Pedantry

Mathematicians are notoriously pedantic.  Two real-life stories, which serve as my replacements for the terrible black sheep joke:

  • I arrive at a conference dormitory a bit early, just as distribution of keys is beginning.  A staff member apologizes that she only has the box with assignments for people whose last names begin with a letter from M to Z, but that the A to Ls should be arriving shortly.  As I pass the time making small talk, a friend arrives and inquires why we’re just standing around.  I respond, “Our names are in the wrong half of the alphabet.”  Another attendee overhears this remark and steps over.  “Well, technically M through Z is slightly more than half of the alphabet.”
  • The professor of a class I’ve been taking gives a talk in our seminar.  For much of the talk, he carries his mug in hand while he works at the blackboard, sipping occasionally.  In office hours later that week, I commend him on his ability to hold a coffee cup while lecturing.  He responds, “I don’t drink coffee, only water.”
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