The merest handful.
• Brainteaser solution. A solution to the math brainteaser in my October Diary is here.
• Naughty mnemonics. In my November 3rd podcast I mentioned a memory aid I heard about when I was teaching English at a college in China forty years ago.
Chatting with some young male students out of class, they told me that when they started to learn English they memorized the words ”Good morning” by using a Chinese approximation: 狗 逮 貓 娘 (gŏu dăi māo niáng), ”dog catches cat lady.”
This information came with some snickering from the students. Apparently ”dog catches cat lady” has some salacious flavor to Chinese ears, or at any rate to young-adult-male Chinese ears.
A listener offered an alternative.
The mnemonic your former English students revealed to you those years ago caused an amused chuckle from my lawful wedded wife. I taught her something similar when we were first married in the form of: “姑 姑 摩 你.” This fine bit of wisdom was relayed to me many years ago by the low-grade hooligan of dubious hygiene who provided me with crappy haircuts. Phonetically it sounds closer to the mark. This greeting produces the full effect when applied lecherously (and stealthily) from behind. Use it at your own discretion.
Thank you, Sir. The mnemonic there is pronounced Gūgū mó nĭ. Google Translate renders it into English as: ”Auntie rubs you.”
• Creationism lives! October 27th I mentioned new House Speaker Mike Johnson’s Creationism as a very mild negative. I said:
I don’t much care. In close engagements during the Evolution Wars twenty years ago, I met some quite smart and pleasant people who were Creationists. Not everybody can engage intellectually with the scientific method.
A listener offered a friendly rebuttal:
Bit of snark cuts both ways:
You being a math guy, you might appreciate this:
Thank you, Sir. Again, I don’t mind Creationists, who I file under ”Harmless Eccentrics” while calling to mind Sir Isaac Newton’s weird theories about the Apocalypse.
The first link offered by my listener there is to a talk by philosopher Stephen Meyer to a Christian group in 2016. The second is to a 2019 Hoover Institution group discussion chaired by Peter Robinson with Meyer, philosopher-mathematician David Berlinski, and computer scientist David Gelernter.
I did all the arm-wrestling about Intelligent Design that I want to do back when it was a big thing in orthodox-conservative circles, on one occasion even getting written up by the New York Times.
Those links my listener sent are to video clips 47 and 57 minutes long respectively; way more time than I’m willing to give to revisiting a stale and unproductive controversy from the decade before last.
The very comprehensive ”Talk Origins” counter-ID website is no longer very active—so far as I can tell it gets updated only at rare intervals nowadays—but still available for reference.
If you go to the main page, click on ”Search the Archive,” and key in any of those three names (Meyer, Berlinski, Gelernter) you will find many, many discussions and reviews of each by experts in relevant fields.
For example: That 2019 Peter Robinson interview of Meyer, Berlinski, and Gelernter is noted here with a thread of 219 back’n’forth comments. Happy reading!
• Diacritical observations. October 13th I boasted of my unusually comprehensive acquaintance with the humble umlaut: ”Umlaut-wise I am Renaissance Man.”
A listener wondered:
What does that make Taki, who once referred to a woman of his acquaintance as having ”spectacular umlauts”?
I would not venture to speculate, Sir. Taki has a style all his own.