A Brief Introduction to Negative Numbers

5 06 2009

The other day I was helping the eight year old that I watch with her math homework. She was adding and subtracting two digits-ah the memories. Most of the problems were things like “89-57,” but one of the last questions was “47-65.” This eight year old was utterly perplexed and asked me to help. “Oh,” I said “It’s going to be a negative number.” But Zehra, the eight year old was no less confused. Negative numbers, how do you explain that to an eight year old?

Where do I know negative numbers from?

“Okay, do you know what a bank account is?” (Because that’s where I see negative numbers the most.) “No,” she said. Oh course, you’re eight, and not an Oleson so why would you know what a bank account is. So I had a new idea: “Imagine if you had four dollars, but you spent six, you’d have negative two dollars!” I was confident that this would explain the situation. “That’s ridiculous, how do you spend six dollars if you only have four?! It’s impossible!” That’s a really good question Zehra, but it happens a lot; especially by the Federal Government.  A simple question from an eight year old, employing simple logic tripped me up.

And it reminded me of a recent sketch from snl:


You’re right Zehra, spending six dollars when I only have four is ridiculous, but unfortunately not impossible. Welcome to the world of negative numbers.

Now who wants to go shopping?

– Mister Mary Sasson


What I Plan To Do The Weekend After Wall Street Exploded

17 09 2008

Wall Street exploded, didja hear?  And as Paul Krugman suggests that 1931 part deux is possible, I’m making my plans for the weekend.  Here’s my tentative list for what I plan to do the weekend after Wall Street exploded:

1)  I will draft a series of regulations on intra-apartment spending.  Steps must be made to avoid a repeat of the “hey, I really need a PS3!” crisis of early March.

2)  I will dig up the gold bullion in the back yard, then bury it even deeper.

3)  I will create my own currency.  I will invariably get hung up on deciding which letter of the alphabet to draw two lines through for the currency’s sign.  Lots of time will also be spent on Facebook trying to find the perfect picture of myself for the front of the bill.  But after those two crucial decisions, I will make myself a millionaire, if my girlfriend’s ink jet printer holds out.

4)  I will sell bonds to China to finance a crucial infrastructure project, the procurement and installation of a claw-foot bathtub.

5)  I will dick around with interest rates (duh).

-Mister Andy Lavender

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