Friday, January 28, 2011

Mathematical Certainties and

We've all heard it a million times: "Anything's possible."

No.  It's not.

There are plenty of IMpossible things, regardless of whatever your optimistic smoke-blowing belief system may tell you.  There are also IMpossible things on the pessimistic, fatalistic side of the bong room as well.  Don't think you sullen moaners are off the hook here either.

If you ever bothered to pay attention in Math class, you may have heard of something call a "limit".  In case you were passed out in the locker room with a bong in your hand and your underwear draped over your head that day: A limit is essentially, an average value that represents the closest you will get to zero without ever reaching it.  It's most often used with respect to mathematical functions, like 1/x or 1/x2.  As you increase the value of x, the resultant value is smaller and therefore approaches zero.  But it can NEVER get there.

For most adolesent males, this can be demonstrated by the "hot chick" at the party.  The one that is way out of your league.  You bring her drinks.  You attempt to charm her with your wittiness, even while sporting your Star Wars or "No place like" t-shirt and Wayne's World ball cap.  No matter what you do, she's not taking the bait.  The point when you give up is sort of what the "limit" would be (as you approach the zero chance of scoring).

Pfft.  And some folks wonder how I couldn't possibly teach high school math….

This concept, tangentially, also applies to probabilities.  At least in my short-circuited, hops drowned cranium - it does.  And perception IS reality, well, then my axiom holds true by transitive reasoning.  I said all that with a beer in my right hand, sometimes I impress the shit out of myself.  Heh.  Where was I?  Oh yeah: limits, probabilities and impossibilities…

When someone, usually me, says "That's impossible", it's not uncommon for some irritatingly obnoxious optimist to rebuff that with something uber-deep like "Yes, it is".  Whoa.  The depth is dizzying.  I may have to put down my Wittgenstein book and step away from the ledge over that one.  Well, I hate to take a dump on your optimism dinner plate, but I can rattle off a few "impossible" things that can mathematically be proven to be so improbable as to qualify (by virtue of my bong-fest transitive limits theorem above) as being IMPOSSIBLE, at least as long as humans inhabit this ball of dirt and water:

  • Peace throughout the Middle East
  • The end of world hunger
  • Zero crime
  • A political system that truly serves the people
  • I will ever catch up on my bills

I'm a pragmatist.  I don't care what Webster's defines that word to be.  I define it as "to an optimist we are pessimistic, and to a pessimist we are optimistic". Centrist.  So that means (you probably guessed it already), that this theorem is reversible.  So, there are also postulates for pessimistic functional applicability (say that with a mouth-full of beer!  Go ahead…). Some stupid examples - drum roll please…

  • The world will end on Jan 1, 2012
  • The world will end on Nov 11, 2011
  • AIDS would destroy mankind
  • SARS/Avian Flu/H1N1 would destroy mankind
  • Tsunamis are waiting to kill us all any day now

You get the picture.  Consistency is the single most important aspect to anything we say or do on this Earth.  Whatever you do, be consistent. With your logic.  With your advice.  With your work ethic.  With your actions.  ALWAYS BE CONSISTENT.  If your views on things cannot be applied with equal validity to ALL situations, then they are invalid.  1 + 1 cannot equal 2 some of the time.  It has to be true all of the time.

So, my theorem then, applies to optimism, pessimism and to my own deluded internal beliefs, so it is therefore perfect.  The net result?  Extremism is dumb as shit.  Any questions?  Don't worry.  I wasn't expecting any.  Where's my beer?…

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