Tuesday, March 30, 2010


The death of math

As someone who "does" math for a living, this piece caught my attention (and caused me to chuckle just a few times):

With the Boomer Revolution came the reinvention of everything we used to take for granted. The first old guard institution they decided to shut down was, "Doing the math." Now we have New Math and the word "Science" applies to everything from astrology to having your hair done. You can take classes in "How to be Gay," "What not to Wear," and "The History of Feminist Tweets."

Of course, the side effect of all this "Nobody’s Wrong" culture is "Everybody’s Correct" — even dropouts like Michael Moore, Sean Penn, and Janeane Garofalo. You can say anything is a life-threatening epidemic because nobody took real math after freshman year of high school so nobody knows how much is too much. All of a sudden, people who did water colors of farts in college are telling you: how steel behaves under certain temperatures, how CO2 affects the global environment, how investment firms need to deal with bundled mortgages, and their favorite parts of a 2,300 page health care bill.

These same people believe: CEOs are the ones taking all our money, we need to pay more tax, our schools are underfunded, and our children aren’t safe.

It’s hard to ask someone who got a dolphin in math, "What’s the math?" but I ask it anyway. They don’t care. They just know we need more shit. The numbers don’t matter. "Yes they do!" I scream. Then they go off on some tangent about my anger and how it’s my mother’s fault.

Certainly CEOs making money off a company that failed is deplorable. John Thain made 10 million dollars after running Merrill Lynch into the ground but that’s one guy. Wall Street is one street. Yes, there are absurd bonuses going on down in one part of Lower Manhattan but you’re talking about a handful of pigs. Civil servants make an average of $40k a year in bonuses alone. That’s $480 000 000 000 in tips. Who’s John Thain again? I forgot. I’m supposed to pay more taxes to an entity that makes what, half a nantillion in tips? I’ve said this before but Obama’s going for a total handout of 13 trillion dollars. About half the American population is employed which means each worker will be obligated to pay $85,000. They say this math is unfair because the rich will be picking up most of the tab but that is quite the dinner bill. Why is it so hard for people to understand that 12 million people stealing a little is a lot more damaging than one guy stealing a lot?

Another annoying myth mathists (math racists) love to tell us is schools need more money. Oooh, they have the same books they had last year, how sad. The way education is going; having old books is a school’s only hope. In the 1960s, children were reading
Wuthering Heights in the third grade. Today you’re not going to get to Dickens until you’re third year at NYU and even then you’re going to need 40mgs of Adderall to follow it. The truth is we’ve doubled spending on education since I was born and it hasn’t done anything to test scores. According to the US Dept of Education, today’s k-12 schools get about a quarter of a million dollars per classroom per year. If teaching kids using gold chalkboards and diamond chalk is not affecting a student’s grades maybe it’s time to stop bitching about money and give the teacher a second look.

Nowhere does this fear of numbers inconvenience us more than the safety obsession. My kid is expected to wear a helmet whether she’s ensconced in her safety seat on the back of my bike or simply pushing her scooter around the playground. Outside of retards, my generation didn’t know what a helmet was until we were in our 20s. Now I’m supposed to put my kids in car seats until they’re eight-years-old!? EIGHT!? No wonder American kids are getting so fucking fat. We’re not allowed to let them have any fun. When I was eight we were making jumps for our bikes that went so high, you had to bring a magazine with you to read while you were up there. Not only did we not have helmets we didn’t have brakes. We stopped the front wheel with our feet. The worst that would happen would be the ghetto blaster you duct taped to the handlebars might make the Mötley Crüe cassette skip. Cut to my son at that age sitting in a fucking car seat like a paraplegic? Hell NO!

The defendants of legislation like this point out stats like 300 children were killed last year because they graduated from child seats too soon. Then they twist the number and say, "Imagine a school blew up with 300 children in it. There’d be a massive outcry." Frankly, it’s a miracle there aren’t more fatalities on the roads. There, you just passed a guy you could’ve hit. There’s another. There’s a truck you could’ve smashed into. What if you went off the road there? You’d be dead, ad infinitum, thousands of times a day. When you factor in the trillions and trillions of potential crashes the average American driver avoids in his life on the road, 300 is beyond negligible. It’s literally a ten-thousandth of a percent! Math is so vilified in today’s Fear Economy, we are living our lives based on a thousandth of a percent of the population. That’s enough to make Gay Marriage look relevant.

I could go on about this for 3.5 more hours but I’m over my 700-word count, which is already 100 words over the average blog article so I’ll stop right here, on the 970th word.

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