East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Various disasters

The 15th of August looms closer, the countryside is deserted and wet under sudden showers that do nothing to lower the temperature, but only increase humidity.
And in the last two days we’ve been struck by a number of minor but painful catastrophes, so sorry if I am not updating the blog with “proper content”.

Please be assured that we are all fine, and nothing serious is going on.
It’s just that all our schedules and plans and things have been scrambled for good.

Hold on out there, we will hold on in here.

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World Cat Day

Today is the World Cat Day and this is the obligatory post about cats.
I am usually described as a cat person. Ever since I was two years old I never spent a single day in my life without a cat.
My house cats when I was in Turin, and after moving here beyond the black stump in Astigianistan, the community cats that have elected my courtyard as their playground/safe space/whatever.


In the last few years the locals have also started to use this area of the village as the dumping ground for unwanted litters of kittens – and basically the feral cat population is growing steadily.
One of these days they’ll realize they are the majority, and will seize the power.
And it would be an improvement.

410dE5WkfyLAnyway, as we are at it, let me suggest a good book to you cat lovers out there.

The Cat Owner’s Manual covers everything you need to know about the maintenance and day-to-day operation of your cat. The book covers hardware, software and advanced options.
It was written by Dr David Brunner, a card-carrying veterinarian, and it’s both fun and useful. Because we need to take good care of our little feline overlords.

Have a nice World Cat Day.

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Spicing up the evolution of the mathematical sciences

Spices, mathematics, and trade routes.
Great article.

The Renaissance Mathematicus

When we talk about the history of mathematics one thing that often gets forgotten is that from its beginnings right up to the latter part of the Early Modern Period almost all mathematics was developed to serve a particular practical function. For example, according to Greek legend geometry was first developed by the ancient Egyptians to measure (…metry) plots of land (geo…) following the annual Nile floods. Trade has always played a very central role in the development of mathematics, the weights and measures used to quantify the goods traded, the conversion rates of different currencies used by long distance traders, the calculation of final prices, taxes, surcharges etc. etc. A good historical example of this is the Islamic adoption of the Hindu place value decimal number system together with the associated arithmetic and algebra for use in trade, mirrored by the same adoption some time later by the Europeans…

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A brief ramble,like every summer

There is a moment, when you are working as a freelance writer, that’s terrible and scary. It comes regularly, usually in the summer, as August approaches.
The paid jobs dry up, and you catch yourself out of breath, metaphorically and literally, as you see money go and never come in, and overdue bills come to haunt you as letters or phone calls from the energy company or the phone company.
It’s a frantic moment, in which you find yourself juggling too many projects in the hopes that one, just one, will go down properly and get you enough to make the crossing of this desert, and bring you to the safety of Autumn. A safety you are not sure really exists.

Maybe I talked already about this state of affairs, in the past. As I said, it hits hard as August approaches, and you hear the Beatles in your head

See how they run.

It will get better.
I know it will because this is the third August I face, and still, here I am.
But it’s bad, really bad.
It’s anxiety and fear, amped up to eleven but at the same time not immediate, not close enough to wrestle it.
Add to that the torpid countryside in the heat, the desolation and the intellectual isolation of this backwater place where they can’t spell your name properly, and you get an idea of the horror.


And yet…

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Not just the bills

happyToday, a beautiful person told me she likes reading my stories because even if she suffers from dyslexia, my writing style is clear enough for her to be able to go through my tales without too much difficulty. And she really enjoys them, she says.

It does not happen often.
I do get feedback from my readers, and it’s always great to hear from you guys, but this one, today, was really unique.

This is the sort of thing that reminds me I’m not doing this just to pay the bills. And that the reason why one manages to pay the bills is because sometimes things like this happen.
This is the sort of thing that makes it worth it.
I’ve been happy happy most of the day, and I’ll be most of the evening.

And this is all.