## Posts tagged ‘Mike Vecchione’

### Algebra, a Symbol-Minded Pursuit

It is reported that when Augustus DeMorgan was asked his age, he responded algebraically:

I was

xyears old in the yearx^{2}.

From personal experience, I can assure you that responding to a simple question with an algebra problem is no way to make friends. But perhaps DeMorgan had better success with this tactic than I.

As it turns out, there is a similar fact regarding my age and year of birth.

In the year

x^{2}, my age will x years with the digits of x reversed.

The following anonymous quotation would, I suspect, meet with DeMorgan’s approval:

The human mind has never invented a labor-saving machine equal to algebra.

Almost everyone has an opinion about algebra, and most people have expressed their opinion without anonymity.

- Stand firm in your refusal to remain conscious during algebra. In real life, I assure you, there is no such thing as algebra.

*Fran Lebowitz* - One person’s constant is another person’s variable.

*Susan Gerhart* - [My algebra teacher] kept putting problems up on the board. I just kept following her and erasing the problems. Then she yells at me. I’m like, “Number 1, I like to attack the problem, not the person. That’s the first rule of problem solving. And B, you kinda seem like you’re a trouble maker, because you got to come up with all these fake problems, and it’s really cutting into our pizza time.” And she’s like, “You can’t list things 1 and then B. It’s 1 and 2, or A and B.” And I’m like, “Oh, you don’t like it when I mix numbers and letters together? Like you do in algebra, you hypocrite?”

*Mike Vecchione*

### Math Humor of Mike Vecchione

I’m not necessarily a fan of comedian Mike Vecchione. His recent Comedy Central special merits only 3.5 stars (out of 5). But he’s a Penn State grad, so that’s worth an extra half‑star, and he included a math bit in his act that cracked me up. I’ve provided an abridged version of the transcript below (it’s abridged so as to keep it PG‑13).

I suspect you’ll be no more amused by the transcript than a blind person would be by a Three Stooges routine. Without inflections and body language, it might not translate well. Still, I think it’s worth a read — but you will probably enjoy the live performance more, if you can tolerate a little off‑color humor.

Without further adieu…

My dog broke a mirror. I freaked out. I was like, “Oh, my God. Is he gonna get 7 years bad luck or 49 years, just because he’s a dog?” I’m not a math guy. I’m not a math guy.

You know what? I shouldn’t say that, because I am good in math. I was good in math, good in English. You know what I was bad in? Algebra. I was bad in algebra — ‘cause I like my letters in words, I like my numbers in problems. I don’t like ‘em mixed.

[…]

I can solve problems, just not the way the teacher in algebra wanted me to solve problems. She put the problem on the board:

x+ 7 = 15. Solve the problem. You want me to solve the problem? I went up, I erased the board. I’m like, “Problem solved, bitch! Let’s get some pizza, and stop playing these games, baby. Let’s do some fractions, take the reciprocal, flip the script. Let’s make that fraction so filthy and improper.”She just kept putting the problems up on the board. I just kept following her and erasing the problems. Then she yells at me.

I’m like, “Number 1, I like to attack the problem, not the person. That’s the first rule of problem solving. And B, you kinda seem like you’re a trouble maker, because you got to come up with all these fake problems, and it’s really cutting into our pizza time.”

And she’s like, “You can’t list things 1 and then B. It’s 1 and 2, or A and B.”

And I’m like, “Oh, you don’t like it when I mix numbers and letters together? Like you do in algebra, you hypocrite?”

She was trying to teach me:

Don’t be afraid of the letters. She’s like, “Don’t be afraid ofx. It’s a variable, an unknown. That’s all it is — a variable or an unknown.”I’m like, “Not to me. To me, X is the rating of a movie that I enjoy watching in the comforts of my own home.”

[…]

I got an F in algebra. I took it home. My mom was furious. She’s like, “You failed algebra?” I’m like, “That’s not what that means. That’s a F. It’s a variable, an unknown. We don’t know what F means. It could mean I failed, but it probably just means I’m fantastic.”