Prime number days and consecutive odds days

Today’s date is made up entirely of prime numbers: 7, 5, and 2011. I’m sure you already noticed that, because you’re already aware that 2011 is a prime number, and so you’re watching for the fifty-two dates this year made up entirely of prime numbers. Which means that you have also noticed that there are three prime number Sundays this month, which is the greatest number of prime number Sundays you can have in any month.

However, you may not have thought about the fact that Saturday’s date is made up of consecutive odd numbers (if, that is, you define the number of the present year to be 11, as it is often written, rather than 2011). Ron Gordon of Redwood City has thought about it, and has received national press in his efforts to promote what he calls Odd Day. I’d have to say that a more precise name would be Consecutive Odds Days, but I recognize that “Odd Day” is a catchier name.

Using Gordon’s definition, there are six Odd Days per century. For purists who believe that a number is a number, dammit, and you can’t just arbitrarily chop off the digits to the left of the tens place, there were only six true Odd Days ever using our present system of numbering years, and those happened even before our present system was in place. While this notion might disturb you, it is probably more satisfying to the pure mathematician, for the pure mathematician prefers things that don’t actually exist.

Yet another UU joke

I interviewed Nick Page for the GA blog, and he told this joke. I reproduce it here just as Nick told it:

“Ernie came from Dartmouth [College], where he heard a lecture on altruism. And he said, we all have to learn to share. So I said, if you had two pigs, would you give me one? Yes, he said, if I had two pigs, I would give you one. If you had two horses, would you give me one? Yes, he said, if I had two horses, I would give you one. If you had two wheelbarrows, I said, would you give me one? Dammit, he says, you know I got two wheelbarrows. And that speaks to the future of Unitarian Universalism.”

You are now invited to exegete this joke, and say how exactly it applies to the future of Unitarian Universalism

Inside “La Cabeza” by Niki de Saint Phalle

“La Cabeza” is part of the show “Creation of a New Mythology,” now at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art in Charlotte, N.C. Five monumental sculptures are outdoors in a public park across the street from the museum; and you can climb inside this sculpture. You can also stick your arm through its teeth.

Pee on Earth Day is June 21

Don’t forget that Pee on Earth Day is June 21 in the northern hemisphere. According to Carol, clean water is becoming an increasingly scarce commodity in many parts of the world, so flushing urine (which is basically sterile) down the drain with a couple of gallons of perfectly good drinking water doesn’t make sense. Make a political statement tomorrow, and promote pee on earth.

More information, including proper urine/water dilution ratio for plants, can be found here.


We arrived in Memphis in the middle of the afternoon. We are here to act like tourists. The Center for Southern Folklore was closed, so we walked along the bank of the Mississippi River, and saw the cobblestone landing where river boats have been landing for the past 150 years. Carol found W. C. Handy’s small little shotgun house — W. C. Handy! I couldn’t believe it! — and she took a picture of me sitting stiffly on the front porch. We ate dinner at B.B. King’s Restaurant, hoping to hear Blind Mississippi Morris, but he was feeling under the weather and when two young men started playing Eric Clapton, we left. We took photographs of the Purple Martin houses on Memphis rooftops, and I watched the the Common Nighthawks swooping overhead calling, “peent, peent.” We talked to a guitarist in Central Station, the old railroad station still used by Amtrak; he was waiting for the City of New Orleans, and playing his guitar in that huge cavernous space while he waited. And after the sun went down, we walked down Beale Street at night, listened to the blues pouring out of the windows of the clubs, and watched the people walking up and down the street.

It was a satisfyingly touristy day.

The joy of cars

It is fashionable among religious and political liberals to bemoan the existence of automobiles, particularly because their environmental impact. I do it all the time. Of course, if you’re like me, you’re familiar with various counter arguments that tell us why cars are not so bad as all that:– we know that suburban sprawl began long before the automobile age, and so doesn’t require automobiles — and that having automobiles was better than using horses for transportation purposes, since the exhaust put out by horses in cities is arguably more noisome and a greater public health issue than automobile exhaust, and the maltreatment of horses when they were used primarily as transportation is arguably an ethical problem as serious as that of sprawl.

However, I don’t see many of us paying attention to what might be called the cultural argument in favor of cars. This argument is presented quite well by Agatha Christie in her autobiography:

Oh, the joy that car [the first car she owned] was to me! I don’t suppose anyone nowadys could believe the difference it made to one’s life [to own a car for the first time]. To be able to go anywhere you chose; to places beyond the reach of your legs — it widened your whole horizon. One of the greatest pleasures I had out of the car was going down to Ashfield and taking mother out for drives. She enjoyed it passionately, just as I did. We went to all sorts of places — Dartmoor, the house of friends she had never been able to see because of the difficulties of transport — and the sheer joy of driving was enough for both of us. I don’t think anything has given me more pleasure, more joy of achievement, than my dear bottle-nosed Morris Cowley.

Yes, I hate suburban sprawl, and I dislike having to commute to work by car,– but I too, like Agatha Christie, love to drive. And I have found that it is no use to me personally to address the first two points without acknowledging that last point. What about you?

Midnight in New York

The movie theatre was in the middle of the block, and the line to get in already stretched to the corner. It was forty minutes before the movie began. We had our tickets already — the early show was already sold out by the time we showed up, so we had bought tickets for the seven o’clock — but we figured that if we wanted to get seats together, we had better line up with all the others. Pretty soon, the line was twice as long.

Someone walking by to get to the end of the line said, “All these people must’ve started seeing Woody Allen films when they were in college and here they all are.” But several people had brought children and teenagers, so that wasn’t entirely true. Someone else said that there are three hundred seats in this theatre, but usually only a couple dozen are filled. Not tonight, though. A man standing behind us talked knowledgeably and at length about other Woody Allen films: “Remember the scene where they’re standing in line to see the movie in ‘Annie Hall’? … Then Marshall McLuhan walks up, and says … And Woody Allen looks out at the camera and says …” A woman said, “I can’t remember the last time I stood in line on the first night of a movie.” The knowledgeable man said, “It already opened in New York and L.A. This is just opening night for the Bay area. But at least it still hasn’t opened in Pittsburgh.”

At last the line started moving. We found two seats together, at the very back, with an aisle seat for my very long legs. A couple, maybe in their late twenties or early thirties, asked if the seats beside us were open, and we said yes. He went off to get something or other, and she said to us, “Do you think we’ll be able to see back here?” “It’s a small theater,” said Carol. “Those must be the last two seats left together,” I said. “Well, it’s much better to sit together,” said the woman. They came and went a couple of times, and on the last time in, he murmured an apology, and she said, “It’s our first movie together.”

I won’t tell you anything about the movie; anything I could tell you would spoil it. Except I can tell you that although the movie claims to be about Paris, it’s really about New York, like all of Woody Allen’s movies; everyone speaks with a New York rhythm, except the Parisians of course, but they might just be tourists. Come to think of it, many of the people in the movie theatre sounded like they came from New York — not the Bronx or Staten Island, mind you, but Manhattan.

Bike party

We came out of the theatre at about eleven o’clock and looked to see if it was safe to cross the street. A whole passel of bicycles was coming at us. “Bike party!” said one of the bicyclists as they came near. We watched for about five minutes as clumps of bicycles passed by. There was a break in the bikes, and I scurried across; Carol wiated for another couple of minutes for another break in the bikes before she got across. There were enough bikes that we weren’t going to be able to get the car out easily, so we stood on the sidewalk and watched. Hardly anyone seemed to be talking to one another, except that everyone once in a while someone say, “Bike party!” A few of the bikes were playing recorded music ranging from rap to norteno to classic rock. Two daredevils rode too fast and weaved in and out of the other bikes, but most people just rode along fairly sedately. It looked a little boring to me, but then I never was one for making long bike rides in a group. Finally, along came two motorcycle cops, a few stragglers on bikes, and that was it. We got in our car and drove home.

Sex in the news

Three of the biggest stories in the news today involve sex or sexual morality: Dominique Strauss-Kahn, head of the International Monetary Fund, is in the news for allegedly committing sexual assault on a housekeeper at a New York hotel; Arnold Schwarzenegger has admitted that he fathered a child with a woman who was a domestic worker at his mansion; and the Roman Catholics say that the incidence of priests sexually abusing minors increased greatly during the 1960s due to the sexual revolution.

Each of these news stories centers around someone in power engaging in sexual acts with someone who was relatively powerless — a domestic worker, a low-wage hotel worker, legal minors. Or to put it another way, these stories aren’t about sex so much as they are about the misuse of personal power.