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Having the painters in

"They" are painting my close (uh, the communal stairwell of the block of flats) and it smells, dammit. I have windows open and candles burning and so on, and it still smells. It doesn't help that my front door has to be propped open because the door frames were painted too. Also the painters have buggered off for lunch (I assume) and left their radio on outside my front door. AND I have to pay for this, damn it.

I've managed to get my sleep pattern back in order by entirely skipping a night's sleep, I think. I'm slightly confused as to what day it is, but my computer assures me it's Wednesday, so that's OK.

Some links: (I have about 40 windows open, so have a couple of links now, and more later)

Via miss_s_b, Mark Steel on how to get children to learn, with the shocking idea that we should make things interesting and relevant:

Descartes transformed maths as part of his quest to work out what we could know for certain, rather than relying on blind faith in God. Isaac Newton revolutionised maths with his calculations of speed, but few people would say he was mainly a mathematician. It's only recently that maths, like most subjects, has been separated from an overall idea of how the universe works, and as a consequence been reduced to a tedious sea of squiggles.

Threadless have got another $10 sale on. It only seems like about a month since the last one, so there's only one or two tees I really want in this...hmm.

The Pointless Museum is fabulous - I've been reading the 1979 Usborne Book of the Future. Win. (Linked to by a bunch of people.)

Also, blue_condition made me aware of PS Books. Which was evil. Er, no, which was lovely - it's a nice cheap second-hand obscure bookshop. Whee.

Yesterday I spent, ooh, a good 12 hours in an orgy of Derren Brown watching. I watched the first series of Trick of the Mind, and the extras. Then I watched it all again with commentary. Then I started downloading other TV shows and books and stuff. YAY. I've got an hour-long show he did for a magicians' club in Germany, as far as I can tell, when he was young and had Really Bad Hair. And three hour-long things where he shows you how his card tricks are done. Plus the Something Wicked This Way Comes theatre show that was televised last year, though it's edited, boo. It's interesting - a lot of it's pretty similar to the show I saw this year, but I think sometimes he's using different ways to get the same effect, just to confuse people more. Anyway, I am disappearing at high speed into an obsession. I think I might watch the second series of Trick of the Mind today.


( 15 comments — Comment )
Jun. 4th, 2008 12:20 pm (UTC)
Sympathies regarding the noise/smell etc; the people across the road from us are having a big imposing set of stone gate posts erected (why? sigh) and the workmen are making a hell of a noise. They were at it all yesterday, they're at it all today and probably tomorrow too (though I'll be out most of the day tomorrow so not so bad I guess).

I never really got into Derren Brown, but one thing that has grabbed my attention recently; there is a series on YouTube called authors@google - they've had some pretty impressive guests there, including Neil Gaiman (to reference back to recent Dr Who related posts), Joe McNally (top photo blog and all-round nice guy) and Simon Schama. If you have time to kill (really, who does, but then in a different way, who doesn't?) it's well worth a look.
Jun. 4th, 2008 12:26 pm (UTC)
Heh - the painters aren't making much noise, but the guy across the road has been trimming his hedge for a really long time. Sigh. But tomorrow and Friday I'm back at work anyway, so shouldn't have to deal with it!

And...ooooh. There's a LOT of good stuff there. Steven Pinker! Noam Chomsky! As well as Gaiman and Scalzi and Stross & co. Thanks for that!
Jun. 4th, 2008 12:36 pm (UTC)
I'm almost certain my primary school had the Usborne Book of the Future in it's library, although it may have been a later edition, the cover was different (I think)
Jun. 4th, 2008 02:32 pm (UTC)
Usborne books were great. I wonder if there are still any at my parents' house...
Jun. 4th, 2008 02:28 pm (UTC)
Oh bollocks to the maths thing.
Just another maths phobic who's been taught by idiots, yes. But that doesn't mean that abstract maths is at fault. Kids are perfectly capable of mastering abstract things such as music, chess, and so on.
Jun. 4th, 2008 02:29 pm (UTC)
PS. Just go and kick their radio down the stairs. I would. Or nick the batteries.
Jun. 4th, 2008 02:34 pm (UTC)
Ah, I can't hear it now I'm in the living room with the door shut and music on. Hurray.
Jun. 4th, 2008 02:34 pm (UTC)
I think you're agreeing with the article :D He's saying it's the way it's taught that's at fault.
Jun. 4th, 2008 02:41 pm (UTC)
Well yes and no.
Making it relevant helps.
But there's nothing wrong with squiggles.
Jun. 4th, 2008 02:42 pm (UTC)
I am reminded that I taught the waitress at the pub revising for her GCSE retake how 2(a + b) = 2a + 2b with a glass of Carling and a class of Baccardi and coke.
Jun. 4th, 2008 02:54 pm (UTC)
Perfect example of making it relevant! I've had the idea for a very long time that boys (to be sexist for a moment) should be taught abstract maths concepts using football league tables. I was always astounded at the number of mathematical calculations my brother could keep in his head to tell you the chances of a specific team winning the league with X games left and Y points difference and Z goal difference...

I think the point is that if it's relevant, they're not just squiggles, though. Mind you, I quite like the abstractness itself sometimes - I could solve quadratic equations and functions forever. Well, if I was bored.
Jun. 4th, 2008 06:11 pm (UTC)
> music, chess, and so on

Both of which are highly mathematical. Exactly.
Jun. 4th, 2008 06:13 pm (UTC)
They can be described by maths. That doesn't make them mathematical. The whole 'music and maths' thing, for instance, is a myth.
Jun. 4th, 2008 06:02 pm (UTC)
> Also, blue_condition made me aware of PS Books. Which was evil. Er, no, which was lovely - it's a nice cheap second-hand obscure bookshop. Whee.

Remainders, not secondhand ;)
Jun. 4th, 2008 06:09 pm (UTC)
> It's only recently that maths, like most subjects, has been separated from an overall idea of how the universe works, and as a consequence been reduced to a tedious sea of squiggles.

I normally agree with Mark Steel, but I'm afraid that's arse. To the illiterate, words are a tedious sea of squiggles. Now, there are types of writing that to me are meaningless seas of squiggles (99% of lit-crit, philosophy, and anything touched by the stinky hand of structuralism) but at least I know they're out there and full of bollocks - I've made the effort to go out and find it and decide I don't like it. The voluntarily innumerate just aren't making the effort to go out and learn enough mathematics to find out if it's interesting or not.

Learning mathematics is like learning any language - you have to put in some effort to understand how it works and how to use it to communicate.

I realise it's terribly trendy in the chattering classes to claim to be "terribly dim at that sort of thing" but that does not excuse innumeracy.

Then again, it's odd. Most of the engineers, scientists and mathematicians I went to university with were better-read than the arts/humanities people. We read for fun. They read because they had to write an essay on it. Maybe if they took up a bit of recreational mathematics for fun.... ;)

( 15 comments — Comment )


bad wolf
Notes from extinction

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