You must be at least this smart to take my class…

There’s an absolutely fabulous post on prerequisites for college math over at Tall, Dark, and Mysterious.  My favorite quote comes from the comments: mere memorization of what was in the book without significant analysis is worth a B- at very best.

Thanks to Kim Swygert at Number 2 Pencil for the tip.


Orandum est, ut sit mens sana in corpore sano. –Juvenal

LA Times columnist Jonathan Chait outs himself as the kind of kid I would have wanted to beat up when I* was in school:

My guess is that Bush associates exercise with discipline, and
associates a lack of discipline with his younger, boozehound days. "The
president," said Fleischer, "finds [exercise] very healthy in terms of
… keeping in shape. But it’s also good for the mind." The notion of a connection between physical and mental potency is, of course, silly.
(Consider all the perfectly toned airheads in Hollywood — or, perhaps,
the president himself.) But Bush’s apparent belief in it explains why
he would demand well-conditioned economic advisors and Supreme Court

Bush’s insistence that the entire populace follow
his example, and that his staff join him on a Long March — er, Long Run
— carries about it the faint whiff of a cult of personality. It also
shows how out of touch he is. It’s nice for Bush that he can take an
hour or two out of every day to run, bike or pump iron. Unfortunately, most of us have more demanding jobs than he does. [my emphasis]

Yeah,  writing whiny crap for a failing newspaper is lots more demanding than being the elected leader of the free world. What a loser.

* And I wasn’t a jock, I played tuba in the band.

Another great tip from K-Lo at The Corner.

NOBODY We Know Is Like This, Right?

One of Steven Saylor’s latest Roma Sub Rosa novels, The Judgement of Caesar,
is out in paperback, and I couldn’t resist.  As usual, our hero,
Gordianus the Finder, is right in the middle of events, this time with
Caesar and Cleopatra, and it’s great reading.  Saylor always
manages to connect the ancients to us moderns:

I turned
about and saw that Caesar sat in a corner of the room with a coverlet
draped over his shoulders, so that only his head was showing. Behind
him stood a slave in a green tunic, fussily wielding a comb and a pair
of scissors.

"I hope you don’t mind, Gordianus, but I’m not
quite done having my hair cut. I’ve been so busy lately that I’ve
rather neglected my grooming. Samuel here is the best barber in the
known world; a Jew from Antioch. I conquered Gaul, I bested Pompey, but
there’s one enemy against whom I find myself powerless: this damned
bald spot! It’s invincible. Relentless. Merciless. Every month more
hairs are lost, the line of battle falls back, and the bald spot claims
a wider territory. But if one cannot defeat an enemy, sometimes one can
rob him of the trappings of victory, at least. Only Samuel knows the
secret of holding the enemy at bay. He cuts and combs my hair just so
and eureka! No one would ever know that my bald spot has grown so large."

I raised an eyebrow, tempted to disagree; from where I stood, the shiny
bald spot was glaringly visible, but if Caesar believed that combing a
few strands of hair over his naked pate created the illusion of a full
head of hair, who was I to disabuse him of the notion?

You’ll get no spoilers from me–read the whole thing.