kitchen table math, the sequel: Empirical evidence math education isn't necessary declining

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Empirical evidence math education isn't necessary declining

Here's a story that should bring a bit of perspective to us: in this town, neither the city officials nor the journalists know a stitch of math at all, so we may not be worse off than we ever were after all. Catherine needn't work through Dolciani to surpass this!

Here is the original story most of which is excerpted below:

Truro zoning decision hinges on single vote
By Mary Ann Bragg
April 30, 2009

TRURO — Voters narrowly approved one of four zoning amendments late Tuesday night at the annual town meeting. But town officials were still looking at the exact vote count on that article yesterday.

In a vote of 136 to 70, voters passed a new time limit on how quickly a cottage colony, cabin colony, motel or hotel can be converted to condominiums. The new limit requires that those properties be in operation for three years before being converted to condominiums.

The idea behind the zoning amendment is to slow the pace of condominium development in Truro and preserve more affordable accommodations for tourists, according to citizens proposing the warrant article.

The exact count of the vote — 136 to 70 —had town officials hitting their calculators yesterday. The zoning measure needed a two-thirds vote to pass. A calculation by town accountant Trudy Brazil indicated that 136 votes are two-thirds of 206 total votes, said Town Clerk Cynthia Slade.

Brazil said she used the calculation of .66 multiplied by 206 to obtain the number.

But using .6666 — a more accurate version of two-thirds — the affirmative vote needed to be 137 instead of 136, according to an anonymous caller to town hall and to the Times.

Slade said that she called several of her colleagues to see how they calculate a two-thirds vote, and the answer varied widely. In Provincetown, Town Clerk Doug Johnstone uses .66. But Johnstone said he'd never had a close vote where it might matter.

A spokesman from the Secretary of State's office was not available to comment yesterday.

Slade said she will let the state Attorney General's office decide on the correct count, as part of their normal review of town meeting decisions.

Honestly, it makes me feel bad for Ms. Bragg.

Hat tip to Eugene at, who lists 9 problems with this article, not all of which are mathematical in nature. Can you find them all?


bky said...

I have right here an even MORE accurate version of two-thirds:


Folks, try it out and see how it works for you. I am developing another one in case that doesn't work out.

SteveH said...

This is Cape Cod. It's Truro, not even Hyannis, or Woods Hole, where a lot of scientists live and work. I used to go camping in North Truro when I was growing up. You go there to relax on the dunes and beach, not think.

linsee said...

It's journalists, too. I said, in the comments on that Volokh post,

"I worked at a California paper where the city editor -- late at night, after the edit page editor (me) had gone home -- tried to calculate 2/3 on a close school-bond vote and got approve/disapprove wrong . . . as in page 1 banner headline wrong."