Tag: Math

This week on “The Learning Curve,” host Gerard Robinson talks with Nancy Poon Lue, incoming Senior Director at the Valhalla Foundation, where she will be leading their K-12 math funding initiatives. Nancy shares her recent work with the EF+Math Program, some of the challenges America has faced in ensuring students have a strong grounding in math and science, and the kinds of results she aims to achieve for kids in all ZIP codes. They discuss the realities of K-12 education before COVID-19, with declining NAEP scores and persistent achievement gaps, and what can be done to address COVID-19-related learning loss, especially in STEM. Nancy offers thoughts on America’s competitiveness with high-performing countries in the STEM fields that drive the global economy. Lastly, they delve into teacher preparation in STEM fields, and how education schools and state departments of education can help address the country’s ongoing STEM deficits.

Story of the Week: Schools in all but two states — New Hampshire and New Mexico — are experiencing a shortage of special education teachers to meet demand as students return to in-person learning for the 2021-2022 school year.

Join Jim and Greg as they welcome Arizona Democratic Sen.  Mark Kelly opposing expansion of the U.S. Supreme Court under any circumstances. They also wince as Virginia announces there will be no accelerated high school math classes until the 11th grade. And they have very different reactions to the news that Caitlyn Jenner is running for governor in California.


If Math Is White Supremacy, Civilization Is Finished


Two plus two equals four. No controversy there, right? Because in this universe, which happens to be governed by immutable laws of physics, which are expressed through unalterable mathematics, two plus two must always equal four, there’s only one right answer. And no one could possibly quibble with that, right?

Wrong! Reality-denying leftists insist that two plus two is deviously misleading and adds up to a whole lot more than four, if it even adds up to that. It’s all part of the larger equation of – and you know what’s coming – the dastardly, ubiquitous, never-ending, all-encompassing . . . drum roll, please . . . white supremacy!

The Emperor’s New Mind


Mathematical truth is not a horrendously complicated dogma whose validity is beyond our comprehension. -Sir Rodger Penrose

The Emperor’s New Mind is Sir Roger Penrose’s argument that you can’t get a true AI by merely piling silicon atop silicon. To explain why he needs a whole book in which he summarizes most math and all physics. Even for a geek like me, someone who’s got the time on his hands and a fascination with these things it gets a bit thick. While delving into the vagaries of light cones or the formalism of Hilbert space in quantum mechanics it’s easy to wonder “wait, what does this have to do with your main argument?” Penrose has to posit new physics in order to support his ideas, and he can’t explain those ideas unless you the reader have a sufficient grasp of how the old physics works. Makes for a frustrating read though.

Member Post


As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, I have taught high school math for 34 years. I’ve been a dues-paying member of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) the entire time. They used to publish a wonderful magazine, Mathematics Teacher, which was full of interesting articles about, well, teaching math. I picked up all […]

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For light bedtime reading last night I visited Project Gutenberg and read a couple of public domain short stories. They were pretty mediocre, but one of them mentioned what struck me as an odd fact about the number 30. It’s hard to think of 30 as having anything particularly interesting about it. It’s the product […]

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To me these two Ratio are the only thing that should matter. % of total deaths from Pneumonia & Influenza (P&I). Also total hospitalizations from P&I.  Shut downs & incremental restrictions should be based on multiplier of hard data of these two ratios,  with  seasonal adj average data. To me hospitalizations/death % from Influenza needs to be […]

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Join us for some end of the week fun on the Friday Three Martini Lunch. Today, Jim and Greg cheer a really strong February jobs report and are hopeful the strong economy can ward off any coronavirus-related slump. Speaking of which, they also vent about the media’s inability to cover the coronavirus story in a non-hysterical manner, which may be helping to fuel the Wall Street volatility. And they get a lot of laughs from MSNBC anchor Brian Williams and New York Times Editorial Board member Mara Gay concluding that Mike Bloomberg spent enough money in his failed campaign to give each person in America a million dollars.

Who Remembers the Quadratic Equation?


Given a polynomial in which ax^2 + bx + c = 0, the quadratic equation, or “negative b plus or minus the square root of b squared minus 4 times a times c all divided by 2 times a” can solve for x. This formula has been seared in my brain since the 1980s. The quadratic equation (pictured above) is one of the main concepts in early algebra, and one that can be consistently confusing to new studentsBut now, apparently, there is a new way to solve for x that appeared in the most recent issue of Popular Mechanics.

Boots, Hammers, and Classic Math


From the invaluable comic Flintlocke’s Guide to Azeroth

Being a man subject to his vices, I’ve started up again on World of Warcraft. Not the new stuff, the “Classic” servers. “Is that what’s taking up your time?” I hear you all saying, “I had wondered why it was slightly less nerdy and pedantic around here.” Well, worry no more! For the joy and edification of the Ricochet audience, here I reproduce the work I did with the damage formulas. Because a simple post about Warcraft wouldn’t be nearly nerdy enough.

Good polls, confusing polls and politicizing math are the focus of our martinis on Wednesday.  Jim and Greg are glad to see Republican U.S. Senate challenger John James already in a virtual dead heat with Democratic Sen. Gary Peters in Michigan.  They also shake their heads as a new Kaiser Family Foundation survey shows a majority of Americans support Medicare for All but oppose it by large margins when they actually understand it means the end of private insurance.  And they throw up their hands as school officials in Seattle consider adding an emphasis on ethnic studies into all subjects, including taking time in math class to explain how math is oppressive to people of color and is used to exploit natural resources.

Fun with Vectors and the Zombie Apocalypse


No, not vector in the epidemiological sense. The other, mathy kind of vector. Which, trust me, are fun. At least stick around for the zombies.

This dates back to my college days, when I took Differential Equations. Twice. I’ve always been good with math. Sure, I struggled with plenty of things along the way (percentages, trig identities, multivariable integration. Oooh, and concentrations in chemistry), but DiffEq is where I hit the wall like a coyote hits his own painted-on tunnel. Vector spaces were part of that; an abtruse concept used to justify an abstract concept used to solve some difficult equations that might, in turn, have something to do with the real world. But once I got my head wrapped around them, vector spaces turned out to be a fun and useful bit of math. Hey, it could happen.

Socialism Like . . . Sweden?


A few months ago Ricochet member @mattyvan put up a great post about Sweden, Sweden. Lessons for America? , which included an hour long documentary about Sweden’s economy. Since then we have seen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez become one of the most popular young Democrats and one of the oldest, Bernie Sanders, announce that he will run for president in 2020. With admitted socialist becoming more and more more prominent, it might be worth revisiting this topic.

While Cuba and Venezuela give us good examples of what socialism can do to a country, they do not exactly tell a happy story. So, the folks promoting “Democratic Socialism” are telling us to look to Sweden as an example of what we can do in America. The problem is, Sweden doesn’t really fit the model of what Bernie and company are trying to sell.

Cards: The Original Flash Drive


“I’m as something as something in something!” Do you recognize the tune? Do you recognize what’s missing?

The syntax is there, but the content is blank. Welcome to my memory. The memory of someone who’ll never grow out of flash cards, for as long as I need to remember, not just structure, but the things that go in it. Whether I’m using them to organize thoughts, or to drill my recalcitrant memory, flash cards are Midge’s little helper. The original flash drive, if you will. Not because a card works like flash memory, but because, like a flash drive, cards are a small, easily-portable way to carry around bits of vital information.

David French of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America applaud former NPR CEO Ken Stern for taking the time to meet voters in red states and realizing they are nothing like the caricature offered by the mainstream media.  They’re also exasperated as President Trump and Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker resume their public feud and accomplish nothing other than choke momentum for tax reform and tax cuts.  And they react with disgust to a University of Illinois professor who argues that proficiency in algebra and geometry perpetuates unearned white privilege and that “mathematics itself operates as Whiteness.”

Kitchen Math: The Pythagorean Theorem Is Lurking Behind Your Sink


Maybe you hate the backsplash tiles behind your kitchen sink. I know I do. Not your tiles, I mean – mine. Their pattern is a boring grid; their color, a grubby off-white (if you’ve ever dug up grubs in your garden, you know what color I mean). A few of the tiles are stamped with chintzy brown sunflowers in a listless attempt at cheer. It probably doesn’t help that I hate our kitchen sink as well, a sink wedged in a countertop corner for added inconvenience.

But maybe you’re lucky. Maybe you have a convenient kitchen sink and exciting backsplash tile. If your backsplash tile is laid in a hopscotch pattern, you even have the Pythagorean theorem lurking right behind your sink. To the left is a backsplash much nicer than mine, tastefully tiled in a hopscotch pattern (well, tasteful aside from the peculiar choice of blue grout). To mathematicians, the hopscotch pattern is known as “Pythagorean tiling”, because of how beautifully it illustrates the Pythagorean theorem. Several proofs of the Pythagorean theorem exist, some of which are more intuitive than others. To me, the diagram superimposed on the hopscotch tiling produces one of the most intuitive proofs, especially for children. If you like, you can knock off reading right now and do the proof yourself: the diagram has all the labeling you need.