Les Schaffer schaffer at
Mon Apr 2 12:23:58 MDT 2001

Jim Farmelant said:

> Nor did the invention of the calculus lead to any sort of an
> immediate resolution of Zeno's Paradoxes.

i must admit, i find zeno's paradox something of a bore. i tried all
day yesterday to make it seem important, but never could fully
succeed, ...

... until, i was so bored i wandered off to surf TV. as i was watching
the end of a movie on a commercial station, an advertisement came
on. i was reminded of the timing of commercials, based on observations
i have made in the past. to wit: From the beginning, the movie runs
uninterrupted for about 22 or 23 minutes, then comes the first
commercial, which lasts only one or two minutes. the next commercials
are then delayed in the following stereotypically sequence: 18, 15,
13, 12, 8, 8, 5, ... minutes, and so on. meanwhile, the length and
number of ads increased during each commercial pause. in the limit as
n approaches infinity, the viewer becomes bored stiff with the movie,
and never arrives truly at the end of the story.  Meanwhile, the
brain's supply of needless memories of commercial products approaches
measure one (full up). [1]

convinced, however, that there must be more to zeno's paradox than
meets the eye, i decided to try an experiment. last nite when i laid
down to bed, i decided i would fall asleep within 4 breaths. and also
that i would mentally mark the half way point, and half way again,
etc. so at 2 breaths, i made a mental note, another breath and a half,
another mental note. approximately 3/4 of a breath, one more mental
note. i managed one more zeno's marking, after which i fell off to

such is the effect of zeno's paradox on one scientist/engineer: it
inspires one to midnite meetings with platonic ideas, only to end in
restful slumber.

more on calculus later.

les schaffer

[1] The movie i watched was On The Waterfront, directed by named-namer
Elie Kazan. The last commercial took place just as Marlon Brando
discovers his pigeons had been slaughtered. He sits staring out at the
waterfront, watching a ship go by, and then gets to his feet, grabs
his metal hook, and marches down to the docks. Bang! A
commercial. Talk about release of tension.

I was told after the movie that one interpretation of the film was
that it represented Kazan's rationale for naming names in HUAC. So,
just as marlon brando was right to rat out Lee J. Cobb, so Kazan was
correct in ratting out whoever it was he ratted out.


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