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by Chris Burke
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943: (x, why?) Mini: Those Daring, Young Men
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Mr. Michael Keegan, Math Teacher

Flying trapezoid just doesn't have the same ring.

I learned two things over the weekend. First is the word trapezium, which I don't recall encountering before. Outside of the U.S., it's a trapezoid. Apparently, inside the U.S., it's an irregular quadrilateral. That's probably the most interesting thing I've learned about trapezoids since college when a professor said that if the definition of trapezoid were at least one pair of parallel sides then parallelograms would be a special case of trapezoid, and all of it would fall under the Trapezoid Rule. (The triangular analog to this is that an equilateral traingle is a special type of isosceles triangle.)

The second thing I learned is that I have been mistaken for most of my life about a very old song that my parents would sing (and which was featured in at least one Popeye cartoon). The name of the song is The Daring Young Man of the Flying Trapeze. For whatever reason, possibly since the time I left kindergarten, I thought the lyrics were "those daring young men". It would make sense: you never see one acrobat; it's always a family or a troupe. Sure, one of them might be the "manly" one of the group to appeal to the young ladies, but to a five-year-old, who would notice? It's also possible that I've just been confusing it with the movie title Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines, by which I don't mean Dick Dastardly and Muttley.

In any case, I already had four young men in the picture and I wasn't erasing three of them just to conform to an 80-year-old song.

Final notes: the background is a black-and-white rendition of a photo I took just after sunrise from my corner last week. The ones from my doorstep were better, but I went to the corner for one shot so I could avoid the traffic signal and lamppost.

The source of my initial sighting of "trapezium" was the cavmaths blog entry A Puzzling Heptagon.


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