Posts tagged ‘fish’

Pearls of Wisdom

Although most educators are unaware that the following quotation was coined by Anna Isabella Thackeray Ritchie, almost all of them have heard it before.

Give a man a fish, feed him for a day.
Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.

It originally appeared in Mrs. Dymond as, “If you give a man a fish, he is hungry again in an hour. If you teach him to catch a fish, you do him a good turn.”

A modification of this quotation is similarly poignant and more colorful.

Build a man a fire, warm him for a day.
Set a man on fire, warm him for the rest of his life.

There are more direct modifications of the phrase:

  • Teach a man to fish, and you can sell him a ton of accessories.
  • Give a man a fish, and you’ll feed him for a day.
    Teach a man to fish, and he’ll drink beer all day.
  • Give a man a fish, feed him for a day.
    Don’t teach a man to fish, feed yourself.
    He’s a grown man. Fishing’s not that hard, dude.

There are other motivational quotations that I’ve heard throughout my life. One inspired the following image:

Removed BonesA similar pontification has been making its way around the Internet recently, but it gives me pause.

Population Around the Equator

The math of this declaration is highly troubling. Assuming each of the 7 billion people on Earth stood side-by-side and held hands with two other humans, and each of them occupied approximately two feet of width, their entire length would be 2.7 million miles. That’s more than 100 times the distance around the Earth at the equator.

Using that same estimate — two feet of width per person — it would only take about 65 million people to circle the Earth at the equator. So a better version of this joke might be:

If everyone from California and Texas held hands around the equator, a significant portion of them would drown.

The problem with this modification is obvious. There are those who believe that sacrificing all Californians would be justified if it means being rid of all Texans; and there are those who believe that sacrificing all Texans would be justified if it means being rid of all Californians.

I’ll continue to work on a better modification, but I’d love to hear some suggestions from you.

June 15, 2014 at 11:11 am Leave a comment

Fishin’ for an April Fools Math Joke

My friend and former boss Jim Rubillo sent me the following email last night:

I am cleaning, and I found this book that you might want: One Million Random Numbers in Ascending Order. Do you want it, or should I throw it away?

Seemed like an odd book, and I thought he might have gotten the title wrong since RAND Corporation published A Million Random Digits with 100,000 Normal Deviates in 1955. (Incidentally, you should visit that book’s page on, where you’ll find many fantastic reviews, such as, “Once you’ve read it from start to finish, you can go back and read it in a different order, and it will make just as much sense as your original read!” from Bob the Frog, and, “…with so many terrific random digits, it’s a shame they didn’t sort them, to make it easier to find the one you’re looking for,” from A Curious Reader.)

Knowing that Jim is a stats guy, it seemed plausible. A little confused, I wrote back:

Is it literally just a list of random numbers? If so, I’ll pass. But if there’s something more interesting about it, then maybe?

His response?

It’s a sequel to The Complete Book of Even Primes.

And so it goes, with April Fools even afflicting the math jokes world.

Thank goodness he didn’t tape a fish to my back.

April 1, 2013 at 5:51 pm Leave a comment

Math Dot-to-Dot

Connect-the-dots puzzles usually aren’t very interesting. The purpose of these puzzles is to teach kids the counting numbers, or the alphabet, or something else that occurs in a particular order. Consequently, a dot-to-dot puzzle often contains an image that can be identified before the dots are connected, and the image then serves as a scaffold to help students learn the items to be ordered. For adults who know how to count and can identify the image immediately, what’s the point?

For instance, can you identify the shape that will be formed by this connect-the-dots puzzle?

Dots - Five Point Pentagon

If you had trouble with that, you may want to stop here.

Connect-the-dots puzzles without numbers, however, can yield interesting results. For instance, if the numbers and segment are removed from the puzzle above, the dots can be connected to form more whimsical shapes. With a little creativity, it can result in a fun picture.

Dots - Five Point FunSo, here’s the challenge I now pose to you:

Using either set of dots below, connect them in any way you like. Allow lines to cross one another, use curves, use only some of the dots, whatever. Be creative.

Then upload your image(s) to Math Dots on Flickr, or post them in the comments below.

Option 1:

Dots - Image 1

Option 2:

Dots - Image 2

February 28, 2013 at 12:27 pm Leave a comment

Pigs and Fish

My sons were reading Wild and Woolly Animal Jokes by David McLaughlan, and they got a fair chuckle out of this one:

What do you call a pig with three eyes?
A piiig.

Three Eyed Pig

I had previously encountered a different version of the joke:

What do you call a fish with no eyes?
A fsh.

Clearly, the punch lines were not crafted by mathy folks, who I think would answer these questions as follows:

What do you call a pig with three eyes?

What do you call a fish with no eyes?

March 20, 2012 at 9:46 pm 5 comments

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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