Posts tagged ‘Pascal’

How SEO is Killing Good Jokes

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing the rank of a web page within search results. It’s what causes bloggers to include the names Ted Cruz, Malala Yousafzai, and Lady Gaga, or the terms 404, fail, and boobs, in a post (sort of like I just did).

There’s an old joke about Einstein, Newton and Pascal playing hide-and-seek, but here’s the same joke as it appears on a shameless site that shall remain nameless:

Pope Francis, Isaac Newton, and Blaise Pascal decide to play hide-and-seek. The Pope closes his eyes, counts to 10, then starts looking for the others. Pascal is nowhere to be found, but Newton is standing directly in front of Pope Francis. There is a one-meter by one-meter box drawn on the ground in chalk, and Newton is standing inside it.

The Pope says, “Newton, you’re terrible at this game! I’ve found you.”

“No, you haven’t,” says Newton. “You’ve found Pascal — I’m one Newton per square meter!”

Perhaps you’re unaware, but Pope Francis was the most popular person on the Interwebs in 2013. He was followed closely by Edward Snowden and Kate Middleton. (Whereas Ed was just a flash in the pan, Frank and Kate will likely have staying power.)

Admittedly, the joke isn’t all that funny with Einstein, either, but it’s even less funny with Pope Francis.

Yet people are doing similar things all over the place. They’re trying to improve their rank by inserting the name of a celebrity here or a current event there. Here’s just a sampling of the kind of stuff you can find online these days:

Miley Cyrus was kicked out of math class for too many infractions.

Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, and Jeffrey Skilling were asked what 2 + 2 is. Swift said, “I don’t know,” and she meant it. Mars said, “4.” And Skilling said, “What would you like it to be?”

Dick Cheney, Jim Porter, and Justin Bieber are duck hunting. Cheney shoots at a duck and misses 6 inches too high. Porter shoots and misses 6 inches too low. Bieber shouts, “We got it! We got it!”

What does Jeff Kinney do when he’s constipated?
Works it out with a pencil.

Flo (from Progressive Insurance): Why was the math book sad?
George Clooney: Because it had so many problems.

Madonna was trying to measure a flag pole. She only had a measuring tape, and she was getting  frustrated trying to slide the tape up the pole. Stephen Spielberg walks by and offers to help. He removes the pole from the ground, lays it down, and measures it easily. When he leaves, Madonna turns to Guy Ritchie and says, “That’s just like Spielberg! We need to know its height, and he gives us its length!”

There’s a good chance that this post will be the top-ranked page on Google tomorrow…

January 15, 2014 at 3:38 pm 2 comments

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


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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