29 Mar 2001 =cough= Lingering cough/cold is not fun (were you expecting something different?) In an endearing show of solidarity, Livejournal is puking on me, so I thought I'd come here, to the people who love me best -- those who want to read something in an "ugly" plain old text format. I really don't have much going on right now (the usual state of being for me) other than a realization that I should put some =useful= Markov chain stuff up on the site, since so many people end up here using some search with the word "Markov" in it. At the very least, I should expand my links. Since people are already arriving here on the following search terms, it couldn't hurt if they hit this page as well: high heel naked woman wear glasses wedding dangerous eye pics calculate sin yellow teeth because lack of enamel all her teeth capped squid dance saw her having a pee Markov chain sex stories viagra signalling pathway pictures of plutonium how to make a hakoo magical markov Oh lord, I am so silly. I read "calculate sin" as well, calculate sin. As opposed to =sine= which is what I think the person meant. Which reminds me of one of the more egregious examples of math cluelessness I came across in a Calculus class (remember, people in Calculus have to show =some= understanding of precalc...): sin(x) ----- = (well, let's just cancel out the x's) sin x sin, indeed. What saddens me is that I really don't see mathematical understanding improving beyond the idea that math is symbolic manipulation. Truthfully, I wouldn't mind this as long as the manipulations are being done =correctly=. Still, people keep thinking that adding these fancy-schmancy calculators and the idea of math as problem-solving will improve the situation. All that does is add =more= manipulations the students have to learn -- as for problem-solving, students will still see the math part of the problem as taking all the data one is given and manipulating it willy-nilly. What makes these ponderings even sadder to me is that one of the sources of the joy of mathematical play has disappeared; I am referring to the Mathematical Recreations column in Scientific American - where Martin Gardner amused thousands (and others helped along the way, as well, but Gardner was the true genius of the column). This was math as a mental plaything, and I'm not talking about stupid "Think of a number. Add two...." kind of "math tricks". I'm talking about matchbox game-learning machines, thoughts on minimalist and topologically interesting sculpture, patterns in music, curves that can "roll", the handedness of the universe, and on and on and on. The April 2001 issue of Scientific American has, in the place of this pondersome column, a silly arithmetic puzzle involving balancing a very particular set of weights on a 2-fulcrum see-saw. No question as to whether the problem is always solvable; no question as to how the distance between the fulcrums affect the answer (obviously, the farther apart the fulcrums, the more stable the situation). No question as to why one might be considering such a balancing problem. Argh! Give me the generating function for bowling scores any day of the week over this snoozer! I found a site that has the Paint by Numbers puzzles - it's from the magazine that originated that fiendish logic puzzle in Japan. I still wish I could get further books of the large puzzles like I found in Japan, but I couldn't find them in KinoKuniya book store here in Manhattan, and I really don't know how to find the damn things. Perhaps Amazon.com or bn.com have Japanese sites. Still, what would the thing be called? The ones from Japan I have are Illusto-Logic. Still, would I have to look it up in katakana or romaji? I find it interesting that the puzzles I found (and still find) in Japan are larger and more difficult than the ones sold in America. For crying out loud, the U.S. is a larger country! Surely we have more people interested in hard puzzles! For some reason, I've been thinking about tombs. It's probably because of where I had stopped in reading Inferno. I really need a good annotated version of it, because of all the damned political references. Well, this is certainly long enough for saying nothing.

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