January 06, 2004
Weapons of Math Instruction
At New York's Kennedy airport today, an individual later discovered to be a public school teacher was arrested trying to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a setsquare, a slide rule, and a calculator.

At a morning press conference, Attorney general John Ashcroft said he believes the man is a member of the notorious al-gebra movement. He is being charged by the FBI with carrying weapons of math instruction.

"Al-gebra is a fearsome cult,", Ashcroft said. "They desire average solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents in a search of absolute value. They use secret code names like "x" and "y" and refer to themselves as "unknowns", but we have determined they belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval with coordinates in every country.

"As the Greek philanderer Isosceles used to say, there are 3 sides to every triangle," Ashcroft declared.

When asked to comment on the arrest, President Bush said, "If God had wanted us to have better weapons of math instruction, He would have given us more fingers and toes.

"I am gratified that our government has given us a sine that it is intent on protracting us from these math-dogs who are willing to disintegrate us with calculus disregard. Murky statisticians love to inflict plane on every sphere of influence," the President said, adding: "Under the circumferences, we must differentiate their root, make our point, and draw the line."

President Bush warned, "These weapons of math instruction have the potential to decimal everything in their math on a scalene never before seen unless we become exponents of a Higher Power and begin to factor-in random facts of vertex."

Attorney General Ashcroft said, "As our Great Leader would say, read my ellipse. Here is one principle he is uncertainty of: though they continue to multiply, their days are numbered as the hypotenuse tightens around their necks."

(from Oddbjørn Steffensen's archives via andedammen)

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i'll have to link to it...
i found your blog doing a search on nick hornby's how to be good - a great, but ambiguous book - i am trying to sort out my feelings about...

Posted by: mike on January 7, 2004 06:22 AM

Best Math article ever!

Posted by: Patricia on January 11, 2004 05:39 AM

Very well done, I'm a math major and this had me in tears while I should have been studying for midterms. I love the fingers and toes remark made by bush

Posted by: Anders (really) on February 6, 2004 05:31 AM

I was inspired by this piece to rewrite it and record it as an MP3 parody newsflash, so for those who like audio humor:


Posted by: Patri Friedman on February 7, 2004 07:27 AM

OMC that has got to be one of the funniest things I've read in a long time! Hilarious! As high school calculus student, I agree, that teacher is dangerous! Good work, Mr. President-- and the stalwart reporter doing his patriot duty ;)

Posted by: Nzie on February 18, 2004 01:55 PM

stupid americans

Posted by: PJ on March 3, 2004 01:06 AM

Great article,
My math teacher read it to the algebra class as a joke. great way to relieve the stress of class. Great laugh!!! Love the story.

Posted by: 3K Tech on April 3, 2004 02:57 AM

stupid americans

Posted by: lulu on May 4, 2004 11:09 PM

The connection between some of the terms used in Al-Gebra's text are somewhat obtuse. However, in terms of E De Bono's equilateral thinking, Bush's theory on digits and twinkle toes was acutely revealing, I thought. It had me changing postulate from perpendicular to horizontal in real time flat. And I couldn't move from that plane at all until my dear wife had the presence of mind to spoon-feed me half a bowl of rhombus and cream at regular intervals.

Posted by: Basil on June 19, 2004 11:30 AM

a very gud math joke....gr8 thinking!!!

Posted by: capriciously_me on August 16, 2004 06:24 PM

A mathematician myself, I conjecture this proves that it would be uncertain for me to make a movement to the land of unlimited probabilities in the countable future ...

Posted by: FJF on September 22, 2005 02:39 AM

that was a great article, i couldnt stop laughing.
if you make anymore like that, email it to me.

Posted by: Greg on September 30, 2005 03:49 AM

i ilike it...
it's mathematically funny!

Posted by: gannie_1 on January 11, 2006 07:36 AM
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The Ministry Blog: Weapons of Math Instruction (January 9, 2004 01:15 PM)
"My father sent me the first couple of paragraphs of this joke several months ago, but there's more. Irrelevant coincidence: Anders is from Stavanger, Norway, as is my father...."
belonging: continued... (January 11, 2004 12:21 AM)
" At New York's Kennedy airport today, an individual later discovered to be a public school teacher was arrested trying to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a setsquare, a slide rule, and a calculator...."

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