Math Lemmings

Liquid phase! I woke up this morning and for the first – FIRST! – time in TOO copulating long the air temperature was in the liquid phase of dihydrogen oxide range. Of course the weather beavers still blew this one. They proclaimed this region would be entered at 2200 yesterday and as of 2400 we were still outside. But I am still going to trust them about the next couple of days being fluid, mostly because FD SCP and I need the relief. 

Since we have this state, and the Arab Electron Uncooperative didn’t bollox the potential difference during this nastiness, I am going to shift gears a bit on blogging.

Last week seems to have been a week of nattering about what’s wrong with maths education (?) in the Yankee republic. First,[Link] an indictment by a “math professor” that

“We are pretty much the only country on the planet that teaches math this way, where students are forced to memorize formulas and procedures. And so kids miss the more organic experience of playing with mathematical puzzles, experimenting and searching for patterns, finding delight in their own discoveries. Most students learn to detest — or at best, endure — math, and this is why our students are falling behind their international peers.”

Sadly, it appears that maths professors cannot do analysis and write opinion articles at the same time. Despite the accolade,

“What I’ve found instead is that a student who has developed the ability to turn a real-world scenario into a mathematical problem, who is alert to false reasoning, and who can manipulate numbers and equations is likely far better prepared for college math than a student who has experienced a year of rote calculus.”

the author evidently didn’t (or couldn’t) come to the observation that (a) procedures and formulae can be tested in a multiple guess, standardized instrument but turning real-world situations into maths can’t, and education degree (certificate) holders with a maths proficiency (? – I hesitate to call it a ‘major’) can instruct procedures and formulae but not turning real-world situations into maths. So the problem at root is that the educationalist system can’t and won’t teach maths in any meaningful manner.

And it doesn’t help that the parents are maths blind as well.

This is not new. Yes, it may have been a bit better in my day, just because we didn’t have as many (!) standardized tests whose format is orthogonal to learning, but even then the kids who learned maths did so in spite of the teachers and the curriculum. And yes, I borrowed that from Neil DeGrasse Tyson but I’ve thought and said it (not as well) on my own. 

Second, [Link] is an article with a similar trajectory that says timed testing is crippling the ability of students to do maths. My immediate wonder is how is this different in college? When I was in college all – ALL – tests were timed, even the take home ones. Even research presentations and thesis defense is timed, if loosely. 

Not that I am unsympathetic. It usually takes me years to solve “real” problems, if ever. And much of what I did at work wasn’t solutions, just insights passed off as success. And why?, because those were timed too. 

But this is a timed world. More today than in my youth. Completion dates are entries in calendars – before they occur. Solutions are scheduled. Failure is persistent and prevarication is ubiquitous. But if we can find a way to fix this for maths we can fix it for everything. Except maybe bogs, since they are maths blind in the main.

And we can still blame this on the educationalists and their instrumentality because of the RIGID scheduling.

I still think we learn in spite of the teachers and the system. And maybe, just maybe, almost all teachers are BAD almost ALL of the time?

Flop Folk

President’s day. A bastardized holiday combining the birthday anniversaries of POTUS #1 and #16 so that a philandering religionist can be commemorated? At any rate, the weather is better than foretold by the weather beavers, the gym was blessedly sparse, especially of educationalists and weight bouncers, and the podcast was moderately diverting.

Why is it that educationalists only need exercise on days that schule is in session?

The podcast was an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” dealing with “Race”. After a recent blot I was a bit intrigued. I didn’t expect much science or even nerdery and in that regard I was not disproven. But I was rather disappointed in that the discussion was almost entirely artsy-fartsy and individualistic. No mention at all of the realpolitik of race. Of how it is sustained by the government and other organizations to “maintain order” and by those sub-societies who benefit from the backwash.

But I was intrigued after a while by the individuality. I realized, in media, that all of us are failures, not per se because of race, but because of organization and its methods. Simply put, all humans have to subjugate their desires and wants and, most importantly, their abilities to the maintenance of organization. And we are all the lesser for it. 

I won’t belabor this. It doesn’t need it. It’s one of those things that once identified is self-evident. The sort of thing the founding fathers would have implied and acted on but we lack the will or the courage to do so today. Probably also the opportunity. Humanity is not the dominant species on Tellus. Organization is.

Emergency MisManagement

Hectic morning. Higher air temperature but FD SCP and I are both sinusing. So I had to take her to MalWart early this morning to procure citric acid solution and various semi-controlled chemicals. Had rather a problem impressing on her that needed to do a bit of stocking since the worst cases all involve a week of bunkering.

On which note I have a bit of a redress to some of the weather service folk. I was listening to the Marsahll COunty Emergency Management PR person last evening on the local television news and the words "and the models may change" and the whole county EM instrumentality suddenly became techno-hicks and aSTEMs. Maybe not mental slime mold but definitely bog rejects from cellular telephone competency classes.

Simply put, the models (and their simulations, a distinction I won;t belabor here) that you use to forecast weather and such are not going to change frequently. They ain’t stationary but not several times daily. What does change is you keep feeding current conditions, which may be different previously predicted, and the models (simulations) give you updated predictions. The out put changes! Not the model. And to say the model changes immediately reveals you as incompetent and nekulturny and alienates the nerds and geeks listening to you. The common reaction is that they quit listening. Which is a MASSIVE failure on your part. A total fail of your job.

I know you gotta talk kid talk for the bogs but you also gotta not alienate the betas and alphas.

OGG fellows

The evil of winer is descended again. A murrain upon all political denialists.

Which puts me in mind of a podcast episode of Ubuntu UK on Thursday. I have dismissed Ubuntu from all but my least used boxes, most of whom predate PAE and hence are of shaky liklihood of being updated, but I listen to this podcast because it is well done – despite the be damned absence of the Wing Commander . Which raises the question once more of why do the English do podcasts so much better than Americans?

Anyway, the episode was blathering a bit about the lack of diversity at their latest OGG camp. Too few women and people-of-colour (as they put the category.) If you don’t know what OGG is, go look it up. Not my trajectory this morning. And since the purpose of such gatherings is exchange of information (Bogs would say knowledge,) and attendance is ope to anyone including Qadgop, why are they maundering?

But after thinking on this I came to once more consider the nonsense of some of our social/governmental taxonomies. Take RACE for instance. I dug out an old American Scientist book review [Link] that made the statement:

The consensus among Western researchers today is that human races are sociocultural constructs. Still, the concept of human race as an objective biological reality persists in science and in society. It is high time that policy makers, educators and those in the medical-industrial complex rid themselves of the misconception of race as type or as genetic population.

which I translate into nerd-speak as "race is stercus tauri."

In fact, it seems, based on observation that the current taxonomy of race is an artifact of government )organization) control of citizens (members.) That is, it may be meaningless but it is going to be used to maintain the order and control government/organization wants. This is abetted by those who receive positive differential preferment courtesy of the taxonomy. But it sure ain’t nerdish nor scientifical.

It occurs that a more meaningful system would be based on substantive (and actual rather than invented) differences among people. Reproductive plumbing seems to be one such; the refereed literature has become moderately populated in recent years with articles experimentally establishing differences between men and women that are not the tales of patriarchs and toadies. It is also increasingly indicated that superficialities such as skin tint and eyelid shape are of no more than moderate relevance, if that. More useful and relevant ones may include adult secretion (or not) of lactase, early versus late rising, INTRO versus EXTRO, ….

The further we go with this, the closer we draw to questions dealing with societies and their differences. Fundamental questions still remain here. Admittedly a cannibal has a different view of reality than a vegetarian but should diversity encompass the right of the former to consume the latter. Or of the latter to starve the former? If we are going to take a scientifical approach to this should not the metric of diversity be functional? How effective are particular diversities? Of course this defers how we assure ourselves the metrics are objective and objectively measured, but there seems little merit to a diversity for its own sake, especially if it is ineffective or even destructive.

And I don’t care who comes to OGG camp so long as I get to make my own decision to attend or not. Losing sight of that side of the matter is a short path to Tartarus.

Preachy Science 1

More direness this week. Down hill in temperature according to the prophecies of the weather beavers. Why don’t they wear regalia? You know, miters and such? I won’t even breach the idea of cardioectomies.

The gym was dense this morning and the grunting weight bouncers were in a fully bullying mood. Happily I could exit expeditiously.

I was in mind of a cartoon:[Link]

I saw some time ago. I was rather taken by the idea of "preachy science junk". Rather definitive of a bog, eh, what? This cartoon lass should make an excellent (in context) politician when she reaches majority – chronological, that is.

Sadly, this seems to be the mode these days as society, especially Amerikan, is in a lemming rush to collapse and extinction.

Have a nice mundane day,

Composing Above Onself

Nice so far. The air temperature was above 40 degF so I was able to comply with the guidance of my cardiologist and go to the park for constitutional. As is usual my head got chilled ("cold") despite ear coverings and a hat, and my back ached, the latter from long absence. I got to listen to the conclusion of a "Pen Addict" podcast which was again rather concerned about notebooks, although this time less noxiously than last, and more constructively, and thus led me to consider a matter suggested me by my colleague, Magnetic Inductance Force, sharing this cartoon: [Link]

with me. Of course the cartoonist portrayed this from his standpoint as an artist but those of us who compose have a similar problem.

Basically, that problem is deciding to use a "good" notebook for notes that one rather suspects – fears – are unworthy of the notebook. An unused notebook is a thing of majesty and presence, empty it seems nothing is worthy of altering that majesty and presence. This translates into an insecurity that anything we may have to compose is unworthy of the notebook and hence we tend to use crappy notebooks when we have many excellent notebooks that we treat as religionist virgins, as holy coprolites.

I used to think of this as a cost thing but now that class notebooks cost several dollars, even at the student store, I have come to question why this speed bump exists.

I have questioned other colleagues who compose; most of us do; and they all have this situation in some form. There is variation but less than the commonality. There is some indication that this is an INTRO thing; the EXTROs seem to suffer this less, which seems to go with their delusions of excellence. Which are often unfounded and always warped. They also participate in the perversion of spectator sports.

I have experimented with the idea that this is partly hubris, that if one uses an impressive notebook that is the same as assuming its contents will be impressive as well. This is clearly irrational but then we humans are cancerous with such.

The World Wonders.