by Robert Waltz
Not for the faint of art.
A complex number is expressed in the standard form a + bi, where a and b are real numbers and i is defined by i^2 = -1 (that is, i is the square root of -1). For example, 3 + 2i is a complex number.
The bi term is often referred to as an imaginary number (though this may be misleading, as it is no more "imaginary" than the symbolic abstractions we know as the "real" numbers). Thus, every complex number has a real part, a, and an imaginary part, bi.
Complex numbers are often represented on a graph known as the "complex plane," where the horizontal axis represents the infinity of real numbers, and the vertical axis represents the infinity of imaginary numbers. Thus, each complex number has a unique representation on the complex plane: some closer to real; others, more imaginary. If a = b, the number is equal parts real and imaginary.
Very simple transformations applied to numbers in the complex plane can lead to fractal structures of enormous intricacy and astonishing beauty.
|Yes, I'm aware that it's March, and if I'm going to talk about holidays, I should be talking about St. Patrick's Day, Pesach, Easter, or April Fools' Day. But this Cracked article has been hanging around in my queue since November and I'm finally getting to it.
Well, they're not "unspoken" NOW, are they? Okay, I suppose technically they are because it's an article and not a tedious video. So read it out loud to yourself.
Just pretend you're back in last December. It's cold, interminable earworms are everywhere, people are still arguing about the US Presidential election, and the pandemic is still going on.
Oh, wait, all of that is still the case.
Well, it's the holidays, and I don't feel anything. And it's not because of the pandemic or because I've finally been banned from the mall for trying to fight Santa so that I can become Santa: this has been building for years.
Unlike the author, I do feel something around the holidays: the urge to drink. Oh, wait, that's still the case, too.
For my entire adult life I've experienced this weird disconnect about Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you're a millennial, maybe you've felt or feel the same way I do -- I've never seen any kind of media discuss this disconnect, probably because so much money is spent by Big Holiday's self-mythologizing, and I'm only half-joking here.
I'm not a millennial, but yeah. I present to you reason #3452 why the concept of generations is seriously flawed.
What I mean is this: an astounding amount of cultural capital is spent, roughly from mid-August to January 1, extolling the virtues of the "holiday season" as a time of happiness, cheer, magic, and good will, when the holiday season has, in fact, been a time of hardship and insane working conditions.
On the other hand, I'm fully aware that my extravagant, luxurious, idle lifestyle depends on a lot of (mostly) younger people working long hours for shit pay, under onerous conditions, but that is a sacrifice I am willing to make.
And now, in trademark Cracked style, the numbered list.
5 So Many Americans Work On Christmas
There is, statistically, a good chance you already know what I'm talking about. But before I rant further, a quick note: I'm talking about Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I imagine you've experienced this no matter what winter-adjacent holiday you might celebrate simply by dint of what a cultural colossus Christmas is. Be it Kwanzaa or Hanukkah or Skweltegog: The Feast of the Undying Doom Serpent, you've probably felt the effects I'm going to describe.
I do believe I will have to begin celebrating Skweltegog.
And you know what? Despite my general cynicism, to quote my high school drama teacher at the casting of our winter play, I'm no Scrooge.
Retail has a higher concentration of millennials than even craft beer microbreweries and the Nihilism Supply Store.
I'm just quoting this here because I howled.
4 Thanksgiving Is Actually A Weeks-Long Affair
And if you're lucky enough to have the sort of retail job where you get time off for the holidays, let me lay it out for you: Thanksgiving and Christmas are basically one long nightmare. Starting about two weeks before Thanksgiving is prep time for Black Friday, the American blood sacrifice to a mysterious entity known as "The Economy."
I think that's not the only blood sacrifice for that entity.
And while you're working on Thanksgiving, every single year, more reliable than the sunrise, a customer will cluck their tongue and say "They make you work on Thanksgiving? That's awful!", because no snowflake in an avalanche feels responsible.
Look -- I may be a Grumpy Old Man, but I avoid shopping on Thanksgiving or Black Friday on general principles, and the only reason I go anywhere on Christmas is to get drunk and see a movie -- at which point I tip well and never mention how much it sucks for my servants to be working on Christmas.
3 Black Friday
You might be thinking, "I'm sure Black Friday is busy, but it's just one day. How bad could it be?" To which I reply: "When you're in your private jet, can you force the pilot to let you sit in the cabin and pretend you're flying an X-Wing?"
I don't know, but I would like to find out.
Something happens to people on Black Friday where a brain parasite makes them scream "YOU'RE RUINING MY LIFE" at you when you try to explain to them that we don't carry "hot pink velour suit jackets" because we're not a 1987 cocaine orgy.
And this is why I never go anywhere on Black Friday. Except maybe bars.
People behave like werewolves except worse because I don't think a werewolf has ever told me that if I didn't like the way they were treating me I should try being smarter and getting a real job. Once, on Black Friday, I was ringing up a woman in a GOOD VIBES ONLY t-shirt and her young kid and the kid asked, "Mommy, why is he behind a counter?" and she said, "Because he didn't work hard in school."
I sorely wish there were actual consequences for people like this. Also, I have a lot to say about the concept of "hard work," but I'll save that for a future blog entry because I'm lazy.
2 And It Just Keeps Going At A Grueling Pace For Weeks
After Black Friday comes Cyber Monday, and since many chain retail stores match their Cyber Monday deals in-store so as not to lose business at their brick-and-mortar locations, it's basically a second Black Friday. This is the beginning of the Christmas Rush.
The beginning of the Christmas Rush is somewhere around Labor Day.
You might think that as Christmas gets closer people would have most of their shopping done. You would be incredibly, hilariously wrong.
Why would I think that? In addition to being lazy, I'm a professional crastinator.
And there's a solid two-ish weeks of people returning the things well-meaning but clueless family members purchased for them and using gift cards that were given to them as gifts, an interaction which always ends in me having to explain that yes, if you use a $50 gift card on a $300 suit jacket, you do still have to pay the difference. Oh, the gift card our store sent you in the mail doesn't actually have any money on it, the idea is we send it to you to put money on and give as a gift. Yes, I'll give you my manager's phone number so you can get me fired for this decision that I personally made about a nationwide advertising campaign.
You know, I'm aware that most people aren't actually stupid or inconsiderate. But in accordance with Lone Asshole Theory, all it takes is one to ruin someone's day.
1 Changing Any Of This Will Take An Impossibly Seismic Cultural Shift
My experience isn't unique. That's my whole point. Besides the insane demands of work, many youngish people moved from their hometowns to seek opportunity, so they aren't near their families anyway. It seems like we've created a shadow caste system where the holidays are just another thing that exclusively older people enjoy, like home ownership or going to the doctor or Steely Dan.
HEY NOW. Don't rag on the Dan.
There's a bit of irony that the possible death of Christmas was perpetrated by mass capitalism when right-wing ghouls like Ben Shapiro (a wooden puppet brought to life by the wish of a lonely racist) have been claiming that the left has been waging a War on Christmas.
I've been trying to get myself drafted into the War on Christmas for years, but it's like it doesn't really exist.
I don't know, maybe it's not a great sign when we're nostalgic for the state of worker's rights in Victorian London, a time when gainful employment was considered "guy who cleans the orphan fingers out of the Pollution Machine and is paid in bread crusts deemed insufficiently rich in mercury to sell."
Hey, thanks for the story idea. I'm thinking steampunk novella with a touch of the supernatural and a doomed romantic subplot.
The Grinch knew what was up: just your average mountain hermit trying to warn his neighbors that the winter celebration they so delighted in was doomed to cannibalize itself.
So we can add "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" to the list of newly-censored Dr. Seuss stories.
Anyway, I hope y'all haven't minded this one-time intrusion of December into March. I'm calling it a flashback, because I refuse to be responsible for anyone thinking that this is the first volley of this year's Christmas season. Even in my wildest attempts at hyperbole, I never implied that Christmas creep could work its way into the weeks leading up to the Spring Equinox.
But I don't know. Maybe I should.