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grade school math experience //

there was a formative moment in 1st grade, where a student asked the teacher a question, and before answering, the teacher quietly did a few lines of math on the chalkboard, I think either long division or algebra?

they never explained what they did & nobody asked about it. Despite knowing most of the symbols I couldn't quite figure out what was happening and why, but the notion that more powerful math techniques existed β and could directly solve problems I didn't even know how to start β well it was an "I want to know how to do *that*" kind of thing

grade school math experience //

I brought this back to the teacher, and told them they should teach the class this method so we didn't have to sit on the carpet doing guess-and-check for ages. They said no, because the other kids didn't know division yet. This surprised me, because I didn't know division either, I just knew that half of a number wasβ¦ half of it? (was much gratified to later discover the Egyptians considered "halving" a fundamental operation!)

anyway, the teacher persisted in giving the class these problems, so to protest I would answer every pair I could, and then give the other students pairs that would require them to guess fractional or negative numbers to prove that guess-and-check was crap.

grade school math experience //

my first taste of algebra was in (iirc?) 2nd grade

we played a game where the teacher would give us two numbers, a sum and a difference, and we had to come up with a pair of numbers with the specified number sum and difference. The kids would all pull out their calculators and punch numbers in, and the first to find the solution would often get to pick the next two numbers for the class to work on.

I /hated/ it. Specifically, I hated guess-and-check. What was the point of that? I complained.

Eventually I complained to my mom, and she showed me an algebraic solution. I didn't totally get the derivation, but I could tell the general solution was correct because of how the numbers fit together:

1. Take half of the sum. (Two halves make a whole)

2. To that half, add half of the difference to get the first number, and subtract half the difference to get the second number. (moving half the distance up & half the distance down gives the whole difference, while keeping the sum)

should I feel annoyed that, thanks to chem class, I can work out how many joules are needed to raise 654g of 32Β°C water to 123Β°C steam

but I didn't quite know what to do when the pasta water started boiling over tonight?

(I was watching for it to happen & I knew to take the lid off, but then I put it back on)

sorry, Aethiopia, Ethiopia is different and apparently never got conquered by the romans?

roman history is weird because most of it didn't happen in rome

an empire across three continents run exclusively for the benefit of *one particular city*

so on some level, all the stuff with roman senators getting in each other's faces over, idk, land rights or whatever, is just rinky-dink local politics

then those senators go on vacation and rule ethiopia for a summer or three

it's so weird looking at multi-hundred year periods / trends, for the things *we* care about, but simultaneously not really being aware of what the big issues people cared about at the time.

"such-and-such city revolted a few times between X00 and Y50" pretty sure you that would have been a lot of front-page headlines worth of stuff, let alone however many viral tweet equivalents

history classes in school were my least favorite, least interesting

but then looking at history from any other perspective is fascinating???

(was the level simply too broad to be useful in middle school? too whitewashed?)

like I wish we had learned about pre-electric power distribution (like, rotating axles, not hierarchy)

So my game company finally announced the game what we've been working on for the last three years! Trailer here, game to be releasedβ¦ hopefully soon (I actually have a pretty clear idea of a release date but it seems foolish to attempt to announce a specific ship date in the current Circumstances) https://mastodon.social/@mermaidindustries/106217847393660879

somehow, despite the whole "bread and circuses" thing, taking three years of Latin + a semester of roman history

I didn't know about the grain distribution thing (at all or in meaningful detail?) until pretty recently

random wiki article of the day:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cura_Annonae

do note that "citizen" of rome does not mean resident of rome β a "plebian" is someone with the privilege of citizenship, lower class than the aristocracy, but still higher class than slaves and immigrants.

noticing a symmetry between the arguments

"taxation is bad, because if you had just let people spend the money they would spend it on themselves more efficiently than gov't could"

and

"direct cash payments are good, because people can spend on themselves more efficiently that the gov't could dividing it into (food stamps, healthcare, various subsidies)"

idea I've been kicking around: an alice-in-wonderland jabberwocky poem like textbook where students are only asked to carry mathematical procedures with no grounding in reality

but *do* make a sort of sense together

with the goal of the student developing an intuition or model of how all those things interact with each other

(maybe something like "it's a video game world, and it was programmed in this particular bizarre way)