The Brunching Shuttlecocks Ratings


One-half seems like a powerful fraction in a democratic society, but when you think about it, it's actually the source of political paralysis. At best, one-half leads to recounts, revotes, and backroom deals. At worst, it leads to magazine headlines like "Deadlock in Washington: Will The US Survive?" The most powerful fraction in a democracy is "a number exactly one unit over one-half," but it doesn't fit on your calculator screen. C

Pi, by and large, is very useful, but there is this ridiculous obsession with finding the nth digit of Pi, where n is stupid. A value of pi that's accurate to the 31st digit is good enough to measure the circumference of the entire universe within one proton, so anything beyond that is bordering on the -- please forgive the coinage -- mathsturbatory. C-

There are two types of imaginary numbers: those which are imaginary just like those stories in Action Comics where Superman marries Jimmy Olsen and moves to Laguna Beach, and those which are imaginary in the mathematical sense of "hard to explain to your parents." The former includes numbers like "fourteen gazillion billion gazillion" and the latter includes i, a number which is equal to the square root of -1. While I have nothing but respect and tolerance for fourteen gazillion billion gazillion, I admire i for actually being the right answer sometimes. A

The invention of zero must have led to conversations reminiscent (or rather, prescient) of an Abbott and Costello routine. "I just invented an important mathematical concept!" "What is it?" "Nothing!" "Don't be modest, tell me what it is." "Nothing!" "Then what did you interrupt me for?" "Nothing!" No, that never happened, I just made it up. It's not even plausible. Forget I said it. C+

I like three, which is a problem because whenever you tell someone you like the number three they think you've got some sort of mythical-cum-religious reason for it, like you're into the Holy Trinity or the Fates or Wilson Philips. In reality, I like the way it sounds when you yell it: "Threeeeeeee!" C

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