(Kindly let me know if my math does not tally below. I tried to check and recheck it, but…)
Q: When was 120 minutes ago from now?
A: It was two hours ago.
When was one hundred and sixty four billion (164,000,000,000) minutes ago?
My illiteracy with numbers occurs at a certain threshold.
Numerical literacy*? Not my strong suit. So, I play with numbers, with what I can imagine.
For example, I can imagine a triangle, a square, a pentagram, a hexagon, a septagon, an octagon. But, I cannot imagine, or see in my mind’s eye what a 25 sided polygon would look like. I would have to try to draw it.
There is a 10,000 sided polygon, called a myriagon, according to geometry.
I will take their word for it because I cannot imagine being able to imagine what that would actually like.
I am not monied. The difference between one million dollars and one billion dollars? Well, sure, ‘orders of magnitude’, but I only understand that in the abstracted sense. The practical difference between such huge numbers is not immediately obvious to me. But, the news, scientific research, and governments, regularly inundate us with such large numbers.
Do a thought experiment with me? I wanna know:
Q1. How far could the millions of dollars, comprising a billion dollars, go?
Q2. If I had one hundred and sixty four billion dollars (as I hear someone in America truly does) and I gave away one million dollars per day, how many days before I am broke? Let’s pretend I keep my $164,000,000,000.00 in cash in a safe. That means my money is not making more money via interest, returns, dividends.
If I have one billion dollars in cash, let’s imagine it’s kept in one million dollar bills. I would have one thousand of these million dollar bills.
I could give one of the $1,000,000 bills everyday for 1,000 days before running out of money.
If there are 365 days a year, 1,000 days is about 2.75 years.
The difference between a million and a billion, practically speaking?
A1. You can give away $1,000,000.00 everyday for almost three years before exhausting $1,000,000,000.00
So, how much more than 1 billion dollars is 164 billion dollars, practically speaking?
Well, if it takes 1,000 days, of giving away 1 million dollars each day, to get rid of a billion dollars;
It would take 164 times longer to give away $164,000,000,000.00 than it would take to give away $1,000,000,000.00
1,000 x 164 = 164,000 days
164,000 days = 449 years and a few months.
If I had $164,000,000,000 ($164 billion), I could give away $1,000,000 ($1 million) everyday for 449 years.?
Now that I see it this way it only raises more, honest questions from an ignorant me.
How much money do people need?
And why? To what end and what do they intend?
*My own numerical illiteracy was introduced to me by a slim, charming book called Innumeracy by John Allen Paulos which I found tucked away in the statistician’s, my father, bookcase.
The concept of ‘nationality’ is myth institutionalized. Culture-plus.
Culture is a myth existing in the subtleties of our everyday lives. Known by everyone, taught by everyone; and, yet it remains a bit invisible to those very ones who know and teach it. Nationality is is an institutionalized mythological narrative taught publicly, in a systematic fashion. Simple things like reciting a pledge of allegiance at the start of every school day.
Three types of nations may be distinguished. Old, natural nations like Britain, France, Spain, etc. New nations that emulated the nationalistic practices of others; and, the third kind are forced into nationhood by virtue of being ex-colonial states granted independence. Forced nations are those nations founded on the assumption that immemorial antiquity can be constructed, taught, and ultimately naturalized into a population.
America is a unique case.
“The soil of America absolutely rejected a territorial aristocracy.” The inhabitants “hardly know one another, and each man is ignorant of his nearest neighbor’s history…Wealth circulates with incredible rapidity, and experience shows that two successive generations seldom enjoy its favors.”
Alexis de Tocqueville (French diplomat; b. 1805 – 1859)
The circulation of wealth is not a condition common to forced nations. Americans enjoyed a bourgeois liberty, “not the aristocratic freedom of their motherland, but a middle-class and democratic freedom.”
They had learned to combine democracy and liberty as the French had not. The French had to suffer a democratic revolution. Americans did not and thus “were born equal instead of becoming so.” This ignores the slave-holding practices of America at that time, but the idea is that your bloodline does not determine your life. There was no landed gentry or fiefdoms in America.
There is an absence of an American socialist or militant-working class tradition. The white immigrants could pursue their middle-class goals freely, unencumbered by a feudal tradition. Social homogeneity kept most Americans from systematically thinking about class differences. The American political culture lacked the European social categories which may be necessary to allow for the expression of such antagonism.
Hartz even argues that the failure of the bourgeois to develop class consciousness left American workers ideologically crippled. Because, there were no feudal institutions to attack, U.S. liberals, unlike European liberals, could entirely reject the idea of powerful government. America did not have it as a weapon because they never had to use against an older order.
*The Liberal Tradition in America: An Interpretation of American Political Thought since the Revolution; Louis Hartz, 1955.
Widespread economic wealth had a major role in sustaining the liberal character of U.S. political thought. Social pluralism and separation of residence from workplace can be attributed, at least in part, to the openness and fluidity of a liberal society.
The American liberal tradition has been very effective in limiting U.S. political development because ideas and behaviors, words and deeds, have mutually constrained one another.
The New England Calvinist Jeremiad made a contribution to the dominance of a liberal consensus. It pointed out New England’s and, later, America’s failings: the sins of the people. The more often the preachers named the nation’s sins and punishment, the more strongly they asserted that the nation’s special mission as “god’s chosen instruments.” This mission was essentially individualist and capitalistic.
“New England evolved into a middle-class culture…a commercially-oriented economy…sustained by the prospect of personal advancement.”
The American Jeremiad; Sacvan Bercovitch, 1978.
Here is a cultural foundation for the American social order (the ‘spiritual cohesion’ that comes only from a ‘social ideal’) which such a purely secular concern with ‘personal aggrandizement’ could not provide.
Through the Jeremiad, Americans came to see a special place for their country in the world, as well as envision it having a sacred history. As a result, the Puritan rhetoric of social criticism re-affirmed a belief in the legitimacy of the American regime by promising to purge it of its defects.
Gellner’s discussion of nationalism revolves around the transition from Agrarian to Industrial. Industrial civilization is based on the explosion of economic/scientific growth rather than stable technology. Population growth in the industrialized world is no longer Malthusian.
The two principles of political legitimacy in industrialized societies are 1) economic growth and 2) nationalism. Regimes are acceptable if they can, over a period, engender growth, if not they lost authority.
We are egalitarian because we are mobile (as a society); we are not mobile because we are egalitarian. Mobility is imposed on us by social circumstance. Growth entails innovations and new technologies, creating and relinquishing jobs. Growth societies cannot have a stable occupational structure. These societies acquiesce members by giving confident, justified expectations of moral improvements as opposed to inciting terror or superstition. Everyone climbs the ladder, gets a promotion.
The modern occupational structure professes to be egalitarian, within a upwardly mobile professional sphere. Within that sphere, however, we are to be anonymous, per se. Leave your personal problems at home, right?
The person you are at work must censor and behave differently than the person you are at home. Well, at least for many of this surely remains true. Remove a subsistence economy and you stop people from procuring their own foods and goods. Replace that economy with a cash economy and now people hold jobs to be paid a wage that they may use to purchase the things they need. This is the counter-intuitive, semantic nature of work in industrial societies.
All this reduces to the capacity to articulate and/or comprehend context-free messages. This is the metaphorical antithesis of what are brain does, particularly when interpreting meaning from words. Context provides meaning. Personal context can become a moot point in modern, professional environments as the implication is that professionalism is not the same as authenticity. Professionalism involves carrying oneself in a posture: posturing. Authenticity is the posture you take when no one is looking. Crossing your legs at work versus going spread-eagle on the couch to get comfy.
Empiricism is the imperialistic prerogative…at least as my mind marks it, and, it does so pseudo-empirically.
But, my concern is: if the observation of an object of inquiry actually changes the behavior of the object itself, what can be said for the metaphysical methodological underpinnings of ‘social science’?
The most basic of examples may be found in the early writings of Margaret Mead. The locals sang a different tune to her than the true song by which they lived.
I worked as a part-time waitress, from age 18 until age 18. I performed terribly. Back then, in Alabama, servers made $2.13 + tips.
One week my manager approached me, with pen and red binder.
“Sign here, to confirm for our tax records that you did, in fact, make at least the minimum wage. You did not declare enough of your cash tips.”
“Um, but I did not make at least minimum wage, I made less.”
“Yep, you are not good at this.”
He was correct.
Sometime later, after losing the urge to continue to pursue Academia, I worked full-time for a locally-owned, Tavern-style restaurant as a server and cocktail waitress. Not fine dining, but cloth napkins, gas burning lanterns. Upscale. The owners also owned a popular bar in the swanky part of Southside, Birmingham (The Five Points area, to be specific) where I poured occasionally. Note: Servers still only make $2.13 an hour + tips in Alabama (and many other American states). They really do work for themselves and you.
I loved my work. I took the time to learn the restaurant/service craft: Learning the menu, how to talk to people and make suggestions. The art of booze and talking booze. Maintaining equilibrium for the dinner rush / bar push for about three intense, crazy, physical hours, only to then slowly break down the establishment into a clean, organized place. The next morning, you would build it up, try to keep equillibrium, tear it down.
Taking your work home usually meant alcohol, delicious food, or another server. There was no huge deadline for the FOH staff, just closing time and the clean up.
All humans should really spend at least three months of their life as a server/waiter. Everyone. If you get hissy or huffy about the service you receive when dining out, consider the following.
Today, I pulled an old journal and found the remarks below. Enjoy
EDR = extended dining room
AOA = auditory order acknowledged
Alabama Medium = Medium Well
FOH = front of house (what and who you see as the diner)
86 = something the restaurant has on menu but does not have currently.
68 = when something that was 86’ed becomes available to diners again.
Conversations Had On a Daily Basis
Stuff Said to Me: That Pissed Me Off Enough To Scrawl
Some Stuff I Thought Worth Telling the Good People
Interesting piece very relevant to the cultural elephant in the room (at least in America). This elephant also relates to the popular perception that a scientific and a religous belief perspective are mutually exclusive.
Lots to unpack but highlights include:
“[Grey] uses paradox not just for rhetorical effect but to a philosophical end.”
<thank you. rhetoric abounds already.>
Voltaire and Nietzeche, as perceived atheists, are rexamined.
“no such thing as secularism”
The idea that religion is born from a fundamental need to make meaning.
The author suggests religion is irreplacable in our meaning making process.
I propose extending this more broadly: culture is irreplacable and religion is a socialstructure of culture. This is consistent with the authors’ arguements.
While categorization is reductionist at times, the breakdown of ‘types’ of atheists is appropriate and beneficial to the big picture “layman” discussion.
“Atheist” and “scientist” have become confused as synonomous. “Atheist” is largely a stigma in many local American communities. If you believe this is irrelevant to the endeavor of science, please consider public school textbooks and science. Evolution is less frequently taught (in the South, at least), then cited as theory and then discredited.
Why? Because text book order demand stems from state boards of education.
Please check The Revisionaries, a documentary demonstratig this process.
Classical mechanics uses space and time but never questions itself about time, space, or motion. And, Social Sciences do not question themselves about man. We cannot take it for granted that experience will give us the facts of a group or that anthropology will bind these facts by means of objectivity, strictly defined relations, if we want to access “human reality.”
The problem is our research is aimed at constituting laws and at bringing to light functional relations/processes.
By indirect knowledge, I mean the result of reflection on existence. It is indirect in this sense-that it is presupposed by all the concepts of anthropology without being itself made the object of concepts.
system: combination of components can form a more complex organization, that can be termed a system. E.g. of biological systems: cells > organism > ecosystem. To understand how biological systems work, it is not enough to have a complete “parts” list.
emergent properties of systems: with each upward step in the hierarchy of biological order, novel proerties emerge that are not present in the level just below. They are due to the arrangement and interaction of parts as complexity increases. E.g. thoughts, memories are emergent properties of a complex network of nerve cells.
reducing complex systems to simpler components that are manageable to study (horseapples: I say) The dillema of understanding biological breaks down thusly:
1. We cannot fully explain a higher level of order by breaking it down into its parts
2. Something as complex as organisms and /or cells cannot be analyzed without observing them take their own selves apart.
Camus’ Zagreus once “laughed and added, ‘You see Mersault, all the misery and cruelty of our civilization can be measured by this one stupid axiom: happy nations have no history,’ ” incorporating time and nations into the excruciatingly existential search for ‘metaphysical truth.’