19 May 2014

Mathematical matters

One of my little neighbours is 11 years old, and she was watching me applying replacement house numbers to my wall this evening.

'Oh, I wonder if I have put this zero the right way up,' said I, expecting to mislead her, but the detail of her instant reply surprised me:

'It doesn't matter Andrew because it has rotational symmetry... Now you see that is an example of a practical application of mathematics.'

Clearly I will need to keep my wits about me as our frequent conversations progress.

I did, however, feel it necessary to point out that as it was an oblong zero rather than a perfect circle, it only had symmetry through a 180 degree rotation, as opposed to any degree of rotation.

'So what you mean is it doesn't matter what way up you put it, like I was trying to tell you,' she told me, with a tone of indulgent patience that would be more appropriate from adult to child than from child to adult.

12 comments:

CalumCarr said...

Why put a house number on a wall and not the house?

Andrew MacLaren-Scott said...

Eh... It is on the house Calum... on the wall of the house

CalumCarr said...

Why not say that in the post then? You confused me. You sure you haven't undergone a bit of rotation?

Andrew MacLaren-Scott said...

What wall did you think it would be on Calum? I have no other walls other than the walls of my house and therefore specification was not needed. Everybody knows that I have no external walls, what with me being so famous and having papparazi permanently stationed outside...

CalumCarr said...

No external walls? So all your walls are internal? Is that not taking open-plan to an unnecessary extreme?

Could be lovely in the summer but is it not a bit wet, windy and cold during the winter?

Claude said...

As for that knowledgeable child, I'm making sure never to calculate anything when my grandchild is around. Specially the server's tip when I treat him at a restaurant. I always end up being less or more generous than I intended.

Andrew MacLaren-Scott said...

Yup, all my walls are internal to my property. I must just be a bit odd. (well, you knew that already Calum).

Server's tip Claude? The easy solution is never to give one. Nobody tips checkout operators or cleaners or shop assistants, etc.. etc... many of whom are on the minimum wage, so in this land where everyone is guaranteed at least the minimum wage I just cannot comprehend why one group of people get and expect tips for doing their job when nobody else does, including many being paid less than the people they feel pressure to tip. It's a nonsense.

Claude said...

I don't believe that, when you pay for your fancy, artistic latte, you don't drop the change in the paper cup marked TIPS on the counter.

Claude said...

But truly I prefer to give a toonie to a street person than an expected high tip to a server.

Andrew MacLaren-Scott said...

You may find it hard to believe Claude (which surprises me, for I know you have great capacity for belief) but I keep my copper change for deserving charity boxes and never tip servers on the principle that if I did why should I not tip everybody else for whom I pay for a service? There is usually a charity box on the counter. Now... if waiters & waitresses tipped the people who stack supermarket shelves for them, etc., I may change my mind. Tipping in restaurants is an anachronism from the days when servers got no wage, or hardly any, other than tips. Nowadays that is illegal where I live. Now let's do a calculation... delivering and taking plates for three courses to a table of four.... maybe in total ten minutes work maximum. Likely cost including drinks, at least £80... and 10% (which is regarded as miserly for a tip) = £8 for 10 minutes work (probably less than 10 minutes) = nearly £50 per hour in a busy restaurant, on top of their agreed wage... I know people who have made an absolute ridiculous fortune working in restaurants. It's a ludicrous procedure. Meanwhile the shelf-stackers, the checkout operators, the cleaners, the shop assistants, the school dinner ladies, etc., etc., generally work away with a cheery smile for meagre reward and never dream of expecting any tip. The world of human affairs is not logicaly organised, but I do my bit to make it more so.

Claude said...

You make sense...

But there are also: the bartender (20%), the hairstylist (20%), the cab driver (15%), the paper boy (10%), the delivery guy (15%).....and I forget some.

Very hard to escape.

But you do make sense.

Andrew MacLaren-Scott said...

Bartenders? I have never seen anyone offer one a tip.

Hairstylist? Thankfully not an issue for me. My Lady shears my sparsely covered head every few weeks and I reward her richly with my love (but not cash). Not sure she wants what I reward her with actually, but she accepts it politely.

Deliver guy (not gal?)? You joking? Must be a very different culture where you live.

Cab driver? I never take cabs and in 11 months from now I will get a bus pass for free travel anywhere in Scotland, so I don't expect I ever will. May start tipping the bus driver though, since nobody else ever does... and why not? Oh... my mistake... being logical again...

Paper boy (not girl?)? I don't get a paper delivery

But seriously... Do these people not get paid? Do they not agree to take on the job for the pay offered? And as I say, why tip a select few occupations and nobody else, when other people who don't get tips earn less? More importantly, why do I not get a tip from my students at 10%-20% of their fees - oh, that would be nice.

It's crazy. Just stop it people... unless you want to tip everybody. Many years from now people will look back at the quaint and stupid notion, and laugh (if there are any people left to laugh).