intro so far, reordered

second draft of 7S_0.0–4
~1500 words.
(the first draft started here.)

Seven Stories: Part Zero

☉  Sun
☽  Moon
♀  Venus
☿  Mercury
♂  Mars
♃  Jupiter
♄   Saturn

On Monday, when Al first shows up for the Symposium,
he finds Betty already there writing in her notebook,
seated nearer to the aisle (up the middle of the room)
than to the door, in the front row.

“All that stuff was already on the Board when I
first got here.  Astrological signs, apparently.
But I wonder why those particular signs
were singled out.”

“Well, I had first-year French five times,”
Al replies.  And he sits down, just to Betty’s right
(Betty appears to be left-handed… but is writing at
a standard right-handed desk of the kind that can
be pulled up [for note-taking] or pushed back down
between seats [for easier moving around]).  From this
position, Al can follow along if Betty should continue
working in her notepad.

“… and it looks to me like ‘Lundi, Mardi, Make-Ready…’,
the days of the week.  We’ve got something like
it in English:  ‘Monday’ is more-or-less obviously
‘Moon-day’… and ‘Sunday’ is even-more-obviously,
the “Day of the Sun”.  But Tuesday and Wednesday
don’t fit in English.”

“Oh, I know that one!  English uses Norse
gods!  So ‘Thursday’ is Thor’s day… just like
that hunky hero in the movies.”

“Oh, I love those movies.  Not so much Thor,
really, but Avengers was amazing… and it’s just
been incredible having ’em make all this stuff about my
favorite comics from when I was a kid and wanted to be
Stan Lee… before your time, obviously.”

“I’m more into the whole ancient-warrior kind of thing,
myself… but some of the superhero stuff is OK.”

“Anyhow, you’re right.  ‘Wednesday’ is ‘Woden’s day’…
they call him ‘Odin’ in the comics… but ‘Frigga’s day’
and ‘Tiu’s’ day are evidently from godesses’
names.  This probably ought to be better-known…
but I sure don’t know much about it…”

When Gemma shows up, she can see that they’re talking
about the symbols on the board.

“Is it OK if I erase all these planets here?”
“Well, hang on,” says Al, “and let me copy
the symbols, over here.” And he picks up
a red marker out of the chalk-gutter and
moves over to the the upper-left-hand corner
of the board.


“Now, wait a minute,” says Betty. “How come
you put Monday first?”

“Well, that’s how it is on my calendar.
With Saturday-and-Sunday at the end.
Anyhow, that’s how I think of it:
Sunday’s the day-of-rest from the Bible;
‘on the seventh day He rested’ and all that.
What I wanna know is: what the heck do you
mean planets? The Sun’s no planet…
and neither is the Moon, for that matter.”

“Well, in ancient times, there were only
these seven objects that moved around
in the sky against the background of the
so-called ‘fixed stars’,” says Gemma.
“What’s that got to do with days of the week?”

Just then Del shows up with his rainbow-painted
guitar and big blue backpack. He raises his head
to glance once at each of the others and finds a seat
way in the back. Then puts his guitar into one
and moves it around until the desk holds it into
the chair. Next he slides his pack off and puts
it into a chair two-over from the one with the guitar,
then sits between the pack and the guitar.
He digs around in the pack for his colored pens
and drawing pad. Saying not a word, Del begins
to draw in the pad without looking again at any
of the others.
Meanwhile, Gemma’s erasing part of the board.

☽ Moon ♂ Mars ☿ Mercury ♃ Jupiter ♀ Venus ♄ Saturn☉ Sun
monday mars-day make-ready jove-day friga-day saturn-day sunday

Al is simultaneously drawing the various symbols
at the other end of the board, along with their
Gods-and-Days identifications.

“You see,” says Gemma, and she looks around the room
trying to make eye-contacts, “it must have had something
to do with the number seven itself: there were
seven celestial objects wandering around in the night sky…
‘planet’ means ‘wanderer’ (or so I’m told)… and seven
days in a week… so the fortune-tellers decided that
maybe each planet should ‘rule a day’, so to speak…
whatever that might turn out to mean, as it were…”

“But wait a minute. No, before that, even.
What’s your name? I see you haven’t got your tag
on…” Al grabs a corner of the nametag hung around
his own neck and wiggles it a little.

“Oh, hi… Al. I’m Gemma. I’ve got it here with me
somewhere.” As she roots around in her purse.

“The thing is, why should there be seven days in a week?
Are you saying they did that because of these
seven so-called ‘planets’ or whatever?”

“I always heard it had something to do with the Moon,”
says Betty. “A month is about 28 days, and”

Al interrupts her with “OK, seven goes into 28. That
makes sense, I suppose.”


And Al sits down again next to Betty.
Gemma finds her nametag in the purse
hanging from her left shoulder and
loops its string over her head. Then she
finds a seat in the second row across the
aisle from Al and Betty. She puts her purse
on the desk.

Betty’s got the notes from the board in her
spiral-bound notebook.

☉ Sun
☽ Mon
♂ Tue
☿ Wed
♃ Thu
♀ Fri
♄ Sat

“It doesn’t make sense this way, though!”
According to Al. “Those are symbols for objects
in the sky, not for days-of-the-week!”

“I disagree”, Betty replies, “the Sun and Moon still
match up with the days even in English, and, like you
said, in French they match up better still.”

“But the genders are wrong, for heck’s sake!
I want it to at least match up to the comics!
Now this
♂ (drawing in her notepad)
I know means Mars… a wargod, even.
That oughta be Thor, on my model: thundergod,
wargod… pretty close fit. But whoever this “Tiu” is,
that Tuesday’s supposed to be for, I am pretty sure
she’s a goddess: wrong sex altogether.”

“Don’t you mean gender?”

“Do I? And Odin-to-Mercury doesn’t make much sense either;
Odin’s the bigshot-in-chief like Saturn ♄ or something;
let’s see… Thor’s his son, so I guess Thursday
oughta be Jupiter ♄, not Mars… okay, good… I
always thought that was game day somehow…”

But Betty isn’t quite following all of this; Eppie and Zed
have come in and are watching the goings-on in Betty’s note-

“What’s going on?”
“What’s going on?” asks Zed. Eppie has
produced a cel-phone meanwhile, and now turns
his back on the seated pair, apparently intending
to photograph the notes on the board.

“Hey, I thought we weren’t supposed to bring any
computers to this thing.” Zed to Eppie.

“We haven’t even started yet. Anyhow, the
judges have made their decision; now let ’em
enforce it. Does anybody else actually object if I
use my phone?”

“Oh, right. Here comes mister do-what-thou-wilt-shall-
-be-the-whole-of-the-law again.” Zed again.

“I sure don’t mind” says Betty, and takes her
phone of her pocket. “It doesn’t seem right to me;
of course we can be quite certain that they’re taping us“.
She gestures at the slide-projecter on the ceiling
at the back of the hall. “I’ve got lots of notes
and things on mine.”

Al throws up both hands in a don’t-ask-me! gesture
and turns his upper-body and neck around looking
behind him for Gemma and Del.

“Well maybe we should wait until we get started
before we commit to anything. Does anybody know
who’s supposed to be presenting today?” Gemma says.

Del doesn’t look up at first. But he can somehow
tell anyway that everybody’s looking at him.
“Not me, man.” Still not looking up. “Unless I
get to use this guitar over here.” As he
touches the neck of the guitar and finally glances
quickly at each of the others’ faces. Then looks
directly back at his pad and picks up a marker.

“But what about this cel-phone-usage thing?” Zed.

“Hey, I don’t care either way. I can’t work
the damn things, of course.” Del finally looks directly
at Zed and they size each other up silently for a second.

Betty gets up, pointing at her phone and looking at Eppie.
“The signs of the seven ancient planets were on the board
when we all got here. Al and I were talking about how it
might have something to do with days of the week.”

By the time Etta shows up a few minutes later, Al has moved
to the aisle seat of Gemma’s row. “I thought you were
going to be our speaker when you came in.”

And Zed’s in the back talking to Del.

  1. there are some plus-or-minus signs missing from the discussion so far. this might’ve been part of what motivated the question (assuming the ${\srqt3}\over2$ correction; the $\sqrt{3\over2}$ version… imaginary \theta… *might* have been the idea [but then maybe this is some sort of troll-bait in the form of *deliberate* “error”]).

    as for what they still teach.
    chaos reigns, from what i’m
    given to understand… but
    for sure there are plenty of
    classes out there in US
    9-12 getting the simple truth
    plainly told; of course as to
    trig this includes *both*
    right-triangle *and* unit-
    -circle versions; students
    will be urged to memorize
    the trig values for angles
    of $\pi\over{n}$ for $n \in$ {1, 2, 3, 4, 6}.

    radian measure isn’t always
    there from jump-street (as it
    was for me; more of my dumb
    luck). if i had my way, everybody
    would also be scribbling lots
    of pentagrams all over the board
    and talking about \theta = \pi\over5
    (conspicuously absent in my mind
    from the “standard values”; the
    “golden ratio” comes up here).

    that many a 45-90-45 and a
    30-60-90 will appear in student
    work can’t be taken for granted.
    in my case there’ll’ve been plenty
    of ’em since i stubbornly refused
    to “memorize” the values in
    question until i had to *teach*
    the class… at some point, i’ll’ve
    actually *known* ’em… but
    i’d always draw out triangles
    in the Q-I and Q-IV of the unit
    circle of my mind’s-eye just
    the same just to check that
    i had the right square-roots
    in the numerator.

    from learning-center work years
    later i learned to urge memorization
    of the \sin values (first) for the
    first quadrant… by drawing a
    “chart” (over and over as may
    be) with the rather charming…
    and easily overlooked… format
    (for the values of sin(\theta)).

    this feature helps to explain
    why $n=5$ gets skipped so
    often, i suppose…

  2. today i learned of “VAK”.

    almost sure to be useless outside
    a small circle of edbloggers. but
    good to know, all the same. i guess.

    anybody trying to take this stuff
    seriously has a very different idea
    from mine about what it is to
    take a thing seriously. this is
    not because of its “unscientific”
    nature; i find the appeal-to-research
    just as pointless on the cog-sci

    everybody takes it for granted that
    if some simple true thing were only
    made clearer to more people then
    things would somehow change
    for the better as it were automatically.
    but this isn’t the way humans work.
    social systems take a lot more
    than what-is-clearly-known-to-be-true
    into all their calculations; often
    enough the facts-of-the-matter are
    deliberately and even openly
    disregarded. this is why there are
    so many slogans to explain away
    whatever the other person is
    trying and failing to bring to one’s

    one knows from one’s own experience
    that one has one’s own ways. there
    are things-to-be-known, that, if i’m
    ever going to know them, i’ll have to
    find them out my way. one is
    stubborn like that. we can conclude
    (unscientifically) that something like
    “learning styles” exist. from years of
    tutoring, one knows that sometimes
    finding just the right way to approach
    a given topic can bring forth a “light-
    bulb effect”; other people have learning-style quirks of their own. one knows from
    all too many committee meetings
    that what one knows or thinks about
    teaching and learning will never have
    a god-damn thing to do with policies
    laid down by departments or colleges
    or publishers or governments. why
    all the philosophy of mind, then?

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