Marseilles, France: Academic Travel Edition of Collected Curiosities

This week I am participating in a “Sources in History of Mathematics” program in Marseilles, France

Here are some non-academic remarks:
—A bank representative asked me if Marseilles is in the USA…. not even sure how to comment on that.
—Airport shuttle bus signs in Marseilles duplicate all the information in Arabic and English
—I fear that if i did not wear a striped shirt on the day of my arrival to Marseilles, I would not be allowed to enter France.
—European students seem to be less obsessed with free wi-fi. For instance, not having wi-fi in a cafe does not seem to bother them too much.
—The soap bar in my dorm room is shaped like a fish. Another program participant remarked that it would be funny to have a soap bar that smells like fish
—Learning Chinese from scratch at university and becoming fluent in it is quite possible —  proven by a program participant

Academic remarks:
—NYU has a specific PhD program in history of mathematical education
— A certain ancient manuscript contained absurdities and mistakes on every page with strange regularity. Turned out that it wss not an original document.—  When a document that contained water damage at the bottom that went through about 50 pages was found, it became clear that it is the original. The stribes that copied the document simply could not read the damaged parts and simply made up the content.
— The content of mathematical texts and their meaning could be influenced by factors such as politics, social settings of the author and theirneconome status (obvious statement), as well as the physical objects or computational aids that were prevalent at that time (at least to me, that was not as obvious). For instance, descriptions of various ancient Chinese computations were composed in a way that would explicate the execution of these opeartions on an abacus.
— Education reforms in the 20th century France were motivated by bridging the gap between the contemporary math research and high school curriculum
— There are other connections between various historical texts that we can observe other than networks of citations. Various concepts could be mentioned in different texts. It is important to notice such references, especially if the authors refer to the same concept but use different terms to describe it.
— Chinese astronomy played a large role in politics. Various astronomical phenomena were often used as justifications of hiring or displacing politicians.

P.s. sorry if i made a ton of typos. My tablet refuses to do the spellcheck for me: (

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