Thoughts on Online Math Courses

Cerro Coso Community College offers an online AA degree in mathematics. You take three semesters of Analytic Geometry and Calculus (I, II, II), Linear Algebra, and two other elective math courses. (I don’t have to take gen ed since I have a BA or higher.)

A university lecturer friend of mine has concerns over the amount of information learned by students in online math classes, and I think it is a fair concern. Having just finished my first online math course, I thought I’d review it.

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How much longer?

When mostly Latino residents in an Anaheim, California neighborhood gathered to protest a police shooting, the cops responded by…shooting rubber bullets and siccing a police dog on a mother holding an infant child.

If they didn’t want to be shot at then they shouldn’t have tried to exercise their first amendment rights.

Third Theatre To Your Left, And I’m Going To Need To See Your Assho’

Another potential target for civil lawsuits would be Century Theaters, where the shooting took place. It was reported that Holmes entered the theater through an emergency exit before throwing off gas canisters and using at least two guns in the shooting. One may wonder just how Holmes got in through the emergency exit and if the theater did enough to protect the crowds. That said, metal detectors and pat-downs aren’t standard at most U.S. movie theaters. (emphasis mine)

Sweet buttery Christ, preserve us from a future with TSA checkpoints in random public spots. Is there any civil liberty people won’t willingly give up to protect them from something scary, but incredibly unlikely?

Julian Sanchez: What Follows from “You Didn’t Build That”?

Julian Sanchez, showing why he deserves to be <heart>’ed hard and often:

Maybe, however, the point is more along the lines of the Nagel/Murphy “Myth of Ownership” argument: Since you didn’t earn whatever wealth you have all by yourself, without external help, you can’t really claim to deserve or be entitled to it—it’s a matter of luck you’re not one of those smart, hardworking people who didn’t get rich, after all—and so “we” (apparently meaning “the government”) get to take back however much “we” think is appropriate.

But this one proves rather too much doesn’t it? You didn’t assemble your own DNA, or design your own reproductive system—your parents, and before them eons of evolution, built that. If you have religious or beliefs and practices, you didn’t build that—you inherited them from a whole tradition of thought, transmitted through institutions made of other people, in books written by other people, created using printing technology invented by other people. You have views on politics you want to express? You didn’t build those alone either—and you probably even want to do it over a computer network that the government subsidized a very different and primitive early form of decades ago.

This and the President’s That

I’m biased against the President of the United States. I don’t like his, or his opponent’s, ideology. I don’t like the amount of power that his office wields.
But when the President says:

     If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.  There was a great teacher somewhere in your life.  Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.  Somebody invested in roads and bridges.  If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that.  Somebody else made that happen.  The Internet didn’t get invented on its own.  Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

What does he mean by the “that” in bold? Is he speaking about the “roads and bridges?” I submit not, as those are “those” and not a “that.”

The President means to say that a person who has a successful business didn’t build that [successful business]. It is an elementary point of grammar. The success is a communitarian, collective one, and the credit must be spread around. Yes, you worked hard but “there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.” Of course, you’re smart but, “[t]here are a lot of smart people out there.”

You were forced to participate in a system where the government took money from some people, then redistributed some of it to others, and provided services with some it. And since you were forced to participate in this system, the system gets the credit for your accomplishments. You didn’t accomplish them. They’re the accomplishments of the community, or society, of a beneficent government which has done so many great things for you. It is a call to believe in what the government can do. It is also used as justification for higher taxes.

It would be a good message, too, except for one thing: government isn’t voluntary. You can’t opt out of taxes and decide to use private roads, schools, retirement plans, etc. You are forced to do so, and then this compulsion is used as justification for further compulsion.

Respect for your fellow persons begins with acknowledging their autonomy–their right to make decisions for themselves. The President’s words, while they may be compelling rhetoric, cannot cover up the basic fact that he’s arguing against individual autonomy.

I think we all remember when Hillary Clinton approached Angela Merkel with tears in her eyes because the German Chancellor wouldn’t consider restructuring Greek debt.


Good God, your know someone is on the fringe when you cannot tell the difference between someone pretending to be a crazy feminist, and a skepchick-type feminist expressing their opinion.  That’s right, feminism in the secular movement has reached poe-tastic proportions!

So lets see if you can tell me which one of the following is someone pretending to be crazy, and which is a serious feminist (being supported by who else but ‘Freethoughtbloggers’ and skepchick).

Is it a)

There has been a lot of sexually harassing by text (textual harassment) at TAM, and therefore the skeptichicks are planning to implement a policy banning such harassment at their conferences.  To ensure that women feel safe at conferences this policy will strictly prohibit people sending unwanted text messages, specifically including the following:

( . ) ( . )


or is it b),

…that wearing a T-shirt at TAM saying that says…

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California State University, Bakersfield offers bullshit, for a small fee

So, it’s come to this.

Image (S/S: 17July2012)

California State University, Bakersfield–my beloved alma mater–is offering classes in pseudoscience. Granted it is through the extended university and also granted that the EU is generally a profit center for Universities, but that is no excuse. What doth it profit a man to gain $209 if he loses his intellectual integrity?

If you’re unaware that the three courses described above are pseudoscientific twaddle that don’t belong in a reputable University, then turn off your goddamned computer right now and pick up a book. (Start with Carl Sagan, move to James Randi, then turn your computer back on and go to