Wednesday, January 28, 2015

If you must be an aspersion-caster, be an equal opportunity aspersion-caster

I ran across some fascinating information this week. I have no idea whether any of it is true.

A woman named Kate Peregrina has written articles for a website called Thrillist that purport to identify the things various European countries are best at and the things various European countries are worst at. The context is not within the whole world, but within the European Union. I am including the links in my post today so that you can look, read, and learn. Afterward, as Linda Richman (hostess of the Coffee Talk skits on Saturday Night Live) used to say, you can use the comments section of this post to talk amongst yourselves.

Here are some of the “best” categories:

Lowest unemployment
Most recycling
Cheapest electricity
Best at drinking beer
Most dancing and singing
Lowest obesity rate
Fewest divorces
Most people who have quit smoking
Biggest producer of apples
Lowest cocaine use
Fewest teen moms
Lowest homicide rate

...and here are some of the “worst” categories:

Worst traffic congestion
Least freedom of the press
Fewest 18-year-olds in school
Most tax evasion
Highest percentage of prisoners
Highest suicide rate
Fewest cinemas per capita
Lowest voter turnout
Highest cocaine usage

As I said, fascinating.

Here are the links:

1. What Every Country In The European Union Does Best

2. What Every European Union Country Is The Worst At

Finally, just so you know that I am an equal-opportunity aspersion caster, I am including a third link that will clue you in on what Ms. Peregrina says every U.S. state is the worst at. The categories include most tornadoes, fewest inland waterways, worst at incarcerating the elderly, fewest heliports....

3. What Every U.S. State Is The Worst At

Friday, January 23, 2015

You make me feel so young

This blogpost of mine is number 1400, or as we say in hexadecimal, 578.

I love hexadecimal.

Hexadecimal is just like decimal except it has six more digits. There are sixteen digits in all in hexadecimal: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, A, B, C, D, E, and F. Only then do you reach 10 in hexadecimal, which equals 16 in decimal.

It can be a little perplexing at first, but the underlying principle is just like the decimal system that you’re used to, except that hexadecimal is based on powers of 16 instead of powers of 10. That is, 100 in decimal is 10 squared, 1000 is 10 cubed, and so forth. In hexadecimal, however, 100 is 16 squared (256 decimal) and 1000 is 16 cubed (4096 decimal).

Who would ever want to count like that?

I’m glad you asked. Computer people, that’s who. Don’t ask why; just take my word for it.

Hexadecimal has its advantages. For instance, in hexadecimal, I am currently 49, not 73. And when my birthday rolls around in March, I will be able to say I am “49 and counting” for the next six years because in hexadecimal I won't turn 50 until I am 80 in decimal. In those intervening years I will actually be 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E, and 4F, but it is easier to just say “49 and counting” than to try to explain it to you decimal system people.

When I turned 50, I told all my colleagues that I was only 32 in hexadecimal, so they presented me with a cake with X‘32’ written in the frosting on top. The fact that it was part of an epitaph on a tombstone, indicating that I might be over the hill, is beside the point.

Here is an equivalence chart so that you may henceforth identify your age in hexadecimal:

If you are 16 years old, you are only 10 in hexadecimal.
If you are 17 through 25, you are 11 through 19 in hexadecimal.
If you are 26 through 31, you are “19 and counting” in hexadecimal.
If you are 32 through 41, you are 20 through 29 in hexadecimal.
If you are 42 through 47, you are “29 and counting” in hexadecimal.
If you are 48 through 57, you are 30 through 39 in hexadecimal.
If you are 58 through 63, you are “39 and counting” in hexadecimal.
If you are 64 through 73, you are 40 through 49 in hexadecimal.
If you are 74 through 79, you are “49 and counting” in hexadecimal.
If you are 80 through 89, you are 50 through 59 in hexadecimal.
If you are 90 through 95, you are “59 and counting” in hexadecimal.
And only when you are 96 will you finally be 60 in hexadecimal.

I repeat, I love hexadecimal.

Today’s bit of trivia: In the movie Avatar, the Na'vis on Pandora used the octal system (base 8) because they had only four fingers on each hand.


Update, January 24th: Everyone who is bewildered by hexadecimal can just watch Michael Bublé singing "You Make Me Feel So Young" (3:06) instead. Then, at least, you will know how hexadecimal makes me feel. You should ignore the ironic fact that Michael Bublé is young and therefore singing this particular song at this particular time in his life is downright silly.

Monday, January 12, 2015

What they don't tell you in the commercials, or Ya Gotta Read The Fine Print

It has been a little over a week -- eight days, to be exact -- since I announced my intention to take a break of indeterminate length from blogging, yet here I am, back already. Well, for today at least. Perhaps I will be posting weekly henceforth, making a yearly total of 52 posts seem not only achievable but also absolutely on-target. Please note that I did not say “I will be posting weekly henceforth,” I said “Perhaps I will be posting weekly henceforth.” There’s a difference.

Be that as it may, the reason I took pen in hand put fingers to the keyboard once again is to bring to your attention, if you haven’t already noticed, the devious ways in which advertisers in television commercials draw you in. While what they tell you may be true, they don’t necessarily tell you the whole truth. Ya gotta read the fine print.

For example, I heard a woman in a commercial this week say that she has received $900 (UK, £594) in rebates by making her purchases on a certain website. My first reaction was "Wow! Maybe that’s where I should be buying things too!" (which is, I’m sure, exactly what the advertiser intended) . My second reaction, however, was to wonder how much I would have to spend to get that kind of rebate. The commercial very conveniently did not mention what percentage of one’s purchases are refunded, but I very quickly calculated that if it were, say, a very generous 5% (which no one would ever do) , I would have to have plunked down $18,000 (UK, £11,883) to receive that particular rebate. Not very likely, at least in this household.

Caveat emptor. That’s all I’m saying.

Here’s another example: A commercial for Premier Walk-in Bath (something an old person like moi might covet) stated it could be obtained for $150 per month. Period. Didn't mention either the purchase price or for how many months, so being ever-vigilant I checked their website. Turns out that the fine print still doesn’t mention the purchase price but does say that a down payment of 1/3 of the price, whatever it is, is required, and that at an example interest rate of 9.9% the cost would be only $150 a month for (take a deep breath) 120 MONTHS [emphasis mine] . Another quick calculation on my part determined that not including the 1/3 down payment the monthly payments come to $18,000 (UK, £11,883) FOR A BATHTUB.

The nice part, of course, is that if I buy it through that other website I will receive a $900 (UK, £594) rebate.

I may be stupid, but I am not crazy.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The sound of one hand clapping

Having suddenly realized (British: realised) that not only am I becoming increasingly irrelevant in today’s world but also that we are now more than three months into what should have been my blog’s sabbatical year*, I have decided to take a break from blogging.

I probably will be back, but who knows?

Also, being of the mercurial sort (look it up) , the break may last three days or three months or three years. Again, who knows?

Certainly not I.

Until then, whenever “then” turns out to be, toodles. It’s been real**.

One thing I do know for sure. I will miss you more than you will miss me.

Yr frnd,

* Wait, is a sabbatical year the seventh one, or the one after the seventh one? If the correct answer is the former, then I am already a year late.
**Actually, it’s only been virtual, but it often seemed real.

I will be laboring (<i>British,</i> labouring) under a handicap for the next couple of weeks (<i>British,</i> fortnight)

More about that below. First, though, I want to add an addendum (what else would you do with an addendum?) to my previous post about phone...