Archive for April, 2007

OLPC&CoL

Monday, April 30th, 2007

This from Stephen Downes is, for me, a reminder to consider whether any of my stuff might be useful One Laptop Per Child and/or the Commonwealth of Learning.

An Orthogonal Trajectory

Friday, April 27th, 2007

Light and Dark

These words (used in the previous post) need exploring. We are not nocturnally well adapted so naturally fear the dark. This leads to much weight being attached to the words and makes their metaphorical use a powerful tool in discourse. But that use reinforces an association that is false and wrong in other contexts. Should it be avoided? How can we avoid the negative effects without giving up much of the richness of our language?

Note also the negative implications of pallor (esp in China) and darkenss as robustness or strength. Would striving for more balanced use of  metaphor save both ends? How can this be encouraged without introducing a tone of moralistic political correctness?

The Strange Death of Multiculturalism

Friday, April 27th, 2007

Ian Buruma, in an article for Project Syndicate, discusses (with implied approval) the decline of “multiculturalism” as a dominant ethic in Europe (especially the Netherlands) as increasing secularism has blurred traditional religious distinctions, and some consequent challenges arising from the relationship between secular Europe and its Muslim immigrants. He argues, as I have, that “Liberal democracy and Islam are reconcilable”, and further that “By defending Enlightenment values in a dogmatic way Europeans will be the ones who undermine them.”

“The reason for defending Enlightenment values is that they are based on good ideas, and not because they are ‘our culture.’ To confuse culture and politics in this way is to fall into the same trap as the multiculturalists.”

In this view it appears that the real culture war is not between Christendom and Islam but between enlightenment and darkness. That there is much that is dark in the modern Muslim world should not lead us to forget that is arguably the brightness and (relative) tolerance of the ancient Muslim world that sparked the European enlightenment. And conversely, we surely cannot fail to see the rising tide of darkenss represented by Bushite fundamentalist Christianity in America.

Perhaps the forces of darkness on both “sides” are, once again, proclaiming and using the East-West split to divert attention from the entirely different direction on which the real “war” is progressing.

“We” all understand this but seem to consider it too obvious or trivial to mention. And so we still let it happen.

UK vs Chinese Math Tests

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

BBC NEWS reports British chemists as pointing out the difference between an admission test for Chinese science undergrads and a UK university’s diagnostic test for incoming students. But perhaps they are comparing Chinese apples with British oranges (or vice versa?)
After all, in the Chinese question (assuming that by “square prism” they mean “right prism” – which is what it looks like) part (ii) could be on the senior level of our own BC high school math contest (and so could the rest if our high school students had any exposure to vectors), and the UK one could be a soft pitch from our Langara  Math Diagnostic Test.

The DNA of Religious Faith

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

David Barash reviews some theories of religion in an article in The Chronicle: 4/20/2007

squareCircleZ on Biorhythms

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

In squareCircleZ » Trig graphs – how do you feel today?, Murray Bourne at squareCircleZ has a nice Flash gizmo to show biorhythm graphs and links to a site debunking their validity. Actually I think a nice lesson based on this would be to use a similar gizmo to support a demonstration of how sensitive the timing of coincidences between the different cycles is to small perturbations in their frequencies (most of those who experience biological cycles know that they usually aren’t entirely regular!). This might also lead to discussion of other more real biological cycles and periodicities – including nontrig ones like junebug and locust populations – and to the fact that astronomical regularities do have such unearthly precision that they can in fact be followed for many hundreds of cycles to make predictions about coincidences which are actually observed.

squareCircleZ » Update to layout and CSS

Monday, April 16th, 2007

Someone else has also been working on layout. I’ll have to compare notes.

CSS Scale Images

Friday, April 13th, 2007

This CSS Scale Image Html Tutorial may help save the theme from breaking up when the browser’s text presentation is resized.

Including Pages in WPSearch

Friday, April 13th, 2007

This is a hack by ‘RandomRandy’ of the wp-includes/query.php file which does the job for WP2.1