The math professors in my department are a diverse group of people, so you can't expect them all to react in the same way. However, we do all have an affinity for math in common, so should we all respond in like manner to a cartoon with a math-based punch line? Maybe—but we sure didn't.
I ran across this cartoon while noodling about the Internet. It's from Cyanide and Happiness, and this particular cartoon is by “kris”:
Did you find that amusing? I laughed aloud, printed it out, and carried it about the math department. Here's what my colleagues said when I asked them why it was funny (if indeed it was):
- “Well, the idea of killing yourself if you don't know math.”
- “Uh, I don't know. Is it funny?”
- “It reminds me of my students.”
- “Any joke about killing yourself is pretty funny.”
- “I'll laugh at anything.”
- “The idea that hanging yourself and going to a movie are okay alternatives to talk about.”
- “I could tell I was supposed to laugh.”
- “Yeah, he's bad at math, which is why he made the rope too long. He can't even measure things right! Should we tell our students that math skills are necessary to a successful suicide?”
Hey, guys, you have to take into account all pertinent information. That's what we tell our students, right? So: measure twice; hang once.