more than 4K characters for sue v.

(rejected for prolixity by this comment thread).

now let’s see.

1) and 2) are for teachers generally i think.
anyhow, it’s party doctrine across the board.
i consider it clear enough in my own mind
anyhow for teachers of any *art*… maybe
science and other academic work can be
done effectively without much enjoyment
or depth. rather than speculate any further
on this, though, i’ll go on to remark further
[on 2)] to the effect that

“number times number is number”
looks like *the* way to go (if there
is to *be* any certain one “point
of view” concerning multiplication
singled out and privileged *as*
“the” way to go [as some teachers
and almost all students prefer]).

the question of “units” raises problems
of its own… the philosophy of math
in threads about “repeated addition”
testifies to this…

so part of the point in abstracting
to those weirdly-unitless “number”
things is to allow us to talk about
*those* issues in *different* parts
of the presentation and to focus *here*
on, what i call, “the code”.

our greatest trick.

“what do you *really* mean?”
“i mean *this*:”
[scribble, scribble, scribble].

3) is an exaggeration
and a wild exaggeration
at that but i like its spirit.

games are to math approximately
as *games* are to reading:
a shortcut to the goodies but
not, strictly speaking, necessary.
(i’ve got a coffee cup that sez
“a library is not a luxury but
a necessity of life”… so you
can guess how i rate “books”.)

considering “number theory”
as a game… hardy does this
somewhere… i’m in all the way
of course. but this is cheating.
analysis of games of chance
leads very quickly to probability
theory [of course]… “dice” problems
alone could make up a very nice
chapter. your list should certainly
include *poker* for its tremendous
popularity and its wealth of
introductory-level problems
(“how many possible straight
flushes can be dealt from the
sacred fifty-two?”)

“hex” i also know you know about.
there was an even cooler variant
on this theme marketed as “twixt”
in the 60s (in the prestige “bookcase”
format in the same series with the
great “acquire” and many, lesser, others).
conway’s famous “game of life”
is more like life
than it is like a game.
three-D and even four-D
(with or without computer
interfaces) also rate very highly
on my math-geek-games list.
fairy chess.

4) is outright false or i’d’ve never
finished my thesis… scared out
of my wits in a drunken tailspin
(from my first [and hardest] divorce)
but working like hell on the
*deepest* math i ever did.
not much enjoyment up in there
and plenty of fear and loathing.
i never considered a research career
and was about to be called to account
for it. hey it’s my life story not
a response to sue’s (correctly ordered)
top ten list.

so anyhow, take this as a reminder
that “learn math” is context-dependent
like everything else. sure and i agree
with this in spirit too… the “sports”
analogy is probably the one to invoke
here. pros don’t need to have a good
time but if you’ve never tossed the
ball around and *liked* it, gym class
isn’t gonna do much for your outfield work.

5) ah. what math “is”.

the can in which the question of
is but a mere worm…
and therefore more philosophy
than anyone should take on
without a grant.

but the *key*? “trust the code.”
(this is “math has the authority”

what it “is”?
a sub-thingy of *culture*
like books or money;
a “subject matter” defined,
like any other, locally
according to local traditions.

6) calculators in particular
and computers generally
have muddied the “how
important is elementary
arithmetic” question i guess.
it should be well-known
(and doesn’t appear to be)
that you can do plenty of
perfectly mathy stuff with
no skill whatever in
“timesing numbers”.
it should *also* be well-known,
and *certainly* is not,
that a lot of this stuff
everybody’s so afraid of
is *mindbendingly easy*
if you can just get people
to *trust* you.

7) haven’t read math mojo
(lately)… probably soon will…
and’ve commented already on
“math has the authority”
(i say this kind of thing
all the time myself so
if i… g-d forbid.. did
a top-ten, it’d be there
i suppose).

in fact. hungry. quitting for now.
thanks for thoughtprovoking post.
verbal skills fading.
must… get… food…


  1. So the comment was too long for publication, but you didn’t get to my current fancy: #9. Don’t rush the math.


  2. i quite agree on its importance.
    hmm. remarks by me.

    “earlier is not better”…
    as sue has it. right.
    and neither is it worse.
    so i’d balance “don’t rush
    the math” with for hecksake
    don’t *slow play* it all the time
    with “you’re not ready for…

    the party of power-and-control
    would have everybody “learn”
    “material” specifically as
    ordered by the course design.
    the *whole point* being that
    our subjects are then “on task”.

    the dwindling minority that would
    teach the *liberating* aspects
    of academic work must…
    i don’t know what…
    work around or
    get out from under or
    anyhow try not to think much about…
    this satanic force that’s taken over
    most of the institutions of what’s left
    of USA emphatically including the academy.

    if you’re really going to *teach* anything,
    you’ve got to get your students to believe
    you’re acting in their interest.

    if you’re actually their god-damn jailer
    and everybody know it, it’s not so easy.

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