Never formulaic—but always punctual—this week’s roundup of wacky news features stupid criminals failing to do the math.
See if you can tell which of the following mathematical puzzlers is a fake:
Jonny has packed three apples for the 5.8-hour drive from Point A (population 2,763) to Point D (pop. 3\/12=6), a trip of 492 miles. If Point A + apple = the amount it is raining X 1/3 population, how long will it take Johnny to eat the orange he has also brought, and why is he driving so fast?
Emilio has $200 worth of gas in a container that, itself, sells for roughly $60. He needs money right away. Using the following equation—dimwittedness < dumping the gas + attempting to sell the container at a scrap yard—calculate how long it will be before Emilio will live down allegedly committing that crime recently.
Whichever riddle you guessed to be bogus, you may be right. We have no idea; we are mathematical morons.
But while we see the wisdom of eating oranges and driving fast, and while we spent a lovely week last summer at Point A, we simply cannot fathom that anyone would empty $200 worth of gas in order to pawn the can for $60. Therefore, we believe #2 is the fake.
In other news, police in Bridgeport, Connecticut (pop. 137,298), recently charged a man named Emilio Valentine with illegally dumping hazardous materials after he allegedly emptied 50 gallons of gas from a can onto a city street so that he could sell the container for cash at PC Metals, a local scrap yard.
According to an April 20 post on the website of the Connecticut Post, Mr. Valentine, 52, allegedly poured out the gas while driving down a street known by the middle-of-the-road name of Central Avenue.
He was spotted in the act by a PC Metals worker named Stephen Scholz—no relation, as far as we know, to Tom Scholz, founder of the band Boston (pop. 6), best known for the totally awesome ’70s anthem “More Than a Feeling.”
“It was crazy,” Mr. Scholz (more than a feeling) told the Post, referring to Mr. Valentine’s gas-dumping.
That’s an easy one, Mr. Scholz (when I hear that old song they used to play). Already reviled by polite society, the smoker further would be ostracized for littering, a crime for which he or she would receive a very expensive citation from the police—one that, granted, it would be difficult to pay inasmuch as everyone involved would have long since fried in the resulting fireball.
Mr. Scholz (I begin dreaming) said that after unloading the petrol, Mr. Valentine motored into the scrap yard and attempted to sell the can.
“It was still dripping gas and I told him to get out,” said Mr. Scholz (’til I see Marianne walking away).
This reaction at first appears unusually harsh. But it makes sense in light of Mr. Scholz’s journal entry from that day: “I looked out this morning and the sun was gone. Turned on some music to start my day. I lost myself in a familiar song. I closed my eyes and I slipped awaaaaaayyyyyyyyy.”
You see? A man in such a melancholic mood does not suffer gas dumpers gladly. This is especially true when the gas dumpers, at least in the case of Mr. Valentine, tell police they dumped the gas only after unsuccessfully attempting to sell it at a local fire station.
One is hard pressed to imagine why someone would think it reasonable to sell gasoline at a fire station. Isn’t that a little bit like, well, selling gasoline at a fire station?
In other words, isn’t it a mathematical improbability, not to mention the act of a befuddled entrepreneur?
Here is another math puzzler:
Cody Lee “Press on Nails” Littrell, 34, and Rebecca Erinn “Roll of the” Dice, 32, of the enchantingly-named Dillsburg, Pennsylvania (pop. 2,402), allegedly stole a toolbox, an April 12 post on the website of the York Dispatch reported.
Let’s say the tools were worth, oh, $1,000. In today’s economy, what would Mr. Litttrell and Ms. Dice receive if they mistakenly attempted to sell the tools to their rightful owner and were caught by the police?
Answer: charges of theft, receiving stolen property and conspiracy to commit theft.
A man named Andrew Hamilton was doing his job at Anderson’s Service Center, in the 1200 block of West Market Street in West York (pop. 4,209), when Mr. Littrell and Ms. Dice allegedly approached him and offered to sell him the toolbox.
Mr. Hamilton recognized the container as possibly belonging to him. He raced home, discovered his toolbox missing, and called police.
According to the Dispatch dispatch, coppers apprehended Mr. Littrell and Ms. Dice in the 300 block of South Queen Street, in York (pop. 40,434).
Readers with a head for figures will be interested to know that the number of that York street block (300) multiplied by the town’s population (40,434) totals 12,130,200. If you add together the numbers in that amount—1+2+1+3+2—you get 9, which is roughly the number of hours it took us to calculate 300 x 40,434.
Is Jonathan Tyrone Huntley, of Charlotte, North Carolina (pop. 709,441), a mathematical sort?
No such personal information is contained in an April 8 story about Mr. Huntley, 25, posted on the website of the Charlotte Observer, and so, alas, we shall never know.
We do know, however, that on March 29, Mr. Huntley and an associate allegedly broke into a residence on a street with the giggle-inducing name of Dinglewood Ave. While a man and a woman who live in the house watched, no doubt apprehensively, the robbers scouted for booty to pilfer.
Eventually they fled with a wallet and some jewelry. The man of the house gave chase. During a struggle, a shirt fell from the suspects’ car, which presently sped off.
The black T-shirt, according to the Observer, “showed a photo—apparently a mug shot—of a young man and [read,] ‘Making money is my thang.’”
The man in the photo, it turned out, was Mr. Huntley.
He turned himself in two days later, and was booked on the felony charges of common-law robbery and breaking and entering.
Mr. Huntley has past convictions for robbery with a dangerous weapon and breaking and entering. It is possible that his T-shirt photo originated from one of the arrests resulting in these convictions.
This suggests yet another equation:
Mug-shot-bearing T-shirt + robbery recidivism = really? x seriously?
We have a feeling this equation just might be the real deal.
No, we’re sure it is, because we have more than a feeling.
Dave Ford is a San Francisco writer whose work has appeared in Spin, The San Francisco Chronicle, The San Francisco Examiner, SF Weekly, The Advocate, and a host of other periodicals. He writes the blog First of All, and is a certified yoga instructor who teaches at various venues in his home city.
Illustration by Bion Harrigan. Bion Harrigan keeps his head firmly planted in the clouds and has done so since the earliest days of a youth misspent idly daydreaming, reading Mad magazine, and drawing scary monsters and super creeps. He continues to spend an inordinate amount of time daydreaming and drawing at his home in Maplewood, New Jersey.
Other dudes, who, previously, have been “in the news”: