The Maths Police (Financial Unit) Investigate

A guest post from @FennekLyra, who is Eva in real life. Thanks, Eva!

“Want to see something awful?” asked Agent Lyra1 suddenly, turning to her fellow maths agent and friend Dodo at the £16,000 question of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? that both of them watched daily.

“Oh come on, now; that question is so easy! How can he not know this? How can this be the £16,000 question?” complained Dodo, and then looked up to Lyra. “You were saying?”

“I asked”, said Lyra, “if you wanted to see something awful.”

“Even more awful than that?” Dodo gestured to the screen where the man had just failed to give the right answer2 . Lyra rolled her eyes.

“Why are you even watching this? You complain each and every time about how stupid everyone is.”

“Yes, but so do you; now, what did you want to show me?”

Dodo turned off the TV and looked at Lyra expectantly. Lyra grabbed her tablet, typed something in then handed it to Dodo. “This.” Dodo threw a quick glance at it.

“What’s the matter with it, looks fi-" Her jaw dropped in the middle of the sentence. At least she didn’t drop the tablet. She was silent for about ten long seconds, then shouted: “What the hell?!” She stared at it, disgusted. “That’s… that’s…” she stuttered. “That’s just not right. There is so much wrong with that graph! The more I look at it the more I see!” Lyra nodded.

“The scales are pure horror, aren’t they?”

The horror, the horror

“They are!”

Now there was no stopping for Dodo. “Why the hell are all the increments not only different sized by label but also by actual size?!” She shuddered. “And you can’t just label a thing ‘2015’ and have the rest as months! And WHERE are January, February and March?!” She waved her hands about, eventually dropping the tablet. “A 5-year-old could have done a better job than this!”

“Jeez, Dodo, calm down! I told you it was awful.” said Lyra, putting her hand on Dodo's shoulder.

“Awful is a huge understatement! It’s absolutely dreadful!” Dodo had tears in her eyes. “You just ruined my day!”

“I’m really sorry, Dodo. Here.” Lyra produced a brand new box of Oreos, which appeared out of thin air. “Take an Oreo.” Dodo took the whole box, tore it open, took a cookie and mumbled “Thank you.”

Lyra looked back at Dodo sheepishly. “You still have to pay for my tablet, though.”

Eva

  1. names have been changed to protect the identity of undercover agents []
  2. Question: Which of these square numbers also happens to be the sum of two smaller square numbers? A: 16; B: 25; C: 36; D: 49. The guy said A. A. WHY?! []

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