Whining About Wine In Frozen France

Well that’s not good. Looks like all the “Global Warming” we’ve had has not been enough to prevent a freeze in France threatening the wine production. Good news for California and Australian wines I guess…


Apr 8, 2021,03:29pm EDT|1,183 views
French Vineyards ‘Ablaze’ Across France: The Fight To Save Crops
Alex Ledsom
Alex LedsomSenior Contributor
I write about travel, culture, food & drink.

France is under a cold spell, with the weather falling to an unexpected -4C across large parts of the country, record lows for April. And that’s causing huge problems for farmers and wine producers, who fear that crops will be damaged. From Chablis to Champagne, as reported by The Local, France has been covered with images of what looks like fields that have been set alight.

Smudge Pots… whole vineyards full of pots of fire. I suppose in a couple of years we will have wine snobs reporting on the “smokey notes of rustic campfires” and “sweetness tinged with the bite of fire”…


Save our wine! Big freeze spells disaster for French vineyards

The images are captivating, but across France farmers are counting the cost after three nights of sub-zero temperatures. For many winemakers the 2021 harvest is ruined.

Temperatures have dipped to record lows in some areas, and farmers have used every method they can to save their crops. Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie says he will declare an agricultural disaster.
“It’s a national phenomenon,” warned Jérôme Despey, head of the FNSEA farmers’ union, who said these frosts were worse than any he could remember.

Winemaker Boris Calmette, 62, spoke of a catastrophe: “We’ve got wine co-operatives affected by as much as 90%, which is extremely rare.”

Yeah, ’cause you know, constantly rising temperatures pushing us to a fiery doom always make for record cold spells… /sarc;

So I’m guessing that when it comes to wine, the French are saying to forget about “Carbon Footprint” and other follies. Spectacular images of acres and acres of hectares of fires in amongst the grapes…

All 65 wine areas of Bordeaux have been hit by temperatures as low as -5C and wine-growers have lit braziers and candles a few feet apart in an attempt to protect their crops. Another tactic is to burn bales of straw.

In the Sauternes region of Bordeaux, some vineyards have reported 90% of the crop destroyed.

Sad to see it. OTOH there are other years and other places, so no wine shortage in our future. OTOH, if this becomes a regular thing, maybe France will realize the folly of the Global Warming Chicken Littles…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in AGW and Weather News Events, Food, Global Cooling. Bookmark the permalink.

53 Responses to Whining About Wine In Frozen France

  1. philjourdan says:

    Short term. It will hit the (superior) Cali wines soon.

    The problem is, fake science will always reveal itself.

  2. erl happ says:

    And in the land of fire and flooding rains that, according to Climate Commissar Tim Flannery was supposed to run out of water long before now, this year we have the floods and last year there were the fires.

    Frost in Bordeaux wiped out lots of vines in 1945 and 1961.

    The inter-annual variation in weather has always been much greater than the variation in the ten, twenty, fifty or hundred year average.

    With more CO2 in the air this arid land is thriving like never before, even in the drier years. So, there is more to burn. And we have better tools to stop the burning. So, to the extent to which we succeed in stopping the fire, the mass of stuff that will burn grows apace. Without regular mitigation disaster by fire is inevitable.

  3. Annie says:

    @earl happ: The rate of growth of everything after last year’s long wet winter is phenomenal at our place in Victoria. All the clearing we did over the winter has been more than replaced. :( CO2, rain and sun…way to go! There was a good grape crop (not to mention wasp crop!) and a massive crop of apples. The pears looked good but most are rotting from within. These are home crops, not commercial scale.

  4. E.M.Smith says:


    California ranges from hottest desert to glacier topped mountains and all points in between. IF it gets too cold for Northern Coastal, then Central Inland will be a year to remember. There’s always some place that’s just right every year.

    Plus coastal doesn’t change much year to year. Inland more so. Central Coast never seems to get a freeze. Stayed in an apartment in L.A. coastal area once. The heater (if you can call it that) was about a 1 kW electric element in a wall fixture about a foot square… It looked like it had never been used….

    Now I can see Washington State or Oregon having freeze issues… They were considered too cold for good wine in the ’60s… Then did “German Style Whites”. Now, with special tending, can pull off some pretty good reds in a few areas. Turn that back a little bit and it’s a no-go…


    We’ve got some kind of worm that gets into the Japanese Pear Apples. Not all, just some. But I can’t bring myself to spray…


    My “garden” has turned into a jungle over winter… Things are just growing like crazy. Even have 2 Lima bean plants that are sprouting for a second year! I’ll need a weed wacker to get it down enough to mow…

  5. Foyle says:

    French wine, meh. Good wine has a simple recipe – lots of sunshine. Buy stuff from sunniest places (southern Italy, Spain, Portugal, Australia, California, Chile), and it will mostly be good. French is sometimes good, but a lot is hit and miss.

  6. Nancy & John Hultquist says:

    These events usually involve temperature inversions – – warmer air above – colder air below.

    Years ago in in the USA, vineyard and orchards had “smudge pots” or bales of old hay or straw, the latter would get doused with a quart (?) of carbon base liquid fuel. When a freeze threatened hundreds of such would be fired and the air would move. Not pretty, nor did it smell nice.
    Propellers on towers have replaced burning, although the engines (many converted standard V8s) use a fuel also. More sound is generated, less smell.
    An Australian grower would have a helicopter fly forth-n-back over his vines to accomplish the same get-the-air-moving thing.

    Below is a comment from a grower I know:
    One of the pictures, the one from twitter that almost looks like snow is clearly from the winter at some point as the vines aren’t pruned which they surely would be if they were getting enough growth to be frosted. We have buds swelling but nothing out yet so the cold of the last few nights was unimportant.
    But that means French wine prices will rise which they already have thanks to Trump tariffs. In some ways that’s OK for us but there are many small importers all over the country that were already struggling because of the tariffs – I don’t know if Biden has reversed that or not.

  7. Jim Masterson says:

    I consider myself pretty good with Roman numerals. We were on a trip through various places in France, and they asked us what date the Roman numerals stood for on some old church doorway. I answered first—it was 1500 something. I enjoy reading the copyright dates on various shows. I was watching an Alfred Hitchcock TV show and the copyright was: MCMLVIX. It’s nonsense. They wanted 1959. That would be: MCMLIX. Assuming standard Roman numeral procedure, the number they had would be 1954. But it isn’t formed correctly.


  8. saighdear says:

    Now I wonder what they burn in those smokey pots? windelectricity, perhaps. not a cheep from the green wine slurping luvvies. Let Nature takes its Course.

  9. H.R. says:

    @Jim Masterson – Roman numerals? That goes a ways towards explaining the Fall of The Roman Empire. Did you ever try multiplying or dividing using Roman numerals?

    Cleopatra my asp!

    😜 🤣🤣

  10. Simon Derricutt says:

    It’s still early-enough in the year for the secondary buds to develop and thus the vines may not be as badly-damaged as it currently appears. Production may be a bit down, though, and the effectively-shorter growing season will likely mean less sugar in the grapes. Might well be a vintage year for Cognac and Armagnac (lower sugars means more-concentrated flavour in the final spirits). On the other hand, there’s a whole lot of wine-lake still around, and thus likely no global shortage.

    Whereas with annual plants, if they don’t produce flowers and seeds this year they’ll die out and thus they’ll tend to be resistant against late frosts (or wait until there’s no chance of such things happening before flowering), vines last easily 80 years and possibly well over a century, so there’s not the same problem of needing to produce fruit and seeds every year without fail. However, each bud has a backup that can grow if the vine needs it (for example, if the first bud’s growth is knocked off by wind or bad handling, since initially it’s pretty fragile).

    The smoke pots used are simply to produce smoke that reflects the LWIR back down again and reduces the probability of the young leaves and flowers freezing. Much the same can be done using water-spray, and this stops the shoots getting far-enough below zero centigrade to actually get ice in the tissues and damage the shoots. Smoke blows away pretty easily, after all, but the water settles on the shoots and protects them providing you keep adding it for long-enough that there remains some liquid water on the surface.

    Round here, though I’m only a couple of hours a bit South of East from Bordeaux, no real frosts and no obvious damage.

  11. E.M.Smith says:

    @Jim Masterson:

    And here i thought I was the only one who did that! (Figure out the copyright date in old movies).

    Keeps the skill around…


    Yes, I have, but fairly long ago.

    There’s equally silly things we do today and will be laughed at in some future time. Take electricity. We have the sign wrong. The charge carrier is the electron so ought to be positive, but isn’t. The entire field is polluted with inverted charge, but we just ignore it and move on…

  12. Jim Masterson says:


    To answer your question, yes, I have tried to multiply Roman numerals. It is a real pain to keep all the partial products correct and then to add them. No, I have not tried to divide Roman numerals. I find designing digital circuits to multiply and divide binary numbers difficult enough.

    Here is a relief on the temple wall at Kom Ombo.

    The lady on the far left is Cleopatra IV (see how I sneaked in those Roman numeral things). The guy to her right is her husband, Ptolemy IX, but I’m not sure of the number. Cleopatra IV would be the great grandmother of Cleopatra VII. The seventh was the lady who screwed around with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony (literally), and was played by Elizabeth Taylor in the movie.

    This is a closeup of Cleopatra’s cartouche

    And if you need help translating, here is a cheat sheet

    The nose symbol at the top is a Q sound (not K or C). The lion is the L-E sound. The lotus symbol is the O sound. So it’s saying QLEO or CLEO.

    The bird is an A sound. I don’t remember how it fits in. Incidentally, the birds and lion are pointing towards the right. That means you are supposed to read these hieroglyphics from top-down and left-to-right. If the animals were pointing in the opposite direction, then you read from right-to-left. In some temples, you’ll see columns where they all point in one direction and then next to them, more columns where they point in the opposite direction.

    The square is a house symbol with the Pah sound. The hand is the D sound. So Cleopatra’s cartouche is really saying Cleo-pa-dra.


  13. H.R. says:

    @ Jim M. – Hey, thanks for the additional scoop on the Egyptian writings. Nice little lesson there.

    In 5th or 6th grade, we learned base 2, 6, 8, & 12 arithmetic and at some other time, had a day or two of the math hour devoted to Roman numerals.

    Multiply and divide? The teacher didn’t want to go there. After having us do some addition and subtraction exercises, well that was enough for all involved and we moved on.

    I’m impressed that you’ve tried multiplying Roman numerals. Are you downplaying the mess that it is just to suck me into trying it? 😜
    @E.M. – So you did it too? When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

    Oh wait…. even they don’t do their math in Roman numerals.

    I rest my case. Rome fell because no one could multiply or divide anything. 😜 😊

    P.S. – For fun, someone should make a handheld calculator that’s in Roman numerals; keys and display. I’d buy one and just wait for someone to say, “Can I borrow your calculator for a minute?”
    Hmmmmm…. I’ll bet there’s one online and a phone ap you can download to turn your phone into a Roman numeral calculator. I’m head over to search for one now.

  14. H.R. says:

    Yup. Here’s one and there is also an ap for a smartphone, too


    Someone had w-a-a-a-y too much time on their hands one day. I’m going to bookmark that calculator. There’s gotta be some fun to be had in there somewhere.

  15. H.R. says:

    Oops! Forgot the cite.

    Furey, Edward “Roman Numeral Calculator”; CalculatorSoup, https://www.calculatorsoup.com – Online Calculators

    Edward Furey deserves the props, that’s for sure.

  16. another ian says:

    Does it come with a hammer and mason’s chisel?

  17. Compu Gator says:

    Readers who enjoy the challenge of translating Roman numerals to decimal-base numbers might be intellectually entertained by the far less widespread knowledge that the standardized Roman-numeral letters ‘L’,  ‘C’,  ‘D’,  ‘M’  were originally not letters at all. Instead, they were derived from these glyphs:
    • ‘
    ’,  for which the leftmost stroke was abandoned and represented by ‘L’; and
    • ‘’,  which came to be visually opened at the bottom (I imagine that glyph as a MUFI F11A ‘capital letter uncial M’,  which is accessible in their ‘Private-Use Area’-51 [♢], but for the interim, looks much like a Unicode ‘capital‘Ȝ’ rotated 90° c.c.w. [×]), then eventually represented by ‘M’. Meanwhile, the original glyph’s 2 sides were separated into 2 glyphs, the larger numbr being granted the vertical stroke, the pair eventually represented by the familiar ‘C’ and ‘D’.

    Only the eventual ‘C’,  and ‘M’  could be plausibly explained as acrophonic uses of centum and mīlle. ‘I’,  ‘V’,  ‘X’,  ‘L’,  and ‘D’  are nowhere close to ūn·us, -a, um, quīnque, decem, quīnquāgintā, and quīngentī, respectively.

    Some especially analytical readers probably noticed that the nonacrophonic original glyphs were composed as 1 stroke, 2 strokes connected at the bottom, 2 strokes connected at the middle, and 3 strokes connected at the bottom (thus a middle stroke added to a ‘V’).

    I recall from extensive browsing in a book whose identity I’ve forgotten, possibly because I couldn’t have afforded to buy when I encountered it, the Babylonian numeric sysmbols also showed a progression in the number & arrangement of strokes. Seems logical to me.

    Note × : I coulda sworn that Unicode had assigned a code to ‘capital letter uncial M’, but I failed to find it with 2 admittedly cursory checks today.

    Note ♢ : So to fall back, the Medieval Unicode Font Initiativehttps://mufi.info/m.php?p=mufi. The aforementioned ‘Private-Use Area’-51:  https://mufi.info/m.php?p=mufichars&i=3&v=83.

  18. Graeme No.3 says:

    Bordeaux frosts
    1956 this was the coldest year in Bordeaux since 1709 — the frost was so severe that huge
    swathes of vines died out completely and had to be replanted.
    1977 where frost hit on both March 31 and April 9. Bordeaux production was 40% down on 2016,
    and 33 per cent lower than the long-term average
    2017 these were the worst frosts in living memory, and worse than the frosts of 1945, 1977 and 1991.

  19. Graeme No.3 says:

    I understood that Romans used a sand table (a sort of early abacus) for multiplication.

  20. philjourdan says:

    Now I am worried. The French can no longer decipher Roman numerals? (as far as I know, every movie still has the Roman numeral date, but I have not checked the latest).

    The problem with Roman numerals is they had no zero! And the second problem was when you get to big numbers they had no scientific notation! But other than that, they work For Superbowls, and movies and road markers! Oi Vey!

  21. Jim Masterson says:

    Just for grins, here’s a picture of the arch to one of the many entrances into the Colosseum. This entrance is obviously to section 52.

    The gouges are due to people stealing the bronze clamps during Medieval times. The Pope saved the Colosseum for the most part by consecrating it as a church.


  22. Jim Masterson says:

    In my day, it was base 5 and maybe base 9 or 3. That was mostly useless, except for the idea of working with different bases.

    I realize that 6 is a perfect number and 12 is an abundant number, but I don’t see why they went with those. It’s been suggested that we switch from base 10 to base 12, but I doubt it will ever happen.

    Base 2 and 8 I understand—computers. There’s also base 16. Base 4 relates to DNA and RNA codes.


  23. John S Howard Jr says:

    A national phenomenon… better get used to it. 2023-2025 might be a real wake up call.

  24. H.R. says:

    @Jim Masterson – I distinctly remember we learned base 2, 6, & 8 and base 12 had us messed up a bit because we needed two more symbols. Things kind of fell apart when we got to base 12.

    I’d say a good half of the class, maybe more, got the hang of 2, 6, & 8. Maybe It’s because when you’re that young, you’re not locked into Base 10 just yet.

    That entryway is a hoot. It makes me wonder what their reserved seat tickets looked like. 😁

    I have no clue why you got base 5 and maybe 3 or 9 when we got 2, 6, 8 & 12. Maybe 5, being half of 10 was easier to use to teach the concept of different bases? And 9 and 3 have a lot of common factors. So why did we get 2, 6, & 8? I dunno. We only spent a few days on the topic, maybe a week, just to give us the idea, and then we moved on.
    @Compu Gator – You’ve posted enough that we’re well aware of your interest in languages and etymology.

    Now and then, the topic comes up here that maybe the ancients were far more technologically advanced than we think (there’s some sort of negative ‘ism’ for that, I suppose).

    That was a very interesting bit about the Sumerian writing and how elements of the physical shape seem to have carried into Roman times. But of course, the shapes should convey some meaning. Doh! We’re not that smart nowadays.

    I ran across some other reference to the shape of symbols logically conveying hints to their meaning, but I don’t have the level of interest you have. I have long since forgotten which language and which symbols were involved, but what has always stuck with me is how knowledgeable and clever the ancients were about things the we are smugly rediscovering now. Some tech and science stuff was known thousands of years ago and was lost, maybe more than once.

    I keep looking for cell phone fossils. Why do I think Tyrannosaurus Rex had such tiny arms and claws? To work their little cell phones, of course, and hold them close so they could see the little screens. You know how tiny those buttons are. 😜😜 (Definitely needed two winkies for that).
    @All – Blame Jim Masterson. I think he started it 🤣🤣🤣

    Fun stuff.

  25. philjourdan says:

    @EMS – Re: coast not getting cold.

    never say never. Back in 68 and 69, I was living in Oceanside. It snowed that winter! So it does sometimes, just not very often,

  26. E.M.Smith says:


    When you know you will be carving symbols in stone by hand you put more think time into compact symbols with deep meaning ;-)

    I started to learn hieroglyphics once, then read some translations of their texts and realized 2 things:

    1) It wasn’t very interesting. Accounting. Religion mumbo-jumbo. Historical mythology about Great Dear Leader.

    2) It was complicated, cumbersome, and crude.

    Did like the notion of boustrophedon or as a cow ploughs

    Write one letter series left to right the next row
    tfel ot thgir

    Saves all that time walking back across the temple to start the next line… and yes, the way the symbols face reverses on each row.


    Hex or base 16 is really useful in 16 bit computers and networking. Base 64 is slowly catching on for data transfers and would work well with 32 bit and 64 bit computers.
    Basically take base 16 and extend to end of lower case letters then add uppercase.

    In programming, Base64 is a group of binary-to-text encoding schemes that represent binary data (more specifically, a sequence of 8-bit bytes) in an ASCII string format by translating the data into a radix-64 representation. The term Base64 originates from a specific MIME content transfer encoding. Each non-final Base64 digit represents exactly 6 bits of data. Three 8-bit bytes (i.e., a total of 24 bits) can therefore be represented by four 6-bit Base64 digits.

    Common to all binary-to-text encoding schemes, Base64 is designed to carry data stored in binary formats across channels that only reliably support text content. Base64 is particularly prevalent on the World Wide Web[1] where its uses include the ability to embed image files or other binary assets inside textual assets such as HTML and CSS files.

    Base64 is also widely used for sending e-mail attachments. This is required because SMTP – in its original form – was designed to transport 7-bit ASCII characters only. This encoding causes an overhead of 33–36% (33% by the encoding itself; up to 3% more by the inserted line breaks).

    Note that symbols used for 62 and 63 vary….

    The particular set of 64 characters chosen to represent the 64-digit values for the base varies between implementations.
    The general strategy is to choose 64 characters that are common to most encodings and that are also printable. This combination leaves the data unlikely to be modified in transit through information systems, such as email, that were traditionally not 8-bit clean. For example, MIME’s Base64 implementation uses A–Z, a–z, and 0–9 for the first 62 values. Other variations share this property but differ in the symbols chosen for the last two values; an example is UTF-7.

    The earliest instances of this type of encoding were created for dial-up communication between systems running the same OS — e.g., uuencode for UNIX, BinHex for the TRS-80 (later adapted for the Macintosh) — and could therefore make more assumptions about what characters were safe to use. For instance, uuencode uses uppercase letters, digits, and many punctuation characters, but no lowercase.

    Personally I’m fond of base 60. Lots of common factors so easy division. Why we have a 60 minute clock and 360 degree maps.

  27. Jim Masterson says:

    Personally I’m fond of base 60. Lots of common factors so easy division. Why we have a 60 minute clock and 360 degree maps.

    And I thought it was because we inherited the base 60 system for time and angles from the Babylonians.


  28. Jim Masterson says:

    Speaking of base-60 systems . . .

    If you take a right triangle and set the length of one leg to an Astronomical Unit (the average distance of the Earth from the Sun) and set the angle opposite to 1 second of arc, then the side adjacent is about 3.26 light-years or 1 parsec. It’s the definition of a parsec.

    The fact that time and angles both use minutes and seconds confuses some people, like George Lucas.

    For instance, here’s some dialogue from Star Wars–A New Hope:

    Obi-Wan Kenobi: Yes, indeed, if it’s a fast ship.
    Han Solo: Fast ship? You’ve never heard of the Millennium Falcon?
    Obi-Wan Kenobi: Should I have?
    Han Solo: It’s the ship that made the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs. I’ve outrun Imperial starships. Not the local bulk cruisers, mind you. I’m talking about the big Corellian ships now. She’s fast enough for you old man.

    Despite all the nonsense since about trying to claim Han Solo was talking about finding shortcuts, here he’s clearly talking about “speed” and not distance.


  29. E.M.Smith says:

    @Jim Masterson:

    When the French foisted Metric on us (and dumped the base 12 / 36 numbers of measuring in feet and yards, note that 1/10 inch gives a 360 yard…) they also attempted to push a base 10 TIME system. If failed because “a quarter till” is hard to do… as are most other divisions… and a 10 hour day has hours that are just too big.


    The second derives its name from the sexagesimal system, which originated with the Sumerians and Babylonians. This system divides a base unit into sixty minutes, each minute into sixty seconds, and each second into sixty tierces. The word “minute” comes from the Latin pars minuta prima, meaning “first small part”, and “second” from pars minuta secunda or “second small part”. Angular measure also uses sexagesimal units; there, it is the degree that is subdivided into minutes and seconds, while in time, it is the hour.

    On March 28, 1794, the president of the French commission that developed the metric system, Joseph Louis Lagrange, proposed using the day (French jour) as the base unit of time, with divisions déci-jour and centi-jour (deciday and centiday in English). The final system, as introduced in 1795, included units for length, area, dry volume, liquid capacity, weight or mass, and currency, but not time. Decimal time of day had been introduced in France two years earlier, but was set aside at the same time the metric system was inaugurated, and did not follow the metric pattern of a base unit and prefixed units.

    Base units equivalent to decimal divisions of the day, such as 1/10, 1/100, 1/1,000, or 1/100,000 day, or other divisions of the day, such as 1/20 or 1/40 day, have also been proposed, with various names. Such alternative units did not gain any notable acceptance. The centiday, (called kè in Chinese) was used in China for thousands of years. A centiday is about 14.4 minutes. In the 19th century, Joseph Charles François de Rey-Pailhade proposed using the centiday, abbreviated cé, divided into 10 decicés, 100 centicés, 1,000 millicés, and 10,000 dimicés.

    yes, we got base 60 time from the Sumerians, but why did they have it? Many common factors and easy division.


    Note that when the Meter was ‘accidentally’ mis-calculated it came out rather close to the old Sumerian unit as did the kilo… I suspect someone was a student of Sumer…


    Babylonian numerals

    The Babylonian system of mathematics was a sexagesimal (base 60) numeral system. From this we derive the modern-day usage of 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, and 360 degrees in a circle. The Babylonians were able to make great advances in mathematics for two reasons. Firstly, the number 60 is a superior highly composite number, having factors of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, 15, 20, 30, 60 (including those that are themselves composite), facilitating calculations with fractions. Additionally, unlike the Egyptians and Romans, the Babylonians had a true place-value system, where digits written in the left column represented larger values (much as, in our base ten system, 734 = 7×100 + 3×10 + 4×1).

    Sumerian mathematics
    The ancient Sumerians of Mesopotamia developed a complex system of metrology from 3000 BC. From 2600 BC onwards, the Sumerians wrote multiplication tables on clay tablets and dealt with geometrical exercises and division problems. The earliest traces of the Babylonian numerals also date back to this period.


    The legacy of sexagesimal still survives to this day, in the form of degrees (360° in a circle or 60° in an angle of an equilateral triangle), minutes, and seconds in trigonometry and the measurement of time, although both of these systems are actually mixed radix.

    A common theory is that 60, a superior highly composite number (the previous and next in the series being 12 and 120), was chosen due to its prime factorization: 2×2×3×5, which makes it divisible by 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, 15, 20, 30, and 60. Integers and fractions were represented identically—a radix point was not written but rather made clear by context.

    The Babylonians did not technically have a digit for, nor a concept of, the number zero. Although they understood the idea of nothingness, it was not seen as a number—merely the lack of a number. Later Babylonian texts used a placeholder (Babylonian digit 0.svg) to represent zero, but only in the medial positions, and not on the right-hand side of the number, as we do in numbers like 100.

    It all comes down to your choice of using FRACTIONS or DECIMAL math. For decimal math, a base 10 (or other base with a radix point) works fine and it is great in calculators. For “Human Math” it is vastly easier and faster to “reduce fractions” and then solve. This is now becoming a lost art. But WHY divide by Pi and then multiply some result by Pi if you can just strike both the Pi elements as one is above and the other below?

    Similarly the use of various fractions for Pi to let you do easier striking off of common factors.

    Approximate value and digits
    Some approximations of pi include:

    Integers: 3
    Fractions: Approximate fractions include (in order of increasing accuracy)
    (List is selected terms from OEIS: A063674 and OEIS: A063673.)
    Digits: The first 50 decimal digits are 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939937510…
    (see OEIS: A000796)

    Also folks have used other fractions. 25/8 38/13 (16/9)^2 339/108 223/71 142/45

    So depending on what precision you needed, and what other “factor” was on the other side of the line, you could use various fractions to make the math a lot easier.

    Got something that’s 13 x 7 x Pi /19? Make that 13 x 7 x 19 x 2 / (13 x 19) and it reduces to: 7 x 2 = 14.

    Now do that as decimals:

    13 x 7 x 3.141592653589 / 19. I’ll wait while you use your pencil (no calculators, remember?…)

    With base 60 you have a whole lot more factors you can strike…

    FWIW, I learned this in 5th grade from Mr. Heart. A very good teacher with a since of history and love of math. Stuck with me… It is from that point that I measure my love of math. IIRC part of the lesson was about Newton not being keen on the new “decimal math” for the precise reason that it was much harder to do the figures than if you used proper fractions…

  30. philjourdan says:

    Sorry, I like base 16 as it is the basis of computing (byte me). 64 is just 16×4. I am not into the off bases (3, 6, 9 the goose drank wine, and the monkey crashed the street car line). Besides, base 64 has a bigger issue. 10 numerals plus 26 x 2 letters = 62. Magic symbols for the other representations.

    I do base 2 in my sleep. base 16 has some interesting aspects. Beyond that, as Khan said, I grow fatigued.

  31. Jim Masterson says:

    I do base 2 in my sleep.

    When I do math/programming while trying to sleep, I can't get to sleep. Sometimes I think of a solution to a problem, and then I have get up to work on it. It definitely cuts into my sleep time. It's a good thing I'm retired.


  32. philjourdan says:

    @Jim – not retired, but sleep only a few hours a night, so I fully understand,

    In Rem I do base 16. In twilight sleep I do base 2

  33. E.M.Smith says:

    Not “magic” (which has special meaning in computing too…) but special char. IIRC + and / are the more common for 63 and 64; though I personally would avoid a math operator like + and be more likely to use something like } and { that are not part of standard math notation to my knowledge. Though now, in the age of Unicode, almost any of 10’s of thousands of symbols could be used.

    Also note that European Keyboards have all sorts of other letters built in like ñ and then Russian has a 33 modern letters and a whole lot more if you just roll back the clock a little, so you can do it all in Cyrillic just with letters and capitals…

    Letters in disuse by 1750
    ⟨ѯ⟩ and ⟨ѱ⟩ derived from Greek letters xi and psi, used etymologically though inconsistently in secular writing until the eighteenth century, and more consistently to the present day in Church Slavonic.

    ⟨ѡ⟩ is the Greek letter omega, identical in pronunciation to ⟨о⟩, used in secular writing until the eighteenth century, but to the present day in Church Slavonic, mostly to distinguish inflexional forms otherwise written identically.

    ⟨ѕ⟩ corresponded to a more archaic /dz/ pronunciation, already absent in East Slavic at the start of the historical period, but kept by tradition in certain words until the eighteenth century in secular writing, and in Church Slavonic and Macedonian to the present day.

    The yuses ⟨ѫ⟩ and ⟨ѧ⟩, letters that originally used to stand for nasalized vowels /õ/ and /ẽ/, had become, according to linguistic reconstruction, irrelevant for East Slavic phonology already at the beginning of the historical period, but were introduced along with the rest of the Cyrillic script. The letters ⟨ѭ⟩ and ⟨ѩ⟩ had largely vanished by the twelfth century. The uniotated ⟨ѫ⟩ continued to be used, etymologically, until the sixteenth century. Thereafter it was restricted to being a dominical letter in the Paschal tables. The seventeenth-century usage of ⟨ѫ⟩ and ⟨ѧ⟩ (see next note) survives in contemporary Church Slavonic, and the sounds (but not the letters) in Polish.

    The letter ⟨ѧ⟩ was adapted to represent the iotated /ja/ ⟨я⟩ in the middle or end of a word; the modern letter ⟨я⟩ is an adaptation of its cursive form of the seventeenth century, enshrined by the typographical reform of 1708.

    Until 1708, the iotated /ja/ was written ⟨ꙗ⟩ at the beginning of a word. This distinction between ⟨ѧ⟩ and ⟨ꙗ⟩ survives in Church Slavonic.

    Although it is usually stated that the letters labelled “fallen into disuse by the eighteenth century” in the table above were eliminated in the typographical reform of 1708, reality is somewhat more complex. The letters were indeed originally omitted from the sample alphabet, printed in a western-style serif font, presented in Peter’s edict, along with the letters ⟨з⟩ (replaced by ⟨ѕ⟩), ⟨и⟩, and ⟨ф⟩ (the diacriticized letter ⟨й⟩ was also removed), but were reinstated except ⟨ѱ⟩ and ⟨ѡ⟩ under pressure from the Russian Orthodox Church in a later variant of the modern typeface (1710). Nonetheless, since 1735 the Russian Academy of Sciences began to use fonts without ⟨ѕ⟩, ⟨ѯ⟩, and ⟨ѵ⟩; however, ⟨ѵ⟩ was sometimes used again since 1758.

    Although praised by Western scholars and philosophers, it was criticized by clergy and many conservative scholars, who found the new standard too, “Russified”. Some even went as far as to refer to Peter as the Anti-Christ.

    Lomonosov also contributed to the Russian alphabet, developing a, “High Style” which would be based on traditional orthography and language, and to be used in formal situations such as a religious texts. As well as, “Low Style” and, “Medium Style”, deemed for less formal events and casual writing. Lomonosov advocated for the, “Middle Style”, which later became the basis of the modern Russian orthography.

    Letters eliminated in 1918
    Main article: Reforms of Russian orthography § The post-revolution reform

    Includes another 4 eliminated in 1918…

    It isn’t at all hard to come up with 2 more characters …

  34. Jim Masterson says:

    I’m watching Alfred Hitchcock’s “To Catch a Thief.” So John Robie is innocent. And Bertani, Foussard, and Foussard’s daughter, Danielle, know this because they are the ones who are committing the crimes. Typical leftest, liberal attitude—blame the innocent for what you are doing. Plus, your liberal position means you are not guilty while your conservative enemies are guilty. Even Alfred Hitchcock knew how these criminals operate.


  35. E.M.Smith says:

    A GREAT movie!

  36. philjourdan says:

    @EMS – Yes,and Die Deutscher ü. Still, that is just over complicating what is basically simple. Binary math is easy. Hex is easy. 64 is just over complicating. YMMV

  37. maltesertoo says:

    A couple of days before this French tragedy, Italy lost a good percentage of its summer fruits and grapes for the same reason.

    If it had to be the result of a heatwave the hypocrites would be all up in arms shouting catastrophic climate change, global warming, kill all sceptics.

  38. philjourdan says:

    @Maltesertoo – I like the English (vs. American) spelling of Skeptics/Sceptics. It reminds me of shaving nicks! :-)

  39. E.M.Smith says:

    Hmmm…. @Phil: I never thought about why, but I swap between the two spellings from time to time. Thinking about it, American Dad / English Mum… of course I’d use some of each…


    Italy, eh? I didn’t see that one. I’ll need to look into it.

  40. E.M.Smith says:

    Yup… Looks like Italian Wine taking a hit too:


    Frost strikes European vineyards

    Walter Speller
    9 Apr 2021

    Large parts of Italy, from the north to the centre, have been hit by frost damage due to exceptionally cold nights last Tuesday and Wednesday. The violently cold spell, made more severe by strong winds and clear skies, is said to be the coldest since 2003. The unusually warm weather in the previous week triggered shoot growth, especially of early-budding varieties, while enormous damage to crops cultivated on the plains, such as peach, kiwi and vegetables, have been reported in Emilia-Romagna, the Veneto and all the way down to Marche and Molise.

    First reports from the Langhe speak of widespread frost damage, although the real situation will become clear only in the next few days after a thorough inspection of the vineyards. Although Nebbiolo is an early-budding variety, the most important crus of Barolo and Barbaresco tend to be on slopes, and hence relatively protected from spring frost. Lower parts of the Langhe have reportedly been hit more severely.

    Alberto Cordero of Cordero di Montezemolo in La Morra commented on Wednesday about the sudden frost:

    ‘Unfortunately here too! It hit tonight quite intensely. We took a quick tour of the vineyards and the frost hit almost everywhere but to have an idea of the damage we will have to wait another two of three days when the damaged shoots dry up. It is difficult to understand what can happen. We’ll see. Too bad because the winter was fantastic and the spring seemed to have started well. I am still positive. In the past the plants have reacted well and brought forth new shoots which are generally sterile (no flowers) but it depends a lot on the weather over the next 20–25 days. It’s part of our life. We have to accept it and I do.’

    In the Veneto, after a week of daytime temperatures nearing 27 °C, the cold spell came as a total shock to vineyards and fruit trees, with temperatures in Gambellara and Soave dipping below -5 °C, while the plains around Verona experienced temperatures of -3 °C for five nights in a row. Valdobbiadene, the centre of Prosecco production, seems to have largely escaped the brunt of the cold spell, although the weather forecast is for at least two more nights of freezing temperatures.

    The first reports from Tuscany speak of heavy damage in the area of Pistoia, with vineyards planted with Sangiovese particularly hard hit, with a loss of 50% already estimated, going up to 90% in cases where Sangiovese had already formed shoots and buds due to the warm weather preceding the frost. The frost has also destroyed a large part of the tomato production here.

    While Valtellina and parts of Piemonte resorted to burning hay bales in between vine rows, Trentino reportedly used irrigation systems, normally allowed for use only in emergency situations during extremely hot and dry weather, to protect vines as well as fruit trees.

    Reports from Chianti Classico indicate that especially the higher parts, such as Radda in Chianti, seemed to have been spared since Sangiovese is slightly delayed here due to the relatively long and cold winter and the elevation. The higher parts of Montalcino seem to have seen little frost damage although this will become clearer in the next few days, while lower vineyards are believed to have suffered badly.

    I predict riots and the fall of governments in France and Italy. That many people and a shortage of wine? It just can not be sustained… Though I suppose they can still import some… or take up beer drinking like the British did when the Little Ice Age made grape growing risky business and failure prone….

  41. philjourdan says:

    As many before me have said, the English speaking world is separated by a common language.

  42. philjourdan says:

    Though I suppose they can still import some… or take up beer drinking like the British did

    They giving up drinking wine? Imitating the Brits? ROFL!!!

    That is the best joke I have heard this year! And with Blindspot as Resident in Chief, that took a lot to do.

  43. Steve C says:

    @philjourdan – For shaving nicks, of course, you need a styptic rather than a sceptic!

    A Greek-speaking friend once told me he was always amused when he heard English-speaking academic types uttering the word “logos” (Greek for “word”, as used in ‘In the beginning was the Word”). They always pronounce it “low-goss”. But in the Greek the first letter we transcribe as “o” is an omicron (short O), the second an omega (long O). It should be “log-ose” (the final S being a hissy S, not a buzzy Z sound). Language is fun!

    Base-64 would have worked better with the English alphabet if we hadn’t stripped out thorn, ash and so on. If we’d kept just one of them …

    Per bases, like you I grew up with the Imperial units with their various bases, but also had the advantage of British pounds, shillings and pence to pay for the Imperial quantities with.. A 7″ single, in my teens, cost 6/8d, so three of them would cost you £1/- (a “quid”). Even the farthing (1/4 of 1d) lasted into my childhood, and at the time there were $4 to £1 – the “half crown” (2/6d) was often called “half a dollar” informally. 5/- would be “five bob”, 1/2d was a “ha’penny” (“hay”…), add a penny for “three ha’pence”, 2d was “tuppence”, 6d a “tanner”, so a 10/6d hat for your tea party would cost you “ten an’ a tanner”. The wealthy used to flaunt it by paying in guineas (21/-) rather than pounds (20/-) Now? It’s all (some number) “pee”, yeugh.

    Oh, and on topic, I shan’t miss the French wine. I prefer the Russian spirit!

  44. H.R. says:

    @Steve C – Way back in the Medieval Period, when I was in grade school and they still taught Geography, we had a couple of hours on the British monetary system, French and Swiss francs, centimes, and Japanese Yen; maybe one or two others, maybe Lira? Marks? Oh, Pesos and ‘pieces of eight’ for sure.

    The lessons (4th grade!) were a) there were different systems, not just our pennies, nickels, and dimes b) exchange rates; I think we just did dollars & Pounds, dollars and Francs, Dollars and Yen, dollars and Pesos. That was enough.

    We were quite amused by the pounds, farthings, pennies, guineas, and shillings, and we were suitably confused because they just did not corelate to our dollars and our coinage.

    It was real simple stuff geared for 4th grade kids, but they used to teach that.

    I’d dare say that if you told most people under 30 in the U.S. that something was “not worth a brass farthing” they would have no clue that you were even referring to a British coin. Yet U.S. kids in the ’50s, ’60s, and just maybe in the ’70s would gather what that expression meant; that it was the equivalent of our “not worth a wooden nickel.”

  45. cdquarles says:

    Or a plugged nickel ;p as that was the expression this Southern child of the 50s heard growing up.

  46. E.M.Smith says:

    @Steve C:

    I have a minor collection of British coins from before the conversion, and when still in Mum’s lap was learning to do pounds, shillings, and pence. Fond memories ;-)

    And yes, I have a few farthings. Plus some of those giant sized pennies… I always liked the farthing…

  47. Steve C says:

    Yes, I have an old biscuit tin containing Old British coins, a few ceremonial mintings and “foreigners” that have turned up in change :-) The finest are probably a couple of George III “tuppenny cartwheels”, an inch and five eighths across and nearly a quarter of an inch thick – they weigh a couple of ounces each and cleaning one reveled a metal looking like pretty pure copper.

    More fun are a couple of “evasion halfpennies”, used to evade the Draconian counterfeit and treason laws current in the mid-18th century. Rather than attempting to make a proper copy of official coinage, these would, e.g., have a head of Alfred the Great, or just declare that “George II rules” (the two I’ve got) … anything just as long as they clearly weren’t counterfeits of real coins. Because that would make you a traitor and, soon, a dead traitor. They’re very well used, so people must’ve reckoned any copper coin of the right size as being worth just as much as a legit one.

    And a silver dollar, 1921, sent across the pond to his brother by my great uncle in Wyoming. Rather more than a modern dollar’s worth of coin silver there!

  48. philjourdan says:

    @HR – Re:

    @Steve C – Way back in the Medieval Period, when I was in grade school and they still taught Geography

    Yea, I was taught in the same period. when there was only one right answer and it was not racist. Today? I am glad I will not be around when these idiots start designing bridges. God help the human race (the only race that matters).

  49. philjourdan says:

    @Steven C – I am a numismatist. And am old enough to have some original silver coins. But my greatest haul was when I lived in Germany in the early 70s. Apparently some of these folks were breaking their parents piggy bank! I ALMOST got a $20 gold certificate (but the cashier who took it decided she would keep it – she was my source for many silver certificates).

    I just opened a safe deposit box. MOved most of the stuff there. Fortunately, when we were robbed by a junkie, they missed that stuff. Probably because it was in with my Train stuff. Guess not a big market for N-Gauge trains.

  50. tucsonaustrian says:

    I emigrated to the US as a 15 year old, from Austria, having learned British coinage in school.
    On our transatlantic trip, I wanted to learn the mystery of the DIME.
    I thought maybe it was like the pieces of eight, 12 1/2 cents. ( no dictionary could be found that mentioned). If you inspect the dime, there is no clue of 10 cents.
    I went to the ship store, bought a MickeyMouse comic book for 10 cents and waited for my change, I had never seen a US halfpence. The lady told me no change was coming.
    Many years later a German girlfriend asked me about the lyrics of Blue Bayou:
    „Saving nickel, saving dimes“…..what‘s a dime?

  51. philjourdan says:


    Sorry a dime is ten cents. I have never researched the origin of the name. But from the inception of the country of the USA, all money has been decimal based (they went the Spanish route with coinage and divisions, NOT the English route).

    We call a cent a “Penny” which is stolen from the Brits. But a cent is Latin for 1/100. Which technically is what our pennies are. Cents. Nickles are named after the material they were originally made from.

    Dime is derived from Disme,which is pronounced dime. And from the Latin which means 1/10.

    English is a Borg language.

  52. Russ Wood says:

    English coinage correpondence forgot the Three penny (Thrupp’ny) bit. A heavy brass 8-sided coin, thicker than most of the other coins, that lent a certain weight (and wear) to a small boy’s pocket!

  53. E.M.Smith says:

    @Russ Wood:

    Oh Gawd! I remember handling one of those many decades back! I think Mum brought it back from her trip over… Wonder where it went…


    FWIW the local Bargain Market had French and Italian wines still on sale cheep. Bought a nice French rosé for $3 and an Italian Pino Grigio for $4. Seems that there’s still a bit of “wine lake” to soak up. ;-)

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