Yesterday, I came upon this video of Trump & Son, on the air with Howard Stern, trying to do 17 x 6 in their heads. Junior first guesses 96, which is close, sort of, considering that * 16* x 6 = 96. His next guess is 94. Heading the wrong direction, son! Ivanka, who according to her dad is "good with numbers," good enough to be a candidate for the top job at the World Bank, then butts in to protect her brother, offering the defense that the problem is not "practical." The current president weighs in, announcing authoritatively that the answer is 1,112. He pronounces it "eleven-twelve."

Though it seems impossible, things go downhill from there.

Yes, yes, when young I made jokes about the kids who took the short bus, but I now realize that was wrong, and I wouldn't mention the troubles of the Trumps if it were not for the fact that, on the same day I saw this video, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, chatting on Fox with Chris Wallace about congressional efforts to obtain Trump's tax returns, said:

*This is a dangerous, dangerous road and, frankly Chris, I don't think Congress, particularly not this group of Congressmen and women, are smart enough to look through the thousands of pages that I would assume that President Trump's taxes would be.*

Having been a Sarah Huckabee Sanders watcher for a couple years now, I know to perk up my ears when she indicates her intention to be "frank," because it's how she signals she's about to add something impolitic to her normal blend of word salad falsehoods. Wallace should have asked if Trump's returns are also too tricky for the top dogs at the IRS, since they've been "under audit" now since before the president earned his negative-three-million mandate in November, 2016.

How do you do 17 x 6 in your head? As the nosy, dweeby parent of some inner city public school students, I know that, in the elementary years, they have units called "mental math" wherein they receive instruction in diverse strategies. For example, can you count by 17s?--17, 34, 51, that's three of them, so six would be twice 51, or 102. Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Howard Stern would have been impressed! There is also something called the Distributive Property, under the terms of which you are permitted to conceive of 17 x 6 as

(10 x 6) + (7 x 6),

which is clearly 60 + 42, which is clearly 102. So all signs point toward 102! In addition to learning techniques of "mental math," Minneapolis public school students are encouraged to develop what their workbooks call "number sense." For example, in the fourth grade, while learning to work problems like 993 x 55, students are instructed to take note of the fact that the precise answer they derive from exercising the normal method had better be a little less than 55,000 (since 1000 x 55 = 55,000 and 993 < 1000). This guards against common mistakes, such as when normal methods tempt you to claim that 17 x 6 = "eleven-twelve."

## Comments