Two things I don’t know


These are not the only two things I don’t know, mind you, but they’re two things I want to know, that I’ve tried to find out, but which are failing to succumb to the magic of the Internet.

The first is a spinoff of yesterday’s post, in which I quoted a paraphrase of Nixon’s from the Fall of 1972 in which he said that the rate of increase of inflation was decreasing [which, since inflation measures the change in prices, amounts to saying that a third derivative is negative].   Although this was just a postscript, it got me curious as to exactly how he’d phrased it.  So I looked, figuring that Google would turn up something and…it did, but nothing about that speech.    There is something sort of close in this speech from February 1, 1971 in the Annual Message to the Congress: The Economic Report of the President:

Fiscal policy should do its share in promoting economic expansion, and our proposed budget would do that. But fiscal policy cannot undertake the responsibility of doing by itself everything needed for economic expansion in the near future. To try to do that would drive taxes and expenditures off the course that is needed for the longer run. The task of economic stabilization must be accomplished by a concert of economic policies. The combined use of these policies, starting near the beginning of 1969, finally checked the accelerating inflation that had kept the economy overheated for years. [bold added]

See, it uses the word “acceleration”!  Which is the main word that stood out, because I’m afraid that trying to sort through speeches by Nixon for references to inflation is a wee bit mind-numbing.

This 1971 speech occurred more than a year before the one referenced in the quote paraphrase paraphrased quote; the timing, however, seems to match the economic data (well, sort of).  From Inflationdata, the average inflation rate was:
2.79% in 1967
4.27% in 1968
5.46% in 1969
5.84% in 1970  [And somehow I bet that fact that the increase was decreasing wasn’t so reassuring at this point]
But in 1971 it started to go back down, so that in the Fall of 1972 it was back to 2-3% levels.  That doesn’t quite match the claim that the increase was decreasing then — you could just say that inflation was decreasing.  But then again, it doesn’t look like inflation was accelerating per se either — it was mostly decelerating prior to his 1971 speech.

So the end result is that I have no idea which speech it was, nor am I sure that it was right in any case.

That’s the first thing.  The second is a minor point.  I was just reading a student paper about the secret society Bourbaki [the paper came with a short film she made re-enacting the start of Bourbaki!] and there was a reference to a curvy Z-like symbol that Bourbaki used to use, to signify “dangerous bends” in the road where it woudl be easy to get lost.  I was curious as to what it would look like, but the closest I could find was the adaptation that Donald Knuth used: rkinch_dbWhich is all well and good, except that I’m curious as to whether the black curvy part is identical to Bourbaki, or merely inspired by “him”.  Maybe a search through online books is the next way to go for that search.

2 Responses to “Two things I don’t know”

  1. Shreevatsa Says:

    It is possible that both Bourbaki’s and Knuth’s symbols are inspired by actual signs in the real world: Knuth is known to be interested in diamond-shaped road signs.

    The Bourbaki symbol seems very similar but slightly different in orientation, see e.g. this page or this page. (Both are translations, so there is a small probability that the French originals were typeset differently.)

  2. Ξ Says:

    Thanks Shreevatsa! That’s what I was looking for [and feel like I should have found — I made the mistake of using Google didn’t think of Google books until I’d already been searching for a while]! I’m happy to see that it looks pretty much identical to Knuth’s signs.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: