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Tats and Schafkins and the US Dollar

A Problem
originally posted Monday October 22, 2001

by Barb Moriarty & Ralph Johnston

I was doing a web search today (Oct 22 2001) to find out how to convert grams into tons. Someone had worked out that the amount of money added by the Fed this morning to the Bank Temporary Reserves - was the equivalent of 50 tons of $20 bills. FYI a US bill - of whatever domination - weighs exactly 1 gram.

On a university conversion website I found the following math 'problem.' I thought it was so hilarious I posted it on my favorite internet gold stock message board, to cheer them up.

Here is the problem:

Tats and Schafkins

The occupants of the planet Schaf eat the tiny, amazingly-uniform seeds of the Birn tree. Each seed weighs 57 milligrams. The prodigious appetites of the Schafkins require that they eat several thousand seeds per day and therefore the seeds are packaged in units of 1000. Each of these packages is called a tat.

  1. What is the mass of one tat?
  2. The average Schafkin eats 15 tats at each of 5 meals per day. What is the weight of a 15 tat meal in grams and in pounds?
  3. What is the total weight of Birn seeds consumed by one Schafkin in one week?
  4. A tat factory produces 1.68 x 10 to the 8th power, tats per week. How many Schafkins will this production feed each week? (the Schaf week contains 10 days)
  5. The planet has a population of 3.23 x 10 to the 9th power, Schafkins. How many factories must there be in order to feed all of the Schafkins?

Here is one of the answers that was posted on the gold message board - I haven't laughed so much since Jack Nicholson put that dog down the trash chute in "As Good As It Gets."

A Humble Reply: Tats and Schafkins

Given that in your example there is a fixed number of Seeds in each Tat, answering your questions becomes a simple matter of arithmetic. Just about anybody over the age of ten and who is not a member of Congress would have no problem.

Here on planet Earth, things are much more difficult to figure out. If planet Schaf were more like Earth, then you would not have told us, Barb, that there are 1000 Seeds in a Tat. Instead you would have described an Institution called the Schaf Reserve System, or SRS.

Under the SRS regime, the formerly fixed unit of the Tat bears no relation to its former value of 1000 Seeds. Schafian banks, which own the SRS, no longer exchange Tats for Seeds at the rate of 1000 per. Instead, the SRS Closed Market Committee meets from time to time to determine the number of Tats that need to be created in order to maximize the wealth of Schafian politicians (who are known as Schits).

The SRS then, acting upon the policy of the Closed Market Committee, causes additional Tats to be created. These new Tats are created through bank lending, through the gratuitous creation of electronic credits within the bank accounts of the Schits, and through the printing of circulating certificates that are officially known as Schaf Reserve Notes, but among the Schafian serfs are called "Terds" (proving that the Schafian serfs are a lot smarter than the Terrestrial serfs, who erroneously refer to the terrestrial equivalent of Terds as "Dollars").

The most remarkable thing about the creation by the SRS of Terds, is that it is not necessary for the Schafian economy to produce additional Seeds when additional Terds are printed! Consequently, in the 80 Earth years since the SRS was established, the value of the Terd has gone from 1,000 Seeds to approximately 22,000 Seeds.

In conclusion, I can only wonder how much longer we Earthlings are going to be Schafted.

Ralph Johnston
October 22, 2001
Seattle WA


Many thanks to The Wired Chemist website - the source of the Tats and Schafkins 'problem' #4.

-Barb Moriarty

321gold Inc