Dec 23, 2011

Old (2010-2011) blog posts are here

For the period Jan 2010 to Dec 2011 I worked for Microsoft as Developer Evangelist in Jordan. I created a blog on MSDN. You can read my posts during that period here: 

with this, most my old blog posts are "re-linked" here. from now on, it's a new beginning.

Another "Calorie is not a Calorie" Researcher

(an old post from my lost blog - Oct 2009)

(hat tip to Chareffine)
Robert Lustig, MD, a UCSF pediatric neuroendocrinologist, says that sugar, especially the fructose part, is very harmful. he says that a calorie is not a calorie because fructose-calories do not get digested the same way in the body:

very similar to Taube's explanation.

simulating a brain at chemical level

(an old post from my lost blog - Oct 2009)

(hat tip to Husam)
A fascinating project! They are simulating a rat's brain at the chemical level. They expect that in less than 10 years, they will be able to reproduce the exact behavior of the human brain on a single computer. They are probably a bit too optimistic, but I would not say that this goal is unachievable.

Stanford ATOZ Battle of the Diets: Atkins wins

(old post from my lost blog at, Oct 2009)

Chris Gardner, a professor of nutrition at Stanford University, and a 25-year
strict vegetarian ran an impressive study petting 4 diets for a whole year. The
attrition rate is one of the lowest in such studies, around 20%.

The lecture is very interesting if you have the time, but if you insist on

Great site of Top University Lectures

(old post from my lost blog at, Oct 2009 - i'm sure many more are available now)

30 days on McDonalds... and losing weight!

(old post from my lost blog at, Oct 2009)

This guy, a 50 years old, spent 30 days on McDonald's only:
results: he lost 8 pounds, lowered his Cholesterol, and kept his 6-pack!
He's interviewed in the (Down Size Me) documentary  (a response to Super Size Me): 
his book seems interesting. will be looking for it.

Confusing Gary Taubes and Metabolic Advantage

(old post from my lost blog at, Oct 2009)

Many low-carb websites and authors have attacked Gary Taubes, the author of Good Calories Bad Calories, on the understanding that he supports "Metabolic Advantage". I think this is a misunderstanding of what Gary Taubes says. I think what he outlines is more of a carb-metabolic-disadvantage, and not a meat-metabolic-advantage.
For those not in the "low-carb" debate scene, Metabolic Advantage (wikipedia) is the claim by Atkins & other low-carb dieters that eating Meat does not make a person fat. They claim that meat calories somehow do not contribute to accumulating fat when consumed in a low-carb diet. In a way, if you're on atkins-diet, eat as much as as you want, and you'll never get fat. The body somehow gets rid of these extra calories – possibly through higher resting metabolism, etc.
Many "scientific" low-carb dieters, like Anthony Colpo, and anti-low-carb advocates, hold this to be one of Atkins false claims. And the science if admittedly weak on this area.
However, for some reason, many (including Anthony Colpo and Muata Kimdibe – the CNN Mr Low Fat) say that Gary Taubes, in his book Good Calories Bad Calories, supports Metabolic Advantage. However, I think this is not accurate. In a way, Gary Taubes says that Carbs have a Metabolic Disadvantage.
Here's what I think Gary Taubes says:
  1. Due to genetic variation, people have different metabolic rates. He sites an interesting study where inmates at a prison  were forced to overeat (10,000 calories per day) for a prolonged period of time. The variation in weight-gain was great – one inmate increased only 2-3 pounds, while another around 30 pounds. Varying metabolic rates between people – due to activity and genes – is not a controversial statement even for the non-low-carb advocates.
  2. Gary Taubes then shows that eating refined carbs causes the body to store most of the energy instead of consuming it in the body. Thus, in a way, he says that refined carbs have a metabolic disadvantage. People will burn less calories (as a percentage of what they eat) when they eat refined carbs that raise the insulin level in the blood.
  3. As a result of storing most of consumed calories as fat in high-carb diets, people will remain hungry longer. Thus they overeat to satisfy their body's needs.
  4. Notice that Gary makes sure to explain that this metabolic disadvantage is not always true in all people: the excessive storage of fat happens only when there's an insulin-related problem. Some humans have the genes to always handle insulin rollercoasters well. Most people develop insulin-related problems as they grow older. (Very similar to causes of diabetes).
  5. He also shows enough evidence that the Human Body tries to maintain a certain ideal weight. The body manages many factors (including appetite and resting-metabolism) to try and maintain a certain body fat or body weight. Usually this is more of a range than a specific point (even though Gary never says that explicitly).
Thus, with all of this, one can see how the misunderstanding of what Gary really said comes. He says if one eats a low-carb diet, then their body will come down to the ideal weight point and try to preserve it regardless of the extra foods one might eat every now and then. However, this ideal weight is not necessarily a point – but a range. I personally noticed that people on low-carb usually hit the upper limit of the range and stop.
So to get to single-digit body fat percentage, one has to watch calories in addition to diet. A lot of times this also requires exercise - which seems to change the body's internal ideal weight point. Notice that since most people have the ability to digest some carbs in a healthy manner, one can still eat some carbs and remain at a healthy weight. 

The Beginning of the WWW (The Google History of the Internet)

(old post from my lost blog at, Oct 2009)

EhCafe has posted a new item, 'The Beginning of the WWW (The Google History of
the Internet)'

Newsgroups: alt.hypertext From: timbl@info (Tim Berners-Lee) Date: 6
Aug 91 16:00:12 GMT Local: Tues, Aug 6 1991 9:00 am Subject: WorldWideWeb:
Summary  WorldWideWeb - Executive Summary The WWW project merges the
techniques of information retrieval and hypertext to    make an easy but
powerful global information system. [...]The WWW world consists of documents,
and links.  Indexes are special documents    which, rather [...]

Music composed by Birds

(old post from my lost blog at, sep 2009 - i guess this is the type of thing you would just share on twitter these days :-))

A flock of birds landed on 5 phone lines in front of photographer Paulo Pinto – forming what looked like notes on the musical staff. Composer Jarbas Agnelli saw the picture and actually expanded that little piece to actual music. Listen to the music and see the photo in this very nice video – the music composed by birds:

Saudi ranked 13 worldwide for "Ease of Doing Business"

(old post from my lost blog at, sep 2009 - i wonder what it is now)

(hat tip to my friend Basil Abbas for sharing)

Ranking Chart Link:

Saudi Arabia is celebrating its rank at #13 out of 183 countries this year.

Previous Years for KSA: 2008 – 2009 ranked #13 2007 – 2008 ranked #16 2006 – 2007 ranked #38 2005 - 2006 ranked #67

The criteria in measuring this rank was based on the following factors: 1. Starting a business 2. Dealing with construction permits 3. Employing Workers 4. Registering Property 5. Getting Credit 6. Protecting Investors 7. Paying Taxes 8. Trading Across Borders 9. Enforcing Contracts 10. Closing a Business

The first 20 countries are: Singapore 1 New Zealand 2 Hong Kong, China 3 United States 4 United Kingdom 5 Denmark 6 Ireland 7 Canada 8 Australia 9 Norway 10 Georgia 11 Thailand 12 Saudi Arabia 13 Iceland 14 Japan 15 Finland 16 Mauritius 17 Sweden 18 S Korea 19 Bahrain 20

Worth to mention: Bahrain is 20 UAE is 33 Qatar is 39 Kuwait is 61 Oman is 65 Tunis is 69 Yemen is 99 Jordan is 100 Egypt 106 Lebanon 108 Morocco 128 Iran 137 West Bank 139 Syria 143


Rome & Carthage

(old post from my lost blog at, sep 2009 - this topic still fascinates me!)

Rome & Carthage: The Arrogance of "Democratic" Supremacy

In 149 BC, The Roman Senate took advantage of a minor disagreement with Carthage to wage a war (the last Punic war ~150BC). Unsurprisingly, at the end of which, the Romans triumphed against Carthage. Carthage sent a delegation surrendering the city and giving up all their weapons to Rome. But the Roman Senate decided specifically that "Carthage was to be razed to the ground, no stone was to be left upon another, the soil was to be ploughed and strewn with salt." Needless to say, all of its people were either slaughtered or sold to slavery.

Which begs the question, WHY!?

The decision was not that of momentous anger by a tyrant individual, for that Rome was a Republic. The decision was debated and decided by the ~200 representatives of Roman people.

The decision was not that of military, for that even the famous Roman General that carried it out, Scipio Africanus, was against it. He followed the orders anyhow.

So, WHY!?

One cannot but think these days at the real value of democracy, try to understand the pros and cons beyond the usual clichés and banner-style statements like "democracy is the solution". And to do so, there is nothing like learning the History of Rome, through which one can re-live Democracy on fast forward. There are many bright spots, and some deep bleak ones.

Rome has started as a Kingdome and turned successfully into an expanding Democratic Republic for 400 shining years. But then, and just like magic, it turned into an Empire, and finally presented historians to this day with a mysterious fall after another 400 years.

I am not an expert in this field, but I have gone through Rome's history recently, and I find some aspects extremely interesting to share and contemplate upon. One of these events is Rome's verdict on Carthage, described above.

And this brings back us to the question, WHY!?

The answer is, because the Romans were the strongest nation at the time. They simply could do it, and so, they did it. "War Mongering" is the term.

This brings a second question: how come a group of highly educated Roman elected-senates come up with such an unjust and inhumane decision?

Simply, (and it took me a very long time to realize this answer) democracy does not guarantee making the right decision. Democracy guarantees agreement: that most of the attendants will agree on the decision. In another way, that the disagreeing portion will never be large enough to overrule the decision by power (or so is the theory).

Democracy is a lot like human-desire. It requires a high degree of discipline and dedication to actually be guided correctly. Democracy requires that we be active and objective all the time so that it won't be misused. Democracy cannot function with a passive population.

Democracy is not ethical by itself. The ethics of democracy are that of its people. Democracy does not tell us right from wrong. But it can tell us what we ought to be doing about it. Things are not right or wrong just because 51% of people said so. Morality is independent of statistics.

Seems intuitive… but in the same time, it is very easy to forget this and fall in the same mistakes again and again…

good review of "The Cholesterol Wars"

(old post from my lost blog at, aug 2009)

I wish this guy has a review of Good Calories Bad Calories. 

Gary Taubes is wrong?

(old post from my lost blog at, july 2009)

I think I have finally found a book that argues for the Cholesterol-Hypothesis: that tries to go through the scientific evidence and show that Cholesterol indeed is the main cause of heart disease.

The Cholesterol Wars by Daniel Steinberg

I read so far 2 books that present the opposite argument:

  • Good Calories Bad Calories by Gary taubes
  • The Great Cholesterol Con by Anthony Colpo

I believe one has to read books with differing points of view to get to the right conclusion. I'm looking forward to reading The Cholesterol Wars.

Unfortunately I cannot find reviews for this book on the low-calorie forums. I call on Gary Taubes to review this book. Essentially this book says that Gary Taubes is wrong. Fat and not Refined Carbs are the evil components of our diet.

One Page summary of Good Calories Bad Calories by the author - a diet that works

(old post from my lost blog at, aug 2009)

Gary Taubes summaries the 3rd section of the book, which is concerned with obesity and diets.

Carb vs Fat Hypotheses (links)

(old post from my lost blog at, july 2009)

EhCafe has posted a new item, 'Hypothesis" (links)'

There's a debate raging in the scientific arena so far about Carb-Hypothesis vs Fat-Hypothesis. Is eating Fats that cause heart attacks and obesity, or is it refined carbs like sugar, white bread and white rice.
These are links for talks and articles by Gary Taubes who advocates the Carb-hypothesis:
Metabolic Syndrome X, in wikipedia
Taubes 2001 article, the soft science of diet.
Taube's original 2002 very-controversial article in The New York Times, Big FAT Lie
Interview with Taubes following his 2002 article, the Inside Story
An article about the "lack" of science on losing weight by working out "We Cannot Work it Out"
A lecture at UC Berkeley in 2007 following publication of his book "Quality of Calories" (webcast)
A lecture at Stevens Institute of Technology in 2008, Big Fat Lies (webcast)

must have book "good calories bad calories" (first impressions)

(old post from ehcafe, july 2009)

I am half way through an amazing book. I wanted to give few first impressions here. I'll be writing more posts on it soon.
"Good Calories, Bad Calories" by Gary Taubes.
Gary Taubes is a senior writer in Science Magazine. He's the only journalist so far who won the best scientific writer award in the US 3 times. I heard an interview with him a while ago and have been waiting for his book.
He spent 5 years reviewing the scientific evidence for the past 150 years on heart attacks, obesity, far, carbs, and certain diseases.
He comes up with an interesting conclusion that reinforces what I've read in several places so far:
1- Fat and cholesterole are NOT harmful. they are actually very evolutionary-suitable for our bodies.
2- Carbs, especially simple ones (sugar, rice, and white flour) are extremely evil because they mess up our hormones by constantly affecting insulin. Keep in mind that these food substances became prelevant only in the last few hundred years! (rice might be an exception in certain gepgraphies)
3- According to research, Carbs are definitely the main cause of: Diabetes, Obesity, and Heart Attacks
4- There's a strong evidence (not conclusive yet though) that Carbs are also the main cause of Cancer and Alzeheimer!
The funny thing, this books shows very clearly that the evils of Carbs (or at least that it causes obesity) have been known for a very long time (e.g. the arabic proverb eating bread brodens shoulders). He shows that the whole cholesterole-hypothesis really dates only back to the 1950s until now, and that it's based on weak evidence that was pushed up because US and Europe were having what seemed like a heart-attack epidemic and they had to do something. Cholesterole was easily measurable and so it provided and easy and clear "recommendation" albeit a wrong one. (reminds of an Einestein quote: for every complicated problem there's a nice simple solution that is wrong).
hope you like the book like I do. My wife and I are rethinking our whole diet - what we should feed the children, etc. very tough. we'll see where we get.

Jordan – the cradle of internet start-ups

(old post from ehhcafe, june 2009. interesting to see how startup scene in jordan has come a long way)

Jordan – the cradle of internet start-ups

from Abu Dhabi's The National newspaper.
Hat tip to

(first paragraph…)

Tom Gara

  • Last Updated: June 07. 2009 8:39PM UAE / June 7. 2009 4:39PM GMT

Thinking outside the box: driven by a need to create jobs for an educated young population, the heart of technological entrepreneurship beats fast in Jordan.

If you spend a lot of time reading about start-up internet companies in the Middle East, the same country pops up time and time again: Jordan.

It is one of the smallest nations in the Arab world, lacking the population of Egypt, the wealth of the Gulf or the history of Syria. But what it has, without a doubt, is the most exciting community of technology start-ups in the region.

Interesting research by Egyptian American

(old post from ehcafe apr, 2009)
Nanotechnology is a very promising and facinating science. Today I learned about Dr Mostafa El-Sayed's research in this space. Dr El-Sayed, an Egyptian American, got the 2007 (awarded in late 2008) National Medal for Science - the US highest honor in the field.
The father-and-son research team at Georgia Tech, Mostafa & Ivan El-Sayed, pioneered a very interesting cure for skin cancer using golden nanorods . This initial solution is able to cure 100% of cancer cases in lab animals. They expect to have a human-cure in about 7 years. The technique mainly consists of sending golden nanorods in the body that attach to cancer cells only. And then these rods are heated using low-power laser beams that kill only the cancer cells, leaving the body cancer-free.
I've heard the theoretical side of this technique several times as a possible futuristic solution for many of the tough diseases. However, it's very nice to read that this is becoming a reality fast.

Great job by the likes of Dr El-Sayed and his team.

Nuclear Jordan

(old post from ehcafe) 

Middle East is definitely heading to change in the next 20 years.
Saudi Arabia is shooting to become an industrial hub in the region, possibly hosting China's port and factories to the African Market.
Jordan is planning to become an IT and Nuclear provider in the region. Few articles on the net:
1- Jordan plans to build a nuclear plant by 2015 (and a uranium mine by 2012)
2- Jordan signs agreements with France, Canada, South Korea, Russia, UK, USA, & China regarding nuclear cooperation
3- US's Department of Energy to build a Nuclear Waste Facility next year in Jordan
4- Why Nuclear Power Plant makes sense for Jordan by a Jordanian Professor

what is most interesting, is that while #1-2 are for the long run, US is very fast to building a nuclear waste facility next year. I wonder what they'll put in it.
Is it possible that after 20 years we'll end up simply with a waste facility, and nothing else!

It's worth mentioning also that the whole region is turning to Nuclear Power. Algeria, Egypt & GCC (Arabian Gulf) countries are discussing the nuclear option seriously at this point.

"The Next 100 Years" by George Friedman

The Next 100 Years: A forecast for the 21st century by George Friedman is a very interesting book that made some noise, and even was on Farid Zakaria's book of the week section. I read the book recently, and following my notes. I first present a summary of his bold predictions, and then discuss each.

Quick list of predictions:

  1. US will remain a super power for 100 years.
  2. China will collapse by 2020
  3. Russia will have a second collapse (the first being the soviet one) around 2020s
  4. The next 4 powers until 2060: Japan, Turkey, & Poland
  5. A World War 3 (space war) between US-Poland vs Japan-Turkey
  6. The great US-Mexico confrontation of 2100 (since a war might not be possible to happen)

US super power for 100 years

Friedman claims that US is just in its beginning of its ascension to power. And he insists, despite all the economic problems now, US will become even a grandeur super power in the next century. One scan through the first few chapters doesn't fully explain why. However, the lines of the argument become clearer throughout the book.

Friedman provides a brief explanation of Geo-Political analysis. The idea is that there are certain geographic and political properties of each region and country in the world that control its future. Friendman states several times that no matter who is the president of the US, given that US is a global power, it will act in certain ways that are inherent in its position.

In a way, Geo-Political analysis is similar to Value Investing - in that it assumes that there are fundamental properties for successful companies/countries. Countries who have them succeed. otherwise, they fail. eventually.

What are these fundamentals? and why US has them? Friedman lists the following:

  1. US is a large country, huge market, rich resources, and faces 2 oceans
  2. US controls the oceans of the sea - thus controls the the global lines of commerce.
  3. US has a low population density. This will play a huge role in US dominance starting 2030, when the populations of the advanced world will be decreasing and they will be competing for immigrants. Immigrants will prefer US.

Notice that "current economic state" is not listed. Friedman doesn't say this explicitly, but he seems to think that if the fundamentals of the US are correct, it'll be able to get out of any situation it is in - even if that involves a show or power or even war.

This way of thinking is foreign for us - generation dot-com. We tend to believe that the smartest country economically gains dominance. We do not think consciously about the possibility of war to gain wealth. In a way, Friedman says that if Japan poses economic danger to US, the US may prevent Japanese fleets from exporting good or importing raw materials. China buys a lot of the US bonds. If US doesn't want to pay back, or wants China to buy more, "persuading" China might not be a totally economic formula.

Friendman further presents his own interpretation of few US history incidents:

  1. the great depression (I have to look at the book again to summarize this correctly, TBD)
  2. the 50-year cycle. He claims that the dominant socio-political landscape changes every 50 years. Each cycle starts with a president who truly represents the needs and hopes of the new dominant group, and ends with a president trying desparetely to apply old solutions to new problems and fails to satisfy the new dominant group. The groups are:
    * 1775-1825: aristocrats, english?
    * 1825-1875: fronteirsmen, Irish?
    * 1875-1925: ? can't remember
    * 1925-1975: city dwellers, wasp?
    * 1975-2025: suburbs (because of highways)
  3. finally, the credit crisis: I have to review the book to say what exactly

China's Collapse by 2020

Friedman claims that China's economy is just like Japan in 1980:

  1. The debt-to-GDP is very high, and the cost of money is artificially low (government controls the savings rate of the citizens and what companies get the loans). Japan's debt-to-GDP was ~%20 when the banking system failed there. China's is estimated at %25-40. He doesn't explain where the numbers come from.
  2. Thus, he says that just like Japan in the 80s, Chinese companies' success depends on volume of exports, not profit margins. They need high revenue to pay off their debt and get more. This is why their prices are very low.
  3. Thus, on the site of first US recession (since US is china's biggest market), Chinese companies & banking system will fail. He expects that to happen by 2020
  4. He explains that even though China is communist, it had good relations with the US because of Cold War. my enemy's enemy is my friend.
  5. He also claims that China's political unity depends on economic success and payoffs. Thus, the country might go through a civil war (similar to that of Mao) between the poor center and the rich coast. The coastal cities are rich because of foreign relations.

Russia's Collapse in 2020s

  1. He predicts that Russia will go through a second rise, and then a second fall.
  2. The fall will be due to stretching their economy and … have to review the book. I think has to do with the ountries around it.
  3. the most interesting outcome will be the rise of Poland & Turkey - backed by US - to stand for the russian giant. And Japan to a point.

The next 4 super powers: Japan

He predicts Japan will start building a navy power, and once china falls, it'll try to expand its control in the region. US will back it to stand for Russia. It'll seem very friendly power until ~2050.

more details tbd

The next 4 super powers: Turkey (The Islamic Khilafa)

Friedman asserts that Turkey is already an economic power. He says that islamic world has many divisions and internal fights to keep islamist busy. but turkey will take more of a cultural "role" and lead/control the islamic countries of the middle east. much like the ottoman empire before. turkey will get a lot of help from US to stand for russian influence, especially in the baltics and the black sea.

The next 4 super powers: Poland

Poland will be US's first line of defense against russia. thus, it'll become strong, and it'll build influence around east europe. eventually, european countries will see Poland just like the Sovient Union before.

The next 4 super powers: Mexico

Mexico is friedman's surprise. he says it has all the fundamentals to become a super power. it's in north africa - the strongest of the continents. its economy is already big. he asserts that the social problems we hear about are the labor pains of delivering mexico from its indsutrial phase to modern state.

A World War 3 (space war): US-Poland vs Japan-Turkey

This is an interesting chapter. Friedman reiterates that US will get in a war not because it wants to, but because super powers act in predetermined way, and it'll see it as "protecting itself".

in short, turkey and poland will have conflicts, and US will side with Poland, nudging turkey. Japan will also feel restrained as its sphere of influence expands. Turkey and Japan feel that doing a surprise hit against US would send a message to US that it's not the only power in the world.

So, turkey & Japan will blowup US's most advanced (3rd generation) space surveilance system. They will also conduct earth attacks at all known hyper-sonic missle locations. US will respond by using its 2nd generation & secret missle locations to get back very quickly at Japan & Turkey.

Most interestingly, Friedman predicts that WW3 will be very peaceful. He says advanced weapenory will limit casualties to armies and no civilians, and even that to maybe few thousand people. Economic destruction will be big. He also it'll happen quickly.

After this, US will live its golden age (just like after WW2). that's until the big mexican-us confrontation at the end of the ccentury.

The Great US-Mexico Confrontation of 2100

Friendman says that even UN predicts that population in the world will decrease by 2050. He says by 2030 the need for working-age immigrants will become very clear in all advanced nations (europe more than US). these advanced countries will compete for immigrants. US will remain the favorite because of its incentives + population density is still low.

This will cause many immigrants, especially Mexican, to move to US starting 2030s.

unlike all other groups, mexican immigration will cause the "cultural border" between us/mexico to move north.

By ~2080, development in robotics will reduce the need for more workers. Also the economy would get used to functioning in a decreasing population (unlike now when people expect real-estate prices to keep going up - which won't be true after 2030/2050). As a result, US will attempt to stop immigration from Mexico.

This will evolve into the big US-Mexican confrontation by the end of the century. I say confrontation and not war because Friedman predicts that some mexican/us citizens will be senators in both houses across the border. The situation will become weird, where mexicam americans will have a mexican government in the US.

The final outcome of all of this is not clear, and it remains an open question at the end of the book.


The book is very interesting. for me, the biggest takeaway are:

  1. geo-political analysis makes sense, even though something seems missing
  2. future is weirder than fiction
  3. i'm keeping my eye on china. us is in recession now, and let's see what happens there. this is his first prediction. this is something he's been saying since 2007 .

Overall, very interesting book.

5/5 on Arrabi's scale. (this is whether it's worth reading, not that I agree with it)

Fibonacci (Ibn Bonacci) studied in Algeria?

Interesting what one learns every day.
Fibonacci (1170-1250) - Filius of Bonacci i.e. Ibn Bonacci - was raised as a child in Bjaia, Algeria - part of Almohad’s Dynasty at the time (~1200AD). His father was a employee of Pisa city (of Italy) as their "trade post contact" in Bjaia. Bonacci wanted to "make use" of his stay in Bjaia and insisted that his son studies in its schools before they go back to Italy!
He went to the "accounting school" of the city there, where he learned Arabic-Hindi numerals, and loved them. He traveled until the age of 32 around the Mediterranean learning with Arabic Mathematician until his return to Italy. That’s when we wrote his most famous book, Liber Abaci, which popularized the use of Arabic numerals in Europe.
Here’s a quotation from Fibonacci’s book :
"When my father, who had been appointed by his country as public notary in the customs at Bugia acting for the Pisan merchants going there, was in charge, he summoned me to him while I was still a child, and having an eye to usefulness and future convenience, desired me to stay there and receive instruction in the school of accounting. There, when I had been introduced to the art of the Indians’ nine symbols through remarkable teaching, knowledge of the art very soon pleased me above all else and I came to understand it.."