2007 — 4 October: time to get crackin'

Time now (09:31) and we're going to be very busy chaps today. Cars to buy, and insure. Disability Living Allowance application to arrange. Maybe even a Blue Badge for parking. Gotta dash.

Six hours later... this joined-up electronic government of ours is all very well, but the attempt to claim electronically fell at the final hurdle. The application wouldn't validate without correcting an error or omission on an earlier screen. And (guess what?) the identified earlier screen has no user data entry field on it. So that was a fun conversation and email exchange with the help desk — not that folk on the eservice help desk are in any way connected to the civil servants who actually process1 these claims in any case. So it's now off to the Eastleigh JobCentrePlus to attempt the manual route.

Two hours later... shades of "The King asked the Queen, and the Queen asked the Dairymaid..." A nice young lady2 in the Eastleigh JobCentrePlus (a very well-concealed building near what used to be IBM offices in the 1980s) dug out, not the claim pack that the website says is held at these JobCentrePlus offices, but a list of "Useful Contacts" and phone numbers via which one can navigate to helpful humans who promise to put stuff into the post (though, of course, there's now a postal workers strike). Good job we're not in a hurry, heh?

One can but try.

Anti-climax... department

We bought a new car, and changed insurers to one that covers a learner driver on a fully-automatic vehicle. So, time for the Theory test. Wonder if the DSA is on, as it were, the same ball as the DWP?

Happier times... department

Some months ago I noted a book I'd bought in Blackwells (in Oxford) that ran the gamut (as it were) from a Steve Bell cartoon on its cover to Euler's formula at the end. Today, the "Arts&Letters" site hosts a link to an article on Euler. I had no idea quite how prolific a mathematician he'd been... from 1736, when Euler began publishing regularly, to his death from a stroke in 1783:

There is for each and every fortnight in 47 years a separate effort of mathematical invention, digested, arranged, written in Latin, and amplified, often to a tedious extent, by corollaries and scholia. Through all this mass, the power of the inventor is almost uniformly distributed, and apparently without effort. There is nothing like this, except this, in the history of science.

Though it seems almost impertinent to emphasize any of the man's contributions above others, probably most mathematicians would agree that Euler's work in analysis advanced mathematics the furthest. It is here that his single most memorable result belongs. The famous Euler equation ei pi+1=0 manages to establish a correlation among five of the most important numbers (0, 1, i, e, and pi — the last three all owe their symbols to Euler!) as well as among three key operations (addition, multiplication, and exponentiation).

John Derbyshire in his article "Euler's Constancy" (October 2007)



1  I take slight comfort from the fact that there is a fast-track claims procedure if the claimant is seriously or terminally ill, as they recognise the "normal" 39 days required to process may be a bit on the extended side...
2  Who told us her own Mum died before her claim finished wending its way through the application process!