Posts tagged ‘Sunday’

Number Challenge from Will Shortz and NPR

Typically, the NPR Sunday Puzzle involves a word-based challenge, but this week’s challenge was a number puzzle.

[This challenge] comes from Zack Guido, who’s the author of the book Of Course! The Greatest Collection of Riddles & Brain Teasers for Expanding Your Mind. Write down the equation

65 – 43 = 21

You’ll notice that this is not correct. 65 minus 43 equals 22, not 21. The object is to move exactly two of the digits to create a correct equation. There is no trick in the puzzle’s wording. In the answer, the minus and equal signs do not move.

Seemed like an appropriate one to share with the MJ4MF audience. Enjoy!

October 18, 2017 at 8:07 am 2 comments

Tall Tail, and Other Funny Phrases

Tonight, I used the phrase “a tall tale” while talking to my sons, and I realized immediately that I had confused them. I spent the next several minutes trying to explain the difference between tale and tail. “There’s T‑A‑L‑E,” I said, “which is a type of story. A tall tale is a story that isn’t true.”

“And T‑A‑I‑L is a short tail,” Eli offered.

That made me laugh. Eli wasn’t really trying to offer a distinction between tale and tail. Rather, I think he was positing that since tall is associated with tale, then short must be associated with the other tail.

This got me to thinking — there are a lot of English idioms that would be a whole lot funnier, if one of the words were to be replaced by a synonym. (A synonym, according to Burt Bacharach, is a word you use when you can’t spell the word you first thought of.) For instance, based on Eli’s suggestion:

A short tale about a tall tail could be, perhaps, a children’s book about the posterior part of a giraffe.

Okay, so that one’s not really that funny. But I generated a list of others (below), and I think some of them are pretty damned hysterical.

Before I present the list, though, an apology. This is a math jokes blog, and this post isn’t about math jokes. But I’ve often contended that mathy folks are good at grammar because we like rules and systems, whereas literary folks are good at writing because they like words. So perhaps the implicit joke in this post is a pot‑shot at literary folks — if only their love of words followed more rules, then such linguistic silliness wouldn’t be possible.

If you’re greatly distressed about this, here’s a math pun involving a synonym. How do you tell one bathroom full of statisticians from another? Check the p-value.

Anyway, the disclaimer above reminds me of a brainteaser:

The five-letter sequence eight occurs at the end of many words and is responsible for at least two different sounds: in weight it sounds like “ate,” but in height it sounds like “ite.” What four-letter sequence, which occurs at the end of 26 words (according to More Words), is responsible for at least six different sounds? (I’ll post the answer in the comments later this week, unless someone beats me to the punch.)

Okay, on with the list…

The belle of the bawl continued to sob as the bell of the ball struck midnight.

Scientists were able to breed a pigeon with a zero (a true cross product). Two days later, this creature was bested by Mother Teresa in a race. The headline in a local newspaper read:

Newspaper Headline

It took him over an hour to strap Mickey to the roof of his station wagon. As he hummed along with the car tune playing on the radio, he thought to himself, “Gee, I sure can carry a toon.”

I ate an Easter sundae on an ice cream Sunday

Easter Sundae

She won two, and I won one, too.

He ate a clock at eight o’clock.

The farmer’s wife said to the fruit-growing sheep, “The two of ewe make quite a pear!” (Yes, this violates the format since it only uses each synonym once, but I thought it was just too funny not to include.)

On the supermarket isles of the South Pacific, you’ll find olives in the Greek aisles.

The guiding principals rarely made mature decisions, so the teachers held on to their middle school principles.

When two members of opposite sects — one Presbyterian, the other Episcopalian — have religious sex, do they scream, “Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh… my… God…”?

The florist’s flowers were worth fifty scents, and her change purse contained the cent of a woman.

Good knight,” said Batman in the dark night.

January 27, 2011 at 8:16 am 4 comments

My Perfect Sunday

WordPress is doing this thing called the Post A Week Challenge, where they challenge bloggers to publish at least one post a week for the entire year. One of the requirements to sign up is to post a message that announces you’re participating in the challenge. So, consider yourself warned — let this message serve as notice that I’ll be posting drivel at least once every seven days. (FYI, WordPress is also running a Post A Day Challenge, but I have too many commitment issues for that. I also have twin toddlers, so it’s unrealistic to think that I could actually post something every day.)

To help folks who have trouble finding something to write about every day, they are also running The Daily Post, a collection of suggestions for what to blog about. Many of these topics strike me as silly; more importantly, they aren’t relevant for a math jokes blog. For example:

  • What is your favorite sound?
  • Do you prefer to talk or text?
  • How do you define a friend?
  • Describe the sound of your laugh.

However, yesterday’s suggestion — What is your perfect Sunday? — may have been relevant for a math jokes blog. For instance, I could have written a witty post about how my perfect Sunday would involve a long walk on the beach while doing double integrals in my head. Or in the sand. While watching the sunset and thinking, “Gee, look at the majestic sky. I bet it contains all 216 web‑safe colors.”

But instead, I’d like to pretend this isn’t a math jokes blog and tell you about my truly perfect Sunday.

It would start with my twin sons sleeping till at least 7:30 a.m. (Oh, glory be!)

Following a breakfast of challah French toast prepared by my wonderful wife, we wouldn’t do much for the rest of the morning. Maybe read a good book, and then walk to the local bowling alley for a game.

Lunch at our favorite place, Pizzeria Orso.

An afternoon at a friends’ house. Our kids would enjoy their son’s toys, and the adults would enjoy watching a football game unencumbered by emotions, because no one really cared if the Bears or Packers won.

A fine dinner, maybe grilled salmon or crab cakes — or both.

Then, after the kids are asleep, retreating to the basement with a slice of chocolate cake, a scoop of chocolate ice cream, and a pint of Three Philosophers Quadrupel, poised to watch a recorded version of the Steelers beating the Jets 24‑19 in the AFC Championship to advance to Super Bowl XLV.

And finally, as I lay down to sleep, to realize exactly why all nontrivial zeros of the Riemann zeta function have a real part of ½.

(In fact, all of those great things did happen yesterday, except for that last one. Alas, no Fields Medal for me this year, either. But another Steelers trip to the Super Bowl is almost as good.)

January 25, 2011 at 8:18 am 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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