Monthly Archives: October 2012

Why is everybody so surprised by what Jimmy Saville did?

Like most people I have been following the saga of child abuse in the BBC with some interest. I can’t say I was ever a Saville fan, he was too much of a gobshite for that, but I never suspected abuse on this scale. Or did I? Or rather did we?

I’m firmly of the view that we need to look at this matter through the perspective of the mores of the day, and not use 20:20 hindsight.

I was a teenager during the sixties and it was well known, and reported widely, that pop stars and others indulged themselves with groupies and young female fans. I know for a fact that there was a bunch of girls at my own school who actively tried to involve themselves with pop stars so that they could be bedded and have something to brag about.

So there’s every reason to suspect that Saville et al were involved in sexual activities with under aged girls. That doesn’t surprise me at all. If anything, what surprises me is that anybody is surprised.

For me, the worrying aspects was his focus on girls whose complaints, if they did complain, would be ignored. That was calculating.

How does the shortest distance between two points become so short?

Triangle

Imagine two streets at right angles to one another and imagine that a pedestrian wants to get from point A on one street to point C on the other. One can construct a right-angled triangle ABC with hypotenuse AC.

Imagine two streets at right angles to one another and imagine that a pedestrian wants to get from point A on one street to point C on the other. One can construct a right-angled triangle ABC with hypotenuse AC.

Now consider that there is no direct route from A to C and no other roads. The route to be travelled will be A – B – C and the distance travelled will be AB + BC, rather than the straight line distance AC = SQRT( AB*AB + BC*BC).

Now consider that there is actually an intermediate road parallel to BC between A and B, intersecting AB at point D. Further consider that there is a similar road parallel to AB intersecting BC at point E, and that these two new roads intersect at point F.

The pedestrian now has the alternative route A – D – F – E – C with distance AD + DF + FE + EC. However AD + DE = AC, and DF + EC = BC, thus the distance walked is still AC + BC.

One can extend this arrangement, introducing extra roads into the matrix, but at all times the distance travelled is the same as the route A – B – C. As the number of roads increases, so the inter-road distance diminishes, but the total route remains the same; so how is it that at the limit, where the number of extra roads is infinite, and the inter-road distance approaches zero, and thus the route from A to C approximates a straight line, the total distance becomes SQRT( AB*AB + BC*BC)?

I know I’m obviously missing something here, but for the life of me I can’t see what.