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My country, timid and unsure

Meanwhile, back in the homeland, we have apparently learned the finer points of how to convict loathesome pieces of shit for hate speech by studying the materials used to prepare debutantes for matriculation from the nation’s top finishing schools. Really, we’re just that polite: witness [part of] Judge Marty Irwin’s explanation for convicting David Ahenakew of hate speech and stripping him of his membership in the Order…

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Archives, Queen Of Sciences, Righteous Indegnation, Those Who Cant

The Modern-Day Math Test, or, How I Became a Curmudgeon

(Or, Wherein the Author Learns Who Subscribes to the RSS Feed.) The other day, against my better judgement, I took on some contract textbook writing work with a company based in India. The main reason, I confess, is so that I can tell my friends that India is outsourcing work to me, something that I’ll also be sure to mention on my résumé when…

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Archives, Home And Native Land, Talking To Strangers

A Canadian moment

The rain was coming down hard when I waited for a break in traffic to cross the street. I paused at the intersection, waiting for the Volvo, and the Honda that trailed perilously close behind, to pass. I saw the Volvo decelerate, and I tried to catch the driver’s eye. Speed up, I willed her, don’t stop. I can wait five seconds to…

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Archives, Oh Give Me a Home, Righteous Indegnation, Talking To Strangers

I’m not signing anything until I read it, or someone gives me the gist of it

aSome exciting developments on the home-buying front: I have a banker and a mortgage broker fighting for my business! It’s not often that I have people fighting over me, so I am milking this opportunity for all it’s worth, shamelessly playing the two parties off of one another, and deliberately holding off on making any commitments until that magical deadline,…

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Archives, Driving with Mathematicians

Driving with mathematicians

“How many gas stations do you think we’ll pass on the way home?” “You mean on the side of the road, or at exits?” “Whichever – places where we’d consider buying gas.” “I don’t know, six, eight…why?” “Well, if we pass the first 1/e gas stations and then stop at the first place that offers cheaper gas, then we’ll maximize the…

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Archives, Character Writ Large, Those Who Cant

Where textbooks come from

When I was a kid, my father told me about a strange phenomenon, which was later explained to him, that he’d observed while eating on airplanes. Back in the seventies and early eighties, Dad travelled a lot on business, and he noticed that the slices of hard-boiled eggs he received never included any ends. Each egg slice that made its…

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Archives, Meta Meta, This One Time At Mathcamp

Math class: now with more social justice (and less math)

The adage that addresses the issue of judging books by their covers counsels unambiguously against, but I’ve always rejected it on the grounds that it assumes, generally incorrectly, that authors have no editorial control over the presentation of their work. I unabashedly judge books by their covers in the figurative sense; but at the moment I’m being quite literal. Specifically, I…

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