Tom wonders what the leaders of ISIS have against math

In the classic (yes, classic!) teen movie "Mean Girls," high-schooler Cady Heron is asked why she likes math so much. Her reply: "Because math is the same in every language."

Granted, those were probably the last intelligent words ever to come out of the mouth of Lindsay Lohan, who played Cady Heron. Plus, they were written by Tina Fey, so Lohan can't even take credit for them. But it is a great line and one that is absolutely true.

Perhaps this partly explains why those wacky folks in ISIS have banned the teaching of math. Oops, sorry, this week they're calling themselves the Islamic State. It used to be Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, but that was too confining. Plus, it kinda told people where they were hiding. Now it's just the generic Islamic State, which includes a branch campus for idiots in Australia.

Somewhat troubling is the use of ISIL by President Obama and members of his Administration. The "L" stands for the Levant, which is a ridiculously outdated word that used to mean the region that included what are now the modern-day countries of Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Cyprus. Methinks the president either didn't want to use the term Islamic State as it would grant the group too much street cred or he was reluctant to make any reference to Syria, as he had carefully chosen to stay out of the civil war that has claimed tens of thousands of lives so far. Well, he can't avoid it any more, as Syria is the place where the United States has been sending laser-guided projectiles to be taken by the ISIS fighters in suppository form. It's probably time for the President to stop using a term that, these days, is only used by anthropologists.

One last thing on the geopolitical/jihad front: Have you noticed that, in all the rhetoric put forth by the Islamic State talkers, there's not a word about Israel? I mean, Israel and Syria are next-door neighbors, after all. They're already in the vicinity. Apparently, the IS people are crazy, but they're not that crazy.

Getting back to the banning of math, I really don't get it. I can understand their wanting to ban music. Heck, the relatively moderate folks in neighboring Iran just sentenced a bunch of people to 91 lashes each for dancing to Pharrell's "Happy." Setting aside the fact that that particular song is mega-annoying, it's probably better that they were dancing to that rather than the song Pharrell wrote, "Blurred Lines," or the song he sang with Daft Punk, "Get Lucky."

Being a math guy myself, I wondered why the strange number of 91 lashes. It's not a prime number (it's the product of seven times 13), so what's the deal? Is it 13 lashes a day for a week? That would suck. There has to be some kind of non-infidel math involved here. I e-mailed the Iranian Embassy in England to see if they could give me an explanation. They never got back to me; they were probably still bummed that Scotland had chosen not to break away from England.

I Googled the Embassy. It's like two blocks from the Royal Albert Hall, which means that the people on the Embassy staff were probably able to comfortably walk to see Adele in concert while I'm going to have to wait and hope that her on-again/off-again Vegas extravaganza becomes a reality.

IS wants to ban all sports ... and soccer. They should note that after the United States got rid of most P.E. classes, we now have a generation of kids who look like a young John Candy. I can also understand IS wanting to ban the teaching of social studies and history. That history stuff can be messy, especially when it doesn't match the teachings of one's tightly defined view of religion. On that particular point, IS even has some kindred souls here in America. If students from states other than Texas were asked to look in their textbooks to find which historical figure from another country had been most influential in the forming of the main tenets of the Declaration of Independence, they would correctly answer that it was the English philosopher John Locke. But make that same request of students in Texas and their answer would be Moses. Yes, Moses, the guy who asked God to unleash deadly serpents among his own people because the mob was getting tired of the taste of the manna from Heaven. In Texas, Moses, who parted the Rio Grande River, is recognized as the first true American.

There are lots of other things in the Texas history books. In one, apparently written by Dr. Cracker A. Cracker, Professor of Crackerology at Bob Jones University, the American Civil War had almost nothing to do with slavery. It was just a friendly discussion of states' rights that kinda went sideways.

I will forever be puzzled by the math thing. After all, algebra was created in that neck of the woods. A form of trigonometry was used in the building of the Egyptian pyramids. Geometry was invented in Greece, which is like the Levant's very own Marana. Now, if they want to ban calculus, which was invented by a British guy, they would probably gain the silent support of college students around the world.

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