13. post lllO

August 10, 2012

lllO? That’s binary speak. (This is going to be a pretty tough one I’ll warn you now.)

I’m disnumerate. That’s what I call it. What I mean is I constantly get numerals or digits out of order. Tell me your number is 6972 and I’ll be dialling 6792, 6729, 6279— I need to concentrate very hard to get 6972 on the first go: “Sorry, Lola, meant to get back to you, it was a great evening.” I don’t do this with spelling, so the word dyslectic seems misleading to my ear (incidentally, I’ve dumped that stupid y which makes dies-lectic!! for a simple i: dis-lectic and, emphatically, I don’t care what experts say about it, I’m disnumerate. Though I might be changing that to innumerate, but let’s leave it there).

Why was I talking about this? Binary. Well, for me, at first glance it seemed like the easy option; just O and l instead of O, l, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. In binary digits that’s all there are: O and l; zero and one. Ha,ha,ha,ha, yes… I realised very soon that easy it is not. If you count to a mere 64 in binary it comes out as lOOOOOOO, and no commas or spaces to help out—I told you this was a tough 1.

Now, one and seven zeros or lOOOOOOO may be no cause for concern for a computer, but for us it’s worse than the MCMLXXXIV they use when they want to make an inscription look impressive or fudge the issue of the year the film was made when you get the video out.

Truly, once the Arabs came up with zero, things were much simpler. But there’s such a thing as too simple, and l and O, and only l and O (binary) is too simple. Taking the computer’s example, we could count without the 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9, but who (apart from me) wants to try it?

That much said… being stuck with ten digits ain’t so simple either. Look at decimal division, divide 10 by 2. Simple-wimple?  Half of 10 is 5, half of 5 is 2.5, halve that and it’s 1.25, then 0.625, and 0.3125, 0.15625… how simple isn’t that!

The really missed opportunity was us not evolving with a thumb and three fingers like Mickey Mouseses, because—way back—when we first began counting up, we’d have had 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 and then 10 without 8 or 9. Then we’d be octal (even though I prefer octimal), and then division would be simple: 8 (10 in octal) divided by 2 would be 4, then 2, then—all important:1, then 0.4, 0.2, 0.1… now that is easy! Another bonus to the set-of-3 fingers would be for us artists who know to our cost how long it takes to draw hands. Pinkies? Apart from sticking them in your ear, what damned use are they? Yakuazas cottoned on to that very fast. Insimentally, the word ya-ku-za is Japanese for 8, 9, 3, the worst hand in Japanese gambling (don’t ask).

Okay, a few musical instruments would have to be redesigned, but it’s not the end of the world. If Ravel could write a decent piano concerto for left hand only then he could surely have written good no-pinkie stuff for Yakuzas and Mickey Mouses—and so too could that Mozart and the rest. Nothing like a challenge. And eights aren’t that weird; composers never complained about music being written in octaves. Ah-ha—good point!

Here’s another good point: There arelO kinds of people in the world, those who understand binary and those who don’t. I wish I could claim I came up wth that, but I found it on the Internet. I thought it was really witty. I hope, by now, you may too.

PS: Can some clever peep hungry for more, read up on hexadecimals? And when they’ve sussed it, come and explain to me?

One Response to “13. post lllO”

  1. Jeff Higgott Says:

    Hexadecimal? You will have to get used to A, B, C, D, E and F being numbers as well as letters. Some say it is just fad (or 4013 in decimal).

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