The Math Geeks are a tough crowd. Several weeks ago I submitted my post Beyonce and I Fail Division to a couple of sites that were publishing articles about mathematics. I thought the mathematicians would enjoy a comical diversion from the rigors of string theory as well as a peek into the world of sixth grade Everyday Mathematics homework.
It turns out that the readers of these particular math sites may be skilled at equations, but they don’t appreciate them being treated as a source of humor.
The Math Geeks were dejected that I wasn’t overjoyed about the opportunity to perform long division at ten o’clock at night with my surly sixth-grade son. A software engineer at Google who posted the articles said about mine:
I was very surprised – and depressed – when I received that as a submission …. Not just that an adult had a problem with something as simple as basic arithmetic, like long division, but that they thought that it was so benign, so unremarkable that the weren’t even embarassed to advertise the fact in public, and to actually submit it to a collection of math articles.
(ellipses mine, grammar and “spelling” his)
His was a mild-mannered comment compared with what followed.
Professor Jonathan Vos Post read my list of other mathematical gymnastics that will face Finn in the future, such as multiplying negative numbers by other negative numbers and dividing fractions, concluded that I am unable to perform these feats myself, and labeled me an “innumerate adult.”
I was content to let this go unchallenged because I don’t walk around bragging on my math skills, but the professor continued, writing an excruciating diatribe in which he congratulated himself on his teaching methods, referenced Sputnik and Pearl Harbor, then drew a connection between my column and his assertion that “the USA is losing the new space race, and the economic race, and the outsourcing race, and the respect of the world.”
The professor declared: “This is a crisis. It goes beyond an adult acting as if arithmetic, which my son mastered by age 7, was incomprehensible black magic, and posting that on a blog thread. But the two are linked.”
(emphasis mine, vacillating verb tenses his)
At first I thought the professor was giving me too much credit. After all, I’m just a forty-year-old mom of three, blogging with 75% of my brain while the other 25% (or one fourth) (or .25) hopes that the rattle in my minivan is an aberration, not a death knell.
But then I read up on the Professor and his credentials and discovered he’s not full of shit, or if he is, it’s the type of shit I know nothing about.
That’s when I realized, “Well, hell’s bells! It’s time someone appreciated the major impact of my blog, not only in My Tiny Kingdom, but on the world as a whole.”
Now that I’ve read what the professor had to say about me, I confess I’m a little disappointed in those of you who comment here regularly. Sure, you alerted me when my boys were eating too much tuna and you let me know that Alabama doesn’t have a monopoly on live bait vending machines. You laughed with us at our potty-training strategy. And several of you commented on that very post to explain the rule for moving decimals before dividing them.
But none of you have so much as hinted that my columns are linked to the weakness in the housing market, the lack of quality programming on television, or Pokemon.
You have been underestimating me, at your peril.
A year ago in My Tiny Kingdom (not my best mothering moment): Hell Hath No Fury Like A Woman Whose Laundry System Has Been Screwed With