Family Ties

37 – Participants
3 – Days on task

Back for almost a week from a family reunion, I’m almost back to normal.

76 – Age range of participants, in years
3 – Age of youngest participant, in months

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A Little Less Talk . . .

We must dismantle white supremacy.
– Sign in window of Ben & Jerry’s Burlington store

I’ll get right on that. After lunch, world peace.

Somewhere along the long and winding road, the concept of “corporate social responsibility” took a weird turn. It morphed from taking responsibility for, you know, corporate actions, to beaking off about the contentious issues of the day.

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Seeing is Believing

When I was merely middle-aged, to illustrate the relative size of China we used to say that 1 in 6 people was a Chinese peasant. We can’t say that now, for two reasons. First, these days we’d more likely say “a Chinese farmer” (even though 2/3 of China’s population is urban, so “a Chinese office or factory worker” would be more accurate if less catchy). Second, the number has changed to 1.4 in 8, which doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

All to say, it’s hard to keep up on several fronts. It’s even harder for me to grasp, after all my decades of thinking of China as the world’s population leader, that India is now the country with the most people. On the scale we’re talking about it’s just by a hair, mind you: India edged out China by a mere 295,631, or a city of about the same size as Saskatoon or Windsor. Pfft.

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Nine-tenths of an iceberg is under water.

I know that, but is it true? In this case, it seems so.

Density also explains why most of an iceberg is found beneath the ocean’s surface. Because the densities of ice and sea water are so close in value, the ice floats “low” in the water. Remember that the density of ice is 0.92 g/mL, and the density of water is 1.0 g/mL (1.03 for salt water). This means that ice has nine-tenths, or 90 percent of water’s density – and so 90 percent of the iceberg is below the water’s surface. – All About Icebergs, in Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears

Once they got into density I admit that I started to skim-read, but I was still paying enough attention to see some humour in “Remember that the density of ice is 0.92 g/mL” (helpfully highlighted above in case you, too, were skimming) until I realized that the expectation wasn’t that I would accurately remember something from my long-gone school days: They had just covered this point two paragraphs up.

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Commonplace Indeed

It is a commonplace observation
that work expands
so as to fill the time available for its completion.

So wrote Cyril Northcote Parkinson in 1955, slamming the tendency of British bureaucracies to do less with more, not that Canadians have any point of contact with that complaint. This first essay was published with similar essays in Parkinson’s Law: The Pursuit of Progress.

[The book] was translated into many languages
as the law seemed to apply in other countries too.

Seemed, schmeemed: It *does* apply in other countries, including the Soviet Union (per Mikhail Gorbachev). Happily (or not), Parkinson’s Law describes a bug in the human condition, not just bureaucracies or late-stage-capitalism conglomerates.

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Hand Me My Phone

Another little tidbit from the Universe of Numbers. I can’t say that I know exactly how buddy felt, but I get it to a reasonable approximation.

Posted in Appreciating Deeply, Laughing Frequently | Tagged | 6 Comments

An Approximation? Exactly!

Soon there will be nothing left of my education. Not because I’ve forgotten what I was taught, mind you, but exactly because of what I was taught. I’m thinking here of Rutherford’s model not being what an atom is actually like, and of the whole conspiracy to hide the key linguistic fact that the-French-qui-is-not-the-same-as-the-English-who.

“What now?” you sigh. “Pi,” I reply. OK. Let’s do this.

Pi, perhaps the first mathematical constant I ever heard of, is the ratio of any circle’s circumference to its diameter. Or as Sesame Street’s singing monsters might present it:

π = around/through

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All the Way Down

“Turtles all the way down” is an expression
of the problem of infinite regress. – Wikipedia

Yeah, that’s definitely how I’d explain it: infinite regress.

Anyway, the week before last I was out on a blessedly finite errand and came across reflections all the way down.

The first layer is the building in front of me; the second layer (and first reflection) is the building in back of me; the third layer (and second reflection) is the reflection in front of me of the building in front of me in the building in back of me. Kinda fun.

As is the fun-house of optical distortions from angled reflections.

Thank goodness for errands, eh?

Posted in Appreciating Deeply, Photos of Built Stuff | Tagged | 8 Comments

Whatzit Face

I walked past this guy in the Farm Boy parking lot (which phrase reminds me of a line in this great song) but had to double-back. What he lacks in beauty, he makes up for in startlement.

Or is it dismay? Alarm?

I don’t know: He wasn’t talking. Neither was the person who left him there, and that’s a shame because I had two questions:

  • Where’s he from?
  • Where did you learn that it’s OK to throw stuff on the ground?


Posted in Laughing Frequently, Photos of Faces | Tagged | 14 Comments