Counting for much

Shortly after the 2008 election, I complained that “actual knowledge of mathematical concepts is inimical to political success.” If one assumes that we get the government we deserve, it’s no trick to conclude that the Great Unwashed are utterly immune to arithmetic.

Not too similarly, from Roger:

There are people who actually don’t understand that math is everywhere. The old recipe book says that I require 10 32 ounce cans for a bunch of lasagna I’m making. But they don’t make 32-ounce cans anymore, they only make 28 ounce cans. How many cans will I need?

Ah, the ever-popular Grocery Shrink Ray, which is used on things other than groceries; in 2007 I bought a replacement for my 30-gallon water heater, which holds, um, 28 gallons despite being almost exactly the same size.

And Roger needs twelve cans, though he’ll use less than half of the last one. After a brief flirtation with online operations, I do my tax returns by hand, though I suspect I may be one of a dying breed.

Isaac Asimov was available for comment.


  1. fillyjonk »

    11 April 2013 · 7:22 am

    Hooray, someone else who still does the paper forms. (I have to recopy mine – neatly, and correcting a few omissions – and then they’ll be ready to go. Along with a check large enough to make me really unhappy).

    People tell me it’s easier to submit electronically. As most of the pain I experience is in figuring out the bureaucratese in the instructions to the more arcane forms I must file, I’m not sure that the “ease” of electronic submission would really ease my pain any.

  2. CGHill »

    11 April 2013 · 7:46 am

    The “ease” of electronic submission goes away very quickly once you realize that there’s a dialog box — and, when needed, a worksheet — for every stinking line on the 1040, and you’ve killed an hour before you ever get to Adjusted Gross Income.

  3. fillyjonk »

    11 April 2013 · 8:12 am

    I’m surprised they didn’t develop their own version of Clippy: “Hi, it looks like you are trying to do your taxes? Want some help?”

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