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17:19 UK time, Monday, 9 June 2008

So MI5 hasn't asked for 42 days . Which makes me wonder: what *has* it been doing during that period?
Johan van Slooten, Urk, Netherlands

I'm teaching in China and am happy to let Steve W know (Letters, Friday) that every student I've met thus far enjoys singing 'We Will Rock You.' It's one of the few songs in which they can simultaneously clap and sing quite easily.
Justin J, Changchun, China

Well done, Guardian, you and your paper specialists (with degrees in paper folding I am sure) have invented a foldable piece of paper you can put in your pocket and carry around (Paper Monitor). Or in other words, they have re-invented the 'map' and printed butterflies on it.
Matt Copp, London, UK

Yet more nominative determinism - the Conservative Chief Whip in the European Parliament was Den Dover (say it quickly)...
Fred, Rotherham

Nominative determinism? Look no further than Canada. While living in Toronto, I bought my stereo system from a store called Mr Hi-Fi. What else was he going to end up selling with a surname like that? Not only that, but my lunchtime sandwiches were bought from a chain called Mr Sub, the soup division of which was called - you guessed it - Mrs Soup. I actually asked an employee if Mr Soup minded Mrs Soup spending so much time with Mr Sub, or whether Mrs Soup was actually Mrs Sub, but had decided to retain her maiden name of Soup because of her line of work. I don't know whether it was a staff training issue or what, but would you believe the employee hadn't got a clue what I was on about... Oh, and I think I'm obliged to say "other hi-fi and submarine sandwich outlets are available."
Alex Knibb, Bristol, UK

Re Adam from London's "reverse nominative determinism"... Accusative determinism?
Jo, London

I hate to nit-pick with Stuart Taylor's nit-pick regarding division by zero. Mathematically you can divide by zero - but in the real world there is no way of putting nothing into something... And I have it on good authority that little fact WILL impress the ladies.
Graham Bell, Braunton, UK

Actually Helen, Luxembourg (Letters, Friday), in most cases x/0 is explicitly left undefined, even if x=0 - ie mathematicians say "You are not allowed to do this". Although there are some situations in which it is useful to define a symbol to represent "x divided by zero" - often something we call "infinity" - you have to be very careful about doing so. In particular, you must accept that you usually can't do normal arithmetic with "infinity" and get meaningful answers (e.g., as we've already said, ending up with 1=2). In computer arithmetic, division by zero usually either results in an error message, or a special value called "NaN" - Not a Number. Anyway, the point is there are vastly more interesting counter-intuitive things in maths, so can we please talk about them instead of this?
Dave Taylor, Leeds, UK

Helen, Friday's letters. No time to go into the differences between
multiplying by zero and the implications of trying to divide by zero, but can you just assure all of us that your job in Luxembourg is unrelated to anything to do with numbers, finance or formulae that might somehow affect the rest of us in Europe? Thanks.
Robert, Glasgow

Helen from Leicester (Letters, Friday); England may not be in Euro 2008 but they are playing a test match against New Zealand today. I'd like to think that's what the flags were about.
Michael, Rockville, MD, USA

To Helen of Leicester (Letters, Friday): why would you automatically assume that anyone flying the England flag would have to be doing it because of football? Is that what we've been reduced to? I find it great for us English to have enough national pride to fly our flag simply for the sake of being proud to be English!
Chris Melville, London, UK

Re: Friday's quote of the day. After reading that quote I had a look at Charles Bronson on there a better ending to an article than: "Reputedly the 'hardest man' in Britain, Bronson once claimed to have knocked a cow out with one punch." Pretty beefy.
Jinja, Edinburgh

"Archbishop skydives for soldiers" Is that similar to bobbing for apples?
Paul Greggor, London

Michael Hall (Letters, Friday): I live in Croydon and I've never heard of her either. Maybe Stuart knows who she is.
Rob Foreman, London, UK

I could not help but notice this headline: NHS website to mark 60th birthday, I honestly did not know the internet existed back in 1948!
Steven, Livingston, Scotland

So Monday's quote of the day, the fact that David Tennent is a bona fide actor with a huge repertoire in RSC has nothing to do with anything, Sir Jonathan? And Patrick Stewart is just the bald guy from Star Trek, right?
Sarah B, Southampton, UK

Re 10 things, What kind of music does a 'gastric band' specialise in, I have a gut feeling it is not heavy metal?
Tim McMahon, Pennar, Wales

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