22 Comments

  1. I think she’s saying that she promised someone (or some kind of group) that she would lie for them.
    I think what’s funny is that she’s speaking as if she were sitting with a group of criminal types where she’s describing her exploits (possibly casually and maybe a little bit dramatically) .

  2. Obviously, Norman’s head wasn’t built with paradox-absorbing crumple zones. Robot Santa could help with that, expect that Norman has most likely been found to be naughty.

  3. If you try to type the liar paradox into a real computer, it doesn’t work. It also doesn’t work to tell it to compute pi to the last decimal place.

  4. This is simply a “dumb blonde” joke. She’s trying to demonstrate ironclad adherence to her principles, implying that “her word is as good as the rule of law”. Unfortunately, she has mangled “De Jure” into something that resembles “Perjury“, effectively negating her statement.

  5. “is it true that if you divide pi by zero, the universe will implode?”

    Well, that’s what happened in all the other universes I tried it in.

  6. Mark in Boston, is it true that if you divide pi by zero, the universe will implode?

    And then someone has to go to the Well of Souls and reboot the universe – again.

  7. “Seriously, Arthur, didn’t ‘you learn after the first time???”

    It’s important to test thoroughly. I don’t plan to try in this universe, though.

  8. In Python:
    import math
    print (math.pi / 0)

    All that happened is “ZeroDivisionError: float division by zero”. The universe did not implode.

  9. @ MiB – A few days ago, my son was playing around with a calculator (in this case a software app, not a physical device), and he asked me which was the bigger number: “(Error!)“, or “(Overflow!)” ? Not an easy question to answer, if I have to restrict myself to elementary school mathematics.

  10. @Kilby: Neither is a number, but “(Overflow!)” is an indication that the answer was a number bigger than one the calculator can handle.

  11. @ MiB – I did tell him exactly that, but I think he was more interested in the “infinite” character of the results produced by the “illegal” operations that result in “(Error!)“, such as “1/0”.
    P.S. It’s interesting to observe the way that “illegal” operations later become “permissible” as kids progress through school. Back in first grade, the “correct” answer for a problem like “3-7=?” was “impossible”. I’m not sure when they start teaching kids about negative numbers.

  12. I believe I’ve told this story here before, but in third grade, I knew about negative numbers, but none of the other kids would believe me, so we agreed, much like Steven J. Gould related about his childhood bet about cavemen and dinosaurs living together, to appeal to authority for the answer. We asked a lunch lady, probably for expediency’s sake (it must have been lunch time when this discussion came up), and she denied the existence of negative numbers, or even the possibility of subtracting a larger number from a smaller number. I was of course devastated — how could an adult be so ignorant? I wonder now whether she truly was that ignorant, or whether she just felt it proper to maintain a certain line in front of kids who shouldn’t know too much, kind of like perpetuating the Santa Clause myth. Is an adult lying better or worse for my childhood disillusionment than an adult being ignorant? Either way, it did not cure me of my naivety, as I recall similarly going to a teacher in 7th or 8th grade to resolve an argument; this time, neither of us liked the answer given by the teacher, and both agreed to act as if the appeal to her had never happened. I guess that is where my naivety began to become dispelled….

  13. Negative numbers were unknown to Western mathematics until about 1700. That’s why in accounting, which hasn’t changed much since Pacioli in 1500, you use debits and credits. You always subtract the smaller from the larger and put it on the side that had the larger number. Thus if you have 5,000 debit and 6,000 credit you subtract 5,000 from 6,000 and get 1,000 that you put on the credit side. Or 6,000 credit and 5,000 debit you get 6,000 debit. The metaphor is a merchant’s scales. When you put all the debits on one side and all the credits on the other side, if the scale is in balance your books are balanced.

  14. Now that you mention it, larK, I recall childhood ideas that doctors and parents, especially, knew everything and Could Not Be Wrong.

  15. Mark in Boston –

    Of course you will end up paying taxes on the $1000 credit (income) so you actually have less than it seems.

    I think in the second example you mean 6000 debit and 5000 credit gives you 1000 debit?

    (Then again – halfway through a client’s federal corporation return I realized that I got my credit and debit backwards on an adjusting entry when I went to enter it into the return – have to go back and correct it and make sure the other entries already done for the return are still right.)

    Accounting joke (yes, like every other business we have some) – The Head of a major, huge CPA firm comes into his office every morning and opens the drawer of his desk, looks at paper in the drawer and closes the drawer. When he dies all of the staff wants to know what words of magic he had in his desk that were so important to him that he had to look at it every day. The open the drawer and the paper says “The debit is the side of the desk with the window.” (If explanation is needed let me know and I will post next time I am on.”

    And I have found out that in Israel (met an Israeli accountant once) that in Israel the debit and credit columns are reversed – which is why he came back to the US – he kept forgetting they were reversed.

    ( I have another accounting joke – but it is a bit off color and while I think it can be posted – though it may go into moderation – it is not that offensive I think. – In classes with mostly guys it was beer and pretzels and not wine and cheese.)

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