Archive for May, 2013

A Little Extra

Friday, May 31st, 2013

Like most Americans, I could stand to lose a few pounds. Okay, a lot of pounds.

But what about God?

If you think about it, we’re all a part of the universe so we’re all a part of God, so in a way we are God’s body. It’s like each person is a cell in his body, and judging by what I see, I think Americans are clustered around his belly and maybe even hanging over his belt. So I asked him why he doesn’t take better care of himself. After he made me explain myself, he pointed out that the obesity epidemic is actually a pretty recent phenomenon; so in a sense we’re more like the few pounds a typical college student puts on in his first year than like the pot belly of a middle-aged man. Given that, he’s confident he can shape up without too much trouble.

Then I got to wondering, if I’m one of God’s fat cells, and he decides to lose a few pounds… Well, let’s just say I decided it wasn’t a train of thought I wanted to dwell on.

Can It

Friday, May 24th, 2013

Sometimes I wonder about odd little things. And no snickering about that “sometimes” modifier; I do sometimes wonder about perfectly ordinary things, I just don’t usually talk about it when I do.

But my current case in point: I’ve got this can of, well let’s call it fruit soda, though the manufacturers call it a naturally flavored sparkling juice beverage, and it’s in a slightly atraditionally shaped can. So I was curious about it. I noted that it’s 8.4 ounces. That “point four” is an odd number, so I assumed that it was a can sized in metric and then converted to ounces for the american market. Except that, right next to “8.4 fl oz.” it says 248 mL. And God readily agreed with me that 248 is just as odd of a number as 8.4. Well, technically they’re both even numbers, but you know what I mean.

So then God pointed out the other number just before those two. In type twice as large is the nice round number 90, in a drawn box with the smaller words “calories per can” also enclosed. Now as round numbers go, 90 is pretty good, but 100 is generally better. Except that with calories we’re generally looking for smaller. So did they get a deal on 250mL cans but then only fill them to 248 so they could get a round number of calories? Did they look at 8 ounce cans and reject them because 86 calories was too weird a number for marketing? Would they have had to come up with a new can size, that their supplier didn’t already carry in order to do 100 calories?

God just shook her head and complained that people say she works in mysterious ways.

Bright Ideas

Friday, May 17th, 2013

I noticed something new this week. There seems to be a fashion now of athletic shoes with “neon” colored piping and matching shoelaces. I think I first noticed this a while back, but on my way in to work today I saw at least three different people wearing them, though to be fair there were only two colors. Two people were wearing day-glo orange and one was wearing ultra-brite green. Okay, I don’t know what actual trademarkable names the companies may have given the colors, but those are descriptive enough for my purposes.

I was wondering if this started as a way to make runners and bicyclists more visible at night, or in other conditions of poor lighting, and so is being sold as a safety feature rather than a fashion feature but God told me if I really want to know I could bother to do the research myself, not just ask him. And he’s right, I just don’t care that much.

What I do care about is that it continue.

I’ve been saying for most of my life that we need more flashy men’s clothing. We need styles that are vivid and interesting without just copying something feminine. This piping thing could be a small step in the right direction. Imagine something like the jacket that Patrick McGoohan wore in The Prisoner but with that bright edging in a hot purple, or better yet, electroluminescent wiring. Now that would be nice.

What Did I Just Read

Friday, May 10th, 2013

There’s a class of humor that’s built around misreading things. Not in a deliberate way, though I’m sure there are professionals, and even some amateurs, who exaggerate, stimulate, and even fabricate their own misunderstandings, but in a dyslexic or just tired and worn out way. I’m not going to give you any examples right now, because, well, I’d have to fabricate them and I just kind of said that that’s cheating, but you know the type.

People post online, “Am I the only one that read that as…” It’s a two pronged bid, and for most of the people doing the posting, it’s win-win. Either they were the only one, so they’re unique and special, or they weren’t the only one and so they’re part of a group, they belong. God tells me that she’s the only one she knows that never reads anything the wrong way. I’d add, “not that she’s bragging,” but actually, I think she was bragging.

But for the rest of us, reading “am I the only one that read that as” is usually a cue to cringe, because what follows, nine times out of ten, just isn’t as special as the person posting it thinks. It’s often the ultimate “you had to be there” thing, because the “there” where you had to be is actually in the world inside the person’s head; to really appreciate their misreading you not only needed to read it wrong but you needed to read it wrong with all the baggage that their particular life had placed not only on the word that they misread but on the word that they were supposed to have read in the first place. I posed this theory to God, to see if she thought I was on the right track, and she told me that I was kind of right, but also kind of wrong. See, she does get to be there in people’s heads, she does get to experience the moment with all the person’s personal baggage, and she says that most of the time, it’s still not that funny.

Tee for Two

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

I have this tee shirt. Okay, I have a lot of tee shirts but one in particular I’m going to talk about now. The shirt is emblazoned in large characters with the formula “2 + 2 = 5” and then, in considerably smaller print, it adds “for extremely large values of 2.”

God scoffs at my shirt.

God says that “2 + 2 = 4” and will brook now further discussion. So I’m bringing the discussion to you.

I’d actually go further than the shirt, I’d say that “2 + 2 = 5” merely for sufficiently large values of 2, no need to go to extremely, and certainly no need to push both values as far as extreme.

Really, what it comes down to is just a matter of defining your terms. Or I guess my terms, in this case. And I can do that. The first thing to do is to define what is “a value of” everything else flows from that. So here goes, “a value of 2” is any number expressed in base ten whose first character is the digit two and who either has no additional characters or whose second character is a decimal point and whose third and higher characters are all digits. I don’t think this is an outlandish definition. Obviously “5” in the equation can then be understood to be “a value of 5” and the definition of that would be the same as for “a value of 2” but substituting “five” as the first character.

Now we just need to define “sufficiently large values” and I’m afraid this is going to end up sounding a little tautological but so be it. Given that the equation has two values of two (that would be “2” and “2”), and given our somewhat expansive definition of what “2” is, which I’ll point out is actually necessitated by the later reference of them as “values of 2” rather than as “just” two, we can readily guess that for them to be “sufficiently” large they are likely to be values greater than merely two. “Merely two” being the same as “just two” which is the same as “exactly two.” In point of fact, we know by simple addition that if they are both “just” two, they will only add up to four, so at least one of them must have a decimal portion. We likewise know, by simple subtraction of two from five that if even one of them is “just” two, than they are in aggregate insufficiently large, because five minus two yields three and three is not “a value of” two. So now we know that both values must be greater than “just” two, so we know that they are each large enough to require the decimal point and some number of digits to its right.

Given all of that, I’m going to now abandon hard numbers and go into the territory of “thought experiment.” We know, and now my knowledge of math is too weak to tell you “how” we know, but I know I understood it in some class somewhere in my youth for at least a number of seconds greater than two, we know that five minus “a value of 2” is going to yield another “value of 2.” I think I can explain this by telling you that we know that exactly five minus exactly two is exactly three, so if you increase the size of the “two” by any amount small enough to still leave it as “a value of 2” then you’ll end up decreasing the “three” by exactly that amount, which will make it less than “three” but not as low as ” just” two so it will be “a value of 2,” but not the value of two that is “just” two. Got that? Not too tautological?

Back to defining “sufficiently large.” So given any number that is not exactly two but is a value of two, subtracting that number from five will yield another value of two, but not exactly two. So sufficiently large is any two values of two where one value is large enough to require the decimal point in order to express it and the other value is at least as large as the remainder of subtracting the first value from five.

Which is all a very long way of getting to the point that the “weasel” word here is “sufficiently.” “Sufficiently” is not “a value,” it’s not even quantifiable in the absence of saying what it is meant that it is “sufficient” for. All in all, I think it’s a word that Humpty Dumpty would like very much. And “extremely” which the shirt uses, is no better. “Extremely” pushes the undefined further but still fails to define it.

But it does make for a good tee shirt.