Tuesday, February 25, 2014

News roundup: Algebra banned in AZ schools -and- you'll never believe these amazing finds!

Arizona senator Al Melvin was interviewed on why he had voted against the Common Core Curriculum being implemented in Arizona, and according to the Arizona Daily Star:

he said the program uses “fuzzy math,” substituting letters for numbers in some examples.

Does he mean algebra? How can he not know about algebra and be a senator at the same time? Or is the objection because algebra was invented by a Mooslum?

If so, nobody tell him that the numerals (the ones that aren't creepy weird math letters) are Arabic too, or he'll have a conniption. Or he'll insist we all use good old Roman numerals, I suppose, but it could make long division a bit harder, not to mention anything that used to have a zero in it.

And FGS don't tell him that there is a type of math called Fuzzy Math and it has letters in it, not to mention a slew of things that aren't either letters or numerals, and therefore surely must be the work of the Devil.
“It [Common Core] got hijacked by Washington, by the federal government,” said Melvin, a candidate for governor, and “as a conservative Reagan Republican I’m suspect about the U.S. Department of Education in general, but also any standards that are coming out of that department.”
Suspicious, not suspect, you illiterate doofus. 

This is more like it: Recent storms have scoured the sand from beaches in Wales, revealing a 5000 year old forest that had been gradually drowned in wet peat and ended up preserved under the beach. 

What's odd is some of the trees appear to have been cut with saws. Can't see anything about it in the rather thin news articles, but I have to assume they were sticking up from the beach and got cut down recently as I'm sure the Welsh didn't have such excellent saws in 2000 BCE. A wattle walkway was also uncovered, as if the locals had to build a boardwalk to maneuver around the sinking trees.

(pictures are from news reports)

What's fascinating is that the Welsh have preserved a legend of a lost "sunken hundred" in the vicinity called Cantre’r Gwaelod.  (A hundred is a kind of wapentake.) Legend has it that either the gatekeeper got drunk, or the fairy guardian got careless, and allowed the sea in through a sluice, allowing the water level to rise and the land to drown.

 When I was a kid I used to read books about the wonders of the world and always wished I lived in the days when the sea receded to reveal long lost structures, or lakes gave up drowned buildings. Due to climate change, I guess, those days are back.

The oldest hominid footprints in Britain were revealed just a couple of weeks ago, when the sand receded to uncover a preserved stretch of silt containing 800,000 year old footprints. That's long before modern humans, or even Neanderthals, were out hunting on the shores. And did those feet in ancient time, indeed.

A couple walking on their land in Northern California found that their particular ground had receded to reveal - $10,000,000 worth of gold coins. Which they can keep, apparently. This country must not have "treasure trove" laws.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Ron and Hermione in marriage counselling shock

J K Rowling just said that Ron and Hermione probably shouldn't have ended up as a couple.

The papers are reporting a conversation she had with the quarterly journal Wonderland (of which I have never heard) and the pull quote is:
I wrote the Hermione-Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfilment. That's how it was conceived, really.
"For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione ended up with Ron.
"I know, I'm sorry, I can hear the rage and fury it might cause some fans, but if I'm absolutely honest, distance has given me perspective on that.
She's destroyed my childhood! Oh, wait, I was past 30 when the first book came out. Well, whatever. 

I wonder why she said it? It was a subject of intense debate among fans at the time - many preferring the simpler and more obvious pairing of Harry and Hermione, and with a vigorous section of fandom preferring just about any of them with Draco - and there was a slight hush that appeared to signify, "Oh, now we've been schooled" from the interwebs when, despite their ongoing squabbles, Ron and Hermione became a thing. 

But it seems odd to tell us now that this was a mistake.  So odd that when I first read this on Hypable, I went to the news section to see if it was a hoax. Nope, it was in all the headlines - and I checked on the Guardian

I think if these had been two of my characters, I would have shut up about it. There's nothing you can do, even if you're the author, once the books have been published, the films out on DVD and the immense playing fields full of stacks of reams of paper's worth of fanfiction published. All you can do, really, is write another book and not give in to wish-fulfillment this time. 

But she said it out loud. Some fans are clearly going to be full of "rage and fury", and some fans are going to be all, "I told you so!" And it might make for a spate of Magical Marriage Counselor Fan Fiction. Dear Abby will never be the same again. 


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