Math Notes

division cancellation


When walking, a 100-pound woman in stiletto heels exerts more pressure per square inch than a 6,000-pound elephant.

Card Trick,M1

Take … a common visiting-card, and bend down the two ends, and place it on a smooth table, as represented in the annexed diagram, and then ask any one to blow it over.

This seems easy enough; yet it is next door to an impossibility. Still, it is to be done by blowing sharply and not too hard on the table, about an inch from the card.

— Frank Bellew, The Art of Amusing, 1866


Amiable together.
Am I able to get her?

Galton’s Paradox

Suppose you flip three fair coins.

Necessarily two will match, and it’s an even chance whether the third will be head or tail.

Therefore the chance that all three will match is 1/2.

In a Word

n. a desire to hold another in one’s arms


n. a craving to kiss

Well Named

Fly due south from Key West, Fla., and you’ll pass entirely west of South America.

“Riddles for the Post Office”

The following ludicrous direction to a letter was copied verbatim from the original and interesting document:

too dad Tomas
hat the ole oke
I O Bary pade
Sur plees to let ole feather have this sefe.

The letter found the gentleman at ‘The Old Oak Orchard, Tenbury.’ In another letter, the writer, after a severe struggle to express ‘Scotland,’ succeeded at length to his satisfaction, and wrote it thus: ‘stockling.’ A third letter was sent by a woman to a son who had settled in Tennessee, which the old lady had thus expressed with all phonetic simplicity, ’10 S C.’

— Robert Conger Pell, Milledulcia, 1857


“There is no moral precept that does not have something inconvenient about it.” — Denis Diderot

Sea Dog

In 1939 a Great Dane was officially enlisted in the Royal Navy. “Just Nuisance” earned his name by lying at the top of the gangplanks at a South African dockyard. When he began to follow sailors onto local trains, the Navy decided to accept him as a sailor, thus supporting morale (and granting him free rail travel).

Nuisance generally stayed ashore, and his record shows that he went AWOL, lost his collar, and was found sleeping in a petty officer’s bed. But his faithfulness eventually earned him a promotion to Able Seaman, and he was even “wed” to another Great Dane, producing five puppies that were auctioned off in Cape Town.

He was discharged in 1944 and buried later that year with full naval honors, and he’s remembered today with an annual parade of Great Danes in Simon’s Town.