Better than binary: four kinds of false dichotomy

I’ve been helping put together some materials for a new class we’re tentatively calling “Math and Public Life”, organized around ten or so concepts from higher mathematics and how they relate to the way we think about life and each other. One of the themes I’m hoping to show is that often as our understanding … More Better than binary: four kinds of false dichotomy

New Math vs Old Math

A frequent reader of this blog sent me a link to this video on Facebook, of a side-by-side comparison between a traditional method for doing multidigit multiplication (which is over very quickly) and a new “grid” method (which takes a long time to explain): She wanted to know why anyone would use the long, drawn-out … More New Math vs Old Math

The Wheel of Outcomes

If you’re considering making some change in your life — waking up at a different time, adopting a pet, starting a business — there are generally only two possibilities for the outcome: it will make your life better, or it will make your life worse. (Very rarely, it might make a net zero difference, but … More The Wheel of Outcomes

Welcome to the world!

This month Clara and I welcomed our first child, a daughter, into the world. She is unbelievably wonderful and it already feels like she’s been with us forever. Here are some thoughts on life with a newborn (sometimes, on life with this newborn specifically), in no particular order: When she cries, it’s often just sad … More Welcome to the world!

Three questions to ask instead of “Is it safe?”

Minnesota has recently gone from its “Stay Home” order to a series of “Stay Safe” guidelines for which activities to reintroduce when. Here’s an example graphic posted by our governor last week: This type of advice puts each activity at any given time into one of two buckets: “Allowed” or “Not allowed.” And that makes … More Three questions to ask instead of “Is it safe?”

Quarantine Knits

When I think about the different aspects of my life, I keep coming back to this list of goal types Gretchen Rubin collected for her book Better than Before: Eating healthfully Exercising regularly Spending wisely Enjoying rest Accomplishment Simplifying one’s environment Deepening relationships I’ve been astonished how much this pandemic has disrupted every one of … More Quarantine Knits