Total Rip-Off Tuesday

Wherein I "rip-off" another writer from the web. Not taking credit, just sharing good stuff.

Today, I have to share John Zmirak, since I met him last week and he's my new best friend. If that's creepy, so be it.


I’ll never forget the last lesson I had, in my last math class. The teacher, overwhelmed by our youthful zest for lethargy, announced with a sigh, "Well, we didn’t get through all of Trigonometry. If some of you had done the homework…aw, screw it. Anyway, one day, some of you are going to come across something called a logarithm," she said, closing the textbook. "But you won’t know what they are…"

Our teacher was right. When I got to Yale—the S.A.T.s plucked me out of Queens like a coal out of a dung fire—I tried to kill off the science requirement by taking Physics for Fools. But Professor Horvath, an earnest, brilliant Hungarian began to sling around that "math jargon," including the dreaded "logarithm." I looked around, and confirmed that I was not alone ignorant, seeing hundreds of scrunched-up, puzzled, non-Asian eyes. Since I was born without the gene for shame, I raised my hand and asked this refugee from Communism who now taught at America’s top undergraduate college:

"Excuse me, Professor. What’s a logarithm?"

He paused, and went into an explanation of how to derive the confabulatory scrutative precipitates of an ordinal imaginary fraction from the…no, and none of the other kids understood, either. So my hand shot up again. 

"Excuse me, Professor. My math’s not so strong…" He breathed the harrumph of the just, and explained more simply, speaking more slowly. The words sounded pretty.

This time I put up my paw more timidly. "I’m sorry, Professor, I still don’t understand...What’s a logarithm?"
With flashing eyes, he admitted at last: "It is a button on ze calculator!"

We wrote that down, every word. "A logarithm is a button on ze calculator."

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