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Cards, cash, or arithmetic

 
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The local artists have a shop/gallery in the town centre, at present closed because of Coronavirus. I sometimes go there and one of the things I buy is greetings cards. I like Alan Morley's cards, and often buy £10 worth. The first ime I did that, whoever was behind the counter confidently told me my £10 worth of cards would cost £12.50, and got fat‑finger and rang in about £12500000.00, which fortunately the till didn't believe.
The next time I went there, it was somebody different who did some arithmetic on his phone, which told him my cards cost £20.
The third attempt was a bit more successful; the old gent said he was a retired engineer, so he ought to be able to get the arithmetic right. I said, “I thought engineers' aeithmetic went, ‘It's more than £9.50 and under £10.50 on my slide rule; shall we just call that a tenner?’”
 
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How does one mess up so badly that you go from 10 quid to 20?
 
Campbell Ritchie
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It was the phone that did the wrong calculations. When I was seven, I had to do that sort of arithmetic in my head in old money. They called it mental arithmetic, not necessarily meaning I was mental.

On subsequent visits, the arithmetic has been better, and so was the salesmanship. Two visits ago, “I see you like Alan's card; have you seen mine?” Unlike Alan Morley's cards, which are taken from paintings, this chap took photos. I felt I had to get a few of his cards too.
Liutauras will recognise the Alan Morley style.
 
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My Math teacher at college back in the mid 90s refused to call calculators calculators and referred to them always as "guessing boxes" by way of emphasising their inaccuracy. Of course he was referring to the poor representation of fractional values but there's little to be done about someone's inability to operate it properly.

This "Garbage in, garbage out" notion reminds me of a thing I read or was told once:

The good news is that computers will do exactly what you tell them to do. The bad news is that computers will do exactly what you tell them to do


This resonated a lot with me
 
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Tim Cooke wrote:My Math teacher at college back in the mid 90s refused to call calculators calculators and referred to them always as "guessing boxes" by way of emphasising their inaccuracy.


What did he have to say about slide rules?
 
Tim Cooke
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No mention of slide rules. Paper, a pencil (not a pen), an eraser, and a brain were his tools of choice. Some of us struggled with the last.
 
Campbell Ritchie
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About twenty years ago, there was an article in Scientific American in the History of Science section about slide rules. I still have a slide rule which I bought when I was fifteen (approx).
 
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Campbell Ritchie wrote:The local artists...  Alan Morley's cards...


Alrigth, so there is a story behind, these are not just so called ordinary cards. I shall read about Alan.

‘It's more than £9.50 and under £10.50 on my slide rule; shall we just call that a tenner?’


Grinnik.

 
Campbell Ritchie
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I found out today that Alan Morley is the Curator of that shop/gallery, too. He is something high up in the local artists' society. And, as you have seen, his work is worth looking at.
 
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fred rosenberger wrote:

Tim Cooke wrote:My Math teacher at college back in the mid 90s refused to call calculators calculators and referred to them always as "guessing boxes" by way of emphasising their inaccuracy.


What did he have to say about slide rules?



Mid Nineties???!!! How old was your math teacher? Twenty years earlier, I could believe - as my old physics teacher used to say, "the batteries don't die on a slide rule". In the mid-1970's. But slide rules were relegated to objects of curiosity a là Napier's Bones long ago. And the cheap ones never had more than about 3.5 digits accuracy anyways. So, that's more or less a guess anyways.

Calculators - and spreadsheets - are less "guessing boxes" and more ways to enter data badly to get wildly inaccurate results.

Anyway, what true merchant doesn't keep an abacus handy for cases like that?
soroban.jpg
OK, it's not technically an abacus, but at least as good.
OK, it's not technically an abacus, but at least as good.
 
Tim Cooke
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Tim Holloway wrote:Mid Nineties???!!! How old was your math teacher?


In his sixties easily.
 
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