About that cat

Mathematics has always been a numbing topic to most people. Yet, innately, all people utilize math in their everyday lives. The human brain doesn’t call it math; the brain may concede a visible logic to things, for example, don’t put on your coat before you put on your shirt but usually it isn’t about math, it’s about common sense. So the brain helps out immensely by learning wordless formulas to make sense of everything. Just as spoken language has a structure behind it called grammar, science of every kind depends on a similar grammar but not about words, it’s about physical laws – Nature.

To make things more complex, there are different kinds of math that use different realities to construct mathematical truths. Most everyone suffers through algebra, trigonometry, geometry, and perhaps laws of motion in Physics class. All these categories are in one realm of reality: Newtonian Physics – remember the guy that had an apple fall on his head so he devised a mathematic definition for gravity. Well heck, humans don’t need math to know about gravity – what goes up must come down; the brain has a handle on it.

Then along comes Einstein, AKA Einsteinian physics or the theory of relativity. Einstein said that the Earth moves toward the apple as much as the apple moves toward the Earth. Wait a minute, the brain doesn’t know about the Earth moving. That’s because the movement is relative to the mass of the apple and the mass of the Earth. If one thinks about this situation hard enough and is lucky to fathom Einstein’s version of common sense, the passing of time also is involved. Time must move around mass. As the Earth and the apple move toward each other time is slowed because it must flow around their mass. – but just in a really, really tiny space around each object. Should a person have two sensitive clocks one at the front of the apple and the other at the back showing identical time, surely (hah) one realizes that the time at the front of the apple will be ahead of the time behind the apple when all is said and done. Somewhat associated with this is the phenomenon that if astronauts spend years in space moving at high speeds, when they return they will be much younger than their classmates.

Einstein is a prerequisite before moving on to really weird mathematics about reality. It’s called Quantum Physics. Newton’s reality was about normal stuff like apples and snow. Einstein was more comfortable among very large bodies like stars and planets and time at very high speeds. Quantum physics deals with reality in subatomic space, that is, how electrons, neurons, quasars and other tiny stuff behave. It is also the reason mariner has written all this math stuff.

Because Quantum Physics is so unlike the other very finite mathematics, it takes more than an apple to comprehend Quantum Physics. For example, the line between past events and future events is blurred; in a sense, there is no present. What the past brings to the table, however, will determine any number of outcomes. To help those who haven’t grasped this past-future relationship, a famous metaphor is ‘Schrödinger’s cat’:

Mariner brings to the reader a box. In this box is a cat. Is it alive? Is it dead? A rational reader would say, “How do I know?” That’s because humans are born and bred to reason in finite terms. The correct answer, in Quantum Physics is, “Yes.” Until an event occurs that opens the box, only then will the finite answer be known. This is an example of how the past and future are interdependent without a present.

But now to the title of this post. Mariner has construed another example that may be easier to accept. Imagine the reader is traveling on an interstate. There is a ‘fast’ lane and a ‘slow’ lane. Frequently along the Interstate there are signs that say ‘slower traffic keep right’ (Let’s not open a box full of irritating comments about other drivers). As it turns out, the reader has the only vehicle in sight. Is the vehicle slow and moves to the right lane or is the vehicle fast and moves to the left lane? Logically, the answer is ‘yes.’ There are other factors like speed limit, weather, heavy load on a hill, etc. These variables give insight into the fact that scientists have predicted as many as 16 different futures for a subatomic particle in the same moment.

Thanks for tolerating the pontification.


Mariner watched an episode of “Dirty Money” on Netflix. It turned out to be free of pundit interpretations and approached the Wells Fargo abuses from the point of view of line staff that had worked for Wells Fargo. The wrong doing, which is now in court and has the attention of the House of Representatives, is what Wells Fargo calls ‘cross-selling’, that is, in an honest sales pitch, convincing customers to open more than one account. For example, a customer should have at least two checking accounts, a debit card, a credit card, a retirement savings account, a loan or mortgage and a few more savings accounts. To the stock market and shareholders, all these accounts represented growth so Wells Fargo stock kept rising in value.

At the line level, called personal bankers, it was run like a sweat shop. The bankers had quotas that were unreasonable and even irrational. Eventually, with awareness on the part of management all the way to the CEO, the personal bankers ran out of friends and family members to foist accounts onto and began creating accounts without consulting the customers. Large numbers of customers had many accounts they were not aware of until collection agencies began calling them for not paying account fees.

Needless to say cross-selling, while legal to an extent, is not a good banking practice in any case. The documentary was above average. If Elizabeth Warren watched it, she would need a tranquilizer.

Ancient Mariner


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