By The Numbers….

As I thought about those poor people in Texas two numbers stuck in my mind, 26 and 400. There were 26 killed and the population of Sutherland Springs was 400 give or take a few. Unfortunately today we look at this and shrug our shoulders because the slaughter that many people becomes commonplace and even mundane.

But it becomes altogether different when you realize that was approximately 15% of the town’s population. That percentage in Denver would have been 90,000 mowed down. In New York City the toll would have been 1,500,000 defenseless people. What would we have thought then?

We are influenced everywhere by numbers. It is quite fascinating to dwell upon how they interact with our daily lives. Perhaps a zillion times but I can’t tell you if such a number exists. I use the hyperbole because my poor brain can’t even fathom 456 to the umpteenth power. Mathematicians, actuarials, nuclear physicists always scare me. Probably because I feel so inadequate as I muse as to what is going on in their brain at any given point in time. Much more than mine.

We use numbers in sports ad nauseam. You have batting averages, point spreads, over unders and yards to the hole. Swimming race victors, pole vault champions and gymnasts are determined by one one thousandth of a second or point. Can we really cut it that close? Numbers definitely help in point shaving and fantasy whatever. Is it just me as it really gets annoying as you watch a football game. All I want is a score but we have to go through on screen every detail of the game with individual statistics to curry favor for this that play the game within the game.

Wall Street loves or hates numbers. GDP, unemployment rates, the average temperature on Gdansk, Poland all determine whether our personal fortunes go up or down. The unemployment rate is actually the result of a survey. They make phone calls to companies and say “How you doing?” They reply, not too good or not too bad and that determines our financial health as a nation. But then there are hidden numbers which tell you the real situation. How can we parse through all this to get a straight answer? Analysts come up with earnings estimates with is mean between 5 and 30 cents let’s say. Of course if the company beats estimates by 5 cents then they are geniuses and if you miss you are in stock market solitary….until the next set of numbers.

People bet on the numbers and have done so for decades. The Mafiosa in our queen cities throughout the country have lived the high life through their rackets. Of course we in our wisdom saw a chance for getting in on a good thing and created state lotteries and the infamous Powerball. In either case the poor are being promised wealth and fortune if only the can come up with the right number. Damn I missed last week by only three numbers. I think I am getting on a roll.

Numbers are a wonderful source of identifying places and things. Streets, interstates, parking spots and zip codes bring clarity to our lives. Seems our area codes keep changing and any vestige of personal identification is gone. I used to date a girl whose phone number was Eldorado 6 4938. I was on Long Island and that was in the New York City. Plaza 9 5000 was just that, the Plaza Hotel. The Lex subway is now the number four. Main Street is now Rte 24. I guess that is progress.

The Armed Services love numbers from your dog tag to the guided missile frigates to the platoon or division you are assigned to. We kept track of KIA’s in Nam but the really great thing was when you had actual body count. The higher-ups really got off on that. Almost like the Indians taking scalps. I kid you not. We also show convicted movie stars and Wall Street thieves with their mug shot and whatever their prison number is. It feels so good to see them degraded and sniveling.

Which of course brings us to the haves and have nots. The top 1% or those that live below the poverty line which in both cases is an estimate. As we have travelled the world and have seen yachts and condos and mansions in the multi, multi million dollar range Kath and I often wondered who can buy all these things? But if you really think about it, with a world population nearing 7 billion then the there would be 70 million people in that top 1% If you are not in the top 5% then you are really a piker.

As my head is spinning with all these numeral I have to look to numerologists.They go beyond seeing patterns. These people feel our whole lives are preordained by the alignment of this or that set of numerals. They see numbers in everything and the certain of them are completely taboo. In Chatham, New Jersey I had a business and had the phone number 201 635 6666. I thought it was pretty cool until someone told me it stood for the devil. Maybe it was an appropriate one at that.

Whether it is the number 13 or 7 or whatever they are just numbers. Someone said numbers don’t lie and they may be right. I for one do not put all my stock in them and in no way wanted to be considered as just a number. Our beauty as a person and our hearts and souls has got to be more than a formula or equation. Inside it is what makes us, us. You can’t put a number on that. At least not yet

As always
Ted The Great

Factoids:
• The numerical digits we use today such as 1, 2 and 3 are based on the Hindu-Arabic numeral system developed over 1000 years ago.
• Different names for the number 0 include zero, nought, naught, nil, zilch and zip.

What comes after a million, billion and trillion? A quadrillion, quintillion, sextillion, septillion, octillion, nonillion, decillion and undecillion. My favorite is still a gazillion.

• The name of the popular search engine ‘Google’ came from a misspelling of the word ‘googol’, which is a very large number (the number one followed by one hundred zeros to be exact). Which is probably why the company is worth so many hundreds of billions.

We have seven deadly sins, and seven wonders of the world. Not to mention colours of the rainbow, pillars of wisdom, seas, dwarves, days in the week…This might be because when these things came about there were celestial bodies visible in the sky (the Sun, the Moon, Venus, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn).

That’s all folks!

 

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