Re: Math on the Job

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Well, its rare that people suggest we restructure the workforce to better fit the education system.

The real story here seems to me that the people who most use mathematics are high level blue collar workers, i.e. a lot of my successful students.

This also upends a lot of sterotypes about SES and academic ability. Its the white collar workers who are more likely to say "oh, I'm not good at math."


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 9:54 AM
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I bet you use math on the job, heebie.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 10:07 AM
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But not an upsetting amount.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 10:10 AM
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Speaking of teaching algebra, any thoughts on this game/post?

On the OP's linked article, I don't use Latin or history or geography (the stuff I was taught in school anyway) or English literature or physics or chemistry or biology or religion or PE or sex ed or craft, design and technology in my job either, so I guess my entire education was a waste of time and money.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 10:10 AM
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I designed a logo for my science project the other day. Probably math helped with that since it involves a circle divided into three sections.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 10:12 AM
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68% use fractions! That's a great result!


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 10:14 AM
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You could have just ripped the hood ornament from a Mercedes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 10:14 AM
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6: yeah that's seventeen out of twenty-five!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 10:15 AM
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7: and without math I would no doubt be on the way to a life of crime.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 10:16 AM
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I've mentioned this, but I'm tickled that over ten years after placing out of all college math with my APs, and pursuing non-mathematical career directions, this took me to a place where not only is it generally a benefit to have a feel for numbers, but I even occasionally find it necessary to set up an equation and solve for one of its variables algebraically to understand what's truly going on. (On one occasion, I even took a derivative.)


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 10:16 AM
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I like the 8% gap between "any math" and all the specific kinds of math they ask about. What falls into that 8% that's not listed elsewhere? Remembering phone numbers?
We bought the dragonbox app, the kids sort of like it but they're so into math I think they'd be more interested if it went straight to numbers instead of silly pictures.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 10:27 AM
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Margijnally on point, here's ny favorite math on the job story. An acquaintance is a criminal defense lawyer. His client was accused of a drug deal that took place in a hotel room on the fifteenth floor. The indictment requested enhanced sentencing because the hotel was within 1000 feet of a public park. He checked google maps, and the hotel was in fact just within 1000 feet of a park. But then he realized that the drug deal took place at least 150 feet up from the ground, and the park was at ground level. Assuming the relevant measure was the straight line from the 15th floor to the ground level park, he drew a triangle, and came up with a distance greater than 1000 feet. The Pythagorean Theorem wins the case!

It'd be cool if he made the argument in the Supreme Court, but actually he called up the prosecutor who laughed for a minute and agreed to drop the park zone charge.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 10:28 AM
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68% 17/25 use fractions! That's a great result!

FTFY


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 10:30 AM
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13000/1625 to 13.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 10:31 AM
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12: I've had very similar moments dealing with liquor licensing, which turns on distance from schools/churches/anywhere else decent people can be expected to be.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 10:34 AM
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It's great that everybody wants to put the bars close to churches and schools.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 10:36 AM
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Also whether or not the owner of the liquor store can tell the difference between 9 and 11 when the ABC tells him he can't open until 11.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 10:36 AM
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It's 11 a.m. somewhere.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 10:38 AM
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I completely fail to understand the rationale for keeping bars away from elementary schools. High schools, I can see a temptation to underage drinking, unpleasant interactions between drunk or drunkish patrons and teenagers -- it's maybe overprotective but I get it.

An elementary school? How is a bar even going to interact with an elementary school? It'll be mostly empty until long after the kids have gone home.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 10:41 AM
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The local liquor store referenced above, I guess they wanted the dude to open later because homeless people would come buy nips at 9AM and then be having happy sidewalk parties while kids were going to school or from school or something? I didn't really get it. Anyhow I have definitely heard less happy sidewalk parties that end in a paddy wagon since they came down on this dude and kids definitely walk to school along our street so maybe they had a point.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 10:44 AM
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My uncles used to slip away from elementary school to get a beer.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 10:44 AM
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I don't think it hurt them as they both lived long happy lives, but maybe it wouldn't be a good general practice.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 10:45 AM
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Isn't the problem that past a certain point of density these restrictions get near-omnipresent, as with sex-offender residence rules?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 10:47 AM
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The sex offenders can just live in the bars.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 10:50 AM
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Don't go all Dave Sim on us, Sifu.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 10:54 AM
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The bob mcmanus of comics? Did he recommend that at some point?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 10:56 AM
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I really don't see the need to hvae sex offenders taking up all the good seats in bars.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 11:00 AM
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Well put. No, in his gynocratic dystopia the men who didn't accept their place were punished by being confined to bars where they were supposed to drink themselves to death.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 11:02 AM
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With regards to the issue in 12, surely there's precedent/statuory language on this sort of thing. It must have come up many times in the context of restraining orders at the very least, and I'd assume in a zoning context in denser cities.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 11:05 AM
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This is a dys-topia? What a weirdo.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 11:05 AM
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Right. In a free society, men should only be in bars between when the kids go to bed and six hours before they need to wake up the next morning.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 11:05 AM
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*After* the kids go to bed? What Alan Alda mush is this?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 11:10 AM
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Does anybody else sing the title of this thread to the tune of "band on the run"?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 11:10 AM
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Until just now, no.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 11:11 AM
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What I find missing in almost all these articles is the question of whether the work would be better done if the workers were more comfortable with math.

Just in, say, HVAC work, there's an efficiency loss if everything is ducted together in straight runs and right-angle elbows; less loss if you work out 45deg angles and can do solid geometry to get around 3D corners with only two bends each; and the ideal way is usually to make a sort of spirally funnel -- have completely forgotten the name -- which you see a few of in really old buildings from when everything was shop-built, and nearly none of during the mass-produced era. Theoretically we could have them again from CAD/CAM, but telling the computer what shape to make is mathematical.

Think how nice it would be if all the blowers in the world were only half as loud, each.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 11:19 AM
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That reminds me that I should go clear my dryer vent. In the winter, I just vented it into the house because free heat/humidity.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 11:27 AM
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I should have done so before Easter as a way to mark Lint.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 11:31 AM
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Sifu used my name disparagingly and insultingly. I cut poor al a lotta slack, but does sifu tweety's serve mean motherfucking GAME ON?

Incidentally, I feel forced to keep a minimal contact with this for fear that if too much distance is created Wafer and tweety will come after my family, using a defense of "Bob Who?"


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 11:56 AM
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38: No, read does the house calls.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 11:58 AM
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Think how nice it would be if all the blowers in the world were only half as loud, each.

Of all the blowers in all the world, you had to...

I SAID, OF ALL THE BLOWERS IN THE...

I SAID,

OH FORGET IT. STUPID MATH.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 12:04 PM
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How can he come after anybody's family if nobody can hear his orders?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 12:08 PM
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41: silently.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 12:11 PM
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They told me to arrive 15 minutes early to this appointment, apparently so that I can sit in the waiting room for an hour. Or more! We'll find out!

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Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 12:15 PM
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35 -- isn't the point of the article precisely that people are using math, but mostly in the kinds of situations that you're thinking of, and not in white collar work? Also leaf blowers are not loud because workers are not using correct math.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 12:20 PM
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41:Silently indeed. He is a hacker and knows that community, doesn't he?

I definitely feel RL threatened by the persistent overt hostility.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 12:22 PM
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Why can't doctors offices just be honest when they're running behind?!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 12:22 PM
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Diarrhea visits take longer?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 12:24 PM
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Then patients in the waiting room would simply leave, creating extra work for the office staff when they called later to reschedule.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 12:24 PM
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OK, let's take for granted for a minute that our teachers told us we'd use math more than we do. Fine. How does the America of today compare to the America of 10 or 20 or 30 years ago? Or to other countries? Also, is "use of math at work" more important than "long-term outcomes compared to level of math studied in school"? I mean, hypothetically, if math achievement is an important part of getting credentials, then people need to know math even if they don't actually use it much. Or Calculus could be valuable if it teaches study skills or critical thinking skills, even if people don't find deriviatives too much.

In defense of the Atlantic thing, it's not even an article, Chicken-Little-style or otherwise. It's little more than charts and paragraphs summarizing them. At worst, it asks leading questions. But I can't even really accuse this article of making a harmful argument, because it's not making much of an argument at all. (Maybe the sneakiness is intentional!)


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 12:25 PM
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Leaf blowers are loud because they're evil!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 12:26 PM
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I used math just now to demonstrate that the little bursts on a mailing saying how much you'd save by buying three different test-prep products together rather than separately were wrong. By which I mean, I used the Calculator application. Three-digit addition and subtraction is tricky.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 12:40 PM
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Three digit subtraction is tricky, but it was my own fault.


Posted by: Opinionated Bad Yakuza | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 12:43 PM
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Example of a big media reporter attempting to use math on the job. British, so we can't blame Obama or Heebie:

"The number of minutes Americans spend on Facebook appears to be falling, too. The average was 121 minutes in December 2012, but that fell to 115 minutes in February, according to comScore."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2013/apr/28/facebook-loses-users-biggest-markets


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 12:52 PM
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Maybe I've already used up my mental math quota for today, but I'm not seeing the issue in 53.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 1:03 PM
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Presumably that's minutes per month, and February is 3 days shorter?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 1:13 PM
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If the average American used the computer for 121 minutes per day, that would really be newsworthy.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 1:19 PM
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You know, I have never used jumping jacks on the job. Not once. Maybe it's time we abolished gym?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 1:19 PM
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55: Yep. Also, that should be a YoY comparison or something to remove seasonality.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 1:23 PM
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57: I've never once written a cursive capital Q outside of penmanship class.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 1:24 PM
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I haven't once used the signal and looked before turning. Stupid Driver's Ed.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 1:26 PM
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Or Calculus could be valuable if it teaches study skills or critical thinking skills, even if people don't find derivatives too much.

You aren't going to see much transfer from Calculus to critical thinking, for the same reason that you see almost no carryover from teaching formal logic to teaching informal logic. Pursuing rational thinking in one field, no matter how rigorously you do it, doesn't give you rationality in general.


The assumes tat by critical thinking you mean "being able to carefully think through arguments." One problem in higher education is that people mean very different things by critical thinking. Employers always list critical thinking and ethics as two things they expect from college graduates. It turns out that by critical thinking they mean "I don't want to have to explain [thing our company does] to you more than once" and by ethics they mean "don't embezzle from the company." It turns out these are very hard to teach, even in gen ed courses.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 1:31 PM
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People are terrible at thinking critically about what kinds of critical thinking they think are critical.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 1:33 PM
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"Students should know enough algebra that they can take a meaningful course in statistics, as part of being trained to be good citizens, and only more if it suits."

I don't think that works:

http://andrewgelman.com/2012/04/27/how-to-mislead-with-how-to-lie-with-statistics/



Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 1:57 PM
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critical thinking is the ability to find weakness in arguments you disagree with for some reason. Except in school, where it is the ability to find weakness in arguments that your teacher disagrees with for some reason.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 2:11 PM
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||
I had an MRI today and they sent me home with a CD full of the images. I really wish they hadn't, because now I'm obsessively looking up pictures of lesions and tumors on the internet and comparing them to mine, which is super stupid since I have absolutely no idea what anything is supposed to look like. Follow-up with the actual report/doctor isn't until Thursday.
|>


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 2:49 PM
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If the average American used the computer for 121 minutes per day, that would really be newsworthy.

I use the computer for 121 minutes an hour.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 2:49 PM
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ok, I just realized what's wrong with the implicit argument of this piece. The right question to ask isn't how many people use math on the job. It's how many currently unfilled jobs require math. I bet the number goes way up, especially when you consider that the skilled blue collar market is the place that is really hurting for labor.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 2:55 PM
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There are currently unfilled jobs? Why do we have this massive unemployment problem?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 3:04 PM
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"The number of minutes Americans spend on Facebook appears to be falling, too. The average was 121 minutes in December 2012, but that fell to 115 minutes in February, according to comScore."

it's hard when you've already written the trend piece but Math tells you it's wrong. I'm sure he had to work hard to find those two months.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 3:09 PM
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Yes, there are a lot of unfilled jobs. They all require math. HVAC is a good example.

This piece is almost a year old, but I feel like I see this kind of thing all the time.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 3:12 PM
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I have incredibly frustrating conversations with work colleagues [pointy haired curator types] that go like this, and which founder on an inability to do basic arithmetic.

Them: There's an institution in Germany that can digitise rare things of the type we do for 50 cents a page.

Me: That's impossible.

Them: Nuh-uh. They totally say it on their website.

Me: So, how do they do it?

Them: Well, they use a camera and thing like we do.

Me: So, how much is the minimum wage?

Them: About £6 an hour.

Me: OK, so how much does it cost to run the equipment, cover depreciation, wear-and-tear, hire and climate control a building, pay the person (plus their national insurance and other costs)?And pay admin staff and do billing, and people to move the 'things' around, and do all the IT backend work? And people to do the cataloguing? And people to create metadata? And all the storage and bandwidth? How much, say, do you think that might cost, for an hour? Do you think it might be quite a bit more than £6 an hour?* What, double? Triple? Four times? More?

Them: Erm.

Me: so how many pages an hour will they need to digitise to do them for 50 cents each?

Them: Erm

Me: It works out at $foo pages per minute, depending on costs.

Them: OK

Me: That's impossible.**

Them: Nuh-uh. They totally say on this website they can.

Repeat.

* an hour isn't the best way to think of it, but imagine dividing annual costs by roughly working hours per week.

** it's impossible.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 3:21 PM
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A public policy friend of mine argues that there is actually no structural unemployment, and that it is all about racist hiring practices. Frankly, I don't want to get into an argument with her, so I haven't asked for cites. But it seemed a little too pat.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 3:27 PM
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Maybe the German institution is just doing a terrible job.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 3:37 PM
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re: 73

It's physically impossible to do -- moving the material around, turning the pages and holding them flat properly, getting the data from the camera to the storage, repeat. But yes, they [and other race-to-the-bottom and bullshit-on-the-real-costs institutions] are also doing a terrible job, and using as much unpaid labour as possible, and generally avoiding the costs of much of the ancillary work by not doing it at all. But even with all that, it's not really possible. Or wasn't until very recently.

If you don't really give a shit about damaging your precious shit, there are technologies around now where you could do it, for sure. Needless to say, the pointy-haired curators care very much about their shit getting damaged.

But the conversation was first being had ages ago, when the state of the art tech really did mean the numbers didn't stand up to bare arithmetic.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 3:44 PM
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Oh, E. Messily, fingers crossed.

When the on-the-spot workers haven't enough math, the deskilled work that does get done uses more standard manufactured parts and it's never quite right and a lot of packaging gets thrown away. It's always worried me that it's so much cheaper; ecologically expensive and wipes out all the Jeffersonian small independent concerns.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 3:56 PM
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Real world math question- when they give the net weight of something that's packed in liquid, say tuna or olives or beans, does the net weight include the liquid?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 4:19 PM
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does the net weight include the liquid?

I've been seeing more labels lately that include both.

Actually, looking at that provides an answer to your question in this picture the can says, "Net 14.8 oz Drained Wt 8.1 oz" and clicking on the nutrition information it lists the net weight as 14.8.

So I'd say that it does include the liquid. (Note, in this case, however that the serving size specifies "drained" and serving size * servings per container doesn't equal the net weight)


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 4:30 PM
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Net weight is net of packaging - gross is contents & package - tare packaging only.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 4:36 PM
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12

Margijnally on point, here's ny favorite math on the job story. An acquaintance is a criminal defense lawyer. His client was accused of a drug deal that took place in a hotel room on the fifteenth floor. The indictment requested enhanced sentencing because the hotel was within 1000 feet of a public park. He checked google maps, and the hotel was in fact just within 1000 feet of a park. But then he realized that the drug deal took place at least 150 feet up from the ground, and the park was at ground level. Assuming the relevant measure was the straight line from the 15th floor to the ground level park, he drew a triangle, and came up with a distance greater than 1000 feet. The Pythagorean Theorem wins the case!

This makes a difference of less than 12 feet. It seems like the location of the room with the hotel would be more important. In any case if I were the prosecutor I would argue the air directly above the park is part of the park.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 4:52 PM
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11

I like the 8% gap between "any math" and all the specific kinds of math they ask about. What falls into that 8% that's not listed elsewhere? ...

There is no contradiction. Some people could be multiplying but not adding on the job.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 4:55 PM
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45

I definitely feel RL threatened by the persistent overt hostility.

I really doubt that you are that important to him.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 4:57 PM
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Some people could be multiplying but not adding on the job.

Not since they changed my office wall to a window and forbid me to install curtains.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 5:12 PM
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I am currently rewriting my (very important! fucking ten minute talk takes the place of orals ugh wtf) departmental talk for tomorrow so it uses less math. (Well, really less computer talk, but I have been warned in no uncertain terms against using the term "hyperplane".)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 5:46 PM
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I rather like the ring of "separating whatchamacallit theorem."


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 5:59 PM
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Wait, numbers can be used for something other than identifying earlier comments in a thread?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 6:06 PM
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"Classifier, nobody knows what that is. Isn't there another word you can use for it?"


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 6:10 PM
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84: I am using "boundary". Look at the boundary, everybody. Boundary, boundary boundary.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 6:11 PM
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Hyperplane I can understand, but it doesn't seem too difficult to figure out what a "classifier" does. Any ideas for a brilliant visual aid?


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 6:14 PM
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I have lots of pictures of thing A on one side of a line and thing B on the other side of a line. Also little icons of happy computers being fed things.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 6:16 PM
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How about numerical Things? Might be too much levity for a taking-the-place-of-orals talk.


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 6:24 PM
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oh no I mean I have actual pictures of the things I'm classifying. I'm aiming for McDonalds register-level simplicity, here.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 6:25 PM
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I keep hoping someone will have a Meth on the Job article heebie can use for her next post, but I'm clearly not Being the Change. Gswift?


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 6:29 PM
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Dr. Seuss provides not only too much levity, but too much abstraction.

A Google Images search yielded surprisingly few pictures of actual McDonald's registers.


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 6:30 PM
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happy computers being fed things
Human brains, one presumes.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 6:31 PM
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I'd always wondered why the Mac icon was so happy. It wasn't Steven Jobs that killed it---it was Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 6:35 PM
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Speaking of McDonald's, I'm currently deluding myself that their egg-white McMuffins are healthy. They aren't bad.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 6:48 PM
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I should go to McDonalds more often. You know? I don't say that to myself enough.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 7:15 PM
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It's 2 McMuffins for $3 at participating McDonalds.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 7:16 PM
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71: I remain amazed, 20+ years into my working life, at the immense susceptibility of people to wishful thinking. But it doesn't make any sense!

No matter.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 7:20 PM
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99.1 to 98.


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 7:28 PM
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I guess it didn't take long to come up with counterexamples to the McDonald's Theory.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 7:30 PM
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102

Sometimes when people are stumped for lunch ideas I suggest poop, just to get things rolling.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 7:45 PM
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103

The poop always rolls downhill.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 7:49 PM
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104

A 10-minute talk to take the place of orals? Craziness.

Twenty or thirty minute talks are much easier to give than ten minute talks.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 7:50 PM
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104.1: yeah it's freakin' weird. After those exams which had courses that took the place of generals. Wack-ass department. I guess it's probably easier than orals, since I'm just briefly talking about my research, but still weird.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 7:52 PM
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106

A machine learning conference I just read about has five-minute talks.


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 7:53 PM
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107

The conference I am going to on Thursday had a brown bag session last year with two minute talks. They were funny; many people just had one slide.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 7:54 PM
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108

106: The tech conferences/meetups I go to have those, but they call them lightning talks. Done well they can be really useful.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 7:56 PM
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It's remarkable to me how much easier 60 minutes is than 50 minutes. Part of me assumes that standard+20% would be much easier no matter what the standard length was, but another part thinks that when I was in grad school a 50 minute talk was easier but now most things I want to say take 60 or 75 minutes.

I recently gave a 4-talk series at a conference, which was a new experience. Oddly enough it seemed harder to fit things in than if I'd been given 75 minutes to do the whole thing, because once you start giving more detail it's hard to know where to stop.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 7:56 PM
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110

In my area people complain that 15 isn't enough. Maybe we're just dumb.


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 7:57 PM
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111

Someone should give a two-minute talk consisting of only the outline slide.


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 7:58 PM
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I think 20 minutes is the shortest length I've done, and all the times I did that it went quite well. It's a good length when the audience is also experts in the field so you can skip background stuff.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 7:58 PM
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70: Perhaps the potential workers are good enough at math to recognize that the employers aren't offering pay commensurate with the jobs.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 7:59 PM
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114

Also, can any of the Boston-area folks tell me if this is a joke, or if someone actually typed that in earnest?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 7:59 PM
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115

Conferences are terrible. Looks like I have 30 minutes including questions at the conference I'm talking at next week. And I have more time than most of the speakers. Oh well. At least aside from that half hour I can skip all the other talks and see Barcelona.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 7:59 PM
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I suppose it's a useful exercise but I am getting really fed up with having to simplify my explanations all the time. My first pass at my poster for this conference was intentionally complicated as an act of petulance. One of my lab-mates had to talk me down.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 8:00 PM
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117

It has a rainbow-taco. It must be serious.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 8:00 PM
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118

114: oh, probably. MIT could be getting a bit brogrammered, I shouldn't doubt.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 8:02 PM
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119

107-108: Those sound like they could be terrific, but right this minute I have to write a 2-page proposal of bullet points. It is so much more difficult than a simple 5-page proposal that I am honestly at the point of suspecting malice boneheadedness on the part of the funder.

Seriously, people, do you not get that by requiring a superficial proposal you are selecting for -- not distilled wisdom, nor the "best" projects -- but rather easy-to-explain ideas?

This is why I will never be rich.


Posted by: Wtt | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 8:03 PM
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120

Speaking of McDonald's: Tweet from them re: the Cleveland dude.

McDonald's Corp. @McDonaldsCorp
We salute the courage of Ohio kidnap victims & respect their privacy. Way to go Charles Ramsey- we'll be in touch.
McDonald's also figure's prominently in his 911 call.

Hey bro, check this out, I just came from McDonald's, right, so I'm sitting on my porch eating my little food, right, this broad is trying to <unclear> out of the fucking house right next to me ..."

In response to a question from the dispatcher: I don't have fucking clue, bro, like I said I just came from McDonald's.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 8:04 PM
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Perhaps the potential workers are good enough at math to recognize that the employers aren't offering pay commensurate with the jobs.

Ding ding ding! We have a winner.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 8:05 PM
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I am getting really fed up with having to simplify my explanations all the time

I guess it depends on what "simplify" means. I usually find that even with things I think I understand really well, if I try to explain them in clearer and clearer ways I often learn something I didn't know before, sometimes I realize they're wrong, and sometimes I realize a different way of looking at them is much more useful.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 8:06 PM
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123

120 -'


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 8:06 PM
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124

120: The whole thing really isn't going to be a civic boost for Cleveland.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 8:07 PM
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125

122: I just want to use the actual words for things. Also maybe equations sometimes.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 8:07 PM
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126

120: I like the part at the end of the call, when he tells the 911 dispatcher to "put yourself in her shoes."

Amanda Marcotte has a nice post up, pointing out that it was pretty remarkable that he intervened in what he, by his own account, thought was a case of domestic violence.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 8:10 PM
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Seriously, people, do you not get that by requiring a superficial proposal you are selecting for -- not distilled wisdom, nor the "best" projects -- but rather easy-to-explain ideas?

In fairness, they may be hoping for plausible-to-implement ideas, which actually do have some correlation with ease of explanation.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 8:11 PM
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The conference I am going to on Thursday had a brown bag session last year with two minute talks. They were funny; many people just had one slide.

I think that's called a "pitch".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 8:12 PM
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125: Actual words are nice. Equations are also hard to avoid, although I try to minimize them. I can't stand talks that are slide after slide of detailed calculations.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 8:15 PM
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124: To some it extent it brings back some of the concerns raised with serial killer Anthony Sowell from a few years back which raised a lot of questions as to how things went on so long when the police missed a number of opportunities to sort it out earlier. This one has a whole long complicated backstory as well.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 8:15 PM
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At least 126 sounds pretty good for Cleveland.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 8:16 PM
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Despite all their problems with jumping out of cars and accosting teenagers and beating them up for no reason, I like to think the Pittsburgh police would have done something after the 2nd or 3rd report of chained-up women.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 8:18 PM
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133

Such an optimist!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 8:19 PM
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I like the part at the end of the call, when he tells the 911 dispatcher to "put yourself in her shoes."

Yes! That is awesome. Charles Ramsey is the best.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 8:22 PM
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There was a conference where all the presentations could be no longer than 2 minutes and couldn't include any slides. The conference didn't have sessions or talks, so the presentation rules were theoretical.

No one was invited to the conference and there was no registration. No one organized it or put out calls for papers.

The conference didn't have a theme, title or dates so there's no way of knowing what conference we are talking about.

In fact, it's better we don't say any more about it.


Posted by: d. kharms | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 9:40 PM
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Perhaps the potential workers are good enough at math to recognize that the employers aren't offering pay commensurate with the jobs.

Yep. Pretty sure I've linked this before, but it's a good article.

Eric Isbister, the C.E.O. of GenMet, a metal-fabricating manufacturer outside Milwaukee, told me that he would hire as many skilled workers as show up at his door. Last year, he received 1,051 applications and found only 25 people who were qualified. He hired all of them, but soon had to fire 15. Part of Isbister's pickiness, he says, comes from an avoidance of workers with experience in a "union-type job." Isbister, after all, doesn't abide by strict work rules and $30-an-hour salaries. At GenMet, the starting pay is $10 an hour. Those with an associate degree can make $15, which can rise to $18 an hour after several years of good performance. From what I understand, a new shift manager at a nearby McDonald's can earn around $14 an hour.
The secret behind this skills gap is that it's not a skills gap at all. I spoke to several other factory managers who also confessed that they had a hard time recruiting in-demand workers for $10-an-hour jobs. "It's hard not to break out laughing," says Mark Price, a labor economist at the Keystone Research Center, referring to manufacturers complaining about the shortage of skilled workers.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 05- 7-13 11:56 PM
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38: thanks for cutting me so much slack, bob. I don't think I've ever told you this, but you're actually so much like my dad that if it wasn't for your descriptions of your dogs, I'd be like, "shit dad, stop lurking one time." because my dad would 100% make up a false backstory about how he was from another state in the south than he really was, and whether he had kids, and everything else (because he's so paranoid), but he would never lie about his dogs. you've got more than one; he's got one blind pitbull my stepmom rescued from a place they were breeding fighting dogs. that's it. it's not like I could check, because he clears his browser history, disconnects from his wifi, and shuts the computer down when he's not actively using it right that second. then it just sits on the desk, riiiiiight next to that gun-safe that comes up to my goddamn chin and contains an arsenal. it would be an awesome buddy comedy movie thing if bob were my crazy dad from SC, right guys? oh, and bob is sober, while my dad is rolling up huge joints of killer hydro all the time, never making them any smaller then when it was some ditch weed in the 70s. he's enjoying life, what the hell?


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 05- 8-13 12:56 AM
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re: 137.

I don't think I've ever told you this, but you're actually so much like my dad that if it wasn't for your descriptions of your dogs, I'd be like, "shit dad, stop lurking one time."

This is also true in my case.

Speaking of which (after liberating some old prints), it's a fuzzy photo, but here's 70s ttaM's Dad (with me [blonde] and my Mum and little sister) looking like a hippy Chris Cornell:

http://s21.postimg.org/45hdt43ev/album_0017_17.jpg


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05- 8-13 1:06 AM
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I love the picture in 138. Takes me right back.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 05- 8-13 1:47 AM
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Wait, chris is ttaM's dad?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05- 8-13 3:39 AM
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No, but I probably saw him in some muddy field with Edgar Broughton playing a quarter of a mile away.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 05- 8-13 3:54 AM
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||

Marius Jansen, The Making of Modern Japan

There was more at stake, however, much more; a match had been struck in a highly combustible environment. Commanders of Japanese field armies in southern Manchuria, including the new chief staff officer of the Kwantung Army Tojo Hideki, had been urging that Japan take stronger steps to control the resources of North China in preparation for battle with the Soviets. The fear of Russia responsible for the Anti-Comintern Pact had as a corollary fears of Communist cooperation with Chiang Kai-shek in the new United Front. So long as Chiang had concentrated on what he called "extermination campaigns" of "Communist bandits" there was some good in the man and his cause, but after he turned to cooperate with Mao Tse-tung's Yenan government, Japanese army figures, Tojo among them, saw their cause endangered. Suddenly there was a clear explanation for anti-Japanese boycotts and propaganda throughout China, and the solution was for Chiang to renounce the bargain he had reached at Sian and go back to fighting Communists.

They're still arguing about WW I over at CT.
I looked up the context of Keynes writing "Economic Consequences of the Peace," specifically events of May-August 1919, and read the Keynes a little. ECotP is all about the anti-communism. Fucker wasn't as upset with the Nazis.

The history of the 20th Century is the history of insane anti-socialism, a reflexive defense of capitalist (and residual feudal) privilege that killed a hundred million. Almost all of it, and it is still going on.

|>


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05- 9-13 5:27 AM
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There's an Ironworkers building in a shipyard my train commute goes over;

Apprentices are required to receive at least 204 hours of classroom and shop instruction during every year of training. The subjects taken in the shop and classroom complement the hands-on training received in the field. The subjects include blueprint reading, care and safe use of tools, mathematics, safety issues, welding and oxy-acetylene flame cutting.


I like `mathematics' tucked in as a useful life skill there. Haven't found the math curriculum. The apprentices' competition includes rigging.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 05-11-13 10:22 AM
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