# Learn Fun Facts’ Monthly Miscellany, January 2019

## Random Ramblings

• This would be the shortest “Monthly Miscellany” I ever wrote. This is partly because I was not sure whether I would revive this series or not. Regular readers of Learn Fun Facts may have noticed that this series was stopped for almost half a year. So, I hesitated to bring it back. Nonetheless, today, I decided to continue this series anyway. I had to rush this as today is the last day of January.
• Last month, I changed my mechanical keyboard with a new one which has a lot more sensitive keys than my previous one (which was already sensitive enough). So, I may have some typos here and there so please bear with me. I’m still trying to get used to it. In my estimate, I think that another two weeks would be enough.
• Yesterday, while I was shopping for some stuff, I saw an ocarina (a 12-hole Alto C). It’s made of ceramic. I thought that it looks quite cool as I have never played one before. So, I bought it for HK$250. It actually priced at HK$280 but I was able to haggle the price down. I am used to playing woodwind instruments as I play recorder, tin whistle, flute, and dizi (a Chinese flute) so I don’t have much difficulty learning to play the ocarina. However, I am still adjusting since the fingering feels awkward to me. But I’m sure that I will get used to it after a while.

### Anyone Can Blog

Lately, I have read a few people ranting that the internet is oversaturated with inferior and mediocre blogs. This makes it harder for people to find “good” blogs. Anyway, those who wrote those opinions are also bloggers. So, reading between the lines, what they meant is: Due to the influx of blogs that sucks, people are now having a harder time finding their outstanding blogs.

They mostly attack personal blogs, poetry blogs, and blogs that don’t have a particular theme (nicheless blogs). I find it disingenuous since it’s not for them to decide the quality of blogs for us. Everyone has different preferences after all.

It seems to me that they are actually insecure. If they are afraid of “trashy” blogs stealing their traffic away, then their blogs must be trashier.

The rise of expert bloggers has raised the standard of blogging as a whole. Nonetheless, it doesn’t mean that casual bloggers are not allowed to blog now. Blogging these days is not purely competitive as some seem to believe. Many bloggers started their blogs just to share their thoughts and writings. Most of us did not start our blogs and expect to earn a living out of it. If I really want to earn money, blogging would be at the end of my list as it involves too much opportunity cost.

The point is, most of us treat blogging as a hobby (or passion, for those who don’t like the word hobby) and not as a means of income. Personally, I don’t even have the interest to compete with anyone. So, we don’t need expert bloggers telling us to delete our blogs as our blogs are none of their business.

Anyone can blog as long as he doesn’t spread harmful and hateful contents or anything like that.

## Monthly Likes

### Anecdote

When Mark Twain was still a new reporter, he was told that he can’t state something as fact if he can’t personally verify it. Taking the advice to heart, he wrote the following report about a gala social gathering:

A woman giving the name of Mrs. James Jones, who is reported to be one of the society leaders of the city, is said to have given what purported to be a party yesterday to a number of alleged ladies. The hostess claims to be the wife of a reputed attorney.

### Mathematics

A few weeks ago, this math problem became viral on the web and it incited several long-winding debates:

Many people agreed as the answer seemed to make sense. After all:

$230-220\times\frac{1}{2}=10\times\frac{1}{2}=5.$

However, as expected, those knowledgeable enough of the order of operations made vocal objections. If you are familiar with the order of operations, you would know that in the absence of brackets or parentheses, multiplication should be performed first before subtraction. Thus, for the above problem:

$230-220\times\frac{1}{2}=230-110=120.$

So, the correct answer should have been 120.

Hilariously, they all missed the fact that “5!” could also mean “5 factorial” which is equal to:

$5!=1\times2\times3\times4\times5=120.$

By the time someone pointed out this fact, no one cares anymore as they were too busy arguing with each other.

They all got trolled, that’s for sure.

### Poetry

A world dies when a person dies; who sees
And savors life as he did who is dead?
No one now lives the myriad privacies
That made the life that ends, now, on this bed.

— Dick Davis, “A World Dies…”, Belonging: Poems, 2002

### Quote

“The apocalypse didn’t happen overnight. The world didn’t end in a satisfying climax of explosive special effects. It was slow. It was boring. It was one little thing at a time. One moral compromise, one abandoned ideal, one more justified injustice. No dramatic wave of destruction sweeping across the world, just scattered spots of rot forming throughout the decades, seemingly isolated incidents until the moment they all merged.” — Isaac Marion, The Burning World, 2017

### Video

A friend shared this to me yesterday and I decided to share it with you too.

### Posted by Edmark M. Law

My name Edmark M. Law. I work as a freelance writer, mainly writing about science and mathematics. I am an ardent hobbyist. I like to read, solve puzzles, play chess, make origami and play basketball. In addition, I dabble in magic, particularly card magic and other sleight-of-hand type magic. I live in Hong Kong. You can find me on Twitter` and Facebook. My email is edmarklaw@learnfunfacts.com

## 23 thoughts on “Learn Fun Facts’ Monthly Miscellany, January 2019”

1. I like your fun facts! I just discovered what is an ocarina.

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2. I find it amazing that bloggers feel it is their business to dictate who should or should not blog online. Like those self described elite writers who think they should dictate who may or may not post / publish writing. You are quite right about the varying trashiness of blogs.

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1. They thought that they are special. I work in the field of mathematics. There are several snobs there who argued that amateur mathematicians have no business dabbling with higher mathematics despite the fact that many amateurs both past and present have found a number of significant results. They may not know how to write sophisticated proofs well, but at least, they have been contributing something.

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3. I totally agree with you about blogging. I began blogging to share my writing and it’s been a very positive experience for me. I was isolated and not many people had seen my work and now I have people regularly reading my poems and stories and I am now in touch with a network of other writers. It’s given me a lot of confidence as a writer. I think everyone blogs for a reason. I think a lot of people want to be heard. If what they write is liked then people will follow them. One thing we don’t need is self-appointed gatekeepers who think they have some superior understanding of blogging. If a blog is good quality then I think people will eventually find it, so long as they keep blogging and don’t listen to others telling them what to blog.

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1. That’s a great reason to blog. I’m glad to know that blogging has helped you not just to share your writings, but it also helped you to develop as a pedson.

There are people out there who feel they know so much that their opinions are worth their weight in gold. Listening to them babble is a waste of time.

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4. You are absolutely right on the solution to the math question as I could remember my math teacher telling me to always use the division first, followed by multiplication and then plus followed by lastly, minus!

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1. Your teacher was wrong though. This is one of the greatest misconceptions in mathematics so I can’t blame your teacher. Multiplication and division should he done at the same time, that is, from left to right. This is also the case for addition and subtraction.

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1. Since it doesn’t require any special embouchure techniques, I was able to make it sound good after just a few hours of practice. I hope that it could attract birds lol. I saw a guy when I was in Japan who was able to attract birds using a shakuhachi (a Japanese flute).

Communicating with him was a challenge since I barely know Japanese and the only way to communicate with him was through kanji, a Japanese writing similar to Chinese but with several differences. He told me that he’s playing in the area for 40 years so the birds there had became accustomed to his tunes.

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1. I will have to find a youtube video, so I can hear what the instrument sounds like. If it attracts birds I’m thinking it is higher pitched… I will see. Thanks for sharing.

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2. My dizi has a higher pitch, but so far, I had no luck. When I played a higher pitch tone in my concert flute, they just flew away :). Perhaps because it was too loud.

I don’t know how to play a shakuhachi so I don’t know if it would work for me.

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5. If that accordion player had played this song, those grazing cows would’ve boogied up to the fence:

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6. Okay… I LOL’d at the math problem. I wonder how long it took him to come up with something that worked out. Trial and error or algebraically….?

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1. I have seen this ploy employed a few times, though in different contexts.

But it’s always fun to see this used.

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7. Loved these ‘fun facts” and especially the video of the cows listening to the man playing accordion – awesome!

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8. I totally agree with your blogging insight. Why does blogging have to be a competition and why would someone declare what is a good blog or not? Certainly not someone I would consider reading or following. I say there is room for all, and always hope the community is kind to one another.

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1. Indeed.

That’s why I like it here on WP as in my experience, the community is generally good compared to other places.

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9. A delightful miscellany of facts and figures. Keep them coming, please.
Your blog is definitely one of the few I look forward to reading.

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