Monday, April 11, 2005

Writing Contest

In case you haven't heard, Ben is running a writing contest inspired by my students' introductory sentences. He, of course, has the full rules, which you should read (or not, if you are going for the authentic student experience) for more details. Your essay should begin with either "For many millennia, man has tried to create ways to measure time," or "It is an old adage that numbers do not lie, that within numbers lies the truth."

I, myself, will not be participating because my pesky job keeps taking up all my time, leaving me few chances to do something amusing enough to write about in this space. I did get into a bizarre discussion about a version of a polynomial ring with ordinal degrees (yes, I realize that they don't behave like degrees should), but it soon became clear that I was not being given all the hypotheses in that "don't steal my problem" sort of way, so I disengaged by asking meaningless questions ("Have you checked that it's associative?" and "Do you want polynomials or formal power series?" etc.). But that sort of thing hardly has broad appeal.

Not to mention all the time being taken up by trying to decide whether I shoud file Form 4868 together with a big check, putting off the inevitable until I have more time to sort things out, or whether I should just do my taxes and be done with it.

And now I should be off to get coffee and/or to find an example that involves both conditional probability and rock and roll, as my lecture for this afternoon already contains sex (ok, sexually transmitted diseases, specifically HIV/AIDS) and drugs (Justice Souter's dissent in the decision allowing drug-sniffing dogs at traffic stops, handed down January 24, 2005).