So I was walking down a hallway the other day and standing off to the side and just ahead of me were two ladies having a conversation about whatever it is that two ladies in a hospital hallway might discuss. I overheard one of them say the following:
“I’ve found out that there’s a 360-degree difference between blah blah blah and yakkity shmakkity.”
I didn’t hear the details involving the blah or the yakkity, but as soon as I heard the earlier part of that sentence, I ran over, pushed the speaker down, grabbed her cane (did I mention that one of them was cane-ridden? No? Well, one of them was), and started beating her with it and yelling, ‘IF ONE THING IS 360 DEGREES DIFFERENT THAN SOMETHING ELSE, THAT WOULD REQUIRE IT TO TRAVEL THE COMPLETE DISTANCE AROUND A SPHERE UNTIL IT FINALLY ARRIVES BACK WHERE IT STARTED AND WOULD, THEREFORE, BE WHATEVER IT WAS WHEN IT LEFT (ASSUMING THAT IT DIDN’T UNDERGO SOME SORT OF SPONTANEOUS BIOLOGICAL EVOLUTION OR THE DIVINE CLEAVING OF A FLIPPER, DEPENDING ON YOUR THEOLOGICAL LEANINGS), WHICH MEANS THAT IT’S NO MORE DIFFERENT NOW FROM THE OTHER THING ABOUT WHICH YOU PREVIOUSLY SPOKE BASED ON YOUR CLUMSY USE OF GEOMETRY, SO I THINK THAT WHAT YOU MEANT TO SAY WAS THAT THING 1 IS 180-DEGREES DIFFERENT FROM THING 2, WHICH WOULD IMPLY THAT THEY’RE COMPLETE OPPOSITES, MORE OR LESS!! STOP CRYING!!’
It’s possible that I over-reacted.
I was a little stressed out, though, so I think there’s some justification in my defending of the ‘Geometric Imperative’, assuming that such a thing exists.
Honestly, I’m not sure why these things bug me as much as they do. Perhaps it’s my unconscious hope that people might think about what they’re about to say before they unleash their vocal cords. Still, it’s not like such idiotic little trivialities matter. The other person in this conversation and the vast majority of the english-speaking world likely know what such a phrase is intended to mean, so what? Will security be breached because of such careless manipulation of non-Euclidean geometry? Does said breach mean that puppies will be hurled into traffic by angry clergymen and car salesmen will begin setting nuns and children on fire? Will the terrorists finally win? Well, sure. Maybe.
For the sake of argument, let’s assume that it means exactly those things. This would mean that such careless talk might justifiably label someone a mathematically-suspect unpatriotic terrorist lover who incites violence against society’s most vulnerable members. Debatably the worst kind of terrorist, I think. I feel that I’ve now justified my merciless whipping of the slightly lame older woman with her own cane. You may thank me at your leisure. I will now write a book.
This is kind of how I view American politics and also kind of how I explain American politics to foreigners.
Sir @ December 3, 2009