Bits and stuff: new calendars, woo and mathematical cakes – Sept 10, 2017

Popular Science explains a new calendar proposed by economist Steve Hanke, which would adjust our calendar to a less random, more efficient structure. We would have four quarters of three months, each with 30 or 31 days. January 1st would always be on a Monday, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve always on a Sunday. Every five or six years we would adjust for the orbital drift by having a work-free “Leap Week”.

It makes sense. We would waste less time jiggling calendars. But it is unfortunately unlikely to happen, since we tend to resist change. Getting rid of daylight savings time might be a better first step, to get us in the mindset.

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Finally, we have a good definition of “woo”, from Preston Byrne:

“Woo is understood specifically as dressing itself in the trappings of science (but not the substance) while involving unscientific concepts, such as anecdotal evidence and sciencey-sounding words.”

He holds up ethereum as an example of “woo”, especially its claims to be “a world computer”.

It seems to me that this argument is beside the point, in that it depends on what your understanding of a “computer” is. If to you a computer is a device, then no, ethereum is not. Yet if you understand “computing” to be more of a function than a thing, then maybe. Either way, it’s not important – I, too, get pissed off with annoying and meaningless hype. But, beyond that, it’s not important.

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From “The Sovereign Individual”, by William Rees-Mogg and James Dale Davidson:

“Whenever technological change has divorced the old forms from the new moving forces of the economy, moral standards shift, and people begin to treat those in command of the old institutions with growing disdain… This widespread revulsion often comes into evidence well before people develop a new coherent ideology of change.”

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These are cakes, not modern art sculptures… Cakes… Awesome. By Dinara Kasko, via Colossal.

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all images by Dinara Kasko via Colossal

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