Category Archives: Politics vs. math

The strong dollar comes to Bitcoin-istan

money-changers-Jesus

Although the U.S. dollar is worth significantly less today than a year ago if you are buying gasoline in Des Moines, American currency looks a lot different if you are living in Europe or Japan. They, as well as us, have seen their own domestic prices for staples shoot up (which, Republicans insist, must somehow be Joe Biden’s fault as… Read more »

The “Nixonian fate” 50 years on

Nixon-resigns

It always helps when your wedding anniversary coincides to an historic event that the news media will remind you of in advance. A big 50th anniversary is coming up. On the pleasant Saturday afternoon of June 17, 1972, I got married in a short ceremony followed by ham sandwiches in a Grand Rapids church basement, and then the two of… Read more »

The “Great Replacement” math revisited

Racial-profile-2045

It has been three years since some major gun massacre or another (unfortunately they all run together these days) prompted me to write about the real math behind the “Great Replacement” hypothesis that again has Tucker Carlson, plus a teen killer in Buffalo, New York, and other Fox News hosts in a tizzy. It is time to revisit. In short,… Read more »

Pedagogy is difficult – especially math

Dick-and-Jane

My pre-retirement career went back and forth about three times between teaching and educational publishing, the latter as an editor, a managing editor, and a technology director for a publisher with imprints both in the U.S. and Great Britain. After over 30 years combined in those related fields and I am still no expert on this professional concept called pedagogy,… Read more »

Ethics 101 – They are still confusing legality and morality

The recent controversy over a leaked Supreme Court opinion perhaps overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion decision highlights how even Supreme Court justices, when blinded by sectarian religious fervor, can get Ethics 101 wrong. In a pluralistic society, issues of public morality may overlap with issues of legal practice, but only in places like Taliban-controlled Afghanistan do judges make… Read more »

Worth a read: Origin by Jennifer Raff

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Origin by Jennifer Raff

Many of the most fascinating advances in DNA research have been in the extraction of readable genetic material from ever older biological sources. When those sources are ancient humans, the analysis of DNA fragments takes us back to our very origins as a species, analogous to the Hubble Telescope peering back through time to the beginnings of the universe. But… Read more »

Conspiracies big and small – an easy guide

Omerta

I have intentionally been listening to, and reading comments from, ordinary Russians regarding their view of the “special operation” being conducted by their military into Ukraine. The similarities of their arguments to positions being amplified daily in right-wing American media are troubling. The similar threads I pull out are: Paranoia Conspiracy-thinking, and Reinforcement by religious leaders Of these, #1 may… Read more »

Power laws and the laws of power

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knob-11

The confirmation hearings for the elevation of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court highlighted for me the fight-to-the-death of two types of political power currently jousting both in Washington and Ukraine. In math terms, I describe democracy as a linear function, but autocracy is an exponential “power law.” In democracy, you need to add up millions of equal “integer”… Read more »

Mr. Putin, shall…we…play…a…game?

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Wargames

Will Russian President Vladimir Putin use a first-strike tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine if he cannot succeed there by conventional means? What are the odds? So, it turns out that “the odds” are likely irrelevant in this type of conjecture. The Pentagon instead is more likely at this moment exploring many variations of a mathematical model with the ironic name… Read more »

Cryptocurrencies and the pricing problem

money-changers-Jesus

In a prior post I noted one major obstacle to cryptocurrencies being widely accepted as a “medium of exchange,” which is a key characteristic of “money.” The “price” of most cryptocurrencies relative to the U.S. dollar continues to fluctuate more widely on a daily and weekly basis that most traditional “risky” investments. This is a problem handled for millennia by… Read more »