The Mathemagical World of New York Magazine


There’s no two ways about it: we’re geeks at Fishbowl, unabashed in our devotion to math club and occassionally pretending to understand the what the hell Google is doing. It’s a quality we prize in our Fishterns, and this week our own Maureen Miller puts her science education to good use, dorking out over the trend toward math-infused features in New York Magazine. Ladies and germs, Fishbowl proudly presents Maureen Miller.

As if Brooklyn spelling bees
weren’t geeky enough, New York magazine is taking us straight back into the MathCounts gutter (Ed. Because nothing cloaks one’s geeky past by owning up to “Mathcounts” on the Internet). In addition to the “Approval Matrix” wherein pop culture is measured by the “deliberately oversimplified” method of graphing the “highbrow” and “lowbrow” against the “brilliant” and “despicable,” last week New York Magazine debuted their “Undulating Curve of Shifting Expectations” in which pop-culture maven and senior editor Adam Sternbergh applied “the Heisenbergian principle by which hype determines how much you enjoy a given pop-culture phenomenon.” (“Undulating”? Come on, guys; it’s clearly sinusoidal. In no uncertain terms).

Three, as they say, is a trend, and though this post actually cites a mere two examples Fishbowl editor Rachel Sklar informed me that she spotted two overlapping iscosceles triangles featured in an illustration in last week’s “Intelligencer” section, one upside down over the other in an ancient symbol of mathematical significance. That’s enough for us — so without further ado Fishbowl humbly suggests some of the other math-inspired features we might expect from Adam Moss and the gang in upcoming weeks:

  • BloggerRhythms: Weekly Technorati stats for the NY blogosphere summarized, with bloggers plotted on a logarithmic curve according to their hits.
  • Mean Value: Assessing the impact of snark from various members of the city commentariat each week.
  • Cos(r): Real estate listings. (Get it? “Cosine-r”? Oh, we kid.)(Ed. I so don’t get that. Thank goodness for smart Fishterns.)
  • Economy of One: Tracking the methodology by which a local celebrity reduces a given sum to zero… oh, wait. They already do that.
  • The Heisen(Bloom)berg Principle: IS HE A DEMOCRAT OR A REPUBLICAN, DAMMIT? We can never truly know…
  • The Rhombus of Truth: This one is from Rachel. She didn’t really have an idea necessarily but she just thinks “rhombus” is a funny word.
  • N+1-derful Town: Occasional series on city happenings approved for their intellectual merit, by Benjamin Kunkel.