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Winsont Churchill said …

“The malice of the wicked was reinforced by the weakness of the virtuous . . . They lived from hand to mouth and from day to day, and from one election to another . . . The cheers of weak, well-meaning assemblies soon cease to echo, and their votes soon cease to count. Doom marches on.”

Is this Legal? Ethical? Right?

I love my alma mater. During my time there, the faculty and programs helped me grow intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. It was the right experience for me at the right time.

My alma mater is far from perfect, and there are many things about the private institution that make me uncomfortable. For example, it has had a terrible track record with handling campus assaults, including sexual assaults. Recent student activism has exposed this to the world, and the institution’s administration appears to be taking honest steps to address this. Students have also called out the institution for culturally insensitive (some say racist) practices that are deeply embedded in the culture. The institution’s administration appears to be addressing this, too. But administrative efforts on these difficult topics seem forced and reluctant. These efforts don’t align with their priorities of fundraising and painting a picture of my alma mater as a perfect college experience for its target market.

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I’m trying to learn to use SageMath as a computational tool my students can use in Calculus I and in Differential Geometry. The University does not appear to have computational resources that allow me to run a local SageMath Server, so I’ve used this page:

to figure out how to embed a SageMath Cell on my WordPress homepage. This should help students a bit.


“If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.” Anatole France.

This week, our President held a closed-door meeting with legislative leaders On immigration policy. People at the meeting report of him getting frustrated by the idea that the policy should continue to include people from (what Trump called) ‘shithole’ countries. He was referring to Haiti and others.

Reports of Trump’s statement were followed by weak defenses that followed a formula we’ve seen several times. Liberals grasped their pearls and said, ‘oh my!’ Conservatives remained mum or pussy-footed around the comments.

This time, Democratic Senator Dick Durbin confirmed top press that Trump made the comment. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham confirmed to colleagues that Trump made the comment, but wouldn’t address the issue head-on with the media. Along with these two in the meeting were Republican Senators Tom Cotten and David Purdue. Both said they “don’t recall” Truman calling Haiti and other countries ‘shithole’ countries.

Another part of the formulaic response to Trump boners is all the talking heads saying, “Trump is just saying what his base thinks.” This calls to mind the famous quote attributed to Anatole France, mentioned above. In American history, we can look to Manifest Destiny (which led to Native American genocide), segregation, the rights of the disabled, the rights of women, and marriage inequality. On each of these issues, the status quo has changed as society has become more educated. Trump and his supporters are pushing the proposition that the new status quo is one of nationalism, white-rights, and entitlement. They claim the American people have ratified this new status quo by electing Trump.

Right-thinking Americans know this is an oversimplification. Trump does not represent the thoughts and hopes and desires of Americans. He may have millions of citizens who feel newly disenfranchised and hitch their political hops to his wagon, but very few do it with enthusiasm. Very few.

*in loco parentis* and St. Olaf College

I’ve been monitoring the recent on-line conversations about St. Olaf College’s sexual assault policies and procedures. As an alumnus, a (hopeful) future parent of an Ole (or two), a liberally educated mathematician (so I’m not the greatest writer), and a higher education professional, I have some serious concerns about St. Olaf’s track record in dealing with sexual assaults on students. After all, every alumni of St. Olaf College is connected to me, and I want the best for all of them.

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Analyzing Archery for Science!

My daughter is in eigth grade. When she was asked to come up with a science project, she thought of her compound bow and how she could use that to study the effect of changing some variable and holding others constant. For her project she is asking, “What effect will varying the draw poundage have on my accuracy?” To study this, we have spent some time at the regional archery range (home of the Conejo Valley Archery club) and shot rounds on their 13m and 18m lanes.

I want to write up is the process that I, the Dad, am using to look at her data before she has a chance to look at it herself. (She’s procrastinating a bit.)

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