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Homeschooling
Posted by Ogged on 08.14.20

We've unenrolled the kids and we're going to try our hands at homeschooling. This is daunting, mostly at the level of structure. How to structure a curriculum, and how to structure a day. Anyone done this, or researched it? (Kids are 9 and 7.) We don't want anything that includes live instruction, because the scheduling flexibility is the main reason for unenrolling.

For language arts, we're considering the Michael Clay Thompson stu here. This is the "English" material that I wouldn't know how to teach. (The older one reads constantly, and the younger one reads Dog Man if forced.)

For science, we're thinking about Blossom and Root and Mystery Science.

Math is tough. The kids were doing Russian School of Math, which is very good, but they don't offer a homeschool curriculum. The 9-year-old was doing simple multi-variable equations, and everything I've found online is just too basic, or it has equations in the 7th and 8th grade curricula that assume other knowledge the kids don't have. You know what actually looks very good? Khan Academy. It's laid out well, the lessons have solid explanations and opportunity to practice, and it's trackable for parents. The issue is that we were hoping to avoid computers at all, and of course Khan Academy is online. Anyone know a good math curriculum? I've sorta kinda looked at Singapore Math and Math Mammoth. Meh.

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Grab Bag
Posted by Heebie-Geebie on 08.13.20

1. This seems chill:

Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods sent an email Tuesday informing the approximately 900 people working in the department that "when you are on-duty/working as my employee and representing my Office - masks will not be worn," the Ocala Star-Banner reports.
Woods added that "effective immediately, any individual walking in to any one of our lobbies (which includes the main office and all district offices) that is wearing a mask will be asked to remove it."

so does that count as a mask-order?

2. W. has a book being published next spring on 43 immigrant stories, with portraits painted by W. He's making a real run to Jimmy Carter himself, but I don't think it exonerates him for half a million deaths. Where was this moral compass twenty years ago?

3. Testing in Texas, at least, has plunged from a high of 66K daily tests to 35K daily tests. Our daily positive cases have declined from about 9.5K to 6.5K, over the same time period. And our positivity rate has shot up to 25%.

4. I'm sort of shocked at how quickly whatshisface has been able to strangle the post office. Like, the effects are noticeable in real time. I have the vague hope that this is like whenever Stephen Miller orders the immigrant ban V1, or they're too blunt about trying to dismantle Obamacare or whatever: when they don't set the stage for their malfeasance and ease it in, people are more likely to notice and cause an uproar. This one in particular seems like it would piss off the business community? Or do they already rely exclusively on the private companies?

I'm really hoping that this is palpable enough for a robust backlash that helps shore up voting access. This whole topic is terrifying to me.

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Check Ins, Reassurances, and Concerns, 8/12
Posted by Heebie-Geebie on 08.12.20

(This is intended to be our system for checking in on imaginary friends, so that we know whether or not to be concerned if you go offline for a while.)

Clearly I cannot keep this simple thing together. Maybe I'll just aim to keep one on the front page at all times.

Episode 40.

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Guest Post - "This Woman Inspired One of the First Hit Video Games by Mapping the World's Longest Cave"
Posted by Heebie-Geebie on 08.12.20

Nworbie writes: There is a delightful longread on Medium at the moment (I know) in which the twists and turns of a divorced man's psyche are mapped onto the caves of the original Colossal Adventure and, simultaneously, onto the Mammoth cave complex in Kentucky. I have claustrophobia. The only experience worse than being trapped inside a gigantic text adventure would be, for me, to be forced to explore a real world complex of caves, all the time holding up the mountain above me by pure willpower. But an exploration of the twists and conjunctions of human lives is something much more interesting. And, underneath it all, the story of how women were squeezed out of programming once it became a path to riches and prestige ...

Heebie's take: It's a really good read. This is in Kentucky:

The earliest people to map Mammoth were enslaved, installed underground by landowners to lead tours. The first of these guides, Stephen Bishop, named its features -- the River Styx, the Snowball Room, Little Bat Avenue -- and discovered the eyeless white fish that swim in its deepest waters. When Bishop was sold, along with the caves, to a Louisville doctor, he was ordered to draw a map from memory. As cave maps do, his drawing looked like "a bowl of spaghetti dumped on the floor," but it detailed the nearly 10 miles of passages that Bishop had discovered and remained the most thorough map of Mammoth's reaches for more than 50 years.

and

The cavers believed that Flint Ridge met Mammoth past a choke of sandstone boulders at survey point Q-87, a remote spur miles from the surface, but moving the boulders with lengths of metal pipe was back-breaking work. One expedition tried an alternate route, through a vertical crevice called "the Tight Spot." Caving humor has a nihilistic streak: the Tight Spot is a dark slit so small that only one person in the party dared enter. She was a reedy computer programmer, all of 115 pounds, named Patricia Crowther.

and

Back home in Massachusetts, Pat and her husband Will ran a "map factory," tracking the cartographic data each Cave Research Foundation expedition surfaced. Both being programmers, they brought considerable technical sophistication to mapmaking. As Pat described it, the couple typed raw survey data from "muddy little books" into a Teletype terminal in their living room, which was connected to a PDP-1 mainframe computer at Will's workplace. From this data, they generated "plotting commands on huge rolls of paper tape," using a program Will wrote -- Pat contributed a subroutine to add numbers and letters to the final map -- which they "carried over and plotted using a salvaged Cal-comp drum plotter attached to a Honeywell 316 that was destined to become an ARPANET IMP."

and

Colossal Cave Adventure -- now more commonly known as Adventure -- doesn't look like a game in the modern sense. There are no images or animations, no joysticks or controllers. Instead, blocks of text describe sections of a cave in the second person, like so:
You are in a splendid chamber 30 feet high. The walls are frozen rivers of orange stone. An awkward canyon and a good passage exit from the east and west sides of the chamber. A cheerful little bird is sitting here singing.

The whole thing is good.

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