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Things to Know About the Year 2018

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Whatever your grievances against 2016 as a year, it was a stellar number. Like a picnic with milkshakes and beer, this integer was fun for the whole family.

Just look at these equations:

1 new year

After this crowd-pleaser came 2017, a prime year, which engendered this brilliant Tweet from Matt Parker:

That brings us to 2018.

It’s not triangular, like 2016.

It’s not prime, like 2017.

Is it, then, worthless?

Well, I myself am neither triangular nor prime. But if the roles were reversed, I like to think 2018 would do its best to uncover my special qualities and catalogue them in a blog post. So I went to do “research” (my codeword for “Google searches”).

What secret mathematical properties and pleasures will our new year contain?

To 2018’s credit, there are a few special days to mark on your calendars:

3 new year

That’s just around the corner! And there’s another one coming:4 new year

And then in February, the first of our factor days:5 new year

The second will follow in March:6 new year

And the third in June:7 new year

With another special day in August:

8 new year.jpg

And the final factor day in September:9 new year

Exciting as these days are, they pale in urgency alongside the fact that 2018 is the year in which the film Iron Sky takes place. So if there’s a shadow civilization of Nazis living on the dark side of the moon, expect them to surface sometime in the next 12 months.

10 new year

In another dark turn, 2018 marks the 500th anniversary of the great Dancing Plague, in which four hundred citizens of Strasbourg danced for days without rest, some to their deaths. The cause remains unknown.

(Seriously. I’m not making that one up.)

Aside from that… I’m afraid 2018 is a rather bland number. Well, not bland; let’s go with “understated.” I can’t call it outright “boring” because of the classic proof that there is no uninteresting positive integer:

11 new year.jpg

Still, I have to confess that 2018 is below-average for mathematical swagger. The best I can offer is this little trifecta:

12 new year

Or, if you prefer strange conversions to and from binary:

13 new year

I’m afraid I’m not serving well as 2018’s advocate, since this is all rather arbitrary and numerological. We’d get similar answers from an astrologer or a fever dream.

The harsh mathematical truth of 2018 is that it is “semiprime,” i.e., a product of two primes—in this case, 2 x 1009.

That’s not the most exciting property. Other semiprime numbers include 6, 9, 10, 14, 15, 21, 22, 25, 26… and indeed, more than a quarter of all years that have happened so far.

Is that the best we can say for the forthcoming year?

14 new year

Luckily, no. 2018 has one last trick up its sleeves.

Although semiprime years are quite common, this is the first since 2005. That 13-year drought is rather impressive; it’s the longest since Shakespeare’s death.

15 new year.jpg

With any luck, that’s interesting enough to last us until the Moon Nazis show up.

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295 days ago
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2 public comments
292 days ago
So many celebrations. I shall have to update my calendar. And stock up on cupcakes.
293 days ago
golden day might be June for the rest of the world
Cammeray, New South Wales, Australia

update: I have a weird patchwork of responsibilities and feel unqualified for anything else


Remember the letter-writer who didn’t feel qualified to find a new job? Here’s the update.

Last year, I wrote in saying that I felt unqualified to search for a new job because my nonprofit job of several years had so many unrelated responsibilities, many of which I’d had to learn on the fly. I kept seeing job postings which assumed that a person at my level of experience in any one of those responsibilities would know x y and z, and in many cases I only knew x, or only x and y. You advised me to look for jobs where I met 80% of the qualifications.

That was a great starting point for me, but the thing that really began to shift my thinking was reading through your archives and posting a bit in the open comment threads. That was how I started to realize that my main problem – the real reason I felt unqualified for most of the job postings I saw – was not the ad-hoc nature of my job responsibilities. It was the fact that my workplace was an incredibly demoralizing place to work. It constantly demanded more than I could really deliver, which led me to more or less constantly feel like I was failing at my job despite pulling increasingly frequent 10 or 12 or occasionally 18 hour days. My work was also consistently given multiple rounds of extensive edits by my grandboss, so I felt as if the work product I was managing to turn out was also just not good enough. Honestly, I felt like I didn’t even deserve to work there.

Your archives and your commenters helped me begin to accept that my issues at work might not be all my fault. This article – How To Keep Someone With You Forever – was also incredibly validating, and was what finally made me realize that my work environment was really not normal or OK.

When I finally started applying for jobs, I rewrote my resume and cover letters using your free guide, and I also took your advice about applying for jobs I was 80% qualified for. I also forced myself to play up my skills, even when it felt awkward, and I stopped discounting certain types of work experience just because I’d only done them a handful of times or they weren’t the majority of my job.

I wound up getting a call back from more than half the positions I applied to. I got two offers, and the one I turned down – which would have almost entirely involved a task that made up 10% of my old job – sounded legitimately disappointed when I told them I’d accepted the other position. At my new job, I’m making 15% more than I made before, and most mindboggling of all… my new boss loves my work, and tells me so, and treats me as an expert in my field, and expresses honest concern for my wellbeing, and would never in a million years dream of making me work an 18 hour day.

I am still getting over some mental and physical health issues I developed at Old Job, and I am still working to recalibrate my sense of what’s normal at work. But I am so incredibly happy with this change. And I would like to encourage anyone who feels incompetent and never-good-enough at work to consider that maybe the problem is not with you and your work at all, but with your workplace.

update: I have a weird patchwork of responsibilities and feel unqualified for anything else was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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302 days ago
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Three Types of People


Three Types of People

Unless you’re omniscient like me… Where is everyone going?

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1806 days ago
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