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Uncomfortably number

Handsome Dick Manitoba: "Ed-juh-muh-cay-shun ain't for me."

I heard someone on TV tonight talking about the ongoing protests in Iran, and he said what he thinks will happen "changes the calculus" of Iran's nuclear arms program.

"Changes the calculus." I'm hearing that phrase a lot these days, and it's got me wondering: Why calculus? Why does it have to be such a high form of math? I never took calculus. Saying something "changes the calculus" makes me feel as if the issue is too complicated for me to understand.

Why can't something "change the algebra"? No, wait: I hated algebra. OK, then: "change the trigonometry." In high school, I liked trigonometry; I liked it so much I took it twice and almost failed it the second time around, too. So I guess trigonometry is out.

"Changes the geometry" seems perfect. When I hear the word "geometry," I can visualize it: diameters, circumferences, right triangles, parallelograms, etc. I have an idea of what geometry is. Calculus? Not at all.

Is saying "changes the calculus" just another way for people to sound brainy at the expense of clarity and precision? Your call on that one.

Latest Month

March 2017

Wish I'd Said It

Nota bene: “Fear has governed my life, if I think about it. ... I always feel like I’m not good enough for some reason. I wish that wasn’t the case, but left to my own devices, that voice starts speaking up.” – Trent Reznor

“I hate to say this, but not many people care what you do. They care about what you do as much as you care about what they do. Think about it. Just exactly that much. You are not the center of the universe.” — Laurie Anderson

"The path's not yours till you've gone it alone a time." – William Carlos Williams

“Filling this empty space constitutes my identity.” – Twyla Tharp

"My definition of peace is having no noise in my head." – Eric Clapton

"The wreckage of the sky serves to confirm us in delicious error." – John Ashbery

"We are all here by the grace of the big bang. We are all literally the stuff of the stars." – Dwight Owsley

"For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream." – Vincent van Gogh

"It is only with the heart that one can see right; what is essential is invisible to the eye." — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

"Forget about being a perfectionist, because entropy always wins out in the end." – Darren Kaufman.

"Impermanence. Impermanence. Impermanence." – Garry Shandling

"Fame is a vapor; popularity an accident; the only earthly certainty is oblivion." – Mark Twain

"There is no realm wherein we have the truth." – Gordon Lish

"Actual life is full of false clues and sign-posts that lead nowhere." – E.M. Forster

“Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe." – Frank Zappa

“I try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip.” – Elmore Leonard

“The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.” – Voltaire

• Journal title and subtitle: Ian Hunter, “Man Overboard”


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