Monday, September 19, 2005


I heard on the news this morning that a train in Chicago crashed.

CHICAGO Sep 19, 2005 — A commuter train that jumped the tracks near downtown, killing two people, was traveling nearly 60 mph above the speed limit, the acting chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board said.
Mark Rosenker said Sunday that the Metra train was traveling 69 mph and should not have been going faster than 10 mph when it switched tracks at a crossover before jumping the tracks Saturday.
"Sixty-nine miles an hour is very, very fast when you're dealing with a 10-mile-an-hour restriction," he said, adding the information came from a preliminary reading of one of the train's three "black boxes."

Not to make light, but it reminded me of this Seinfeld quote,

Newman: There's no way I can handle 8 [mailbags] in addition to my ususal load of one!

That quote is one of my favorite lines. It sounds funny and it makes me laugh out loud almost everytime. But the mathematician in me must deconstruct this and point out that it actually shouldn't be funny. If in fact it takes a whole day to deliver one mailbag, as it seems to, then Newman has an 8 day backlog. But the point of the joke is to make it sound as if the task of catching up isn't a big deal. So funnier, in fact, would be, "There's no way I can handle 8 in addition to my ususal load of 31!"

Thank you. I'll be here all week. Tip your waitresses.

Bob Montcalm, mathematician, comedy assassin.

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