Author Archives: JBL

Terrible notation Hall of Fame

This one is a little harder to explain than my earlier post. Your attention should be focused on the line in the middle that begins “N(T) = …” and ends with a diamond. That line contains three copies of the … Continue reading

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How not to do voting theory

This WaPo op-ed (by Edward Foley and Eric Maskin) is so, so bad that I’m still upset about it two days later. They criticize Alaska’s instant runoff election system because it doesn’t meet the Condorcet criterion: Pelota won, even though … Continue reading


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Terrible calculus answers Hall of Fame

What is so beautiful about this is that even if you don’t have any idea what a derivative is, how to compute one, or what the pictures mean, it is still completely clear how bad this answer is.

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This is so sad

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“Travels with Alice” by Calvin Trillin

Like his fiction, Trillin’s nonfiction humor occupies a place in my life similar to Wodehouse: something you can pick up when you need a guaranteed laugh, good for the level of commitment of just-before-bed reading. The opening piece contains some … Continue reading

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“Oranges” by John McPhee

So I love reading pretty much anything by McPhee — the man knows how to craft a sentence — and this book is full of interesting information (even when you discount for the fact that presumably most of it is … Continue reading

Posted in Book reviews, Books, Trees | 2 Comments

The big point theorem

The solution Tanya attributes to Jason Rosenhouse here reminds me of my favorite theorem of applied mathematics education: Theorem (Big Point Theorem). Any three lines are concurrent, provided you draw the point big enough. Edit 8/18: And now Tanya has … Continue reading

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I also wonder how many people have PET LOBSTERs.

So sayeth a crossword puzzle constructor. Which led me to: pet rock lobster roll tide pool noodle soup dumpling house pet …. (Presumably this sort of theme has been done before.)

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“Fraternity” by Benjamin Nugent

A collection of short stories, focused around a fictional fraternity at UMass. The opening story God was wonderful, and I enjoyed the other stories in the collection with overlapping characters. For some of the others I had more trouble finding … Continue reading

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Map of the world

At least as far as families of reflection groups with nice combinatorics are concerned

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