So, we have been watching Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? which is currently running again in prime time, with Regis as the host. Every night they use the last five minutes for some celebrity to come on, answer one question, and win $50,000 for their charity. Two nights ago, the celebrity was Patricia Heaton, and her question was this:
If one Euro equals $1.50, how much does 5 Euros equal:
a) 30 quarters
b) 70 nickels
c) 50 dimes
d) 90 pennies
Patricia Heaton freaked out. She moaned "I'm no good at math!" She whined and cried. She didn't even try, before deciding to use a lifeline to call her husband so that he could answer the question. They called, he had 30 seconds to hear her read the question and to answer it. Look at the question again: are you surprised that after she got through reading it, he asked her to read it again? He didn't answer in time. She was on her own. She moaned and moaned some more. Finally, grabbing her head like it was killing her, she managed to figure out that at $1.50 each, the 5 Euros would equal $7.50. That was as far as she could go. She moaned and cried some more. Finally Regis couldn't stand it any more, and said, "Look, how much is 90 pennies?" She wailed, "I don't know!" "How many pennies in a dollar?" "100!" "OK. So, how much is 50 dimes? How many dimes in a dollar?" "That's five dollars." "OK, 70 nickels; how many nickels in a dollar?" "That's $3.50." "OK, so the answer is....?"
When she finally got the answer right, the audience cheered.
Last night, the celebrity was Wynonna Judd. Here's her question:
If you have three shirts and four pairs of pants, how many combinations of one shirt and one pair of pants could you make?
OK, never mind that math is apparently so obscure a subject that a math question qualifies as a trivia question not once but twice in two days. What was Wynonna's response? "Oh, I'm so bad at math"! At least she didn't cry and moan like she was being killed. Regis, having been through Patricia Heaton the previous night, went straight to the coaching: "OK, you've got one shirt and four pairs of pants. Then you have another shirt, and four pairs of pants...?" Wynonna was having none of it; she called Aunt Margaret. Aunt Margaret, thank goodness, got it right in 30 seconds. Sheesh.
Watching this made me so angry. Seriously, what is wrong with these people? Shall I say, what is wrong with these women? I remember the uproar over the Barbie that said, "I hate math!" but this is just as bad. These were not difficult math questions, and they didn't even try. Wynonna even said, "This is why I became a musician, so other people could do the math."
I was an English major. I didn't like math. I didn't like math because it was boring, not because it was hard. But I already want our kid to be really good at math (I'd want this even if he were a girl). Math is important! And yeah, it does piss me off that people are illiterate (if I hear another person on TV use the egregious construction, "him and I", I might have to go on a Strunk & White-throwing rampage), but honestly, collapsing at the mere thought of doing math? Infuriates me.