Let X be the Unknown: The Miracle of Algebra

POSTED — December 23, 2014 — Miscellany

As recollected from a Walt Kelly Pogo Cartoon in the NY Post in the early 1970s. Somewhere I have the original cartoon, which I will scan and post once I find it.

There are four panels to the cartoon. In the Okefenokee swamps, Pogo and his two animal pals are trying to set up a quorum to take a vote. Here is their conversation:

Pogo: The way to tell how many of us there is is by using algebra.

Pal 1: It says here to let x be the unknown... that would be Snorbert Zangox, from Waycross, Georgia.

Pogo: He's unknown?

Pal 1: The best. I've never heard of him."

Pogo: Me neither.

Pal 2: Nor me.

Pogo: Let's see -- I'll put down a one for you not knowing him, and a one for you not knowing him, and a one for me not knowing him. I adds up the ones, and I gets three -- so there must be three of us.

Pal 1: Man, that algebra's a miracle!

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