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Of Measurements

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measurement n. 1. The act of measuring or the process of being measured. —TheFreeDictionary
measured adj. 1. Determined by measurement. —TheFreeDictionary

In honor of Pi Day of the Century, let’s play math nerd with that. First, we’ll take the “or” in the first definition at face value, allowing us to use the second part of that definition on its own: measurement can mean the process of being measured. Next we’ll perform a simple substitution, as is so common in our own definitions, giving us: measurement can mean the process of being determined by measurement. Which, by further extension, yields: measurement can mean the process of being determined by the process of being determined by the process of being determined by the process of being determined by . . . measurement, . . . which can mean the process . . . . Oh, hello there, π! Fancy you showing up.

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Written by macheide

11 March 2015 at 3:42 pm

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Once Again?

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“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but…”

I’ve never been able to figure out completely what will or will not appear on the Facebook badge that I use on aftermath’s sidebar. I do know that if I manually enter something very specifically in the “status” field on my Facebook page, that something does show up on the badge. But other updates that make it to my Facebook page by other means – via Twitter, via various apps I use on my iPhone, or through other actions that get reflected on Facebook – seem rather random about whether or not they make it to the badge.

“…once to die” – So only just now noticing the piece from back on April 8 that Facebook has decided to carry through to today catches me a bit oddly. A verse from my reading in the Bible app I have on my iPhone, and as I recall I was focusing on Eastertime thoughts at the time I recorded the reading for my Facebook timeline. But the Facebook badge only has sufficient room for that opening clause. Which, given my own recent personal history, sparks a certain quirky smile.

Like, no sacrilege intended, except it’s a bit humorous. Try this. Forget it’s scripture and take it only as the opening line in a creative writing exercise in a college lit class, season it with some of the details from my own experience, and complete the sentence. For instance –

  • “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but” as some of us don’t bother checking our appointment books before setting up duplicate entries, we have an appointment book app that will fix things for you.
  • “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but” as there be some among us who always seem bent on pushing the edge of the envelope, we must be more specific when we set a standard that’s supposed to be absolute and final.
  • “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but” as Kurt Gödel has proved the number system to be either inconsistent or incomplete (we can’t know which), some of us don’t believe “one” means the same as the rest of us accept as obvious truth.
  • “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but” as certain of us are actuarially inclined, were we to ask how many times “once” is supposed to be, we’d only be charged those inflated professional fees to get the response “How many times do you want ‘once’ to be?
  • “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but” as the actuary thinks himself equal to a god when it comes to determining matters of life and death, he thinks he’s the one who gets to decide exactly when that particular “once” actually occurs.
  • “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but” as far as counting each individual’s one and only “once,” certain individuals you simply can’t count on to get it right the first time.
  • “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but” as some of us are almost heretic enough to deserve being struck by lightning for even thinking of drafting a post such as this, you never know quite what to believe when it comes to how many times he’s really died, but you do know you’ll curse him every time you hear this scripture ever again.
  • “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but” as whoever will not die at least once each day will never live a single day, must not we all die once again and once again and once all over again?
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Written by macheide

15 April 2012 at 3:39 pm

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Put Up Wet

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Rode hard and put up wet

Southerners sure can find the perfect way to put it.

We’d been talking about how hard Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan had aged. How would you describe that look? Whereupon Susan introduced me to another one of those quaint descriptions one only hears in Texas or in Texas-wannabe parts: “Rode hard and put up wet.”

“Rough,” she said it meant, like how a horse would look when it was still sweating after a long rugged gallop. Kelly then introduced both of us to the younger generation’s more vulgar definition, with just enough subtle detail to make the point of how too many men treat women much as they’d treated horses in the situations that gave us this image in the first place. The basic gist being that the horse (or woman, or an employee who had created a special project of value to a company, or any other object of temporary urgency) had been used to the hard edge of extreme utility (“rode,” not even ridden), then simply abandoned without tending to the needs of the one who had been used so.

For Dylan, Susan had meant only the general visual impression of what such a horse would look like: 500 miles of bad road, so to speak. But the full image could probably be said to be apropos: throughout most if not all of the 45+ years of his career, an audience who has felt it owned Dylan’s vision has all too frequently “rode” him hard then quite readily put him up “wet” without so much as a shrug for his needs for privacy, his own life, his own dream. Owned, just as owned as a dispensable old mare.

From the perspective of wordsmithing, I find a uniquely pleasurable twist in a set of words that is set as a description of the object (the horse), while technically finding its purest meanings in its implied depiction of the subject (the ignorant rider). Few words or word groups have that quality: applying to one thing while actually referring to another. One simple illustration – “sunlit” – isn’t nearly as pungent as this Southern bit of roadkill is.

This ought at least base for a good ol’ boy country & western standard song, one would think.

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Written by macheide

22 February 2009 at 3:44 pm

Posted in whatev

Layoff Blues

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Not just bank tellers and stock exchange clerical staff (as in, employees ineligible for receiving bailout money in the form of bonus pay), auto workers, and nearly every industry and service and profession on down to chefs and lawyers and NFL staff and orchestral musicians; but now even zoo animals are being laid off.

About the only safe occupation these days is to be a G-man.

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Written by macheide

31 January 2009 at 11:49 am

Posted in whatev

On Transigence

There is no such thing. If one is not inflexible, then he can be called flexible; but if he is not intransigent, we don’t call him transigent. If one is not uncompromising, then he’s probably open to reasonable compromise; but if he ceases being intransigent, we’re not quite certain what he’s become.

I’m guessing this one-sided etymology is a nod to the fact that the word was born in the political arena and to this day is viewed as belonging to the argot of the politico. One can always find a president or a governor or a senator who is intransigent. One who is not? Truly not? Only in our deepest dreams.

But insurance companies lack in transigency too. While roofs, they can be quite transigent. Just saying.

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Written by macheide

12 January 2009 at 2:17 am

Posted in whatev

Retiring a Lexicon Sliver

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But even when workers make good choices, a market meltdown near the end of their working careers can still blow their savings to smithereens.

Big Slide in 401(k)s Spurs Calls for Change, Eleanor Laise, Wall Street Journal

That might seem somewhat a mixed metaphor were it not that I grew up downwind of Three Mile Island close enough to know exactly how accurate Laise’s portrayal can come to being realized. Even so, I confess I find it difficult to envision my 401(k) funds as a smoldering heap of radioactive smithereens. For that matter, what exactly is a smithereen? It occurs to me that I’ve never been close enough to a real war zone to know a smithereen from a shard.

A bit of OED exploring reveals that apparently no smithereen ever does a solo act. They only come in the plural, and generally only in large numbers. “Small fragments; atoms,” for instance the isotopes the TMI accident threatened to make of us. But pick up one of those small fragments, and apparently you don’t have a single smithereen. You have a splinter or a speck or a smidgen or a scintilla or maybe even a scruple. But withdraw a dollar from your 401(k) plan, and it ceases to be the smithereens our economy has made of your retirement plans.

Or something like that. I’m not sure I get the point of Laise’s skimpy imagery, if she even had one. Whatev.

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Written by macheide

8 January 2009 at 4:26 pm

Posted in whatev

Too True To Be Good

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Today, you will give me a single grain of rice. Then, each day for thirty days you will give me double the rice you gave me the day before.

One Grain of Rice, a mathematical folktale by Demi

About 90 years ago, an Italian immigrant made essentially that same double-the-rice proposal to citizens of Boston: invest in my company, and I’ll double your money every 90 days. Do the math, people, do the damned math! Invest a million dollars in a scheme like that today, leave your money invested a mere five years, and you’ll be able to retire after that very brief period with upwards of one third of the current money supply of the entire U.S.!! Except . . . hmmmm, there seem to be more than two other financial idiots throwing into this scheme along with me, so how exactly are we going to be dividing up the country’s wealth between us all, pray do tell.

In the current re-run, the TV and the press and the politicians keep mislabeling the scheme’s investors as “victims.” The more accurate tag: “sucker.” And this time around, our scam artist’s biggest mistake was not turning his operation into a bank while he had the chance, in which case the U.S. taxpayer could have joined all the suckers by bailing him out.

So if these financial versions of chain letters are doomed to failure anywhere from as few as 15 to at most 30 iterations out into the future, might we not still see at least a near-term reality to them, temporarily without fraud, able to actually produce those get-rich-quick asset returns at first, simply not able to sustain it past some certain point, the exercise then becoming to know that point and get out before the scheme turns sour? No. That moment was back at the very initial point, at the origin of the idea.

Anything so good that it can’t be true will have its truth found out as not being all that good to begin with.

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Written by macheide

31 December 2008 at 10:30 am

Posted in whatev