Saturday, April 26, 2014

20-Minute Topic: Permutation

           As quickly seems to be becoming a trend (and by “quickly” I mean “since yesterday”) today's topic is a lexiconographically abeyant word. “Permutation”. Also, it starts with “p”, too. Not sure if that was intentional or not. Unless you're a nerd, geek, dork, or any of the assorted monikers granted to society's perceived smart people by you remaining knuckle-draggers, this gem likely slipped through the cracks in your consciousness. How's that for dichotomous thinking? And, no. Glasses do not necessarily make you look smart. They even make some people look dumb.

          Change, depending on your upbringing, personal credo, frame of mind and/or state of inebriation, can be a scary thing. Change is always happening. You changed when you started reading this. You probably didn't finish because you changed which page you were reading. It's fair to assume that by this point, I could talk about anything I want, and no one would know...Kind of liberating, really. This kind of change is, however, not the kind one conveys through language when one uses the word “permutation.” Permutation isn't the slow, gradual change from interest to boredom from reading words you don't understand. It isn't something that can easily be missed. Permutation is a fundamental change. One which carries the subject of change from one state to another in as long as the state of flux lasts. There is no transitional period. In that regard, it probably is a lot like changing the web-page from someone on his high-horse, lecturing you about proper diction, to an animated .gif of a panda bear sneezing on a kitten. See how I tied that all together? Synergism, baby.
          The really, super, ultra nerds out there (if there are any left by now) are probably stammering about the mathematical definition of the subject. I don't care about it, and I don't care about you. Math and I have an understanding. It doesn't come within 200 yards of my person or domicile, and I don't go on a murderous rampage using sharpened metal multiplication signs. Division signs are surprisingly difficult to hone. And don't even get me started on square-root.
          There is one more facet of the word which, I feel, simply MUST be discussed. That's right! You guessed it! Err...hello? Anyone? The result of the change must, essentially, reuse the parts which comprised the original state. A piece of software may go through numerous permutations while you slowly dissolve in a miasma of obsolescence. I'm looking at you M$. Eggs permutate into chicks. (I can't believe Word doesn't know that “permutate” is a real word. Whoever designed spell-check should permutate into a different job! ZING!) If you decided upon reading my opening statement that you would rather do something more productive with your life, like design sweat-pants or hunt corporate executives for sport, that can't be considered permutation. Ooh! Even MORE synergism! The two things are, in my mind, and hopefully yours as well, very different, nay, unrelated things. I'm also about 90% sure that it's from Latin, so that's cool. Permutate away, gentle readers! It almost certainly won't result in your gruesome death!

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