“Wherever there is number, there is beauty,” wrote the Byzantine philospher Proclus Diadochus in the 5th century, unaware how very wrong he was. According to the average plane-riding American, mathematics is now nothing but the Satanical scripture of olive-skinned terrorists.
The Washington Post published a mind-boggling account Saturday of an American Airlines passenger who was nearly kicked off a flight. The passenger’s seat mate, a woman unsurprisingly wearing flip-flops, complained about his behavior, and the mysterious scrawling he was doing on a piece of paper. As it turns out, that man was the prestigious economist Guido Menzio, who was grinding out a differential equation on the way to give a lecture. From WaPo:
That Something she’d seen had been her seatmate’s cryptic notes, scrawled in a script she didn’t recognize. Maybe it was code, or some foreign lettering, possibly the details of a plot to destroy the dozens of innocent lives aboard American Airlines Flight 3950. She may have felt it her duty to alert the authorities just to be safe. The curly-haired man was, the agent informed him politely, suspected of terrorism.
After questioning, Menzio was allowed to re-board, though his new flip-flopped friend didn’t join him. Though he says he was treated respectfully by authorities, sees the incident as one episode in a “broken system that does not collect information efficiently.”
And the root cause of that problem—who but?
“What might prevent an epidemic of paranoia? It is hard not to recognize in this incident, the ethos of [Donald] Trump’s voting base,” he said.