Archive for April 20, 2013

Jim Rubillo Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Jim RubilloJim Rubillo has been a member of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematic (NCTM) for more than 1.4 billion seconds. For his four decades of service to improve mathematics education, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2013 NCTM Annual Meeting.

Jim was the Executive Director of NCTM from 2001 to 2009, and he was my supervisor for the last five of those years. But he was more than just my boss — he was also a mentor, friend, and problem-solving companion. So when Ann Lawrence, chair of the Mathematics Education Trust, called to ask me to prepare a tribute video for Jim’s award ceremony, I was honored by the request.

I didn’t want to prepare a talking head video — I have a face for radio — yet I don’t have access to elaborate film equipment. Consequently, I opted to create a PowerPoint presentation with narration, which I then uploaded to authorSTREAM. Here it is, for your viewing pleasure.

Prior to its showing at the awards ceremony, Ann Lawrence mentioned that the tribute video had been created by me. Upon hearing this, Jim murmured, “Oh, no…” (Truth be told, I think I was rather kind.)

One of the many reasons that I loved working with Jim is that he always had a good math problem at the ready. He shared more problems with me than I can count, but here are two of my favorites:

  • What percent of the numbers in Pascal’s Triangle are even?
  • Many years ago, it was believed that the Earth was the center of the cosmos. This was a reasonable hypothesis — it appears that the Sun rotates around the Earth. But if Earth were the center of the solar system (instead of the Sun), and if Mars rotated about the Earth, what would it have appeared that the path of Mars was?

Both of these problems have non-obvious answers, which is a trademark of the problems that Jim likes to share. Jim often looks at things with a unique perspective, and he willingly talks math with anyone who’s willing to listen. Consequently, Jim was an exceptional choice for this award, and I’m proud to call this lifetime achiever my friend.

April 20, 2013 at 11:43 pm Leave a comment

A Drummer Mathematician Walks Into A Bar…

The following message appeared in my spam folder, submitted in response to a post about the math of cousins:

Why do guitarists tell so many one-liners?
So the rest of the band can understand them.

I unspammed the message. Although it isn’t mathy and has absolutely no relevance to the post, who am I to censor humor?


Further, it reminded me of a collection of drummer jokes. Of course, they aren’t mathy, either, but most are pretty funny, and many of them can be made mathematical by replacing drummer with grad student, math professor, or something similar. So, here you go: A bunch of drummer jokes modified to be mathematical, with the original words appearing in parentheses.

(And if you find the jokes just aren’t funny, try this drum sound.)

A son tells his mother, “Mom, when I grow up, I want to go to graduate school (be a drummer).”
The mom scoffs and says, “Sorry, I don’t think you can do both.”

What’s the difference between a grad student (drummer) and a savings bond?
One will mature and make money.

How do you tell if a grad student’s desk (the stage) is level?
The grad student (drummer) is drooling from both sides of his mouth.

What do you call a grad student (drummer) that breaks up with his girlfriend?

How do you get a grad student (drummer) off of your porch?
Pay him for the pizza.

How many mathematicians (drummers) does it take to change a lightbulb?
Five: One to screw the bulb in, and four to talk about how much better Andrew Wiles (Neil Peart) could’ve done it.

How many grad students (drummers) does it take to change a light bulb?
Just one, but only after asking, “Why?”

A mathematician (drummer) died and went to heaven. He was waiting outside the Pearly Gates when he heard the most incredible exposition about mathematics (drumming). He immediately recognized the topic (playing) and asked St. Peter if Pierre Fermat (Buddy Rich) was giving the lecture (playing the drums). St. Peter responded, “No, that’s God. He just thinks he’s Fermat (Buddy Rich).”

What do you call a grad student (drummer) with half a brain?

What does a statistician (drummer) use for contraception?
His personality.

How is a bad math pun (drum solo) like a sneeze?
You know it’s coming, but there’s nothing you can do about it.

What do you call someone who hangs around with mathematicians (musicians)?
A grad student (drummer).

What did the grad student (drummer) get on his problem set (IQ test)?

Did you hear about the math professor (bass player) who locked his keys in his car?
He had to break the window to get his grad assistant (drummer) out!

I asked my grad assistant (a drummer) to spell Mississippi.
He said, “The river or the state?”

What do you call a dozen adjuncts (drummers) at the bottom of the sea?
A good start!

How many grad students (drummers) does it take to wallpaper a room?
Three, but you have to slice them really thin!

What should you call a grad student (drummer)?
It doesn’t matter. It’s not like they’ll listen.

What do grad students (drummers) and a mosquitoes have in common?
They both suck!

April 20, 2013 at 9:44 pm 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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April 2013

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