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Happy Father’s Day

June 16, 2013

And the mother who gave it to us


Sonora Dodd is widely credited with the creation of Father’s Day. The first one was organized by her in Spokane, Washington in 1910. The history of her struggle to make it an annual holiday is told on the website maintained in Spokane, and on a HistoryLink page. Although the holiday was being observed all around the country by the mid-1920’s, it took until 1966 for President Lyndon Johnson’s proclamation setting it to be the third Sunday in June, and 1970 for a joint House-Senate resolution making it a national holiday, which President Richard Nixon signed into law in 1972.

Today Ken and I wish all fathers a happy day.

Many countries around the world celebrate Father’s Day on the same day we do, and others on their own day. Some that celebrate this Sunday are:


A Personal Note

Both Ken and I are fathers of great kids, which makes us both very proud. We are also both without our fathers, sadly both have passed away. But neither is forgotten, and we think of them every day—especially on Father’s Day. Thanks to our dear dads; they did so much for us.

Mathematics Of The Day

As we stated by law, Father’s Day is the third Sunday of June. Many holidays have rules like this for when they occur. Mother’s Day is the second Sunday in May. President Bill Clinton in 1994 created a designation for the fourth Sunday in July. Can you guess what it is, before looking? We might consider observing Children’s Day on the fifth Sunday in August, on grounds that children should sometimes be seen and not heard (or vice-versa?). Actually, observance of Children’s Day in the U.S. pre-dates even Mother’s Day by several decades, and the United Nations observes it on November 20.

When I was quite young my family took me to Washington DC for a trip. We visited many of the usual tourist stops, and we did visit the U.S. Mint. At the very end of the guided tour the guide looked at me and said: Too bad you were not here last Monday. On the sixth Monday of each month we give out free samples. My eyes went wide open—free samples. My dad started to laugh and I finally realized that this was never going to happen. Too bad.

Here are some nice puzzles about days of the week:

If I said that in three days’ time it would be a Thursday, I am sure that most of you would have no difficulty telling me that today was a Monday.

Try this one then: Yesterday was two days before Monday. What day is it today? Yes, you’re right again. It’s Sunday. Do you get the idea?

Now let’s tackle a similar question from The National Mathematics Contest (1991) Paper:

Three days ago, yesterday was the day before Sunday. What day will it be tomorrow?

Finally Ken adds one he heard from a colleague: Alice lives in a state with a long Atlantic coast, and Bob in a state with lots of Pacific coast. They call, and see exactly the same time on their cellphones. What day of the week is it, and can you say what time of year?

Open Problems

Have a great and fun Father’s Day.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. June 16, 2013 7:54 pm

    And a Joyceful Bloomsday to All ❣❣❣

  2. June 17, 2013 1:45 am

    Thank you for sharing this! Happy Father’s Day to all the dads in the world! Enjoy the day with your dad and let them feel how much they are loved. 🙂

  3. June 17, 2013 7:28 am

    Lance Fortnow and I both are among the fortunate fathers whose children have taken them to see Vince Vaughn’s new comedy film The Internship. The discussions afterward were mighty intense … this film raises plenty of questions that are tough-to-answer for anyone (STEM professionals especially).

    Note  My children are considerably older than Lance Fortnow’s teenage daughters; my children (and their friends) have been out-in-the-world for a decade as professional writers, historians, engineers, health-care providers, and warriors. Fact-based integrative answers impress them. Glib evasions don’t satisfy them. They reject insincerity utterly. Hey, no wonder they enjoyed The Internship! The following two-part essay summarizes some of our post-movie discussions.


    Ah Google! Ah Humanity!
    Are we Bartlebies or are we “Fronk-en-steens”?

    (Part I of a STEM-centric review of The Internship)

    A story arc that is much-beloved of STEM professionals begins with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus (1818) and culminates in Mel Brooks’ and Gene Wilder’s Young Frankenstein (1974). STEM professional especially appreciate that the transmogrifying comedic vision (as Calvin and Hobbes would call it) of Young Frankenstein was grounded in a tradition of dead-serious essays by STEM researcher/teachers like William Osler:

    The Problem of the Crippled and the Maimed
    William Osler (1917)

    The original meaning of [orthopaedics] was the straightening of crooked children; but it is now applied widely to the relief of deformities and disabilities of all kinds. All of us really need this art—some in minds, others in bodies, many in both! […] The orthopaedic surgeon is a teacher, a personal teacher, and in two directions—of the patient’s mind quite as much as of his muscles and joints. It is not simply a surgical matter, an individual human problem, requiring prolonged attention and study of each case. … [Patients] who are weakened by suffering, disheartened, and often hopeless need in the first place to have their minds trained [so as to] feel that there is a future before them of independence and comfort.

    Osler’s enduringly hopeful STEM message of 1918, as comedically echoed in Young Frankenstein of 1974 — and echoed too in the present-day Connectome Project — is that even those among us who are so unfortunate as to be monstrously crippled and maimed in mind and body, can assuredly look forward to (as Brooks/Wilder’s monster rationally yet comedically expresses it)

    The Monster  “People looked at my face and my body and they ran away in horror. [Dr. Frankenstein] alone held an image of me as something beautiful, [having] a calmer brain and a somewhat more sophisticated way of expressing myself.”

    Thus was the tragedy and horror of Shelley’s tale deftly transmogrified, by a STEM-centric vision of regenerative medicine, into a wonderfully comedic tale of hope and humor.

    Is there another 19th Century tragedy of tragedy and horror, that we might recognize as transmogrified by The Internship into a comedic vision? Can the 21st Century’s polity (STEM aficianados especially) thereby appreciate Young Frankenstein and The Internship as a natural “double feature” of hope and humor?

    The second half of this essay will argue that the answer is “yes”: specifically in that the dark vision of Herman Melville’s The Isle of the Cross (circa 1852) — a lost novel that today is known solely from Melville’s correspondence with Nathaniel Hawthorne and from the dark shadows that it casts in Melville’s Bartleby, the Scrivener — has been humorously and wonderfully STEM-transmogrified, by Vince Vaughn’s 21st century comedic genius, into the hopeful vision of The Internship.

  4. William Gasarch permalink
    June 17, 2013 4:16 pm

    Mothers Day has as a very strong tradition that the family takes Mom out to lunch
    on that day.

    Does Fathers Day have a very strong tradition? Someone I asked told me that Dad gets to choose what to barbeque. I am not sure if he was kidding. But I am not kidding- is their
    a strong tradition?

    My father is one year older than my mother. Their ages add up to a perfect square.
    I am in my fifties. Two questions arise: (1) How old are they?, and
    (2) Did I make up this story to get a math problem for my great niece?

    Happy fathers day Ken and Richard!
    (I would have put that in all caps, but when i do that your software seems to block
    my comments.)

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