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Seth Johnson
I am a meat popsicle.
I am a meat popsicle.
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From the little I've seen, math classes up until about pre-calc in the U.S. are obsessively focused on mechanics (e.g. what is 3+2/10; solve this system of equations; etc.), which is a really small part of the actual practice of math. Hell we have calculators and computers to do most of that stuff.

Math is mostly a twofold practice of:
1. Using numbers to describe the world
and 2. Applying reasoning to solve problems

I think most people get the second part, but the first doesn't seem to be in the public consciousness. Math is about looking at an apple and being able to transform your senses into quantities. Size and Weight sure, but also color, smell, and taste. Calories and nutritional content. Skill required to shoot it with an arrow. About how many apples do I need to get 300 seeds? How do I quantify these things?

Here are some real world math problems that a sensible math education program would be able to teach students to solve by the end of high school:

1. I have a large pile of hardware in front of me (nuts, bolts, etc.). I know I have more bolts than anything else, and I need one of each other type of hardware for each bolt that I have. I am about to call my friend at the hardware store. How do I communicate to my friend what I need to be purchased?

2. I am a street performer, paid entirely in cash by passers-by. How do I figure out when and where to perform to make the most money?

3. I need to re-upholster an armchair. How do I figure out how much fabric I will need?

4. I have a lot of errands to run today; I also need to take my car to the shop for a few hours at some point. How do I make the most of my time?

5. I'm at a party and there's a contest to guess how many M&Ms are in this jar of M&Ms. How do I make a good guess?

6. Can I afford to go to the Public Enemy show tonight? Would it be cheaper to take the bus than drive?

7. The sun shines on my window in the afternoon and heats up my bedroom. When the sun sets, if the window is open the room gets cooler. I have an hourly weather forecast for the day, and I think I'm going to be at work late. Should I leave my window open?

8. The dial on my oven is not even close to correct (the oven is probably malfunctioning, but it will take my landlord forever to fix it). I do have an oven thermometer though. How can I figure out where to set the dial so I don't have to keep guessing and testing every day?

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Mr. Rogers came up in discussion today. Had to remind people about this episode:

Mr Rogers Breakdancing

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Author seems to misunderstand some facts of the modern economy, but it's an interesting discussion point. I feel like this came up in The Diamond Age, but it's been a while since I read it.

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Precursors to persona-building aspect of social media in 19th century England.


Descending-order List of Musicians with the Most Melodious Swearing:

2. Ben Folds
1. R. Kelly
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