## Posts tagged ‘cannibal’

### Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes — in Job and Location

**A few days back**, I mentioned that I had a new job and had moved across the country, and I said I’d write more about that later. Well, it’s later.

After six wonderful years of developing a highly-rated, award-winning, interactive math textbook at Discovery Education, I’ve taken a new position at the **Math Learning Center**, a non-profit organization in Portland, Oregon. The Math Learning Center (MLC) is the publisher of *Bridges*, an award-winning elementary math curriculum.

The reason for the change? Well, actually, there are several…

- MLC is not-for-profit, so any money raised from curriculum sales is used to improve the materials and professional development offerings.
- The mission of the Math Learning Center is “to inspire and enable individuals to discover and develop their mathematical confidence and ability.” It’s pretty easy to get behind a goal like that.

- Last but not least, the MLC staff might be the friendliest group of individuals I’ve ever met. To boot, they’re bright, hard-working, and dedicated to the organization’s mission.

With all that, the decision to join MLC was a rather easy one. If you can’t tell, I’m pretty excited about the change. I’ll be the new Chief Learning Officer, affectionately known as the **CLO**.

Time out for a puzzle.

Can you fill in the blanks to form a 16-letter math term that contains the letters CLO in order? Hint: think about transformational geometry or turning off the faucet.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ C L O _ _ _ _ _ _

Relocating from Virginia to Oregon is a big deal. It’s nearly 2,800 miles — or 14 states, or 42 hours in a car — from our old house to our new one. Consequently, we hired a moving company to help with packing and shipping. When Lily from the moving company arrived, she asked if we had any “high-value items” to be transported, such as expensive jewelry or fur coats. (But not a real fur coat. That’s cruel.) I said that I didn’t think so, but then I asked what they consider a high-value item. Lily’s answer used a completely acceptable but surprising unit rate:

**anything over $100 per pound**

With that metric, it was suddenly obvious that we had several high-value items in our home. The first was a pair of diamond earrings that I had given my wife recently for our 15th anniversary. Since 5 carats = 1 gram, these small hunks of rock have a retail value of nearly $4,000,000 per pound, significantly above the moving company’s threshold.

The other high-value items were, well, *us*. The “value of statistical life,” or VSL, is a measure of the value of a human life. Its exact amount depends upon which federal agency you reference. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for instance, pegs the VSL at $10 million. That means that I’m worth approximately $50,000 per pound, my petite wife is worth nearly $80,000 per pound, and our twin sons are worth well over $100,000 per pound each.

Granted, our value density isn’t as high as diamond, but we’re still pretty darn valuable.

A cannibal goes into a butcher shop, and he notices that the market specializes in brains. He sees that the butcher is selling engineer’s brain for $1.50 per pound, mathematician’s brain for $2.25 per pound, and politician’s brain for $375.00 a pound. Flabbergasted, he asks the owner why the huge difference in price. The butcher replies, “Do you have any idea how many politicians it takes to get a pound of brains?”

In the end, neither the diamond earrings nor any member of our family were loaded onto the moving truck. A week later, we’re adapting nicely to Portland culture, and I start my job at Math Learning Center in just a few days. Wish me luck!

### Food for Thought and Laughs

I was presented with an interesting Fermi question today:

How many pounds of food will you eat in your lifetime?

My first estimate: About 20 tons — approximately 1.5 pounds per day (roughly 500 pounds a year) for 80 years.

My second estimate: Unless by *pounds* you mean British currency, and by *food* you mean caviar, in which case my estimate would be closer to 21 million.

This made me think of several math and food jokes.

At a restaurant…

“What can I get for you?” asked the waiter.

The mathematician replied, “I’ll have the

seven‑layer dip as an appetizer. For my entree,primerib, dimsum, and thethree‑bean salad. To drink, arootbeer, andpifor dessert.”

Meanwhile at the cannibals’ house…

The cannibal family was eating dinner. One son says, “I really hate my math teacher.” The other son says, “I know. He’s so tough!” The mother tells them, “Quit complaining. If you don’t like the meat, just eat the noodles.”

And at the university…

What do you call a smiling, sober, courteous person at a math department social event?

The caterer.

One of my favorite pieces about math and food comes from Dave Barry:

Algebra is a vital tool for our young people to learn. The traditional method for teaching it, of course, is to require students to solve problems developed in 1928 by the American Association of Mathematics Teachers Obsessed With Fruit. For example: “If Billy has twice as many apples as Bobby, and Sally has seven more apples than Chester, who has one apple in each hand plus one concealed in his knickers, then how many apples does Ned have, assuming that his train leaves Chicago at noon?”

### All About Cannibals

Last weekend, I presented my Puns and Puzzles workshop at Reiter’s Books in Washington, DC. During the talk, I told the audience my favorite non-math joke, which I’ve posted on this blog before. But it’s worth repeating…

Two cannibals are eating a clown. One says to the other, “Does this taste funny to you?”

While at Reiter’s, Umar Khan, the organizer of the Washington, DC, math meet-up group, offered the following modification:

Two cannibals are eating a video programmer. One says to the other, “Does this taste gamey to you?”

Inspired by Umar’s modification, I posted the joke to Facebook and asked if anyone else had a modification. To my surprise, it started a firestorm! Here are some of the best replies:

Two cannibals are eating a mathematician. One says to the other, “Does this taste odd to you?” (Beth Dare)

Two cannibals are eating Jennifer Aniston (double entendre intended): “Does this taste bitter to you?” (June Bretz Jebram)

Two cannibals are eating a deep sea fisherman. “Does this taste salty to you?” (Amy Bucci)

Two cannibals are eating a coward. One says, “Does this taste like chicken to you?” (Dave Sundin)

And my friend Ayal Cohen couldn’t resist the opportunity to make fun of me directly:

Two cannibals are eating a math joke book author. One says to the other, “Why was 10 afraid of 7? Because 7 8 9!” No, wait, that’s not right. One says to the other, “Man, that was a tasteless joke.” Wait wait, hold on… the punch line is coming. Two cannibals are eating Patrick Vennebush. One says to the other, “Did you know he published a math joke book?”

“Huh?” says the other. “Who is Patrick Vennebush?”

Finally, Beth Dare offered a cannibal joke that doesn’t fit the format… but since it makes fun of several math professions, it’s worth sharing, too.

Five cannibals are hired as engineers at a defense company. The boss welcomes them, tells them they have complete access to the cafeteria, but asks them not to bother the other employees. Four weeks later, the boss congratulates them for their hard work, but he also says that the janitor is missing. “Do any of you know what happened to him?” the boss asks. None of them says anything, and the boss leaves.

When the boss is out of earshot, one of the cannibals says, “Okay, which of you idiots ate the janitor?” Meekly, one of them raises his hand. “You idiot!” shouts the first. “For a month, we’ve been eating accountants, statisticians, mathematicians, engineers, project managers and supervisors, and no one noticed! But you had to go and eat the janitor!”

### Political Trivia and Humor

I stumbled across the maps of the problematic blog last week, which claimed the U.S. Senate was no longer necessary. It was part of a list of eleven unnecessary things, actually. The list also included phone books, beepers, the Electoral College, and pocket calculators. The author claimed that the Senate gives just 18% of the U.S. population the power to stop a bill from passing Congress. That is, if 50 Senators vote “no” to a bill, then it fails, and the 25 least populous states represent just 18% of the population. I didn’t check the author’s math, but I’ve heard similar estimates before, so 18% sounds reasonable to me.

Interestingly, the author implied that the Senate might have been necessary when it was first created, to give a voice to smaller states. This made me wonder — when Congress first began enacting law in 1789, what percent of the U.S. population had the power to stop a bill?

The first Congress had only 24 Senators from 12 states. (Rhode Island originally rejected the Constitution in 1788, delaying ratification until May 1790, when the federal government threatened to treat them as a foreign government.) Consequently, the Senators from six states had the power to stop a bill.

The populations (in thousands) of the 12 states with Senators in 1789:

- Conecticut: 237
- Delaware: 59
- Georgia: 82
- Maryland: 96
- Massachusetts: 379
- New Hampshire: 142
- New Jersey: 184
- New York: 340
- North Carolina: 393
- Pennsylvania: 434
- South Carolina: 249
- Virginia: 747

The total population (in thousands) of those 12 states was 3,342. The total population of the six least populous states was 568. That means that 568/3,342 ≈ 17% of the U.S. population could have stopped a bill in 1789.

Please understand, I’m not arguing that the Senate should be retained or abolished. But by the numbers, it appears that the Senate might have been even less necessary in 1789 than it is today.

Anyway, here’s a joke about math and politics:

A cannibal goes to the butcher shop and notices that mathematician brain is selling for $1 a pound, but politician brain is selling for $4 a pound. “Is the politician brain really that much better?” she asks the butcher.

“Not really,” he says. “But it takes a whole lot more politicians to make a pound.”

### Make Your Own (Math) Joke

Here’s my favorite joke (even though it’s not a math joke):

Two cannibals are eating a clown. One turns to the other and says, “Does this taste funny to you?”

It’s beautiful in its simplicity. Just 19 words, none of them extraneous. It’s a triumph of humor, and I tip my hat to its creator.

I love this joke, and I would have included it in *Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks*, but it’s not a math joke. But it got me to thinking — could it be altered so that it could be a math joke? That is, can you put two different words in the blanks below so the joke is more mathy? And can you do it so that it’s still reasonably funny?

Two cannibals are eating a ________. One turns to the other and says, “Does this taste ________ to you?”

I offered this challenge to attendees at the Math Joke Hour that I hosted yesterday at the 2010 NCTM Annual Meeting. They came up with quite a few that are worth sharing, though not all of them are mathematical:

math teacher… chalky

statistician… normal

Kenneth Appel… fruity*

actuary… bland

angel… heavenly

mechanic… greasy

Iowan… corny

pot smoker… mellow

Warren Buffett… rich

old seafarer… salty

bodybuilder… strong

Got another worth sharing? Leave it in the comments section.

* Kenneth Appel is the mathematician who, along with Wolfgang Haken, proved the Four Color Theorem in 1976.