Saturday, June 30, 2007

In Atlanta

I am now in Atlanta. I just drove in from Richmond, VA where I spent last night. The accents are getting thicker, the weather wetter. I am going to report in to Fort Benning tomorrow. I'll try to keep y'all posted on how things are going.

Friday, June 29, 2007

And I'm off

I am off to Fort Benning in a few moments. I do not know what to expect, but it should be fine.

I'll be back in 5 months, so goodbye to all you New Yorkers, I'll see you when I get back.

I hope to be blogging every now and then. I'll keep you posted on what goes on there.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Review of Capitalism and Arithmetic

Frank J. Swetz's Capitalism and Arithmetic is a translation of the Trevisio Arithmetic by an unknown Italian teacher of arithmetic. (The translation is by David Eugene Smith, and there is a thoughtful tribute to him in the book.)

The Trevisio was a rather ordinary book teaching students, mostly merchants how to compute using addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, basic fractions, and the like.

It is historically interesting because we find a lot of mathematical techniques whose import we may not have otherwise been aware. Granted, it makes dull reading if you already know arithmetic through long division, but it does give us a few interesting clues about the life and times of the book.

Mathematically, I never realized how important some of these computing rules, like "casting out nines", or "the rule of three" were. Culturally, we can see the influence on banking and trade on the style of arithmetic and other areas of life. By merely looking at the examples, we can tell what was important to the culture, and money was certainly important.

There is also a good chunk of analysis and historical background thrown in.

The book is probably of interest to people who study the history of mathematics education, and the history of old reckoning books.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Review of Wheelan's Naked Economics

Charles Wheelan's Naked Economics is pretty good as popular books on economics go. It is a very clear basic discussion of a number of the more important economic issues that effect individuals, countries, and the world. The basic lessons, as one would expect are about markets, and incentives. But there are also great discussions about inflation, deflation, interest rates, globalization, the IMF, the World Bank and a whole host of other things.

I thought the discussion of demystifying the fed was great, as I never really knew what exactly the fed does, and how it controls interest rates or the money supply? Wheelan really clears a lot up.

The book has no math, and no graphs or charts, but it manages to get it's point across pretty well. It is peppered with anecdotes about interesting economic thingies, and has a spate of good examples. I enjoyed the book.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Need more time

So much has been going on lately that there has been little time to write in this space. I have been very preoccupied with my two main writing projects. They are both coming along, albeit a bit slower than I had hoped. I went with my unity to VA for 5 days last week. That was a lot of fun, but some work as well. I finally got a real picture of how different things are on the officer side. I have also been spending a lot of time preparing for going to officer school. Mostly I have been saying goodbye to people who I won't see for another six months, though they mostly are people I only see every six months or so anyway. I had some sort of get-together for a lot of friends, sort of a good-bye party. My unit was kind enough to throw a joint good-bye party for me and someone who is retiring.

I have barely read the news in the past two months. I am sure that some things have happened that are worth commenting on, but I have had little time. Nor have I read too many whole books. I hope you will be hearing more from me soon, though it looks like lately I am getting less and less thoughtful, as I have less and less time.

Also, if anyone has any advice about life at Fort Benning, let me know. Thanks.