Tom Lehrer turned 80 last week. If you don’t know that name, then you have not enjoyed one of the truly great satirists of the 20th century.

I have a special place in my warped little brain for Lehrer. We are both math teachers, although there’s really not much to compare since he taught at Harvard and MIT and I certainly did not, but there’s nothing academic about this.

Lehrer’s high place in American geek culture is due to several wonderful recordings he made in the 60’s featuring songs which poked fun at everything from nuclear war to “new math“.

His song The Vatican Rag has been playing in my head this week with the news of the Pope’s visit to Washington all over the news media. I doubt the Catholic church approves but it’s still very funny.

The really unique part of his humor, and something that’s missing from most topical comedians today, is that Lehrer’s work is both intelligent and respectful of the intelligence of his audience.

Start with his album An Evening Wasted With Tom Lehrer for an excellent introduction to his terrifically warped sense of humor.

So, happy birthday Tom, and thanks for clearly demonstrating the intelligent design connecting science, music, and humor.