Archive for August 5, 2010

Kenny Shopsin and the MJ4MF Blog

I had a lot of fun compiling the jokes that I included in Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks. However, I felt a lot of angst when I finally delivered the manuscript to my publisher. But if you had asked me why, I couldn’t have told you.

Then I read Eat Me: The Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin, written by legendary cook and author Kenny Shopsin. In its introduction, he wrote the following:

…a book is a stagnant thing. Once it’s printed and bound and out there, there’s no changing it. It’s done.

Upon hearing that sentiment, that’s when I finally understood the feelings I had when delivering MJ4MF to the publisher.

The truth is, I have collected math jokes since college, and I kept all of the jokes in one large file. It was a living document — I would add a new joke whenever I heard one, I would change a joke whenever I heard a better version, and in some cases, I would include two versions of the same joke because I couldn’t decide which was superior. Once I prepared the file for publication, though, there was a finality that was unsettling. I made decisions about which jokes and which versions to include. But had I made the right choices?

I think what finally put me at ease was a comment I received from my friend Latrenda Knighten, who agreed to write an endorsement for the book. She said:

I’ve never been asked to write an endorsement, so I’m not sure if [what I’ve written] is any good or not. However, I loved the book! I started reading it late one night and kept reading until after midnight. I actually found myself laughing out loud. 

I figure if my book can make an elementary mathematics coach from Baton Rouge, LA, stay up past her bed time to read some math jokes, then the decisions I made must have been reasonable.

But back to Kenny Shopsin. His comment is what inspired me to create the MJ4MF blog. Sure, I can’t change what’s been printed in the book… but I can use this blog to share new jokes (or better versions of old jokes) that I receive from readers. I’ll just keep my fingers crossed that you get a chuckle from whatever you read, whether it’s the printed version or this web-based one.

Here are a few jokes that combine my love, mathematics, and Kenny Shopsin’s love, food.

What’s the difference between a math PhD and a large pizza? A large pizza can feed a family of four.

(That joke actually elicited boos from a crowd of math teachers at the 2009 NCTM Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.)

What is the ratio of the circumference of a bowl of ice cream to its diameter? Pi a la mode.

August 5, 2010 at 2:54 am Leave a comment

About MJ4MF

The Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks blog is an online extension to the book Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks. The blog contains jokes submitted by readers, new jokes discovered by the author, details about speaking appearances and workshops, and other random bits of information that might be interesting to the strange folks who like math jokes.

MJ4MF (offline version)

Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks is available from Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, NCTM, Robert D. Reed Publishers, and other purveyors of exceptional literature.

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August 2010

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