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Unreduced Fractions

“Mathematicians!”  Everyone turned around in the bar, not because the room was full of mathematicians, but because the drunken gentleman was standing on top of a table.  He proceeded with his speech:

                “I know you’re all in this together to destroy the world.  This evil comes cleverly disguised in the form of fractions.”

                The bar crowd of mostly college students snickered at the drunken gentlemen who was old enough to be their father.  The sermon continued in earnest:

                “I wondered when I was a child why I could not grasp the concept of fractions and now, nearly 50 years later, I know why.”

                “Stupidity?”  shouted a young man about as drunk as the preacher against fractions.  Undaunted, the disputation continued:

                “The principles behind fractions are an evil germination started by overly clever mathematicians.  I was robbed of my innocence the moment it became clear to me how to manipulate fractions–and so the evil seed was planted into my young, fresh, fertile mind.”

                “Fresh and fertile!”  A young, nearly drunk woman shrieked at the thought.  The proclamation continued:

                “One might poetically say that the probability of  finding a virgin in this bar is 30 out of  300.  (A bunch of bargoers yelled ‘Where?’ while looking around, but the drunken gentleman did not even pause.)  But the mathematician is no poet.  This vile creature would arrest the poet in his tracks and serpently say, “Thirty out of  three hundred can be REDUCED to one out of ten.  But what if I, the poet, can only express myself in UNREDUCED terms?”

                “Then you NEED another beer!”  The statement was obviously made by a member of some athletic team.  The impromptu continued:

                “Why must every fraction be reduced to its lowest terms?  I refuse to have my fractions, my expressions, my emotions, and imaginations REDUCED to their lowest terms!  I fully understand the evil thinking behind the reduction of fractions to their lowest terms.  You reduce a fraction to its lowest in order to simply its nature–”

                “Kinda like drinking beer?”  The beer drunken crowd cheered.   The oratory continued:

                “Rather than deal with the beauty and complexity of the fraction, the mathematician seeks to destroy the integrity of the number by reduction.  Sure 30/300 is equal to 1/10, but why must 30/300 be CHANGED to, REDUCED to 1/10?  Why can’t a mathematician leave a fraction as he found it?  Is it too much to ask to take the time to understand 30/300 and her unreduced sisters?

                “Is it too much to ask to drink in fucking peace?!”  This disgruntled drunk was in a minority all to himself.  The others encouraged the drunken tirade to continue:

                “No, no, no, the mathematician wants simplification.  The mathematician wants reduction.  The mathematician wants what is counter to the world–the mathematician wants ORDER.  To order is to CONTROL.  To order is to MANIPULATE.  To order is to—REDUCE FRACTIONS.  (At this point ‘converts’ cheered, whistled, and banged on tables.)

                “The reduction of fractions takes away the individuality of the number.  Makes it easier to classify the numbers.  Easier to forget that they were once individuals.  Strip away a fraction’s multiple and nothing remains but a hollow, lifeless ratio. (More gratuitous cheering and banging.)

                “And while I’m on the emotional and controversial subject of fractions, why MUST the denominator be bigger than the numerator?”

                “Yeah, what’s up with that shit?”  Everyone muttered, looking around as sincerely as a bar full inebriated people could muster.  The argument continued:

                “What is so ‘improper’ about a numerator being larger than the denominator?  Is the denominator so insecure with its position at the bottom that it must always be bigger?  I say it is improper to express the fraction with a larger denominator all the time.  If one were to say 7/2, why change, simplify to 3 1/2?  7/2 has as much right as any other fraction.  After all, the only qualification is that there is a numerator and a denominator.  Why should a fraction only be judged by the size of its denominator?  (Outburst of laughter although no one could in their inebriated state explain why).   Liberation for the numerator!  (Several balled fists rose in the air, mocking the drunken gentleman.)  Remember, a fraction without a numerator is zero, but a numerator without a denominator is a WHOLE NUMBER!”

                Everyone cheered and gave the drunken gentleman a standing ovation as he climbed down from the table, throwing enough money on the table to satisfy both his beer tab and the waitress with a sizable tip.

                After the drunken gentleman left the establishment someone asked, “Who the hell was that crazy bastard?”

                “Dean of the math department,” answered probably the only math major in the bar.