Limericks on Taxation

These limericks were sent to me by a friend (Michael Choi) who’s a Tax Accountant: Taxes are something most of us abhor. Filling out those returns is a real bore. They keep taking away our money And we do not think it is funny. And many of us are getting poorer more and more. There […]

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Writing His Own Termination Letter

When novelist Sherwood Anderson felt that he wasn’t happy with his job anymore, he opted to fire himself by writing a termination letter for himself. The letter was addressed to Bayard Barton, his general manager, and it was dated June 25, 1918: Dear Barton, You have a man in your employ that I have thought […]

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Fermat’s Last Theorem on the Subway Wall

When Pierre de Fermat conjectured his last theorem, of which what would be known as the Fermat’s Last Theorem, in 1637, he only wrote it on the margin of his copy of Arithmetica. He claimed that he knew the proof, but it was too large to fit in the narrow margin. H. H. Wu, mathematician […]

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Real World Probability: A “Birthday Problem” Anecdote

I heard the following story from my topology professor. A renowned statistician was teaching a course in fundamental probability theory to a group of undergraduates. As expected of an introductory course, he briefly tackled several main principles of probability to give the students a bird’s-eye view of the subject. One day, he talked about the […]

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Clarke’s Third Law and Beyond: Distinguishing Magic, Technology and Other Things

Clarke’s Third Law — Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. — Arthur Clarke, Profiles of the Future, 1973 Gehm’s Corollary — Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced. — Barry Gehm, quoted in, Stan Schmidt, Analog Magazine, 1991 Benford’s Corollary — Any technology that does not appear magical is insufficiently advanced. — […]

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A Short Latin Phrases Lesson from an Ignoramus

Ad Hoc – Always seen in job descriptions as “ad hoc tasks may be assigned”. This is their way to justify all the nonsense that they make you do. Ad Hominem — You can use this during online arguments. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know its meaning. This will make you sound logical and […]

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Pun of the Weak: Riddles

Q: How can a cheetah change its spots? A: By moving. Q: The beginning of eternity, the end of time and space, the beginning of every end, and the end of every place. A: 2.718281828… Q: The maker doesn’t need it, the buyer doesn’t want it, and the owner doesn’t know he has it. What […]

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Gleanings from the Past #72

On the Spot When [John] Dryden was a boy at Westminster school, he was put, with others to write a copy of verses on the miracle of the conversion of water into wine. Being a great truant, he had not time to compose his verses; and, when brought up, he had only made one line […]

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The Princeton Scale of Obviousness

Solomon Lefschetz During the mid-1930s, when the Institute of Advanced Study and the Princeton’s Fine Hall were still sharing the same area, they had a thing called the “Princeton Scale of Obviousness”. The scales were as follows: If Joseph Wedderburn says it’s obvious, everyone in the class had noticed it ten minutes ago. If Frederic […]

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A Couple of Michael Steuben’s “Optical Illusions”

Mathematics teacher Michael Steuben shared a couple of amusing optical illusions. The number on the right seems bigger. However, it can be easily proven that the left number is two times larger: Here’s another one. As you look at the square below, the black dot in the middle seems to vanish:

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