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Back in 1879, Gilbert and Sullivan created an amusing character named Major-General Stanley in the light opera “The Pirates of Penzance.” He enters singing a song satirizing the idea of the “modern” educated British Army officer of the latter 19th century:

“I am the very model of a modern major-general, I’ve information vegetable, animal, and mineral… I’m very well acquainted, too, with matters mathematical; I understand equations, both the simple and quadratical; about binomial theorem I’m teeming with a lot o’ news; with many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse.”

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