Math in the public sphere

Wore my New York City Math Team 2007 t-shirt to the supermarket yesterday; the cashier was very impressed that I knew 32 × 32 immediately.  In a pleasant detour from how these conversations usually go, he remarked that he needs pencil and paper to work problems like that out.  This reminded me of a joke told by my grad school colleague Nick:

A mathematician and a prostitute are at a party.  The prostitute asks the mathematician what he does for a living.  He replies, “I’m a mathematician; and yourself?”  The prostitute responds, “I’m a sex worker.”  “Ah,” says the mathematician, “sex.  I was never very good at that.”

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