The Universe of Discourse

Thu, 08 Sep 2022

Pope Fibonacci

When Albino Luciani was crowned Pope, he chose his papal name by concatenating the names of his two predecessors, John XXIII and Paul VI, to become John Paul. He died shortly after, and was succeeded by Karol Wojtyła who also took the name John Paul. Wojtyła missed a great opportunity to adopt Luciani's strategy. Had he concatenated the names of his predecessors, he would have been Paul John Paul. In this alternatve universe his successor, Benedict XVI, would have been John Paul Paul John Paul, and the current pope, Francis, would have been Paul John Paul John Paul Paul John Paul. Each pope would have had a unique name, at the minor cost of having the names increase exponentially in length.

(Now I wonder if any dynasty has ever adopted the less impractical strategy of naming their rulers after binary numerals, say:

King Juan
King Juan Cyril
King Juan Juan
King Juan Cyril Cyril
King Juan Cyril Juan
King Juan Juan Cyril

Or perhaps !!0, 1, 00, 01, 10, 11, 000, \ldots!!. There are many variations, some actually reasonable.)

I sometimes fantasize that Philadelphia-area Interstate highways are going to do this. The main east-west highway around here is I-76. (Not so-called, as many imagine, in honor of Philadelphia's role in the American revolution of 1776, but simply because it lies south of I-78 and north of I-74 and I-70.) A connecting segment that branches off of I-76 is known as I-676. Driving to one or the other I often see signs that offer both:

Street view of Philadelphia.  In
the center is a lamp post with two red and blue
Interstate highway shields affixed, indicating that entrances to I-76
West and I-676 East are ahead.

I often fantasize that this is a single sign for I-76676, and that this implies an infinite sequence of highways designated I-67676676, I-7667667676676, and so on.

Finally, I should mention the cleverly-named fibonacci salad, which you make by combining the leftovers from yesterday's salad and the previous day's.

[ Addendum: Do you know the name of the swagman in Waltzing Matilda? It's Juan. The song says so: “Juan's a jolly swagman…” ]

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