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MTV/Oscar Showdown

For many of us, summer is thought of as the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day. For folks of a younger generation, though, trendier bookends are provided by two MTV Award shows: The Movie Awards at the beginning of the summer, and the Video Music Awards at the end. Continuing this noble tradition, the 20th iteration of the MTV Movie Awards was broadcast this weekend. If you missed it, don’t worry; I’m sure it will be shown another 300,000 or so times before the summer is out.

As a shining beacon of what is hip, MTV has a responsibility during its movie awards to highlight the most popular films of the year. This is in stark contrast to the priorities of higher brow award shows such as the Oscars, for which artistic achievement is placed on the highest pedestal. This is not to say that these two goals need . . . → Read More: MTV/Oscar Showdown

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Parks and Recreation(al Mathematics)

Continuing last week’s trend of discussing mathematics in the context of NBC comedy, today I’d like to move from The Office to Parks and Recreation. More specifically, I’d like to discuss local government wunderkind/aspiring club owner Tom Haverford, whose unique charm I cherish almost as much as Ron Swanson‘s mustache.

What a stud.

In a recent episode, Tom Haverford waxed poetic on the slang he has invented to describe different types of food. A clip is currently on YouTube (though I don’t know how long it will stay).

Here’s a list of the slang Tom uses:

desserts = ‘serts, entrees = tre-tre’s, sandwiches = sammies, sandoozles, or adamsandlers, cakes = big ole’ cookies, noodles = long-ass rice, fried chicken = fry-fry chicky-chick, chicken parm = chicky-chicky parm-parm, chicken cacciatore = chicky catch, eggs = pre-birds or future birds, root beer = super . . . → Read More: Parks and Recreation(al Mathematics)

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Dunder Math-lin

This week, Steve Carell uttered what may well be his last “That’s what she said” as Michael Scott, boss extraordinaire on the US version of The Office. Though the show will go on, Michael Scott has (spoiler alert) left Pennsylvania for Colorado and the love of his life. In preparation for this departure, the show has spent the last several episodes easing the audience through the transition.

From a mathematical standpoint, though, there are a couple of inconsistencies. Michael makes no secret of the fact that he has worked for the company for 19 years. His employees take this loyalty to heart, and in Michael Scott’s penultimate episode, “Michael’s Last Dundies,” they surprise their boss with a song parody of the Rent song “Seasons of Love,” which pays homage to such a long period of service. Below is the relevant clip – if you don’t have access to Hulu, you . . . → Read More: Dunder Math-lin

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Do Not Trust the Meat Mathematics Institute

Friends, as many of you may have noticed, Burger King has begun a promotion for its BK Stacker line of cheeseburgers. The ad focuses on Burger King’s Meat Mathematics Institute, where mathematicians from around the world gather to find ways to bring consumers a maximum amount of meat flavor for a minimum cost. Sadly, as of this writing, the ad is not available online, although this related video has made an appearance on YouTube.

While the institute seems like a delightful place to work, I regret to inform you that the research coming out of the institute is as bogus as the existence of the institute itself. The claimed solution to the problem of maximizing meat (or meat flavor, depending on your source) while minimizing cost is contained in the 3 BK Stackers pictured here (image courtesy of foodbeast):

As you can see, the Stacker family of . . . → Read More: Do Not Trust the Meat Mathematics Institute

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Lost Winnings

Last week, two very lucky people won the Mega Millions lottery jackpot (here‘s a profile on one of the winners). This particular lottery is played in 41 out of the 50 states, and these two individuals will share a combined, pre-tax total of $380 million.

But are they so lucky after all? Setting aside the common notion that winning the lottery can actually do you more harm than good, some people are concerned because of the numbers themselves that made the winning ticket.

The numbers drawn for this particular lottery were 4, 8, 15, 25, 47, and 42. Note that the last number is lower than the number that precedes it because it is the so-called “Mega Number,” which is drawn from a different pool than the first five. For those of you with a penchant for televised dramas set in tropical locations, you may note that these numbers bear . . . → Read More: Lost Winnings

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Putting the “e” in “The Simpsons”

I think we can safely agree that The Simpsons isn’t the show that it used to be, but there are moments when its former charm shines through. As it pertains to the material of this blog, I was particularly pleased with a joke that ran on their Christmas episode. I have been meaning to tip my hat to this joke for some time, but it has been hard to find a spare moment to do so.

The joke ran at the end of a muppet-themed segment of the show. In an homage to Sesame Street, after the segment finished (but before the somewhat racy joke involving a very physical muppet Moe) an announcer stopped to give thanks to the sponsors of the show. Unlike Sesame Street, however, which is sponsored every day by two letters and a number, this episode of The Simpsons was sponsored by . . . → Read More: Putting the “e” in “The Simpsons”

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Pi, I Shake My Fist at You

A couple of days ago I watched a video that really depressed me. Here‘s a link to a local news story from Ankeny, Iowa – I’d encourage you to take a look at the news clip there (unfortunately, I can’t embed it here). The story concerns a 6th grade student who has memorized the decimal expansion of pi to 340 or so digits.

In and of itself, this might not seem like a particularly newsworthy achievement – as any Pi Day aficionado can tell you, there are people who have memorized more digits. Perhaps what makes it newsworthy is the fact that the student is only twelve years old, or, more perversely, the fact that his accomplishment came in response to the challenge of his math teacher, who asked his students to memorize as many digits of pi as possible. By far the most depressing part of the video is . . . → Read More: Pi, I Shake My Fist at You

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Stand Up to Questionable Odds

If you went to the movies in Los Angeles this summer, you may have seen the following ad from Stand Up to Cancer, a charitable program whose telethon aired last Friday night. A clear homage to MasterCard‘s long-running Priceless campaign, this ad swaps out prices for odds, ending with the sobering fact that 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will be diagnosed with some type of cancer in their lifetime.

Presumably, those cancer odds are taken from The American Cancer society, which has the relevant stats posted here. When it comes to some of the other claims in the ad, though, I couldn’t help but be skeptical.

Take the bowling claim, for instance. This ad would have you believe that your odds of bowling a perfect game are 1 in 11,500. This seems quite high, even when I . . . → Read More: Stand Up to Questionable Odds

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