New technology and those green shoots

Even if everyone is wrong, this really does seem to be time for those “green shoots.”

I am not an economist, in fact I am barely numerate, but I do know that shares have risen this week all over the World because investors think the American economy is showing signs of recovery.

My answer at school to even the simplest of arithmetic problems was “Don’t know” and my pitiful “sums” book had some pages literally worn through by my erasing rubber.

So don’t ask me if these green shoots are poking through, ask one of those brilliant bankers or economists who got us into this mess in the first place.

I am not showing off now but as an example of how bad I was at arithmetic, I was, apparently, exceptionally good at geometry and algebra, the other disciplines in that nightmare world known as mathematics.

What the teachers were saying was that I was getting practically full marks in the other two but scraping along the nil point line in arithmetic, resulting in me always failing school mathematics exams.

It was an old fashioned educational establishment which frowned on modern technology so the calculator was seen as the tool of cheats. There was no help there when I calculated that a bag of apples cost more than (Sir) Fred Goodwin’s annual income. Fred, in case you don’t know, was the failed head of the Royal Bank of Scotland who can claim at the age of 50, an annual pension of nearly £800,000. Imagine what he could have earned if he had been any good. Now surely I must have made another mistake here, those sums just don’t add up.

So “new technology” is no enemy for me. The simple calculator has removed in one fell swoop all that need for mental arithmetic and all that frustration, self-flagellation and despair knowing that my multiplication tables get into boggy territory after 3 x 3.

No, I tell a lie – 3 x 4 = 12. What a clever boy.

Actually, I can also claim, proudly, that I have always found the Five Times table really easy but that was because it sounded like poetry to my innumerate ears. Oh, yes, the Ten Times table is pretty easy too.

But that really is it: my telephone number, well sometimes I can remember it, sometimes not, car registration number? no idea, banking pin numbers? You must be joking.

I was hoping that one of the advantages of my recent brain haemorrhage might have been that I would have come out of that coma with a brilliant arithmetical brain – rather like that person who, allegedly, woke up from a coma with an entirely new fluency in Swedish, a language he had never even heard before, or the man who came round with a virtuoso violin technique. Hang on, I haven’t tried those yet.

3 x 3 = 9, 3 x 4 = 12, 3 x 5 = 15, 3 x 6 = um…..sorry, it hasn’t worked. Is it 18? Wow!

Shall I see if I can recite all my pin numbers next?

I once stood in a long queue at the bank where an old lady was fumbling with her bank cards. The tiller asked her if she could remember her pin number and the old lady said yes in a very proud voice before reciting it loudly, clearly and slowly to everyone in the building.

I forgot it, of course, instantly.

I am not expecting a miracle in my numbers problem, so I am holding on to my beloved calculator just as I have embraced all these other developments in new technology.

Why do they get such a bad press? The trouble with children today is…..yes all of those things that I find have made modern life incomparably easier and much more enjoyable.

Mobile phones – do you really want to go for another search for another urine-fragrant telephone box?

iPods – music to your ears wherever you go. Do you really want to hear that conversation on the bus about incontinence?

And, of course, the big bad monster, the internet – the supplier of knowledge to the masses and pornography to all comers. Are we better if we are kept in ignorance?

I now know all about brain haemorrhages, the symptoms, life expectancy and treatment thanks to Dr. Google but I can find out about most things if I am only persistent enough in my search. It is a great library, an opener of minds.

The trouble with children today………it might be that they end up better educated than all those folk who grew up when knowledge was handed out in small portions and only to those who were considered worthy to receive it.

So back to those green shoots.

Yes, the share markets round the world have rallied, and yes, at least one of those disgusting money embezzlers, Bernard Madoff, has gone to prison but there have been other signs of hope this week.

(His Holiness) the Pope, Benedict XVI, an elderly gentleman, with profound beliefs in medieval theology, who could, I suppose, be forgiven for closing his eyes to modern technology, well he came out with a startling observation this week.

Not long ago, he lifted the excommunication on a number of wacky, Latin mass loving priests who had been chucked out of the Roman Catholic Church for being too old fashioned – no I am serious! Well he invited them back in but failed to notice some of their other less endearing qualities, like their extreme right wing politics and, in one Bishop Williamson’s case, his denial of the Nazi Holocaust.

Well, whilst a lot of people have made nasty comments about Benedict having been, like most German lads of his age, in the Hitler Youth Movement, I always rather liked his face.

He seems to me, to be a kindly and sensitive soul. All the more so since I heard that he plays Mozart piano sonatas when he is alone in the Vatican.

I was upset by the welcoming arms he was thought to be throwing round Bishop Williamson.

Now we hear, that he has acknowledged his mistake and, even more amazingly for an elderly Pontiff, he has said that his error was in not paying more attention to the internet.

He will be telling his college of cardinals to be more internet-wise so that they become more aware of the world around them. Benedicite omnia opera.

Religious leaders embracing new technology feels like a green shoot to me.

The Pope is not the only one either.

The Karmapa lama, the third highest ranking lama in Tibetan Buddhism, after the Dalai Lama and someone else I can’t remember, this Karpama, announced this week that he relaxes with his iPod and plays war games on his Playstation console to vent “negative energy.”

Admittedly, he is only 23 years old, having been enthroned at the age of seven as the supposedly reincarnated leader of Kagyu Buddhism, but still, there is a good chance that this serious-minded young man, Ugyen Trinley Dorje, may just have some feeling for the modern world and, reassuringly, he must have some idea about fun too.

Green shoots in the economy would be great but green shoots in the leaders of the World’s religions might just change all of our lives. A few iPod wearing, internet-surfing mullahs might help us all – they could skip those Playstation war games though.

As for me…..3 x 7 = sorry, I just don’t know. Ask Bernard Madoff, he knew all about manipulating numbers.


  1. Maybe the Pope and the various flavors of Lamas should take to “micro-blogging” on Twitter.

    Hmm.. of course, I’d like to see you micro-blogging.

    Think you could handle only 140 characters per post?

  2. I am tempted to twitter, Terra….some people might say I never stop.

    I am definitely going to have a go but worry that you get permanently twittered in return bu hundreds of twitterers.

    I will ignore the innuendo about me handling “only” 140 words, thanks you very much, to say I really like the idea of those short texts.

    I have done a few of those for another site.

    Oh well, I have to admit it, I am going to become a twitterer…as long as I don’t get addicted.

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