Your RDA of Irony

Money Talks but needs elocution lessons

Elon Lindenstrauss, Ngo Bao Chua, Stanislav Smirnov and Cedric Villani are awarded the Fields Medal for their work in mathematics.

 Fields Medals are awarded every four years to mathematicians no older than 40, and two to four mathematicians can receive them each time they are presented. Canadian mathematician John Charles Fields created the medals, which were first awarded in 1936. Along with a gold medallion inscribed with the winner’s name, the awards bring a cash prize of about $13,300.

The prize winning topic was “Mathematics doesn’t pay.”  In his research, Israeli Elon Lindenstrauss showed how he could earn more working part-time at H&R Block.  Vietnamese Professor Ngo also proved that the cash was barely equivalent to what he makes at the Hewlett Packard Call Center; Ngo further noted that “the math wasn’t as much fun as deliberately misinforming Americans”.  Frenchman Villiani postulated that only accurate mathematics does not pay; in his research as a headwaiter at a three-star Michellin restaurant, he demonstrated how you can make a three look like a nine on a check. 

As both a Russian and a mathematician, Smirnov proved that money is a foreign concept.  Smirnov also offered the most interesting response when asked how he would spend his prize money.  “I will give the money to the first person who threatens to kill me.”   Being civic-minded, he hoped that it would be a Russian policeman rather than some other criminal.

p.s.  Let’s not forget the historic significance of this day:


If Only Lincoln and Douglas Debated Today

On this day in 1858, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas held the first of seven debates in their campaign for the U.S. Senate. Each debate lasted three hours and addressed only one question. Somehow the two men carried on without an interrogating panel of reporters or pundits. It evidently was a more primitive time. Here is how a modern debate would have been….

Reporter: Mr. Lincoln, you are quoted as saying that “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” What is the basis of your harsh criticism of the American construction industry?

Lincoln: You misunderstand me. It is a quotation from the Bible which I used as metaphor reflecting the divisive issue of slavery.

Douglas: I refuse to believe that the Bible is critical of the American construction industry. May God forgive you, Mr. Lincoln!

Pundit: Mr. Douglas, you were known to have courted Mary Todd before she married Mr. Lincoln. Do you believe that she is too promiscuous to be a senator’s wife?

Douglas: Let me assure the public that I will never be the first to exhibit daguerreotypes of the naked Mrs. Lincoln for political purposes. And I invite Mr. Lincoln to make the same pledge.

Lincoln: What?

Commentator: Mr. Lincoln, during your one term in Congress, you opposed the Mexican War. Do you hate our soldiers or do you just prefer Mexicans?

Lincoln: I oppose unnecessary wars.

Douglas: While I would not question the patriotism of my craven, timorous opponent, I have always been a full-throated supporter of victory–and I am adamantly opposed to defeat.

Psychologist: Mr. Douglas, you are a proponent of popular sovereignty. Yet, being an embarrassingly short man with a pompous personality, you certainly are not as popular as the affable Mr. Lincoln. What in your miserable childhood led you into politics?

Douglas: My dedication to public service and the opportunity for revenge.

Lincoln: Do you really have naked daguerreotypes of my wife?

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