This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Comments here or emails to me at abulsme@abulsme.com are encouraged... or follow me on Twitter as @abulsme.

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February 2004
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(Minter vs Page) and Mathematics

My father’s site is apperantly getting some attention. One of his posts was talked about in comparison with a Clarence Page piece in the Washington Times. The person doing the comparison was a Professor from Indiana University in an opinion piece in the Indianapolis Star.

A link between reparations, forgiving African debt
(Philip Rutledge, Indianapolis Star)

A few days later, William Minter’s somewhat crusading AfricaFocus Bulletin (africafocus@igc.org) arrived, with the headline, “Africa: Who Owes Whom?” In addition to Minter’s own analysis of the debt situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the electronic Bulletin reposts extensive material from the Web site of the American Friends Service Committee (www.afsc.org/africa-debt) and other sources, painting a sordid picture of “odious debt” and alleged misdeeds by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, with some myopia by U.S. officials.

(via AfricaFocus)

The article where my father mentioned the editorial, is also interesting, highlighting some arward winning Internet efforts coming out of Africa, where Internet penetration is still far less than in other parts of the world. My favorite part of the article are actually the added notes on the Botswanan Basket Weavers, where the patterns are linked to Mathematics!

Africa: Internet Creativity
(AfricaFocus)

The intricacy of the patterns are illustrative of a subject that also well represented in sources on the web: the history of mathematics in Africa. See, among the many sources:

(1) African Mathematical Union, Commission for the History of Mathematics in Africa
http://www.math.buffalo.edu/mad/AMU/amuchma_online.html

(2) Plaited strip patterns on Tonga handbags in Inhambane (Mozambique), by Paulus Gerdes
http://www.mi.sanu.ac.yu/vismath/gerdtonga
Non-mathematicians can enjoy the patterns and skip the math.

(3) Review of Women, Art, and Geometry in Southern Africa, by Paulus Gerdes
http://www.maa.org/reviews/wagsa.html

My father and I do have *some* interests in common you know. :-)

Primary Methods

An interesting thing is going on in Washington State right now. Due to court orders invalidating the system they have used in the past, they are redesigning the process used to pick candidates for various state elections.

Third option pitched for new state primary system
(David Ammons, Associated Press on Seattle PI)

The latter approach, strongly backed by Secretary of State Sam Reed, has been dubbed the “Top Two” plan, or a modified blanket primary. It would allow the top two vote-getters for each office to advance to the November runoff.

I really like this system. Basically, anybody of any party (or no party) who meets a minimum criterea that is the same for everybody appears on an initial primary ballot. Then the top two vote getters (and only the top two) appear in the general election, which effectively becomes a run off. The top two could be of the same party, or of different parties. Doesn’t matter. Some see this as a downside, I see it as a positive. It makes the process completely independant of the parties. It takes them away from the priveledged position they have occupied, and puts them back into the position of being private organizations that happen to push candidates, rather than semi-official governmentally recognized units. All the better.

Now, it still isn’t as good as a proper preferencial voting system whereby when people vote they don’t just pick one person, but instead rank all the candidates in order by preference, and then sequential runoffs are held automatically knocking off one candidate at a time until the winner is choosen… That would give much better results, but is typically considered too complicated for the average voter and will never happen.

The kind of setup being proposed in Washington (and already used in some places I believe) is the next best thing. I hope it happens!

Brandy Day

The silly calandars we use would have the anniverary being yesterday. But that doesn’t properly take into account of how leap years affect things, or the non-integer number of days in a year. So according to my calculations, it was ACTUALLY this morning at 05:51:45 UTC (12:51:45 AM Eastern Time) that Brandy was an even number of years old. I shall refrain from mentioning the exact number of years.

In any case, Brandy just passed a birthday milestone TODAY, and she is kind of bummed because she is under doctors orders to stay in bed for four days straight because her back is acting up. So we were not able to go out or do anything fun for her birthday. And I messed it up more by running out with Amy to buy presents… which took way longer than I thought it would… so therefore she was home alone stuck in bed for longer than she should have been. My fault, my bad.

Anyway, since she is all stuck in bed and bored out of her mind and such, email Brandy and wish her happy birthday and keep her entertained and stuff.

[Edit: Fixed a typo in Brandy’s email address as per Al’s comment. Thanks Al!]