Thursday, December 15, 2005

6 Degrees Celsius And Separation

It was minus six degrees Celcius this morning. Never having excelled in science, I never discovered why exactly we need both Fahrenheit and Celcius. Seems like one would have been victorious over the other in the popularity battles, in the same way that the clearly inferior VHS format ousted Beta in the late 70's. (I'm still upset about that, so don't get me started.)

Of course, we Americans haven't submitted to the obviously superior metric system, with its ease of use, and uniformity among length, weight, and volume measurements. For some reason, we prefer doing the math of eighths to inches, twelfths to feet, thirds to yards, and 1,760ths to miles. Yeah, WE'RE brilliant.

In metrics, you just move the decimal around, and learn a few prefixes like "kilo" and "milli." But this is America, so most of us shut up and don't complain, fearing that someday the Craftsman wrench people will come after us.

All that is to say I don't expect 21 degrees Fahrenheit is going to be won over by -6 degrees Celcius.

Speaking of six degrees, there is a popular theory called "the Six Degrees of Separation." This is the idea that anybody on earth can be connected via relationship to anyone else through no more than six links.

It probably doesn't work out mathematically for xenophobes who live in the Montana woods, hunkered down in cabins surrounded by razor wire. But surprisingly, ever since the theory was proposed back in the 1920's, research has proven it out.

And this morning I've been thinking about how one might make the chain much smaller.

Schmoozing lots of people would help, certainly.

Additionally, certain actions can be beneficial for lessening the degrees. Take, for example, the Arkansas man who scaled the fence of the White House lawn six days ago and was arrested by Secret Service agents. These men have undoubtedly interacted with the President, who knows a lot of famous people. Suddenly, the guy's got two or three degrees of separation from just about everybody who's noteworthy. (Of course, he's also now in a psych ward, so that might prove a deterrent from actually interacting with any of the aforementioned celebrities.)

But I think the best way to shorten the chain is to get married, especially to someone outside of your current sphere of influence. Without doing the math or research, I'm guessing that action alone probably cuts the numbers cleanly in half.

Case in point: I discovered at a recent family-in-law reunion of sorts that I am related to a popular actor. One of his movie credits includes "Lenomy Snicket's 'A Series of Unfortunate Events'", which then places me just one degree of separation from Jim Carrey. Mr. Carrey starred as the Riddler in the movie "Batman Forever." And Batman is the object of adoration of one of the employees here at the church.

So you see, by getting married I was able to reduce the six degrees of separation between me and one of my employees down to just four. Isn't that amazing?

I just figured you'd like to know that today. Now go do something productive. I know I need to.


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