The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

27 August 2005

Tropic of calculus

In the middle 1960s, Tom Lehrer put New Math in its place. Unfortunately, it didn't stay there. Jeff Quinton traces the evolution of a standard math problem, starting in 1965; after thirty years it was almost unrecognizable.

1965  A logger sells a load of wood for $100. His cost of production is $80. What is his profit?

1970  A logger sells a load of wood for $100. His cost of production is $80. What is his profit?

1975  A logger sells a load of wood for 100 units (make a set of 100 dots to represent this income.) His production is 80 units. The units of sell and cost interchangeable. Draw a subset with 80 dots respresenting cost. The difference between the set and subset is the profit.

1985  A logger sells a load of wood for $100. His cost of production is $80. His profit is $20. Underline $20.

1995  A logger makes his living cutting down beautiful trees. Discuss how the little birdies, animals and trees feel. Points given for discussion participation.

As Jeff notes, it's time for a 2005 version. This one came to me after a minute or so:

2005  A logger under contract to the Department of Defense sells a load of wood for $100,000. His cost of production is $600 for labor and equipment, $800 for taxes, and $7100 for environmental permits and certificates. How much profit will he have after Halliburton takes its cut?

Feel free to improve on this in Comments.

Posted at 6:38 PM to Dyssynergy


(On the flip side of the 1995 feel-good question, and I daresay only slightly tongue-in-cheek):

(Grade 3 Mastery Question: Mathematics)
"A logger sells a load of wood for $100. What is the direct correlation of the logger's feelings about chopping down the wood towards the fact that he has just murdered one of nature's beauties and made a selfish profit? If his cost of production supersedes this number, multiply it by the ratio of the remaining defenseless trees and then divide by the number of murderous hunters among those trees attempting to make a profit off dead Bambis."

Posted by: Vickie at 8:31 PM on 27 August 2005

George Bush allows his rich logger friends to cut down--no, rape--forests. It's all about oil. And Israel. If Israel did not exist, those trees would still be standing.

Posted by: miriam at 9:06 PM on 27 August 2005

A logger cuts down 100 trees in his maniacal quest to turn the entire planet into a greenhouse. While cutting down the 101st tree his chainsaw hits a spike put there by an environmental insurgent and he is killed. How many electoral votes will the extremist Supreme Court steal from the insurgent when he runs for President in 30 years?

Posted by: McGehee at 9:43 AM on 28 August 2005