Tag Archives: math

Five Thirty Eight And Understatement


So first, Five Thirty Eight is live!

That is great news.  And my excitement is only heightened by reading Silver’s manifesto, specifically relating to journalism vs math:

Conventional news organizations on the whole are lacking in data journalism skills, in my view. Some of this is a matter of self-selection. Students who enter college with the intent to major in journalism or communications have above-average test scores in reading and writing, but below-average scores in mathematics. Furthermore, young people with strong math skills will normally have more alternatives to journalism when they embark upon their careers and may enter other fields.

Ya think?  As if the dig on conventional journalism wasn’t bad enough, he goes further and dings journalists in general.

I like this guy.

The American Dream – Education Is Critical


The economic well being of America and Americans is dependent on education.  But not just any education – the worlds doesn’t need “Women’s Studies” majors or those who wanna spend 4 years investigating “Migration Art of the 4th Century”.    Indeed, such degrees might have some value in a “education for education” sense, but practitioners of such majors should walk in eyes wide open – employment opportunities are going to be few and far between for such majors.  And on top of that, the salaries are going to be smaller than the harder sciences.

And why?

The U.S. economy is strengthening, adding an average of 208,000 jobs a month over the past six months.

“The private sector is generating jobs and also producing output growth of about three percent,” says Wells Fargo economist John Silvia. “It’s the public sector that’s continuing to restructure and lose jobs.”

And education has been a dividing line in the recovery. While well over two million jobs have been added in the past year for workers with at least some college education, for workers with a high school degree or less, more than half a million jobs have been lost.

“We’re hiring scientists, engineers, people with deep mathematical backgrounds,” Mehren says.

Mehren says people with the required skills “are few and far between.”

“The economy is not creating the kinds of workers that we need to move into the future,” he says. “And, you know, I think that’s a challenge for all of us and something we should examine.”

Wanna job that pays?  Study math, engineering and computers.  Wanna hobby?  Go to school for a soft science and take pleasure in the knowledge that you know a lot about your hobby.


Basic High School Math Fail

Again, I’m reading a bunch of stuff for an upcoming post and I see this:

Lucia Harkenreader’s check landed in her mailbox last week: a rebate of $456.15 from her health insurance company, with a letter dryly explaining that the money came courtesy of the federal health care law.

For Ms. Harkenreader, 53, who is putting a son through college, the rebate helps soothe the frustration she feels toward her insurer, Golden Rule, which is owned by UnitedHealthcare.

“It seems like the health insurance companies really just don’t have any consideration for the cost out here,” said Ms. Harkenreader, who pays about $480 a month for a high-deductible plan, up from $400 last year. “What costs have gone up to justify that rise in premium? I’d love to know. Did you give your people a raise? I guess your light bill went up?”

How is it possible that she can ask “What costs have gone up?” as she clutches a $456.00 check?  How can she ask “What costs have gone up?” as insurance companies are required to “insure” people who knock on the door with a broken arm?

People wonder why this country is in trouble.

Love Your Math Teacher

Math is great; don’t let anyone tell ya differently.  When kids say “When am I EVER gonna use this in real life?” you can now say “When it comes to keepin’ your house”.

I’ve always said that math, the kinda math that we teach in high school–not Mathematics that we teach in college Math degree courses– is more of an exercise in thinking than really providing deep insightful understanding into the science, indeed art, of mathematics.  In much the same way we would never expect a football player to encounter a line of old auto tires and have to step through ’em in a game, I never would expect someoone to encounter the need to demonstrate that triangle A is congruous to triangle B in real life.

But the ability to get from here to there is a skill that is most useful in life; even to the point of getting and keeping a home.

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Happy A/r^2 Day

Today is March 14th.  Or, abbreviated today is 3.14; the value of Pi.

Happy Pi day!

If you divide the perimeter of The Great Pyramid by it’s height, you get 2π.

By extending π to only 9 digits you can calculate the circumference of the earth to within 1/4 inch.

A river’s meandering is described by its sinuosity – the length along its winding path divided by the distance from source to ocean as the crow flies. It turns out the average river has a sinuosity of about 3.14.

Finally, what do you get if you divide the circumference of a jack-o-lantern by it’s diameter?  Pumpkin pi.