Friday, January 13, 2006

Do the math

Not to worry. There's less here than meets the eye. "Do the math" really means "do the arithmetic," which in most cases is no scarier than "do some addition and subtraction and compare the results to known and alleged facts."

Everyone should be well drilled by now on the need to subtract birth date from death date in obits to make sure the decedent's age is reported correctly (yes, incoming J4400 students should consider this a massive hint). Don't stop there, though. Doublecheck any two numbers that purport to yield a third number. Don't assume the reporter did, and don't assume the reporter gave the results a reality check. That's how we manage to have 4-year-olds fighting in the Korean War.

There should be a point under all that sermon, and there is. Today's contest: What doesn't add up in this obit?

Mr. Stone was the oldest of six children, born on Dec. 26, 1913, to John P. and Ethel Stone.
... Mr. Stone worked for the naval shipyards during World War II. After the war, he moved to Mexico, Mo., and opened a restaurant. Two years later, he sold the business and began working as a salesman at Columbia Auto Parts — a job he held for 45 years before retiring at 72.

It may seem a little early to begin thinking about farm fresh produce, but Guy Clark is ready to sell you the promise of a juicy tomato (1A Friday).

It may seem odd to open this type of school in a town much safer than most the big cities (1A Friday).

When you think about hurricane relief, an army of civic-minded law students probably isn’t what comes to mind (11A Wednesday).

It was every dog owner’s nightmare (5A Thursday).

NON SEQUITUR WATCH: "If paying almost $700 for your family’s vegetables seems steep, consider this: A national survey of such programs across the U.S. in 1999 found the median gross income of 316 programs in 41 states was $15,000" (1A Friday). Is there any connection between these clauses, or am I just missing it?

IN THE SUBSCRIBERS-ONLY EDITION: Kudos, housecleaning, preseason tune-ups AND MUCH MORE!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

72 - 45 = 27. Thus Mr. Stone would have been 27 when he sold his restaurant, and 25 when he opened it (27-2=25). But the obit says that he was born in December of 1913, and that he opened the restaurant *after* World War II. World War II ended in August 1945, when he would have been 31. Either the birth date, retirement age, or number of years he worked after the war must be incorrect (most likely the last.)

4:45 PM, January 13, 2006  
Blogger fev said...

Ta-da. Take a bow.

Note that there's nothing scarier than subtraction in there. Except maybe remembering when the war ended.

9:57 AM, January 14, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm guessing every dog owner's nightmare is to have your dog chew up your sister's wedding dress just hours before the service.

Well, at least that'd be mine if I owned a dog.

10:59 PM, January 21, 2006  

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