18 February, 2008


Controversy rages among the Witterers. LSS is impressed that the Arabs invented the concept of zero. I, personally, don't see why that is impressive. What's difficult about being able to see that if you have 5 beans and you take them all away that you have nothing left? Perfectly bleeding obvious, if you ask me. What kind of answer had earlier civilisations been coming up with when asked the question, what is five beans take away five beans, if not zero? It's not so much that the Arabs were brilliant as that the earlier bunch must have been dead thick, it seems to me.

I spent most of Sunday organising our books (driven mad by my inability to find our copy of Alasdair Sawday's Bed and Breakfasts). They are now sorted into: novels, short stories, poetry, drama, biography, history, travel, reference, and everything else. Sub-categories and alphabetical order will have to wait until we have moved into our new house with its wall-to-wall built-in bookshelves.


Blogger Tiny said...

I tried to categorize my books into: Western language and Asian language, then further subdivide into novels, food-related, travel-related, and other non-fiction. However, due to limited space, I try to squeeze in a book if I can find the space to do so. So, I don't really have a system anymore.

12:33 am  
Blogger Songshards said...

Wall-to-wall book shelves. Dreamy!

1:16 am  
Blogger ulaca said...

Baldrick's system is glorious for its simplicity and generalisability.

To take your example, if you have 5 beans and you take them all away, you still have *some* beans.

Used by accountants the world over.


2:02 am  
Blogger dgny said...

Advice from Baldrick. Riiiight.

I'm with you on Zero, Phiz. They might be the first to write it down or give it a name, but I find it hard to believe that no one else had noticed NOTHING before that. A lot like the G when he explains how the world works to me, shaking his head, while I just grin and act like it's all news to me.

3:30 am  
Blogger SMW said...

No, no, no, I'm completely with LSS on this. If you don't think about zero, how do you cross the barrier from have to don't have to owe? Oh, I forgot, you never check your bank statements.

Besides which, zero is such a beautiful symbol. It's everything surrounding nothing, man, the perfect circle.

Ah, this brings back blissful memories of being aged 18, sitting round a coffee table with some other losers, debating whose proof of some abstract thing-that-comes-before-a-theorem was most concise, most elegant, most useless.

10:06 am  
Blogger dgny said...

...and Gitanes.

2:23 pm  
Blogger FBT said...

I'm not saying zero isn't a wonderful useful thing, I'm just saying it isn't bloody difficult to come up with. I don't think I would have needed Mr Al Jibr in the 8th century or whenever to think it up.

10:34 pm  
Blogger SMW said...

Afraid this was in England, DG, nothing so sophisticated - just lots of vodka if I remember rightly.

Disagree Phiz, I think it was difficult to come up with something that expressed the idea of nothing. Even to realise the necessity of having such a concept.

10:02 am  
Blogger dgny said...

Whaaat? Not even cloves? Ah, well, at least the vodka would have given a suitably socialist vibe.

3:58 pm  
Blogger FBT said...

SMW - that my dear is because you have so much of everything. Down here in the gutter, it is all too easy to come up with the idea of having nothing. Sob.

9:25 pm  
Blogger ulaca said...

SMW, the ability to observe the absences and silences is a mark of the intelligent and the understanding person, no?

1:30 am  
Blogger SMW said...

Simply replying to your beautifully expressed proposition, Ulaca, is I fear a very neat reductio ad absurbum that it could possibly apply to anyone desperate for the last word on the matter.

6:25 am  
Blogger 962 said...

Zero it we have only one to nine

10:30 am  

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