Thursday, September 24, 2009

Math: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

I am not a math genius. My math teacher in high school just wanted me to add and subtract even though I was in an advanced math class. There were two girls in my class. One was a math genius and the other was me. We're talking the 1960's here folks. Just the beginning of the women's revolution and the Natl Organization of Women. The math teacher, God rest his soul, did me no favors. During exams he would have this other girl and me grade the papers of the guys and in return, not have to take the test. He always gave us A's. At the time, I thought, how sweet is this...Not now. The students of the United States always rank behind other countries in math proficiency scores. I previously wrote a scathing blog on the Dems wanting to cut back on Charter Schools. It now seems PreBo has finally come around and will support Charter Schools. Hurrah for you Mr. President! The Washington Post: "The disappointing performance of U.S. teenagers in math and science on an international exam, in scores released yesterday, has sparked calls for improvement in public schools to help the country keep pace in the global economy.

The scores from the 2006 Program for International Student Assessment showed that U.S. 15-year-olds trailed their peers from many industrialized countries. The average science score of U.S. students lagged behind those in 16 of 30 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a Paris-based group that represents the world's richest countries. The U.S. students were further behind in math, trailing counterparts in 23 countries."

Here's something that I found on the internet to try to make heads or tails of this dilemma. The story is as follows:

Last week I (not me but a fictional person) purchased a burger at Burger King for $1.58. The counter girl took my $2 and I was digging for my change when I pulled 8 cents from my pocket and gave it to her. She stood there , holding the nickel and 3 pennies , while looking at the screen on her register. I sensed her discomfort and tried to tell her to just give me two quarters , but she hailed the manager for help. While he tried to explain the transaction to her , she stood there and cried. Why do I tell you this? Because of the evolution in teaching math since the 1950s:

1. Teaching Math In 1950s A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit ?
2. Teaching Math In 1960s A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?
3. Teaching Math In 1970s A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80. Did he make a profit?
4. Teaching Math In 1980s A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.
5. Teaching Math In 1990s A logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation of our woodlands. He does this so he can make a profit of $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down their homes? (There are no wrong answers, and if you feel like crying , it's ok.)
6. Teaching Math In 2009 Un hachero vende una carretada de maderapara $100. El costo de la producciones es $80. Cuanto dinero ha hecho?

Anybody out there remember the slide rule?!

Monday, September 21, 2009

блокада Ленинграда: The Siege of Leningrad and Other Observations About Visiting Russia

No, your computer doesn't have a virus. The above is "the siege of Leningrad" in the cyrillic alphabet of Russia. When traveling in western Europe, where most of the languages are based on Latin, you can pretty much figure something out. Not in Russia baby. Here's what I learned/experienced on our trip:

* After visiting Peterhof (the place built by Peter the Great to emulate Versailles)
, Catherine the Great's palace and The Armory (it houses all of the jewels, gowns, carriages of the Tsars) and learning of the serf system they had set up, there is no wonder there was a revolution which toppled the Tsar system. After having been to Versailles and knowing what I know about the French kings, no surprise about a revolution there either.

* Much of what you learn on your tours revolves around either Tsarist history or WWII. There are monuments all over both St. Petersburg and Moscow honoring their war dead and the great achievement of the "red" army.

* "Red" in Russia signifies beauty.

* The siege of Leningrad (St. Petersburg) by the Germans lasted 872 days with 1 1/2 million people and soldiers perishing. After all the birds, rats and pets had been eaten, there were stories of cannibalism. 27 million Russians died during the war.   Read more...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Greetings from Yaroslavl, Russia!

Some interesting facts I've learned about Russka. The birth rate is 11.6 per 1000, the death rate 16.5 per 1000. Women live to, on average, be 73 while the men? Just 59 is the average age.
I guess too much vodka and cigs. Another thing that has fascinated me is that the majority of what they take us to see are monastaries, churches and convents.
Most of which are under renovation. During communism, as you know, religion was banned. But apparently the "workers' of the country never abandoned it. Yesterday, we had to wait 3 hours for fog to lift before we could continue down the river.
What did we miss? Another monastary. Today, the countryside is dotted with numerous onion domes of churches. As far as the ship, we are disappointed. The ship is older and needs renovation. The food is not very good and the choices are limited. Yesterday we had a true Russian tea which basically is tead made in a samovar and lots of pastries with Russian fold music. We have asked other passengers if this is the standard for Viking and they say it is not. The other ships have TV's in the rooms, workout rooms etc. Let me just say that I am the youngest person on board. Drank all of our vodka and have got to find another store to get more. Hope all is well and the weather beautiful. The weather here is gorgeous!

Hello From Goritzy Russia!

Vinnie is about ready to throw himself overboard! The ship has no TV, Internet connections take long minutes and there are people knitting and playing mahjong. Actually, we saw an unbelievable wooden church on the island of Kizhi yesterday. The spires are all wooden.
A very peaceful and pastoral scene. We will be traveling from now on up a canal system and we went thru 8 locks last night. The scenery reminds me of the Northwest. Read more...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hello from St. Petersburg, Russia!

We are here in St. Petersburg and I just went to buy some vodka, surprise, and almost got in to it with the proprietor. She wanted to charge me 2 rubles for a bag to put the vodka in. She was RUDE. Well, that's less than 2 cents...ah, I guess I gave her the two rubles..Didn't want to get thrown in the gulag!

St. Petesburg is very beautiful and very clean. One thing we noted...remember the Beatles in Back in the USSR where the Urikraine girls really knock me out? The women here, at least the young ones, are very very good looking. Thin, long legs,  mostly long blond hair. What's interesting is that there are so many weddings in the middle of the week. Lots of white dresses, limos and tuxs. But it seems that as the Russian women get older, babuskas all.