San Diego, California (July 15, 2005) The BBC’s use of the term ‘misguided criminals’ and ‘bombers’ when referring to the perpetrators of the recent London blasts have stirred an international debate on politically correct language. The words replace the term terrorist, which according to the BBC can “carry emotional or value judgments”.
According to the Global Language Monitor’s exclusive PQ (Political-sensitivity Quotient) Index, the term ‘terrorist’ appears 700% more frequently on the web than ‘bomber’ when linked to terror-related activities such as suicide bombings, and the like. When tracking global news articles only, the word ‘bomber’ can be found in about 40% of the articles, though usually in combination with ‘terrorist’ or ‘terrorist-related’ words. The phrase ‘misguided criminals’ is found only about 5000 times on the entire web, many times linked to the emerging BBC story.
BBC guidelines state that credibility should never be undermined by the “careless use of words which (sic) carry emotional or value judgments”.
“The primary function of a news organization is to detail events as they occur in their existing cultural milieu, thereby recording the first draft of history. The BBC seems concerned with overstepping this boundary into what was once called yellow journalism. The greater danger here is to filter emotion-laden events of all emotional content in their pursuit of the non-judgmental,” said Paul JJ Payack, President (and the WordMan) of the Global Language Monitor.
The PQ Index is a proprietary algorithm that tracks politically sensitive words and phrases in the print. The words and phrases are tracked in relation to their frequency, contextual usage and appearance in global media outlets, thereby separating the spin and the hype from the facts. The PQ Index is published quarterly.
The Traditional Western Practice is to Reckon Time from the Birth of Jesus
San Diego, Calif. May 16, 2005. MetaNewswire. A small but vocal element is voicing opposition to the traditional Western practice of dividing time, measuring events as occurring before or after the birth of Jesus or B.C and A.D., according to a survey by The Global Language Monitor (GLM), using the Predictive Quantities Indicator (PQI).
The survey found that in the worldwide electronic and print media, and on the Internet, the current convention of A.D. and B.C. was found to be nearly 50 times as prevalent as that of the C.E. and B.C.E. convention. Nevertheless, the fact that the newer conventions were now found to be used at all indicates significant inroads, where until recently none existed.
The C.E. and B.C.E. conventions were introduced about a century ago in the Jewish and Scientific communities, but have been adopted increasingly by those who want to place some distance or obscure the Judeo-Christian roots of Western Civilization. The issue has become increasingly polarizing on college campuses, school textbook publishers, and in the various religious communities.
The Western Calendar is especially pervasive because all major electronic and computer systems have it deeply embedded in their basic instruction sets, or operating systems. This means that all electronic commerce, commercial applications, scientific, airlines, electronic games, automobiles, clocks, etc. are based on the Western Calendar.
“As with most language-based PC issues, the battle is intense, however, no authority or group can mandate linguistic change, said Paul JJ Payack, President of The Global Language Monitor. “The fact is that both C.E. or A.D. both acknowledge the centrality of Jesus to the Western Calendar, (actually shorthand for Western Christendom), since both A.D. and C.E. both refer to the birth of Jesus as the time marker for the West.”
(In the aftermath of the French Revolution, the revolutionaries made anill-fated and short-lived attempt to restart the Western Calendar, which was to begin on September 22, 1792: the day of the declaration of the first French Republic. Months were cited by Roman numerals and named after meteorological conditions.)
Payack added, “Jesus, of course, was born in 749 AUC (ab urbe condita) from the founding of the City), since the Roman Calendar was dated from the mythical founding of the City by Romulus in 753 B.C. It is also interesting to note that when Dominus Exiguus, the 5th Century monk, created the current Calendar, he miscalculated, which is why it is now generally accepted that Jesus was born in the year 4 B.C, that is four years before the year of his birth.”
There are several major calendar systems in addition to the Western system currently in use. These include the Hebrew, Islamic, Buddhist, and Chinese.
The Hebrew Calendar dates from the Creation (current year 5765); the Islamic Calendar dates from the Hegira (current year 1425); the Chinese Calendar dates from the Emperor Huangdi, in 2637 B.C.; and the Buddhist Calendar dates from the birth of the Buddha, 543 years B.C., making 2005 the year 2548 of the Buddhist Era.
The Predictive Quantities Indicator is a proprietary algorithm that tracks specified words and phrases in the media and on the Internet. The words and phrases are tracked in relation to their frequency, contextual usage and appearance in global media outlets. In this case, the words tracked were Anno Domini (A.D., literally Year of the Lord), Before Christ (B.C.), the Common Era (C.E.) and Before the Common Era (B.C.E.)
Danville, California (December 4, 2004) Los Angeles County’s insistence on covering over with labels any computer networking protocols that mention master/slave jargon, has been chosen the top example of political correctness in language for 2004 .
“We found Master/Slave to be but the most egregious example of political correctness in 2004,” said Paul JJ Payack, President of The Global Language Monitor. “This is but one more example of the insertion of politics into every facet of modern life, down to the level of the control processes of computer technology.”
In computer networking terminology, master/slave is commonly used to describe a device or process that has captured (and involuntarily) controls one or more devices or processes. The year has been rife with examples that have been nominated by the GLMs Language Police, volunteer language observers from the world over.
The Top Politically Correct Words and Phrases for 2004:
1. Device for master and captured device for slave in computer networking terminology
2. Non-same sex marriage, for marriage used in Democratic Presidential Primaries
3. Waitron for waiter or waitress
4. Red Sox Lover for Yankee Hater during the ALCS playoffs
5. Higher Power for God
6. Progressive for classical liberal
7. Incurious rather than more impolite invectives for President Bush (such as idiot or moron)
8. Insurgents substituting for terrorists in Iraq
9. Baristas rather than waitrons
10. First year student rather than Freshman, though Frosh is still acceptable
How the 2004 Presidential Election Impacted the Way Americans Speak
Danville, California (November 11, 2004) MetaNewsWire The recently concluded Presidential Election of 2004 has significantly impacted the manner in which Americans communicate with each other and not always in a positive way. For the eight months leading up to the Election, the Global Language Monitor (GLM) has tracked the way Americans communicate with each other about politics. To do this, GLM created its exclusive PQ Index (Political-sensitivity Quotient), a proprietary algorithm that tracks politically sensitive words and phrases in the print, electronic media and the Internet. Some forty words and phrases were analyzed for the Post-Election Survey, including flip flop/flopping, quagmire, Fahrenheit 911, liar!, and misleader.
The PQ Index is perhaps the most in-depth, algorithmic analysis of political word usage ever attempted during a US Presidential campaign. After meeting certain threshold criteria, the index measured how frequently the words and phrases were used in their given political contexts. Then were then tracked on a bi-weekly basis, with greater weight provided for appearances in the major media. Additionally, greater weight was assigned to changes in frequency of appearance the closer the survey came to the election, itself.
Perhaps the one point of agreement by both Republicans and Democrats in the immediate aftermath of the campaign was that moral values played a vastly more important role than had hitherto been estimated. This was re-enforced by the exit polls conducted by Edison Media Research with Mitofsky International for the National Election Pool, which distributed their information to the media through the Associated Press.
The PQ Index picked up this trend months earlier, when issues related to moral values would surface and then, actually, gain in strength as the campaign progressed. By the end of the campaign, these moral values-related words and phrases dominated the pre-Election PQ Index (Political-sensitivity Quotient) of Hot Political Buzzwords released on November 1. Specifically, thirteen or more of the top 20 words and phrases that dominated the media in the run-up to the election, can be classified as directly related to the moral values.
Both the major parties and the mainstream media appear to be surprised at the primacy of the moral values issue atop the exit-poll surveys, though they have used the terms tracked in the PQ Index some hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of times in the preceding month. What led to this miss was that fact that the moral values question was narrowly interpreted to mean the gay marriage and the Mary Cheney incident. (Both Kerry and Edwards cited the sexuality of the vice presidents daughter, Mary Cheney in their debates, a move widely viewed in the subsequent polls as gratuitous.)
In fact, the idea of moral values includes media bias, flip flopping for political gain, the question of a just or unjust war, the disrespecting of a wartime president (as in Fahrenheit 911), tagging the Chief Executive as a Liar or misleader and the rise of the uncivil war in political discourse / dis-coarse. In fact, The Top Five terms in the November PQ Index can all be viewed as related to moral values, as can be seven of the Top Ten — and 13 of the Top Twenty.
Another factor has been the rampant incivility be found in the political discourse in American politics which has reached unprecedented heights or, rather, lows. It can be argued that not since the Civil War era, when President Lincoln was frequently depicted by adversaries as a gangly, gaping baboon, has the discourse sunken to such a profane level. In fact, such is the decline in the political discourse during this campaign that future historians might actually wonder if the battle being fought was between the “Blue States” and the “Red States” rather than between the forces of Terrorism and The West.
This phenomenon is also related to the “Myth of the 24-Hour News Cycle,” where it is argued that once a politically-sensitive buzzword is launched into todays media world, it seems to persist for an indeterminate period, building a kind of media momentum and extending the news cycle rather than shrinking it. This persistence seems at odds with the general perception of the media being fixated on the 24 hours news cycle.
Some of the key words and phrases that have gained visibility during the 2004 Presidential Election follow.
Colossal Error: Kerrys judgment on Bushs Iraq policy. Evidently following California Olive Growers Association Guidelines for measuring the size of olives — Large, Extra Large, Jumbo, Gigantic, Colossal and Super Colossal. This leaves wiggle room for a ‘super-colossal error’.
Flip Flop/Flopping: Formerly referred to gymnastic routines, pancakes, and dolphin acts (Flipper); now a mainstream political term.
Girlie Men: His Honor, the Governator’s, characterization of political opponents.
Global Test: Kerrys description of the bar he would set before committing the US to pre-emptive strikes
Incuriosity: The campaign season with the President being labeled as Incurious George.
Jobless Recovery: A catch=phrase belied by the creation of 2.1 million new jobs in 2004.
Liars!: Signifies the virulence of the name-calling between opponent supporters. Bush wins the ‘Liar Poll with a 2:1 lead over Kerry.
Liberal: Now looked upon as a pejorative; for future reference, please use progressive.
Mary Cheney: For better or for worse, now a household name used in more than 100,000 media citations in the preceding six weeks..
Media Bias: A contentious issue, especially when used in conjunction with the Dan Rather “60 Minutes” imbroglio.
Misleader: MoveOn.org started this all by calling the sitting president a ‘misleader’.
Moral Values: Currently in more than 4,000 media stories; widely varies in interpretation.
Political Incivility: A catch-all category for various rude directives — Cheney, Heinz-Kerry, et al. combined here.
Quagmire: A fading, Viet Nam-era term rescued from obscurity.
Red States/Blue States: Before November 2, 2004, a relatively unknown term, a shorthand used by political pundits, describing Republican-leaning states vs. Democrat-leaning states.
Rush-to-War: The short-hand by Administration opponents for the run-up to the Iraq war.
Swift Boats: Might have torpedoed Kerrys presidential aspirations. Actually, Fast Patrol Craft (PCF), small, shallow draft-water vessels operated by the United States Navy for counterinsurgency (COIN) operations during the Vietnam War.
Two Americas: John Edwards frequent of America as divided between rich and poor, the jobless and the employed, liberals (err, progressives) and conservatives.
Danville, California (October 19, 2004) Though it is commonly assumed that the media is now on a 24-hour news cycle, the opposite appears to be true, according to an exclusive analysis of The Global Language Monitor’s PQ Index (Political-sensitivity Quotient). Though the day-to-day headlines of the 2004 Presidential Campaign are relatively transient, the ideas encapsulated in the political buzzwords that GLM tracks take several months to cycle through the electronic and print media, the internet, and cyberspace, particularly the blogosphere.
Once a ‘politically-sensitive’ buzzword is launched into today’s media world, it seems to persist for an indeterminate period, building a kind of ‘media momentum’ and extending the news cycle rather than shrinking it. This persistence seems at odds with the general perception of the media being fixated on the ’24 hours news cycle’.
The PQ Index (Political-sensitivity Quotient) released monthly by The Global Language Monitor is a proprietary algorithm that tracks politically sensitive words and phrases in the media and on the Internet.
A current example: the PQ Index has been the tracking the “Swift Boats” issue for over six months as shown in Figures 1 and 2. Though it peaked in the last few weeks at No. 1 in the August Tracking Index with the release of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads, it remains strongly entrenched in the Top Ten in the October survey. The evidence suggests that the issue will persist for some time to come; definitely through November 2nd.
Another example might be the labeling of President Bush as a Liar. This first surfaced in early spring as a result of ads launched by 527 organizations, such as MoveOn.org, in an action without precedent in the mainstream media, boldly labeling the sitting president a Liar. This was an early version of this years attack ads that would proliferate throughout the year, and was little noticed by the mainstream media at the time, except as a curiosity.
The ads, however, proved to be harbingers of what was to follow. Over the course of the next six months the label stuck, increasingly resonating especially on the Internet and in the blogosphere. This month the term sits at No. 11 on the PQ Index, down from No. 4 in August. In fact, Bush as Liar! is up some 1400% since the beginning of the year. An additional wrinkle is that Kerry, too, is now being labeled as a Liar! by his critics with nearly 40% of the references tracked by the PQ Index labeling the Democratic nominee as such.
Another example is the Dead and Done Presidents phenomenon. With the passing of Ronald Reagan in June and the much-anticipated publication of Bill Clintons autobiography the next month, these two former presidents, leapt to the top of the PQ Index in June and July respectively. In the October Index, they both still rank in the Top Twenty demonstrating the persistence of their long-shadows over the current campaign.
Fahrenheit, representing Michael Moores controversial film, Fahrenheit 451, took the top ranking in the July PQ Index, jumping some 400% from the previous month. Fahrenheit maintained its No. 1 position in August and currently ranks as No. 6 in the October Index. Mr. Moore, more than most, seems to have appreciated the new “Surprise” phenomenon, though for maximum impact he might have, in retrospect, released his film a month later, in August rather than July.
And now, in what could be a sign of mounting difficulties for the Democratic Presidential Campaign, this months top political buzzwords (including ‘Dan Rather-related Bias, ‘Liberal,’ Global Test,’ ‘Flip flop/flopping’ and Swift Boats) are creating an inhospitable climate, in many cases overshadowing the key messages of the Democratic Nominee, according to the October PQ Index.
In the October PQ Index, Swift Boats is actually getting more media hits and citations than all otherkey Kerry messages combined. These messages include; “Two Americas,” “Bush the Misleader,” “jobless recovery,” and “global outsourcing”.
With weeks remaining in the Campaign, there is a very real danger that Kerrys key messages will continue to be swamped by the “flip flop,” “Swift Boat” and “Rathergate” (and now the Mary Cheney) issues.
This is not to say that an October Surprise is not possible. Based on recent history and the uncertainty associated with al Qaeda it would be wise to expect any number of such events. However, the importance of the August Surprise with its attendant , momentum-building sustainability, should not be overlooked by current, or future, campaigns.
‘Global Study: Top 10 Most Confusing (yet widely used) High Tech Buzzwords for 2008
Cloud Computing, Green Washing and Buzzword Compliant
Austin Texas November 20, 2008 — In its third annual Internet and media analysis, The Global Language Monitor (www.LanguageMonitor.com) has found the most confusing yet frequently cited high tech buzzwords of 2008 to becloud computing, green washing,andbuzzword compliantfollowed byresonate, de-duping,andvirtualization. Rounding out the Top Ten wereWeb 2.0, versioning, word clouds,andpetaflop.The most confusing Acronym for 2008 was SaaS (software as a service).
Paul JJ Payack, president of the Global Language Monitor, said “The words we use in high technology continue to become even more obtuse even as they move out of the realm of jargon and into the language at large.”
The Most Confusing Yet Frequently Cited High Tech Words of 2008 with Commentary follow:
·Cloud Computing – Distributing or accessing programs and services across the Internet.(The Internet is represented as a cloud.)
·Green washing – Repositioning your product so that its shortfalls are now positioned as environmental benefits:Not enough power? Just re-position as energy-saving.
·Buzzword Compliant — Including the latest buzzwords in literature about a product or service in order to make it ‘resonate’ with the customer.
·Resonate – Not the tendency of a system to oscillate at maximum amplitude, but the ability to relate to (or resonate with) a customer’s desires.
·De-duping – shorthand for de-duplication, that is, removing redundant data from a system.
·Virtualization – Around since dinosaurs walked the planet (the late ‘70s) virtualization now applies to everything from infrastructures to I/O.
·Web 2.0 – Now there’s talk of Web 3.0, just when we were finally getting used to Web 2.0.
·Versioning – Creating new revisions (or versions) with fewer bugs and more features.
·Word Clouds – Graphic representations of the words used in a text, the more frequently used, the larger the representation.
·Petaflop –A thousand trillion (or quadrillion) floating point operations per secondOften mistaken as a comment on the environmental group.
The Most Confusing Yet Frequently Cited Acronym for 2008:SaaS — software-as-as-service to be differentiated, of course, from PaaS (platforms as a service) and IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-service).
Others words under consideration include the ever popular yet amorphous ‘solution’, 3G and SEO.
In 2007 IPOD, Flash, Cookie, Nano and Cookie lead the list with SOA as the most confusing acronym
In 2005, HTTP, VoIP, Megapixel, Plasma, & WORM were the leading buzzwords.
The analysis was completed using GLM’s Predictive Quantities Indicator (PQI), the proprietary algorithm that tracks words and phrases in the media and on the Internet.The words are tracked in relation to frequency, contextual usage and appearance in global media outlets.This analysis was performed earlier this month.
Top 10 Most Confusing (yet widely used) High Tech Buzzwords for 2007
iPod, Flash, Cookie, Nano and Kernel lead list; SOA most confusing acronym
San Diego, Calif. and Henderson, NV October 16, 2007. In a worldwide internet and media analysis, The Global Language Monitor has found the most confusing yet frequently cited high tech buzzwords in 2007 to be iPOD, Flash, Cookie, Nano and Kernel followed by Megahertz, Cell (cell as in cell phone), Plasma, De-duplication, and Blu-Ray.
The study was released earlier today, on the 13th anniversary of the ‘cookie,’ the invention that made the World Wide Web practical for widespread surfing, communication, and e-commerce.
Paul JJ Payack, President of the Global Language Monitor, said “Educational metrics such as the Flesch Test would place a typical paragraph using these words at the Third-grade reading-level. At the same time, most college graduates, even from the most prestigious engineering schools such as MIT, Stanford, and CalTech would be challenged to precisely define all ten. Once again, the High Tech industry has failed its basic language proficiency test.”
The analysis was completed using GLM’s Predictive Quantities Indicator (PQI), the proprietary algorithm that tracks words and phrases in the media and on the Internet. The words are tracked in relation to frequency, contextual usage and appearance in global media outlets. This analysis was performed in earlier this month.
The Most Confusing Yet Frequently Cited High Tech Words of 2007 with Commentary follow:
1. iPOD: We all know the brand, but what exactly is a ‘pod’? A gathering of marine mammals? The encasement for peas? The evacuation module from 2001: A Space Odyssey?
2. Flash: As in Flash Memory. Given it is easier to say than “ I brought the report on my EEPROM chip with a thin oxide layer separating a floating gate and control gate utilizing Fowler-Nordheim electron tunneling”.
3. Nano: Widely used to describe any small as in nanotechnology. Like the word ‘mini’ which originally referred to the red hues in Italian miniature paintings, the word nano- is ultimately derived from the ancient Greek word for dwarf.
4. Cookie: Without cookies with their ‘persistent state’ management mechanism the web as we know it, would cease to exist.
5. Kernel: The core layer of a computer operating system serving as a connection to the underlying hardware. Ultimately derives from the Old English cyrnel, for corn.
6. Megahertz MHz): Named after German physicist Heinrich Hertz, signifying a million cycles per second in computer processor (and not clock) speed. Next up: GigaHertz (GHz) and TeraHertz (THz), one billion and one trillion cycles.
7. Cell (as in Cell Phone): Operating on the principle of cells, where communicate through low-power transceiver to cellular ‘towers’ up to 6 miles away (which is why you can connect to ground stations from airplanes at 35,000 feet). The phone connects to the strongest signal which are then passed from tower to tower.
8. Plasma (as in Plasma Television): A top word in the last survey still confusing large-screen TV buyers.
9. De-duplication: One of the newer buzzwords meaning removing duplicated data from a storage device, as in ‘we’re in the process of de-duping the silo’. Ouch!
10. Blu-Ray (vs. HD DVD). New technology for high capacity DVDs reminiscent of the VHS/Beta wars of the 1980s.
Confusing Acronym: SOA (Service-oriented Architecture); IBM had to write a book to explain it!?
Other terms being tracked included terabyte, memory, core, and head crash.
Now you can watch Global Language Monitor on YouTube.
Global Study: Top 10 Most Confusing (yet widely used) High Tech Buzzwords:
HTTP, Megapixel, Plasma, WORM and Emoticon Among Leaders
Danville, Calif. March 24, 2005. In a worldwide internet and media analysis, The Global Language Monitor found the most confusing yet frequently cited high tech buzzwords to be HTTP, Voice Over IP (VoIP), and Megapixel. Closely following were Plasma, Robust, WORM and Emoticon. The study was released earlier today. “The high tech realm remains an incubator of great ideas and, at the same time, mass confusion. The industry, with rare exception, has never mastered the basics of translating new products and services into everyday language: It is obvious that the High Tech industry has failed in its basic language proficiency test.”
The Predictive Quantities Indicator (PQI) is a proprietary algorithm that trackswords and phrases in the media and on the Internet. The words are tracked in relation to frequency, contextual usage and appearance in global media outlets. This analysis was performed in early March of 2005.
The Most Confusing Yet Frequently Cited High Tech Words with Commentary follow:
1. HTTP HyperText Transfer Protocol is used for HTML (HyperText Markup Language) files. Not to be confused with text on too much Starbucks. More than 1 billion references to HTTP on the web alone.
2. Voice Over IP VoIP, (pronounced voip rhyming with Detroit). Voice over Internet Protocol. Simply put: web telephony.
3. Megapixel A really big pixel. No, one million pixels (thats a lotta pixels) OK, whats a pixel? Computer-ese for picture element.
4. Plasma As in Plasma TV. Are we talking Red Cross Drives here? Rather, a flat, lightweight surface covered with millions of tiny glass bubbles with a digitally controlled electric current flowing through it that causes the plasma inside the tiny bubbles to glow.
5. Robust No one quite knows what this means, but its good for your product to demonstrate robustness.
6. WORM A virus, right? No, a Write Once, Read Many file system used for optical disk technology.
7. Emoticon A smiley with an emotional component (from emotional icon). Now, whats a smiley?
8. Best of breed Not to be confused with the Westminster Dog Show. A personalized solution made of components from various manufacturers; a sort of high tech mix-and-match.
9. Viral marketing Marketing that Freezes your computer? Actually, a high tech marketing fad that theoretically results in a geometric progression of ones marketing message. Sometimes stealth. Always irritating.
10. Data migration Nothing to do with pre-historic mastodons or, even, global warming. Its where the data in your present software programs can move to newer (or older) versions of the programs or, better yet, into competitive solutions without causing much of a fuss. A highly unlikely result.
Other terms being tracked included client/server, solution, Paradigm, hypertext, backward compatible, best of breed, and the STUN protocol.
The Dustbin of History, or How the Infinity Symbol Came into Existence
By Paul JJ Payack
John Wallis (1616-1703) possessed no knowledge of the mathematical arts at the age of fifteen, yet he later went on to become the Savilian professor of Geometry at Oxford, the friend and teacher of Isaac Newton (he was the first to charge that Leibnitz had stolen his ideas for the calculus), and a charter member of the Royal Society. Yet his place in the history of mathematical thought is, perhaps not unjustly, obscure (and oftentimes, simply, ignored). A list of his major formulations would serve, merely, as an esoteric series of footnotes to the said compilation, which would interest, it should be stated, rather few.
For example, Wallis discovered that, in all such operations, it was mass times velocity (mv) that was conserved and not, as it was widely held, merely velocity (v). However, he fell short of unsecreting the laws of motion (which Newton would later publish). He also, at one time, theorized “that for the purposes of calculation, the earth and moon can be treated as a single body, concentrated at their center of gravity …” but stopped short far short of formulating the basis for the Laws of Universal Gravitation.
It can also be noted that Newton borrowed his system of fluxional notation (in which the fluent of was represented by , and the fluent by and so on) yet this, too, was swept into the dustbin of history when it was later replaced by that system developed by Leibnitz. His significant work still owed a heavy debt to the Greeks and the most notable of these was Arithmatica Infinitorum sive Nova Methodus Inquirendi in Curvilineorum Quadraturam aliague difficilora Matheseosos Problemata (1673), which is more often recalled for its title rather than for the fact that it introduced to mathematics the idea of ‘limit’.
It is often opined that a man might fulfill the secret purpose of his existence in the doing of a seemingly trivial deed such as a word said in passing or, perhaps, an action not acted upon (the significance of which, more often than not, is forever hidden from the doer). In the case of John Wallis it can be said that he, quite possibly, achieved his destiny with the few simple strokes of his quill with which he, in 1656, modified a Roman variation for 1000. This was to serve him simply as the notation for a very small quantity, but, in centuries to come, was to serve the world as the symbol (and signature) of INFINITY.