# Archive for September, 2009

## Space Filler #n+1

Posted by vlorbik on September 29, 2009

I’ll probably be offline till Friday. (Alert the media.)

## Cheap Lessons Updated

Posted by vlorbik on September 25, 2009

Mr. D on Fantasy Sports and Math.

## No Quarter Asked Or Given

Posted by vlorbik on September 22, 2009

But now we can’t teach $\epsilon-\delta$ proofs to these students! The method is rather more complicated when we’ve got more than one variable to work with, not least because of the more complicated distance formula to work with. What used to happen was that students would have developed some facility with $\epsilon-\delta$ proofs back in first and second semester calculus, which could then be brought to bear on this new situation. But now they have no background and cannot, in general, absorb both the logical details of challenge-response $\epsilon-\delta$ proofs and the complications of multiple variables at the same time. And so we show them a few jury-rigged tricks and assure them that within the rest of the course they won’t have to worry about it. I’d almost rather dispense with limits entirely than present this Frankenstein’s monstrosity.

## As Wide As A Church Door

Posted by vlorbik on September 21, 2009

$\bullet$Religious war at The Endeavour.
$\bullet$Leads to Canned Platypus.
$\bullet$Which leads to this Linux Hater’s Blog.

## look over there

Posted by vlorbik on September 21, 2009

1.0 our purpose is understanding.

2.0 our medium is handwriting.
2.1 certain handwritten documents
will be central to our discussion.
2.2 mathematical “code” will be
central to these handwritten documents.

3.0 our “class”—the group
within which we’re working—
is part of a “school”.
3.0.1 this school can (and here will)
be treated as an entity having
goals and strategies and so on
quite apart from those of any
individual human being.
3.0.2 people do this all the time
so it’s no big deal philosophically.
remark: we don’t know—any of us—
what “thinking” is anyway… so
why *not* attribute it to corporate
entities?
3.0.3 we do not of course deny that
humans work within schools and suchlike
systems in service of their *own* needs;
the point is that *no* relationship
between the “desires” of the larger
entity and those of any of the
particular individual humans therein
is here *assumed*. 3.0.3.1 it’s messy.
3.0.3.2 why go into it now?
3.1 the purposes of the school are economic.
3.1.1 they boast of this:
“the center for workforce development”.
3.1.2 the “positive” spin is colleges
as engines-of-social-mobility—
places where students can “step up”
in *social class*.
3.1.2.1 but this topic—social class
in USA—is highly taboo.
3.1.2.2 the problems this creates
cannot be told: we will leave it at
at “vague and other misleading language”.
3.1.2.3 one might, for instance,
aspire to a condition higher than
that of somebody else’s fucking workforce.
3.2 their medium is bits of data.
3.2.1 certain collections of bits
pass for money in our society.
3.2.1.1 the role of handwriting in
what passes for money—
the “paper trail” of checks—
has recently shrunk to almost nothing.
3.2.1.2 troubling, as far as i know,
nobody in the world but me.
3.2.1.2.1 never. 3.2.1.2.2 theless.
3.2.1.3 this probably isn’t coincidence.
and to use… an obsolete calculator.
3.4 meanwhile they’ve got the net
on their bloody phone so who are we kidding.

4.0 bits have transformed the world—
anyhow a lot of what we see around here—
one heck of a powerful medium.

5.0 if you wanna learn any math, you’ll
pick up a pencil and *calculate*.

Posted in MathWar, Rambles | 4 Comments »

## Now With Spammy Cruft

Posted by vlorbik on September 21, 2009

MT@P #15 at Maria D’s 2.0 wiki.

## every dogma has its day

Posted by vlorbik on September 20, 2009

1.0 our purpose is understanding.

2.0 our medium is handwriting.
2.1 certain handwritten documents
will be central to our discussion.
2.1.1 “discussion” itself could be
called our medium… but this is
too broad. we are in the realm
by saying “doctrines of the day”.
2.1.2 anyhow note that certain
pages of paper with student
handwriting are the “coin of
the realm” — the *exams* for
a course determine most or all
2.1.3 we note here with distaste
that these will typically
include a 2.1.3.1 comprehensive
2.1.3.2 departmental final.
2.1.4 at the same time we revel in it
since it’s like some vestigal
remnant of a bygone era, an era
of, if not greater *honesty*,
anyway one heck of lot more
*transparency*.
2.2 mathematical “code” will be
central to these handwritten documents.
2.2.1 words and figures will
of course play their part.
2.2.2 it is noteworthy here that
extramathematical arts like
“penmanship” and drawing–
*graphic* arts–
play a vital role in producing
documents of high value.
2.2.2.1 there is controversy
value or only esthetic value
should be meant here.
2.2.2.2 this is a damn shame.
2.2.3 perhaps less noteworthy
(but, needless to say, here
noted anyway) is the fact that
*language* arts are also vital.
after all.
2.2.3.2 what are damn well
*not* vital are friggin computers.

Posted by vlorbik on September 20, 2009

so some newyear’s resolutions
are in order.

“plant a flag” i seem to’ve told myself
last time around so let’s see.

moving in with madeline is all but legal.
it has been for some time but it’s more so now.
this is where i live: southeast columbus.

i’ve been walking up and down
a couple of its streets anyhow
for months… this makes it mine
already in a way few others can claim.

it’s only lately i’ve been
chatting up garage sale hosts
or hanging the guitar on though.

more of this.

no need to be in a big hurry about it
(absent some immediate pressing need
for some single outfit or something).
“beware of all enterprises
that require new clothes.”

my dad did an edition of _walden_
but i learned this from ma.
it’s not her fault i went ahead
and edited it down to
“beware all enterprises,
full stop”. that was mine.

(digression you should skip:
cf “simplify, simplify”
which of course *begs*
to be cut…)

anyhow, the real program i’m dancing
around here is to have some doggone
“this is who i am” thing…
to pull myself together
into something tidy enough
to present behind some particular
public “face” that will ID me
in a word or phrase.

this is surprisingly hard to do.

i’m a teacher, obviously
whether i like it or not
(it happens i love it;
i’ve had a great life so far
as i sometimes overlook to say).

which i’ll go ahead and break down.
*performing artist
*human face of the institution

and i love the first two of these
and have all my life; the struggle
is then to accept the need for
the institution and learn to,
yes dammit, love the part of the work

there was a guy back at dominican
who’d sometimes say of students
“you can’t be their *pal*”
with a sort of withering scorn note
on the “pal”… sounding of some
real bitterness too but at the same
time sort of smacking (for me)
of something he’d *been told*
(by, to finish out this fantasy,
some more experienced teacher
in his early days).

a good deal of the “ed wars”
would seem to be about whether
teachers should long for the
“first learner” vibe…
“i’m quite a bit more experienced
than you folks in some areas, but
we’re here on the same project:
studying math. there’s some rules;
many of them don’t make sense
even to me. life is like that.
let’s try to avoid the rules
to the best of our ability
and see what we can do
just by studying math.”
kinda thing.

of course we should. like i said:
the *human* face of the institiution.

this is just common
side-with-the-underdog
sense: one is presumptively
pro-student just as one sides
with prisoners, with labor,
with veterans, with the “disabled”,
with the unemployed, and with
victims of sexism, of racism,
of “homophobia”, and of all the
rest of the divide-and-conquer
oppressions that define the
lives of so many.

but still. one stands at a gateway.
of course the point is to see
that *others* actually get *through* it.
now, we can just check people off
held by all the authorities
to be routine.

or we can do the human work
of actually trying to *help*
somebody in some way.
if only by helping them
accept the necessity of the routine
in achieving some greater goal.

i can do that.

_the_class_. wow.
this guy stars in a movie
of a book he wrote about
himself teaching a class
of french highschoolers.

nobody should be simultaneously
as good as this guy at so much.

and just the thing for a viewer
obsessed with power-and-control
issues in contemporary classrooms.
(it’s even scarier than i remembered.)

## Meatball!

Posted by vlorbik on September 17, 2009

Another new book. Also a very interesting find. Alexandre Borovik does it again. What’s up with that page title?

## gottagottagottagotta, gottagottagottagotta, gottagottagotta givemhope

Posted by vlorbik on September 17, 2009

so here’s the holy trinity of the matrix:
the new world order. in their usual way,
the *enemy* of freedom (in their satanic majesty)
have usurped its very name.

(the money sez “liberty”
when it’s really for *control*;
etcetera et-everbleeding-cetera;
sometimes lies end up a pretty
reliable hint at the truth…)

but. arbeit macht frei doesn’t get it
for this proud american: humanity
as just another sort of data is already
a line drawn much too late but finally
“the center for workforce development”
the words, not the building itself
(i am indeed thinking of a particular
building… which has its good and bad
points like any other actual thing;
so back to the abstraction). no.
not my job man. i’m in the academy.

i mean i’ll gladly *work* there;
proved it last spring (for well past
the hundredth season) and
am raring to go as always
come new year. (i.e., now: fall.)

that studying mathematics
expands a “skillset”…
a *marketable* set of skills
(as i take this word to mean)…
is as inspiring of hope in me
as pretty much anything
in intellectual life can be.
so don’t get me wrong.

i’ve got no issues at all with
helping students learn things
they *want* to know for economic reasons.
i myself am there for economic reasons
and my reluctance ever to speak of money
(or… but this is changing rapidly…
even to think about it) doesn’t mean
it shouldn’t factor in as an essential
feature of our every interaction
say, “mathematics education”.

but insofar as studying mathematics
(rightly so called), for me it has
long been very close to the essence
of the whole project that politics
(i’ll here include all financial life)
don’t enter into the discussion.
so in some sense i’m not even
*supposed* to know what motivates
a given student.

certainly not if i’m developing workforce:
a studied indifference to suchlike issues
would seem to be pretty close to what
“being a pro” really amounts to in practice.

but they feel the same way
in every discipline:
professional indoctrination
will have consisted of a set
of things-not-recognized-as-politics:
the working assumptions of
pros in the given discipline:
we don’t care what you actually *think*
provided you can discuss *these few things*
using our special vocabulary and assumptions.

or something in that general direction.
i think. because all i know is that
math really *is* a cross-cultural
extrapolitical field of discourse
like no other.

now, the NWO would have us believe
that, for example, medicine
is “above it all” in a similar way
(while at the same time keeping us
for the failures of our fragile bodies).

but nationwide just put its *name*
on children’s friggin hospital
and appears to be doubling its size;
is anybody gonna straightface tell me
that datacrunching insurance entities
beyond mortal understanding aren’t
telling the very MD’s up in there
what good and bad procedure is
and that crazy ivorytower booklearnin
“science” stuff has *nothing* to say…
“let’s be realistic”?

okay. let’s.
*helping each other out*
would appear to be the way to go here.
and we’ll have to stay out of sight.
*any good thing* that happens,
some control junkie will try
to get a piece of the action.
they’ll slowplay you in principle
and claim they can’t possibly
afford to do it any other way;
next year will be worse because
“grow or die”… in *every available way*…
is built into their DNA.
meanwhile, that’s *your* meat
in the grinder. when do you jump?

the liberal arts are the art of *peace*;
for me this is first of all.
and “the gospel i preach”—a phrase
i’m fond of dropping into about
one lecture per quarter (but don’t
meter carefully)— is *literacy*
first of all.

sitting quietly in a room alone
for some of us; we are the lucky ones.
i don’t know if i’ve ever closed a sale
with this pitch… college students
or never will.

but of course we are always in a state of war.
as keeping the peace here at home
becomes more and more obviously impossible–
for example–well, there’s no telling
what’ll come next. it’ll be brutal bad;
it always is. (welcome to the material world,
little lifeform: pain hurts and everybody dies;
have as good a time as you can in between.
oh, ps: there is a war between the ones
who say there is a war and the ones
who say there isn’t.)

anybody claiming to know
anything else for sure
is trying to sell you something.

(i *wrote* “feign interest
until you can get away” but
it occurs to me that i’ve claimed
that i’m not going to flinch
as readily as what i’ve been doing…
okay… i *might* want

banks and insurance
are shylocks and bookies;
government is the muscle obviously
and religion is what’s left
of the arts of peace
after the patriarchy
gets its piece of the pie.

so i guess i’m inclined that way.
and should maybe plant a flag.
or anyway wear some colors.
(the geographical metaphor
loses much of its force
in the “dig up all roots”
timeless no-past-no-future NWO:
just keep moving…
nothing to see here…
who moved my republic?)

i’m thinking unitarianism.
“at most one god”.

heck, i’ll ID as “humanist”
right now if it’ll get me
a shinynew membership card
or something.

now, there is a “free world”
(another geographic metaphor!).
i’m even *in* it and have been
for most of my life.

between the lines.
on the streets.
in a stranger’s eyes.

(cue a loudly strummed six-string…)

Posted in Labor, Me Me Me, Rambles, Religion | 3 Comments »