Wednesday, May 31, 2006


It is hypocrisy, lies, and insensitivity day for the Bush administration, so it must be a day of the week that ends in a "y" (all courtesy of, which is rapidly becoming one of my favorite websites).

I'm going back to work now, even if my computer program isn't done running yet.


Humorist DJ Gallo is the only person I have read who has mentioned that Barbaro's injury was a little pointless. I am not completely anti-horse racing, but I am semi-anti-horse racing. It is nice to know that someone else acknowledges this.


...and props to WFNX and Snapple for providing commercial-less radio from Memorial Day weekend to the Fourth of July. I love the station already, and it is helping me do research, since I never want to get up during commercials.

Thank you, WFNX. I think that I will go out and buy some Snapple Lemonade just to support these types of things.


Memorial Day weekend was a lot of fun. Skye and I headed to Maine to meet up with two of our friends (three, if you include the friend we made there). We went out to dinner, bought raspberry-rhubarb jam, went to the beach, and generally enjoyed the quaintness that is Olgunquit, Maine.

Here is why my job is really, really important: sometimes people falsely claim that global warming doesn't exist because they mix up radians and degrees.

This is maybe not the feelings that you were hoping for, but I am going to describe being a vegan in a non-vegan world. This is very frustrating sometimes. Of course, it is frustrating because my personal ethics are in conflict with my society's ethics, and I am forced to confront this three times per day, every day (that is a little bit of an exaggeration). But it is also frustrating because food is such an important part of socializing in our culture. Even though I don't think anyone cares that I order a salad, it still feels like there is a barrier sometimes when I go out to eat with people; I am not fully participating in the socializing, since I am, say, not eating seafood when we go to a seafood restaurant. This is vaguely like going to play basketball with friends, and then sitting out. You still talk to the players on the bench and it is still fun, but you are not participating like everyone else.

Of course, I understand that I am putting myself in this situation. But do I really have a choice? How much control do you have over your views of right and wrong? Actually, that's a good question. I don't know the answer, and I don't even know what I want the answer to be. If I answer that we have control over our conception of right and wrong, then I might be able to convince myself tomorrow that it is okay to punch random strangers in the throat. This is not something that I want to do. If I say that we have no control over this, then I am justifying things like discrimination against gay people. I don't want to do this either.

On the other hand, I think that, say, discrimination against certain groups of people would conflict with some of the discriminators' other morals. For instance, can one justify hating gay people while still loving your neighbor? I don't know.

So far, I don't think that there has been an original idea in this post. Sorry.

I am researching up a storm. My teeth are sunk into this problem, and I am motivated to finish it. I am hoping to finish what I can by Friday.

My friend Nat is staying with me, and we went to John Harvard's Brew Pub to watch the Suns/Mavericks game. I am really enjoying Nat's visit.

President Isiah Thomas has no exit strategy for the Knicks.

Finally: Prehistoric ecosystems are cool.

"I wanna be a cowboy. And you can be my cowgirl."

Monday, May 29, 2006


I have not yet mentioned that I, like Skye, have many Post-It notes scattered across my home, each bearing "a simple message." Here is where I have found them:

  • On my laptop
  • On my shaver
  • On my Chocolate Silk container
  • In my current book, Beside Still Waters
  • In a cardboard box which contained my dryer balls. You know - the balls you put in the dryer to make clothing dry faster.
  • In my suitcase
  • Under my pillow
  • In my alarm clock
  • On my VCR remote
  • adidas shoe box
  • In my wooden message box in the kitchen
  • In some coconut moisturizer
  • In my dental floss
  • With my toilet paper rolls

I need to go now. Later, I will tell you about weekend in Maine, and maybe some stuff related to feelings. Maybe.

Who was it that said something like, "'Far Behind' by Candlebox is the worst song ever to make me cry." I could probably figure this out, but I am looking for webl participation here. Here are three good places to look: Tsjaz, Klosterman, Simmons.

"And if he were heavyweight champ, he'd put his title on the line twice a night, every night, to give the people what they want."

Friday, May 26, 2006

Various Links

Check out these links:

1. FINALLY!!! Bush acknowledges that he did something wrong! This makes me happy to no end, and I respect him a little bit more. Now, I wish that he would have done it alone, rather than having Tony Blair stand next to him to imply that it was a joint decision. And I wish that he would have admitted to more wrong than just the "tough talk" (compare this to Blair: "Blair said the leaders did not accurately predict immense challenges such as the strength of the insurgency. 'It should have been very obvious to us,' the prime minister said."). Still, baby steps.

Baby steps.

2. Okay, this isn't a link, and this is probably mean to do to Bush after I was just praising him in the previous link. And this is definintely petty. I, however, and not a very big person, so I will mock:

"'I learned some lessons about expressing myself maybe in a little more sophisticated manner, you know,' Bush said softly." He sounded pretty sophisticated while telling us that he was learning how to communicate more maturely...until he added the "you know."

Okay. That was snippy.

3. We have it all wrong about global warming: the sun is getting hotter!

4. Check out the second trade on 05/01/2006. Nigel Thatch's career is worth 60 cases of Budweiser. How much is yours worth? (via the WWB).

"And I'm ugly, with a capital U."

Thursday, May 25, 2006


I think that I wrote a paper today. Start to finish. Of course, it is really just a corollary of my previous paper with Ben, but there is a chance that it will turn into a publication. This is good, because publications lead to better jobs in the future.

I don't really understand this whole story. My understanding is that people in Congress think that the executive branch cannot enter Capitol Hill to investigate a crime, lest a violation of "separation of powers" occurs. This doesn't match my (admittedly non-expert) understanding of "separation of powers." If there is legally gotten evidence that Jefferson is guilty, don't we all want to bring him to justice?

Of course, the key phrase is "legally gotten." I am of the opinion that everything has been nice and legal so far.

It's also a bit weird that Republicans have come to the defense of Jefferson, a democrat. Perhaps this is because others are soon going to be in a similar situation (via

Also from, Delay has decided to enlist Stephen Colbert to help raise money for his defense. I doubt that Colbert gave his approval. Does Delay know that Colbert's show is a joke? Colbert isn't necessarily the hard-hitting conservative it appears they think he is.

Of course, Lay and Skilling were found guilty. As Tsjaz points out, Lay was the biggest donor to Bush. I am amazed at the level of corruption surrounding Bush. This is not to say that Bush is corrupt (it's possible that he is, but I am not in a position to claim that), but it is remarkable how many people associated with him are or are likely to be found to be corrupt.

Yet we voted for him again in 2004. How didn't we know about this from the first four years again? This still confuses me.

Finally, I watched the first game of the Mavericks/Suns series last night. This is going to be a fantastic series.

This just in: Experts say that women can't drive.

“Who hates America more, you or Michael Moore?”

Monday, May 22, 2006


This is among the more amazing things I have ever seen:

Cup Stacking.

Conference #2

I had a great weekend at the conference (although it is still much nicer to be back in Boston). I met a lot of people, and saw a lot of people I already knew. The best part is that I think that I made a name for myself among my colleagues. I presented Ben and my paper, which (I am about to brag, but I think that it is all true) is a terrifically interesting result. Also (more bragging ahead), I think that I give a much, much better presentation than most; this is probably because I think about teaching more than most of the other mathematicians, and mathematicians largely learn the same way everyone else does. So I finished my lecture, and just about everyone wanted a copy of my paper. This didn't happen to other talks.

I was basically a rock star for that conference, and the feeling rivaled (but didn't equal) the feeling from sports. It made me really motivated to do more research, because I like having my ego fed.

Bush is still being responsible about global warming. I don't like that my president believes in neither science nor statistics.

Skye and I have been having fun for the past couple of days. We went to the 3 Aces tonight, although we didn't play any Ms. Pac Man. She has work to do tonight, and I think that I will do some research while watching the basketball game(s).

Also, I finished grading today, so my semester is officially over. I am gladly welcoming summer, although I am going to miss my students.

"Steady as she goes."

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Bad Politics

One example of a Republican politician being stupid (from, and one example of a Republican politician being allegedly evil (from Tsjaz):

1. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert claims (with a straight face) that families with two kids that earn $40,000 per year pay no taxes.

2. James Tobin, a senior official in Bush's re-election campaign, is being sentenced for trying to suppress votes in a Senate race. I wonder if he was working for Bush in Ohio in 2004, or in Florida in 2000.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Two awful stories from this week:

Bear eats monkey in the zoo.

Baby loses hand at chocolate factory.

These stories made me sad this week.

Dana as a Man

I completely forgot to mention that Skye and I saw Transamerica on Monday. The reason why I forgot all about this is because it is a completely forgettable movie. It wasn't bad, but it was just forgettable.

What is not forgettable, however, is that I learned that it is fun to see non-educational movies with Skye.


We all new that the the Bush administration doesn't believe in science, but now here is evidence that they do not believe in statistics:

First, Laura Bush...

...then Karl Rove.

These are the people related to the administration behind NCLB. Why not just say "statistics are meaningless?"

The first link is from Tsjaz, and the second is from

This is an interesting, and smart, response from the Republican Party - make "we don't believe the polls" a talking point. If the polls are bad, suggest that they don't mean anything. When the polls are favorable (90% after 9/11? We heard quite a bit about that, Mrs. Bush).

More filling

So far this week, I have eaten some great tofu with walnuts and asparagus, seen Winnie the Pooh's house, and did a ton of work with Skye. We have been cooking a lot, and she made an absolutely fantastic raspberry pudding for me last night. It just contained juice, raspberries, and corn starch - fantastic.

She also took me to see the Quad, which I probably should have seen before now, because I work at the school. The Quad is where a good deal of the sophomores through seniors live. The students complain because it is so far away from campus, but we made the walk in 10-15 minutes, which is hardly far at all.

Tonight there is the possibility of more work with Skye - she might help me with my presentation at the conference, which I need to perfect.

Gas Pumping

New Jersey vetoes a bill that would allow citizens to pump their own gas. I don't particularly care much about his issue, except for the following argument:

"Critics of a shift to self-service say pumping their own gas would be especially hard on the elderly, could create a safety hazard as inexperienced motorists try to fill their tanks and cost many station attendants their jobs while doing nothing to lower prices."

Which explains why the 16 year-olds and the elderly are dying left and right in gasoline-related explosions in the 48 states that allow self-service pumping.

Stupid arguments...

Conference Sandwich

I am in the middle of the time between a conference in Texas and a conference in Ohio. In between, I need to get my students ready for their final, which happens on Friday when I am in Ohio.

Many people would call this a conference sandwich, but I would not (except for in the title of this weblog). The conferences act as the bread, and you would never refer to a sandwich as a "rye sandwich," would you? There, I have demonstrated that I am smarter than the average human by pointing out that other people might incorrectly use a rarely-used term.

Life has been good this week. The conference in Texas was a little disappointing, because they didn't talk about what the conference was supposed to be about. I will get to see my friends Holly and JP this weekend.

Also, I will experience the phenomena of "Conference Friends." I have mentioned this phenomena before: when people are thrown together for many hours in a row over the period of just a couple of days, you can start to feel like you have known them for a long time. This happened in Austin with Melinda and Leah (Matt's friends), and it happened last year at the Ohio-type conference. I am hoping that my friends from the Ohio-type conference will be there again: Mark, Tom, Gabriela, Jeff, and Larry. I am also hoping to make new conference friends this time.

There has been an outbreak of irresponsibilty among my students this week. They had presentations in the beginning of the week, and many of the students were out of town (even though they had already signed up for the presentation), or simply forgot. Worse yet, I couldn't really be mad at them, because this was their first offense, and I like them because they have been very responsible up until now.

"Deliver this message to the one i love the most. I've lost all my money to a 300 pound ghost. Squeaky was a sad child - the product of neglect. Got stoned by a jellyfish demanding her respect."

Friday, May 12, 2006

Austin: Day 1 Summary

I am really excited about the conference now. It turns out that I am philosophically in agreement with the main people in this conference. I think that the philosophy can be summed up in the following paragraph:

The usual thing that we (i.e. American teachers and professors) do in a math class is to teach a lot of "facts" about math. This is interesting and necessary to some, but not many. For most students, this is mostly useless, since we forget these facts amazingly quickly after leaving the class. Instead of teaching these facts, why don't we train the students to think differently? Math classes can do two things pretty easily. First, we can teach the students how to make decisions about arguments presented to them; given a mathematical argument or proof, the student should get practice deciding for him/herself if the proof is valid. This is an extremely useful life skill, if only so that the students will be able to decide for themselves whether they should believe politicians. The second thing we can do is to change the mindset of the student from "consumer of knowledge" to "producer of knowledge." Instead of giving them the facts, let's make them "produce" the facts. Isn't this what makes America great? People think of new ideas, and then make them happen. But this is not how math education works, for the most part.

The main argument against these ideas are that the students learn a lot less in the classes. This is true only if you measure how much students learn by "the number of mathematical facts they learn." There are other things to learn, and they are going to forget these facts, anyway. In fact, I am currently preparing a talk for a conference next weekend. I am going to talk about a paper that I wrote (with Ben) in June, and I have already forgotten a lot of the paper. If I can't remember something that I created for one year, I don't think that the typical calculus student is going to remember much we teach them for very long.

Note: I understand that it is bad form to make arguments of the form "this was true for me, so it must be true for everyone." However, I included the personal story to underline my point, rather than to prove it. I have many examples from my students where they forget stuff that they learned recently, and I was just using my story to show that this is even true of professional mathematicians.

So, I am excited about the conference. That was a bit of a rant, and...and I'm sorry.

My Boston friends and I went out for Tex Mex last night. I got really excited at the prospect of having a cactus blade salad, but the shrimp was already mixed in with the cactus. I couldn't get it sin camaron. Instead, I had a spinach salad - good, but not very Tex Mex. At least I had it with guacamole.

Bad Z pointed me/us to a great article: Study: Alligators Dangerous No Matter How Drunk You Are.

"In addition, the alligators far outperformed their inebriated human counterparts in the following areas: lunging, biting, crushing, dismembering, and swallowing."

"These creatures have no empathy for drunken pranksters looking for fun. They are not black bears."

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Austin, Texas

I am in Austin, Texas for a conference on the Moore Method. You can't throw a stone in Austin without hitting a musician. On the cab ride from the airport to the hotel last night, the driver told me, "I had lunch with this guy today." The "this guy" that he was referring to was a voice on the radio - Alejandro Escovedo's voice. It turns out that the cab driver is also a musician (and a really nice guy). His name is Antonio Dionisio, and he does World Beat type music. He was nice enough to give me a free CD, but I haven't had a chance to listen to it yet.

I was playing "Texan, or Bostonian" on my plane ride yesterday. The guy wearing a Red Sox hat? Bostonian. The guy with the star spangled eagle on his hat? Texan. The guy with the word "Irish" tattooed on his elbow? Bostonian. The woman wearing a bandana around her neck? Texan. I am just going to assume that I was right.

Here is what I have learned about Texas so far:

  • People are really nice.
  • There are a lot of pick up trucks.
  • Texas gets HBO.

"I've been out here all night."

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Too much to say, too little time.

There are so many things I want to talk about: the fact that W thinks his best moment as president was when he caught a 7.5 perch in his lake (which would be a world record, so he can't even joke around without lying), various aspects of the end of semester, the fact that we are very short-staffed at work, the NBA playoffs, or my weekend. Since I don't have a lot of time, and since I was instructed to talk more about people and feelings, I am going to talk most about this weekend.

It was a busy, busy weekend. It was also a ton of fun, and it seemed to last forever (in a good way). My weekend included a Cinco de Mayo celebration, game night at Skye's, a Mormon wedding, a birthday party at a bar, an art crawl, and some Larry Bird: A Basketball Legend. Good stuff. Yesterday featured shooting baskets outside, and crushing other people in games of H-O-R-S-E.

The Mormon wedding was fun and interesting. I have now attend Christian (mostly Protestant), Jewish, Unitarian, and Mormon weddings. Please do not argue with me about whether Mormonism is a part of Christianity; it is exotic enough to warrant its own mention in the list, and I don't really care.

I'm leaving for Austin tomorrow to attend a conference about the Moore Method.

"He's like a guy, who would pick a locomotive up...with ropes."

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Warning: News and Politics

Bush wants us to continue to his tax break. The best part is his justification of it:

"If the people have their way who want this tax relief to expire, the American people will be hit with $2.4 trillion in higher taxes over the next decade. It would be handed over to government — that's where the money would go. It would be taken out of the economy and given to people here in Washington, D.C., to spend."

" Who would probably just spend it on wars and such. So don't end the tax relief, because you will just give the money to me, and I am incompetent."

Moussaoui avoids the death penalty. This should be agreed to be a good thing all around. Certainly I am against the death penalty, so I already like it. However, if we executed Moussaoui, wouldn't he achieve martyr status? Does that do us any good? I think not. The jury made a wise choice, at the very least because it was a practical one.

I think the national anthem ought to be sung in English, so says George "W" Bush. Right? Any patriotic American would insist on singing our national anthem only in our official national language,* right? Anyone who sings it in a different language must be a terrorist trying to undermine the American way.

Well, Bush invited such a non-patriot to his inauguration: Jon "Just Another Day" Secada sang the anthem in both Spanish and English at the inauguration.

But, wait - Secada is all "Hollywood," and therefore cannot be trusted, right? Well, the U.S. government commissioned a Spanish lyriced "Star Spangled Banner" in 1919.

But that was a crazy year, right? I mean, that government was wacko. Congress even went so far as to pass an amendment allowing women to vote that year - crazy! The government today must be more rational, right?

No. Our current government currently has a website featuring four different Spanish versions of the "Star Spangled Banner."

I guess that leaves Bush as the one sane person in our government, fighting to ensure that the "Star Spangled Banner" is only sung in English. But...even he sang it in Spanish whilst campaigning.

I...I can't make sense of all of this.

* - America doesn't have an official national language.

"I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English, and they ought to learn to sing the national anthem in English."

Monday, May 01, 2006

Circuses and Supermodels

My move to Blogger has already paid off: Rhinodog, Bad Z, and Skye Xyan (pronounced "Ryan") have all left comments. I sincerely appreciate it.

I went to the circus yesterday. It was good fun, but I was concerned about how concerned I was going to be about the animals. As it turns out, there were only dogs and horses. I was less concerned about the dogs, because they seemed to be tended to by a family, and I could imagine dogs liking that sort of thing. The horses looked sad, though; when they danced, they didn't mean it. I was rather concerned about where the horses were when they weren't performing - there aren't many pastures in Boston proper.

All in all, the animals didn't concern me nearly as much as I thought they would. Mostly, I was concerned about the kids. They were really young, and it seems like their bodies were being abused by the tricks.

I wasn't so concerned, however, that I didn't enjoy the show. I mostly did. Some of the acts were spectacular, and some of the acts were boring. The boring acts mostly involved clowns, although I am guessing that those acts were not designed with people like me in mind.

I was out on Saturday (with Skye Xyan, as well as my new friends Laurence and Glenn), and mentioned that Kate Moss's boyfriend injected her with heroin while she was passed out. It turns out that I was incorrect: Kate Moss's ex-boyfriend had a needle in some other passed out girl's arm. We sincerely apologize to Ms. Moss for any inconvenience that our previous report may have caused.

Back to ex-boyfriend and passed-out girl: both say that he was simply withdrawing blood from her so that he could paint with it; I think that we all have done that to passed-out girls at some point, so I am not going to judge here.

Finally, I wish a happy birthday to Angie (yesterday) and Jean (today).

I will leave you with Stephen Colbert's speech from the White House Press Corp Dinner (via

"That's 'cause you looked it up in a book."