The Billionist Manifesto
by D.V. Mathews
In the beginning was the word, and the word was "billion". Mathematicians, the guardians of logic, bastions of academic rigour, defenders of simplicity, wardens against pragmatism, stalwarts of beautiful propositions and masters of numbers (before they moved on to more interesting things), are generally efficient with notation and nomenclature. In typical logical and elegant fashion, noticing they usually had ten fingers, they designed an ingenious base 10 numbering system. They named 10 ten, 100 one hundred, 1,000 one thousand, and 1,000,000 one million. This system worked well for most everyday calculations, and could even be used tastefully and without repetition for larger calculations, to talk about larger powers of 10: for example, 10,000,000,000 was ten million and 1,000,000,000 was one thousand million - a simple, obvious but nonetheless aesthetically pleasing construction.
However, when they came to $10^{12}$ the mathematicians ran into a problem. Without any new words, 1,000,000,000,000 must be described as one million million or one thousand thousand million or one ten hundred thousand million, all of which are unsightly, repetitive, inefficient and prone to confusion. Thus, the good mathematicians deemed this number a "billion" - an obvious simplification to avoid awkward descriptions of large numbers.
And so the human race lived in harmony with the universe for many years, with a happy people and a simple number system. Unfortunately then capitalism and its associated greed and corruption came along, and a few people started getting extremely rich. They gained more and more money, but were never happy with their hollow material fortunes, and constantly pursued greater quantities. These few insidious, depraved individuals had nothing better to do so they counted the number of monetary units they possessed. First they gained a hundred monetary units, then a thousand, then ten thousand, one hundred thousand, and then passed a point where a certain elite few owned over ONE MILLION monetary units.
As any mathematician can remark saliently, this is not a particularly noteworthy milestone since one million is only a special number in a base ten numbering system, ten being the completely arbitrary number of fingers human beings have on our hands and human beings being a completely arbitrary and mostly flawed quirk of nature. Moreover, the value of the monetary unit was completely arbitrary and not even constant due to the idiotic humans' inability to figure out a stable economic system. Even in a base 10 numbering system, it's still not very interesting - far more profound are numbers like 239(1), 561(2), 1729(3), 17163(4) or 357686312646216567629137(5).
However uninspiring such an achievement was to the wise mathematicians, to the hoarders of wealth it was most extraordinary, since they could now give themselves an unprecedented ego boost by calling themselves "millionaires". The millionaires were not happy, however, because their only friends were other unhappy millionaires, and decided that the only way to rectify the situation was to get more money.
Thus the world was plunged into a dark era of scrambles for wealth by rich bastards. The masses became cynical and disillusioned, and the upper class became even less content, despite their troves growing in geometric proportions. In no time at all their stocks bulged from one million to one thousand million units.
The capitalistic overlords then sensed it was time for a new catchphrase for the masses to utter in their worship, but they were, like many, ignorant. They believed that they had reached a new level in their superiority since their hoardings of arbitrary monetary units had gained another three arbitrary zeros. The next major numerical unit, they thought, was the "billion", and the marketing executives deemed "thousand-millionaire" unmarketable due to its awkward wording making it inaccessible to the masses, who were now renamed the "market". Renaming themselves "billionaires", the rich bastards imposed further idolistic worship from the lower classes of society. The impoverished and oppressed mathematicians were passed by the wayside despite their final stand for truth and integrity, and the physicists, who had naively been entrusted by the mathematicians with the safekeeping of arithmetic notation while the mathematicians moved on to more interesting matters, were exuberantly trampled.
Thus a powerful, insidious few rewrote history and with their propaganda forced doublethink on the masses with regard to this precious word. Through a saturation advertising campaign they deeply ingrained into the common people's collective consciousness that a billion had always been and would always be one thousand million or $10^9$. The mass media under their tyrannical control was unrelenting in its bombardment of this unjust, inaccurate and aesthetically inferior misinformation on the unfortunate, innocent and undefended viewing public.
And now, we live in a time where it is unthinkingly accepted by almost all that a billion is 1,000,000,000, and a billion ($10^{12}$) is now grotesquely renamed a "trillion". This cannot go on! Let not the rich bastards dictate our mathematical notation! They can take our arbitrary monetary units, they can take our arbitrary zeroes, they can even take our seats at Colonial stadium, but they cannot undermine our proper nomenclature! Let them fill our minds with Popstars and take away our Hey Hey It's Saturday, but let them not redefine what was a perfect aesthetic numbering system! This time they have gone too far. We shall not reinvent ourselves just to appease some over-inflated egos. A billion must remain a billion.
BILLIONISTS OF THE WORLD UNITE!
(1) The largest integer which cannot be written as a sum of fewer than 8 perfect cubes.
(2) The smallest positive composite integer $n$ such that $a^{n-1} - 1$ is divisible by $n$ for every integer $a$ relatively prime to $n$.
(3) The smallest positive integer expressible as a sum of two cubes in two different ways (with apologies to Hardy and Ramanujan).
(4) The largest integer which is not the sum of distinct squares of prime numbers.
(5) The largest left truncatable prime in base 10 - whenever a group of leftmost digits are removed, the number remains a prime.