The Longer Rectangle: More from This Issue’s Insert
By Hawthorne Ripley
After 90 Minutes of Abstract Discussion on a Calculus Problem, Class Ends Before Anyone Can Begin to Work Toward a Solution
As always, there were mixed levels of enthusiasm when Ms. Stutt wrote out the long and complicated problem on the board, and announced that class would be devoted to its discussion. One or two students groaned in frustration—“we talk about this sort of problem all the time, we know about this problem. When are we going to move on to another problem?” Some classmates even withdrew from the larger group entirely upon sight of the problem and began doodling in their notebooks, or held separate conversations in whispers saturated with eyerolls. Nonetheless, many students were willing to take the work seriously and brought forward their best intentions. The goals of the class were defined, the class norms were reiterated, and the group broke off into partners, where some more focused analysis of the problem arose:
“It’s definitely a real math problem, for sure. But, like, for me, from my perspective, I’ll never truly understand its derivatives or be able to work toward a solution, simply because I’m not directly affected by this problem. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely feel sorry for those who understand this problem because those are the people who experience it firsthand, and I admire those who are brave enough to discuss it openly in front of their peers. But that’s all I can really say, just from my standpoint–as a math student… you know? I do think it’s important that we keep talking about it, even if it has nothing to do with me.”
At another table, a girl and a boy irritated by the premise of the problem itself were relieved to find each other like-minded:
“I mean, just like, is this problem really my problem? When will learning this ever be relevant to me in the real world? I liked talking about these problems when they were about derivatives and integrals, but now I see that I have to draw on my knowledge of not just those things, but also of geometric formulas and limits in order to solve for the complex area. I don’t mean to offend anyone,” she added nervously, “but why can’t we just learn about one thing at a time?”
“Exactly,” the boy nodded back with enough enthusiasm to assure her that she hadn’t messed up. “Also,” he added, slumping back affectedly in his chair, “just like, why is solving this problem more important to the community than the problem of my annoyance with talking about the problem?”
As the group came back together, questions were posed. How can we move forward on this? What can we do? One student suggested, we need to speak in more concrete terms. A small handful of students did propose mathematical methods of addressing the problem, but they were drowned out by the sea of their long-winded classmates philosophizing insuppressibly on the ineffable nature of the problem itself. As the period lagged on, members of the class continued to examine the problem with varying levels of clarity and thoughtfulness. Others remained silent. Ms. Stutt looked at the clock. “Thank you all, we will continue this discussion another time, class dismissed,” she said, but many students had already begun packing up their untouched pens and pencils.
Investigation into Ballot Box Stuffing in Student Council Election
After the recent landslide victories in the student council elections, numerous reports and videos of ballot box stuffing and other voting fraud spurred the formation of a special investigative group, entitled the Investigative Community of Packer (ICP), to investigate the claims. In a personal press release from Eden Vance, Chairman of the ICP, Vance announced that “I am employing all the resources at my disposal to investigate these claims thoroughly and as far as they go.” After two hours of extensive analysis, the chairman released a follow-up release alongside an official report that detailed the findings of the investigation. “My team and I have concluded the investigation, and there was no evidence that voting fraud had been committed.” According to the ICP report, the supposed video evidence was “unquestionably fake” as “no voting was being conducted at the time the videos were taken.” As chairman Vance put it in an interview with one reporter, “How can there be voter fraud without voting?” Though heavily redacted, the ICP report went on to suggest the sources of the videos were, in fact, a “Saint Annes plot” bent on the “de-legitimizing of our rightful ruler” and that it was “ludicrous to think that Packer students were actually involved in voting”.