Category Archives: educational

“Americans Won’t Give Up Their Freedom And Prosperity – Unless They Are Frightened Into It”

"Americans Won't Give Up Their Freedom And Prosperity – Unless They Are Frightened Into It".

Note to self: Study Mendels raw data

This outmoded thinking grew from seeds planted 150 years ago by Gregor Mendel, the monk who studied peas. Mendel spent seven years breeding peas in a five-acre monastery garden in the town of Brno, now part of the Czech Republic. He crossed plants bearing wrinkled peas with those bearing smooth peas, producing 29,000 plants altogether. When he was done and he had run the numbers, he had exposed the gene.

This was the Holy Shit! moment that launched genetics’ Holy Shit! century

Mendel didn’t expose the physical gene, of course (that would come a century later), but the conceptual gene. And this conceptual gene, revealed in the tables and calculations of this math-friendly monk, seemed an agent of mathematical neatness. Mendel’s thousands of crossings showed that the traits he studied — smooth skin versus wrinkled, for instance, or purple flower versus white — appeared or disappeared in consistent ratios dictated by clear mathematical formulas. Inheritance appeared to work like algebra. Anything so math-friendly had to be driven by discrete integers.

Note to self: repairing an extension cord’s female adapter

Green is ground and round hole
White is Neutral and big hole
Black is Power and small hole

On a LaTeX kick

I love it.

TeX/LaTeX is one of those fundamental Unix tools that I never took the time to study–until today. I worked through the Not So Short Introduction to LATEX2e Tutorial and I am now confident I can make this tool a part of my day-to-day documentation.

On my current ‘LaTeX’ todo list:

  • Baron checklist
  • Lesson Plans ported to LaTeX
  • Equations sheet (so I can doodle equations when in a boring meeting)
  • Stub out the Squeak By Example source code to use as a book template

Like most things Unix, I am sure it will provide years of quality learning opportunities.

argumentum ad populum and argumentum ad verecundiam

Daily Pundit has the story about Lord Monckton’s lecture in Schenectady to a bunch of enviromental activists, professors and students.

Lord Monckton puts the correct words to the techniques the agitators have been using: argumentum ad populum and argumentum ad verecundiam.

“That, Madame, is intellectual baby-talk,” replied Lord Monckton. Had she not heard of Aristotle’s codification of the commonest logical fallacies in human discourse, including that which the medieval schoolmen would later describe as the argumentum ad populum, the headcount fallacy? From her reddening face and baffled expression, it was possible to deduce that she had not. Nor had she heard of the argumentum ad verecundiam, the fallacy of appealing to the reputation of those in authority.

Although I had sensed the wrongness of their arguments, I had not known the names of what they where doing.

Now I do.

Argumentum ad populum and argumentum ad verecundiam.

Going back to school!

I just signed up for two classes at Udacity.

Both problem sets in the courses really interest me. They are at different skill levels–I am an experienced coder, but I am taking the intro to computer sci course because they are building a search engine (hopefully with scheme!). The second is on programming a robotic car–using python.

Very interesting stuff.

Phil Graham ‘The Top Idea In Your Mind’

Is the one you think about in the shower in the morning. It is important that it is the one you want to think about.

Disintermediating The Gramscians

Don Surber has the goods

Thanks to school vouchers, parents are pulling their children out of failing public schools and placing them in parochial and private schools.

This will continue. This will accelerate. This is totally awesome!