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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

3 New Laws of Mathematics

Well, if you've made it this far, you've done more than I give you credit for. You see, most folks think about Math like they think about brussel sprouts and/or fiber - sure it's good for you, but mostly it sucks. For those of you that don't know, I actually got my undergraduate degree in Mathematics and that fact has never once gotten me laid. Just once, I'd like to hear a beautiful woman say "Oooh, math? Do you want my phone number?" But alas, as a former mathlete and current dork I'm left to ponder the mathematical wonders of the world in relative obscurity and solitude. Math, however, has a way of finding its way into our lives no matter how we rage against it, and continues to grow to explain every aspect of our lives, even as they change. So to that end, I offer up to you 3 New Mathematical Laws which govern your life, whether you like it or not:

1. The Inverse Desirability/Price Nudity Principle. This law is simply and is empirically demonstrated on a near daily basis. And yet, it is just as frequently forgotten when the promise of nudity is again presented. It comes to this, the desirability of publicly available nakedness is directly proportional to what you'll have to pay to see it. In simpler terms, anyone you can see naked for free is no one you want to see naked. This is similarly true for people who will get naked in front of groups. This principle should be liberally applied when considering a visit to a "nude beach" or any type of resort situation which encourages nudity. The marketing materials for these venues, without exception, include pictures of young, nubile models, precisely none of whom will be present when you visit. And you can give that resort any kind of sexy name you want, but the only "-ism" going on at these places is sagging-ism. If you want to see someone beautiful without their clothes on you're either going to have to pay them, or you could do it the old fashioned way, and try getting to know them first.

2. The Hurry/Obstacle Paradox. This law is nearly as foolproof as gravity itself. What is truly amazing is the amount of disparate forces that it seems to command. The law is quite simply: the number of impassible objects in your way is directly proportional to how big of a hurry you are in. This goes both ways, because when you're not in a hurry, you know that there's never any traffic, every light is green and you get a killer parking spot. But when you've really got someplace to be, the local chapter of the Idiot's Driving Club is hosting a meeting directly on your route, the traffic signals are programmed to double the time of your trip, there's no parking withing sight of where you're trying to go, and even pedestrians seem to all be out on a Sunday stroll. It's not yet known how the universe conspires to direct this many things against you at once, but it's probably a fair bet that it's God's way of telling you plan ahead better.

3. The Stupid Recursion. The first iteration of this rule was delivered to us by none other than Forrest Gump, though I expect that such simple Southern wisdom has been around for much, much longer: stupid is as stupid does. But as we see stupidity spreading like an epidemic across our country, it begs a more in-depth explanation. And the law is simply this: stupid begets stupid. Which is to say that stupid is self-sustaining, or in simpler terms, stupid people create stupid people. There are a number of modalities for this: in some cases, spending time around stupid people can turn otherwise intelligent people stupid (direct infection), in others, watching stupid people on television can turn smart people stupid (sympathetic infection), and perhaps most frightening in this brave new world, stupid parents raise stupid kids. There was a time when parents wanted more and better for their children than they had (i.e. parents that never had a college opportunity save intensely for their progeny to be afforded that chance), but that time has passed. Now parents claim "stupid" as its own child-rearing methodology and are creating a whole new generation where ignorance is a religion. Hopefully this knowledge can keep you from overexposing yourself to this new disease (e.g. staying away from Scientology centers, Fox News, and keeping your kids from, well, most other kids), but just in case, best to keep an encyclopedia in your safe room.

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I used to worry about kids not being exposed to enough math, because in a world where science could come to life in experiments and the lessons of liberal arts could be recognized in the vagaries of adolescent life, math was the subject most likely to be left on the side of the road as boring and lifeless. The latest generation, however, has freed me from this worry, as they aren't being exposed to any real eduction, and all subjects have been equally and summarily dismissed. In a world where education exists primarily as an excuse for young adults to congregate for socialization and self-aggrandizement (and as a filler for those moments of the day where these little princes and princesses grow weary of such refrains), what room can there be for math? But the harshest of mathematical truths have a way of sneaking up on us, especially when we least expect them to. And just as this generation will someday come to the harsh realization they are not all, in fact, special, so too will they come to know that their ability to be successful relies much more on the operation of numbers than their number of operations.


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