Daily Archives: July 13, 2011

Sideband #11: Eleven Eleven

These go to eleven.

I know people who feel the funniest moment in all of film is the bit in This is Spinal Tap about the volume knobs that go to 11. It does seem clear that the bit has become a well-known cultural meme. Just about everyone (who’s anyone) knows exactly what you mean when you refer to turning it up to eleven. For those of you just exiting the cave (Plato’s or otherwise), here’s the bit:

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God is an Iron

The universe is perverse. I don’t mean that in the peeking into windows sense (although the universe is indeed peeking into all our windows every moment), but in the ironic sense. The universe is deeply, hugely, fundamentally ironic in ways that are incredibly perverse.

It is ironic in that the only constant is that nothing is constant.

It is ironic in that the only absolute truth is that nothing is absolutely true.

It is ironic in that its most basic everyday aspects are its greatest mysteries.

It is ironic in that the toast always lands buttered side down.

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Sideband #10: A Full Hand

Sidebands are 10; a full hand; a (very small) odometer moment.

The accident of genetics and evolution that gives us ten fingers (and ten toes) causes us to count in tens and celebrate things that occur on tens boundaries. Turning 30, 40 or 50 years of age is viewed as cause to bring out the black balloons and mocking birthday cards. Yet celebrating 30, 40, 50 or 60 years of marriage is increasingly cause to celebrate (especially these divorce-prone days).

Despite the (admittedly very pedantic) fact that the new millennium actually began in 2001—the first year of the new epoch—most people celebrated the odometer change from 1999 to 2000. (In our IT department we had to deal with the Y-to-K issue. We spent a huge amount of time going through all corporate documentation and changing all those “Y”s to “K”s.  It was never clear why that was so important, but we got it done and just in time for the party.)

The baseball world was all agog this past week, because New York Yankee Derek Jeter got his 3000th hit (and he did it with a home run, a feat only ever equaled by Wade Boggs back in 1999—the last year of the previous millennium). Seems like getting 2999 (or 3001) hits is a pretty big deal, but 3000 is a record book entry.

In particular, we revere the major odometer numbers—the ones with all zeros (except for the “1” on the very left): 10; 100; 1000; 10,000; 100,000; 1,000,000; etc. There is, perhaps, an instinctive reason for this. These numbers represent the digit positions themselves and are the basis of how we naturally represent numbers.

And they progress upon themselves:

  • 100 = (10 x 10)
  • 1000 = (10 x 10 x 10)
  • 10,000 = (10 x 10 x 10 x 10)
  • (and so forth)

As we’ll explore some other time, they can also be represented like this:

  • 10 = 101
  • 100 = 102
  • 1000 = 103
  • 10,000 = 104
  • (and so forth)

But for now, Sidebands are 10.  Happy 1oth!