Some out-takes from Razor (the upcoming Galactica tv-movie, or season premiere, or whatever we should call it) are going to be released online as webisodes; apparently they deal with Adama in his younger days (to be played by Nico Cortez, pictured at right). The Razor DVD will reintegrate the flashback scenes into the movie. Details here.
In related news: there’d been some uncertainty as to whether the previous batch of webisodes, dealing with the resistance on New Caprica, would make it on to the third-season DVD. (Apparently ownership of the webisodes was disputed.) But it looks like there’s good news: not only are the webisodes going to appear on the DVD, but they’re going to be integrated with previously unseen footage into an “Episode Zero.” Despite my aversion to all such attempts to treat zero as an ordinal rather than a cardinal number, I look forward.
Of all the radical and shocking things you’ve posted in your blog this, of all things, is the one that is rocking my world. No, not the BSG info, this: “…my aversion to all such attempts to treat zero as an ordinal rather than a cardinal number…”.
As a long-time C/C++ programmer I am used to “counting from zero”. We even have some (awkward) terminology. “Is that index zero-based or one-based?” “Check the zeroth element in the array.” [I just noticed that “zeroth” is in the dictionary! http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/zeroth ]
You are probably right, of course, that zero makes no sense as an ordinal number. But that doesn’t make me feel any better.
Yes, I know this virus has deeply affected the programming world. It’s also beginning to affect history textbooks, some of which are beginning to refer to the year before 1 AD as the year 0 (which would logically require all the previous years to be renumbered, with 399 BC becoming 398 BC and so on — yet they don’t seem to draw this inference). The temptation to think a century begins with the 00 year (and the mistaken analogy with birthdays — where since you’re called 18 when you’ve lived 18 years people think the year must be called 2000 when 2000 years have passed) has no doubt also contributed to the confusion.
But as a good Austrian you should know the perils of confusing ordinals with cardinals! “Zeroth” used to be a semi-humorous way of numbering something which should have been first but was so basic that it hadn’t been thought of till later — like the Zeroth Law of Thermodynamics. But at some point people forgot it was a joke.
Actually there are some special reasons to use zero-based counting in computers. For example in modular arithmetic you have to have an identity element, which requires using [0-7], [8-15], [16-23], etc as opposed to [1-8],[9-16], …. Another reason mentioned on the wikipedia article on zero is that if one makes the decision to refer to a list of numbers using the memory address of the first element, then zero-based indexing follows. To use one-based indexing would require using the position of the first element minus one instead. In particular, a list starting at the first block in memory would have “address” of -1….
The last reason, which is my favorite, is that empty lists often occur as input to algorithms, and hence half-open intervals like [1,9) are more handy than inclusive intervals like [1,9]. Given this, it seems more natural to describe a list of eight elements as corresponding to the interval [0,8) than [1,9). You could, alternatively, argue for notation like [1,0] to designate an empty list, but that particular convention isn’t very popular.
As a good(-ish) Wittgensteinian I have no objection to using “0” in such contexts — or indeed to using “0” to mean whatever one may want, e.g., “the British are coming.” My worry is only that this use has begun to bleed from its legimate context into contexts in which it causes confusion.
According to Wittgenstein, how does one judge the correct contexts in which to use a concept? I can think of several examples off-hand where people disagree about applying concepts in situations they were seemingly not designed for – applying “person” to embryos, determining the genus and species of certain fossils, and applying the attribute of “mind” to collections of circuits and wires. I am personally cautious about making such extensions willy-nilly…