Archive for January, 2008

So what would You have done?

Posted in Meanderings on January 29, 2008 by weirleader

Mental MultiVitamin had an interesting experience this past week and it got me to thinking about how I would’ve reacted in a similar experience and why.  I have to suspect I would’ve responded in about the same manner…  but then I’ve also been the type of person who was raised to believe (back when I was in high school) that my lunch was my lunch and you ate what you brought.  I seem to recall being a bit taken aback (perhaps, nonplussed?) by others asking for some of my food or to borrow some money to buy their food.  For that matter, I can also recall friends racking up $50 in debt from borrowing $2-$3 for lunch each day.  It makes you wonder…  why did the ‘other’ guy keep lending it to them??

Would you believe (it’s still hard for me to believe) that some of my current high-school students ask me for some of my food?  If it’s hard for me to imagine asking somebody for some of their food when I was in high school, it’s doubly difficult to comprehend having the nerve to ask a teacher for their food!

Anyhow… take her poll (on the M-MV site).  I’ll be curious to see how it shapes up.  🙂

What is wrong with this question?

Posted in Deep And Profound Brain Things, Education, Mathematics on January 28, 2008 by weirleader

Which of the following is not a real number?

a. 0/5

b. -sqrt(23)  [for you non-math people, that’s the best I can do for square root]

c. 12/sqrt(6)

d. 0 degrees

e. pi  [or, if you prefer, the symbol formerly known as pi]

The above question was presented to us just hours ago as part of what I surmise to be an advertisement for why we should hire this lady to come in and tutor our students on how to take the ACT. Why every teacher in the school needed to sit in on this lecture is beyond me, because I don’t really have the time in my already overburdened course to teach students how to properly manage their reading comprehension of essays. [I’m not trying to get into an argument on reading across the curriculum – just bear with me]

What really bugs me about this question is that on a very important standardized test (thanks to No Child Left Behind, we look like an inept school if our students fail to do well on this test) a question as ridiculous as that above might be considered typical.  Are they testing for understanding of what a “real number” is?  Doesn’t look like it.  If they were, they’d throw in an imaginary number.

I’d like to think that I’d eventually arrive at the correct answer because it’s the “least bad” alternative, but that doesn’t seem to me an appropriate way of testing for a students’ aptitude.  And I’m not even trying to start a debate on the usefulness/efficacy of standardized tests!  I just am offended that such an inane question (or a group thereof) could separate those accepted to a given college from those who are not.  It reminds me of someone holding up an open palm and asking “How many fingers am I holding up?”  When you answer five, they laugh and say, “Silly rabbit!  The thumb is not a finger!”  C’mon!  What are we really testing for here?

Quit the Multitasking!

Posted in Deep And Profound Brain Things, Psychology, Technology on January 28, 2008 by weirleader

I try not to simply post articles here, but felt this one worth it. Daniyel recommended it to me, and though I didn’t quite read the entire thing (I skimmed at parts, being on a very short lunch break) I can assure you that I attended to every word I did read with no other distractions. 🙂

The Game of Life

Posted in Genre: Science Fiction, Literature, Mathematics on January 22, 2008 by weirleader

Game of Life (Conway)

No, not the Parker Bros. classic – I’m talking about John Conway‘s Game of Life (or here).  It’s really quite interesting, even for non-math-types (I think…  guess I’m sort of assuming there).  The great part about it is how complexity can arise from a very simple set of rules.

I’ve been familiar with this for years, but just had it on my mind (can’t recall even why) and figured I’d do a bit of advertising.

At the very least, read through the description and perhaps fiddle with the Java applet.  It’s pretty cool to mess around with, if you’ve got the time.

One literary connection – David Brin (one of my favorite sci-fi authors) actually incorporated the Game into a novel (Glory Season)…  very interesting novel, for more than the math.

Hope you enjoy it (even just a little).

Where Math Meets Music

Posted in Humor, Mathematics, Music, Movies & Entertainment with tags , , on January 19, 2008 by weirleader

Proof that my professor is on of the most fun mathematicians I’ve had the pleasure of knowing, he snuck a link to this video into our homework assignment for this week.  I was wondering why he linked to YouTube and, suffice it to say, had to share with you all.  I’ve already watched it 4 times this morning (Quinn made me play it twice because he liked the music) and could watch it over and over.

For you non-math types, I’m sure you won’t quite get all the references but hopefully enough to gain an appreciation for the flavor of it (not to mention the effort and creativity in writing it).

A few of the references (for starters):

Oops, almost forgot to credit these guys (in the video) at

Apparently, this actually made the rounds back in ’05 – but this is a new one for me.


Posted in Humor, Meanderings on January 16, 2008 by weirleader

If you’ve never read Overheard In New York, you might be missing out. I say ‘might’ because I must warn you that the snippets of conversation included on the site range from hilarious and innocent to downright offensive and vulgar. But the gems are so worth it (at least to me) that I feel the need to advertise for them a bit.

For instance, just now at work I needed a brief diversion… and I found it.  Witness:

The Drug Legalization Debate; NYC Edition

Hobo: Look, I’m not going to lie to you. I’m not hungry or sick, I just need some money so I can get high, but it’s just weed, I don’t do heroin or cocaine or any of that $@!&.

Guy: You know, it’s because of guys like you that people think pot should be illegal! Look at you! When I get high, I pay my own way! I earn my own money and get high! There are little kids on this train! What do you think they’re going to learn? Man, think a little!

–4 train

I could so easily copy several more, but you should just check out the site – as long as you don’t hold me personally liable for any offense!  😉

Your first gaming moment

Posted in Gaming, Meanderings on January 15, 2008 by weirleader

Pac-Man screenshotI wish I was clever enough to have thought of this, but it really is an interesting and conversation-provoking question. Writin’ Wrong pointed me to this blog where some top gamers/game designers reminisce about their pong-infested glory days.

I have to admit that I’m having a heck of a time recalling where my gaming addiction began. Was it Zork, Super Breakout, Seven Cities of Gold, or simply Donkey Kong? I know my cousin had a 2600, but we only got to play that when visiting the grandparents… so that’s not likely. Continue reading