Retrospective: Half a decade of Math’s trolling

We’re coming up on an important Peking Duck anniversary, namely the first half-decade of comments from the troll esteemed commenter known as Math.

Math is unique among my trolls commenters. Unlike the loquacious Ferin-Merp, the detestable Hong Xing and the neuron-free pugster, he almost never fights back. He has responded to comments about his comments only two or three times over the past five years. He appeared out of the blue a twentieth of a century ago in this thread and has remained a mystery ever since. Note that in that thread, Math actually responds to commenters who criticize his little “essay,” something he almost never did again. His style is a bit different in his first comment as well; he actually seems to be talking to the readers (“Who wants to help me”) as opposed to preaching, as he does in virtually every other post to follow.

Math of course rails against America, its inferior food and women and government, and lavishes praise on everything China, including the Great Leap Forward and, needless to say, the TSM. He rejects the creativity of the West in favor of the “discipline” of the East. He lauds Mao’s genius in adding brilliant new phrases to the English vocabulary (!), and he lambastes the US for its freedom of speech.

Which raises the question, why was his very first diatribe sent to us via the servers of Columbia University in Upper Manhattan, and why have virtually all of his following posts come from a New York City IP address? (His kissing cousins, Merp, pug and Red Star, also comment exclusively from within the confines of the Evil Empire.)

I don’t have the fortitude to chronicle every one of Math’s contributions. There is plenty more from the archives.

Several readers have asked over the years why I don’t ban Math and delete his tomes. The answer is simple: Math is amusing. Math is bizarre. Math may be deranged, but he’s never made personal attacks (he just tosses his grenades and runs away, unlike his more confrontational comrades). And I have to give him credit for his sophisticated taste; in half a decade I don’t believe he’s graced any other blog with his sagely remarks.

The year he first appeared, 2005, was a tumultuous one, for those who’ve been here that long. It was the year of Mark Anthony Jones and the Duck Pond and the first open threads. But if I’m going to get nostalgic about the good old days, Math has to play a leading role among our fond memories. Of course, he’s clinically insane and the closest thing I’ve ever seen to a highly customized spam-bot, and there’s a lot of hatred and aggression in those comments. But let’s put all that aside as we wish Math a happy anniversary.

Now, Math, why don’t you return the favor and tell us: Who the fuck are you?

The Discussion: 29 Comments

Beneath all this tone, I sense an ounce of respect for this dislikeable person called Math. This has been quite the most humorous blog post I have ever read by you.

September 2, 2010 @ 8:44 am | Comment


Oh, I’m gonna be watching this space closely…

September 2, 2010 @ 8:45 am | Comment

Thanks for this post Richard. It seems like just yesterday… Ah, the rough and tumble forum of days gone by…
I wonder, does Ivan still come around?

September 2, 2010 @ 8:54 am | Comment

Admiral, let sleeping dogs lie. šŸ™‚

Yes, it makes us feel old, doesn’t it? It seems like yesterday when we first started scratching our heads, wondering what kind of organism Math was. I would really like to know.

Fiona, maybe “respect” is too strong and too kind a word. Math mystifies me, and I can’t deny being very curious. His posts are long and often clever, albeit deranged. He is clearly very intelligent and industrious. Those posts don’t write themselves, and some are of epic proportions. So I guess I’d have to say I do respect his tenacity and his ability to churn out his diatribes. But when he talks of the glories of the Great Leap Forward and the genius of Mao I can only shudder at the idea that he might take his own shit seriously.

September 2, 2010 @ 9:01 am | Comment

I think it is Shaun Rein…

September 2, 2010 @ 9:29 am | Comment

…I’m kidding if you can’t tell

September 2, 2010 @ 9:30 am | Comment

Hey, anything’s possible.

September 2, 2010 @ 9:31 am | Comment

True, I guess one can hope…

September 2, 2010 @ 9:36 am | Comment

I have always suspected a connection between Math and MAJ. Perhaps I’m just paranoid.

September 2, 2010 @ 9:38 am | Comment

Lirelou, under the circumstances I highly doubt it. There is, however, a sinister relationship between math and red star, if I remember correctly.

September 2, 2010 @ 9:56 am | Comment

I think Math is, what’s the expression? Sui generis. Or however you spell that. There is no one else quite like him.

September 2, 2010 @ 12:14 pm | Comment

I think some of these guys are repressed Chinese gays.Of the serious twisted sith kind.

The End.

September 2, 2010 @ 12:37 pm | Comment

Just read a little bit on that post with Math on Discipline. I got this for him: The Mythical Man-month, or how “9 Women can’t make a baby in a month.” And I don’t think integrated circuits are designed and build by thousands of engineers sitting at drawings boards with slider rules and pocket protectors. It’s designed by teams of a dozen engineer with these things called…the computer (I think, not too big on IC design.) They don’t even design Boeing airplanes with thousands of engineers. You know who did that kind of shit? Soviet Union did that. They had thousands of mathematicians sitting there solving closed form equations. Guess what the U.S did? The complete opposite. They made computers, and made them fast, in order to solve little differential equations, not by closed formed solutions, but numerical approximations. Sure, the Soviet had some great ideas using their thousand engineers math guys, but it was the computer that made the kick-ass shit.

The End.

September 2, 2010 @ 12:54 pm | Comment

Perhaps Discipline is good for manufacturing stuff. You know by reducing variability and all that. Not so sure about coming up with new stuff though, for believe it takes both discipline and creativity to do that. And I definitely don’t believe that anything of value and lasting impact are designed by a committee. For example one with the all knowing Math in control of disciplining little bitches beneath him in the brave new world of Mathpubic of Math.

There may also be something in individual discipline versus this group thing that he seemed to be talking about. “Great Stuff” are almost always done by a very driven individual, or a small set of driven individuals working in a close knit group. All these latest social driven network fad notwithstanding. Or something like that.

September 2, 2010 @ 1:40 pm | Comment

Jackie Chen? Do you guys know anyone who calls Jackie Chan Jackie Chen? Cheng Long.

September 2, 2010 @ 1:46 pm | Comment

Nice tribute. At least Math’s diatribes seem to be thought out unlike the other trolls mentioned above who don’t seem to want to do anything but derail discussions with mindless droppings of hate (Pugster has his moments as well, and doesn’t limit himself to the duck). Oh well…I sometimes forget that it is all for lulz in the end, and we would be just as mean to deny these craven manboys their one life’s pleasure as sick as it may be.

September 2, 2010 @ 3:09 pm | Comment

Did Math blow in right after Katrina? I guess that was not a good week.

September 2, 2010 @ 3:39 pm | Comment

I never pay much attention to the trolls. They bore me and make me lazy…

September 2, 2010 @ 3:50 pm | Comment

is waiting with bated breath.

September 2, 2010 @ 4:50 pm | Comment

Don’t think for a 2nd I’m on your team either. I’m a one man army of know-nothing lewd brigade my motto: like a donkey yehaw yehaw. I don’t mind the gays but no gay sex. I love the lady but have to say no to her pussy (no psychos).

And people like Red Star and Math needs to get with the real program. If you are real about what you are saying then you should just blow yourselves up fighting the Americans! That’s real. What’s this about admiring the freedom fighters? You ain’t their little pinky.

[I have to delete this sentence – you can’t say you want Chinese communists lined up against a wall and shot. Richard]

By having a true scientific dicatorship. Work with the peasants! But bend them to the new age of scientific peasantry. None of this confucican bullshit. It gots to be about sustainability and nothing else. Take everything that is good from rest of the world and reject all the bullshit.

The End.

September 2, 2010 @ 6:03 pm | Comment

Just read the TSM post, funny how those trolls get all defensive when they are asked why they live in the US. I used to be asked the same thing about living in China, my typical answer was to give “them” a departure date, and then say something like “I can’t wait!” Talked about lost face….

September 2, 2010 @ 7:32 pm | Comment

Zhuhai is a relatively small town and over the years I have asked around about a nutjob Chinese guy from Columbia/NYC coming to teach in a school as Math said he did. No dice. The guy is a liar- plain and simple.

September 2, 2010 @ 8:44 pm | Comment

OHHHH I remember Math! Hahahaha. and to think I was working at Columbia for the past 2 years. I should have looked for him. Ah well.

Out of curiosity, when was his last post?


September 3, 2010 @ 1:05 am | Comment

Hi last post was just a couple of days ago.

September 3, 2010 @ 1:15 am | Comment

Maybe Math’s rantings owe something to his New York location.

September 3, 2010 @ 4:48 pm | Comment

The thing about Math is that he seems to actually believe what he’s posting, whereas pug_ster, merp and Hong Xing seem to turn everything into an anti-West rant just to placate their egos.

September 14, 2010 @ 6:47 pm | Comment

Wow! I go away for a few days and miss the fishing.

Is ShenJingElasticity Math without the meth?

September 14, 2010 @ 11:21 pm | Comment

Yes Richard, I am really the old {really really old} Gojuplyr. Different IP and all that, but me all the same.

Cue Bach’s Fugue in G minor.

September 17, 2010 @ 10:43 pm | Comment

Just stumbled upon this website a few hours ago and i am now definitely addicted to it.

I will be moving to Beijing soon and will definitely keep this website as one of my favourites. Keep up the good work!!


January 20, 2011 @ 11:58 am | Comment

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