# When 2 + 3 Is Not 5, Some Call it an Enigma

Numbers and the Internet. Man-made to gauge and track the world, they’re both endless and will go on long after we’re gone. As matter can always be reduced to its numeric essence, so all manner of human expression may one day reside in the digital realm.
Take 23, for instance, the number assigned by fate to my first breath. Like with other numerals, there are hundreds of Websites about it, from math and numerology to cults and strange coincidences, with everything in between, besides, of course, celebrity birthdays.
Age-wise, few are like 23, and most of anyone would consider it among life’s best years. Perhaps. We hardly appreciate it then or even notice it. But as it recedes, it locks in the imprint of an age when choices are wide open, if not nearly wise, and self-fulfillment is mandatory.
A mind-boggling assortment of arcana is related to 23 as a prime number, but even as its complexities keep planets spinning, and the ISS aloft, few are wise to them. We all have 23 pairs of chromosomes, though, even if they no longer dictate one’s gender.
A curious statistical theory, the Birthday Paradox, says that within a group of 23 people, chances are, two share the same day of birth. That’s the least amount of people to whom such a likelihood is higher than 50 percent. But please, don’t go asking strangers for their DOB.

THE CHAOS & MYSTERY OF NOT MUCH
Yes, there are at least two weird groups that attribute 23 a special meaning. Discordianism associates it with chaos, with some mumbo-jumbo about inverting the pyramids (you read it right), and the goddess Eris. By the way, the Great Pyramid of Giza was built with 2.300 stones, so there you have it.
As for 23rdians, they see the number as an enigma permeating all spheres of existence, claiming author Robert Anton Wilson as a spiritual mentor of sorts. Wilson, in turn, may have caught the 23 fever from William Burroughs, who once told him about his own obsession with it. And let’s not even start with the bible.
Add to these, well, peculiar people, such Nobel Prize winner John Forbes Nash. Despite his work on economics, he is almost better known for having a strange, and tragic, fixation on the number (and Pope John XXIII, but if you have to ask, don’t). And of course, (more)
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* On This Day
* You Say It’s Your Birthday

# Quando 2 + 3 Não É 5, Alguns Vêem Um Enigma

Números e a Internet. Criados para avaliar e rastrear o mundo, são agora infinitos e vão seguir existindo muito depois de desaparecermos. Como a matéria pode se reduzir à sua representação numérica, toda expressão humana um dia vai residir apenas no reino digital.
Por exemplo, o número 23, que o destino me deu com meu primeiro sopro de ar. Como outros, existem centenas de Websites sobre ele, de matemática ou numerologia, cultos e estranhas coincidências, com tudo o mais no meio, incluindo é claro, o aniversário de celebridades.
Do ponto de vista da idade, muito poucas são como os 23 anos, and quase todo mundo os considera entre os melhores de suas vidas. Pode ser. Temos a tendência de apreciar este tipo de coisa quando ou se está aproximando, ou se distanciando rapidamente daquela idade. Mas é um tempo quando as escolhas ainda estão em aberto e a busca de realização ainda é uma prioridade.
Existe uma vastidão arcana online, relacionada com o 23 como número primo, mas mesmo que suas complexidades estejam por trás do movimento dos astros e mantenham a Estação Espacial flutuando, poucos têm intimidade com ele. O que se sabe é que todos temos 23 pares de cromossomos, mas isto não mais determina o gênero sexual de cada pessoa.Uma curiosa teoria estatística, o Paradoxo do Aniversário, reza que dentro de um grupo de 23 pessoas, há grande possibilidade de que duas delas nasceram no mesmo dia. Esta é a quantidade mínima de pessoas para a qual existe uma probabilidade estatística maior do que 50 por cento. Mas por favor, não começa a perguntar a estranhos sua data de nascimento.

O CAOS & MISTÉRIO DE QUASE NADA
Sim, existem pelo menos dois grupos esquisitos que atribuem ao 23 um significado especial. Discordianismo o associa com o caos, usando uma patavina qualquer sobre pirâmides invertidas (isto mesmo), e a deusa Eris. Falando nisto, a Grande Pirâmide de Gizé foi construída com 2.300 pedras, para quem perguntar.
Já os 23ianos (fazer o quê?) consideram o número como um enigma que permea todas as esferas de existência, e consideram o escritor Robert Anton Wilson como uma espécie de mentor espiritual. Wilson, por sua vez, talvez tenha sido contagiado com a ‘febre dos 23,’ através de William Burroughs, que uma vez lhe comentou sobre sua obsessão particular com o número.
Some a estas, digamos, pessoas peculiares, o ganhador do Nobel John Forbes Nash. A despeito de seu trabalho em Economia, ele era quase mais famoso por ter tido uma relação estranha, e trágica, com o número (e também o Papa João XXIII, mas se você tiver que perguntar, não pergunte). E é claro, o filme Uma Mente Brilhante, sua biografia vivida por Russell Crowe. Há também um outro filme, alemão, (mais)
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* On This Day
* You Say It’s Your Birthday

# How to Skip Your OwnBirthday Celebration

The second half of life is a third. It arrives already shattered and goes by like a spell. Compared to the eternity that teen years seem to feel, or the accelerated learning curve lived up to the 30s, the last quadrant is mute and serene, like a trip to another galaxy.
Everything reflects the light of long ago, but there’s no sound in the outer space of advanced age; even the most cheering applause is silenced. The traveler reaches the void looking back; a last minute sorting through spinning memories, before darkness falls.
All that one needs to know is learned early in life. And readily forgotten for the next few decades. So growing old is revisiting childhood, as some put it, making a bit more sense of what’s going on inside, but like then, just as clueless about everything else.
Some of us perceive ourselves as children till we catch a mirror staring back. That smooth layer has been ravaged, the mouth, twisted down in the corners, and the eye twinkle is long gone. But apart from such shocking self-checking, we’re still here.
On the edge of maturity, it counts to have mastered a few things. But accomplishing anything comes clouded by wrong turns and missed

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* The 23rd
* Sendoffs
* You Say It’s Your Birthday

opportunities. All is clear now, understood, and absolutely irrelevant. Still there’s pride in learning a new way to tie shoelaces. Perfect, if it wasn’t for the back pain bending to actually tie them.
As I approach the other margin still gasping for air, I’m still puzzled about how little I know. Was it a choice I’ve made, not to veer towards the upper echelon? Or have I fussed and fought only to come up short of whatever was that I was searching for?
The third slice of a life, staled and musty, is reserved for those who lasted and endured, not those who crafted a legend out of their days. Like a bitter brew, it soothes the gut and vanquishes the last sweet taste, left by cakes and pastries baked in youth.
Some go like shooting stars, but the majority succumbs in quiet desperation. Some go before they even come; others overstay their welcome. We live our ways unaware of our moment of departure. Here’s to when it comes, it won’t make me beg too much to stay.

# When Snow White, Rapunzel & OzMeant Much More Than Fairy Tales

Video games may be the modern equivalent of fairy tales. But if child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim was right, those ancient stories about damsels in distress and their rescuing knights are far from having exhausted their appeal. The good old doc should know it.
He survived the Nazis only to fall in disgrace for enhancing his resume and being nasty to his pupils. Alas, the man who taught us about warding off life’s demons, could not handle his own. He suffocated himself to death with a plastic bag wrapped around his head in 1990.
After such a florid intro, though, we’re switching gears to focus on some hardly known facts behind two classics of children’s literature, Rapunzel and Snow White, and a book written a century ago that became a breakthrough movie, the Wizard of Oz.
They all share an underlying common trait: the confusion and hardship typical of impoverished children going through puberty. While predating even the concept of childhood and adolescence, there’s never doubt about what demographics they were catering to.
Behind a veneer of an idealized world to which the young protagonists long to belong and conquer, and a patina of virtue and redemption righting all wrongs, deep down, the stories are suffused with intrigue and betrayal, brutal competition and carnage.

TALES FROM THE DARK AGES
For all the high-def graphics and sensory numbness-inducing FX of video games, and all modern entertainment for that matter, they’re no match to the emotional intensity and masterly manipulation of deep-rooted fears, which are the currency of fairy tales.
All are about lonely children transitioning to adulthood, trapped by conspiring circumstances and on the verge of defeat until the very end, often when their rivals perish. Strife and miserable family bonds are never far from center stage, and neither is the threat of annihilation.
For Bettelheim, beyond their imagery, these tales are loved for offering kids happy outcomes, which they can come up with on their own. Behind the Dark Ages’ ambiance and archaic social settings, (more)
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* Warped Worlds
* Remarkable Apparatus

# When a Supernova Sent Us Its Lights

The most recent collapse, visible by the naked eye, of a blue supergiant star into the SN 1987A Supernova happened 29 years ago today. Or rather, the light of its explosion reached us in 1987; the event took place 168,000 light years from Earth.
It didn’t change anything, except advancing our knowledge of the universe, just as Kepler’s Supernova had done, back in 1604. Galileo Galilei observed that explosion using an instrument that became known as a telescope only a few years after that.
Neither George Frederic Handel, W.E.B.DuBois, Peter Fonda, or Johnny Winter, all born on this day, were particularly affected by the 1987A. In fact, even including those left out of this list, mankind remains mostly oblivious to what’s going on above us.
How could it be any different? Heaven is so vast that, even considering our herculean efforts to populated it with myths and legends, paradise and hell, it remains so utterly powerful as to be touched only by our flawed, ever so dimmed, eyes.
And yet we try, century after labored century, to uncover the veil of ancient secrets, only to be challenged by new mysteries, to forge personal connections, even if they’re one-sided, self-attributed fantasies, bound to be unmasked.
The year of that supernova also marked a personal ephemeris of my own, as I picked New York as my coordinates on this world. And today’s date, as it’s been for decades, signals that I’m one year older and none the wiser. So it is in our mostly small existence.
The stardust that we all share with galaxies and clusters, with nebulae and quasars, will in time turn into ashes too. Except that we mostly wilt and pass away, while they explode into spectacular cosmic energy, seen across the millennia.
Supernovae will keep on popping up, even if we can’t see or record them. But our footprints will fade and be washed away by the elements. It doesn’t matter; what really counts is what happens between our first and last step. I’m closer now, I’ll get there.
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