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My social media fast

Back at the beginning of March, I deleted the Twitter and Facebook apps from my phone, signed out on all my computers and began a Lenten fast from social media. Shortly afterwards, COVID-19 sent everything kiddlywumpus. It’s ben an interesting experience not being connected to the communities on social media that I had been for over a decade before.

I have to confess that my social media procrastination has been redirected rather than quenched during this time. I’ve become addicted to Apple News which is just a right swipe away on my phone to get to the top stories of the day. And my wife and I have traded snippets of news over text as the COVID-19 crisis grew increasingly present, including watching the Oak Park Health Department’s occasional reports of new COVID-19 cases turn into daily reports of multiple cases per day.

Quarantine, as I noted yesterday, has been not especially conducive to my writing life although I did manage to get a few hundred words in today with the possibility of more today.

Dewey Decimal Project: 510 BEN The Magic of Math: Solving for x and Figuring Out Why

As I was NewImagescanning the bookshelves filled with math books, this caught my eye because I knew Arthur Benjamin back when he was a brand new professor at Harvey Mudd College. I spent a summer working in the college’s math department computer lab, some of it paid by the department, some, assorted freelance TeX-related projects. A couple other student workers and I spent a lot of time playing backgammon and Professor Benjamin (who we called “Benji”) taught us some strategies and techniques for backgammon (mostly the other students) and I went from being the best backgammon player in the group to the worst.

This book teaches an assortment of mathematical techniques and ideas while conveying Benji’s personality in the writing. I can see this being a good book for a bright high school student or a semi-mathematically-inclined college student. Back in the ’00s I taught a class called “Mathematics for Liberal Arts Majors” and I could see, after creating a set of exercises to accompany the book, using this as the text for that class.

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Recommendations are hard

In today’s e-mail. I’ve chosen not to identify the online bookstore behind these recommendations. They’ve suffered enough.

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