I say the answer to the above is 10. But my math-wiz-friend, Chuck Greenia, says it’s “kind of a trick. In formal mathematics, multiplication and division are done before addition and subtraction, making the answer -80.”  Sheesh! Formal mathematics sounds even worse than regular math. Okay, I acknowledge the answer is probably -80, unless it is calculated as presented, as a linear equation, which produces 10. The real answer is blowin in the wind.

1,000,000,000,000 x 0 = 0

van gogh shoes

Why do two shoes equal only one pair?

I just wish someone would acknowledge the real elephant in the room: People in tuxedos are telling me I don’t exist because somebody crossed me with a zero. That’s right. Some formal mathematician, somewhere in the world, is laughing at us because when we multiply anything by zero, we get zero. We need to start a movement to eliminate the power zero has to negate even the most beautiful of numbers, which are never really only numbers, are they? They are often things, like three children or ten Cocker Spaniels. Is there no remorse for these things — possibly dogs or people — that (who) have been multiplied into oblivion by a seemingly benign, but oh so terrifying zero? That’s one sad story problem, if you ask me, which you didn’t. Zeros are the black holes of math. Jinka Knight Bloom points out that because we “have this thing zero times” then maybe we never really had it to begin with. She explains, “what if I have a three ZERO times? You have nothing. But What if I have a TEN zero times? …still nothing.” How depressing is that? What about the three poor little children or those cute Cocker Spaniels? Is it not better to have had and lost than never to have had at all?  Zeros totally suck! For something that doesn’t even exist, zeros have way too much power. Talk about the awe and dread of nothingness!

The Blues

The Blues by NETI

So the real question we need to answer is why in math does multiplying anything by zero always have to make it zero? Who says? Can’t it simply be a suggestion? Can’t we just make it a little less of what it is rather than making it disappear entirely. Nothing should have that much power, especially a measly, insignificant zero. I mean, a zero is more powerful than Thanos, for God’s sake. How can nothing at all have the power to completely annihilate something else? It’s just wrong, I tell you. WRONG!

If I do nothing, on the other hand, there is zero impact. And if I choose to do enough nothing, I begin to take from the world more than I give. Eventually, I will have a negative impact on the world. They will put me away for vagrancy, even though I didn’t do anything. And it will be paid for by your tax dollars, which certainly aren’t zero, unless you’re Jeff Bezos. I mean, doing nothing should be a personal choice. And I’m sure people make that choice for a variety of reasons. People get tired of all the BS, for one. Sometimes I am taking more than I am giving. I just hope, when I die, I will have taken exactly as much as I have given. To be sure, the only thing my doing nothing vaporizes is my ambition.

iEye by NETI

But what if what I give cannot be measured against what I take. I give my talent and I receive money. Or at least that is how it’s supposed to work. But we all know it’s not that simple. Some work very hard and make a minimum wage, while others do nothing and make millions, even billions. The quality of work is not even comparable. My painting requires more of a certain kind of skill than an abstract expressionist. But many would choose abstract expressionism over my expressive realism, because that type of skill is only one criteria for judging art. If I sculpt in metal, for instance, I must learn everything I can about welding. But everyone knows welding is not an art, except those who might rightly argue that it is. So the question is am I doing what I do, well? Or fully? Do I add or contribute anything that wasn’t already there, in my work?  If I add nothing to something I should still be left with the same something. And yet, multiplying any of us, or our work, by zero and none of this matters.

So then why does multiplying a thing by zero negate it completely? Multiplying something, even by nothing should be nil. It should have no impact. Or, it should make it even more intensely the thing it is, particularly if we add zeros to the end of a number, perhaps a small quantity of money. Things should get better the more zeros there are. They should at least be made better than they would have been if nothing had been done at all. And yet, multiplying by one changes nothing. We still have the same thing. Why then would zero, which I might point out, is even less than one, completely obliterate a perfectly good thing or several good things or a million good things. It’s simply not fair. This is why I never went into the advanced sciences. I mean, where is the humanity in a zero sum game?
If an existentialist fell in a forest and there was no one there to acknowledge it, would he have ever really existed? Would any of this even matter? What if we are simply multiplied by zero when we die and this is all just a silly dream, perhaps a mathematician’s nightmare? I’m have a feeling there is zero chance of that.

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