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The Potrzebie System of Weights and Measures


My sense of humor
Donald Knuth Scientist
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Rather than sceptical, cynical, I would prefer satirical or something.
[Q] Satirical.

But anyway, that's why I liked Mad Magazine, because it was... it was like crazy type of satire on the… on the sacred cows of the… of the day.  And so when my friends and I discovered it in high school, you know, we devoured every page, and… and was especially, you know, mad about Mad. We… and before that, as I said, I had the corny jokes, but my friend and I were… tended to be wise-cracking and… and not to take things too seriously. Although I said I was a machine, but I did also like to… like to laugh, and so… so when I’m writing for the paper, we always had sections about jokes, and we always had, you know, in our Yearbook we had… we had fun things in there that weren't expected. So I've carried that through, as you know, and many… there are lots of corny jokes in the indexes to my books now that… that people probably haven't discovered yet, but, you know, somebody will ask me, why do I have a reference to Bo Derek in the… in The TeXbook? And it turns out that just all the pages where…which are cited in the index for Bo Derek is where I used the number 10, you know.  So all the way through I've had this silly streak of some sort that means I don't take everything too seriously.

Born in 1938, American computing pioneer Donald Knuth is known for his greatly influential multi-volume work, 'The Art of Computer Programming', his novel 'Surreal Numbers', his invention of TeX and METAFONT electronic publishing tools and his quirky sense of humor.

Listeners: Dikran Karagueuzian

Trained as a journalist, Dikran Karagueuzian is the director of CSLI Publications, publisher of seven books by Donald Knuth. He has known Knuth since the late seventies when Knuth was developing TeX and Metafont, the typesetting and type designing computer programs, respectively.

Tags: Mad Magazine, Yearbook, Bo Derek, The TeXbook

Duration: 1 minute, 54 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2006

Date story went live: 24 January 2008