Monday, March 20, 2006

Numbers Large and Small

As of March 15, the National debt was $8,270,134,498,375.29. I like the 29¢ touch. I can relate to it. I wonder if they have all the receipts stuffed away in a drawer. Since the debt is growing at a rate of $1.54 billion a day, I should be able to work out what it is today. I won’t even try: I get confused by numbers that contain so many zeros. I never quite believe the mathematical puzzle about the chessboard and the grains of corn (or, apparently in England, rice.) Actually, I like this mathematician’s answer, “an awful lot of rice.”

I have just read the latest book by Stephen Frey. Like his previous books, it deals with murder and mayhem against the background of private equity funds, where the protagonists dodge bullets, blondes and scandals in between raising huge amounts of capital. They are dealing in millions and billions, or as they like to call them, “large” and “double-large.” The author worked in mergers and acquisitions at J.P. Morgan and describes in detail how this capital is leveraged into an awful lot of money. I finally understand the concept of “ups,” but get lost amongst all the zeros.

I am, however, fairly competent with smaller numbers. Which is more than I can say for David Beckham. The lad knows how to kick a football, but was stymied when his six-year old asked for help with his math homework.

"It's totally done differently to what I was teached when I was at school, and you know, I was like, 'Oh my God, I can't do this.'"

Why he should have asked his wife to take over is a mystery. Mrs. Posh Beckham is quoted elsewhere as saying that although she has “written" a book, she has never read one . But maybe she figured out the rice and the chessboard.

In other news, Tony Blair announced the creation of a new program(me) entitled, No Parent Left Behind.

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