Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Funny Little Kid Lesson

Today Kate and Frank were playing with our "Cascade Tower" purchased from Hearth Song many Christmasses ago.
It's missing the last rung and the cars aren't currently anywhere to be found, but Kate discovered that dice slide their way through the rungs in a very satisfying way. Soon, she and Frank were squabbling over a large pile of dice and who had how many and who took whose dice out of a container. Argh. In a burst of frustration, I had them each pick out one die and promptly confiscated the rest.
For the next five or ten minutes straight, the world was suddenly in the right place - Kate and Frank happily took turns and squealed and giggled with delight through the entire process - without even missing the extra dice at all (and as if they had been happy with each other all along).
Ah, simplicity, a lesson I need to remember more often. ;)
And speaking of Frank, today, Ria posted a funny story about him here and Gus posted a funny story about him here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ah! An equal delight with fewer resources.... VERY high-tech, Microsoft ought to try this.

This somehow reminds me of Gregor Mendel and how the fact that he was obedient to his monastic superior played an important role in his discovery of the laws of heredity. I forget what it was he wanted to experiment with, but it was one of the plants which we now know do NOT obey Mendel's laws. The abbot required him to use ONLY peas... the restriction enabled him to apply his knowledge of physics - and soon found very significant statistical relations. Which is why we now call them Mendel's LAWS. (Also, since it WAS peas, I imagine this was one of the few cases where the scientist ATE his lab work... hee hee)

And then I read the other links, which I cannot comment upon in situ, so I do it here.

1. Using multiply instead of add; use a different case...

Hmm, this does happen in certain odd corners of math.

Of course Ria may already know that in the world of logarithms, to add (logs) IS to multiply (the corresponding numbers) - for example, 100 times 1000 is 100,000. (In logs, two plus three equals five.)

But the great humor was the very - ah - shall we say grammatical bit of humour: "use a different case". Since when is MATH an inflected language? Ought I be using the dative of seven ("add five TO SEVEN")? Maybe tenses and voices come into play as well: maybe the perfect middle of "add"? (An aside: did you know that the "C" programming language actually has a middle voice for some verbs!) Does one use the singular ending for one, the dual ending for two. and the plural for all the rest? Can't you add in a periphrastic language? I always wondered, like how one can perform Boolean algebra in Spanish, in which double negatives serve to intensify, not complement.

"Use a different case"... Splendid! It makes me feel like Tolkien... He told the story of how he once thought he was the ONLY one who played with words as his toys, until, at a philology conference, he overheard someone murmur, "I think I shall represent the accusative by a prefix." (or something like that) What a gift.

2. "knights have bigger heads than doctors"...

This is interesting. I would like to know the source of this insight, partly because I am a doctor (but not a physician). Also in case I do another heraldry presentation at a future Chesterton Conference. I do hope in neither case (case!) it is a matter of swollen heads...

The young sometimes see SO MUCH FURTHER than we do. "Unless you change and become like little children..."

-- Dr. Thursday