Posts tagged ‘postaweek2011’
Today is the first day of National Engineers Week, an annual celebration to honor those who ensure that things don’t fall over, blow up, or go flying off the rails unexpectedly, as well as to honor those who make sure that things do fall over, blow up, and go flying off the rails when they’re supposed to.
Engineers receive an inordinate amount of abuse. Well, inordinate might not be the right word. Perhaps a better word would be, um, appropriate. But most of it is in good fun, and it is widely acknowledged that there are lots of reasons to love engineers…
- They can handle stress and strain in a relationship.
- They understand that it’s not the length of the vector, it’s how you apply the force.
- They understand the motion of rigid bodies.
- They can teach you what those other “buttons” on your “calculator” do.
- They understand fluid flow and heat transfer.
- They excel at erections.
- The world revolves around them, literally — they chose the coordinate system.
- Just like beams, they elongate when they get loaded.
- They understand projectile motion.
- They do it right the first time.
- They can go all night with no sign of fatigue.
- They know the right-hand rule.
- They have significant figures.
Of course, there are lots of reasons not to, as well…
- They won’t buy anything without a cost-benefit analysis.
- They file for divorce if you call while they’re debugging.
- Pocket protectors, slide rules, and Star Trek.
- They talk in acronyms.
- They touch their cars more often than they touch their spouses.
- They only listen to classic rock, and they generally hate everything from Bach to Prince.
- No matter how hard you cry and how loud you yell, they’ll just calmly discuss your emotions in terms of mathematical logic.
- They work from 6:30am to 7:30pm daily; there are no morning kisses and no evening walks.
- The only social life they know consists of posting and “talking” on the Internet.
- T-shirts and jeans are their formal dress.
- A hot dog and a six-pack is their seven-course meal.
Though most of us harbor a high level of disdain toward engineers, the following synopsis explains why most humans respect them. This explanation is borrowed from The Dilbert Principle by Scott Adams:
Engineers are widely recognized as superior marriage material: intelligent, dependable, employed, honest, and handy around the house. While it’s true that many normal people would prefer not to “date” an engineer, most normal people harbor an intense desire to “mate” with them, thus producing engineer-like children who will have high-paying jobs long before losing their virginity.
Finally, I leave you with the funniest thing that I ever heard uttered by an engineer…
In The Lexicographer’s Dilemma, author Jack Lynch describes the reaction of strangers when they learn of his vocation:
When I’m introduced at a party as an English professor, people immediately turn apologetic about their grammar and shuffle uncomfortably, fearful of offending me and embarassing themselves. No one feels compelled to confess to engineers that they never got the knack of building bridges, or to doctors that they don’t understand the lymphatic system — but nearly everyone feels a strange obligation to come clean to someone who is supposed to be an expert in “grammar.”
This passage struck me, because I often get a similar reaction when people learn that I’m a math professional. I cannot begin to count the number of times I’ve heard a taxi driver, a real estate agent, a waiter, a waitress, a flight attendant, and even a local newscaster utter the following line:
Math folks often get upset by this statement. I often hear them lament, “Illiterate people would never tell you that they can’t read, but no one has a problem telling you that they’re not good at math.”
That’s a bad analogy. When someone claims to be bad at math, what they usually mean is that they never figured out how to factor a trinomial in Algebra I or that they were tripped up by two-column proofs in Geometry. While I don’t have data to prove it, I suspect that they are able to count, and I would further guess that they have little trouble with the four basic operations. So while you may hear someone admit, “I was never very good at math,” you will likely never hear, “I can’t count.”
By comparison, when someone admits, “I can’t read,” they are admitting that they never acquired the most basic skill associated with letters and words. Reading is the linguistic equivalent of counting. Were it the case that someone was unable to count, she would likely be as embarrassed about it as an illiterate person would be about her inability to read.
Ever the cynic, when someone tells me, “I was never very good at math,” my first thought is usually, “Your teachers were not very good at teaching math.” Every student has the ability to shine mathematically, but it usually takes a teacher who is willing to pull back the curtain and show them what we mathy folks already know — that the beauty of mathematics lies far beyond rote computation, in a realm where exploration, failure and epiphany provide an infinity of pleasure.
Stepping down from my soapbox, here is a passage about the beauty of mathematics from Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams:
The things by which our emotions can be moved — the shape of a flower or a Grecian urn, the way a baby grows, the way the wind brushes across your face, the way clouds move, their shapes, the way light dances on the water, or daffodils flutter in the breeze, the way in which the person you love moves their head, the way their hair follows that movement, the curve described by the dying fall of the last chord of a piece of music — all these things can be described by the complex flow of numbers.
That’s not a reduction of it, that’s the beauty of it.
Ask the poet (Keats) who said that what the imagination seizes as beauty must be truth.
He might also have said that what the hand seizes as a ball must be truth, but he didn’t, because he was a poet and preferred loafing about under trees with a bottle of laudanum and a notebook to playing cricket, but it would have been equally true.
Editor’s Note: The following post is more about (American) football than math, but it does contain some humor (or, perhaps more correctly, it contains material similar to the other material that poses as humor on this blog). Just be forewarned. Read at your own peril.
I fell in love with Denver on a family trip in 1982. My favorite colors as a kid were blue and orange. So I was already a fan of the Denver Broncos when they acquired my favorite college player, John Elway, on May 2, 1983. (Ironically, my wife and I acquired our twin sons on May 2, also, albeit more than two decades later.) On Sunday afternoons growing up, I’d watch my hometown Pittsburgh Steelers at one o’clock, and I’d hope that NBC would show Elway and the Broncos during the late game.
So this whole Tebow thing? Yeah, I feel a little like I’m jumping on a bandwagon. Then again, I’ve been a fan of the Broncos for 28 years, so cut me a little slack.
Plus, it’s just so damned compelling. Any quarterback can win football games, but it takes a rare talent to repeatedly perform miracles. You better believe that I have already set our DVR to record tomorrow’s Broncos-Patriots game.
I also love the hype and the humor. The nickname “God’s Quarterback” seems to have stuck, and this great joke has surfaced:
And on the seventh day, God rested so he could watch his son play quarterback for the Denver Broncos.
A few days ago, a headline in The Christian Post caught my eye:
Tim Tebow ‘God’s QB,’ But Does God Care About Football?
I have a Speed Bump cartoon on the door to my office suggesting, in fact, that He does:
I look forward to all that will follow. The legend of Tim Tebow continues to grow, and no doubt organized religion will begin to take advantage of the publicity. I suspect a rewrite to the Good Book before too long…
The Gospel According to Tebow
1 God created Tebow in his own image, in the image of God created He him. And God said unto him, Go forth, and run and score, and replenish hope in the city of Denver: and have dominion over the dolphins of the sea; and over the fowl of the air, over cardinals and eagles and ravens; and over cowboys and redskins and titans; and over every living thing that moveth upon the turf.
2 And lo, He made a great arena, called as the Stadium of the Authority of Sports, which was ten-thousand cubits from the one rim to the other. It was round all about, and a line of thirty-one thousand, four-hundred fifteen and nine-hundred twenty-six thousandths cubits (approximately) did compass it round about. And the incorrect approximation of pi previously appearing in scriptures was thus smote, and it was good.
3 He placed the stadium above the water five-thousand two-hundred eighty feet, providing a wonderful number with which to demonstrate the law of divisibility by eleven.
4 And He bade him, play your best, and do not be discouraged in half the first, or by thine rating of eighty-three-point-four, or by trailing your opponents at the end of quarter third; play well when the end is nigh, and best your enemy after regulation time has expired.
5 Lastly God said unto him: kneel before me, with but one knee upon the earth and a clenched fist upon thine brow, and let photographers take pictures; and all the peoples of the earth shalt imitate thee and post their pictures at www.tebowing.com, thus begetting an international phenomenon.
6 And Tebow did as commanded, and it was good.
What word or phrase is represented by the following picture?
Puzzles like this are sometimes called Pictogram Puzzles, Word Picture Puzzles, or Hieroglyphs.
Kevin Stone at BrainBashers calls them Brain Bats.
Lots of folks refer to them as Rebus Puzzles. And while I don’t think that’s exactly right (what I think of as a rebus can be found here), that’s the word I’m going to use, too, because it’s the shortest.
Whatever. Enjoy the MJ4MF Rebus Quiz. Note that each picture is somehow mathematical, even if the answer isn’t.
If you’re a classroom teacher, the dread day-before-break is fast approaching. The MJ4MF Rebus Quiz is a great activity for students who have too much energy to sit still and too little focus to learn anything. (Permission is granted for the MJ4MF Rebus Quiz to be used with students for non-commercial educational purposes.)
The answer key and a copy of the exam can be found at http://mathjokes4mathyfolks.com/rebus.html.
But one guy really liked it. “Your jokes are funny,” he said, “though I don’t think my wife would like your humor. How many off-color jokes do you know?”
“I have a collection of 144 gross jokes,” I told him.
“Wow!” he said. “How did you find the time to collect 20,736 jokes?”
Sorry. Just seems like 12/12 is a good day to be making such jokes.
The word dozen comes from the Old English word doziene, which comes from the Old French word dozaine, which is a derivative of the Latin word duodecim (duo = two, decim = ten).
Warning! Off-color joke approaching!
A man calls his friend and asks, “What has a two-inch penis and hangs down?”
“I dunno,” says his friend.
“A bat,” says the man. “Now, what has a twelve-inch penis and hangs up?”
“I dunno,” says the friend.
The following is a list of my favorite things that come in groups of 12.
- Signs of the Chinese Zodiac — what’s not to love with dragons, roosters, and pigs?
- Angry Men — sure, it’s a little sexist with an all-male cast, but three of those males were Jack Klugman, Ed Begley and Henry Fonda, and it’s ranked #6 in the IMDB Top 250.
- Donuts — mmm, donuts…
- Eggs — can’t really have a list of dozens that doesn’t include eggs, right?
- Inches in a Foot — how many inches in a nose?
- Labours of Hercules — though I can’t decide which was the best, cleaning shit out of stables or stealing a belt from a woman.
- Players on a Canadian Football Team — in the U.S., it’s 11 players on a 100-yard field; in Canada, it’s 12 players and a 110-yard field; the next country to don a football league must have 13 players on a 120-yard field, to follow the little known but never broken n + 1 players on a 10n-yard field edict.
- Ounces in a Troy Pound — because, really, who needs Avoirdupois?
- Function Keys on a PC Keyboard — F7 is the most-used function key on my laptop, since Shift-F7 lets me synonym search in Word.
- Roses — red if you’re nice, black if you’re naughty.
- Face Cards in a Deck — jacks, queens, and kings.
- Keys on a Phone Keypad — yet only eight have letters associated with them… weird.
The following is a very old joke:
“My life is all arithmetic,” the young businesswoman explained. “I try to add to my income, subtract from my weight, divide my time, and avoid multiplying.”
A similar joke, modified for current times, has been floating around Twitter.
Obama is great at math. He divides the country, subtracts jobs, adds debt and multiplies misery.
There are lots of math jokes that involve multiplication.
What tool is used most often in math class?
Where do math teachers eat dinner?
At the times table.
Minister: Noah said, “Go forth and multiply!”
Congregant: What did he want the first, second and third to to — add, subtract, and divide?
Teacher: Why are you doing your multiplication problems on the floor?
Student: Because you told me not to use tables!
And finally a joke for the upcoming holiday…
If you multiply Santa Claus by i, does that make him real?