365 minus 52 equals 313

Day 52!!!

Bibliographic Info:

Where mathematics comes from : How the embodied mind brings mathematics into being

Lakoff, George

Basic Books, 2000

I can venture a guess as to where Math came from. Bowels of hell come to mind...

Summary (Book List Review):

With this ambitious book, Lakoff and Nunez hope to launch a whole new discipline: a cognitive science of mathematics. And they bid fair to bring it off, showing how all mathematical ideas–from simple counting to calculus–can be traced to the discrete workings of the human brain, and not to some transcendent realm of Platonic ideals. This approach to mathematics holds a number of surprises, as even ordinary arithmetic dissolves into conceptual metaphors grounded in the sensory-motor system. The entire panoply of mathematical symbols and calculations–precise and consistent–thus reflects the evolutionary history of brain neurons.

My Reaction:

I was hopeful because the cover of the book was kind of intriguing and not mathy looking. Yall I opened this book, saw, charts, graphs and angles and had had enough.  I read enough to know that the authors purport that babies–2 to 3 days old–can discriminate between groups with less objects or more objects.   They discuss the studies  that support this claim, how they were done etc.  Don’t know if I buy it. Math never felt innate to me.  Rather its always felt more alien, cold and distant like that Tilda Swinton chick. What is her deal anyway?

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Red Tails and Black Wings

Day 12 (Friday)  & 13 (Saturday)

When I saw today’s book pop up in the lottery I said (not unlike Joey from Blossom) “Whoa!” Followed by a “holy coincidence Batman!” You’ll see why these pop culture inspired exclamations were in order in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.

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Through no strategizing of my own, today’s book came straight out of the headlines.  George Lucas’s Red Tails is on the tip of everyone’s tongue these days.  Sentiments range from “Go see it! Support the all black cast!” to “Don’t go see it! It sucks! See a documentary on the subject instead!”  I’m kind of on the fence. Kind of. Lets just say I don’t appreciate the overt manipulation involved in the marketing of this movie: ‘They say blacks won’t spend their money to see this worthy film! Let’s prove ’em wrong!’   I’ll see the film if and only if I wanna see it. The only sheep around here are those two purple cuties up top ^^ shaking what their mama gave ’em.

I was excited to see today’s offering too because I’ve always wondered about blacks in aviation.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a black pilot proudly cutting his/her way through the airport.  The authors of these articles notice the dearth as well.  Check this book out if you’re as interested as I am!

Bibliographic info:

Black wings : courageous stories of African Americans in aviation and space history 

Hardesty, Von

HarperCollins Publishers, 2008

Summary (Library Journal Review):

Traces African American achievement in flight from the earliest days of exploration through the famed Tuskegee Airmen to today’s astronauts. Great attention is paid to the Tuskegee pilots, who battled the Germans and then U.S. racism, but this book also details the first African American woman to fly in combat (during World War I) and the first African American to go into space.

My Reaction:

Wowsers! I opened the book and ran smack dab into Bessie Coleman’s story.  Talk about fearless and inspirational.  This woman was critically injured in some of her flights and got back in the cockpit to stunt fly another day.  She was a star in the male dominated world of aviation, giving lectures and touring the country.  She was also civic/political minded.  There should be a biopic on her! Thandie Newton, Kerry Washington or Taraji P. Henson call me!

Speaking of movies, the book states that she was offered a bit part in a movie called  Shadow and Sunshine.  She was to play a woman in tattered rags but ultimately declined the part opting not to “play out existing racial stereotypes”.  Miss Coleman was killed in a plane accident due to repair issues.  She was 34.  I might keep my $10 (sorry George Lucas.  Something tells me you’ll be OK though.) and just keep reading this book.

Now for the second book. Just when I thought that there might be a chance that I’d love/find interesting every book that I encountered on this challenge, I ran into this little number.  Pun intended.

Bibliographic Info:

The Math Chat Book
 Morgan, Frank

Mathematical Association of America, 2000

Who 'chats' about math? Fans of cruel and unusual punishment that's who.

Summary:

It’s about math.

My Reaction:

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Little Johnny can’t do long division…and it’s all my fault!!

Moist palms…acoustic heart beat…anime forhead sweat in full effect!

What time is it you ask? It’s time for me to rise to the occasion.  It’s time for Ray Charles (R.I.P) to lead Stevie Wonder.  It’s time to act like the Mr. Jessup’s 7th grade math class chalkboard debaucle never happened.

It’s time for me to help my kids with their math homework.

I wonder if their teachers understand how traumatic this is for parents like me.  When new concepts are introduced I can’t be trusted to give that annoyingly short explanation at the top of the worksheet a once over and be ready to helm their boat of understanding.  No, I have to go and Google math tutorial videos that invariably feature a narrator that sounds like Bob Ross.  Only he’s ‘painting’ mathmatic masterpieces with a happy little exponent right over here…  Meanwhile my child is witnessing my look of sheer panic and patiently waiting for me to finish ‘re-acquainting’ myself with whatever the concept is.  My eldest usually figures it out before I arrive at my Eureka! moment and tries (but fails) to conceal her look of ‘Really Mom? Really’? 

My other child, Sensitive Smurf, can’t forge ahead without me.  He really needs me to shake off the nightmare of Dr. Najee-Ullah’s College Algebra triplicate F—thats right folks, I failed College Algebra 3 times—and help him borrow, carry, solve for x, and find out how fast the 8:00 train from Bismark is going while scientifically notating.

At every math homework session I have to ward off visions of my child working at Checker’s or trash collecting (not that there’s anything wrong with that), because I passed the Mathmatically challenged gene on to him.  I really do try my darndest to approach math with an open mind and a can-do spirit, but my history clouds my disposition.  When all else fails and I’ve tried Binary Bob Ross, phoning a friend and whispering a prayer, I resort to the best kept internet secret, www.WolframAlpha.com.

Heaven forbid the teacher issues this panic inducing edict: Show your work.

It's all Mandarin to me.