WRITING 131: WHY PEOPLE DON’T LIKE MATH, 1

Math is everywhere. From the first sound in the morning  (alarm) till the last touch at night (electric toothbrush), hardly a day goes by without math’s touch. Indeed, math powers all kinds of gadgets,  from cell phone,  to TV, car, train,  and computer; it also dictates how modern society carries out daily activities, from sales, trading, auction, forecasting, to sports (Moneyball). Indeed, if we put a label “Math Inside” on everything that uses math, we would be amazed by its ubiquity.

Its might aside, math is also genuinely beautiful. Like writing, math values simplicity, coherence, consistency, and precision. Often more so than writing. For example, my favorite symbol, the integral \displaystyle \int, is just visually gorgeous. It is also extremely powerful to express all sorts of relationships—e.g., between speed and distance, between density and mass, between stock and flow. It does so by capturing their common core in such a simple, unified, elegant way:

\displaystyle F(x ) = F(a ) + \int_a^x f(t ) dt.

Despite its ubiquity and beauty, people seem to dislike math. Few joke about their deficiency in literature or music, but many are eager to admit their illiteracy of math.

Why?

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Day 103, 5pt, 12.29T:

jog: 3m;
learn: Luenberger, 5.4;
swim: 22r;
TYM: finish LN’s paper, positioning, 4h;
chat with T for an hour;

For Day 104,
TYM: writing only.

[TYM]
This project has been dragged on for too long. If it has little potential to make the top, then just get it done and move on. The opportunity cost is too high to delay.

Get it done in a week.

[T’s application]
T is struggling with accepting the job offer in LA or going for another interview in Michigan. LA offer (10K) is paid below the market, but Michigan is uncertain. It is a hard choice she must make and live with the consequence.

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[Water world, Universal Studio, LA, summer, 2008]

WRITING: THE PERIOD OF LA GANG, I

When I first moved to LA, Cindy was the only one I knew. A shining star, she is my high school classmate. But we were never close.  To my surprise, she invited me to her birthday party.

There I met Bill and Southpark couple. Southpark is the administrator of a LA online community. She held party every weekend in her apartment. Bill is a basketball fan, which made it much easier to fit in. Later, in their weekend parties, I also met Rae, Jason, Jenny and Kevin couple.

For the next one year, the eight of our LA Gang partied every weekend. We watched Rose Bowl parade in Pasedena, attended the ZGX concert in Las Vegas, BBQ in Westwood, played UNO in Jenny’s place, or sang Karaoke in San Gabriel (Rae is terrible but genuinely believed her singing skill).  It was one of the happiest time in my life.

But no party lasts for ever. A year later, Bill couple had their first daughter. The housing became an issue. LA has ridiculous housing price—the starting price for a condo is half million. For bigger house, they decided to relocate to Houston.

After their departure, the party was never the same. No one has South park’s  passion and personal skills. I hang out with Rae, Jason, and Cindy sporadically. But not as fun as before. A year later Rae graduated and left LA, too. Then Jenny and Kevin couple got into the nasty drama of divorce… Things just fall apart.

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[LA, CA, 2008-2009]

Santa Monica