# Cosmic

Cosmic: (adj) of or relating to the cosmos

When I was in the first grade and they presented math problems for addition—like 4 + 3 and 2 + 7—I did them, believing that when I finished, I would know everything about mathematics.

They didn’t tell me that subtraction was next.

They might have scared me off if they had talked about multiplication.

And, well, division is so divisive.

If they had shared that by the time I was in high school I would be studying something called calculus, which is mathematics taken almost to the realm of ethereal religion, I might have lost heart in the whole process—or stupidly, tried to jump ahead and take on “the big one.”

That’s the way I feel about people who are involved in religion, spirituality and the cosmic.

Here we have a beautiful Earth to learn, add up, subtract, multiply and even occasionally divide up into parts, and we are still tempted to study the heavens, the gods, the stars and the universal spectrum.

It doesn’t make us better people.

It certainly can make us self-righteous.

And in the long run, it pushes others away, who might like to have a conversation with us if it weren’t laced with “angels, planets and demons.”

There certainly is a cosmos.

But it seems to me that we should eat the plate that is set before us before we start ordering other things off the menu.

For our Earth is in great need of being befriended by those with bigger brains than the creatures who live in the jungle.

If we spend too much time looking at the stars, the Earth might turn into dust at our feet.

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# Algebra

Words from Dic(tionary)

Algebra: (n) the part of mathematics in which letters and other general symbols are used to represent numbers and quantities in formulas and equations.

X marks the spot.

Actually, it marks the spot where I crinkled my brow and totally ceased to understand mathematics.

My high school algebra teacher was a recent immigrant from Japan who had a mastery of numbers and a limited capacity for language. He created a double whammy–I was trying to learn something that was Greek to me, with a Japanese accent.

On top of that, it was his first teaching position, having just graduated from The Ohio State University, and although he was eager to be an instructor, he was less than versed in some of the more humane possibilities.

So after he tried to explain algebra to me for the fourth time, he became frustrated and started to curse. It was in Japanese, but I will tell you that swearing has the same intensity in every langauge.

I don’t know what it was about algebra. For some reason, I was granted a B in the subject, even though I have no concept about the process whatsoever.

Imagine my glee when the next year I discovered that I would be taking Algebra II. It was very similar to the sensation of, “even though I’ve never been on a date, here is the woman I am going to marry.”

Honestly, I have never used algebra in my whole life. Perhaps I could have put it to some practical purpose, but that would have required that I understand its value, in order to know what purpose would have been practical.

Candidly, I toil under the concept of eduction. What I mean is, I do believe there are things we are taught which may not have any immediate value to our lives, but still have an esoteric importance.

Flatly, they make us seem civilized.

So I’m happy to report that I actually survived a semester of algebra, and Algebra II, and then ran out of the room in horror at the mere mention of calculus.

So for me: X=the 24th letter of the alphabet.

# Abacus

by J. R. Practix

Abacus:  An oblong frame with rows of wires or grooves, along which beads are slid, used for calculating.

I’ve heard of these things. I’m not so sure I’ve ever actually been in the presence of one. Listen to me go on. . . “Presence of one…”

It’s not exactly an alligator or the Queen of England. I always thought the Chinese used it for calculating–and since my society universally believes the Chinese are good calculators, I guess an abacus is quite efficient.

It looks complicated. It looks like one of those games advertised by Milton Bradley, with moving pieces that have seven pages of directions and you find yourself baffled by the second paragraph.

Can I be the first one to say that I think the calculator may be one of the greatest inventions ever known to man? It comes in second behind the fork. Never underestimate the power of that utensil.

Boy, that got me thinking. I gave such an importance to the fork, and left out toilet paper. I sometimes get picky about toilet tissue. It’s amazing how valuable it is, though,  even if it’s a second cousin to sand paper.

Anyway, back to the abacus. I was never good in math. I mean, I did great with long addition, subtraction, division, multiplication. But then, when it had to be explained instead of ciphered, with algebra, geometry, and we shall not even mention calculus, I started feeling like the last monkey staring across the plain at a group of humans building a fire. In other words, I saw the need, appreciated the effort, but had no way of fathoming the process.

I probably should go out, find an abacus and enlighten myself on its value, but instead, I think I’ll just go to the store and purchase a calculator.