How guys' brains work

Disaster! I’ve been doing my new calorie-counting app wrong. I got a new high score every day.

Then the wife tells me that the whole point is to get low scores.

“So how do you win?” I asked.

She said: “You don’t. People just do it for a few months and then give up.”

!!!!! What’s the point? Grrrrrr.

Whoever designed this app knows NOTHING about how male brains work.

We need bigger to mean better, which, if you think about it, makes evolutionary sense, right?


It runs deep. If you ask a guy whether he would rather die of old age or be vaporized by a volley of a 100 anti-aircraft missiles covered by a thousand media channels, REAL MEN go for the big guns, no hesitation. We all have to go some time, right?


Size matters. On TV the other day, a guy said that Apple may become the first company to be worth a TRILLION dollars.

My male investment banker friends (even the Samsung "fanbois") were so excited they could hardly breathe.


Smart educators should use the male urge to worship big-ness in schools when teaching arithmetic.

TEACHER: “Okay, students, today, we’ll start with a math test: 25 times 43.”

(Girls start writing. Boys look bored, start hacking bits off each other.)

TEACHER: “People with Y chromosomes can calculate 25 BILLION times 43 BILLION.”

(Boys suddenly get excited, start writing.)


An etymology expert told me that although there have been famous female mathematicians, the people who invent big numbers were all GUYS. The word “million” was dreamed up by a Frenchman in 1270.

Thus you should ALWAYS say “million” with a French accent, like this: “Un meee-leee-ohnh,” assuming, of course, that you want to be revoltingly pretentious, which I know is really important to many of us.


Asia had big old numbers too. In ancient Buddhist texts, scholars found a number called “Number of grains of sand in the Ganges” or heng he sha, which was ten to the power of 52. (Someone must have actually counted them, probably as some sort of Bronze Age job creation scheme.)


Now, at the time of writing this, financial guys are a bit hyper, as the Chinese stock market’s turnover has been around ONE TRILLION YUAN A DAY.

How things have changed. Twenty five years ago, when I was a young business page reporter, there was one particular day when the Chinese stock market turnover was ZERO (also not a joke). On that date in 1990, not one share was bought, sold or swapped.

Luckily, business reporters can spout smart-sounding rubbish for hours, so I did.

“Turnover was on the light side, holding steady at zero yuan for the first hour and the second hour and the third hour as the sidelines were hogged by the main players and indeed the minor players and even Mrs. Liu who pops in from the noodle shop next to the stock exchange…(blah, blah, blah).”


The next time my wife asks about my score on the calorie counting app, I'm going to revive the classic terminology: “Pretty good: today I scored heng he sha, the number of grains of sand in the river Ganges.”