Archive for December, 2013

Bum diss

December 4, 2013

If I wasn’t lazy, I would put up a sign like this at a university noticeboard:


(phone number)

— and then, when people called, first ask them questions: What do you think this service is? Why did you call? Weren’t you a bit apprehensive? Then I would give them a digest of the previous callers’ answers.

Since I doubt the psychology dept would sponsor me, it would be one of those pay-to-play numbers.

“Dissertations” is clear, but what does “bum” sound like in this context? The rear end? An economically disadvantaged person?

And how come the dissertations come “from your bum”? That would imply the anal interpretation, but is it a colloquial ass-pull, “out of thin air”, or a literal investigation of an actual rectal outpouring? Is this an advert for the homeopathy Ph.D. program, or the one in human physiology?

Is it your dissertation that gets done, or that of an unscrupulous human biology major, who just hands you a coffee ticket and kicks you out? “I got a dissertation from your bum. Get going!”

But wait, “your bum” could be an affectionate term for your spouse, usually a male one. “I fixed the car while my bum husband just watched TV.” But if the advert is aimed at university students, is it then some clever trick — this one clever trick to graduate in under 30 days! — to enlist your spouse in your thesis work? (“Step one: Tie his TV rights to a daily page quota. He writes it, you write it; but unless it gets written by somebody, no TV!”)

But what if “your bum” is literally the exact bum-behind you sit on? Surely there are no dissertations in there. You couldn’t convince people, even desperate thesis-writers, that there would be useful text in there, could you? (“Where do you think all the stuff you learn goes? For 99 money units per hour, we rent this camera onna stick! Careful with the flash, it gets hot.”)

Or is this a cheating device, with “dissertations” being hype-speak for “pre-inserted exam answers”?


Doesn’t “bum” sound like one of those words that twee people have for their grandparents? Papaw. Nana. Bum.

“Okay kids, we’re visiting Bum today!”

“I don’t wanna, Bum smells funny.”


Ahh, I could write a whole book on how and when unusual object insertions into different bodily orifices are/aren’t funny; what I couldn’t make up, I would investigate through some really exceptional surveys.

“Chapter Seven. The Navel. There is really only one story here; it concerns a naive boy unsure of how and where women get pregnant.”

“Chapter Fifteen. The Right Nostril. We begin with the fingers and toes: there are twenty possibilities for single-digit insertions per person, and—”

“Chapter Twenty-Three. The Bum and the Mineral Kingdom.”

“Chapter Fifty. Suggestions for M.Sc. and Ph.D. Projects.”


Also, projects: “Experiments in Humor and Self-Injury Part One: Narrative Experiments”.

I wouldn’t do part two, “Practical Experiments”. That’s better left to Johnny Knoxville.


(“Dissertations from your bum” is a line from a Paul and Storm song called “Oh, No“. It’s one of those lines that just stick in my mind, much like “his groin’s got a date with the guillotine” and “The Mother Superior of Kicking Posterior“.)

Ritual dialogues of mathematicians having coffee

December 3, 2013

(To be read in a dull monotone by a set of two people for the amusement of the complement.)


I could go for a cup more.

You could always go for a cup more.

Better then that I do not start at all; for by induction I would never stop.

Nonsense, for there is a boundary condition in the worldwide availability of coffee beans.

But are not coffee beans, with respect to time, a renewable resource beyond the rapidity I can consume them, even in a liquid concentrate?

Ah, I see you are right; you should not even have had the first cup.

Indeed. And I shall not have another.


Was that good?

That was better than yesterday.

But was it good?

It was the best I’ve ever had.

But was it good?

That I’d rather not say.



In this cup, coffee frozen to brown snow. In this cup, a boil under the lid. Let us call the temperatures zero and one hundred.

From cup to cup you pour this, back and forth, portion and portion.

So the temperatures change, but do they converge?

They do; I have proven this.

Where do they converge? We may assume the cups to be identical, and containing an identical amount of coffee.

At fifty do they converge.

Let me sketch this. You graduate student over there, stop eating the chalk and give me one. Scribble scribble. Oh, yes, right, they converge. Hooray.

It is proven, then?

It is proven, with reasonable assumptions on “pouring”, “back and forth”, and “portion”, for all measurable cups of finite Lebesgue measure in any fixed dimension. Results for Hausdorff cups of non-integer dimension to be investigated next.

Yes. I will get more coffee.

Coffee is life.


Correction: Lack of coffee implies lack of life, by the Erdös definition of life; “life: doing mathematics”. This is the standard definition of life.

Correction accepted.

Correction acceptance accepted.


Topologically speaking…

Never speak topologically when I’m here!

I speak topologically; you vanish.

I do.

Topologically speaking, this coffee cup is the same as this donut.

How so? I only know function theory.

Both could, assuming they are malleable, be deformed to the other.

But your coffee cup isn’t malleable!

Not at this temperature, no. But that is hardly the point.

What would you do with a ceramic donut anyway?

Interdisciplinary research.


I would give it to my son.

I am puzzled.

So I would solve the longstanding open problem in theology, “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone instead?”

But what of the donut-matter coffee cup?

That I would eat.

How would you drink coffee, then?


See, your plan fails like the commutativity of addition and the square root operation, and you resemble a mathematics student in such a person’s first year by claiming the negation of this statement!

Ha ha. I am amused.

Yes you are!

I am amused by your wit. Ha ha.