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What Khan Academy’s Fun, Free Learning Empire Has to Do with Dystopian Social Control

Over the Christmas break, I’ve been churning through Khan Academy math drills, so that I can be a more effective homeschool parent. It’s actually kind of fun watching my score go up, and earning badges. In the way that birds who are trained to peck buttons for food think it’s fun to peck their little beaks bloody. As a grad student ploughing through Kant and Derrida, I found it an intellectual relief to run a computer program through…

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How to Lie with Data Visualization

Data visualization is one of the most important tools we have to analyze data. But it’s just as easy to mislead as it is to educate using charts and graphs. In this article we’ll take a look at 3 of the most common ways in which visualizations can be misleading. —Heap Data Blog.

The Value of Failure

Upon reading that recent message from my inbox, I wanted to shout out “let your child fail.” The shouting was not due to frustration, rather to be sure that my voice was heard by many. And when I say fail, I mean fall. Let them fall. How can we learn to get back up if we never fall? Or if someone else always picks us up. Too often today, students…

Students say “math class is stupid and boring,” and they are right. –Mathematician Paul Lockhart

I am working on some conference papers that touch on coding as a liberal art. While reviewing classics, like Stephenson’s In the Beginning Was the Command Line and Knuth’s approach to “Literate Programming,” From the insightful and quirky “A Mathematician’s Lament,” by Paul Lockhart. A musician wakes from a terrible nightmare. In his dream he finds himself in a society where music education has been made mandatory. “We are helping…

Surprise! ‘Star Trek’ gold shirts more deadly than red shirts

Fascinating. Barsalou then goes all math geek and applies to the data the Bayes’ Theorem formula for calculating conditional probabilities. After a little mathematical shake and bake, he determines there is a 61.9 percent chance that any given casualty is wearing a red shirt. That still sounds high, but it’s not really once you consider the sheer number of redshirts running around the Starship. “Although Enterprise crew members in redshirts…

Journalist math fail: “New pay-per-mile scheme would boost taxes 250 percent”

Hold on… An on-again, off-again move by the Obama administration to scrap the federal gas tax in favor of a pay-per-mile fee would boost the tab to Americans as high as 250 percent, raising their current tax of 18.4 cents a gallon to as high as 46 cents, according to a new government study. —New pay-per-mile scheme would boost taxes 250 percent | WashingtonExaminer.com The math example doesn’t illustrate the…