Posted by: Alexandre Borovik | April 8, 2008

The Great Petrol Blockade of September 2000

If you remember that phony petrol war of September 2000, try to recall what were the first two types of goods which instantly disappeared from supermarket shelves?

This rhetorical question is a preparation for a further discussion of issues touched on in my previous post.



  1. i give up : what were the 2 types of goods that instantly disappeared from supermarket shelves ?

  2. Answer is simple and obvious: bread and toilet tissue. It says a lot about real priorities of life. But I want to say more generally about the networked world in which we leave and mathematics’ place in it. I promise to write that; thanks for a reminder.

  3. Sasha: Celal didn’t know the answer to your question, and I didn’t know the answer to your question. Yet you say the answer is simple and obvious. Does this mean we are stupid?

    I know of somebody who felt utterly humiliated in a math class when she asked a question and the teacher said “It’s easy” or “It’s obvious” or something like that. It wasn’t easy or obvious to the student, who came to the edge of tears when recalling the incident. So I think expressions like “simple and obvious” should be used very carefully. There may be times when they do provide a useful hint to a wandering mind; but usually, when something is obvious, then this means the fact does not need to be pointed out.

    Regarding the present situation: I avoid storebought bread, preferring to make my own. In a crisis I might stock up on flour, not bread. And when one has a proper toilet with an integrated bidet, as in Turkey for example, then one can do without toilet paper.

    Was it through you that I encountered the story of a young teacher who went to some remote part of Wales, showed her new young students a picture of a sheep, and wondered how stupid the children could be if they couldn’t tell her it was a sheep? But the children were silently trying to figure out the sheep’s breed and age.

  4. My apologies to Selal and to David: I meant my “of course” only as a joke. I promise to write more soon and make myself clearer.

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