Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Psoriatic Luddite Society

It's winter here.
It's dark, dry, and cold.

In a week when not one but two of my college bound lambs could not divide by ten "in their heads," I rail for the almost extinct slide rule.

I was the the last of the slipstick generation--in 1976, the first scientific calculator appeared in my high school physics class. I could do some functions faster than the electronic machine.

I still have mine-a mahogany Keuffel & Esser 4081-3 Log Log Duplex Decitrig, first picked up by my Dad in the 1950's.

OK, you old fart, that was then, this is now...you don't still use that thing, do you?

I do indeed.
My K&E makes for a great back scritcher! Try doing that with your TI 83.


John Spencer said...

I love this post!

Paul Cornies said...

Ironically two high school science teachers I had in the 60's also enlightened us with their slide rules. We respected them for their dedication and zeal in their infallible calculations.

Kathryn J said...

LOL I learned to use a slide rule in high school and memorized multiplication tables until I could do large-number math in my head. Obviously dating myself.

When I taught density, speed, distance, momentum, etc. last year, I was continually frustrated by most students complete inability to do math. In fact, I learned that you should never do speed experiments across a 2 meter distance (a convenient size in a classroom) because they are completely incapable of putting 2 in the numerator.

Don't get me started about their inability to double-check their calculator math. It is apparently possible to drive 600 miles to Chicago in 1.2 hours at 50 miles/hour.

John Spencer said...

I just wrote a blog post at


and it struck me how much your thinking and writing has influenced me. If it sounds too much like plagiarism, it's only because your blog has made a difference.

doyle said...

Dear John,

We simply share ideals--no worries. I read your book, I get ideas hours later, hard to tell what comes from where. You write from the heart, and you pay attention. I hope I do the same.

Dear Paul,

Slide rules are so cool because they're so exposed. I don't remember my HS teacher loving the slipstick as much as I did. My joy approached fetishism.

Dear Kathryn,

I wrestle with the same thing, and need to keep reminding myself that it is our generation, not their generation, that created the problem.

I spend some time in class playing with numbers. Just today, a child worked his way through what to us would be a very simple problem.

I suspect a few kids are starting to realize they're missing something,