Coffee and cigarettes…

September 15, 2009

RIP Dr. Norman Borlaug

Filed under: brain candy — techrat @ 8:29 am

The world lost its greatest treasure on September 12th, and I’d wager just about anyone reading this has never heard of him until now. (Offer void if you’re on my FB friends list.)

Dr. Norman Borlaug is credited with having saved, during his career, over a billion lives. No, that’s not a typo. Dr. Borlaug’s work in agricultural improvements has ensured more than 1,000,000,000 people worldwide have enough food. That, my friends, is a stunning figure, and I’m honestly hard-pressed to come up with a scenario that could possibly improve on that number.

You who know me know I am not easily given to wibbly sentimentality. But this man, from the moment I first heard of him and the work he’d been doing, instantly became a part of my personal pantheon of People I Want To Be Someday. He exemplifies that which I seek to grow in myself. He saw a problem, he thought of solutions to that problem, and despite all criticism and naysaying – of which there was a considerable amount – he made those solutions happen.

He’s widely credited for starting the Green Revolution – improvements in farming techniques and applied selective breeding to improve crop yields, shorten growing seasons and otherwise make it easier to extract more from the earth and put it into people’s bellies. His motivation wasn’t fame or fortune – in fact, he actively eschewed these things. He just wanted to do something to make the world a better place.

Look him up. And then look up to him.

September 4, 2009

double negativity

Filed under: brain candy — techrat @ 10:02 am

Recently, while driving between the Eastern Fortress and the Geekplex, I wound up behind a giant, sticker-festooned SUV. This being Tampa, I didn’t consider this terribly uncommon. There were the usual “NObama” and “My kid’s an honor student” adornments, but one in particular stuck in my head.

The back window was dominated by a drawing of a very angry-looking Pit Bull Terrier, and surrounding it were these words:  “If it ain’t a Pit, it ain’t shit!”

What we have here, basically, is the statement: “If not A, then not B.”

The rules of logic are vicious and unforgiving. If the statement evaluates as true – and we must assume it does because it’s being stated in an axiomatic manner – then it’s a logical necessity that the contrapositive must also be true. Flip A and B,  take out the nots, and we find the contrapositive to be: “If B, then A.”

Plug back in our terms, and the statement becomes “If it’s shit, it’s a Pit”.

Moral of the story: double negatives are bad. And, quite often, they’re unintentionally funny.

Powered by WordPress