June 13, 2006

Overheard in Boston

Walking down to work along the bike-path here (same route to train station - so lotsa other people also walking...btw, speaking of walking, I read recently that after San Fransisco, Boston is supposed to be the city with the most fit people), I overheard this conversation...will replay it here in bits-n-pieces, like I heard it:

...stocks...magical thinking.. the butterfly that flapped its wings in Panama to cause a hurricane in Asia (chaos theory)... I buy stocks and the stock market goes down and a million other people have the same experience... blah blah blah...
... no.. he didn't say "blah blah blah"..but I missed the conversation thereafter as that was all the time it took for me to overtake them and move on..

Point being... this is probably one of the few cities where people in early morning to-work conversation discuss chaos theory as a possible explanation for stock market fluctuations! True that what he was saying was not some well-thought out and not necessarily meaningful theory either...most likely it was mere pontification (phatts!) based on some random tidbit of knowledge of chaos theory (or who knows..maybe he's a Math professor at one of the esteemed universities down the lane from here ..though I think not :)). In any case, I think, 90+% of all casual conversations (excluding business conversations which SOMETIMES achieve something) on this earth are garbage, inane, bogus, and meaningless... perhaps 8% is phatts like this and maybe 2% is intellectually stimulating and really interesting. The same can probably be said about the blog-space and even my mails maybe :) (I would like to imagine that my own blog is more 80-20 i.e. 80% stimulating and interesting and 20% inane... but hey.. no one other than me reads it and so thats what the poll/survey says :)

Speaking of polls, I am reading a book called Coincidences, Chaos, and All That Math Jazz, which has some interesting tidbits I gleaned about numbers, about a poll debacle during the
1936 Presidential election due to survey of an un-representative sample of the population, and so on... but I'll blog/email about that later when I complete the book - am only 30% my way into the book right now. (Extending above theory to books - 90% books are garbage, 6-8% are interesting and stimulating and perhaps the top 1% (or less) are classics. This book would be in the top 6-8% - interesting but not a classic - category).

Enuf early morning pontification .. :)

P.S. A friend points me out to a "Overheard in New York" site and says I should perhaps start a similar one for Boston. I do not overhear too many things actually ..today was an unusual event... and moreso am sure conversation in NYC is infinitely more funny, if a quick perusal of that page is any indication :) The same friend also points out that
"Sturgeon's Law says that "Ninety percent of everything is crap". Derived from a quote by science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon, who once said, "Sure, 90% of science fiction is crud. That's because 90% of everything is crud."" Well...though I independently made that up above, Sturgeon said the same thing more than 40 years back! Well, maybe there also is a 'law' that says that anything worth being said has already been said and thought of by someone before me! ;)

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