kitchen table math, the sequel: 2/10/13 - 2/17/13

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Not to belabor the point

Not to belabor the point, but is there a person on the planet who thinks "Room Bookings" is the tab to click if they're looking for "Online Appointment Book"?

AND SEE:
Not to belabor the point, part 2
Not to belabor the point, part 3

I did it!

I can't believe it!

I have a Navigation Bar!

After wasting an entire day trying to restore the Navigation Bar (the bar at the top with the search window and the "Sign In" option), I finally copied just one line of code from Katharine's blog, et voilà.

I have a Navigation Bar.

Again.

I have now spent an entire day of my life losing my template, finding an ancient backed-up copy of my template, restoring my template, researching how to restore a Navigation Bar and, finally, actually restoring my Navigation Bar.

I should apply for a job at Mycollege's Help Desk.

For future reference, the navigation bar is one line of code:

<div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div>

new search button on left

I found a Search button I can put on, and I'm giving up on restoring the navigation bar for now.

If you want to write a post, it should be reasonably easy to find the post window, but you'll have to go in through Blogger.com instead of through the Navigation bar.

Sorry --- I'm so frustrated.

Will try to figure out a way to get it back.

Blogger help desk

If anyone out there knows how to write (or copy) the code for Blogger's navigation bar, I would be very grateful. In fact, I would be willing to pay someone to fix it. I've been trying to cut and paste code all afternoon, and I can't get it right.

The navigation bar is what you see at the top of Katharine's blog.

For those of you who want to write posts, sign into Blogger.com and....the blog should pop up on a screen that shows blogs you own or contribute to. That's what I have to do now.

By the way, there's a working Search window down at the bottom of the blog. No idea what it's doing down there, and thus far I haven't been able to move it back.

Resources:
Fix Blogger Navbar issue
Restoring the Lost Blog Navbar
YouTube: Adding a Navigation Bar to Blogger
Google: Page Element Tags for Layouts
Google: About the Navbar

Problem Rollup Navbar Missing
Problem Rollup Navbar Missing

How to Remove or Restore Blogger Navbar

old template back, recent comments back, navigation bar gone

Turns out I saved the old template two years ago.

I have now restored the old template, which has also restored Recent Comments.

But the navigation bar, which includes the search window, is now gone.

Annoyed in Irvington.

another critter down

A bird just flew into our sliding glass window and is now lying stunned on the tipped-over practice net on the patio.

Meanwhile Surfer has managed to escape his STRAPPED-ON oversized dog cone. (We discovered his coneless state before he had time to remove his stitches for the third time. In fact, I think he actually came into the family room to show me his cone had come off.)

I was hoping to get through this weekend without a trip to the vet.

[pause]

Bird is not moving.

Ed is going to have to deal with it.

mental math question

Kumon asks kids to do multi-digit multiplication problems without writing down any of the 'carried' digits:
Students master the multiplication tables by practicing until they can answer immediately. Next, students learn up to 4-digit by 1-digit multiplication with mental carryovers.
What do you think?

Interesting post on the subject of mental maths here.

Katharine on Hold On to Your Kids

I see Katharine's been writing about Gordon Neufeld's Hold On to Your Kids, a subject I've been planning to get back to:
Speaking as an n of 1, I can attest that raising a child in an adult-oriented house produces a terrific kid. C. is 18 now, and he's exactly the person we hoped he'd be (knock on wood). We hear the same from his teachers. Last week Ed was in a meeting with one of C's first-semester professors, and when she realized C. was Ed's son, she said C. was "very important to the course."

The reason C. could be "important" to a freshman seminar, I assume, is that he is naturally attuned to adults. Now that I've read Neufeld, I realize C. has essentially none of that .... I don't know what to call it.

That 'clubby,' secret-identity feeling you get from many adolescents----?

C. feels at home with adults. Put it that way.

The parent/teacher connection struck me so forcefully when I read Neufeld side-by-side with Steinberg (Beyond the Classroom). Kids raised in permissive homes, Steinberg shows, are peer-oriented; kids raised in authoritative homes are oriented toward adults: parents and teachers.

Steinberg's research shows that adult-orientation is highly productive in terms of school and entry-level jobs. By the time kids are 18, the difference between peer-orientation and adult-orientation is significant..

For the record, I don't really know how we raised an adult-oriented teen in a peer-oriented culture. Until 2 months ago I'd never heard of Neufeld, and when my kids were little I shared with everyone else the same unexamined set of beliefs about the importance of peer socialization -- maybe especially so given the fact that out typical child, C., had two autistic brothers.

I can't say that I worried about socialization (I didn't), but I did fret about it from time to time....I wondered whether C. was too shy, and when he was little I was constantly shlepping him to play dates hither and yon. But as he grew older I didn't bother with the play dates. C. always had a solid group of friends who were and are good kids; in fact, he still has today almost every friend he made when he was as young as age 4. He has another set of friends from his Jesuit high school and a new group now at NYU. The fact that C. had friends seemed good enough to me, so I spent my time worrying about math.

As to why he was an adult-oriented child, I'm guessing the reasons include:
  • Authoritative parenting - both Ed and I had authoritative parents ourselves; permissive parenting is pretty foreign to our experience. While Neufeld doesn't talk about authoritative parenting (at least not in the first third of his book) I suspect authoritative parenting per se probably produces adult-orientation.
  •  2 siblings with autism - from early days, I knew C. would one day be responsible for his siblings, and that fact has always been front and center. My goal has been to socialize C. to understand and welcome this fact -- not to protect him from knowledge of his fate, as other parents of disabled kids sometimes seem to do. As a direct result, C. is great working with disabled kids. I don't (necessarily) see him going into special education, but he would be terrific as a SPED teacher or therapist. 
  • Strength in numbers - because of the 2 boys with autism, we have always had a crazy number of adults in the house. As I write now, there are 3 adults in the house and just one child, Andrew. I remember years ago, reading Jean Kerr I think it was, on the subject of having twins. As I recall, she said that when it's 2 parents and 1 kid, you're in charge. When suddenly it's 2 parents and 3 kids (the Kerrs had a singleton and then twins same way Ed and I did), suddenly you're outnumbered and everything changes. In our house, the grown-ups have had parity with the kids.

old template gone!

Sheesh.

The old kitchen table math template is gone. Not gone, but somewhere I'll never find it.

I decided to try this one out, and I now see that there is no "Revert to Old Template" option on the menu.

Oh, well.

Off with the old, on with the new, I guess.

Can't believe I didn't Save the original. I don't even remember what it was called.

What I really need is Recent Comments.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Foiled again

re: stop making sense, chemprof writes:
Yeah, and this is also why people wind up using the same two or three passwords for everything. When I worked in the national lab, they assigned us passwords -- awful, un-memorizable things that met IT's standards. So of course everyone kept theirs on a post-it someplace or locked in a drawer.
Hah!

Forget that, chemprof!

The times they are a-changin'.

Back story:

The tech system at my college automatically changes both your passwords every 90 days unless you change them first.

Needless to say, I've never changed either password first, mostly because I have never, not once, seen the email alert re: Impending Password Change that's supposed to come out on Day 85.

Not getting the memo may be my fault, of course.

My college has two separate IT systems with two separate email addresses and two separate passwords, and you have to find this out yourself, usually over the course of multiple conversations with Help Desk. Nobody tells you, going in, "Welcome to yourcollege! We have two IT systems."

The user interfaces are inscrutable, with tiny-fonted "ADMIN SIGN INs" here and orange "ROOM BOOKING" tabs there (you have to click on a "Room Booking" tab to find out who you're tutoring) and two "Change Password" tabs that don't change your password but do lock you out of the system, and nothing you do takes less than 8 steps. I have a list of 18 steps to deal with the Online Appointment Calendar. The whole thing is stupefying.

The system was so impossible to navigate that eventually I settled into a routine of using my Verizon account 95%-99% of the time, and checking my two work emails only when my fear that I was missing essential communications grew stronger than my dread of dealing with the system.

So I may have missed the Password Change alerts. Assuming the alerts were a) sent and b) actually delivered to one of my 2 work addresses, that is. Which I do not assume.

Back to my story: for a while there things were working OK, I thought. Every so often I would discover that my password(s) no longer worked, and I would deal with it when I absolutely needed to by calling Help Desk and having them figure things out. But this most recent lockout has taken almost 3 weeks to resolve, with 4 different employees working on my case at various times, and multiple phone calls and emails. I don't want to do this again come April.

So I had a long conversation with Help Desk about the EXACT steps involved in changing my password(s) myself. Then I had Help Desk stay on the line while I looked up passwords, changed passwords, and reconciled passwords.

Which brings me back to chemprof.

Naturally, I want only one password for everything, so I asked Help Desk whether I could change back to my regular password now that a few 3-month cycles have gone by.

Help Desk said he'd see, and he checked the documentation which, he was surprised to learn, made no mention of the number of old passwords the system remembers. (No documentation? That is surprising.)

The usual number of old passwords a system remembers, he said, is three. If you use your usual password, you should be able to cycle back to it after 3 changes.

But that's going to change, he said. The new Windows system is going to remember twenty-four old passwords. If your system makes you change passwords 4x a year, it'll be 6 years before you can use your regular password again.

I wonder if the Bureau of Labor Statistics will be able to pick up a measurable drop in productivity when that happens.

stop making sense

Back from another tête-à-tête with Help Desk & now in the process of amending the 14 pages of Directions I have written for navigating my college's computer system.

This afternoon I've added a new heading:

Weird dangers & quirks:
  • OUTLOOK/EXCHANGE: DO NOT use the “Change password” option inside Outlook. If I  do, the system will either refuse to make the change (message: password illegal, or some such) or lock me out.
  • OUTLOOK/EXCHANGE: DO NOT use the “Change Password” option in http://xxxxx.edu/xxxxxpass . If I do, the system will lock me out. Ignore on-screen directions. ("You can change your existing password by confirming its current value.")
  • OUTLOOK/EXCHANGE: If I want to change your password for Outlook/Exchange, I have to use "Reset password." Ignore on-screen directions. ("If you have forgotten your password, you can reset it and unlock your account if needed.")
  • OUTLOOK/EXCHANGE: When I sign into Outlook, I must use mycollege-backslash in front of my user name: mycollege\myusername
  • OUTLOOK/EXCHANGE: When I change my password for Outlook, the phrase “Account Name” actually means “user name.”
  • OUTLOOK/EXCHANGE: DO NOT use the mycollege\ prefix when entering my user name under “Account Name.” Just use my user name as I do for the Mycollege Connect system.*
  • LOGGING ON TO CAMPUS COMPUTER: When I log onto an on-campus computer, use the “Student” domain.
  • LOGGING ON TO OFFICE COMPUTERS: For computers inside mycollege offices, as opposed to mycollege classrooms and the mycollege libraries, everything is different.
Highlights from today's exchange:

"Why would you have a button that says "Change Password" if you can't use it to change your password?"

"If you're going to have a button that says "Change Password" that can't be used to "Change Password," why don't you tell us?"

It's been 2 years now, and I've only just discovered that "Change Password" means at least three different things depending upon which "Change Password" button I hit on which one site:
  • "Change password" 
  • "Enter a new password and receive a "password illegal" message" 
  • "Lock yourself out of the system" 
* A couple of weeks ago I discovered that my college has two completely separate computer systems with two completely separate passwords and two completely different set of instructions. 

recent comments redux

The Recent Comments widget is broken, and I have no idea how to add a different "Recent Comments" widget because the process seems to have changed and the various directions posted around the web have not been updated.

Blogger has a Recent Comments widget, but that, too, is broken.

I've seen nothing on the web thus far indicating that anyone else's "Recent Comments" widget is not working, so no help there, either.

Annoying.

recent comments seems to be broken & other

Will try to figure it out....

Meanwhile, thanks, everyone, for weighing in on Surfer's diet ----- (and canola oil!)

Calorie replacement is the issue as I think Allan says. I'm going to figure out what kind of non-tampered-with meat I can buy around here. ("Non-tampered-with": how's that for an informed position?)

On another subject, and for passersby: the word "hateful" is verboten!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

worse than you think, part I've-lost-count

(Family motto: It's always worse than you think)

Excerpt from Afraid of Your Child's Math Textbook? You Should Be.:
At one time, a writer in this industry could write a book and receive roughly 6% royalties on sales. The salesperson who sold the product, however, earned (and still does) a commission upwards of 17% on the same product. This sort of pay structure never made sense to me; without the product, there’d be nothing to sell, after all. But this disparity serves to illustrate the thinking that has been entrenched industry-wide for decades—that sales and marketing is more valuable than product.

Now, the balance between the budgets for marketing and product development is growing farther and farther apart, and exponentially so. Today, royalties are a thing of the past for most writers and work-for-hire is the norm. Sales staffs still receive their high commissions, but with today’s outsourcing, writers and editors are consistently offered less than 20% of what they used to make. As a result, the number of qualified writers and editors is diminishing, and those being contracted by developers and publishers often don’t have the necessary skills or experience to produce a text worthy of the publisher’s marketing claims.

Here’s how it works: Many publishers solicit developers, often on the Internet and from all over the world, looking for the best bid on a project. With competition this fierce, developers are forced to drastically lower their rates just to stay in business (and publishers exploit this fact). Let’s say a publisher hires a developer for a certain low-bid fee to produce seven supplemental math books for grades 3-8. The product specs call for each student book and teacher guide to have page counts of roughly 100 pages and 80 pages, respectively. The publisher wants these seven books ready for press in five weeks—over 1,400 pages. To put this in perspective, in the not too recent past at least six months would be allotted for a project of this size. But publishers customarily shrink their deadlines to get a jump on the competition, especially in today’s math market. Unreasonable turnaround times are part of the new normal, something that almost guarantees a lack of quality right out of the gate.

Of course, the developer could say no to this ridiculous timeline, but there are plenty of others who will say yes. So, the developer accepts the work and scrambles to put together a team of writers and editors who must have immediate availability, sheepishly offering them a take-it-or-leave-it rate, a mere pittance of what they could once demand. As is the case for the developer, for each writer or editor who declines, there are scores in the wings who will say yes just to survive. Those who do accept the inferior pay and grueling schedule often do so without the ability to review the product specs to know what they’re getting into. That’s because the specs are still being hashed out by the publisher and developer even as the project begins. And when product specs are “complete”, they are often vague, contradictory, and in need of extensive reworking since they were hastily put together by people juggling far too many projects already.

[snip]

Copyediting, the work I generally do now, is the final stage of editing before the product goes to press, where only a check for grammar, punctuation and things of this nature should be required. Content editing is a whole other expertise, one that is done after the writing where the content editor reviews the writer’s work for accuracy, sense, and structure, and makes sure the material adheres to the product specs. When I’m hired to copyedit, the profound errors I see in content are often staggering enough that grammar and punctuation seem immaterial. Sometimes the content in the student materials is so poor—steps omitted, unclear directions, concepts introduced when they’re not developed till later in the text, distorted interpretations of math terms and applications —that it boggles the mind it got past a content editor. With so many errors rampant at this stage of editing, rewriting is hastily done and it’s only inevitable that some errors will show up in the final printed product. And with a different copyeditor on each book, there are those who don’t even think about, or have the experience to recognize, the content issues so they go unaddressed. For a rate of four dollars a page, most copyeditors will do only what they were hired to do—look for errors in grammar and punctuation and move on. There's a mortgage due after all.

When I point out critical errors in content to a developer’s project manager, there’s generally a pause at the other end of the phone. I’m ruining their day, handing them a problem they don’t want, can’t possibly address given their resources and time. Some do their best; they’ll ask me to make corrections and bump up my rate a bit. Some will ask me to make notes so that they can fix the errors and do the rewrites themselves on their own time. Others will simply sigh, “The publisher knows it’s bad. Just do the best you can.” The publisher knows it’s bad. And yet, it doesn’t seem to matter. That’s because the sales and marketing team is already at work developing videos, brochures, webinars, catalog copy, and whatever else their bloated budgets will allow in order to sell what doesn’t actually exist—a quality product.

And speaking of the printed product, there’s one more step before we get there—production. These are the people who typeset the books and get them ready for press. India is a favored venue for some publishers because workers are available on three shifts and work fast, but mostly because the price is far cheaper than in the U.S. As editors, we often have to compensate for language barriers by color coding our instructions to the production staff or using simple language that is still frequently misunderstood, resulting in further unintended errors that often make it into the final product because there’s no time left in the schedule, no money left to pay someone, to do a final and thorough review in the manner it should be, and used to be, done.

[snip]

One must conclude that students and their education, if this is judged against product quality, is becoming an increasingly low priority. Not only don’t some publishers care, some have no problem expressing their lack of concern. Example: I received an email from a senior math executive of a well-established publisher responding to a concern I raised about the lack of correlations in a particular math series to the Common Core State Standards, correlations that were part of the product specs. The reason they were part of the product specs is because Common Core State Standards have been officially adopted by 43 states (ascd.org) and publishers are racing to make sure their products address them. This is how the senior executive answered my query: “It doesn’t matter if there aren’t enough correlations; our marketing materials say only that we ‘expose’ students to Common Core.”

Not only did this top-level “professional” have no problem stating this, she had no problem committing it to writing. Buyer beware: Read that marketing copy very carefully.

Afraid of Your Child's Math Textbook? You Should Be.
Annie Keeghan

Barry Eichengreen has a really bad idea

From Barry Eichengreen, a historian of the Great Depression:
Indeed, one might question the very premise that, two decades from now, there will be textbooks as we know them. Today, introductory economics is taught using a textbook in which an eminent professor authoritatively bestows the conventional wisdom on his or her (typically, his) students. Knowledge, as encapsulated in the textbook and interpreted by the professor, is delivered from above.

This, of course, is also how newspapers traditionally delivered the news. Editors and publishers assembled and collated stories, and the newspaper that they produced was then delivered to the subscriber’s doorstep. But the last decade has seen a veritable revolution in the news business. News is now assembled and disseminated via Web sites, wikis, and the comment sections of blogs. News, in other words, is increasingly delivered from the bottom up. Rather than relying on editors, everyone is becoming their own news curator.

Something similar is likely to happen to textbooks, especially in economics,where everyone has an opinion and first-hand experience with the subject. Textbooks will be like wikis, with faculty adopters and students modifying text and contributing content. There still may be a role for the author as gatekeeper; but the textbook will know [sic] longer be the font of wisdom, and its writer will no longer control the table of contents.

The outcome will be messy. But the economics profession will also become more diverse and dynamic – and our children’s economics will be healthier as a result.

Our Children's Economics
Number one: if it's textbooks not being a source of wisdom you're after, we've got that now.

And, number two: I prefer fount.

Font of wisdom sounds dumb.

Other people who have really bad ideas

Monday, February 11, 2013

dogs are omnivores

Back to the vet's today for our third set of stitches and a really huge dog-cone attached via chest strap.

At the office I pussy-footed around the subject of: can a dog be a vegan? (I read The China Study two years ago, see below.)

"Do dogs need to eat meat?" I asked.

The vet, who tends to scoff a lot (I was hoping to forestall scoffing), gave me a look. "What do you mean, meat?" he said. "Do you mean raw meat?" He looked like he was fixing to scoff.

Raw meat, as I discovered yesterday, shows up frequently on websites devoted to dog nutrition. I haven't learned why as yet.

"Well," I said, "sure. Raw meat. Or cooked meat. Or just meat in general. Should I be giving Surfer real meat?"

"Dogs aren't obligate carnivores," he said.

What? Dogs aren't carnivores? (And what's obligate?)

I was gobsmacked.

An "obligate carnivore," it turns out, is a cat. A cat has to eat meat or it will die, hence the term "obligate." Cats are obliged to eat meat. Dogs are not obligate carnivores, and they are not obliged to eat meat. They just like to eat meat, same as people, but a dog can be a vegetarian. The vet actually used the word "vegetarian" himself, which is a lot better than me saying "vegetarian" and getting scoffed at. If I remember correctly, and I think I do, the vet actually said, "A dog can be a perfectly healthy vegetarian."

So today Surfer ate Amy's lentil soup, diced tomatoes, olive oil, and a boatload of fish oil. He was a pretty good sport about it, but I don't think he's going to be too thrilled when the cruciferous vegetables show up.

From The China Study:
...I decided to start an in-depth laboratory program that would investigate the role of nutrition, especially protein, in the development of cancer....I chose to do this research at a very basic science level, studying the biochemical details of cancer formation. It was important to understand not only whether but also how protein might promote cancer....

What we found was shocking. Low-protein diets inhibited the initiative of cancer by aflatoxin, regardless of how much of this carcinogen was administered to these animals. After cancer, initiation was completed, low-protein diets also dramatically blocked subsequent cancer growth. In other words, the cancer-producing effects of this highly carcinogenic chemical were rendered insignificant by a low-protein diet. In fact, dietary protein proved to be so powerful in its effect that we could turn on and turn off cancer growth simply by changing the level consumed.

Furthermore, the amounts of protein being fed were those that we humans routinely consume. We didn't use extraordinary levels, as is so often the case in carcinogen studies.

But that's not all. We found that not all proteins had this effect. What protein consistently and strongly promoted cancer? Casein, which makes up 87% of cow's milk protein, promoted all stages of the cancer process. What type of protein did not promote cancer, even at high levels of intake? The safe proteins were from plants, including wheat and soy.

[snip]

But how much protein is too much or too little? Using rats, we investigated a range of 4-24% dietary protein....Foci did not develop with up to about 10% dietary protein. Beyond 10%, foci development increased dramatically with increases in dietary protein.

[snip]

The most significant finding of this experiment was this: foci developed only when the animals met or exceeded the amount of dietary protein (12%) needed to satisfy their body growth rate. That is, when the animals met and surpassed their requirement for protein, disease onset began.

This finding may have considerable relevance for humans even though these were rat studies. I say this because the protein required for growth in young rats and humans as well as the protein required to maintain health for adult rats and humans is remarkably similar.

According to the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for protein consumption, we humans should be getting about 10% of our energy from protein. This is considerably more than the actual amount required....What do most of us routinely consume? Remarkably, it is considerably more than the recommended 10%. The average American consumes 15-16% protein....

[snip]

[D]id it make any difference what type of protein was used in these experiments? For all of these experiments, we were using casein, which makes up 87% of cow's milk protein. So the next logical question was whether plant protein, tested in the same way, has the same effect on cancer promotiona s casein. The answer is an astonishing "NO." In these experiments, plant protein did not promote cancer growth, even at the higher levels of intake....Gluten, the protein of wheat, did not produce the same result as casein, even when fed at the same 20% level.

China-Cornell-Oxford Project 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Surfer, part 2

The first thing that happened was a routine trip to the vet's, followed by surgery to remove a growth on Surfer's hind leg (a growth the vet thought should be removed not because it looked dangerous but because it was bothering Surfer), followed by lab results giving Surfer 8 months to live without treatment and .... I guess a bit more than that with treatment. Surfer is 11 and by all appearances in the pink of health: he's strong, hearty, energetic, and interested in life. It's dreadful news.

Surfer had the surgery Monday. Today is Sunday, and Surfer has now ripped out (or more likely licked off) his surgical staples twice. Once because I took the cone off (and, yes, I do know how fantastically stupid that was for a person who has written two books about animals) and once because the cone turns out to be too short to prevent Surfer reaching his hind leg and ripping out staples.

Friday was the pits. First the cancer phone call in the afternoon, then Extreme Weather in the evening, followed by discovery of the first ripping-out late Friday night, when we were already buried in snow and had no hope of getting out. The next morning Surfer was crying, I felt like crying, the driveway was buried under a foot and a half of snow, and the vet was closing at noon. We made it to his office at 10:50 am.

Tonight is Sunday and I am sitting here, again, with a soon-to-be dying dog who has a gaping 5-inch open surgical wound on his thigh. But no snow, thank God.

Tomorrow brings a third trek to the vet for a third stapling ----- and no doubt a further delay in starting the Magic Chemo med the vet told us about....

Which is called (I see from my notes) Kinavet. Hmmmm. The fact sheet says Kinavet is not a chemotherapy drug. Interesting. The vet called it chemo (a targeted chemo). It's obviously pretty toxic, judging by the video. But toxic in a good way.

Do people use Kinavet (or its equivalent)?

Do people get cancers originating in mast cells? It seems as if we ought to, but I haven't found anything about it so far.

And are people starting to have targeted cancer drugs?

I spent part of today skimming Daniel Servan-Schreiber's Anti-Cancer, trying to figure out what to have Surfer eat. I admired the book tremendously when I read it a couple of years back. Then, a little while ago, I looked up Servan-Schreiber's website and discovered that he died in 2011. Sigh.

Apparently Servan-Schreiber believed the reason his cancer returned was that he failed to slow down. He did too much jet-setting around the world to international conferences and the like.

That's not going to be a problem for Surfer.

a monkey in the multiverse

In the Times today:
“My goal is to do for these kids what I do with my own children,” the teacher, Susana Rojas, tells me. “It’s all about exposure to concepts — wide, narrow, long, short. I bring in breads from different countries. ‘Let’s do a pie chart showing which one you liked the best.’ I don’t ask them to memorize 1, 2, 3 — I could teach a monkey to count.”
The Secret to Fixing Bad Schools | By DAVID L. KIRP | Published: February 9, 2013
OK, yes, you can teach a monkey to "memorize 1,2,3":
Nieder and his colleagues spent about nine months training and testing two rhesus monkeys. The monkeys looked at a computer screen, which displayed from one to five dots.
Evidence Adds Up That Monkeys Can Count
But why would you do that? Why spend 9 months teaching a monkey to count when you could teach him concepts like "When I put all the ingredients in [the food processor], what will happen?” or "Describe the smell of an onion, strong or light" or “Room 210 is a pie...and each of us is a slice of that pie.”

Meanwhile, over at themoneyillusion, Scott Sumner has posted this passage by physicist Eliezar Yudkowsky re: the multiverse:
So let me state then, very clearly, on behalf of any and all physicists out there who dare not say it themselves: Many-worlds wins outright given our current state of evidence. There is no more reason to postulate a single Earth, than there is to postulate that two colliding top quarks would decay in a way that violates conservation of energy. It takes more than an unknown fundamental law; it takes magic.

[snip]

We have embarrassed our Earth long enough by failing to see the obvious. So for the honor of my Earth, I write as if the existence of many-worlds were an established fact, because it is. The only question now is how long it will take for the people of this world to update.
Many Worlds, One Best Guess
So there you have it. There are many Earths, and we are on the wrong one, the one where not teaching is teaching and Salman Khan is the man you call to help you spice up a presentation.

On the other hand, as Ed pointed out to me this afternoon, the fact that there are multiple Earths doesn't mean any of them are different. They could all be the same, the way dollar bills in your billfold are the same.

In that case, we need to find another planet.