2002 is an interesting year, digitally speaking, being represented, as it is, by a palindromic number. Now I'm sure you know all about palindromes, those strange exercises in not having a life wherein someone spends absolute ages working out a sentence that reads the same backwards as forwards---Look for example at 'Madam I'm Adam' which took (according to some theories) all the time since the beginning of the world to work out.
Or take the Napoleonic 'Able was I ere I saw Elba' which just goes to show the lamentable convolutions some of these unfortunates get themselves wound into especially when they manage the unusual feat of maintaining the word spaces in addition to the mere letters. Or then again there is the famous 'A man, a plan, a canal--Panama!' which some unknown sicko (and a sicko therefore who may, as far as you know, still be lurking in your neighbourhood) extended to:
A man, a plan, a canoe, pasta, heros, rajahs, And, not having THAT much of a life myself, I checked and, apart from the fact that he can't spell 'heroes', it does work letter for letter in both directions! Now this last example clearly shows the almost religious intensity of the Palindromist (or as I'm sure they would really rather be called for purely practical reasons, the Tsimord nilap, so expect to see that term in future self-referential palindromes) and that brings us right back to our beginning----that an interesting year is 2002.
a coloratura, maps, snipe, percale, macaroni, a gag,
a banana bag, a tan, a tag, a banana bag again
(or a camel), a crepe, pins, Spam, a rut, a Rolo,
cash, a jar, sore hats, a peon, a canal--Panama!
You see my researches into palindromic numbers, specifically as they apply to dates have lead me to the inescapable conclusion that the world will end next Saturday or, if we do happen by some weirdness to still be here next Sunday, that because of the over-arching symmetry of the universe, next Saturday will be the mid-point of existence and that all we will then have to do is to find the exact date of creation and we will be able to multiply it by two and predict the exact date of The End---and I leave that calculation as a simple exercise for the listener.
Let me now instead bring you into my esoteric world of higher mathematics and explain my reasoning. You may have noticed that the world is roundish, and (unless you are extremely cross eyed) that we have pretty precisely one Sun. This has given rise to our habit of having different times as we travel round the globe, largely to avoid the embarrassment of having things like dawn at, say, midnight or, even worse at eight o'clock in the evening. But, of course, for the convenience of travel and business and so forth we divide the globe up into time zones, but actually the real local time varies continuously so that at any moment you can find some line of longitude with any actual real time of day. And, of course too, for scientific purposes they use a single system UTC (which is really just a spiteful and anti-British way of saying Greenwich Mean Time, not that that matters now.)
Under this system the winter solstice is going to come at fourteen minutes past one on the morning of 22nd December. But if you followed my argument you'll see with horror that there is a line of longitude, 80Deg 35min 59sec which even more ominously is somewhere to the left of Buffalo, where the solstice falls at two minutes past eight on the evening of December 21st or in other words (and using, as I hope you all do, Military time) 20:02, 12/21, 2002 a palindrome made of three palindromes---surely this can mean nothing else than that the world will split in half (just to the left of Buffalo). . .
Cheerio for now and possibly ever
from Richard Howland-Bolton
November 2005---New Scientist has either stolen my word or convergently evolved it in it's Feedback column "Words for inverted actions ...our piece about emordnilap words - words that form a new word when spelt backwards, such as 'swap' and 'paws' (1 October)"
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