The Month






Got Held Back









The famous bet of Paul Erdős

 "A mathematician is a machine for turning coffee into theorems."

--Alfréd Rényi (not Paul Erdős) 


After 1971 he also took amphetamines, despite the concern of his friends, one of whom (Ron Graham) bet him $500 that he could not stop taking the drug for a month.[18] Erdős won the bet, but complained that during his abstinence, mathematics had been set back by a month: "Before, when I looked at a piece of blank paper my mind was filled with ideas. Now all I see is a blank piece of paper." After he won the bet, he promptly resumed his amphetamine use.




"Before, when I looked at a piece of blank paper my mind was filled with ideas. Now all I see is a blank piece of paper."

-- Paul Erdős



Month Math

Got Held Back


A doctor's office

With a tip jar on his desk

Ought be a red flag


On the horizon

No-thingness births being

Delivers a blimp


a hollow zeppelin

full of what you cannot touch

essence animates


Under the bed frame

(in place of the broken wheel)

a phonebook, crutched.


The head, like I said,

Cannot wrap itself (the head)

Grasp around itself

Space between two eyes

that gaze at a thing -- a ding-in-sich,

so-called, and project from behind

the eyes that see not themselves,

each to each, respectively

from an infinite animus

infinitely precious; value as we know it

cannot even be applied makesensically

to this pars en totem of the infinite by any

such worldly measure

(this pars en totem in its primal selflessness

has dignity in being a representative of infinite,

and when it acts the will directed,

it acts on behalf of the infinite

poured into a bag of flesh

like a cheap suit.





Interface of the kettle -- the iron, the metal -- keeps water and fire not just apart, but symbiotically able to work with each other, like a congigal visit. Like a court-supervised pair of divorced parents doing right by their children.


I wanted it so bad

that I stole fire; and I

used heat only for me

and not some her I in the moment

thwarted of a chance of knowing

and soon blowing on the embers

no longer glowing

just to get them going

like a crackling glass of water

taken down in a single, full-bodied, heroic pull

Hamstrung and fisted

Hamstrung and fisted

With feet bound, she was now fucked

Lest she try to run


And who here has heard

ever of an object on

the lam, hamfiststrung


Enough! he shouted

to his wagon, a she. Quit

yer hollerin, you squeaky wheel,

it won't get you no more greece,

quit your whimpering

lest you want to get replaced.


Firefly trapping

Here, take this Mason Jar --

Oh for cryin' in a cup, kid.

Now cap it with a lid.

A slogan for a cake made for those who can't or don't want to or simply haven't set to do it yet eat eggs:

No eggs were cracked

In the baking

Of this cake.

Did you really not

get the memo? Wow, I mean

do you even OWN a memo machine?!












Idiolectics of "The Oddball's Oddball"* 


Other id

iosyncratic elements of Erdős's vocabulary include:





  • Children were referred to as
  • "epsilons" (because in mathematics, particularly calculus, an arbitrarily small positive quantity is commonly denoted by the Greek letter (ε))Women were "bosses".
  • Men were "slaves".
  • People who stopped doing mathematics had "died".
  • People who physically died had "left".
  • Alcoholic drinks were "poison".

Music (except classical music) was "noise".

  • People who had married were "captured".
  • People who had divorced were "liberated".
  • To give a mathematical lecture was "to preach".
  • To give an oral exam to a student was "to torture" him/her.

He gave nicknames to many countries, examples being: the U.S. was "samland" (after Uncle Sam), the Soviet Union was "joedom" (after Joseph Stalin), and Israel was "isreal".




* *A nickname coined by columnist Michael D Lemonick in his retrospective article (of the selfsame

title) from the March 29, 1999 issue ofTime magazine.