What math is
Mathematics is not a science. It’s not a natural science: it does not study nature. It’s not a human science: it doesn’t study humans.
Mathematics is an art. It’s not a human art; it’s not useful for elucidating human feelings and passions. It’s a natural art: it is very, very useful for elucidating nature’s laws and actions.
(Well, this does not seem immediately fallacious on a cursory one-eyed glance, so it’s up to my usual self-review standards of my own personal philosophies…)
So I’m going to China to a mathematics conference for next week; this meant getting a visa. I filled up the papers, sent them in, and waited. A week later the departmental secretary brought me my passport back; I sat down to wait for the other papers.
A week passed. I grew anxious.
I went to the secretary and asked, “Hey, where’s my visa at?”
She said, “Da fuq, graduate student? It’s in da passport.”
I said, “Wait, what’s a visa look like anyhow?”
She said, “Oh em gee, graduate student” — I might be using false tones and idioms here.
I went, looked inside the passport; hidden on a random page halfway through it there was an official-looking sticker which, apparently, is what a visa looks like.
So now I know that.