] am the Walrus [W]. In John's mind.

So basically the entire utterance, the full 8 words of "I am the Walrus, Coo coo ka choo" is a translation of the path "1, J, W, [return to root], T, M, G, Q" within the tree.

Third, there's the flavour of there being some quantum indeterminacy going on here with respect to exactly what sort of image you have of what it was I was saying and whether that's knowable to me, since I'd been re-writing the piece over an extended period and then I accidentally deleted half of it and had to rebuild from scratch. So I have no way of knowing when you read it. You may have seen any version of the post, the history of which is lost to me. It's up to you if you want to collapse that (metaphorical) waveform, but I hope you'll come re-visit the page at some point in the future.

At 30 June 2006 at 09:11, Blogger Steve said...

You said:

"My first comment is that I think it was John and not me who discovered some co-incidences that were significant to him within the area I'm mapping out."

Yes, I know that. My use of the word "you" was in the generic rather than in the personal sense directed at you. I had debated whether to use "one", but I find that word a bit pompous so I didn't use it!

I agree with you that The "MORSE" + "WALRUS" + "JP" + "1" model nicely fits the known facts. There seem to be too many lucky coincidences for it to be the result of random chance.

What worries me is that this model seems to be a one-off collection of linked coincidences. During my investigations of Kate Bush's music I have become extremely careful about allowing such one-off cases. I find that I get so tuned into the music that I am able to discover one-off cases all over the place. I therefore "raise the bar" very high to disallow most such cases, and only the really amazing ones are allowed, such as encoded information that is duplicated in several different places.

There is another way of checking whether a model is good. Does it make further predictions above and beyond what is in the music that suggested the model in the first place? On my "Pi" website here I discuss the "Locomotive Artefact" whose precise location I deduced from the way KB stresses certain numbers in "Pi". This is an example of the sort of model-verifying prediction that I mean.

I'll grant you that there is one duplication in the "WALRUS" code, where "WALRUS"="MORSE" (in French), and the word "WALRUS" also appears highly clustered in the Morse tree. I have not allowed this low level of duplication to be the clincher in my analysis of KB's music, but it would certainly be on my list of potentially genuine coded information.

As for "Q" and its Morse code equivalent. My previous comment queried that one by showing that the letter "Q" was not unique in having the required property. Perhaps I wasn't clear. The purpose of a Morse tree is to summarise the Morse code representation for each letter (or number). Thus the path through the tree (from its root at the top down to the node where the letter is to be found) consists of a sequence of left and right movements, for which the Morse tree conventionally associates "left" with "dah" and "right" with "dit". The letter "Q" happens to be "dah-dah-dit-dah", or "Qoo-Qoo-Qa-Qoo" (it's a pity the final "Qoo" is sung as "Choo", because it distorts this code) as you would prefer, with the letter "Q" also appearing in a sung rendition of the Morse code for "Q". You could have done this trick with many other letters of the alphabet, as I pointed out in my previous comment, which makes the choice of "Q" highly non-unique. I don't see any compelling reason for selecting "Q" out of all the other possible letters that could have been used.

Summarising, I am dubious about whether this "WALRUS"-code is a genuine coded information, because I have been exposed to such carefully crafted codes in KB's music that nothing less that KB-like perfection will now do for me. I can see how some of the material I have uncovered in KB's music must have taken ages to construct so that it worked correctly without messing up the music too much. The use of Ordnance Survey maps gets very sophisticated in "Bertie", and you know that you have decoded the music correctly because of the way that the music connects beautifully to a particular part of an OS map. However, as an example of where KB had to compromise musically, the highly repetitive ending of "Bertie" gets almost too strained as she strives to encode a piece of information.

At 5 July 2006 at 16:57, Blogger caterpillar said...

I'm assuming that my OT posts here are OK with you... just wanted to follow up on what you've said about the Walrus.

First, I went back and actually listened to the song (I'd been relying on memory) as well as reading some of the other theories about the song. It occurred to me that trying to put myself into JL's state of mind at the time he wrote it might not be the best of things to do :-)

I also found the original video on youtube. The band members are wearing eggshell hats that makes them look like sperm to me. Anyway, my comment here is that JL sings "I am the eggman. They are the eggmen". This seems to be a reference to Humpty Dumpty: "when I use a word, it means what I want it to mean, nothing more, nothing less" (again, a paraphrase from memory). Could this mean that there are two meanings for "Walrus" that's mentioned immediately after? The one other thing about the video is that at the end of it, the band cavorts off into the distance while being followed by a Chinese dragon type of thing (sperm tail?). This immediately puts me in mind of a train, which might be the interpretation of "choo" at the end of coo-coo-ka-choo?

I see your point about the interpretation of Q being weak, but I still think it's self-reflexive.

Finally, you say that the theory is only of use if it can make predictions. Well, again, I'll say that I can't make any "X implies Y" claims, but I suggest that this quote from JL satisfies that criterion:

"I threw the line in -- 'the Walrus was Paul' -- just to confuse everybody a bit more. And I thought 'Walrus' has now become me, meaning 'I am the one.' Only it didn't mean that in this song." "

I'd already put this on my blog entry, but I'm not sure if you saw it. The point I'm making here is that even though JL says he's the Walrus (the 1:J:W co-incidence) in the song, that could be an isolated case. The exact phraseology of above quote can be seen as "being predicted" by the 1:J:W co-incidence? (replace 1="I" with 1="the One").

Or it could be that I'm too subject to apophenia (a cool word which, co-incidentally enough, I discovered today in the book I'm reading: Pattern Recognition, by William Gibson).

At 5 July 2006 at 17:50, Blogger Steve said...

Right back at the start of this thread you said:

"You got me on the April Fool's joke, but this isn't a joke... at least not one perpetrated by me :)"

Before we go on I must ask whether someone originally suggested to you that there might be something interesting about those particular highlighted letters "AWRUSPL" on the Morse code tree (see here)?

At 11 July 2006 at 17:15, Blogger caterpillar said...

No, nobody suggested any of the Walrus thing to me. I just noticed it by myself when I saw the tree again a while back.

From your last post, I'm wondering if I should infer that you think someone put me up to this to play a joke on you? My initial comment was meant only to refer to your 1 Apr post, with the implication that if what I had to say was a joke, then JL was its author.

At 11 July 2006 at 18:58, Blogger caterpillar said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 11 July 2006 at 19:01, Blogger caterpillar said...

I think the chronology of my discovery of the whole thing was that firstly I came across the basic Morse Code chart image that I use in my post. I noticed the letters of "walrus" and "paul" all clustered in there, then played with the idea a bit to find "Q". At some point, I discovered the "French Connection" while doing a quick search to convince myself that Google didn't know anything about the original idea that "the walrus is paul" and "I am the walrus" and "coo-coo-ka-choo" were all references to Morse Code. A tet, if you will.

I explained my theory to a friend at the time, but didn't do anything else with it for a while. About a month(?) later, I rediscovered the original image and decided to write it up. While doing that I also noticed the Walrus / WPJ1 bit. A wigwam, if you will?.

At 11 July 2006 at 23:49, Blogger Steve said...

You said:

"From your last post, I'm wondering if I should infer that you think someone put me up to this to play a joke on you?"

Yes, I did think that. There has been quite a lot of unwelcome outside interference whilst I have been following up "Bertie" (and also "Pi"), and disentangling the false information from the real information has been challenging, to say the least!

At 17 July 2006 at 00:27, Blogger Steve said...

Following on from the above comment, here is an example of the twists and turns that I am going through in decoding "Aerial":

Away from this blog a snippet of information has come my way which makes me now wonder whether information that I had previously received via flowers placed at the tin mine (at OS coordinate SW434344), and which I later on concluded was a malicious plant (pun intended!) because it led me away from an OS coordinate that I had decoded from "Bertie", was in fact genuine.

I am now going to sift through all my photos of (and notes on) the tin mine flowers (and other material that has come my way) to see what I find there. There was quite a lot of floral (and other) communication going on in April and May, and I wasn't applying myself fully to decoding all of it, because I had concluded that someone was sending spoof messages. For instance, one of the messages included the OS coordinate of the tin mine, but it was slightly away from the true location, which is a mistake that I assumed that Kate would not make. Who knows what I have overlooked.

This decoding game is like a hall of mirrors!


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