We are a few days away from Opening Ceremonies, stumbling and bumbling our way into a Games postponed a year and now without live spectators. But the athletes have waited and trained and practiced and now it’s Their Time.
There will be some changes for Tokyo 2020, not the least of which will be boxes of face masks and gallons of hand sanitizer. It’s not even really weird that the year these contests are being held is not the year they will be named (Wha? Not Tokyo 2021? Nope).
Consider that the Games of the VI Olympiad were in Berlin, in 1916. Didn’t know about those? They were cancelled because of World War I, but the IOC kept them in the official list. Whereas the IOC didn’t include the 1906 Games in Athens, which are now called the Intercalated Games, because the IOC didn’t run them. Whenever you wonder why the IOC is doing something out-of-touch with reality, just remember the VI Olympiad.
But these changes are exciting, so let’s discuss. Let’s talk about some of the new sports, the new Mixed Teams, and the new peoples we will see competing.
A circle is an infinite number of points all equally distant from a single center. That definition came from Euclid, a Greek, although the Greek’s didn’t use zero. Aristotle was afraid to divide by the void because it wasn’t descriptive of the real world.
The Chinese and the Sumerians used placeholders in their counting, adopting different marks for the tens and the 60s digit, since Babylonians used base 60. But they didn’t have a zero.
The Mayans had a zero–they used base 20–which allowed them to produce large astronomical calculations that generated accurate solar and lunar calendars using only sticks. But their isolation prevented trade, which limited their civilization.
The Romans had zero, of course! Nulla. The Romans had sophisticated plumbing and developed roads that lasted for millenia. But Romans disdained to use nulla in their numbering systems, so even though their business records were hierarchical and detailed, they were limited. Growth is limited if a number like 397,654 is CCCXCVMMDCLIV.
The Arabs developed zero; they developed algebra. But the Arabs learned it from the Hindus.
The Yield Curve is a simple idea with surprising predictive power. The Yield Curve is a magic eight ball, which tells the interpreter what they want to hear. The Curve is a bunch of numbers. The Curve tells you everything that happened, but only in retrospect.
All of the above.
People really wax poetic about the yield curve. There’s one guy at NPR that goes ga-ga over the yield curve and has done podcasts on it with clock-like regularity:
GARCIA: …I got to say, it is one of my favorite indicators. SMITH: Cardiff, you love the yield curve. GARCIA: Very much. SMITH: Every time we talk about the yield curve, you kind of light up. And I have no idea why this is the case.