The (Not Really) ‘Impossible Order of Operations’ Problem

Tuesday 3 November 2020, 8.00pm HKT

WE’VE all seen this at some point in our lives:—

6 ÷ 2 ( 1 + 2) = ?

We all know it’s bait meant to start an online argument, especially to pit Americans with the rest of the world.

The ‘trick’ is that it’s banking on the average American’s poor numeracy and poor understanding of arithmetic and mathematical notation.

THE WRONG IMMEDIATE ACTION

The immediate action is to clarify whether (1+2) is attached to the whole “6 ÷ 2” or just the “2.” It’s also the wrong immediate action, by the way.

THE RIGHT IMMEDIATE ACTION

If you know what the notation in 6÷2(1+2) means, then you will know what to do — and ace it like a walking scientific calculator.

The proper immediate action is to stop using the arithmetic division symbol (÷) and put the whole thing into standard mathematical format using the fractional notation.

If you know your basic arithmetic and basic algebra, you need not even ask.

WHAT IT REALLY MEANS

In all of arithmetic and mathematics, the notation 6÷2(1+2) means this:—

which otherwise means

All scientific and algebraic calculators give the same answer — 9. So does Excel and Wolfram Alpha.

NOT THE MEANING YOU THINK IT MEANS

What 6÷2(1+2) doesn’t mean is this:—

So,

WHERE’S THE PROBLEM?

Americans (that is, USA people) read 6÷2(1+2) mostly in both linear and literary fashion — treating the thing like a sentence and the numbers like words — so that the (1+2) is attached to the deniminator 2 instead of the numerator 6 as per normal fractional multiplication.

PEMDAS is also problematic. BODMAS is taught as standard everywhere except in the USA. You’ll see why a bit later.

THREE WAYS TO SOLVE IT, BUSTER

1. Either use distributive property
2. Or solve in pairs
3. Or use BODMAS

It doesn’t matter which one to use. The answer is always 9. Always.

The simplest and most error-free is with BODMAS. You can do it linearly or notationally.

Linear BODMAS

Solve the bracketed stuff first but don’t bracket the result after solving it, or you will end up with the wrong order of operations.

6÷2 (1+2)

= 6÷2 × 3

= 3 × 3

= 9

Notational BODMAS (a.k.a. solve in pairs)

Fix the 6÷2 into an actual fraction. Then solve the bracketed stuff and the fraction separately.

6÷2 (1+2)

= 6/2 × (1+2)

= 3 × 3

= 9

Using distributive property

Treat 6÷2 as a whole entity and multiply it separately against the 1 and 2 in (1+2).

[6÷2] (1+2)

First [6÷2] × (1) = 3 × (1) = 3

Then [6÷2] × (+2) = 3 × (+2) = +6

Finally 3 + 6 = 9

Protip:— Since we have the two blocks [6÷2] and (1+2), solve the division block first and multiply that result with the 1 and 2 separately in the other block.

[6÷2] (1+2)

= [3] (1+2)

= [3×1] + [3×2]

= 3 + 6

= 9

THE PROOF, ONCE AND FOR ALL

Let’s put to rest this type of retarded online bait with the proof, once and for all.

In mathematics, what we don’t know is called a variable. We call that x.

6÷2 (1+2) = x

Now the part that is confusing you is (1+2) — let’s get rid of it.

So do unto one side as done to the other:—

The (1+2) cancels out on one side. Fix the 6÷2 into an actual fraction, and we are left with:—

Solve all we can for now:—

Isolate x:—

Solve out the brackets:—

Therefore the answer is x = 9

I’m not kidding when I say nearly all junior high students around the world outside the USA can do the above.

PEMDAS IS DYSLEXIC

This equation 6÷2(1+2) = ? in fact is a good test that PEMDAS doesn’t work.

6÷2 (1+2)

Step One — solve the brackets

6÷2 (1+2)

= 6÷2(3)

Step Two — multiply cuz PEMDAS

2(3)

= 6÷6

Step Three — divide cuz PEMDAS

6/6

= 1

Result: Wrong!

Step Two is where the average American is fallen on. Once you’ve solved the bracketed stuff, don’t keep the result bracketed. The teachers mean well to keep the brackets to aid visualisation, but that just wreaks mathematical understanding.

GUESS WHO DIDN’T LEARN HOW TO READ

But even if Step Two didn’t have an internal result in brackets, PEMDAS is so flawed that it just defies belief.

Division has priority over multiplication. End of discussion.

Does that compute, or do I have to draw you a schematic?

Guess what, when I was a kid and grew up for a while in the USA, the “America, Fuck Yeah!” memory aid taught to us was THIS:—

• PEDMAS — not PEMeffingDAS

It had always been PEDMAS in America all the way back to the 1940s, and then before that, BODMAS or BIDMAS.

Are there no Americans left who remembers this stuff?

Until (obviously) some dyslexic cnut misread and misremembered PEDMAS with the “D” and “M” switched around. And the rest is history, as they say.

In places like Japan, China, Korea and India traditionally well known for their people’s numeracy, pupils are taught the actual order of operations without any recourse to using aids like BODMAS (or their unique language versions of it). The average liberal arts student from those countries can generally outdo the average North American STEM student. Think about that for a second. I kid you not, peep’l.

When your basic aid for arithmetic has “M” before “D” then it really isn’t an aid — it’s an abortion.

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 03 Nov 2020. (B20.1103) All images by the author.

L’article crée le dimanche 31 octobre 2020. Touts images par l’auteur.

Tuesday 22 September 2020, 8.00pm HKT

CULTURAL MILIEU
WHY do we pretend old movies are good? Indeed, why even watch movies that were made before you were born?

Because they are?

Jane Russell as Rio McDonald in ‘The Outlaw’ (1941/43/46).

Universally acclaimed masterpieces of all time:—

1927 — Metropolis
1927 — Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

1931 — City Lights
1931 — M
1933 — King Kong
1936 — Modern Times

1940 — The Great Dictator
1941 — Citizen Kane
1942 — Casablanca
1946 — It’s a Wonderful Life
1948 — Ladri di biciclette (Bicycle Thieves)

1950 — Sunset Blvd.
1954 — Rear Window
1954 — Shichinin no Samurai (Seven Samurai)
1955 — The Night of the Hunter
1958 — Vertigo

1963 — 8½ (Otto e mezzo)
1968 — 2001: A Space Odyssey

1974 — The Godfather Part II
1975 — Jaws
1976 — Network
1976 — Taxi Driver
1977 — Star Wars IV: A New Hope

1980 — Raging Bull

Most of the movies from the the ’30s and ’40s, mister.

Let me add a few more (just a few) to the universal list:—

8½ / Otto e mezzo (1963)
12 Angry Men (1957)
49th Parallel (1941)
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

A Bridge Too Far (1977)
Alice in Wonderland (1951)
Alien (1979)
All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
Apocalypse Now (1976)

Back to the Future (1985)
Barry Lyndon (1975)
Ben-Hur (1959)
Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

Casablanca (1942)
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)
C’era una volta il West (Once Upon a Time in the West) (1968)
Charge of the Light Brigade (1938)
Citizen Kane (1941)
City Lights (1931)
Cleopatra (1963)
Coma (1978)
La mépris (Contempt) (1963)
Cool Hand Luke (1967)

Dark Star (1974)
Das Boot (1981)
Deathwish (1974)
Der Untergang (2004)
Dirty Harry (1971)
Doctor Zhivago (1965)
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Dr Strangelove (1964)
Dune (1984)

Easy Rider (1967)
Enter the Dragon (1971)

Fantasia (1940)
Far From the Madding Crowd (1915, 1967)
Farenheit 451 (1966)
Fargo (1996)
Forrest Gump (1994)
Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Gone with the Wind (1939)

Hulk (2003)

Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo (The Good, The Bad and the Ugly) (1966)
Intolerance (1916)
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

Jaws (1975)
Jesus Christ Superstar (1973)

King Kong (1933)

La dolce vita (1960)
La passion de Jeanne d’Arc (1928)
La règle du jeu (The Rules of the Game) (1939)
Ladri di biciclette (Bicycle Thieves) (1948)
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Life of Brian (1979)
Logan’s Run (1976)

M (1931)
Man with a Movie Camera (1929)
Memento (2000)
Metropolis (1927)
Modern Times (1936)
Mr Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
Mulholland Drive (2001)

Network (1976)
North by Northwest (1959)
Nosferatu (1922)

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
One Million Years BC (1966)

Patton (1970)
Peeping Tom (1960)
Per qualche dollaro in piú (For a Few Dollars More) (1965)
Planet of the Apes (1968)
Platoon (1986)
Predator (1987)
Pulp Fiction (1994)

Raging Bull (1980)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Ran (1985)
Rashōmon (1950)
Rear Window (1954)
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Rollerball (1974)
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Satyricon (1969)
Seven Days in May (1964)
Shaft (1971)
Shichinin no Samurai (1954)
Silent Running (1972)
Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
Solaris (1972, USSR original)
Some Like It Hot (1959)
Soylent Green (1973)
Spartacus (1950)
Stalag 17 (1953)
Stalker (1979, USSR original)
Star Wars IV: A New Hope (1977)
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)
Sunset Blvd. (1950)

Taxi Driver (1976)
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
The African Queen (1951)
The Andromeda Strain (1971)
The Big Sleep (1946)
The Boy Friend (1971)
The Current War (2019)
The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
The Dawn Patrol (1930 and 1937 versions)
The Exorcist (1973)
The Face of Dr Fu Manchu (1965)
The Forbidden Planet (1955)
The French Connection (1971)
The Full Monty (1997)
The Godfather (1972)
The Godfather Part II (1974)
The Great Dictator (1940)
The Great Escape (1963)
The Guns of Navarone (1961)
The Hunger (1983)
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
The Matrix (1999)
The Night of the Hunter (1955)
The Night of the Iguana (1964)
The Omega Man (1971)
The Prisoner of Zenda (1937)
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
The Sound of Music (1965)
The Sting (1973)
The Sun in a Net / Slnko v sieti (1963)
The Ten Commandments (1956)
The Terminator (1984)
The Thing (1982)
The Time Machine (1960)
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
The Year of Living Dangerously (1982)
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944)
THX 1138 (1971) — Huxley and Orwell meet French New Wave!
Tokyo Story (1953)
Toy Story (1994)

Vertigo (1954)

Wall-E (2008)
Waterloo (1973)
Westworld (1973)
Wild Strawberries (1957)
Woodstock (1970)

Zardoz (1974)
Zulu (1964)

Get Carter (1971) starring Michael Cain, and Sitting Target (1972) starring Oliver Reed — two notable modern movies aimed at giving an authentic feel of modern British life in the ’70s, despite both being ordinary crime action movies and not masterpieces cinematically.

Barry Lyndon (1975), directed by Stanley Kubrick

In the period piece Barry Lyndon (1975), Kubrick famously shot candlelit indoor scenes with a NASA ƒ/1.1 satellite lens to replicate how the naked eye sees things.

Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) has got to be one of the greatest musicals of the 20th century. The look on young people’s faces watching it TODAY is just priceless.

“This was made in 1973?! I swear I’m watching something that’s made this year or something.”Ex-colleague’s teenage daughter on watching Jesus Christ Superstar the first time in 2017

Far From the Madding Crowd (1967) makes you feel you’re someone living in the 1840s watching a contemporary movie also set in 1840s. The earlier version from 1915 isn’t too shabby either.

What about Titanic? The Shawshank Redemption? Lord of the Rings? Pulp Fiction? Mulholland Drive? Not implying any of these flicks are old.

These are all great films.

The point to appreciate is this isn’t a steeplechase of which movies are better or worse than others. It is this:–

• If it’s the old aesthetic that turns you off, then maybe you shouldn’t be sperging your opinions all over the place. Stick to your own capeshit. You are the cancer of cinema. You are why yee-yee-ass flicks are made each year.

I’m not going to deny Vertigo is shit. Horrible audio. Horrible visuals. Probably original for its time but not now. Terrible acting. Weird awkward cuts. But the storyline is great, which is why many still continue to watch it. Then again, you’re watching it on YouTube, where even The Age of Ultracondom Ultron comes off shit.

I mentioned Vertigo because it was the first thing that came to mind — it is what’s usually presented to any pleb as an example of a pre-’70s movie that’s interesting and looks modern. In fact, Vertigo is consistently the No. 1 or No. 2 best film of all time in all polls.

• There’s no magical year when movies just started getting better.

Movies simply got better over time. A good movie is more than the sum of its audiovisual, acting and storyline. There is no ‘cutoff’ year — to view good vs. bad movies in that way is just injecting red herrings. You’d be missing out a lot to look at things that way.

For instance, one scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) was just one step away from being a Monty Python skit. Yet the multinational power struggle in the scene’s subdued dialogue was pretty top of the line and realistic. You could argue that Star Wars IV: A New Hope (1977) was better, but then again, you’re comparing two completely different things.

There is more than one set of people who parade sold films as better, just as there are sets of people who react that NEW films are better.

How will your favourite films of today be considered tomorrow?

Your mum’s honeymoon sextape was pretty good. But I srsly doubt you’d want to watch it for more than two seconds at how you were conceived while your father looked on with glee at your mum being rammed senseless by the hotel chamberlain in dirty underwear.

PATRICIAN IMAGE

Of course, some honestly cannot understand the appeal of old movies. They ‘get it’ with the ones made after a certain year, but totally perplexed over anything before that. They think any ‘old’ movie is dull as f**k generally, and anything older than 20 years is garbage.

Twenty years isn’t old. The 9/11 attacks were already 19 years ago, and people speak of it as though it happened only yesterday. The World Wide Web dates from 1992, or 28 years ago. The first iPhone was launched 13 years ago in 2007, the same year the last major economic meltdown happened. The Internet has around 980 million sites and a third of them are less than a year old. Most people using the Internet aren’t even 20 years old yet.

What the hell are these people on about? Tell me a better decade for movies than the ’40s, ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.

To be brutally honest, it’s not like

• The Forbidden Planet (1955)
• Ben-Hur (1958)
• The Andromeda Strain (1971)
• Enter The Dragon (1971)
• Dirty Harry (1971)
• Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

were any harder to ‘get it’ than

• Star Wars IV (1977)
• Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
• Godzilla (1997)
• Mulholland Drive (2001)
• Inception (2010)
• Zombieland: Double Tap (2019)

I’m not saying you’ve got to maintain some sort of patrician image by watching boring old movies, bruv. The truth is, most movies from whatever era are bad and boring.

Watch Metropolis (1927) and you can easily see it’s better than practically any movie from any decade. That’s when you realise (or should realise) it isn’t ‘old’ movies that are bad — it’s just bad movies are bad.

So now you’re slowly learning. Protip: Piss off.

FLOORED

Several years ago, I was helping my ex-neighbour move out. His then 26-year-old son had a bunch of movie posters on his bedroom wall.

• “I think movies today are rubbish,” he quipped.

When was the last time he watched a recent movie?

• “Oh, like from 10 or 11 years ago.”

It transpired the guy just stopped watching everything after turning 13. Not even TV shows. His favourite movies were The Matrix (1999), Titanic (1997), and Crouching Tiger Hidden Condom Dragon (2000).

What about music and books? Artwork?

• Though some early ’70s music to him are good, his favourite bands are all from the ’90s, 2000s and 2010s.
• He said he only ever read books post-Mr Goodbar (by Judith Rossner, 1975). Though he understood that books have been around for thousands of years, to him anything before Mr Goodbar isn’t “modern art.”
• He didn’t care for art made before 1990, the year he was born.

I was floored by this.

Here we have was a grown man in his mid-20s whose entire ‘cultural’ universe revolved around an intensely narrow timeframe:—

1. MOVIES — 13 years from 1990 to 2003 (when he stopped watching at age 13)
2. TV — nil, but let’s say 1 year
4. MUSIC — 30 years (1990–2010s)
5. ART — 30 years (1990–2010s)

So this 26 year old’s cultural window had an arithmetic mean (average) of (13+1+50+30+30) ÷ 5 = 24.8 years. For comparison purposes, his geometric mean is 14.24 years (being ⁵√(13×1×50×30×30) = ⁵√585,000 = 14.24).

Not to seem too immodest, I have deeply favourite stuff that spans —

1. MOVIES, including documentaries — 125+ years (1890s–present)
2. TV — minimum 66 years from 1950
3. READS — 1,200 years, best estimate
4. MUSIC — at least 120 years
5. ART — easily 4,000 years

My media window arithmetically averages 1,102.2 years. My geometric mean is 343.06 years. My window is 24 times the weight of his. And I’m very normal and ‘unedgy’ in my tastes and timespans for my generation. Honestly, I’m genuinely slightly scared to think about ‘quality’ as a variable between him and me.

Is there a MIDPOINT between our two extreme cultural exposures?

Life is obviously more than numbers, but let’s run the numbers just for the lulz:—

• His raw total is 124 years, and mine, 5,511 years, so the arithmetic average midpoint should be 2,817½ years — or I’m 1.9 times over the midpoint and he’s 22.7 times under. But this is inaccurate and unrealistic.
• A more realistic midpoint is geometric 826.66 years (being 124 + 5511 then square root). This means I’m 6⅔ times past the midpoint, and he has 6⅔ times further to go.

In other words, he has to add 165 years’ worth of material to each of his five categories to reach the midpoint. In short, he won’t reach his midpoint this lifetime at his current rate because he will be increasingly out of date from his timespan of 1990–2003 with every passing year. I guess it’s not “Oklahoma, or Bust!”

• Protip:— The “breakpoint” is the minimum required competency. It is not fixed but shifts and floats relative other people present.

Example:— A room has 10 people, and four have 25 years’ experience each and six have 15 years each. The whole room’s arithmetic average experience is (25+15) ÷ 2 = 20 years — that’s the midpoint. What’s the minimum required competency to join them? The geometric mean tells you it’s 9 years 9 months (being ⁴√(4×25×6×15) = ⁴√9000 = 9.74). That is your breakpoint for entering that room.

That brings back my memories of a Hong Kong TV producer who didn’t know who Judy Garland was (the actress in The Wizard of Oz, 1939). Holy mackerel.

“Don’t you think there were good music and reads from the ’60s and before?” I asked him.

I reminded him that, yeah, ordinary people in the ’70s still read Homer’s Odyssey for pleasure and interest. His only conception of “Odyssey” was the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, which he detested because the movie was nothing like the novel. At least he read the book, I’ll give him that much.

People like him are, frankly speaking, autistic in the clinical and meme senses. They don’t seem to have any internal resource to understand the first point about movies vs. books — or anything else.

Movies are not merely a film version of the book, or vice versa. It’s just impossible to pack in all the details and nuances of Frank Herbert’s novel Dune (1965) into a 140-minute movie (1984) with a two-decade-long separation between the two in receptivity.

I absobloodylutely adore a lot of the music from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. Movies are different from music though. Movies often rely on technical aspects and these get better over time with technology. Music can be deliberately recorded in Lo-Fi these days. Movies can also be deliberately done in ‘old style’ like in black and white. But there are lots of people who think music relies on technical aspects too — all true indeed.

It’s hard to miss the disturbing line of thinking in today’s younger set.

“All old films are just rubbish. Doesn’t matter if the photography was good. Doesn’t matter if the acting was good. Doesn’t matter if the story is good. Old films are shit for just being old. I only watch movies that are less than five years old, preferably in 3D.”

Well, we can describe such a person in three words. Alone. Naked. Ghey.

And outdated — it is an outdated technique to make the point you’re up to date.

Want to know the secret to movies?

People remember only the good — the ones that stood the test of time, not the dross that gets forgotten. Lots of old movies are forgotten movies, just like many old blue movies (‘porn’ to you young ones) are forgotten.

• Movies that stood the test of time are because they’re influential in some way.

Some people just cannot tolerate THAT — that what was good in the past must necessarily be outdated and bad now. Their attitude is that a lot of the older stuff has been revisited and done better in modern times according to their timeframe. I can accept that up to a point when they point to some Hollywood blockbuster (capeshit specifically) in a pathetic attempt to make a point. Yet it’s hard to miss that these people rarely ever watched a movie older than a few years.

“I do genuinely like some old movies. Generally nothing past the mid-’80s though.”

How was elementary school for you then? Maybe if you stop being hyperbolic and stop strawmanning, I might take you seriously. I just thought you were chopped lameduck liver.

• Some take the attitude that movies older than 20 years are rubbish. Some even think movies older than 24 months are rubbish.

Why do they BOTH pretend to be an idiot?

If you’ve never watched silent movies from the 1920s, then you’re a complete le/la prolo (pleb) and Le Philistin. If you’ve never watched anything new from the last 10 or 20 years, then you’re a paranoid shut-in and Le Troglodyte.

This video is in fact the greatest motion picture that most Millennials wouldn’t effing understand:—

The world’s oldest motion visual (1888). Groundbreaking for its time, to be sure. My grandmother was just six years old then. The world then was still lit by fire and gas. Yes, folks, The Naked Listener lives in the 21st century but had grandparents he lived with born in late Victorian times. My grandparents taught me how to use the TV remote, not the other way around.

A film made in 1968 is ‘old’? The ’70s and ’80s? Yeah, it’s been downhill since then, right? Trim take; bad modulation.

I like this one. It’s 125 years old. It’s interesting how most of the people in the shot didn’t seem to mind getting filmed. Actually, they had no idea they were being filmed. The device (le cinematographe) didn’t resemble a normal photo camera in those days.

• Protip:— Old movies can be amazing. They can also be complete shite. New movies can be amazing but can be complete shite too. Watch anything and everything you can, and you’ll find the hidden gems.

I watch movies old and new of all countries because of their stories. Older movies were more focused on storylines and were good at this. There are notable exceptions where the visuals were important, such as Kubrick’s movies tend to be (especially Barry Lyndon, 1975) yet even those ‘visual’ movies still have a deeper meaning and tell a better story than many modern crap-like capeshit could.

People who say shite like “Movies older than N years are garbage” are retards and belong to the ADHD Generation because they can’t understand these types of things and end up looking like directionless idiots. Time to ask them, why do you pretend new movies are good? Are they legit retarded or just baiting?

The first 20 years of filmmaking were really interesting. Filmmakers primarily used stage techniques then, but you can see glimmers of what movies will have become. You can see the evolution happening almost in real time when you watch the full range of movies.

Silent movies are only RELATIVELY harder to relate to for most people now, but even the blind could see the physicality of the actors is so much more pronounced. You can really see how much a person could say just with their eyes, even from silent action stars like Buster Keaton (1895–1966). Modern films are missing a great deal of this.

Old movies are good for the most part. It’s just the three-hour-long ‘art’ films that blow.

Just a reminder that Le règle du jeu (The Rules of the Game), released in 1939, is better than possibly any film this 21st century. By the way, the director Jean Renoir was son of the painter Auguste Renoir. Nope, you don’t need to know French to understand the film’s storyline.

Why even watch movies that were made before you were born?

Shallow, self-absorbed Millennials are easy to spot — sorry, any generation, really. They just cannot appreciate anything that isn’t set in their own timeframe.

I appreciate movies older and younger than I am all the time. That’s because I’m not ethnocentric and arrogant. I understand there was a time before me and a time after me, and there are other societies besides mine.

Over the years, I have come to realise there is some truth to this idea:—

• For most people, the cutoff point for ‘getting it’ with any movie is around the time you were born. Anything made prior to that would probably look and feel somewhat ‘dated’ and many of their references don’t come across so readily.

There are exceptions to this, of course. A person born 10 years after Star Wars IV (1977) and watched it just two or three times as a kid will come to understand the 10-year difference in references contained in that movie. Look at the 501st UK Garrison Star Wars Costuming Club and its charity work — the majority of its members are born well after 1977 and got into this Star Wars thing roughly in mid-adult years.

Lots of Millennials do enjoy old and older movies. I’m saying, for most people, movies made before you were born are a little harder to relate to — especially if old movies have been practically absent as a ‘cultural’ fixture during your formative years.

It’s like jerking off to Playboy magazines or something. They were great, but we do have online porn now so it’s hard to go back. Maybe that’s a bad analogy, but you get what I mean.

Below is Body Candy (1980), one of the best porn movies ever made that also made it into mainstream cinema.

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 22 Sept 2020. (B16167)

All images via allchans unless indicated otherwise.

L’article original écrit le 23 mai 2016.

Mediaeval weasels and modern wonks

Tuesday 15 September 2020, 8.00pm HKT

BIOL(LOL)OGY
HOW different is a person from mediaeval times from a regular modern person?

What are the physical and intellectual differences? Would a normal modern person be considered ‘smart’ then?

You tell me. But here’s what I can tell you.

—♦—

THE OVERBITE

Post-mediaeval vs. mediaeval skulls

(via Beauty in the Bones)

The conventional wisdom

The first physical difference that comes immediately to mind is the dental “overbite” (the upper teeth overlapping the lower teeth), which most modern-day people have but most mediaeval people didn’t.

I can’t remember the reasons for this, but my schooldays taught it came only around 200 or 250 years ago (at least for Europeans).

Other than that, there’s no straightforward answer to the physique and physiology of mediaeval vs. modern-day people. (See later below.)

“I’m made of wax, Larry. What are you made of?” — President Teddy Roosevelt in “Night At The Museum” (2006)

—♦—

SMARTNESS

No comparison in ‘smartness’

I think it just stands to common sense that the modern-day person has a higher intellectual operating demand than the mediaeval person.

We moderns simply have lots more happening around us.

I once read that the average person today gets more facts about the world around us in one day than an average 19th-century person got in an entire lifetime.

If that’s a span of just 100 to 200 years, the difference is just phenomenal between the mediaevals and us.

We all dance to the tune of our own times

Is the modern person smarter?

That’s exactly the problem with a word like “smarter.”

“Intelligent” isn’t the same as “smart.”

A mediaeval person is bound to be more adroit and resourceful (smarter) than we could be in his mediaeval environment. He knew how to ‘stretch’ his penny, groat and shilling. He would know where and how to get food and blankets, and how to sleep in the rough almost as a matter of reflex. For sure he’d know how to keep food in an edible state without the fridge.

By contrast, we moderns would be blinking furiously and scratching our heads at the currency, which was non-decimal in most places then. Where’s the blimmin’ restaurant?

Conversely, the mediaeval person is going to be completely screwed (and screwed up) in our modern world. He’d be totally retarded with half the stuff of life that we do almost by intuition or reflex (e.g. looking both ways before crossing the road, dealing with stairs — both suggested by my late grandpa).

—♦—

PHYSIQUE & PHYSICALNESS

Some of the stuff we have about mediaeval times are ‘received conventions’ and may not be robustly objective facts.

As far as I understand from my schooldays and general reading, we take the general line from anthropologists that people in the pre-Industrial Age eras were shorter and more lightweight in build than the post-Industrial people.

The main reasons given are lower availability of food, nutrition and healthcare, and higher incidence of pollution and disease due to increasing population levels. But that’s common sense, really.

Adam and Eve by Jan van Eyck (1432)

(via The Lamb Of God)

Same enough

I don’t think the differences are huge between the mediaevals and the moderns.

We could reasonably assume the normal mediaeval physique to be something like in “Adam and Eve” (1432) by Jan van Eyck and part of the Ghent Altarpiece. The naked figures (top row, left and right above) were drawn in realistic fashion, not idealised.

The pair of them looked just like any European couple today.

Lean, mean and weaselly

We could look at portraits, the armour and the fighting manuals from the 15th century. They all showed quite lean bodies — muscular, but lean, more like Lance Armstrong rather than Conan the Barbarian (or Marvin the Martian!).

Looking at the works of various mediaeval artists (like Dürer), mediaeval people in general stature and build looked more like weasels rather than bears or hogs.

(via Marvin the Martian)

What goes up … comes down too

Yet anthropologists also tell us height and weight AREN’T precise trend indicators — because living conditions and nutrition varied over the centuries, even just in Europe:—

In 10th-century England, the average person wasn’t much shorter than an average Englishman today — shorter by only 6 inches (15 cm) at most. A 6-foot, 10-stone Englishman from today (1.83 m, 140 lbs/63 kg) wouldn’t turn heads if he time-travelled back to the 10th century.

Shorter still by 14th century due to increased pollution, disease and competition owing to increased population levels.

Taller between 14th and 18th centuries due to improvements in agriculture and general living conditions.

Shorter again after the early 19th century because the Industrial Age caused people to overwork and live in cramped, unhygienic conditions.

Taller again by the 20th century due to better healthcare, nutrition and general sanitation.

They’re all just 5 foot 7!

To give an idea of how quickly height and weight can vary:—

In the 156 years between 1850 and 2006, the average American male became 2 inches taller (5–6 cm) and 45 pounds heavier (ca. 20 kg):—

1850:— Average 5 feet 7½ inches and 146 lbs (1.71 m, 66 kg) (according to Union Army records)

2006:— Average 5 feet 9½ inches and 191 lbs (1.77 m, 86.6 kg)

(via The New York Times, 2006 news item on a study on body size and health over the last 150 years in the USA)

That roughly comes to a yearly increase of 0.016 inch (0.385 mm) and 4.62 ounces (130.97 g) for the last 156 years for the average American male.
—♦—

GEOGRAPHY & GENETICS

European genes mirror European geography

(via National Geographic)

Where you live is what you are

When considering the Middle Ages, we shouldn’t just look at the timeframe.

The geographical range is important — the range of physical environments even in Europe is huge.

A 10th-century Dane and Italian clearly wouldn’t resemble at all. A 13th-century Englishman wouldn’t resemble a Greek.

Hot climes tend to produce leaner, slenderer, flatter bodies to dissipate heat. Cold climes lead to bulkier, rounder bodies to generate and retain more heat.

The human body adapts to the natural environment, resulting in a variety of builds and statures. That’s the generality, yet a useful one.

As for genetics, we could presume when a mixture of body types migrate and interbreed, then over time we should see one consistent body type emerging. I don’t know enough about this, but the stuff I’ve read over the years say this situation hardly ever occurred.

—♦—

NUTRITION & GENETICS

Nutrition across generations

While body size is based on genetic factors and nutrition generally, I understand that a bigger influence is childhood nutrition.

What further complicates the picture is the nutrition of both the mother and the grandmother — so we’re talking about generational nutrition here.

The reason I gathered from general biology is that the developing ova and embryos are rather vulnerable to even slight nutritional imbalances.

This makes sense just looking at people around me — women whose nutritional level were lower before being mothers tend to bear smaller kids, who then grow up to be smaller-sized people.

Time and money on food and the home

Food and nutritional availability have vastly increased in just the last 100 years. Today, we can buy an entire day’s nutrition for one hour’s minimum wage (roughly speaking).

Not so just a century ago.

At around the First World War (1914–18), the average person in the UK spent half the income just on food alone. Even in the mid-1970s, I remember I spent a third of my weekly pay just on groceries. Then it started going down towards the 1980s and the ’90s — but started flying up since 2005.

—♦—

FORAGING & CHORES

Time to forage for food takes it toll too.

I know from my grandparents (who were extremely well-off) in their 20s didn’t have to spend two to four hours daily traipsing all over the place just to get the groceries that most other normal 20-somethings had to.

There was simply no “one-stop shop” for groceries then like we have today.

(via Dreamstime)

Then there’s the matter of housework.

Around the First World War, housewives were spending an unbelievable 40 or even 50 hours a week just doing the housework.

That defies understanding. Today our average workweek is 45 hours — and we’re already beat from THAT.

Women at that time did 40 hours at home PLUS another 20, 30 or even 40 hours at work to make ends meet. That wrecks big time.

So if you have to spend literally hours working and doing chores at home AND literally hours just getting the actual food, your overall expenditure of energy on a daily basis is bound to affect your overall stature and health.

No wonder people died just a year after retirement.

—♦—

QUESTION TIME

‘Housework’ for a modern person is much different from a medieval person, or even someone from the 19th century. [I’m] from an American city where few people have to daily scrub the hearth, or bring in heavy coal or wood to feed a fire, or dig privies, or even black and clean one’s boots from horse manure and more. — Elizabeth P.

The Naked Listener writes:—

Of course. The difference is staggering in just a space of 100 years, from the First World War to now.

Is modern person smarter? Hardly. Erich Fromm once told that average mediaeval person was much more resistant to tricks and manipulations. Maybe that’s why there was so much bloody struggle — people were much more independent and much less obedient to central rule. Remember Robin Hood challenging city authority — impossible thing today. — Dmitriy S.

Yes, what you say is true enough too. But Erich Fromm was taken out of context, and Robin Hood wasn’t an actual historical person.

Fun supplementary fact:— The overbite apparently comes from our move towards forks for bringing food to our mouths. Using the top row of teeth to pull food from a fork or spoon has had an effect on our dental structure. Apparently, people from chopstick-using cultures have an equivalent underbite that stems from their ancestors essentially dropping food into their mouths. — Stacey O.

Yes, that’s one of several reasons I’ve been hearing and reading for a long time (well, since the 1980s, if memory serves). I’m not hip to the matter so I just run with whatever is the prevailing academic or scientific position on the matter.

You know, when you don’t know, you don’t have to run with anything, except “I don’t know.” — Geoffrey R. D.-T.

As in not running your mouth off too, I suppose…

Come on, it’s not that “I don’t know.” It’s “what I know” is “what the prevailing academic or scientific position on the matter is.”

I literally don’t know for myself if the Earth is round or flat, but I do know science has it that it’s round or spherical. In the same measure, what makes those other people so sure the overbite model is wrong? It’s a two-way street.

It’s the same as asking, do you have a brain? Have you seen it? How do you know you have one? It isn’t that you “don’t know.” It is that what you do know from general knowledge that almost without exception everyone has a brain.

Hey! My [nationality] wife has the overbite. So maybe something’s wrong with these theories. — Geoffrey R. D.-T.

Some people have them, some don’t. Dietary and other habits determine the presence or not. Nearly all ancient Egyptians had no overbite, but nearly all Egyptians today have it.

*shrug* It’s one of several explanatory models to account for certain features observed.

Really enjoyed the thoughts and work that went into this presentation. Some of it was “Duh!” in the sense that “Yeah, makes sense” — just never considered the changes that have occurred even in my lifetime of about 70 years. […] Vegetable gardens were a necessity even back in the 1950s: only one income for expenses, then someone had to make up the extra income needed to make it go. But they did it (because they HAD to)! — Paul H.

That is very true.

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 15 Sept 2020. (B17094)

Images originally via Quora image search.

Originale depuis 11 avril 2016 et l’article crée le 18 juillet 2017.

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