Category Archives: Answers

Answers, supplied via The Conduit

Why are words such as “F*ck” and “Csee Uyou Next Tuesday” considered rude ? How did they get inappropriate ? They’re just words.

It is amusing you censored your own words when you claim they are nothing to worry about !

How do words become rude ? Merely by their usage. Take a word like “nigger” or “wog” – these were regarded as acceptable descriptions of black people as recently as the latter twentieth century but now are regarded as terribly offensive. This is because they came to be used in derogatory ways and to imply very negative things. Contrast with the word “queer” which was at the same time a term of insult towards homosexuals and has now been co-opted by the gay community and might be used as a positive expression of a lifestyle.

To say “but they are just words” is to rampantly ignore the power words can have. One can go on TV and use only words and spark race riots in minutes – words are never to be underestimated. Similarly one can use words that are not particularly nasty but by intonation and juxtaposition make you feel very uncomfortable.

The etymology of the two words you cite is difficult to establish, partly because a word such as fuck was considered too rude to write down and thus was excluded from early editions of the Oxford English Dictionary. The OED offers a comparison to thirteenth century usage of a word fuken but is clear that the ultimate derivation of the word is unknown. It would not surprise The Conduit if in one hundred years the word has lost its status as a bad word through over-usage.

The word cunt is probably retaining its severe meaning (which also dates back to the same period). It is possible that these words gained their status as they were words used by the common folk in bawdy conversation and as such were regarded as particularly coarse.

The Conduit‘s belief is that it should not be necessary to censor such words other than for each person to ask themselves whether the usage of the word in any given context is justified, bearing in mind the meaning that one wishes to get across and the efficacy of the chosen words for the audience. One doubts that hearing your vicar say “Let us fucking pray” would strike the right note.

Consider that the universe is constantly expanding, and that once it has reached a certain limit in momentum, it will begin collapsing on itself, much like a rubber band. Now also keep in mind that time is a constant of the universe, and bends at its will. With this given set of parameters, does The Conduit believe that once the universe begins collapsing upon itself, time will actually start running backwards, and these events will be repeated 25 trillion years from now, only in reverse ? As a follow-up question, under the assumption that once the universe has contracted, it will begin to expand again, and time will once again move forward, will the events of history take place exactly the same ?

Take it as proven and agreed that the universe is expanding (read up on “Red Shift” for further explanation) but can it be as easily agree that the universe will at some point cease to expand ? Is the “Big Crunch” inevitable ? There’s one to spice up your water-cooler debates !

The statement about time is also one open to query – naturally it is agreed that time is a constant within any given inertial frame of reference but it is easily demonstrable that as velocity increases, time slows relatively so a person in a ship that travels close to the speed of light can expect time to pass at a different rate to those he or she left behind on their home planet (read up on “Relativity” for that one).

As for the idea that time “bends”, that is a difficult one to imagine – and if you are going to call that our “fourth dimension” then what about the remaining 6 (or 7 or 22 depending on what variety of String Theory, if any, you favour) ? Do they bend ? Are they entirely separate from time or do they affect it ?

If one accepts that the universe will contract and that time will therefore run “backwards” one must be careful what that means. Would that be a literal “undoing” in which case yes, everything would occur backwards, or would it be like reversing in any of our more tangible three dimensions in which case we might reasonably expect to see many of the same landmarks but not necessarily quite how we left them ?

Finally, if the universe were to happen again would it be exactly the same ? If so, then you must immediately discount free will (which most are loathed to do) as then you could be in a repeat cycle right now and have no control over your actions. The Conduit feels that a chaotic system can not have this level of predictability and would proffer James Gleick’s book Chaos as a good start in understanding the butterfly effect. Additionally, if you consider the universe as having “undone” itself then technically none of the events would be repeating because they never would have taken place in the first instance.

In summary, long answer “yes” with an if…short answer “no” with a but.

Why will 2 + 2 always equal 4 ?

Of course that is not correct. Whilst it is true that in a decimal system of addition the addition of 2 and 2 makes 4, if you use a ternary base 2 + 2 = 11 and in a quaternary base 2 + 2 = 10.

For those wishing to understand why it is necessary for there to be a restriction on what you can add to 2 in order to achieve 4 in decimal arithmetic you might like to begin by learning the necessary conditions for Ring Theory to be satisfied.