Philosophistry Database

After surviving the Mayan apocalypse, 2013 became the first year that wasn't bound to millennialism

2013 is the first year of the 2000s that feels like a departure from a turn-of-the-millennium mindset. It even seems like the first real year of the decade.

Part of this has to do with the fact that nobody could ever settle on an appropriate way to call the first decade of 2000 (are they the "aughts"?). Another reason is 9/11, which made it so that the late aughts could never escape the echoes of 9/11 (thanks to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.) And just as Obama got elected, which was supposed to be a palate-cleanser, the Great Recession happened, which anchored the next four years to the aughts as well.

But 2013, unlike 2012, feels like a break-away from the early 2000 years. It's the first real year of the new tens. Any talk of apocalypse seems ridiculous now. When 2012 came and went without a Mayan apocalypse, it hammered the final nail in the coffin for millennial Armageddon scenarios. Even predictions about an impending Singularity, which reached a zenith of attention in 1999, no longer seem "ten years away," but rather something that maybe will happen in 2065 or 2089. (Or will it even happen?)

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Since a human random number generator can't seem purposefully noisy, adding a few streaks would make it convincing

If you were trying to pretend to be a random number generator, what would you do? You couldn't start with a 1 or a 100: It's too coincidental for those extremes to appear. If you started a random sequence with, "1, 100, 50 ...," most likely people would think something was amiss.

At the same time, you don't want to throw out bland numbers in the middle, like 27 or 77. That might make people think you were creating a mélange for mélange's sakes. You'd need to mix in some small numbers and some large numbers, to show that your random number generator wasn't afraid of skirting with those untouchable extremes. So a 3 or a 92 would be appropriate now and then.

Variety is good, to some extent, but eventually, you'd have to throw in some expected unexpectedness. A surprise 1 or 100 would be good (but not both), and definitely some anomalous streaks, like a 33 followed by a 34.

A good random number generator has to alternate between piquing someone's superstitions and disappointing with pure, snowy noise.

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