Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Flash: Once Again, People Smarter Than You Prove the Examined Life is a Mirage, You Deluded Puppet of Your Selfish Genes

So the proliferation of complex human behaviors, caught up in intricate webs of culture and learned behavior, which appear with regularity in our mass media outlets as being now explained by "some researchers" as having a simplistic "Just-So" evolutionary story to explain them, begins to tire the reader. But I can't resist this most recent one.

"People Argue Just To Win, Scholars Assert." (I'm sorry, who did you say asserted? Oh, "scholars." Thank you.) Yes, yes, you thought the Areopagus and Demosthenes, the Ciceronian orations, the French salons, the great Church Councils, all of that was tied up with complicated motivations bearing on politics, religion, and the great ideas of human history. Put those books away: it's just a spasm of our brain chemistry, acting out over and over again a primordial urge to evolve through debate smackdowns.

I would try to put into words the hundred things wrong with this way of thinking, but since it wouldn't be an attempt to apply reason to the badly thought out, only my genetically hardwired attempt to assert dominance over you, opinionated reader, I will leave it where it lies. Let me just observe, since I can't resist, that I'm charmed by the evolutionary psychologists of the article who are trying to convince me through their well-laid-out reasoning that I ought to believe their story.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Summer Vacation

... in the House of Math. Eudoxus, even from afar in Europe where he is discussing set theory and other things I don't understand, is making sure the girls keep their mathematical engines in tune by sending questions, and I am tasked with the usual grunt-work of math lessons. If the opinionated readership cares to try, you may match your wits against the opinionated offspringen.

15-year-old level:
(summer math team questions)

Let {a1, a2, ..., an} be a set of real numbers, such that a1 < a2 < ... < an. We define the power sum of {a1, a2, ..., an} to be a1i1 + a2i2 + ... + anin.

Given any n, let Sn be the sum of the power sums of all non-empty subsets of the set {1,2,...,n}.

S8 is -176 - 64i. What is S9?

8-year-old level:

(sent from Daddy)
To prepare yourself for fighting the dragon, you need a suit of armor and either a sword or an axe. You have three suits of armor, five swords, and two axes. How many different ways can you prepare yourself for fighting the dragon?

(lesson work from Mommy)
Evaluate [-(216/125)]^(-2/3)

3-year-old level:

(sent from Daddy)
You have a pizza and a cookie to eat, and you're trying to decide what order to eat them in. One order is to eat the cookie first and the pizza second. What is the other order?

(lesson work from Mommy)
Find the difference between 6 and 4. [using number line]

Personally, I'm going for the 3-year-old level math questions for the win, Alex. No rest for the non-mathy; I'm working my way through the Art of Problem Solving math books, starting at Introduction to Algebra and planning to move on to Geometry, Counting & Probability, and Intermediate Algebra, in the hope of at last comprehending the math I aced in high school by dint of short-term memorization.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Zombie Blog

We have had a good draught of that Reanimator potion, and the blog is rising from the grave. Not like the modern 28-days-later speed zombies, but rather night-of-the-living-dead zombies (we are classical homeschoolers, after all). Slow and lurchy.

When we last left you, Offspring #3 was out of control, Offspring #1 was in the throes of adolescence, of which we shall say no more, and Offspring #2 was suffering neglect amidst the continuing center-stage drama of her sisters. Things are much calmer now: we have a proper diagnosis and a good prognosis, a leveling of hormones, and a very planned-out curriculum with lots of hands-on Mommy time and artsy-craftsy projects that make the formerly neglected child hum and squeal with joy through much of her day.

So it must be time to blog again. We have up for discussion movies, diocesan drama, literature, academics, and personal items of little interest to most potential readers of this blog.

But first I need to go through the comboxes and delete all the Russian pr0n spam.


ETA: I hear that Certain People are unable to comment because Blogger tells them they aren't Team Players, or Team Members, or somewhich. I will try to sort that out. If any more technically minded person knows what to do, I'm all ears.