mathNEWS Issue #500: Friday, September 25, 1998

In this issue:

I Kahnt Believe It's Not Butter!

By Mark Kahnt

I was Co-Editor for Volume 31, along with Dave Leibold. That entire term was dedicated to the 10th anniversary of mathNEWS, partly because we barely had any staff, so it was easier to cannibalize the archives than do new text. I was also involved in bouncing mathNEWS from watbun (the Honeywell 66/80 system) to watdcs (the IBM mainframe) to watdcsu (a DEC VAX 11/780 set up specifically for document preparation) in the search for better quality text formatting, giving us actual typesetting for the first time since the death of the Photon printer.

Never heard of the Photon? A great idea for its day, the character sets were on wheels that were optically resized to produce the characters transferred to the page. Unfortunately, the moving parts involved in it made it unduly complex internally, resulting in it crashing every ten minutes before it was decommissioned. Given that its boot cycle took ten minutes, well, you get the picture of how frustrating it could be...

I was also the instigator that got mathNEWS its own computer terminal -- a VC404a that was VT-100 compatible. I was also the one that got mathNEWS to set up its own bank account, rather than working through the MathSoc Treasurer.

I was News and Entertainment Editor of Volumes 34, 35 and 37, and the originator of the ChevMath column (the early, funny ones. Cary Timar took on the column without consulting with me, and his stuff was just strange.) I wrote movie reviews for stuff in the theatres, as well as previews of Cinema Gratis and Fed Flicks (my comments on Monty Python's The Meaning of Life: This movie includes topless women running about, a restaurant where everyone is throwing up, and numerous other totally tasteless scenes. This movie has absolutely no socially redeeming values. The line-up should be long so get there early.).

My first term (Volume 30), I wrote Quiet Desperation -- the frosh column. I also worked on the constitutional structure of mathNEWS, including explaining how the Editor's position is actually a training position -- to become a Former Editor. Think about it -- at any production meeting, don't the Former Editors constantly tell the current Editor how things should be done?


Two come to mind - one was unsigned, the other was under the pseudonym of Anne Archist. I was more into the news and entertainment stuff, and encouraging people to push their humour. In Volume 32 Issue 2 (there were only four issues that term), was a sample schedule of a typical frosh. I got a great response about it - the frosh's schedule is on it, and then the person's actual results during the day...

In Volume 34 Issue 2, Anne Archist wrote in favour of Nuclear War as a method of disarmament (it was 1984 and the U.S. was on about the Strategic Defense Initiative -- yes, that's ancient history to you, but it was current at the time).

The single best issue I worked on was Volume 35, No. 2 - we got word on the morning of production of the passing of Dr. Ken Fryer, and having only one class that day, I was working the main desk of MathSoc most of the day, usually getting things organized and finished up for the Production Night. Instead, that term's editor, Tom Ivey (who was on a workterm over at Watcom), and myself worked the phone lines getting files on him and putting together the tribute.

Volume 35, No. 5, we actually had off-campus news, as this also arose on production day -- the calling of the 1984 election. I was the one to suggest that mathNEWS take a political stand, even though I was one of two Liberals on the staff, versus six Tories. However, we unanimously agreed to my suggestion that mathNEWS could and should support The Rhinoceros Party.

Volume 31, as I said, was largely a retrospective of the first ten years -- or at least what we could find in the filing cabinets. I don't pretend that it was exhaustive, as we knew that much wasn't there, but we went after the fun stuff we could find.

Volume 37, No. 2 Page 9 left column, - You must reprint the most intelligent mathematical proof, written by W. Jim Jordan, on the relationship between Real Numbers and Quiche. You may be too young to remember this, but in the early eighties, there was a book entitled "Real Men Don't Eat Quiche". Volumes 32 through 37 had numerous segments of "Real Programmers Don't Eat Quiche" and "Real Mathies Don't Eat Quiche", which led to the question of Real Numbers.

Well, WJJ came up with that article as a mathematical explanation -- which is better than most other content ever to arise in the 498 other issues.

During my era, the names that come to mind as editors include Dave Till, W. Jim Jordan (Dwarf), Dave Graham, Dave Leibold, Cary Timar (Alfred Ed. von Newman), Tom (Watts) Haapanen, Glenn McFarlane, Dan Schnabel, Rick Kuzell and Stuart Hodgins. Somewhere, most of the stuff from Volume 32 or so were getting put on backup tapes somewhere for archival purposes. I presume the backup formats have changed over the years, but I know that the stuff from when we finally got onto Unix(tm) were on our own archival media.

Copyright © 1998 mathNEWS.