Voting for Humanity

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About Matthew Salesses

Matthew Salesses was adopted from Korea at age two and lives in Boston with his wife, baby, and cats. He has written for The New York Times Motherlode blog, NPR, Hyphen, The Rumpus, and other venues. His new book is I'm Not Saying, I'm Just Saying. See more at his eponymous website. Contact him via email or @salesses.


  1. Got up this morning sans “new” aches and nettles. My abs are still a little sore from the blow out I gave them last week—windshield wipers, hanging from the pull-up bar.

    Fiscal cliff, fiscal curb, fiscal showdown, cut a billion here, raise a couple billion there, shut loop hole A, lower deduction B, will give us 7 trillion over 10 years, cool.

    Whoever said that the math doesn’t add up was closer to the truth than they may have thought, here’s how:

    1) Count to one hundred. It took me a minute, thirty seconds.

    To get the projected time it would take for me to count to 1,000, I multiplied 1:30 by 10. In so doing, I came up with a projected 25 minutes that it would take for me to count to 1,000.

    Using the same formula, when I multiply the 25 minutes that it should take me to count to 1,000, I project that it should take me 250 minutes to count to 10,000—just over 4 hours. If this should prove accurate, then it should take me 8 hours to count to 20,000! Provided that I don’t space out and lose count.

    Keeping with this line of figuration, counting from 1 to 100,000 should take about 40 hours; 1,000,000 should take 400 hours; 10,000,000 should take 4000 hours; counting from the number 1 to the number 100,000,000 should take about 40,000 hours.

    When I came out of the mental time machine and divided this hypothetical grip of hours by the twenty-four hours which make up a day, I came up with 1666 days 14 hours. I then divided by the number of days which make up a year—365. I got 4 ½ years that it would take for me to count from 1 to one hundred million, but wait a second. This would mean that counting from 1 to 200,000,000 should take twice as long as counting to 100,000,000—9 years. Thus, counting to 1 billion would take 10 times as long as counting from 1 to 100,000,000. Forty years, counting round the clock. Doesn’t this mean that it would take 400 years of counting round the clock to get from the number 1 to the number ten billion?

    This is why the math doesn’t add up. Our elected officials, much like most of us laypeople have no real connection with these figures. We can visualize one hundred, or even 100,000— Invesco at Mile High, holds 77,000. While human cognizance may recognize decades, and years, it is my theory that the human brain will not connect the word century, or billion with anything in our physical environment. Say the word “potato,” and I visualize the number 6. Say “kids,” I think 4. When the word payday is introduced, my visualization is right around twenty slips of green inked paper filling my wallet.

    I put forth that these words; billion, ten billion, and trillion, suggest no mean connection with tangible things; these words are sounds, much like guhzillion, fuh-reallion. A 17 trillion dollar national debt cannot not be paid in our lifetimes; numbers this large are not passed down to future generations; this would be like saying that we are now suffering from a debt incurred by the ancient Phoenecians.

    And a lot of things can happen in just ten years, feal me?

  2. Richard Aubrey says:

    I understand only three precincts in Boston had less than 100% turnout. That’s what I call a high degree of civic responsibility.

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