forwarded message from John Conover

From: John Conover <>
Subject: forwarded message from John Conover
Date: Sat, 15 Nov 1997 16:01:49 -0800

In case you are curious, the concept of the zero was invented first,
(as far as we know,) by the Maya during the first centuries, AD. It
was reinvented, (apparently independently,) in the middle east and
China around a millenia later, (with the middle east lagging by
several centuries-although the middle eastern symbol for zero, 0, is
now accepted universally in all cultures.)

What's the significance of this?  Subtraction (one of the fundamental
tools of accounting,) won't work without it. Conceptually, it moves
the the use of the arithmetic to a qualitatively higher level of
understanding-its invention is the hallmark of a culture that is using
accountability as a method of social administration.

Addition can be proven self-consistent and complete within the
framework of the arithmetic. Subtraction can not. (Although we can
prove subtraction to be consistent and complete-ie., it will always
work, for all numbers-we can not do so within the framework of the
arithmetic-which is kind of astonishing, when you think about it. We
have to drag in mathematical induction to prove it will always
work. And that means dragging in set theory-which is one of
mathematic's most enigmatic concepts.)

Although the problem of the consistency of subtraction was known to
the early Greeks, it was not resolved until Kurt Godel, the Austrian
Logician, provided insight into it in 1928-it is a lemma of the
incompleteness theorem, which states, in a nut shell, that any theory
as complicated as the arithmetic can not be consistent and complete
without contradictions.

What's the bottom line? Well, when you are trying to understand
something, and the something is more complicated than the arithmetic,
then the understanding can not be complete, consistent and without

As fate would have it, that is most of life.


BTW, Roman Numerals have no symbol for zero. Why? Because you can not
do subtraction in Roman Numerals.

------- start of forwarded message (RFC 934 encapsulation) -------
From: John Conover <>
To: John Conover <>
Subject: Mexico, Central America look to lure tourists with Maya past
Date: Sat, 15 Nov 1997 14:00:15 PST

   MEXICO CITY, Nov 15 (AFP) - Mexico and four Central American
countries sharing an indigenous Maya heritage plan to create a "Maya
World" tourist trail, with funding courtesy of the Inter-American
Development Bank (IDB).
   IDB president Enrique Iglesias said the bank would back Mexico,
Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras with technical
cooperation and assistance in seeking additional funds from the
European Union and Central American Economic Integration Bank.
   The new IDB funding, which was not quantified, also could be
used in ethnic Maya communities to improve infrastructure such as
highways and airports.
   There are about four million indigenous ethnic Maya in the
region today, most in impoverished, isolated rural communities.
   Classic Maya culture, dating between the years 300-900 AD, is
renowned for the splendor of its cut-stone pyramids, its written
------- end -------

John Conover,,

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