Browsing category ranting

The insidious maths of payday loans (with added logarithms)

Compared to regular small print, it's pretty big, but compared to the four-panel, faux-war-era comic story (disaster strikes, protagonist calls Rent-A-Loan*, cash magically appears and they all live happily ever after), you could easily overlook it. You might even look at the bottom of the poster and think "that can't

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Where to start when you don't know where to start

Right! That's it. I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more. If one more student looks at a question and says "I don't know where to start!" I'm going to... I'm going to... I'm going to FROWN and look at them VERY CROSSLY. Because I

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Happy $\pi$ day!

Happy Pi Day! mu-tant cow pi by janemariejett In the American date format, today is 3.14 - a pretty good approximation to $\pi$, which (as any fule kno) is the ratio between a circle's diameter and circumference. It's also the focus of most of the jokes about maths, because -

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Uswitch, units and unitwit

A couple of weeks ago, a news story flashed by me on twitter: 49% of the UK have slower-than-average broadband. It was followed more or less immediately by a swathe of snipey comments saying 'isn't that the definition of an average?' To which the smart-arse answer is, no, there is

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Questions with only one answer

There are many questions with only one answer. Or at least, one sensible answer. If someone asks you "Are you dead?", the only possible answer you can give is "no". "Does my bum look big in this?" "Of course not, dear, it looks lovely". And if you say "Is there

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Why radians rock (and degrees don’t)

If I could wave a magic wand and overhaul just one thing to make the world a better place, I'd have a tough choice. Would I get rid of the QWERTY keyboard in favour of a more sensible layout? Would I make the English language fonetik? Would I take maths

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In praise of… watching football tournaments at exam time

or, why we need to show exams the red card Oh, Jesus wept. A study shows that in even years - when there's meaningful international football in the summer - boys' exam performances drop. The authors suggest starting the exams earlier so as not to disadvantage football-watchers. Let's leave aside

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Everyday maths: Crossing the Road

Here, let me get on this soapbox a moment Things that irritate me beyond end, number two in a series of, well, lots: grumbles about how "oh, it's pointless teaching maths, you only ever use it to work out discounts in the supermarket and there are calculators on your phone

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How to give your kids help with maths homework

... or, three easy steps to talking with your kids about $\sec(x)$1 If there's one question parents dread more than "Where do babies come from?", it's "Can you give me some help with maths homework?" There are many possible reasons for this. The most common one I hear is "they

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