Russia etc

One of the headline news items in the UK is not Donald Trump, nor the weather but what appears to be an attempted assassination of a Russian former spy and his daughter in Salisbury a couple of weeks ago.

You can read about it here, if you haven’t seen it already: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-43440992

The pair were attacked by some kind of nerve agent stuff that has been identified as of Russian origin. Other people have been affected by the attack which seems to have taken place in a public restaurant.

The UK government has said that they are sure Russia was responsible, and issued an ultimatum to that country for clarification and explanation. Russia says it wasn’t them. Mr Trump thinks it was, so it must have been.

Twenty three Russian diplomats, or ‘spies’ depending on who you listen to, have been expelled from the UK. Russia has retaliated in a similar way. Britain’s ambassador to Russia, Laurie Bristow, is one of my former pupils, not that that has anything to do with anything. He has appeared on the news, being ‘diplomatic’.

Russia is due to have elections tomorrow, which Mr Putin will win.

Another Russian exile has also been found dead: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-43438615

Police and the Home Office are telling any Russian ex-pats in this country to be careful.

How will it all be resolved? My guess is, a couple of weeks and it will all be forgotten.

Sums

I used to enjoy Maths. At school, it was my favourite subject. I was not the greatest at it, but it made sense to me.

Partly, i suppose, I got it from my dad, who had that kind of mind and was good with numbers. I had some great teachers. But mainly, it was logical, more so than History, for example, which was all about learning unrelated facts, something I can never do. I mean, look at the dates of Kings and Queens of England and tell me the logic behind it. None, of course. Chemistry was similar. Possibly there was some kind of logical system in naming organic and inorganic compounds, but it was never explained to me.

We didn’t have calculators in my day. We used books of tables, and great fun it was. You really understood sines and cosines, and could do logarithms like nobody’s business.

I taught Maths in school for a lot of years, and enjoyed it when apparently unrelated topics finally came together and the pupils could see links between, say, trigonometry, complex numbers and hyperbolic functions.

When I would go out, people would often ask ‘what do you do?’ and I told them. Usually you would get ‘I hated Maths’. Sometimes ‘when do I ever need to calculate the area of a parallelogram?’ I do understand that not every person enjoys every subject, and that is fine. But studying Maths helps you think rationally and logically. When presented right it can be really fascinating.

I am sure Stephen Hawking would have agreed.

Sleepers

I don’t go into central London very often, certainly much less than I used to. So, I notice changes when you do.

There are many places where you will see people sleeping rough. Lots of shop entrances, especially in the evenings. The Strand is always a bad place, theatre district, but there are many others. Under dark bridges, down back alleys, in railway stations for example.

It has always been pretty bad in London, possibly more than in many other cities as very little is actually done to deal with it. There are charities and institutions who provide hot food, and some beds are available, but it is still a bad problem. Bad, and seems to be getting worse.

Rough sleepers seem to be getting more persistent and are, in some cases, rather aggressive. Some seem to have rather ferocious dogs too.

Buskers, too, seem to be more prevalent.

If you are a visitor to London, then there are places where street performers are welcomed, Covent Garden for example. If you stop to watch them, it’s right to give them some money. But if you are walking down the street and someone comes up to you just begging, then don’t give them anything, however loud and aggressive they may be. Not even a coffee.

I was waiting in line for a concert a few weeks ago, and a very smart lady in an evening dress approached me. She asked if I could help. She wanted money, and I refused. The swearing was most un-ladylike. Maybe she had a genuine need, I don’t know, but I was not interested to find out. Giving money just makes it worse.

 

Maths

I used to love Maths…

I am going to stop there. Maths, short for Mathematics, plural, like Physics.

I don’t know why Americans call it ‘Math’, like there is just one, except possibly laziness.

What annoys me even more is when they add an S to a word that is patently singular.

Suppose you buy a car. It’s up for £10,000 but you buy it for £9,000. That’s a reduced price. You have saved money, made a saving. Singular. Not “a savings”.