Archive for September, 2014

(if i now recall correctly).

(i think i’ve finally *now*
got my schedule for the
quarter… two linear analyses,
two analysis-twos, and a
discrete… into synch with
my life-itself schedule [so
that i’ll usually know things
like who i’m typing to, about
what class, and why. all i
need is some regular sleep
to start remembering things).

TAKE OFFENSE convention is a dumb
thing that happened; one should ignore
it when not typing for the internet.

if it’s the way i’m most comfortable doing it,
well it’s *my* handwriting and probably more
legible than that of most of my readers at that.

and if a student thinks that the language
“abuse of notation” means i think they’re
doing something very wrong? they’re not
wrong about *that*. if they think *i’m* being
“abusive” in using what you and i both know
to be a common turn of the phrase in math
departments? they’re flat-out wrong.

alas, the upshot of all this. i’ll be commenting
less, probably a lot less. so much the worse
for the students who might’ve found my
(well-informed, thoughtful) remarks useful.
so much the worse for my ideal of having
done anything but serve as a rubberstamp
for chump change. one should know better.

if we don’t let BS artists get away with murder
in these classes, there won’t *be* any class…
and they know it. “harsh” might’ve motivated
a small few actually to take something seriously
that would otherwise have done some other
thing (like scratch out a copy of somebody
else’s work, worse than the original, because
this whole thing is just a silly little ritual anyway;
there’s a lot of that [for example; i *don’t* say…
because i don’t know… anything about the
particular student with the “abusive” remark]).

nothing a grader… or a lecturer… can do
will change the nature of large-enrollment
“weeder” courses. and i’ll’ve been some-
what naive to think of ours as any other
kind of course just because the book
is actually written well (modulo the hints).

ah, well. getting back to work. one
more thing.

i’ll quit the job laughing before i try
to change my handwriting around to
suit the whims of some silly beginner.


i fought the law and the law won

i’ve probably understood your remarks…
but thanks for the clarifications anyway.

i *certainly* didn’t think you’d asked me
to abandon my (long-cherished) handwriting

or to comment less.

*that*, i’m just admitting to myself,
is the only way i can get through
duties like this: grind away like
some team of grad students on some
late night, all in a huge hurry (the
“grading parties” that make huge
classes possible [multiple-choice
“objective” tests having long ago
been judged too, um, objective…
or maybe it was too “harsh”]).

and as to the tone. if i speak in
any other voice than my own, well.
it’ll not’ve been what i spent my entire
working life and much of my real life
trying to be as clear as possible about
what i’m trying to say, for.

if i forget jerusalem let my right hand lose its cunning.

i’d be thrilled to discuss specific examples
(with the actual paperwork in front of
us, face to face, in the best case).
i’m the only person i know about who
actually *reads* upper-division student work
in mathematics in any large quantities.
i’ve found much to be learned from
such reading more or less of course
but like most learning it’s *hard work*.
almost all college faculty will find that
they’ve got lots of better ways to spend
their time (and i sure don’t blame them;
specifically, i’m not about to try to get
*you* to change any part of *your* style;
indeed, if lecturers were to be made to do
this kind of stuff, i’d be out of a job).

getting back to work (other broken deadlines).

gee this is embarrassing.
i found the work i owe you,
done, in a cubbyhole on my desk,
just now. and only then remembered
having done the whole thing
friday night (and feeling quite
proud of having done so; you
know what goeth before a fall).

and yet i *was* on campus yesterday.

you’ll have it first thing tomorrow.

lame excuse alert:
i did “an all-nighter” starting on
sunday evening so as to get another
stack done for another class and lost
all sense of time and space and what
the devil i was supposed to be trying
to do around here.

as for the grade-entry. yick, of course.
but not *nearly* as bad when the problems
are presented in their natural order as when
they’re *randomly* ordered.

this i consider an insult to me:
it’s *very* frustrating paging around looking
for scores and checking for completeness
because some student wouldn’t take the time
to organize their own work (as if their time
were somehow much more valuable than mine).

some instructors require very rigid standards
in formatting (name and date in upper right,
staple in upper left, etcetera etcetera).
it’s good for me as a grader when they do
but i never ran my own lectures that way
and sure wouldn’t ask anyone to.

properly-ordered copy is another story.
i’ll penalize Out Of Order starting with HW3.

but the real issue is always:
how “rigorous”… how “correct”, really…
should the *writing* be.
answer: much *more* than what i’m seeing.

there’s some amazing good work in these stacks.
and some embarrassingly careless stuff too.
i need to see *full sentences*
with all the articles (a, an the)
and having *subjects*
(that are clearly named: “it” is seen everywhere
but “it” is often unidentified by any language
on its page)
and with its *words spelled out*
(the sign of equality, =, for example,
must *not* be used as if it were
shorthand for “is”):
(one special case deserves mention here:
$\Rightarrow$ (the logical “implies” symbol)
appears essentially at random on many pages.
faculty do this, too. no use trying to penalize it.
still. yick.)

but much the hardest issues in reading
sketchy telegraph-style hide-the-weakness
student work comes out in the little words like
“for” and “and” and “so”. the logic gets
pretty twisted.

i end up spending a *lot* of time trying to resolve
things that the student darn well *ought* to have
tried to make clearer.

some of them know this and write badly *on purpose*.

so let me ask you to urge them to take

and to code carefully.
f \not= f(x)
and stuff like that.

i’ve gotta get back to marking.
sorry for the blown deadline.
i’ll try to see you when i drop off papers
later today.

evidently felix klein nailed it long ago
(i’ve been working on it on and off for years).
scroll past the annoying animation:
john baez on klein’s quartic.
also: the eightfold way.