## Archive for December 9, 2011

### Holiday Gifts to Avoid for the Math Geek on Your List

There are lots of lists with suggestions for what to buy a math geek. Don’t believe me? Just do a Google search for “gifts for math geeks.”

As a public service, I’m providing a list of gifts that no one, under any circumstances, should purchase for a math geek. If you’re not a mathy person, take note. Every item on this list will only bring disappointment to the mathy people in your life. If you are a mathy person, print this list, and tuck it into your mom’s purse or leave it on your sweetie’s pillow.

Math Wall Clock

I’ve railed against this one before, and for good reason. Absolutely the worst math gift EVER. The expression for nine is 3(π – .14). Apparently the designer of this clock face isn’t aware that π has a non-terminating decimal representation. And the expression for seven is 52 – x2 + x = 10, which has two solutions, 7 and -6. Let’s hope folks don’t start making dinner reservations for “negative six o’clock.” Sheesh.

Acme’s Klein Bottle Wine Bottle

You can take my word that this is a bad gift, or you can listen to the designer. The manufacturer describes it by saying, “As impractical as it is elegant.” Fact. The description is a litany of flaws: “Wine is trying to go down while the air is trying to go up the spout. Result is slow filling. Pouring wine out is equally frustrating.” And, “Not only are these difficult to fill and empty, but cleaning them is a real challenge.” And the piece de la resistance, “They’re easy to tip over, especially when empty.” On the flip side, their web site includes this gem, too: “Now with a LIFETIME GUARANTEE — you will live your entire life, or your money back.”

A better yet equally geeky option is the Klein Bottle Opener, which is practical if you’d like to use a non-orientable manifold to get the liquid out of a boundaryless compact two-manifold homeomorphic to the sphere. Unlike the Acme Klein Bottle, this tool works very well, and you look super cool using it. (Be careful; there are cheaper versions of this item that are only decorative. They won’t open bottles.)

xkcd: volume 0

Okay, sure, this hard-copy volume has “a lot of doodles, notes, and puzzles in the margins,” but, really, you’re paying for a bunch of comics that are available for free at xkcd. What’s more, the math geek on your list has already read all of these comics! (If not, then she isn’t a true math geek. Please call 1-877-NOT-GEEK, and we’ll revoke her license immediately.)

Want a book your math geek will really love? Might I recommend Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks? (Okay, that was even too shameless for me.)

Need a synonym for geeky? How about dorky, nerdy, dweeby, techy, or studious? Want an antonym for geeky? Try stylish.

Math geeks don’t want silver cuff links. More importantly, they don’t need them. Honestly, what would they wear them with? Plaid flannel shirts don’t have cuff link holes. And for \$195, do you really want to buy something that will collect dust in his dresser drawer?

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.

## Email Subscription

Join 469 other followers