My Master’s Thesis was, after all, my first “published book”

Strong Hall, University of Kansas, 2006, Lawrence KS

In the course of moving most of my content to this site based on my legal name, I recently placed a PDF (photographic) of the 1968 Master’s Thesis at the University of Kansas, called “Minimax Rational Function Approximation”.  The link for the summary (ordinary html) is this, and the link for the document itself is this.

The subject matter comes from an areas of applied mathematics called “numerical analysis”.  I gave a technical talk on this thesis for at least one job interview in early 1970 when I was leaving the Army, at RCA David Sarnoff Labs in Princeton NJ, which became my first job.  I think I also gave a talk on it at Bell Labs in northern NJ on another interview.

I remember my experiences as a graduate student at KU (from Feb. 1966 to Jan. 1968) well, and they are described in detail in Chapter 2 of my first DADT book, or even more detail here.  

I also had a teaching assistantship (as explained in the book). In those days, graduate teaching assistants made up their own tests, and had some “power”, which was a sensitive issue in the days young men faced a military draft due to the Vietnam War, and could literally get a combat MOS (infantry) if drafted if they had flunked out of college (this would change in 1969).  All of this would lead to my losing the assistantship for a year (when I worked as a programmer).  The tests I gave were reasonable according to what I had been used to even in high school.  But I did say something to a department prof that I had no right to say (insubordinate) whatever my convictions.  I guess one could say I had been complicit in “oppression”.

When I was in Army Basic myself in the spring of 1968, I was called “algebra” or “professor” by the cadre, even when I was in Special Training Company because of my physical retardation (medically, dyspraxia).

After my mainframe IT career “cardiac arrest” (DADT Book 3, Chapter 4), 93 days post 9/11, I considered becoming a math teacher, in the days of Bush’s “No Child Left Behind”. 

I became a sub in the spring of 2004 and have described my experiences here.  There is a lot more nuance to convey about this experience, which I will revisit in a future post (it’s generating a screenplay). In September 2007 I did pass the ETS Mathematics teacher Praxis exam.  I felt I had recovered a lot of my knowledge at home. 

I recall the very first class I attended at KU early on a Monday afternoon like Feb. 7, 1966 was algebraic topology.  It blew me away and I changed immediately to an upper undergraduate course in mathematical analysis (and made a B –  grad school was hard at first).  Algebraic topology (extended to more dimensions) could explain a lot of physics, and maybe make space travel possible after all.

When I subbed, I sometimes had AP classes, and noticed with interest how some exams are setup. The student has to do part 1 of the exam without a graphing calculator, turn it in, and then do part 2 with the calculator, and budget eir time accordingly.

I do remember that in integral calculus, the exam problems could be “hard to motivate”.  You really had to know the substitutions (trigonometric, and hyperbolic)  You had to understand how euler’s number and natural logs work, in a special way.  I remember integration by parts, and integration by partial fractions (vaguely). 

But I wouldn’t be able to work many YouTube problems today.

I’ll share a video by Physics grad student Andrew Dotson, at New Mexico State University (meet his cat).

And here is John Fish’s “a day of calculus”  (he graduated from Harvard in computer science, especially “mind, brain, and behavior” – sounds good for a startup to me). He indeed did “kill” that freshman calculus final exam.

(Posted: Thursday, June 16, 2022 at 10 PM EDT)

CNN’s Anderson Cooper presents “A Mother’s Diary of War”, and the reality of old-fashioned aggression

Plains, KS 2022-5

Sunday night May 29, CNN aired a one hour documentary “A Mother’s Diary of War” at 8 PM EDT as an episode of Anderson Cooper’s AC360 program.

CNN is not very good about having fixed-URL stories about upcoming or past episodes, so here is one on the Global Herald.

A young mother named Olena, with a newborn and two other kids, starts videos two days before the Russians invade, when all is calm. Then Anderson visits her several times, as she recovers somewhat from the partial damage in Kyiv, which gets better when the Russians are forced to retreat to the East.  The kids can even play outside again.

The coverage of the mom’s life is punctuated by coverage of other horrors, especially Mariupol.

Her husband, who had no previous military training, was conscripted to fight and she hears from him occasionally.

Zelenskyy, as an actor and content creator whom I might have personally befriended in peace (and he had appeared in a Ukrainian series called “Servant of the People”) was very emphatic at the outset about conscription, requiring all able-bodied men 18-60 to remain and fight, and many of them have been wounded or killed – sacrifice.  This sort of invasion which treats civilians as enemy conscripts (and leads to war crimes and often violates the Geneva Convention) used to be the stuff of history, when one ruler wanted the natural resources of another; now it could be construed as zero-sum-game “strategy” in a world facing climate change.

One of the points I stressed in my three DADT books was the idea that many societies (historically) believe they must depend on men to protect women and children and make themselves fungible in the process.  That’s an idea George Gilder had discussed in his 1986 book “Men and Marriage”.  That, I said in my books, was one reason why the original military ban on gays could reinforce discrimination against them in other areas.  What is happening is forced on the people by external events. Olena’s little boy asks “Mom, why do we now have to go to war?” and she answers “Because the enemy came to our land and they had a bad president.”  Necessity undercuts liberal desires in the area of gender identity and sexuality, sometimes.   I haven’t heard what happens with trans persons in Ukraine (in the United States, those born as male have to register for Selective Service – and the gay lobby never mentions this).  But I also haven’t heard about COVID, or whether refugees, when they arrive in Poland or other countries, are being vaccinated before they are housed by “strangers” (to borrow Max Reisinger’s use of the word). In Poland, in fact, practically all refugees are being housed in homes of families or persons, not in dorms; this seems expected of Polish citizens, who see this as 1939 again.

.As a bonus, I just want to share a math video today, March 31, 2022 by Andrew’s Campfire, “Möbius Strip and Klein Bottle: A MIND-BLOWING Paradox Unlike Any You’ve Seen Before”.

There is an interesting paradigm for overcoming the Grandfather’s paradox with time travel using a Mobius strip, which sort of comports with quantum theory and maybe metaverses. Maybe this translates up to higher dimensions with the Klein Bottle. But that sort of begs the dangerous notion that you can just undo a previous wrong. Remember that line in “Gone with the Wind” where Rhett tells Scarlet that saying “I’m sorry” sometimes doesn’t cut it (and that’s not the last line of the movie).

(Posted: Monday, May 30, 2022 [Memorial Day Holiday in the U.S.}m by John W. Boushka)